When did you start Aikido and why?
As a child, I was passionate about martial arts. I saw a lot of movies about martial arts and wanted to be like their heroes such as Jackie Chan, Van Damme and others. So, at 10 years old I started practicing Karate and trained for several years. Then my interest decreased and for some time I stopped classes.
At the age of 17th I already consciously decided to do some kind of martial art. At that time in my city there was not much choice among various schools and styles. Not finding anything like Kung fu or Ninjutsu, me and my friend to try Aikido class.
Then it was also featured in films with Steven Seagal.
Victor Zabelin (then a Nidan) taught at that class. It was a large group of enthusiastic students, some of them had a hakama.
The teacher performed techniques powerfully and with a loud kiai. In the same time atmosphere was friendly and the older students helped me repeat the movement. The training impressed me and I decided that soon I could do the same techniques (true in reality it turned out not so fast).
Now after more than 20 years of practice, I do not regret at all that I chose Aikido.
What are some of your main memories in Aikido?
It is difficult to list all the vivid memories in my life in Aikido. These are many seminars, uchideshi in Greece, Japan, getting a black belt, the opening of my first dojo and hundreds of interesting people, masters, students etc.
What are your personal goals in Aikido?
My personal goals is continuous technical and spiritual development through Aikido practice. I also try to give the best knowledge to my students and make my dojo one of the best.
Why do you think Iwama Aikido is so unique?
In my opinion, Iwama Aikido is unique in that it preserves Aikido as a Budo. A powerful basic technique develops a strong body, and a weapon technique trains fighting spirit. In this case, the taijutsu and bukiwaza are closely related and intertwined with each other.
What can Aikido offer people, in your opinion?
That aikido can give people depends on their attitude to practice. It could be spiritual development, health, energy, physical qualities, self-confidence, fighting skills etc. I consider that what we train is what we develop.
How long have you been training?
I have been training Aikido since about 1999.
Where have you travelled?
I was in Greece, Japan, Ukraine and travelled a lot throughout Russia. Of course, most of my travels have been Aikido training.