I became a dojosei from the Jan – May of 2010. Before arriving at the dojo, I had had a positive expectation towards becoming a dojosei. I have heard of all the good stories from everyone who had stayed as a dojosei at Aikido Shudokan, and I was very excited.
Having seen some of the dojos in Japan, I was amazed with the size of the dojo. It was so much bigger than I expected and well facilitated.
As for the training, it was a lot harder than expected. Maybe it was because it was in the middle of the summer, but it really took me a month to adapt to the heat and then another month to adapt to the daily training of 3-4 hours a day.
Every class was hard but the regular Friday “Hajime class” was an exceptionally hard one. I remember the first class we did 100 or so back falls to just warm the class up, and I really struggled to keep up. I did make sure I could do them from the following week mind you…. Sensei always made sure if there was anyone falling behind, we all help and encourage them, and told us “that is how you train in hajime class!” Even though it was hard, I always look forward to hajime class.
I made some great friends in the dojo. Everyone in the dojo was so nice it really made my stay so enjoyable. We often cooked for each other after training and had a few drinks. Sensei Joe will tell us some stories from the old days in Hombu dojo, and Sensei Jon will tell us his stories from his days in Hombu… the story telling with swift swigs of beer and vodka carried on till late in the night….along with a big bang of headaches in the morning.
I have also been very thankful and fortunate to go out of Melbourne a few times too – Fulori, George and others have been very kind to take me to see some Koalas, and Kanagroos, as well as the beaches. It was such a nice change from being in the dojo all the time, and it really made me appreciate the friendship I made and the very little free time I had (which was only Sundays).
Coming to Australia to learn Aikido was quite a strange concept for a Japanese person as my parents said, “Why are you going to Australia to learn a Japanese Martial Art?” Taking a Sabbatical at the age of 35 to come to the other side of the world to learn Aikido was financially and careerwise a difficult decision too, but I can honestly say this is probably the best four months I have spent in my life.
Sensei Joe is an exceptionally giving teacher and a very patient teacher. He has made so much effort to make my stay welcome and stepped aside to give me advice not just on Aikido but about his experience in life. Living with the teacher and seeing all sides of the character made it a very humble experience.
I love the word of Shioda Gozo “Aiki sokuseikatsu” pretty much translates “Aikido in everyday life”. I came to Australia to feel and experience that life and I think if not for some…at least a little… I have I experienced it as a dojosei. And it has been an absolutely legendary experience, too!
- Tadashi Narita (Aikido Shoshinkan, UK)