Monday 23rd of July 2018

One of the important events for Tsu Shin Gen in 2005 occurred on October 1st, when Soke D. C. Cook promoted Mircea Cârloganu to 4th Dan. But who is Mircea Cârloganu and what are the highlights of his career?

Soke D. C. Cook honored me by asking me to answer these questions for you. This task is not only honorable, but also quite difficult. For those who know Shihan Mircea Cârloganu my words are useless, for those who have not have the chance to meet him, words can uncover just a small part of his complex and strong personality. Just statistics, even if impressive as in the case of Shihan Cârloganu, do not tell much about the person behind them. I shall try to fill in part of this gap by sharing with you some of my personal experiences.


I entered Shihan Cârloganu’s Dojo in September 1990 when I started practicing Martial Arts. Fate was generous to me; it directed my feet to a true Budoka, a man that lives by the very principles he teaches in the Dojo. Since that moment, my life changed and became irreversibly marked by what I learned from him. Most of my greatest personal and professional achievements are to some extent related to and due to Shihan Mircea. How can I describe our long discussions about the vanities of life, motivation, ups and downs, and Zen masters or about a beautiful old Japanese piece of art that we admired together! I would say he is a life trainer and in this training, Martial Arts have a dominant place.

What speaks for Shihan Mircea is his constant ability, unchanged after three decades of practicing Martial Arts, to continue to improve physically, mentally and spiritually. He never gave up during the tough circumstances, which unfortunately did not avoid him during his long career.

He always comes up with a new and interesting technique or combination; he has the power to smile and encourage others when everything around goes bad; he is present in the Dojo, no matter the number of students. Years ago there were hundreds, now there are just a few; I shall explain later on the reasons for this dramatic change.


In his “civil” life, Shihan Cârloganu has a diploma of engineer in technology of machines constructions obtained at the Transylvania University Brasov, Romania.
He has been an Instructor in Martial Arts since 1986. In 1997 he became Martial Arts trainer, IV category and in 2000 an instructor for bodybuilding and fitness.
His active role in developing Martial Arts in Romania was recognized by the fact that he was a founding member of the Romanian Martial Arts Federation (FRAM) - diploma number 040/20.01.1995 - the first federation of this kind in Romania at that time.

Shihan Mircea Cârloganu brought Ashihara Karate from Japan and developed this style in Romania. Kancho Hideyuki Ashihara personally awarded Shihan Mircea in Japan the 1st Dan in 1985 and the 2nd Dan one year later.
In 1990 and 1991 Shihan Mircea attended the summer camps organized in Denmark by Soke D. C. Cook. At the latter camp, he successfully passed the test for the 3rd Dan.

Some time after this camp the paths of Shihan Mircea and Soke Cook unfortunately took different directions. Soke decided to create an organization, independent of Kancho Ashihara. Shihan Mircea had to choose between the man who created Ashihara Karate and who awarded him the 1st and 2nd Dan and the man who really organized and developed the style in Europe and who awarded him the 3rd Dan. It is worth mentioning that many of the Kata and combinations we used to practice at that time were the creation of Soke Cook himself, as well as the Grading Syllabus.


Not without deep regret for having to break with Soke, Shihan Mircea remained loyal to Kancho Hideyuki Ashihara, his first master. In 1999, after the death of Kancho Ashihara, Shihan Mircea expressed his wish to join Soke Cook, who was at that time working on a complex and more efficient style, Tsu Shin Gen.The decision to stay with Kancho Ashihara was tough and costly; Shihan Mircea had to wait for 15 years to be promoted again.

Since 1986 Shihan Cârloganu has taught thousands of students, graded more than 20 Black Belts in Ashihara Karate and opened more than 20 Dojos throughout Romania.

He organized national and international camps as well as national championships for juniors and seniors. He contributed to the development of Ashihara Karate in Hungary by organizing camps there and by training and grading Hungarian Instructors.


During 1990-1998 Shihan Mircea Cârloganu edited and published the Ashihara Karate Magazine, one of the best Martial Arts magazines in Romania.

Beginning with 1994 and until 1997 Shihan Mircea Cârloganu participated at the Sabaki Challenge organized in Viborg, Denmark as trainer of the Romanian team whose members won numerous gold, silver and bronze medals. In 1995 he was not only trainer but also fighter, as and he won the bronze medal in the heavyweight category; at the event he was declared the third world trainer in Ashihara Karate.

Despite appearances, after Kancho Hideyuki Ashihara died in 1995, the style he created entered a slow but certain process of decline. Years have past without any new developments. During this time Ashihara Karate has not had among its members a man of the caliber of Soke D. C. Cook to accomplish such a difficult task, as he did in the early 1990’s. At this point in time Soke had already created a new improved version of the style, which he named Ashihara International.


The new leadership of Ashihara Karate took a different approach also in terms of country organizations. Now any instructor could be candidate for Branch Chief, this title is not being restricted to one person for each country any more. Thus, in short time, many Instructors who believed they did not need to learn any more, left Shihan Mircea and created their own separate organizations. Other Instructors and students left the country in search of a better life and thus had to stop training. As a result, Shihan Mircea remained with only few Instructors and Dojos. It is worth mentioning the names of the few Instructors who remained loyal to Shihan Mircea: Vali Dumitriu, Mihai and Adrian Burlacu, Daniel Tuca, Gabriel Mihalcea and the undersigned.

With each day after Kancho Hideyuki Ashihara’s death, it became clearer to Shihan Mircea that there were less and less reasons to continue with this style and organization. Under these circumstances, naturally, he turned to the man whom he respected most and to whom he owed so much, Soke D. C. Cook who, at that time, was working on a new system, Tsu Shin Gen.


Soke was generous and accepted Shihan Mircea into his Organization and that is how we started to train Tsu Shin Gen. I must confess here that the switch to the new style was so natural and positive and proved again the special qualities of Shihan Mircea. He started to train us in Tsu Shin Gen quite a while before he disclosed this to us. We were wondering about the source of the new and efficient techniques, and combinations, we had started to practice in the Dojo. When we learnt that this was Tsu Shin Gen, it became clear to us where it was coming from and we all realized the tremendous potential of the new system. Moreover, we were happy to have joined Soke Cook’s Organization. It was like the return of a little boy back to his family after wandering the around world by himself.
Shihan Mircea made the right decision with Tsu Shin Gen. This was and still is the general feeling among his students.


An important moment in the “new beginning” was the participation of Shihan Mircea (and myself) in the summer camp in Piteå, Sweden in 2002, where he met Soke Cook after 11 years. I had heard a lot about Soke from Shihan Mircea, who used to speak quite a lot about him in the Dojo during the previous years. I am happy to be one of the very few Romanian students who have had the privilege to meet and train with Soke and I must say I found him to be exactly as I heard: a true legend in Martial Arts.

Since then, Shihan Mircea has tried to send students every year to attend the summer camps organized by Soke in Sweden and by Soke and Shihan Ivan Titenkov in Russia, a place where, while promoting Tsu Shin Gen, Soke is still active in Ashihara Karate International
“Past is smoke, future does not exist, only the present matters.” I believe this Zen saying captures exactly the way Shihan Mircea understands to live his life.
For Shihan Mircea the past had its beauty, it was full of great achievements as well as of bitter disappointments; the present is hard and the possibility of a good future depends more and more on the new batch of students, senior grades and Instructors who share his vision and who shall, hopefully, perpetuate the spirit he instilled in us during all these years.
 Manole Popa, 2nd Dan
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David C. Cook, All rights reserved.