In an interview, Sensei Eduard Divantman recalls his martial arts journey to date.
“I will start by saying that I was very fortunate to date to have had a walk along the path of some of the greatest masters and mentors.
I’ve been training in martial arts since a very young age. In my kindergarten years, I was always picked on by other kids and often came home crying. One day my father told me “why don’t you hit back”, so I did. Not knowing how to fight I followed my natural instinct and turned fear into courage. Shortly after I gained confidence and fought all the bullies away. I was later on introduced to Martial Arts in order to balance my energy and excess confidence. I trained in Kodokan Judo and Shotokan Karate. During my childhood, I fought in many tournaments and street fights. I never liked violence and conflict but had to learn to stand my ground when challenged. During these years I became fascinated with the Samurai and Ninja warrior arts. I searched everywhere for a qualified school but did not find one in my area (the internet was not yet invented at that time).
It was not until I reached the late teens that I was introduced to the Bujinkan arts. I was naturally captivated and have been following this path ever since. I started teaching in the mid-’90s and made my first trip to Japan in 1997. I’ve been traveling to Japan regularly to train with the Grandmaster even since. On my first trip, the Grandmaster told me that I was very strong and I should go back and teach to the community. Following his recommendation, I opened my first Dojo to the public in June of 1998. The Dojo served the public until 2010. During that period I trained many students from all walks of life.
The Dojo was located in community strip plaza which was used by local gangs as a social gathering place. Seeing my martial arts school as a target I was challenged daily. My training at that time was very severe as I knew I could have been severely injured if I was not prepared. By 2001 with the help of the local police, we managed to get rid of the gangs. During that time I was accepted as a personal student of Grand Master Pan Qin Fu, nicknamed the Iron Fist of China. I studied with him privately for 2 years. He passed away in 2017 as a true warrior. He was the last of his kind. During my training, he shared many stories about how he single handily fought criminals when living in China. From him, I learned the principles of speed, power, and accuracy. To imitate my teacher and toughen my fists I used to hit an iron plate daily. As a result, I could hit a concrete wall full force and not damage my fist. I recall in one of the challenges I hit one guy and he ended up unconscious. I was told later on by Hatsumi Sensei that this type of training was no longer necessary and can lead to health issues so I stopped.
During that time many police officers came to train with me. I trained members of the Emergency task force, members of the RCMP security detailing squad, as well as detectives of the Toronto police Narcotic units. One of my students ended up being in the protection detail of the Japanese Royal family during their visit to Canada in July 2009. Interestingly enough in 2019, I had a chance to meet a member of the royal family in person. Those law enforcement officers who studied with me showed natural improvement in their performance on the job.
I also taught civilians from various walks of life, including children, women, and women self-defense as well as programs at local colleges. Most students ended up having a successful and productive life. I have had the fortune to have students who were extremely dedicated. As a result over the years, our Dojo developed a reputation for its quality and values. We were featured in various media outlets including the TV, made various public appearances including demo’s in high-profile venues. I managed to release 3 books and receive several awards. We had a great time. At our height, we had as many as 100 active students. I studied Chinese medicine and actively practiced Shodo. 2010 was a pivotal year for several reasons. The first having envisioned my young family growing I made a decision to take a break from public teachings in favor of raising a young family. This was not an easy decision. On the 2nd during the same year on my trip to Japan, I was promoted to 15th Dan Shihan by my teacher. This is the highest dan rank in the Bujinkan. Feeling a sense of responsibility and passion for what I was doing I continued to run a home Dojo. For the following 9 years, only a few students endured training. Looking back it was the best decision I have made. I am now a proud father of 4 wonderful children. I was also fortunate to meet a wonderful master of Daito Ryu Aikijutsu the source from which Aikido came. I became his student and now am the only qualified teacher in Canada to teach this art.
In the summer of 2019, I’ve felt that the kids have grown enough and the timing was right to resume my passion and purpose and return to public teaching. Be it as always in life timing play an important role so as it happens an opportunity was presented in late July to secure a favorable location that is currently our new center. We re-opened to the public on Sep 2, 2019. Our focus this time is to leverage the 2000 years of wisdom, history, and tradition of these unique arts to help individuals realize their life purpose and happiness. I invite all students, old and new to join us on this exciting journey.