Interview Dumitru Alexandru - Okinawa Times 2019

1. Where and when were you born?

R: I was born in Horodistea, a village in the North of Romania, in 17.03.1957;

2. When did you start Martial Arts and Karate?

R: I first studied Judo and Ju-Jitsu, in 1973, and then, in 1979 I began to practice Karate;

3. How did you meet Okinawa Karate and who was your first instructor?

R: I began to practice Okinawan Karate in 1980, inspired by Grand Master Shoshin Nagamine's book " Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do". My first instructor was a Japanese engineer who worked in Romania. His name was Tawada.

4. Are you a Karate Professional? If so, since when?

R: Yes, I am a professional Karate man, since 2009;

5. If not, what is your profession?

R: I used to work in the army as an officer;

6. According to you, when Karate was introduced in Romania and who are the pioneers?

R: it is hard to tell. Before 1989, Karate was forbidden by the Communist Regime. It was practiced stealthily. We used to fool the authorities by making them believe that we were practicing Judo (Karate was considered to be a sport for hooligans and was considered to instigate people). After the Revolution, in December 1989 and after the fall of the Communist Regime in 10th January 1990, it was founded the first Martial Arts Federation where all the Karate styles found their place. I was a founding member;

7. Where do you live presently?

R: In the present I live in Romania, Targoviste city (Dracula's city);

8. Where is you dojo located and what is its name?

R: My dojo is in Targoviste, Tineretului Street. It is called Alex Martial Arts Club;

9. When did you open it?

R: My dojo was opened in 1987. Here are included many dojos with the name of Romania Shorin Ryu Karate Do;

10. Do you teach both Karate and Kobudo there?

R: I teach Karate and Kobudo also;

11. How many students train with you in your dojo?

R: In my dojo, there are approximately 65 students who are studying Karate;

12: How many dojo do you oversee altogether?

R: To Romania Shorin Ryu Karate Do there are 7 dojos which are affiliated;

13.What are your present ranks and where and by who were you grated?

R: My rank is 7th Dan accorded by Hanshi Phillip Koeppel (10th Dan) and Hanshi Parker Shelton (9th Dan) in 2013 and recognized and equated by Takeshi Tamaki Sensei (9th Dan, Okinawa);

14.What has brought Karate to you?

R: Karate has brought me balance. I met many masters and students from different countries, I made many friends in the entire world;

15.In Romania, people start and practice Karate as self-defense method, a sport or a martial art?

R: At first, Karate was studied as a self-defense art, but now, unfortunately, it is transformed in a sport competition;

16.How many times have you come to Okinawa?

R: Just one time, in September 2017;

17.What is your best memory of your visit to Okinawa?

R: Many beautiful things. I was really impressed by the kindness of people and their culture (they are different by the Europeans);

18.What do you do when you are not teaching Martial Arts?

R: I like riding the bike. I keep myself posted about Okinawan Karate and Kobudo, from books and Internet;

19.What is the general situation of Karate in Romania?

R: In Romania, there are 2 big Karate Sport Federations. One is called WKF (World Karate Federations) and the other one WUKF (World United Karate Federations). I am member in the last one and I am responsible for the Shorin Ryu style and Kobudo;

20.Are there other Okinawan Organizations in Romania?

R: Yes, there is another one for Goju Ryu, with 3 dojos on Sensei Higaonna's line;

21.How did you find Nagamine Sensei's book?

R: Sensei Nagamine's book was brought in 1980, from England, by a friend called Florin Patrascu. He was able to travel for a month with his job. He was a senior student of Sensei Tawada and he remained head master in the dojo after Mr. Tawada's departure from Romania. I trained with Sensei Tawada between 1978-1979. Since 1980 we started to study kata from Sensei Nagamine's book;

22.Could you provide some more info on Mr. Tawada: given name, the style he practiced, if he is still alive?

R: Asao Tawada practiced Goju Ryu style, so my first steps in Karate were in Goju Ryu style. I do know nothing about him after his departure. On Communist Regime Times there was impossible to keep in touch with someone from abroad. If he still lives he should be about 83 years old;

23.Mr. Phillip Koeppel and Mr. Parker Shelton trained in Matsumura Seito Shorin Ryu I believe. Where and how did you meet them?

R: Sensei Phillip Koeppel practiced Matsumura Seito Shorin Ryu. I studied bunkai with him. Sensei Parker Shelton practiced Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu. He was one of the senior students of Sensei Jim Wax. Sensei Jim Wax was the first black belt gived by Sensei Shoshin Nagamine to a Western person. Sensei Parker Shelton also studied with Shihan Ansei Ueshiro who was one of the senior students of Sensei Nagamine and who was established in USA and who died in 2000. I studied Kata Matsubayashi Ryu with Sensei Shelton. He came every year to Romania for the seminars, until his death, in 2012. Sensei Koeppel is a direct student of Yuichi Kuda Sensei, who was a senior of Sensei Hohan Soken. I met Mr. Shelton and Mr. Koeppel in 2000 with the aid of Sensei Patrick Beaumont, from Ireland with the opportunity of a seminar and USKK European Championship where I was invited. In 2005, Mr. Koeppel visited me in Romania. Last year, on 23rd of August he fulfilled 83 years old and he is still active;

24.When did you start studying with a Matsubayashi Ryu instructor? Who was he?

R: The first recognition and attestation was made by Sensei Jim Driggs, in 1993. He was a practicant of Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu style and a member of World Shorin Ryu Karate Do USA. He helped us with books and video tapes. He died this year in January. The real study and correction of the technique, kata, etc has started in 2000 when I become the direct student of Sensei Shelton with whom I met every year for the seminars until his death, in 2012;

25.Mr. Parker Shelton passed away. But is Mr. Koeppel still alive?

R: Mr. Parker Shelton died in 2012 and Mr. Koeppel still teaches in Peoria, USA;

26.When did you retire from the army? In 2009 when you start becoming professional?

R: I retired from the army in 2009, I become professor in primary school where I teach Karate and a professional in my dojo where I teach Karate and Kobudo. This is the only thing I do now;

27.Do you have a diploma or a paper with your name in Katakana? If so, cand you send a copy for consistency?

R: Yes, I have many diplomas starting with 2003. I will send you some;

28.What does "Alex" in your dojo name stands for?

R: The word "Alex" is the shorten form of my first name "Alexandru" and stands for the promoting of original Okinawan Karate and Kobudo;

29.What system of Kobudo do you follow?

R: The system of Kobudo is Yamani Ryu. I first started in 2008 with Sensei Eihachi Ota (10th Dan Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu and Kobudo). In Okinawa I was introduced in Tamaki Takeshi's dojo by Sensei Jerry Figgiani, from USA.

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