Sensei on the Road – GM Dennis Hanover the father of the Israeli Martial arts
Since my return from Israel I’ve been trying to edit the new Sensei on the Road column on an extraordinary life journey and achievements of the father of the Israeli Martial art GM Denis Hanover and could not find the right and enough of words to describe this outstanding person. Maybe I can start with his philosophy of life, which influenced both my work and my personal life. He said that education which is not based in moral and ethics doesn’t have any value and is worthless. During the Second World War and Holocaust Jewish people faced atrocity, which was orchestrated by very intelligent people who were psychologists and therapist with high university ranks, medical doctors, important lawyers, engineers and scientists. All those, at that time, top people have received great education and many of them were great thinkers who knew what will break people and how to break people. In one word they were the masters of TERROR –FEAR. They were experts in hiding the true and spreading false information in order to control the media. Their misleading news and propaganda have facilitated the implementation of the biggest terror and horror in the world in form of the Holocaust. We can say that their inttelligence and education didn’t serve the humanity but were against it and they will not be remembered for good deeds.
GM Dennis Hanover is a champion with bare feet and no shoes, but with pure heart and spirit. A shoes or bare feet that we can only wish we can walk in. He has thought us about moral and values and how to give and receive respect based on the memory of anti-Semitism and how it should not be repeated ever again. He thought us how to be strong and proud Jews so we can teach our students in every country what is a love for the country of Israel. His devotion and devotion of his family (sons Guy and Yaron and daughter Orlly) to serve the country, security forces and students never ceased and took place even during wars. He was an example of how to defend a home. Every year on Memorial Day he goes to the cemetery to show respect to the fallen students who gave their lives for Israel. He places a medal and a flag on their graves. He also takes his students for a visit to Holocaust survivals and Memorials so they can learn from the history.
Dennis is a giving person. His life style is humble. Hi lives in his dojo where he also teaches. He wakes up every morning to feed 200 birds and 70 cats. He loves life and he is a big lover of animals. When we first arrived in the morning he was already siting outside in his garden and feeding birds and cats, which follow him for almost eighteen years such as Gingii the cat. His mornings continue with visitors who suffer from posttraumatic war experience and who come every morning for a short walk and talk and to give blessings to Dennis. This is how his days start.
He has kids classes in his dojo and you can see can see how much love he invests in kids and how he educates them in the right spirit of a true warrior – to be kind and polite. If some kids miss the class he gives them a call. He hugs and motivates those ones who feel discouraged and you can see how the kids’ energy change and how they wants to give the best and train hard. After kids class the one for the adults follows. All his students are successful adults with medical degrees; company owners and all of them sit in silence when Dennis talks. You can feel and see a big respect they have for him. Even though he is in 84 years old his eyes don’t miss a thing, He feels the energy of the class and students and behaves like a conductor of a symphonic orchestra. He is in control of any second of the class and takes care that the team is strong, that they hit and kick and throw with full power. And it is as same as a music piece. The class runs in harmony and no one gets injured.
It amazes me how he loves his life in the dojo, how he enjoys teaching every day 365 days in a year. Dojo is his life and it is where his family and home is. It’s a place where he and his students celebrate important events. As we move to the backyard where tables and chairs are set for the party you can see how they live as one big family. S.D stepped in and since he is one of the highest ranks and also one of the top instructors in Israeli security force he explained how Denis was his teacher and second father. And not only to him but to all other Israeli top security personnel. They all own a lot to Denis and his classes, which are fundamental studies in their facilities. GM Dennis Hanover is a Pillar of Israeli Martial art and he is also a founder of Israeli Museum of Martial art. He has done so much for the community and the country. His dojo has sponsored more than 700 Bar Mitzvah for children who come from poor families. He takes care of children with special needs as well. We can say that he is the most important figure in the history of Israel and a true living legend that built judo federation, karate federation, competitions and world champions but mostly he is the one who built the spirit of Israeli martial art. As an example, let us go back in time when Israeli karate team was denied of participation at the world Karate championship in Japan. It was a poor decision made by Japanese Karate federation and Oyama sensei, which later on led to the establishment of Survival Hisardut Israeli Jiujutsu – an example to all Israeli Martial artist that we should not follow any system but make our own lines of defense.
GM Dennis Hanover is a true living legend and very difficult to describe in such a short column because his life achievements and contributions are immense. I recommend to everyone to travel to Israel and see it with his or her own eyes.