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Here's our "short" version of karate history to provide some context of our lineage.
Karate originated in Okinawa by way of India and China. It is generally believed that Karate has its roots in Chi Uan Fa more commonly known as Kung Fu (skills practiced and learned). In 525 A.D. the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma traveled from India to China. He is considered to be the spiritual father of Zen Buddhism and the founder of this weaponless fighting system. It is told that he came to the shaolin temple and found the monks to be in a pitiful physical condition. He therefore taught them a system of physical and mental discipline so that they would have a means of keeping in shape. In time this fighting style became known as Shaolin-Szu (first way) and spread to other parts of China where it underwent extensive changes developing into the different Kung-Fu styles we know today (Shaolin Kung-Fu is probably the most famous of these styles).
Wushu (martial arts) flourished during the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618 - 907AD). During the Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) many families moved to Okinawa and shared their knowledge of Chinese martial arts. Political activities and an eventual ban of weapons were key factors leading to the evolution of karate (empty hand fighting). The many lessons and needs would eventually evolve into the various types of tode (karate) that we recognize today. Key figures emerged that influenced history and what we practice today. (See lineage flowchart below.)
Karate began as a common fighting system known as te. There were few formal styles of te, but rather many practitioners with their own methods. Matsumura Sōkon would become one of the most prominent. He would go on to teach Itosu Ankō, who would teach Gichin Funakoshi (Shoto, known as the father of modern day karate and the founder of Shotokan) and a host of other well known Masters. Funakoshi is largely responsible for introducing and popularizing karate on the main islands of Japan. His work ultimately led to get karate accepted by the Japanese budō organization, Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (DNBK). Matusumura Sokon also happens to be the maternal grandfather of OSensei (founder of Chito-ryu) and one of O Sensei's teachers.
Chito-ryu was founded by Chitose, Dr. Tsuyoshi (O Sensei) (10th Dan) (10/18/1898-6/5/84). He was born in Naha, Okinawa; birth name Chinen (Gochoku) Masuo. He changed his name in 1922 attending medical school in Tokyo, Japan. He started training in 1905 at the age of seven; and he opened his first dojo in March of 1946.
UNITED STATES CHITO-RYU KARATE-DO FEDERATION
After World War II, many members of the US military learned karate in Okinawa or Japan and then opened schools in the USA. William E. Dometrich (9th Dan, Hanshi, DNBK certified) (3/15/1935 - 3/22/2012) was one of them and he became known as one of the most prominent and well respected instructors worldwide. Having been taught by O Sensei and at O Sensei's request in 1967, he founded (along with his wife Barbara Ellen Webster Dometrich, Meiyo Hanshi, a.k.a. Okusan) the United States Chito-ryu Karate-do Federation (a.k.a. United States Chito-Kai; USCK).
Lawrence C. Hawkins, Jr. Esq., Hanshi
In 1962, Lawrence C. Hawkins, Jr. began his training of Chito-ryu under Dometrich Sensei at the Yoseikan Hombu in Covington, KY. At a time of racial and social unrest, Dometrich Sensei wholly accepted Hawkins, an African-American, as his student just as O Sensei had accepted a Caucasian-American soldier to train in his dojo during post-WWII era Japan. He established Yoseikan II (Yoseikan Cincinnati) in 1971; it was chartered in 1972. Lawrence C. Hawkins, Jr., Esq, Hanshi (8th Dan, DNBK certified) (December 17, 1944 - May 27, 2020) served as the Chairman Emeritus of the USCK, Chief Advisor for the USCK, and Chief Instructor at Yoseikan Cincinnati. He was awarded the title "Hanshi" posthumously by Hanshi Tesshin Hamada of the Dai Nippon Butokukai (DNBK) in 2020.
Lawrence C. Hawkins, III, Esq., son and student of Lawrence C. Hawkins, Jr., began the study of chito-ryu in 1977. In April 2019, Lawrence C. Hawkins, III, Esq., Renshi, (6th Dan) became Chief Instructor at Yoseikan Cincinnati. He is a member of the United States Chito-Ryu Karate-do Federation (USCK) and DNBK certified. He also serves on the Judicial Committee of the USCK.
Lawrence C. Hawkins, III, Esq., Renshi
Karate traces its ancestry back to the ancient martial arts of the Tang Dynasty in China (618 – 907AD). This type of martial art was brought to Okinawa and passed on through the diligence and thoroughness of many past masters. To fully understand and appreciate Chito-ryu Karate we must begin with our founder, Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose, or O-Sensei as he was affectionately known by his students. He was born in Naha City on the island of Okinawa on October 18, 1898. He began his Tode (karate) training when he was seven years old under the tutelage of Arakaki Sensei, who taught him his first kata - Seisan. O-Sensei also had the opportunity to train with other great Karate masters such as Anko Itosu Sensei, Chotoku Kiyan Sensei, Chiyomu Hanagusuku Sensei and Kauryo Higashionna Sensei. In 1922 O-Sensei went off to Tokyo to study medicine, but continued practicing karate in his spare time with Gichen Funakoshi, the "father of modern day karate”. In March of 1946, Dr. Chitose, after having practiced medicine for some years, opened Yoseikan dojo in Kirkuchi City, Kyushu. Since O-Sensei was a medical practitioner, he was concerned about some of the negative effects of the older training methods and therefore based his style of teaching on sound medical, physiological and scientific principles in order to foster health in all his students, especially the young. In 1948 Dr. Chitose, along with Gichen Funakoshi and other great karate masters, helped organize the All Japan Karate-do Federation (Zen Nihon Karate-do Renmei). Around the same time, he decided to name his style of karate Chito-ryu. “Chi” meaning “thousand”, “to” from the Chinese “tang” and “ryu” meaning “way” hence translating Chito-ryu as “The thousand year old Chinese Tang dynasty way”, signifying the ancestry of karate.O-Sensei passed away June 6, 1984. In 1952 a young man by the name of William J. Dometrich, of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, began his training of Chito-ryu Karate in Japan. While stationed in Beppu City, Kyushu, he studied under one of O Sensei’s students, Ichiro Shirahama. He soon was granted permission by Shirahama Sensei to meet and train under O Sensei himself. The young Dometrich did not anticipate being refused to study Chito-ryu by O Sensei, but that was the case for some time. With much determination and perseverance, O Sensei accepted the American soldier as his karate student. Having trained with O Sensei for a few years Dometrich Sensei earned his San Dan (third degree black belt) and returned to the U.S. with his unit. Dometrich Sensei established a small dojo in Northern Kentucky in 1962 with the help of Kyoshi Barbara Dometrich, his wife and the first U.S. female Chito-ryu black belt. O-Sensei made a visit to the US in 1967 and requested that a strong Hombu Dojo (headquarters) for Chito-ryu be established in the United States as well as the development of a good organization. With the support and encouragement of O Sensei, The United States Chito-ryu Karate Federation (USCKF) was born and Dometrich Sensei was named Chairman and Chief Instructor. Hanshi Dometrich carried on O-Sensei's legacy until he passed away on March 22, 2012. The Yoseikan Hombu is presently located in Covington, Ky.
Written by Sensei Nazanin Tork
We've trained many places over the years. Training takes place wherever and whenever. We continue to have great locations to train and call home. Some may recall one or two of these...
A few of the stories as captured by Sensei Nazanin Tork:
In 1962 Lawrence C. Hawkins, Jr. began his training of Chito-ryu under Dometrich Sensei at the Yoseikan Hombu. At a time of racial and social unrest, Dometrich Sensei wholly accepted Hawkins, an African-American, as his student just as O Sensei had accepted a Caucasian-American soldier to train in his dojo during post-WWII era Japan. Hawkins, the current Chief Advisor of the United States Chito-ryu-karate Federation and founder of Yoseikan II Cincinnati, left left for a three year stint in the U.S. Air Force. Upon Hawkins Sensei’s return to the Hombu, Dometrich Sensei said to his student “I don’t need anymore tournament champions, I need teachers.” Hawkins Sensei was working at Proctor and Gamble during the day, attending law school at night and practicing karate during his spare time. Conflicting schedules with law school, work and karate resulted in Hawkins Sensei requesting permission to start his own karate school in 1971.
The first location of Yoseikan II Cincinnati was in the Mont Michel Apartments in Clifton from 1971-1972. One of the initial students offered their apartment as a training space and when there were too many students to train in the apartment, training moved to the clubhouse of the apartment complex. In 1972 the dojo made a bold, daring move to its first public domain on Woodburn Ave. There was no locker room, but there was a small bathroom (4x6ft.) in which 2 or 3 students could change. The next location was on the second floor at Peebles Corner (1973-1982), at the corner of McMillan and Gilbert, across from a bus stop and TV store. There were two small rooms with a common stairwell between them; one room had a tiny office attached. Students used to change in a mop closet in the stairwell. In the winter, the pipes would sometimes freeze, resulting in no heat, and the floors would become covered with ice. Once, Hawkins Sensei delivered a kiai and cockroaches actually fell off the wall. It was also very hot in the summer. One morning, the students arrived to find one of the two doors kicked in. Someone had broken in and stolen some training tools.
The school’s location moved around a few more times to include a day care, the Alms Hotel and Burnett Woods before being established at the first building Hawkins Sensei owned on Reading Road in North Avondale. From the fall of 1984 to the winter of 2007 this location transformed from an empty warehouse into a dojo with a wooden training deck, a Japanese garden, separate male and female locker rooms, a social center (complete with a beer tap!), a fitness center, and a sauna. Of course, none of these amenities could compare to Hawkins Sensei’s dedication and commitment to his teacher, students and Chito-ryu karate.
As the number of dedicated students joining Hawkins Sensei’s school grew each year, it became apparent that the dojo was not going to be able accommodate them. In November of 2007, Hawkins Sensei announced the move of Yoseikan Cincinnati to its ... location at Taconic Terrace in Woodlawn. A former television studio was transformed into a state of the art dojo and law office. The Yoseikan II Chito-Kai Kan, as named by Dometrich Sensei, represented years of dedication, hard work and loyalty by Hawkins Sensei.
His achievements as a karate teacher and lawyer have inspired his students and others to embrace and pursue endeavors as would the martial artist and that is to live life with the passion and discipline required to properly learn and understand what one is doing.
This list of Yudansha (black belts) comprises students who received Sho Dan black belt recognition at Yoseikan Cincinnati, in order of when received. Sho Dan is not a destination; it's the beginning of a journey. Most of these students continue to study, train, and/or teach today. Some of these Sensei have moved, opened their own schools, … and sadly some have passed.
Dexter C. Adams awarded Sho Dan posthumously. (IN MEMORIAM)