Dojo Opens in Downtown Milford


Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 6.37.46 PMBy Terry Rogers

On April 13, Japanese Martial Arts opened in downtown Milford. The martial arts dojo is located on the corner of Walnut and SE Second Street where Eco-Chic was formerly located. Rich Stachura, owner of the dojo, says that they will offer three styles of marital arts: Aiki-Jujutsu, Shorin-ryu and Kobujutsu. Also including Kenjutsu (samurai sword arts) basics.

“I began teaching martial arts in the Isshin-ryu style of karate in 1993,” Sensei Stachura said. “I earned my rank as Shodan, which is a first degree black belt in the style that year. I have recently moved to Delaware from New Jersey and just opened my own dojo. It may sound crazy, but I actually saw this building in my mind before I moved here. I envisioned my dojo in a small building on a corner, in a quaint little town.” Sensei Stachura says that his jaw dropped when he drove by one day and saw the For Lease sign in the window and he immediately called the number to speak to the landlord.

Sensei Stachura says that his goals are to help people with the teaching of martial arts. He says that his goals are to help kids from being bullied or following the wrong path in life. He also hopes to teach his students self-defense in order to prevent rape, battering, assault or robbery. Sensei Stachura says he already loves the area and wants to help the community as much as he can.

Sensei Stachura says that he began martial arts in 1977 after wrestling in middle school. He had asked his parents if he could learn martial arts and his mother told him that if he lasted a season in wrestling, he could join a dojo that a science teacher owned in his town. The first style he learned was Aikido which eventually migrated to Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu.

“We all had to practice saying it over and over because we never heard of it before,” Sensei Stachura said. “It was a lot longer than the name Aikido.” He said that he wrestled all through middle, high school and one year of community college and dropped out of Aiki-jujutsu. He says he is not sure why he dropped out but that it probably had to do with work related reasons. He enrolled in Isshin-ryu karate in 1988, and received his second degree black belt in 1997.

Sensei Stachura says that he participated in amateur kickboxing for a short time, Shootfighting and Muay Thai, and had recently reunited with an old friend from middle school who studied with me at my first dojo, Chris Rossman, who had continued in the study of martial arts. Sensei Rossman founded Kara Ryu Budo (Warrior’s path to enlightenment), the name of the system used at Sensei Stachura’s dojo, and he studied under Sensei Rossman for a few years, earning a black belt, Shodan, in Kara Ryu Budo and a second degree black belt, Nidan, in Isshin Ryu karate.

Sensei Stachura thought his martial arts days had ended after undergoing back surgeries. He said Sensei Rossman told him to take his studies one day at a time and he eventually was able to keep up with the class. Sensei Stachura hopes to use his own struggles in building up strength and flexibility with his own students. He also hopes to add a yoga instructor who could use the space during the day since his hours will be at night. He says that he sees a lot of great things happening in downtown Milford, so he would like to see the dojo used for healthy endeavors throughout the day as well.

The dojo is open Monday through Thursday from 7 PM until 9 PM and on Saturday from 10 AM until Noon. Junior classes (7-12 years of age) are offered Wednesday from 6 PM until 7 PM and on Saturday from 9 AM until 10 AM. Junior classes will focus mostly on Shorin-ryu karate with very light Aiki-Jujutsu and Okinawan weaponry using mostly foam weapons.

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu is approximately 1,200 years old with over 2,000 techniques, variations and self-defense applications. Emperor Seiwa was the 56th imperial ruler of Japan and his son, Prince Teijin began the study and development of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu. Teijin taught the art to Minamoto Yoshimitsu, a samurai and general of the emporer.

“The Minamoto clan passed the art down from generation to generation and each generation contributed to the development and growth of the art,” Sensei Stachura said. “The clan eventually settled on the island of Honshu and changed their name to Takeda. They began teaching to non-clan members in the late 19th century and, today, there are several organizations that teach Daito-ryu, each of which can trace their lineage back to Takeda Sokaku.” Sensei Stachura said that Aiki-jujutsu is a form of jujutsu that practices fighting techniques that are in harmony with nature, emphasizing the use of the attacker’s force and movement against himself so that attacks are neutralized and the attackers are immobilized.

Shorin-ryu karate is one of the orginal karate styles founded in Okinawa where karate began and Kobujutsu is martial arts weaponry systems that also originated on the island of Okinawa. Sensei Stachura says that he just recently received the rank of Deshi, and is working toward his teaching certificate in Kenjutsu, Iaijutsu and Iaido, which are the sword arts of Japan.