John Smitka, Dojo-cho
John Smitka, Dojo-cho, has been training in Kendo since 2002 and teaching since 2007, training in Seitei Iaido since 2006, and training in Seitei Jodo since 2019.
He became interested in martial arts and particularly kendo when he watched national kendo, judo, and sumo tournaments on TV while growing up in Tokyo as a child.
He began training in 2002 in kendo with his father with Waynesboro YMCA Kendo Club. He went on to found JMU Kendo. Kendo lead to an interest in iaido, jodo, and aikido.
He is a former kendoka at Kyoshinkan dojo (拱辰館道場), Yukuhashi City, Fukuoka Prefecture; Renshinkan dojo (錬心館道場), Yukuhashi City, Fukuoka Prefecture; and Shutokukan, Iizuka-shi Honami Budojo (修徳館, 飯塚市穂波武道場), Iizuka City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan.
He currently trains under the SEUSKF in Kendo. Under the direction of Peter Boylan sensei, Michigan Koryu Kenkyukai, in Seiteigata Iaido. Under the direction of Peter Boylan sensei, Michigan Koryu Kenkyukai, in Seitei Jodo. Under the direction of Dan Soares sensei, Maryland Jodo Society, in Shinto Muso ryu jodo.
He has trained with various groups in the United States, Japan, Israel, and Canada.
He also holds conversational Japanese ability level and helps run the Charlottesville Japanese Language and Culture club.
He is also an outside advisor and visiting instructor for VA Tech Kendo/Kumdo Club.
Currently he is helping advise RVA Katana/Cloudhammer Forge on their production O-katana line of practitioners katana. This line is aimed at balancing kata and tameshigiri. The blades lengths are 29-33″/2.45-2.8 shaku nagasa.
Michael King, Senior Assistant Instructor
Mike King began training in kendo with the Waynesboro YMCA Kendo Club in 1988 and was the assistant instructor there till 2005 when the group closed. He is currently the senior assistant instructor in kendo and iaido at Staunton Kendo, Iaido, & Jodo.
King sensei also trains in Muso Jikiden Eishin ryu iaijutsu, Kuniba-Ha Mugai ryu iaido, Kuniba-Ha Goshindo, and Kuniba-Ha Shito-ryu Karate, the latter of which he holds the rank of Yondan.
Michael Smitka, Assistant Instructor
Michael Smitka began training in kendo along with his son in 2002 with the Waynesboro YMCA Kendo Club.
While living in Chiba city, Japan he was a kendoka with the Kenwakai, Chiba City Central Community Center (剣和会, 千葉市中央コミュニティセンタ) and also trained in Muso Jikiden Eishin ryu iaijutsu.
Currently he is an assistant kendo and iaido instructor at Staunton Kendo, Iaido, & Jodo.
He has also previously trained in Judo while living in Japan and is fluent in Japanese.
Dan Soares, Shinto Muso ryu Jodo
Dan Soares sensei started his Jodo journey in 1991 under Nishioka sensei and Mitsuyama sensei in Tokyo, Japan. He was Nishioka sensei’s only dedicated foreign student while he lived in Tokyo, Japan. He continued with Joe Cieslik sensei under Quintin Chambers sensei upon his return to the US in 1998. After 20 years running the Frederick Maryland Jodo group, Soares sensei now teaches in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
He is the head instructor for the Jodo program and holds the ranks of Sandan in ZNKR Seitei Jodo, Go Mokuroku in Shinto Muso ryu, and Nidan in Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido.
He also trains in ZNKR Seiteigata iaido.
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