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 direction of Genevra Littlejohn, Roanoke Kendo, and Phoung Hoang sensei, Koryo Martial Arts, in Kendo. Under the direction of Brian Kelley sensei, Harrisonburg Ki Aikido, and Peter Boylan sensei, Michigan Koryu Kenkyukai, in Seitei Iaido. Under the direction of Peter Boylan sensei, Michigan Koryu Kenkyukai, and Nate England sensei, Kosho School of Karate, 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 hopefully soon Canada as well.
He also holds conversational Japanese ability level and helps run the Charlottesville Japanese Language and Culture club.
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 sensei started his Jodo journey in 1991 under Nishioka sensei and Mitsuyama sensei 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 Dojo, Soares sensei now teaches in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
He has also previously trained in Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido both in the US and Japan.
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