by Dento Goju Ryu

Ilan Oppenheimer Sensei

Ilan Sensei’s first encounter with martial arts was at a very young age. An overseas relative who used to train in “Shotokan” karate came to visit from time to time, and demonstrated to him various karate techniques which captured his heart. Oftentimes, he came out of these “demonstrations” battered and bruised, yet in retrospect, these short encounters were the seeds of Ilan Sensei’s love for martial arts.

In 1982, a mutual friend introduced Ilan to Yossi Kabli Sensei Dan 4, who trained in the Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate method. This encounter was a significant milestone for Ilan Sensei.  Initially, Ilan and friends trained with Yossi Sensei in “self-defense”. The trainings were conducted in the fields outside Petach-Tikva, and were mostly focused on self-defense, running, exercises, etc. Yossi Sensei, an outstanding mentor, quickly became not just a friend, but also Ilan’s Sensei. Ilan joined the regular training program and trained for 10 years at Yossi Sensei’s Dojo in Bar-Ilan University (and in Ra’anana Dojo) as well as instructed under his supervision, until he reached the rank of Dan 2. 

The outstanding and extensive mentoring Ilan received from Yossi Sensei, combined with the rich and deep martial art content, left no doubt in Ilan Sensei’s mind that he is to choose the Okinawa Goju Ryu method. During these years, he concluded his military service and later on was conferred an undergraduate degree by the Hebrew University faculty of East Asia, majoring in Japan studies.

During 1989/1990 Ilan Sensei was certified as a karate instructor, after successfully completing a course led by Yehuda Pantanowitz Sensei (Chairman of the Israeli organization) in cooperation with the Wingate Institute. 

In 1992, Yossi Sensei relocated overseas and asked Ilan Sensei to take his place. Ilan hesitated: On one hand, he just finished his studies and planned a trip to Japan. On the other hand, Sensei asked and one must do one’s best to comply… such is the spirit of Okinawa Goju Ryu. 

After careful consideration, Ilan Sensei agreed to take on the club’s management on a temporary basis, pending a longer-term decision.

Needless to say, the Japan visit did not materialize that year, nor the following one. Ilan Sensei took upon himself the management of the Bar-Ilan Dojo, and shortly after, at the request of Yehuda Sensei, his responsibilities expanded to include teaching at the Ra’anana Dojo. He then also started teaching at the Tel Aviv Dojo and later on he founded the Petach-Tikva Dojo. 

During 2002, due to internal changes, the Bar-Ilan Dojo closed down, which marked the end of a significant period. Currently, Ilan Sensei teaches at Tel Aviv Dojo, Petach-Tikva Dojo and Ra’anana Dojo.

From early on in his career, Ilan Sensei was fortunate to participate in training camps (Gasshuku) under the supervision of Morio Higaonna Sensei, the head of the worldwide organization. Over the years, as part of his professional development in the Okinawa Goju Ryu method, Ilan Sensei participated in Higaonna Sensei’s training camps around the world on an annual basis. Aside from professional advancement, these training camps provided an excellent opportunity to meet and maintain contact with colleagues around the world.

In 1998 Ilan Sensei participated in a Budosai in Okinawa Island, a training camp attended by teachers and students from around the world, and was conferred the rank of Dan 4 by Morio Higaonna Sensei, the head of the worldwide organization. Since then, Ilan strives to train in the Okinawa Dojo on an annual basis. In 1998 Ilan Sensei also participated in a judging course at the Wingate Institute in the “kata” category, and was a judge in the “kata” category at the Israeli championships conducted by the Israeli Karate Federation. 

אילן אופנהיימר דנטו ריו קראטה

The trainings in the Okinawa Goju Ryu method are designed for the long-term development of martial art in every sense of the word, and not for competitive sports. Nevertheless, Ilan Sensei represented the Organization in several Israeli competitions conducted by the Israeli Karate Federation. In one championship he won second place, and in 1999 he won first place in the Israeli championship in the “kata” category. In 2003, Ilan Sensei represented Okinawa Goju Ryu in an admirable manner in the World Traditional Karate Championship which took place in “Bodu Kan”, Okianawa’s martial art’s center.

In 2001, as part of the newly enacted Sports Law, he completed a coaching course in the Wingate Institute and was certified as a coach.

In 2002 Ilan Sensei was conferred the rank of Dan 5 by the worldwide Okinawa Goju Ryu organization after a test conducted by Yehuda Pantanowitz Sensei.

Among Ilan Sensei’s students are young children, teenagers and adults who commit their time and energy towards learning and advancing in the Okinawa Goju Ryu method. His students of all ranks, led by those whom he had personally conferred as black belts, are his inspiration to continue his lifelong commitment to deepen his knowledge, teach and better himself in his chosen life path.

Today, Ilan Sensei continues the path which he has started, and is the chief instructor of “Dento Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate” organization which he founded in 2010, in order to preserve the Okinawa Goju Ryu method in its traditional form, for future generations.