Dimitri Sensei was born in Belgium, grew up in Africa and moved to New York in 1976. Shindai Dojo has never held that against him. He attended St. John’s University and Hofstra University where he majored in communications and minored in psychology.
Dimitri is a highly decorated law enforcement officer who enjoyed a long and rewarding 25-year career working in some of the most elite units of the NYPD. In 2011, he “retired” and relocated to the Orlando area. Apparently ready for more punishment, he decided to pursue a second career in law enforcement and joined the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office where he currently serves as a Deputy Sheriff.
Dimitri began his martial arts training in Chinese Goju Karate, in 1981, under Grandmaster Ron Van Clief, Bob Cuchinello Sensei and Tom Daly Sensei. He was beaten regularly.
In 1992, at the urging of a friend, he reluctantly attended a Goshin Ryu Jujitsu class where he was promptly taken to the ground and choked out repeatedly by Ron Spadafora Sensei and his students. His eyes open to the obvious limitations of stand-up fighting only, Dimitri joined the dojo immediately.
In an effort to further expand his knowledge of the grappling arts, Dimitri joined Aikido of Nassau County in 1993 where he trained continuously with Bio Gabriel Sensei, Joe Nemeth Sensei, Cliff Marcus Sensei and Tom Collins Sensei until his move south.
In 1997, Dimitri was introduced to Howard Popkin Sensei by a mutual friend. Howard Sensei had recently returned from a trip to Japan and told Dimitri about his experience with Seigo Okamoto Sensei, Soshi of the Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu Roppokai. Fascinated by the aiki techniques that Howard Sensei demonstrated, Dimitri immediately began training in Daito Ryu with Howard. In 1998, Okamoto Sensei came to New York for the first of many seminars. Dimitri joined the Roppokai where he continued to train under the tutelage of Okamoto Sensei until 2010.
In 2010, Howard Popkin Sensei formed the Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu Ginjukai and established many branches and study groups throughout the country. Dimitri joined the organization and travels regularly to teach seminars with Howard Popkin Sensei and Joe Brogna Sensei. Dimitri is currently the Branch Leader of the Orlando DaitoRyu Aikijujtisu Ginjukai, which is based at Shindai Dojo.
In 2011, Dimitri joined Shindai Aikikai where he continues to train under Dennis Hooker Sensei, Stephen Fasen Sensei, and Brian Canin Sensei.
Dimitri holds the following ranks:
Yondan Renshi- Chinese Goju Karate
Okugi Sandan- Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu Roppokai
Okugi Sandan- Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu Ginjukai
Shodan- Goshin Ryu Jujitsu