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Rochester Chito-Ryu Karate

Karate today is an international art in scope and popularity. Many praise and revere the way of the empty hand fighting for its method of uniting the devastating power of the human body with the self-control and restraint of the human mind and spirit. To others, it is the acme of sport competition, the clash of superbly conditioned athletes. Whether the emphasis on the art is grounded in the ideal of budo or the reality of the sporting ring, karate can be found from Okinawa to Japan, Europe to Australia and from America to Africa.

The members of the Rochester Chito-Ryu Dojo are taught the Japanese art of Chito Ryu Karate as a lifestyle and a means of overall physical fitness. The instructor, Shihan Dr. Jesse E. Brown, Jr., Go-Dan (5th degree black belt) has been studying Chito Ryu Karate, since 1971.

After graduating from James Madison High School in June of 1971, Shihan Brown immediately joined the Tsuruoka Karate Dojo located on the third floor of the Harry Foreman Clothing Building at 116 Saint Paul Street, Rochester, New York. The Tsuruoka Karate Dojo, during that time, was associated with the Canadian Chito Ryu Karate Federation and the North American Karate Association. The well-respected and admired instructor of the Tsuruoka Karate Dojo was the late Sensei James Merolillo, who was an ardent disciple of Sensei Masami Tsuruoka. Among some of Sensei Merolillo’s committed students during this period were Joe Ferraro, Tony Cerami, Don Vacosi, Chuck Hughes, William (Bill) Pavone, Kathy MacGowen, Ted Rickettes, and later making application for membership at the same time with Shihan Brown were Carmen Arilolia, Moses Powell and William Valentine. It was during the late 60’s and early 70’s that Sensei Tsuruoka made frequent visit to the Rochester dojo for weekend training and likewise, the students from the Tsuruoka Karate Dojo returned the visit to Sensei Tsuruoka’s dojo located on Young Street in Toronto, Canada. It was during those days that Shihan Brown was introduced to the art and science of Chito Ryu Karate taught by Sensei James Merolillo, the “Mike Ditka” of his day.

Sensei Jim
Sensei James Merilillo

Sensei Masama Tsuruoka
& Sensei James Merolillo

Perhaps, it is fair to say that all of us, who were introduced to Sensei James Merolillo’s teaching, have been touched by his spirit and in some way, have become better people and karate-ka by his commitment and example.

It was from those early days of the 70’s that Shihan Brown gained a deep appreciation and adopted into his training regiment the discipline and art of karate-do that was taught to him by Sensei James Merolillo. Now under the shadow of Sensei Merolillo’s teaching methodology, ShihanBrown values a high standard of training and competitiveness for each class where students are rigorously taught the techniques on Kihon (basics), Kata (form), and Kumite (fighting). He views it as necessary training because it develops and keeps techniques fresh and sharp. Moreover, it is important that each technique is taught to perform in harmony with body movement.

We exercise the body, mind and spirit, extending our knowledge of tactics, techniques and application. As a result of this training, the techniques are performed with sharpness, freshness and executed with power. In each class, Sensei Brown insists that he sees clean and powerful techniques. His approach to traditional karate training is hard and fast. When he emphasizes kihon or kata or kumite, it means each routine must be performed fully. He believes that if this is done correctly, the student will reach his full physical potential. Consequently, one cannot endlessly repeat his regiment. To do so is to show that one is not living the training. Only on occasion will one repeat his regiment a number of times and that is for mental and spiritual purposes, to force the student to go beyond the body, the mind and the art.


(from left to right) -Sensei Tatsunori Ikeda (deceased), Sensei David Tollis, Shihan Jesse Brown,
Sensei Todd Samolis, and Sensei Masaru Inomoto.

In our training, we use speed and power. This is why traditional karate-do is so important because the body is trained, the mind is trained and the understanding of techniques deepens.

As the student advances in his study, his understanding of the techniques becomes deeper and more profound. True karate-do training is to understand the purposes, to understand the many, many uses the techniques have and how to apply them. Without the benefit of this training, one is not following the way of martial art.

Profound techniques are the real benefit of rigorous and hard karate training. This kind of martial art training demands in-depth knowledge and study of every technique, i.e., kihon, kata and kumite. It is to this end that the knowledge of a technique’s application can only deepen as one’s familiarity with the technique develops and grows through a persistent training process.

True karate-do is many, many things. It is budo! It is being physically fit, confidence and exhibiting a good character. Likewise, it is crisp and powerful techniques. However, the other side of karate-do is artistic combative empty-hand art. It is known as self-expression. This is another aspect of karate that Sensei Brown insists the students of karate to be aware of. The artistic self-expression of karate-do is necessary to develop the body physically. It enriches one’s fighting knowledge by increasing complexity and variety of every technique. Yet when all is said and done, there is also the satisfaction of self-expression through movement.

Thus, Shihan Brown always reminds students that true karate emphasizes the mind, body and the perfection of the person. The late Gichin Funakoshi, the father of modern karate, said, “the art does not make the man, the man makes the art!” All of this is traditional karate-do! It is among the students of the Rochester Chito-Ryu Dojo that one can reach an honest understanding of karate-do.

Today, members of the Rochester Chito-Ryu Dojo take great pride in knowing that they are learning fighting techniques that have been developed over hundreds of years and everyone works hard together to develop a spirit of camaraderie and personal dedication. We are a proud and unique dojo by the fact that we trace our roots directly to the founder of traditional karate-do, O’Sensei, Dr. Chitose, and our affiliation with the United States Chito Ryu Karate Federation, Hanshi William Dometrich and Kyoshi Barbara Dometrich.

April 26th through April 30th, 2002, Shihan Jesse Brown, along with twenty members from the United States Chito-Ryu Karate Federation, attended Japan’s most prestigious Martial Arts Society, the Second World Butoku Sai and the 40th Japan National Butokai Sai held at the historic and legendary Butokuden in Kyoto, Japan. The four-day event attracted the elitism of Japanese Marital Art Yudanshas from all over Japan and the world, to include such disciplines as Aikido, Jiujutsu, Karate-do, Judo, Iaido, and Kendo.


US Chito-Ryu delegation at the Butokuden,
Kyoto, Japan, April 26-30,2002.

As a selected, rank certified and honored member of the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, Shihan Brown had the esteem privilege to perform, along with the members from the U.S. Chito-Ryu, Niseishi Dai Kata and Bunkai; and Sochin Kata. The entire four- day occasion was conducted with dignity and reverence as the elite Black Belts from fifteen nations performed their profound and dignified art before the imperial authority of Japan and the international representative of the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai. This unprecedented event was truly a historic celebration of Budo cloaked with international peace and harmony among the exclusive elite society of today’s best Martial Artists dedicated to nobility and excellence.


Comments: Shihan Brown
Last Revised: January 11, 2011