Interview with Matjaž Dobravec of Shodokan dojo
Property Type: Aikido
The founder of the Shodokan dojo is sensei Matjaž Dobravec who has trained aikido since 1993. In 1999 the dojo joined Aikido Association International, then headed by shihan Fumio Toyoda. The dojo has grown steadily since then. We are currently one of the largest aikido dojos in Slovenia, with regular practice taking place in five towns, including the capital Ljubljana.
We teach aikido in the style of aikikai, as taught by shihan Fumio Toyoda. Occasionally we cooperate with schools of martial art to broaden our horizons. For example, we have had karate and grappling lessons. Lately some of the senior dojo members have started practicing iado.
3. What are the principles and concepts that you uphold and try to instill in your students?
We follow the teachings and philosophy of O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido. Perhaps the most important principle taught by the founder was that one should resolve conflicts by seeking harmony (‘ai’ in aikido) with the opponent, rather than resorting to aggression.
In our experience, training martial arts has many practical benefits, such as staying fit and being able to defend oneself. On a deeper level, vigorous training unifies body and spirit. In other words, it makes a person whole.
For many years our main logistical problem was lack of permanent training place. Lately, things have been much better as we opened dojos in several towns so that we are not dependent on a single place of training anymore.
6. What advice and/or insights can you share with our readers who want to pursue their interest in the Japanese form of martial arts?
Serious training of a martial art requires long-term personal commitment and devotion. Only after many years of training can one begin to look beyond particular techniques and gain true understanding of the basic martial principles. A beginner should therefore not be discouraged by initial confusion or apparent slow progress. On the contrary, one should expect to progress slowly and to keep discovering new insights in old lessons that one has heard a thousand times.
7. Can you please give a short biography of your dojo’s instructor(s)?
The chief instructor and the club president is sensei Matjaž Dobravec, who currently holds the yondan degree (4th dan). He started practicing aikido in 1993, and has taught aikido since 1997. He received his yudansha degree in 1999 from Shihan Fumio Toyoda. In 2000 he was invited as an uchideshi to Toyoda’s dojo in Chicago.
There he received instructor training and learned the teaching methodology of Shihan Fumio Toyoda. In 2002 he successfully tested for nidan. He received his sandan degree in 2005, and the yondan degree in the spring of 2009.
In October 2008 sensei Matjaž Dobravec received a special recognition for his devotion to and promotion of the Japanese culture and martial arts from his Excellency Mr. Maruyama, the Japanese ambassador to Slovenia.