SKC Instructors

What Makes an Instructor?

A real karate instructor is a person who has experienced many years of training and traversed a multitude of different stages and levels throughout their karate life. These experiences and the journey through different stages take many years in the world of traditional martial arts. A real instructor is one who is well developed physically and mentally. Does this mean that any person who has trained for many years and has achieved a certain rank is qualified to be an instructor? No, it does not. An individual may have a very strong body and extremely strong and precise techniques, but if that person is lacking in character development and knowledge of self, they are not suited for entering the domain of instruction. An instructor must spend years as a student, practicing and sweating in the line under qualified instruction and guidance. A real instructor must experience feeling boosted-up and fully charged as well as feeling completely dejected and frustrated. It is only through years of personal experience and struggle that an instructor can convey truths to their students and properly prepare them for the ups and downs that lie ahead.

All SKC instructors are certified through rigorous instructor training courses that meet the highest of international standards. Simply attaining a black belt does not make one an instructor; in addition to their instructor training certifications, the instructors below all have a minimum of 19 years of experience. Lack of knowledge and training, as seen in many “home-made masters,” are what cause physical injury and disappointment for students. Many students with real potential and enthusiasm are turned away by their discouraging experience with inept instructors. It is their lack of knowledge and the resulting lack of confidence that prompts these so- called masters to feed nonsense to their students. With little or no reference at all to their backgrounds, these people imagine themselves as having sprung from the womb as karate adepts.

Mazhari Sensei says that after all of his years training under world known masters and all of the effort and dedication that it has taken to arrive at this point, it is bewildering to see the motivations behind the average person’s choice in a school or instructor. It is unfortunate to see people go to the “martial arts” school down the street, for convenience, as if it is the same as making the decision to go to the cheapest and closest Quicky Mart.

Even in Master Funakoshi’s time, home-made masters and their shameful presentations of nonsense existed. The fact that the demand for such things has only grown, proves that there is no shortage of interest in ego-inflating babble and superficial activities.

In his book, Karate-do Nyumon, Master Funakoshi writes:

“A few years ago I took my students to the Botoku-den in Kyoto to participate in a dedicatory martial arts demonstration. Karate was listed in the program in the judo section. As I read through names of the various karate groups, I was very much surprised at the great number of karate styles and schools of which I had never heard. When it came time for their demonstrations, I was even more surprised because their so-called karate was so unlike karate. Deeply embarrassed, I felt I should apologize to the other observers. It was karate that I, who have devoted many years to the art, could not recognize as such. When a student asks me how many styles of karate there are, should I mention these aberrations? Confusing the public as these men do is inexcusable.”

We, at SKC, pride ourselves on maintaining and promoting a uniform standard of excellence.

Ahmad A. Mazhari, Hachidan
(8th Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 54 Years
4th Generation Karate Master
Chief Instructor, Shotokan Karate Center

International Certified Instructor, ExaminerOfficial Judge

Favorite Techniques: All Techniques
Specialized
  Techniques:
Jab, Reverse Punch, Back-fist Strike, Spinning Back-fist Strike, Front Snap Kick, Back Kick, Foot Sweep

Born in 1950 in Tehran, Iran, world-known instructor Ahmad-Ali Mazhari encountered karate at the age of eight through his older brother, who lived in England at the time. He started imitating so-called karate movements and techniques that his brother picked up from a few training sessions, but mostly films. Young Mazhari was just captivated by the movements — they appeared very unusual yet fascinating to him. He started regular karate training in 1965, comprised of a mixture of Okinawan styles at an immature level. Being a perfectionist, he always strived to gain as much karate knowledge as possible, at that time only available through books, films and magazines. With a connection to Japan through his brother’s business affiliates, young Mazhari was more or less familiar with the world of Japanese martial arts. Soon after, at a karate social gathering, he saw the film of a Karate World Championship in Japan with a match between the world-known Master Keinosuke Enoeda and Mr. Hiroshi Shirai. It was love at first sight, as Mazhari Sensei puts it; Master Enoeda just mesmerized him with his movements and ferocious attitude.

After a short period, the Iran Karate Academy (Rezayar) started offering Shotokan and Wadorio styles at a primary level. Mazhari Sensei started training at the Academy. Because of his enthusiasm and perseverance and the lack of experienced instructors, he also started teaching Shotokan. In 1971, he opened his private dojo. Mazhari Sensei’s trainings, to this day, are known for their intensity and have always attracted only very serious practitioners.

Throughout these years of teaching and training in Tehran,  Mazhari Sensei’s continued wish was to find and practice with Master Enoeda. By then, Mazhari Sensei knew many old time Japanese instructors and had practiced with many well-known karate legends, such as Mr. Mikami, Mr. Okamotto, and Mr. Abe and his assistant, some of whom conducted seminars at the Iran Karate Federation; yet none could keep him from dreaming to meet and train with Master Enoeda, whose fiery spirit, magnetic character, and formidable techniques truly spoke to Mazhari Sensei. Because of this, Mazhari Sensei handed over his Tehran dojo to his senior students and moved to London, England to begin training with Master Enoeda. Only knowing that Master Enoeda was in London, Mazhari Sensei set out to find his long desired master- the kind of quest that one only reads about in stories of a distant past. After years of yearning tirelessly, in the mid 1970s, Mazhari Sensei began his training at the JKA central dojo in London and became an active member of the JKA and KUGB, under Master Keinosuke Enoeda, the Tiger of Shotokan Karate. For those who do not know, the 70s era gave birth to the best karateka of the world and Master Enoeda’s Marshall Street Dojo was the most famed and fierce dojo in the world. There, Mazhari Sensei trained alongside the best of the best, under Master Enoeda. Mazhari Sensei remained with Master Enoeda from that time until Master Enoeda’s passing in March of 2003.

In the late 1970s early 1980s, due to changes in the Iranian political landscape and the subsequent difficulties in obtaining visas, Mazhari Sensei had to leave England. In 1980 he moved to Greece while awaiting his permanent residency visa to the United States, where most of his family members resided. From 1980 to 1982 he continued to teach at a JKA affiliated dojo in Athens, until he migrated to the US in 1982 and settled in Northern Virginia (NOVA). Mazhari Sensei lived closest to the ISKF headquarters in Philadelphia, but followed Master Enoeda’s recommendation and continued his training in New York under Master Masataka Mori, the world-renowned  Master Teacher of Shotokan Karate. Mazhari Sensei became an active member of the North Atlantic Karate Association (NAKA) under Master Mori and an official member of the All American Karate Federation (AAKF), under the leadership of Master Hidetaka Nishiyama. Master Mori immediately enlisted Mazhari Sensei in the extremely prestigious JKA Instructor Training Course; Master Mori’s course, in particular, was acclaimed for its rigor and intensity.

For an inherently loyal person like Mazhari Sensei, having to switch to a new karate master was not an easy undertaking. It was even harder to maintain the delicate balance of attending to two equally loved and admired masters, who were also close friends with one another- especially when they were both present at seminars and camps. Throughout the years Mazhari Sensei practiced with the best of the best in the world of karate — Sugiura Motokuni, Taiji Kase, Hiroshi Shoji, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Takayuki Mikami, Hiroshi Shirai, Toru Yamaguchi, Keigo Abe, Katsunori Tsuyama, Masaaki Ueki, Masao Kawazoe, Yoshiharu Osaka, Norimasa Hayakawa, Hiroshi Shoji, Yukichi Tabata, Takashi Naito, Katsuhiro Tsuyama, Satoshi Miyazaki, Shiro Asano, Masaro Miura, Akio Nagai, and Matsuo Kon — but he stayed true to his only two direct Senseis, Master Mori and Master Enoeda.

Mazhari Sensei established the first JKA affiliated Shotokan karate dojo in Northern Virginia in 1982. It was named Shotokan Karate Center (SKC) after Master Enoeda’s dojo and in the memory of his years of practice in London. Mazhari Sensei completed all JKA courses to the highest level. His dojo remained one of the most serious, dedicated and active dojos in the organization. Mazhari Sensei continued his affiliation with the Japan Karate Association until 2006, when he finally separated from the JKA. Mazhari Sensei was welcomed by many well-known organizations throughout the world, led by senior Japanese instructors, but after being with two of the absolute best, The Tiger and The Master Teacher of Shotokan Karate, Mazhari Sensei did not seek any such affiliation.

Many of Mazhari Sensei’s students continue to practice and/or teach karate throughout the world. Mazhari Sensei’s students were always among the top medalists in championships and brought back numerous titles, cups and medals for SKC throughout the years. Mazhari Sensei maintains the belief that the purpose of karate practice is not to achieve the short-lived title of a champion, but to reach the highest level of humanity.


IMG_6042_2

Shohra Ruyan, Godan (5th Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 33 Years

Having athletic aptitude, Shohra Ruyan took part in many sports activities during high school and later in her college years.  None of these activities satisfied the yearning for a true athletic discipline. Shohra was first introduced to the world of martial arts in the summer of 1979 in Shiraz, Iran.  Practicing an Iranian style for a brief period of time, an interest was sparked that led to the pursuit of a true traditional martial art.  Not knowing what destiny had in store for her, she moved to the U.S. for a job offer in 1986.  It was there that she found what she had been longing for, all these years- a real dojo.  It was love at first sight.  She joined SKC at the age of 26 in 1987 and began her training under the guidance of Sensei Ahmad Mazhari, to whom she is indebted forever for showing her a different path in life.   Before long, what merely started as a sports activity became a new “way of life.”

Ever since becoming a member of SKC, Shohra has faithfully been practicing Shotokan karate and continues to devote her time in this path. She actively participates in national and international organizational events, such as camps, tournaments and clinics. In these events, she has been exposed to and practiced with many top masters of the art such as Masters Mori, Enoeda, Ueki and Tabata, to name a few.  She contributes to promoting this art by organizing camps and clinics for SKC. She serves as administrator and assistant instructor, having fulfilled that role since 1988. Following her mentor, she moved to South Dakota in 2014 to take part in establishing SKC’s headquarters.

Her JKA accreditations through 3rd Dan were completed under Master Ahmad Mazhari, Master Masataka Mori and Master Keinosuke Enoeda. Shohra currently holds the rank of 5th Dan which was accredited via SKC under Master Ahmad Mazhari, her sole Master and Mentor.

Shohra graduated from the University of Bahrain with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1986 and currently holds a post in the medical administrative field.


IMG_6019_2

Parastou Ghazvini, Godan (5th Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 26 Years
Certified A Class Instructor

Parastou Ghazvini started practicing Shotokan Karate under Ahmad Mazhari Sensei in September of 1993. She received her Shodan in December of 1997, and has always actively participated in events and tournaments. She has consistently won titles for the dojo in one or more categories of individual kata, team kata, and kumite. She currently holds a Godan rank and is a B class certified instructor.

Parastou has attended camps and seminars conducted by well-known Japanese instructors such as Master Masataka Mori, Master Keinosuke Enoeda, Sugiura Motokuni, Masaaki Ueki, and many other internationally acclaimed instructors. She was fortunate to travel to London with Mazhari Sensei to practice with Master Enoeda in the Marshall Street dojo, as well as many training sessions in Master Mori’s old New York Dojo. Belonging to Mazhari Sensei ‘s dojo always attracted much attention from traditional Japanese masters, especially Master Mori and Master Enoeda, Mazhari Sensei’s only direct instructors.

After living and working in the Washington DC metropolitan area for over 35 years, in July of 2014 she moved to the state of South Dakota following her master, Mazhari Sensei. She is eager to take part in the establishment of the new SKC International headquarters in Rapid City, SD and promote Shotokan Karate, while continuing to receive instruction and guidance from Mazhari Sensei.

Parastou’s educational background is in architectural space planning and interior design; however, she has worked in the field of IT support most of her professional life until making a career change in 2006. After obtaining educational certificates in the field of child development, she started working with elementary school age children in Fairfax County public schools.


IMG_6056_2_2

Golnesa AsheghAli, Godan (5th Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 25 years
Certified A Class Instructor

Golnesa AsheghAli has been an active student of Mazhari Sensei at Shotokan Karate Center (SKC) since 1994. Golnesa has always actively participated in special trainings and camps in which she practiced under masters such as Master Masataka Mori and Master Keinosuke Enoeda. Additionally, her active annual participation in these international camps afforded Golnesa the opportunity to train under the best of the best, the most renowned and experienced karate instructors in the world. At these camps and seminars, as Mazhari Sensei’s student, Golnesa was the recipient of extra care and special attention from Master Mori and Master Enoeda, as well as all visiting instructors. Since starting her training with Mazhari Sensei, she trained every year with Master Enoeda at summer training camps, until the last very last camp that Master Enoeda participated in before his passing in 2003. She was also fortunate enough to travel to London with Mazhari Sensei, to train under Master Enoeda at the famed Marshall Street Dojo. Golnesa has won numerous titles at regional tournaments over the past decade in both kata and kumite. She is a certified instructor and has been teaching since 2008. In Spring of 2017, Golnesa completed the rigorous SKC A Class Instructor Training Course under Mazhari Sensei and passed her instructor training exam, with distinction.  In addition to her teaching experience at SKC, Golnesa taught a Shotokan karate course at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA for three years, until her move to South Dakota. With the support and encouragement of Mazhari Sensei, Golnesa also established the Women’s Shotokan Karate Club.

Golnesa began her training with Mazhari Sensei at age 12- a 6th grader, still in elementary school. Having been Mazhari Sensei’s student for 19 years, Golnesa has spent the majority of her years in a karate uniform. The incredibly high technical standard that Sensei holds SKC students to, is nothing compared to the expectation with regard to character and personal growth. Sensei’s presence in Golnesa’s life and her training with Sensei has seen her through her years as a troublesome teenager, young adulthood, and now into her 30s. The transformation that has taken place in Golnesa and the continued pressure and push to grow into a better person is priceless and no expression of gratitude can ever be enough. Golnesa has found her best friends at Sensei’s dojo and among those best friends is her mother, Parastou. The bond and connection between Golnesa and her mother was powerfully fortified through their years of hard training together, resulting in a relationship that encompasses the best of mother-daughter love, friendship, and companionship. Through Mazhari Sensei’s kindness, patience, encouragement, and training, Golnesa began her own wonderful journey as an instructor. Simply being in Sensei’s presence is an honor and the experience of a lifetime. Because of this, because of her deep love and devotion to Mazhari Sensei and her passion for training, Golnesa followed her Master, Mazhari Sensei, to South Dakota, in 2014, where she continues to train and teach. Having this truly blessed experience, there is nothing that Golnesa wants more than to share her experience, love, and passion for karate with others…

Golnesa received a Bachelor of Arts in History from George Mason University (GMU) in 2007 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies at GMU in 2008. In 2015, she received her Master of Arts from George Mason University, in the field of Islamic Studies. Golnesa completed her second Masters degree in the field of secondary education from Black Hills State University in 2016 and is currently teaching language arts at Rapid City High School.

Email: skc.southdakota@gmail.com

Phone: 605-877-1527