has always been famous for its individuals who like to live life to its
limits. It therefor goes without saying that if it's a question of
Karate, then it must be full-contact, without protective equipment or
The Moscow "Sindo Ryu" school, spreading and
advancing the Okinawa Te style, is led by Sensei Valeriy Maistrovoy ( 7th
Dan in Okinawa Te and Kobudo).
He is also President of the International Federation of Okinawa Karate in Europe, member of the
Counsel of Directors of the World-wide Okinawa Te Federation and Head
Instructor for the European region.
Valeriy Maistrovoy, a legend in the world of karate, student of Meitoki Yagi
(10th dan), Takayoshi Nagamine (10th dan), Eihachi Ota (9th dan), Hanashiro Naito (6th dan) is
the only Russian to have been offered a seat on the Board of Directors
of the Japanese Federation.He stubbornly avoids any contact with the
karateka circle in Moscow and does absolutely no advertising whatsoever
for his own school "Shorin Ryu".
Here below we publish the exclusive interview of Valeriy Maistrovoy that appeared in the Russian magazine "Medved".
Valeriy, how did you first get involved in karate?
It was at the beginning of the 1980's. The end of the epoch
of late decline in Russia. Karate was strictly forbidden. We trained in
sort-of clubs,in gym on the outskirts of the city, disguising ourselves
as basketball or volleyball players and as God only knows what else.
Naturally there were no exercises with weapons, no kimonos or belts.
The sign of the karate master was black pants, and a black tee-shirt.
At the door of the gym we placed two guys with a basketball, who in
case of danger would give the signal. In addition to this I would work
out a few hours a day at home. In those days I was one of the top ten
karateka in Moscow.
Okinawa Te is a very tough, even violent form of karate, practically unknown , how were you introduced to it?
Thanks to our Army which was then called "the school of
manhood". There was a lot of browbeating, you probably know yourself
what I am referring to. I'm a quiet person by nature, but I can't stand
being humiliated. From the first day on I rebelled, feeling that I
could do something with my karate, and fought them off. I went against
the system and soon there was a lot of pressure bearing down on me. I
had to fight several times a day for seven months. The most unpleasant
discovery for me was though I could fight off 4 or 5 of them at the
same time, I couldn't neutralize them. However, surprisingly one day
one of my blows, which didn't belong to the classical techniques of
Moscow Karate, hit home. The adversary didn't get up again. A little
later I connected with a few of the same blows. My opponents understood
that they could not break me. But if the system can't break a man then
it annihilates him. Another time I find myself facing 15 men armed with
only one goal in mind -to make mincemeat out of me. But
suddenly,unexpectedly I fell into a sort of state of trance
consciousness, probably the months of sleeplessness and violent
psychological and physical pressure and taken their toll. If before I
had fought to defend my self-respect then at that moment I felt that I
didn't give a damn whether I lived or died. My fear of death had
You entered a state of "empty" consciousness?
Yes, but at that time I neither knew the term nor that only
great karate masters with help of psychological training of the
subconscious can declench a reflexive consciousness and go into a
special trance like state of consciousness called Mu sin, "empty
the whole, reaching "empty consciousness" is the main goal of the
system of psycho-regulation in martial arts and can be defined with two
terms: Tsiki-no - kokoro (spirit like the moon). having the color of
the moon which equally illuminates everything, this consciousness
enables you to perceive your opponent as a whole, and Midzu-no Kokoro
(the spirit like water) - resembling the surface of water giving right
reflections. This consciousness makes it possible for you, to forget
about attack and defense and to concentrate on the real intentions of
your adversary, thus giving you a real advantage over him.
Attacking, fending off attacks, take place at the level of the
subconscious. That is to say that "empty consciousness" - embodies -
"the harmony of being". And that the assailant disturbs this harmony.
The Karate master subconsciously restores this harmony.
And this consciousness can be attained through training sessions?
Yes, either through psychological training or as it was in
my case,my self-defense system automatically switched the brain over
into this mode. At that moment I felt that I had no past, no future.
There was only the present.
So how did that fight turn out?
Nothing happened. They looked at me, then backed away
throwing their stools. None of them dared attack. This fight in which I
threw no blows, I consider my best victory.
And you never tried turning to the officers for help?
You are pulling my leg ,aren't you? This system is a system
in which they all cover for each other. Anyway, I now feel that a man
must resolve his own problems on his own.
Yes, but what if the price you have to pay to solve this problem is you life?
It doesn't matter, by oneself, otherwise life is not worth it. Anyway, each person must decide for themselves.
After serving in the Army, you returned to Moscow?
Yes I arrived in Moscow, went directly to my karate section
and said: "Hey, guys, everything that we've been doing so far is real
shit. In a real fight when you're risking your life, our karate is not
effective, you can't defend yourself. It's all very beautiful but
nothing more. But in response to this I encountered only
And you didn't try other branches?, other schools?
Yes, I did. I went round to all the other gyms in Moscow,
trying to make some sense out of it all. I took part in a lot of
fights, showing off what I was now capable of. Everybody told me that
this wasn't sport, that it was "pure and simple murder". But "their
sport" Ihad already tested on my skin. I could no longer go back to
no-contact or semi-contact karate, nor did I desire to do so. What's
our world coming to anyway.? It's all the same effect spineless
tendency - skimmed milk, cholesterol - dangerous for the health, only
sex with condoms, A.I.D.S., no-contact or semi-contact karate or with a
pile of protective equipment. Unfortunately a real man with his male
passions - is becoming an extremely unpopular individual. A simple
example, count how many magazines are presently being published in
Moscow for women and for gays - at least 15, and for men only two. Men
as a class are disappearing.
How did your relations with sportive karate end?
Advising them to reorientate themselves to checkers I decided to give up karate studies.
But you didn't give it up completely?
No, I left sportive karate. None of the "cultivated styles"
of karate satisfied my needs. It was completely by chance that I heard
from a guy, who had practically no connections with karate, but often
traveled to Japan, about the existence of Ancient Okinawa Karate - one
of the most secretive and violent styles of karate, bouts are full
contact, protective equipment is not used, and there are neither
fighting rules nor weight categories. The only blows forbidden are ones
to the eyes. I understood immediately that it is was for me.
as far as I know, they don't let outsiders come even anywhere near this
supersecretive school. It is not Shaolin, in which it's now possible to
take a two-week training course for fifty dollars and receive a diploma
as almost a Shaolin monk.
It's, probably, the most difficult task that I have ever
succeeded in accomplishing in my life, which I started working on
twenty years ago when I first got into Karate. The man, who had told me
about Okinawa Te knew Sensei Hanashiro Haito - the Head of the Ancient
Okinawa Karate Sindoryu Sidjuitikay School. He introduced me to him.
The main advantage of the training sessions is the esoteric knowledge
of the school. This is their greatest secret. Knowing the methodology
of the training courses - within one year you can work in full-contact
without any risk of injuries.In other styles when they have tried
full-contact fights there have been serious injuries.
So what are you trying to say is that Okinawa Te eliminates the risk of trauma?
Yes, in the last ten years there have been no incidents in
my school. The reason is quite simple: development of the muscular
structure, the ability to take a blow, increase in the thresholds of
both endurance and pain. And the main method is the practice of Kata.
And what exactly is "Kata"?
It's the system of fighting movements, like notes and
scales in music, which includes all the main actions and movements
existing in the style. The person performing Kate leads a meditative
fight against several adversaries, attacking at the same time, being of
various sizes and styles, and having different techniques for the use
of blows and weapons. Kata reconstitutes the conditions of a real
fight, and makes you react subconsciously. As a result an automatism of movements and reflexes takes place.
And how did you succeed in becoming a student of Hanashiro Naito?
As I have already said ,I was recommended. He came to
Moscow and saw how we worked in the Doju and stayed for a rather long
period of time, passing on to me some of his knowledge and since then
we have maintained rather close relations. Last year I went to Okinawa
and passed the 4th Dan level exam. After the exam I was offered a seat
on the board of Directors of the Worldwide Okinawa Te Federation.
As far as I know you are the only Russian to have been shown such an honor?
In classical Ancient Okinawa Karate yes, in other styles, I
have no idea. Unfortunately even in Japan the understanding of Karate
has been devaluated. Tens of lighter styles have been created. We do
not maintain any relations whatsoever with these styles. On the Board
of Directors I represent Sindo Ryu - the most violent style of Ancient
So how did the exam go?
Four and a half hours non-stop of exercises, Kata, Kobudo.
Hasn't organized crime approached you with job offers?
Yes, they have, several times, but I never give any thought
to such offers, for me they are unacceptable for moral reasons as well
as for the soul in accordance with the philosophy of Okinawa Te. I have
worked with our Secret Services and Special Forces, trained the
instructors of hand-to-hand combat team of the G.R.U. (Russian C.I.A.).
This summer I held seminars for analogous structures in Slovakia,
Hungary and Bulgaria. I was offered a permanent job in Chuchkovo but I
could never leave my own school in Moscow, my own students. All of my
first students, both male and female, now have gone on to be
instructors of Okinawa Te.
Sorry to interrupt you but are there women who train in your school?
On Okinawa it so happened that women had to protect
themselves against Samurais, which is why Okinawa Te is a very
interesting methodology for teaching them. From the very beginning
Okinawa Te was created as a Karate style for both men and women, and
women have always attained great success with Okinawa Te. One girl, who
had trained under me for a year found herself in a very unpleasant
situation this summer. In the entrance of her building a maniac with a
knife twice her weight attacked her. She knocked the knife out of her
assailant's hand, and when he threw himself on her for the second time
she broke his arm - open fracture - and then called the police. When
they arrived and saw this dainty little daisy of a girl and the
marauder with a broken arm they just shook their heads in disbelief.
It's all down in black and white in the police report. And the most
important thing is that she still can't understand how she managed to
do it. There you have it - one of the main task of Okinawa Te is to
carry out movements subconsciously, like a reflex.
Valeriy, but you are training people who can kill with one hand?
Not just with one hand, but also with one leg. I'm only
kidding. In Okinawa Te there is a code of rules, one of which states:
"The karate disciple must never use his knowledge in martial arts in
the street except in extremely dangerous situations". Anyway, you know,
whenever I've bought kitchen-knives or an axe I've never once seen the
directions: "Warning. Not to be used for killing or carving people up".
But people kill each other, don't they? Anybody can use them in any
way. It all depends upon their level of sanity. The teaching of martial
arts is not the main goal of Okinawa Te, the main goal is
self-understanding and the attainment of the highest law of existence,
the perfection of the soul.
And where are the spiritual sources of Okinawa Te?
It's very difficult to answer this question. It all depends
on how far we go back in history. But if we are to take something as
the first principle of martial arts then it is undoubtedly "Sun Tsi".
Russia if we consider ourselves to have come from Googol's "Greatcoat",
then we can consider that martial arts originated with "Sun Tsi".
Please, go into details.
Sun Tsi was a famous warrior and philosopher who lived in
the ancient China of the 6th century AD He wrote a treatise about
martial arts. It is the most fundamental and most highly esteemed of
the "Seven volumes" of war treatises. It became the Bible of Martial
Arts of his generation. Besides a generalization of military strategypresident
Sun Tsi also embodies the notion of the highest law, which everyone on
this earth is subject to. It is the ancient conception "In-Yan". There
are two cosmic forces; "In" - darkness, moon, night, and "Yan" - light,
sun, day. The confrontation, embellishment and interaction of these two
forces starts the creation of harmony. This conception is underlined in
the famous "Book of Change". Sun Tsi demonstrated the effect of this
general law "In - Yan" in the sphere of martial arts, that through an
awareness of martial arts there is an awareness of the highest law of
Any real fight induces a return of harmony in a person's state of
being. From here marital arts are the way to self-awareness and
self-perfection, when you pass through the art of "Budo" - the way of
the warrior. So it turns out that it's much easier to kill someone with
a knife than to know oneself.
Please, let me change the subject. Do you take part in competitions?
No, I haven't been interested in this kind of thing for
quite some time, to try to prove something to somebody, What's the
point? It's much more interesting for me to practice Kata. But my
students do participate in different international full-contact
tournaments, in fights with no rules. Well, almost without any rules.
Every school that runs their tournament thinks up some kind of limits.
Don't finish off a man who is lying down, this is permitted, that is
forbidden, etc. But if you say that the fight is without rules, then so
be it. Everybody stepping onto the mats knows what do expect. You have
seen the videocassette of one of our tournaments. I presented boys, who
have been studying under me for 2-3 years, 6th Ku Orange Belt - student
level. They faced Black Belts - all twice the size of my guys. In the
second minute of the first fight my student broke the Black Belt's
nose, in the third minute of the second fight another one of my
students broke the jaw of his antagonist, also a Black Belt. In the
third bout after losing a few teeth and taking a blow to the liver, the
third Black Belt was forced to retire. And these students are only
Orange Belts. Who do I need to prove anything to anymore? And what am I
going to do with them on the mats anyway? I would like to add that in
the last ten years of appearances in tournaments my students have never
gone without taking prize - winning places.
So what are these "Black Belts" studying?
These guys don't practice real karate, but rather something
which I call "military gymnastics". I'm not judging them. Gymnastics is
a very beautiful sport, but in a real fight such skills are of little
or no use. Unfortunately as for the Black Belt it has no real meaning
anymore. The understanding of belts itself has been totally devaluated.
There have been guys who studied under me for one to one and a half
years, that went on to other schools, and then appeared six months
later with their Black Belts. In my school a disciple can take only the
6th Ku Orange Belt test having studied with us for at least a year and
a half. He has to master the essential quantity of know-how for his
level, as for what goes on in other schools ,I do not presume to judge.
How effective is Okinawa Te in comparison with other styles of Karate or with other martial arts?
As far as effectiveness is concerned none of them can touch Okinawa Te
Which means a person who has mastered Okinawa Te is unbeatable?
Yes, the only thing that can stop Okinawa Te fighters
having attained the master level is a bullet. And even with a bullet it
is difficult to do away with them. Remember how in Bogomolov's "In
August 1944" he described how officers of Smersh "swung the pendulum",
to capture an adversary armed with a pistol, they zigzagged towards him
taking the advantage of the fact that the sun was in his eyes.
A similar technique was developed on Okinawa over several ceturies.
Samurais, in addition to swords with which they could inflict four
blows in one second, also could be armed with muskets, and at a later
date, with more modern fire-arms. A man had to go up against the
Samurai with his bare hands. As a result this technique was developed
to perfection. So you can see that the "swinging pendulum" technique
was not invented in the twentieth century.
Have you and your students held fights with representatives of other martial arts?
Yes, as I've already said, time and time again in a lot of tournaments.
And what about under more informal conditions, without judges?
We ourselves don't go looking for matches, but during the
school's 10 year existence, representatives of almost all branches of
boxing and martial arts including so-called "street-fighters" have
turned up in our Doju and tried to work out with us under the brutal
rules of "Uri Kumi Go", but
they soon stopped such experiments. The reason being that in a few
cases the outcome of the bouts was so close to being fatal that the
decision was taken to end such "brotherly meetings". Almost all of
these fights were filmed and furthermore I have saved all the written
declarations in which they state that being of sound mind, they know
what to expect when they go out onto the mats, and that in case of
serious trauma, no claims will be lodged against the club. My demands
were met with snorts of contempt but later they found that it was no
You even demanded written declarations?
What did you expect? I know very well what kind of weapons
my students master and what they can do with a person who has studied
karate somewhat but has had no special training for full contact fights
without rules or protective equipment. The person can end up an invalid.
Can't you stop these fights before they lead to knockouts with serious consequences?
First of all they didn't come to us looking for some
friendly sparring and second of all in an Okinawa Te bout there are not
a lot of blows. As a rule it takes only one or two and it's all over.
As it is I asked my guys not use full force. But in a real fight this
is very difficult to do especially when your adversary is trying to
knock you out.
What kind of members does your school have?
There are wide range of them ,from boys to businessmen and
secret service officers. It's nice to know that we are the only school
in Moscow in which even Japanese people come to study under our
Do a lot of them have the guts to last for a long time?
The school is like a sieve. Losers don't hang on for long.
Do you charge money for your lessons?
I never refuse anyone lessons because of money. Those that
can pay, pay well and those that can't, study for free, and it's up to
each member to decide for themselves.
You are an altruistic person?
Knowledge mustn't be sold for money. This is my principle.
But we have to rent gymnasiums, so those who can pay, pay. In general
we only accept people after an interview.
And a test of their physical abilities?
Physical abilities are not everything and anyway we can
easily develop them. The most important thing is that their views on
life coincide with the main conditions of Okinawa Te. Unfortunately
sometimes we make mistakes.
After what you went through in the Army didn't you come to hate people?
In Karate the notion of hate doesn't exist. You should
never hate your opponent. In a fight you must be calm. Hate is an
emotion that uses up a lot of energy. The opponent must either fear you
or respect you, and you must be calm. There was one case when two great
masters started a bout by standing for a few minutes staring each other
down, then separated, agreeing to call it a draw. They were both calm,
with an identical strength in their soul.
Is the attainment of a strong soul more important than techniques in Okinawa Te?
No, everything is interrelated. Technique is useless if the
soul is weak and vice-versa. But first of all you must overcome
yourself. Emotions don't conform with the notion of Okinawa Te.
Nevertheless it's probably the soul that is primary. Look, here's a
unique example. I've got a guy studying under me, who as the result of
a serious injury in Afghanistan, lost a leg. You should see how he
works out in the Doju. The strength of his soul is to be envied, and as
a result he has a quite high technical level and he keeps improving.
Overcoming oneself - is probably the most important aspect of Okinawa
Te. Overcome oneself and the technique will come all by itself.
On seeing the videocassettes I would say that it's not a very pretty show in comparison with Hollywood martial arts - films.
You mustn't take karate for cinema. When I see how Van Dam
does his famous uramawashi I start to laugh. In the time it takes him
to do it any of my students could have taken him out several times.
He's always leaving himself exposed. In general, in cinema they try to
make karate look like figure skating. Beautiful, eye-catching but
completely not effective. Real karate and especially Ancient Okinawa
Karate is not a show. You know, the main principle is "to kill with one
blow". A few imperceptible movements and the adversary falls. The
effective blow we can hardly see, if the blow is visible then it's not
effective. The fundamentals of Okinawa Te technique are:
an intense blow, at the correctly chosen moment in time, to the right
The essence of this is that everything must carried out by the
subconscious. If you are have to think of how to hit and where, then
you are dead. You spend time and in a real fight your opponent will not
forgive such an error.
Valeriy, what do you need to become a good Sensei?
What questions you have! Probably, I don't know how in
Russia, as for Moscow you can't find a Sensei who has had to fight tens
of men at the same time whose goal was to kill him. That's what you
have to go through, and that's probably how you become a Sensei. On the
whole I think that Russia is a "forge for Senseis". Our present
mentality is like that on Okinawa three hundred years ago.
What are your goals in life?
As a Sensei, to pass my knowledge on to my disciples and to
advance with them however closer to the understanding of the highest
law of Dao. You see, our martial arts training room is called Doju -
which can be translated by "place, where you look for the way".
And in two words, what is karate to you?
In two words - karate, trying not to sound banal, it's a
life style, it's my "disease" in the good sense of this