Kiado-Ryu Karate

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Photo of the Week: A Super Stud & Star on the Horizon!

The Karate Institute of America has a new star on the horizon, but it isn’t a martial arts star, at least not yet. Who is it?

Pictured with Mr. King is his eldest grandson, Ciaran, aka Lightning, a hockey stud and star on the horizon! This pic was taken in October at a Saturday morning practice at the local hockey rink in the Boston area.

And is this kid ever a stud! At only six years old he’s skating like a champ already. He’s fast, quick, intense and skilled. How could he not be? His dad, Dan, was a university hockey goalie who was also a semi-pro athlete, playing his hockey in the United States, France and Sweden. His mom, Chandra, not to be out done, was a star forward on her university soccer team. So…Lightning has a great lineage behind him, and it’s showing!

But every star needs fans, right? Pictured with Lightning, are his brother, Rory, aka, Thunder, his sister, Meara, aka, Stormy and Papa King. Early signs show that Ciaran’s siblings are quite talented and tough, too. Should be wonderful watching them grow and succeed. Great fun!

This photo was taken on Lightning’s first day of school. Precious. Great memories!

But, of course, up and coming studs and stars need to hit the books! Education is critical to a well-balanced and productive life.

It won’t be long before the world is hearing shouts of “Lightning strikes again!” in hockey stadiums everywhere. Go Ciaran!

Photo of the Week: In Tribute to Grandpa Shamassian

In Tribute to Grandpa Shamassian

The Karate Institute of America is deeply saddened to share the news that Grandpa Shamassian, Hannah’s paternal grandfather, has passed on.

Our entire KIA family sends its deepest and most heartfelt condolences to all of the Shamassian family, especially Grandma Shamassian and the loss of her cherished husband.

Grandpa Shamassian, pictured in the wheel chair at Hannah’s Purple Belt test in July of 2016, was a loving, kind, gentle, intelligent, supportive, impressive human being—first class all the way.

How many individuals, confined to a wheel chair, would endure the discomfort and challenge of attending their grand daughter’s outdoor karate event? Personal experience teaches that many capable individuals forego supporting others even though they have no infirmities. Yet, Grandpa Shamassian’s grace and love for his family motivated him to be at his grand daughter’s Purple Belt test. Wonderfully admirable.

Grandpa Shamassian’s passing reminds us that life is fleeting and that birth and death are the warp and woof of the circles and cycles of life, a process each of us will experience, no doubt, and one which we will endure with grace if we focus on being balanced and centered in our own lives. And, hopefully, when we pass, we will pass on to our loved ones a legacy they will appreciate, honor and respect, just as Grandpa Shamassian’s family and those of us who knew and loved him, appreciated him for the enduring legacy he created.

Photo of the Week: A KIA Black Belt’s Tennis Team Wins National Championship

Clark “Flash” Hyman, the 16th Black Belt of the Karate Institute of America, along with his over 55 tennis buddies, won the USTA National Championship in Arizona a couple weeks ago. So…Congratulations to you, Flash, and your team! National championships are hard to come by. Way to go!

In the group photo below, Clark is in the front row, third from the left, aqua tee shirt.

Here is the text from the Orange County Register:

The Orange County team representing Southern California defeated a team from Fairfax, VA, 3-0 in the championship match on Sunday, October 30. Earlier in the day, the Orange County team defeated the team from Beverly, MA, 2-1, in the semifinals. They advanced this far by going undefeated, winning their round-robin flight contested Oct. 28-29.

The team is captained by Doug Mathews (Coto de Caza) and Scott Nichols (Ladera Ranch), and features Ross Hessler (Mission Viejo), Dan Oriza, Richard Cisakowski (Coto de Caza), Clark Hyman (Coto de Caza), Glenn Petrovic (Foothill Ranch), Tom Olmstead (Laguna Niguel), Gary Salazar (Coto de Caza), Peter Margarita (San Juan Capistrano), James Snyder (Laguna Niguel) and Dave Sears (Aliso Viejo).

Photo of the Week: Strength Is the Ability to Endure

Strength is the Ability to Endure

Life is a test from birth to death; an endless struggle to maintain one’s balance, poise and grace while striving to achieve one’s personal goals. If we’re to conquer the challenges of life, we must be strong…for the long haul, not just for the passing moment or the fleeting glimpses of capricious fortune.

Strength is a virtue. Talent is a gift. One can have talent but fail to achieve great things because of a lack of strength. One can have mediocre talent but achieve wondrous things through the strength of will.

As an example, in the history of the Karate Institute of America, there have been some very noteworthy physically talented individuals who never succeeded in becoming a Black Belt because they lacked the strength [the ability to endure] to achieve the goal, some giving up the ghost just weeks before their final exam. Contrastingly, there have been many individuals who, lacking great talent, succeeded in achieving a Black Belt rating because they never quit. They fought, struggled, endured and saw the journey through to its conclusion. In fact, if there is one quality of all Kiado-Ryu Black Belts, it is that they all expressed an indomitable will and relentless spirit to succeed. Their strength exceeded the challenges and adversities they faced in their martial arts journey. Such is the truth in every discipline, in every line of work. Those who succeed never quit.

The Black Belt Book of Life – Secrets of a Martial Arts Master

Principle #15: pages 61 to 63

Photo of the Week: Rank Does Not Make the Man. The Man Makes the Rank

In the Kiado-Ryu system, rank doesn’t make the man or woman, the man or woman make the rank.

Who we are is not a matter of what we wear around our waist but what we stand for.

For example, being a so-called “Black Belt” means nothing unless the individual who wears such a rank exudes those noble virtues associated with it, including but not limited to, self-control, discipline, courage, strength, commitment, humility, kindness, grace, patience, determination, dedication, persistence, respect and honor—a virtue seemingly unknown and forgotten in today’s society.

In climbing the ladder to becoming a Black Belt at the Karate Institute of America, all students should seek to demonstrate an ever-ascending degree of virtue, just as they demonstrate increasing levels of martial arts skill, technique and artistry. To forsake developing one’s character is to go to the well and return with only a spoonful of water—a sad and tragic loss.

Photo of the Week: For Those Who Remember the King Girls…

Like everyone else, times change, and kids, well, they do grow up and have their own families and lives. Such are the circles and cycles of life.

For those of you who remember my girls—Christa and Chandra—when they were young and hanging out at the studio, here they are, all grown up with their own beautiful families.

On the bottom row (right) is Christa with her husband, Mike, just behind her. Paige, their older daughter, is sitting on the left and her younger sister, Emery, is next to Christa.

Chandra (glasses) is next to her husband, Dan (far left), and their newest child is Meara, sitting (sleeping) on mom’s lap. Their two boys are Rory (far left) and Ciaran (red shirt).

This photo was taken in the summer of 2016 at Chandra and Dan’s home in the Boston area. It is wonderful they could all get together, which they do a couple times each year. Thank God for airplanes!

I’m extremely proud of my girls, their husbands and kids. They are all exceptional individuals, talented and successful, with loving hearts and radiant spirits. I could not be more blessed.

For Those Who Remember the King Girls...

Photo of the Week: Freedom Is Not Free

Freedom Is Not Free

Freedom is a great privilege. It is not a right, and it is neither free nor guaranteed. Furthermore, freedom can be lost if a person or a people become lazy, negligent, careless, cowardly, apathetic, entitled.

Following are a few poignant quotations from great men who understood the true price of freedom. These quotes are worth pondering and absorbing into the DNA of every man, woman and child who seek to be truly free. Notice the common threads woven through each of them.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. A society that will trade a little order for a little freedom will lose both and deserve neither.

~ Thomas Jefferson

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

~ Thomas Paine

Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction.

~ Ronald Reagan

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

~ Patrick Henry

No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.

~ General Douglas MacArthur

History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.

~ General Dwight Eisenhower

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Photo of the Week: Bob “Grinder” Schreck - Gentleman Black Belt

Bob "Grinder" Schreck - Gentleman Black Belt

Bob “Grinder” Shreck is the Sixth Black Belt of the Kiado-Ryu. He received his 1st Dan in 1988 and continued his studies for two more years, attaining a 2nd Dan designation.

Grinder is the epitome of undying effort and persistence. Because his work schedule would not allow him to attend group classes, Bob studied privately for eight years before attaining his Black Belt. His determination and ability to press on in the face of difficult life challenges make him a great inspiration for us all.

Bob Schreck is and has always been a true gentleman and exemplary human being. You can read more about him and all the Black Belts of the Kiado-Ryu.

Photo of the Week: Character Is More Important Than Victory

Character is More Important Than Victory

How strange it is in today’s world that victory at all costs is more important than one’s character. It seems as though the growing consensus of achievement in today’s culture is to cast the moral and ethical quality of one’s very being over the cliff in deference to lying, cheating, stealing, deceiving, misleading. The goal, apparently, is to win the temporal, ephemeral brass ring and forego one’s primal essence.

The reality, however, is that in doing so one loses twice-fold. The titles, trophies, lands, property, treasure chests of money and worldly trinkets one gains in the rush to “succeed” will all be left behind when one dies, but dies also is the purity of the energy of one’s eternal divine being. Such a devastating and foolish investment!

The philosophy of the Karate Institute of America is always to put character first, for without it all is lost in this world and beyond. Thus, character will always be, must always be, more important than victory.

Photo of the Week: Like Father, Like Daughters

It is always warming to see how KIA martial artists, who were once youngsters, have grown into adulthood and are now parents with their own children. This week’s Pic of the Week features one such very accomplished Kiado-Ryu Black Belt.

Chris “Growler” Grau is the 36th Black Belt of the KIA, having achieved his 1st Dan on 26 August 1995. Growler is now only one of two 4th Dan Kiado-Ryu Black Belts. The other is Dan “Basai” Asay. In the 2013 archive photo below, Growler is pictured with pre-test buddies Kim “Cultivator” Thomas and Tristan “Raptor” Ligtvoet as they were all moving up in rank. Cultivator continued his studies and now holds a 5th Dan rating and “Master Thomas” title. Raptor is working for his 2nd Dan Black Belt.

As each of us migrates through the highways and byways of our destinies, life changes. Growler, who is also our KIA webmaster, now lives in the northern San Diego area. He has a lovely wife, Christa, and two just-as-lovely daughters—Kaylee and Brenna. In his own words, here is Growler’s story accompanied by some very cool photos of his karate girls! Enjoy!


I started training at the KIA in April of 1991, at the age of 14, shortly after seeing one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies with my friends (based on the date, I think it was the second one). Like many young boys, I thought martial arts looked cool in the movies. Unlike most young boys, I was determined to learn it. Having received a flyer for the KIA upon leaving the theater, my mom let me try it out. I can still remember my first lesson, learning to punch while Steve Vertun held the striking shield for me and explained how to make a fist. My first instructor was Greg Bendel, who I credit for nurturing my appreciation for the finer details of karate.

Over the next few years, I would become what is frequently referred to as a Dojo Rat. I was on the floor, training as often as I could. I would take the regular classes, but I would augment that training with private lessons with Mr. King. In August of 1995, at the age of 18, I earned my black belt. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards, life took me away. I attended college at the University of California, San Diego, where I took classes in tai-chi and aikido. It was at this time that I started looking at the wider world of martial arts.

After college, I started building my career as a computer programmer. Having not found a suitable dojo (I took a free class at what is commonly referred to as a McDojo, but immediately hated it), I let martial arts fall by the wayside.

In January of 2006, I made the decision to resurrect my training. I knew Mr. King was still teaching students, so I started driving to Lake Forest once per week to train with him. Over the next eight years, I would recover my long neglected kata and work my way up to 4th dan. Once again, however, life got in the way and I had to stop making the weekly treks.

By this time, 2014, I was married and had two daughters. The oldest of which I had enrolled in a karate class at a local karate dojo. For several months, I would watch the classes, longing for regular training. Finally, I stepped onto the mat and started training with a new group of what are now good friends.

My new style is Kobayashi Shorin-ryu, which is the oldest style on Okinawa, the birthplace of karate. It has been a phenomenal two years, once again becoming a Dojo Rat, training consistently, and learning about the rich history and tradition of karate. I have been fortunate enough to train with some of the best karate practitioners in the world, through our association’s annual training camps. Soon, I hope to visit Okinawa to train and learn more about karate’s history.

This month, I earned my brown belt and am about a year away from testing for my black belt. Not only do I train, I help teach the kids classes. I have found that there is very little more fulfilling than teaching a child, watching them grow, and knowing that I have had some small influence in their character. Additionally, I am an assistant coach for our dojo’s fledgling competition team. We have our sights set on next year’s national competitions and even have a couple of students aspiring to compete in the 2020 Olympics, when karate will be officially included in the Tokyo games.

Kaylee, who was the first in my family to train at this dojo, has her gold belt and is excited to test for her orange belt on her 8th birthday at the end of this month.

Wouldn’t want to mess with her!

Brenna (age 5), who loves watching her big sister train, is an orange stripe, which is a mid-level rank between white and gold for the younger, “pee-wee” students.

Wouldn’t want to mess with her either!


Congratulations, Growler, on your newest endeavors and continued Martial Arts journey. We all support you in your life and look forward to featuring you when you get your 1st Dan in Kobayashi Shorin-ryu!