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  • Writer's picturejouan

FRANCE ,Interview with Razvan Mavrodinescu

Today I have the chance to interview a karate teacher who teaches in the French territory. We met ten years ago in Paris during a training course led by El Marhomy Sensei, and at that time this young man really impressed me by his attitude and his skills.

The hazards of life make that today he has chosen to settle down and to be the ambassador of Fudokan in France. And as I am interested in traditional karate, without sectarianism of federations, and by privileging a common base, and as I want to share my encounters, I proposed to interview him and to know a little more about a course which is not so common!

Sylvain JOUAN: Hello Razvan, I am delighted that you agreed to share your experience with us. First of all, to get to the heart of the matter, if I were to ask you in a few words: "Razvan Mavrodinescu, who is this man? what could you answer to me ?

Razvan MAVRODINESCU: My name is Razvan MAVRODINESCU, I am 44 years old this year and I have been passionate about martial arts for 36 years and especially karate for 32 years. In my life, I wear several hats, first of all I am the head of a small family, I am the father of a little boy of 6 years old, and I am a sports coach, president of the association Fudokan pour Tous, recently elected to the Territorial Committee Sports for All Alsace, I feel that I have found my way.

SJ Can you tell us about your background? How and at what age did you start karate?

RZ I grew up under the communist era, in Romania, and despite the system in which I lived, I was lucky enough to have my first contact with martial arts at the age of 8, thanks to my father who worked in the Romanian Air Force and who had access to a self-defense training.

After the revolution of '89, I started practicing karate with the Pricob family (Vasile and Florica) in Braila, my home town.

Later, I moved to Galati during my years of study at the University of Sport, and there I trained under the direction of Ionete Gabriela (multiple European and world champion, veteran of the Romanian national traditional karate team)

It is in a last club, directed by Nicolae Marandici (current president of the Federation of Traditional Karate) that I ended my career as an athlete.

All my athletic career took place under the direction of Dan Stuparu, the president of the Romanian Federation of Traditional Shotokan-Fudokan Karate.

I learned a lot from all these people...

SJ : Emmanuel Ramanatsalama, the Sensei of Sophie, my companion, had a lot of friendship for Sensei Stuparu that he had met in Poland .....

RZ: The first national championship for juniors took place in Cluj, in 1992, where I had the joy of becoming champion in team kata

I joined the national team in 1995 and until 2004! I continued to win medals both individually and as a team, passing through all categories until the seniors where I had the crowning of my sports career with 2 titles of European champion Fudokan in individual kumite, and team.

SJ : Wow, congratulations for your brilliant career!

I am a curious man, I saw the name Fudokan appearing on foreign blogs dedicated to karate more than a decade ago and I had asked the question to the French people in charge who had avoided the question ... so now, I was able to realize what it represents, I even met the founder of your school, but I would like you to explain to us, for the people who read us, the Fudokan and its specificities, its katas etc...

RZ: Fudokan means a house with solid foundations, it is the work of ilija Jorga Sensei.

I will explain you the Fudokan as I feel it.

Karate is the same everywhere, we cannot change the techniques, they are clear, but the Do, the way, can be different for each individual.

Each of us will understand the Do in a different way, I tell you this having studied and observed different masters over time Nishiyama, Kanazawa, Shirai, Kase, Jorga, and even more recently Jean François Tissier Sensei, of course I have not met all of them, but I have read and I have watched their videos carefully

Dan Stuparu Sensei said that Fudokan is the fruit of traditional karate, I found out later that these were the words of Nishiyama when he recognized Fudokan as an independent style.

Fudokan has specific katas like many karate styles, but

what connects me most with Fudokan is the meaning of its name: the house with a solid foundation.

The best person to talk about Fudokan would be its founder, ilija Jorga Sensei.

SJ: Besides ilija jorga sensei, who are the teachers who inspired you?

RZ: I think we have something to learn from everyone,

The man and practitioner that I am today is the result of the experience I have accumulated, the lessons I have learned and the inspirations I have found along the way.

If Ilija Jorga is the one who inspired me the most spiritually, others inspired me philosophically; the reading of Gighin Funakoshi's books and the understanding of his vision of karate that he transmitted in his books was like an illumination in the search of my Do, my way.

I was also guided in the search of my way by Jean François Tissier, French federal expert who said during a training course; either you are or you are not

And I chose to become, I chose to be...

To explain myself better, at that time, I was still trying to imagine how to show that Fudokan exists and that we could not pass by. (you told me yourself that when you asked about the Fudokan style, you were ignored...)

Hearing these words I had a revelation, really, and I understood that I was looking in vain for imaginary solutions when I simply had to make arrangements, to put my discipline into practice, to move from reflection to action.

This would make the Fudokan visible in a clear way and also make my attitude, my spirit visible ... and demonstrate that ...

"I am Fudokan".

I understood at that moment that most people can't conceive the difference until they see it,

To show them that Fudokan existed, it was necessary to embody it.

When for society, being is what is visible, for me, and maybe for many others, being is feeling.

When for society, being is what is visible, for me, and maybe for many others, being is feeling.

Unfortunately, we live in society and if you want to feel what you are, you have to show it,.... or you can stay alone and feel only yourself, being.

Also, this "being" has impacted me deeply on an inner level,

I had to develop my skills to be able to show, to learn to control my emotions better, to express myself better, to try to improve myself personally so that when the time came, in order to make Fudokan known, I could demonstrate it and pleasantly surprise my audience.

When you start looking and you know where you are going, you realize how much you have to learn and you know that you will always be a student, but as I said, we live in a society and if for me I am still a student, for others I am a teacher, for me this is what I feel in the meaning of "being".

SJ: You have been for a while on the south of France, how did it go?

RZ: I started this chapter of my life at the end of 2016...

I came to France with two dreams in my heart; the birth of my son and the development of Fudokan in this country

Even though I went through many unfortunate events, my dreams kept me going, I kept smiling and fed my spirit through training and everything I could acquire as a karateka.

It was a new place, a new country, a new language, a new life.

Nobody knew me, they just knew that I was a foreigner from an Eastern country.

I'll tell you a little anecdote:

I had registered in a karate club in Toulon, when I introduced myself, the teacher was suspicious and obviously did not believe me when I mentioned that I was a former European karate champion.

By chance, the next day, there was a seminar with a federal expert in a town near Toulon, and I was invited to attend.

It was a seminar orchestrated by a French federal expert who did not know me. This Sensei took me as an example in front of 80 participants; true masters put the spirit before everything else !

After this seminar, I was really accepted in the Dojo, and in many others, and I was allowed to give karate classes.

It was a first part won, for my heart and my Fudokan spirit, but I saw how much I still had to learn and I understood that I had to constantly prepare myself.

After two years of survival on the French Riviera, (and survival I can say), I decided to move to Alsace, and that's when I really started to learn French and to consider a plan so that the Fudokan as I imagined it could really come to life

SJ: Your anecdote reminds me of something since during the Parisian seminar where we met you were constantly taken as an example (I still remember your kata ki-tei!!!)!

Survival on the French Riviera, I live about an hour away from Toulon, I know the area well, but I would like you to tell me more please...

RZ: Yeah, when I say I survived, it's not an image. It's

really survival...

I was now a father, my son had just been born...

Nobody believed in my plans, not even my parents. What could I expect from others?

But I had the certainty that the Universe was preparing me for what was going to happen, I just had to believe and move forward without hesitation, just feel. And that's what I did.

And yet...

I remember painfully that I was not able to offer much to my family, I was only offering a plate of food. It was a big stress...

I had received an offer to be paid for my work at the karate club I mentioned before, but it was a symbolic sum compared to the efforts I was making...I preferred to refuse

I started to train alone on the beach and to continue the construction of Fudokan in my imagination.

I started this construction from scratch as an external version, and with an excellent internal version, but not everyone can see beyond the physical image.

In the meantime, my wife found a job in Switzerland and we decided to move to Alsace.

SJ: In relation to what you just said, (you lost me in your speech) what do you mean by "excellence" "internal version", "external version"?

RZ: When I arrived in Alsace, everything was not so simple .... I had to wait more than 6 months to access a training course to learn the French language.

It was the first step to be able to express myself with words and be understood.

And I see that I still make many mistakes!

When I talk about the inner excellence that I had built, I want to express the foundation of a house (Fudokan) that the eyes can't see. The emotions, the pain, the patience, the perseverance, the past trials, the lived experiences, to observe the energies (we are all energy) and to understand them, the laws of the universe and the alignment of my being on them and especially the faith, in short I can summarize the self mastery through my personal development...

SJ: Since you are in Alsace, I could see that you have an overflowing energy, it is besides what characterizes you best; you are now part of the federation sport for all, like our common friend Pascal Muller, can you tell me the advantages that you took from it?

RZ: Yes, that's another chapter! If I talk about federations, I'm going to talk about politics, and I don't want to get into that.

I will say that Sport Pour Tous offered me the chance to show who I am and also implicitly to be the launching pad of Fudokan in France.

I thank them very much and I am proud to be part of their team.

I can transmit my values and my vision in their way, don't forget that I am a professional sports coach.

SJ: You also created the name Fudokan-Fit® and innovated on the evaluation of the acquisition of skills in your students, it is super creative and inspiring, can you tell us more?

RZ: The greatest quality of a karateka is to adapt, the one who practices Fudokan has to put the emphasis on the intellect, that's how this physical and mental course reached the sport market.

The Fudokan-Fit® course comes from Fudokan and the prefix Fit (which comes from fitness) and translates into a set of physical and mental activities that allow the practitioner to improve his or her physical condition and lifestyle by creating a global well-being.

It is also a very natural way to develop oneself personally and to become one's own leader, one of the main objectives being to harmonize one's internal energies to work together towards a common goal.

When I talk about this Fudokan-Fit®, I talk about shin-gi-tai but in simplified terms and I talk about the 3 C's rule; heart - brain - body

Many people do not understand that being human is to harmonize and balance these three elements

First there is the heart, at the symbolic level, it makes you feel, it provides you with energy, it is your soul. At the anatomical level the heart sends oxygenated blood to the organs ....

Secondly, there is the brain. Like a computer, it looks for solutions to what the heart proposes in relation to external factors (daily life, life in society, etc...)

Lastly, there is the body which executes, following what the heart has decided, and according to the direction chosen by the brain

SJ: I follow attentively what you do in your dojo. I would have liked you to talk about the evaluations, where you ask the little karatekas not only to have a technique but to understand what they do at all levels, including knowing and understanding the dojo kun...

RZ: For children who practice karate-do, I use simple basic techniques, but on the other hand I attach great importance to the ethical principles of karate, such as the kun dojo.

Also, etiquette must be learned and applied in the dojo as well as at school and in the family.

I use the fundamental principle of Fudokan-(house with a good foundation),

I try to accompany them to build a strong internal foundation, from a young age, I focus on creating a strong inner self and then we will seek balance between inner (mind) and outer (technique).

Creating an inner stability will give you the chance to grow in technique, let's not forget that the body is limited.

"Mind over technique - Gighin Funakoshi

From my experience as an athlete, I understood that sports competitions allow you to learn to control your emotions, and from my point of view this is the only advantage of a sports competition.

That's why I don't agree with sport karate and sport competition, but I do agree with an educational competition (tournament), meaning that each event is related to the level you have reached and not to the others.

We organize an educational tournament for Christmas where we have three events for children (4-12 years old): a motor event, a technical event and a test of knowledge and understanding of Dojo-kun (I called it an ethics event).

I offer all participating children the joy of being rewarded and standing on a podium, but I keep the lineage of Funakoshi, his fundamental objectives being education and self-defense.

In the future I will increase the age level of the participants and the motor test will become a Tameshiwari strength test and we will evolve the ethical test by adding new information about the states of mind encountered in karate.

SJ: How do you manage to maintain your direction in a landscape where karate is more and more sporty, demonstrative and where the basics are often neglected?

RZ: Fudokan emphasizes the spirit, the culture of Budo, encourages a detailed study and invites you to question everything you do.

Other than these things, going back to the basics for us is not technique first, it's more about self-discovery, so when someone asks you who you are, you can answer.

I don't deny that Fudokan also has a sporting side, but it's not my way, so I can't pass it on.

SJ: I'm going to ask you a practical question; self-discovery, how can we do it? What are the paths you suggest?

RZ: In my personal case, the most useful way to develop myself was meditation, talking to myself, to understand when I should be in action and when I should just observe.

The idea is that you can't develop just by reading, you have to live and have the courage to say no or yes depending on the moment, you can tell by listening to your soul.

SJ: What advice could you give to those who would consider starting karate-do today?

RZ: Karate is a tool to find your path, to respond to who you really are. Learn karate and find your path (Do)

SJ: And your wishes for karate-do in the future, for France, for the world?

RZ: I saw not long ago how the great and famous Masao Kagawa, now communicates to return to the spirit of Funakoshi.

I wonder why this recommendation now .... After they have not reached the Olympic goal?

I just smile and now I think you understand why my spirit rejoices every day and transmits this overflowing energy: we are on the right track.

In order to become a role model for others, it is important to be aware that there must be a synchronization between what we feel, what we say and what we do.

Basically, the power of example is the fastest form of educating others, but also of self-education.

SJ: Thank you Razvan for this interview, I am delighted that you gave me some of your time, we could go a little further than just pictures with you and I hope that those who will read this article will be inspired by your experience, to know that Fudokan really exists, that traditional karate-do is not just an empty word, and that all over the world, and in France, there are thousands of practitioners who practice karate as a way, under different names.

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