Igor Zakharevitch was born on March 23, 1963 in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova. Igor is my first and current aikido teacher and I learned from him much more than people are able to explain with words.
If you do know about the country you will guess why great things are coming late, so is the aikido story of Moldova. At the time when aikido was already known and growing in the world, in Moldova even a name of this martial art was still mystical. But there’s a way if there’s a will…
And a will is Igor Zakharevitch. In the end of the 70’s karate made much of the interest in the country and Igor got his hands on Karate Wado-Ryu book when he was 19 years old. A book was in French while who cared… This was a treasure. Somewhere in the chapter of the book where evasions were explained was a sentence that became a future motivation to whole a life:
While the old Karate schools successfully oppose force to force, in modern schools (such as the Wado ryu) evasions are used widely , which constitute the technical basis of Aikido. While it is traditionally necessary to first block a blow and only then to launch a counterattack, evasion allows you to defend and counterattack simultaneously.
Even most advanced martial artists could not say a thing more about at the place. But when you want a right thing – a universe is going to help you achieve it and soon after Igor was able to find a Yoshinkan Aikido Book from Gozo Shioda. He bough a book for 30 rubles (these money were worth a ticket to a plane to Moscow, 1300km) and it was Serbo-Croatian this time. This purchase increased an interest even more.
Next step was an acquaintance with Oleg Kantemirov (a man on the right in the video above), a founder of a Wado-Ryu karate in USSR, Sambo Champion in Ossetia, a circus, movie actor, stuntman with a lot of awards anywhere he went. Oleg knew some basic aikido moves and was the one to give Igor his first aikido lesson in a Chisinau circus building. In two months Igor was in Moscow where Oleg introduced him to Veacheslav Matveev and Alexander Kachan who were practicing aikido in the Moscow State University. He spent there a week and found his first teacher in the face of Veacheslav. Here’s what Igor wrote:
The Aikido Section was created under the Academic Council of the Moscow State University. In those days karate was banned and the “experimental” section of Aikido was something of a closed elite club, even for the most elite.
This video was made by Matveev and shows how aikido was back then in Moscow. It’s even a more later stage of the evolution than the time of the story but it gives you the feel.
Igor came back home and found a place to make it the first dojo of aikido. His students were people he already knew. He was regularly visiting Moscow to get more knowledge and in 1989 Igor with two of his friends came to attend Koichi Barrish in Moscow. Koichi came in a company of 20 hakamas and this was much for the time. To be able to attend Igor and co had to sleep on the floor in the airport for a week.
One day a girl came to Igors dojo in Chisinau. She was living in Great Britain and was learning the under the Minoru Kanetsuka, 6th Dan Aikido Aikikai at that time. Minoru was visiting Moscow afterwards and became Igors first japanese aikido teacher. Igor attended all his seminars in Moscow and in 1996 managed to go to GB for a month to join Kanetsukas dojo and British Aikido Federation summer school.
In 1994 Igor registered an Aikido Federation of Republic of Moldova (FARM) and sent an invitational letter to Giorgio Veneri (A General Secretaty of IAF). Igor made a mistake in Giorgios name but in 1995 Veneri came with George Raiku, a president of Romanian Aikikai, and at the same year Igor was at a seminar of Masatake Fujita Shihan in Bucharest, Romania. From this day on Shihan became Igors teacher and a Technical Director of FARM. Next video was made by Zakharevitch in Sofia, Bulgaria in the same year.
I could say a lot about the relationship of my sensei and Masatake Fujita but I never seen it by myself. Good news is that Igor wrote a post about it by himself on his site and post is full of private details so don’t you dare to skip it.
Since 1992 Igor had his black belt. He made it within Aikido European Confederation and his Shodan in Aikikai he received from Masatake Fujita only in 1997. Another hakama on a next video is Vitalie Oncea, Igors good friend and active sensei.
From 1998 FARM was officially recognized by the Hombu Dojo and since then more than 20 Igor students received black belts and a count is growing.
Zakharevitch continued his aikido journey. He received a Nidan and soon in 2007 a Sandan. Both from the same Masatake Fujita.
In 2010 Igor spent two months in Japan, at Iwama Dojo, learning as much as he can from Moriteru Ueshiba and senseis you know very well these days. It was an anniversary of the founder’s passing at the time when Igor was there.
In 2008 Fujita Shihan got sick and aikido with him discontinued. Yokimitsu Kobayashi Shihan was a curator of FRAA (Romania) at the time and still is while FRAA is a friend and neighbour federation to FARM (Moldova). Shihan was the one to accept Igors 4th Dan Aikikai in 2011. In 2012 Zakharevitch Sensei got a Shidoin status and a right to certify black belts from the Doshu.
These days Igor is giving aikido lessons for six days in a week, making a great job to fit the standarts of Aikikai and to spread the aikido experience he collected through life. You can see him making aikido outside of the country often and apart from his trips he is the main organizer of the International Aikido Seminar with Etsuji Horii Sensei in Moldova. There will be a third one in Moldova on October 6-8, 2017. Practical part of the seminar will last for 15 hours during a weekend! and, in case you have thoughts about coming, the dates are fitting an anual Wine Festival in the country. Wine quality and quantity are the things our country is really proud of.
In 2017 year Zakharevitch received his 5th Dan Aikido Aikikai. What he really puts his attention on in aikido is effectiveness and clear forms. This is one of the reasons he works constantly with the weapons. He usually starts with very simple moves and step by step combining them to the most difficult ones and, what’s important, making it all very clear for the student minds. Game goes on, progressing and more to follow.
Aikido Moldova youtube channel is made by Igor. You’ll be able to find a lot of archive videos, lessons, exams of Igors students, videos that he makes, likes and you can even find me there ^^ To make it closer to a full picture here’s a link to his Aikido MD site, Aikikai MD site link, an AikiCenter facebook page and Aikido Weapons Jo Bokken Tanto facebook page dedicated to weapons. Everything you find there is already a high grade content.