When did you start aikido and why?
I was born and raised in the Soviet Union, at that time martial arts were banned, with the exception of Judo, I started doing it when I was 10 years old. I studied for a year and after a concussion, the doctors did not recommend me to continue. Thanks to perestroika, around 1985, relief began, and Western films, including those on martial arts, began to penetrate the country. Everywhere video salons began to open and me my friends went to see as many as we could. It was amazing for us simple Soviet boys who had lived their entire lives behind the Iron Curtain to discover a completely different world that we did not even suspect of. We all loved martial arts movies, especially with Bruce Lee. I wanted to be like him. Soon, the semi-legal sections of karate and kung fu began to open. But I never went to them. In 1990 I was drafted into the Armed Forces. Films were shown to us in the army on Fridays. One of these showed a film with Steven Seagal “Above the Law”, unfortunately I was on daily duty and could not watch it, but the guys after watching were very impressed and told me about the mysterious art of aikido and the cool master Steven Seagal. During my time in the military service, I went in for sports in a serious way, since we had our own gym, in addition, some co-workers were doing karate and wushu before the draft. They taught me basics and techniques.
After my time of national service in December 1992, I returned home, got a job and immediately went to the wushu classes where I studied for about a year. There was also an aikido section in our small town, and my friends all wanted to go there for training. In 1994, one summer day, I saw a handwritten ad on a house saying an aikido seminar and instructor course would be held soon. On the day I went to the appointed place. There were a few guys and one bearded man who walked a little nervously from corner to corner. When more of us gathered, he introduced himself, it was Bezdrabko Sergey Ivanovich, who became my first aikido teacher/trainer. We trained at a stadium where he and his wife taught classes. It was a mixture of karate, hand-to-hand combat and aikido. At the end of each lesson, we would carryout sparring. Having practiced for a month and a half we went into the main hall to train. The most capable students passed exams for instructors. I turned out to be one of them and was employed by a school, where I worked as a physical education teacher and led the aikido section. The same year, I entered the State University at the Faculty of Physical Education, where I studied in absentia for 5 years and received a diploma. Our aikido classes were a strange mixture of striking techniques, throwing techniques and, directly, aikido techniques. Then everything was just beginning, there was no Internet at all, we could only see real Aikido on videotapes of various masters. My trainer told us we were doing Takemusu Aiki, although in reality it was some kind of mixture. One day, a comrade introduced me to OSHO meditation books and a video cassette with aiki-ken and aiki-jo of Morihiro Saito sensei. He knew that I was doing Aikido, but did not know that this was exactly what I needed. It was a real miracle! I spent hours looking at this tape and trying to repeat after Saito-sensei. My coach, when he found out that I had such a video, was very surprised. He told me that he was in Leningrad at a seminar of Emelianenko VI, one of the Danes who came to train in Russia.
What are your main aikido memories
I began to dream about going to Petersburg and in 1997 I arrived for a month in a city on the Neva. I went to regular classes in a hall on the street called Fortitude 8, I went every day when classes were held. At the end of the month I passed the 3 kyu with sensei Davydova Yuri. I also attended Tony-sensei’s seminar only as an observer, since I had no money for the seminar, they allowed me to sit on the bench and watch. I still learned something, Tony-sensei explained about the randori, that when you were surrounded by several attackers, you need to start attacking/initiating at them first, so you can break the ring and not let yourself be surrounded. I still remember this very well and always use it.
In 2000, I moved to St. Petersburg and immediately began to study with A.M. Tyana, in 2004, at the Tony-Sensei seminar, I passed the first dan exam, together with Zhenya Vinogradov and several other guys. In 2008, I had to go north to my parents in Evenkia. In 2010 . I returned to Petersburg and continued my studies at the dojo of A.M. Tyan. In 2014, again, for family reasons, I moved north, and returned in 2016 to St. Petersburg. In 2017, I created Traditional Aikido School and passed the 2nd dan exam for Tony-sensei, joining TIA Takemusu Iwama Aikido Europe and T.A.A.
What are your personal goals in aikido?
I have 2 dan, and would like to take the next level. Of course, I would like to improve my aikido, I would like to completely erase the line between uke and naga, between attack and defense, to become one energy.
I am immensely grateful to all my teachers, and I am incredibly glad that I was lucky enough to engage in this particular direction Takemusu Aiki Iwama ryu Aikido, and I am training the hard way to this day!
Why do you think Iwama Aikido is so unique?
The uniqueness of Iwama Aikido is that it directly transmits O-Sensei’s Aikido through his student Morihiro Saito, who spent the largest amount of time with O-Sensei out of all his students. According to Stanley Pranin, Saito-sensei was a “damn good teacher”, as evidenced by his meticulous attitude to techniques, clear, understandable and effective. Also Iwama Aikido is the only direction that practices aiki-ken, aiki-jo and the Riay principle, the relationship of buki-vaza and taijitsu. All this makes Iwama unique Aikido, alive, powerful and real!
What can Aikido offer people in your opinion?
One of my teachers, A. Tian, said that everyone has their own motives and reasons for practicing Aikido, and one cannot disagree with this.
In my experience, in Aikido, mainly people come who want to not only learn self-defence techniques and safe falls, but they are looking for something else, something sacred, spiritual, that is hidden in the principles of Aikido.
Undoubtedly, the systematic practice of Aikido makes a person more self-disciplined and at the same time more relaxed, relieving physical and mental stress. More coordinated and centred, balanced and silent inside, more collected and a trusting existence.
Some students use the principles of Aikido in everyday life without encountering problems, trying to look at life from a different angle, and resolve conflicts in harmonious ways.
There are also such attentive Aikido practices, which, having stopped the internal dialogue, cease to be separated from existence.
How long have you been training?
From 1994 to the present 2020. With some interruptions, only about 20 years.
Where did you travel?
I was not abroad, but I attended many seminars of various masters in the Russian Federation, in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Murmansk, Ivanovo, Cherepovets.