Igor Zaharevich was born on March 23, 1963, in Chisinau, Moldova. He’s a 5 Dan Aikido Aikikai Shidoin and a founder of the Aikido Federation in the country.
At the end of the ’70s, karate made much of the interest in the country and Igor got his hands on Karate Wado-Ryu’s book when he was 19 years old. A book was in French but a treasure anyway. Somewhere in the chapter of the book where evasions were explained was a sentence that became a future motivation to a future 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. It is traditionally necessary to first block a blow and only then to launch a counterattack but evasions allow to defend and counterattack simultaneously.
Soon Igor was able to find a Yoshinkan Aikido Book from Gozo Shioda. A book was in Serbo-Croatian this time but a purchase increased an interest even more.
The 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 the 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 Zakharevitch his first Aikido lesson in a circus building. In two months Igor was in Moscow where Oleg introduced him to Veacheslav Matveev and Alexander Kachan who were practicing Aikido in Moscow State University. Igor spent a week there and found his first teacher in the face of Veacheslav. Here’s what Igor wrote about it:
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 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 a first Aikido Dojo. 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 hakama’s and this was much for the time.
Minoru Kanetsuka, 6th Dan Aikido Aikikai at that time was visiting Moscow and became Igor’s first Japanese Aikido teacher. Igor attended all his seminars in Moscow and in 1996 managed to go to Great Britain for a month to join Kanetsuka’s Dojo and British Aikido Federation summer school.
In 1994 Igor registered an Aikido Federation of Republic of Moldova and sent an invitational letter to Giorgio Veneri who was a General Secretary of the IAF. In 1995 Veneri came with George Raiku, a president of Romanian Aikikai, and in the same year, Igor was at a seminar of Masatake Fujita Shihan in Bucharest, Romania. From this day on Shihan became Igor’s teacher and a Technical Director of the Federation in Moldova. Next video was made by Zaharevich in Sofia, Bulgaria in the same year.
Since 1992 Igor had a black belt from Aikido European Confederation and his Shodan in Aikikai was received from Masatake Fujita only in 1997. Another hakama on the next video is Vitalie Oncea, Igor’s friend and active Sensei.
From 1998 FARM was officially recognized by the Hombu Dojo and more than 30 Igor’s students received black belts since. The count is still growing.
Igor 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. He trained in Hombu and Iwama Dojo as much as he was able to under the Moriteru Ueshiba and Japanese Shihans. It was the anniversary of the founder’s passing when Igor was in Japan and visited an event in Iwama also.
Zaharevich Sensei is teaching five days a week 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. Join a Facebook group to stay tuned for the next seminar.
Igor holds a 5th Aikikai Dan currently. He really puts his attention on the effectiveness and clear forms. This is one of the reasons he works constantly with weapons. He usually starts with very simple moves. Step by step he combines them to the most difficult ones and, what’s important, makes it all very clear for the student’s mind.
Aikido.md and Aikido Moldova Youtube Channel are made by Igor. You’ll be able to find a lot of videos, lessons, exams of Igor’s students. To make it closer to a full picture here are the links to the AikiCenter Facebook page and Aikido Weapons Jo Bokken Tanto Facebook page dedicated to weapons.