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Old 02-14-2011, 07:52 PM   #1
Mary Eastland
 
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Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido
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what is your dojo like?

Our dojo is a garage attached to our house. There has never been a car in the four stall area because we practice Aikido here. The cement floors are covered with a deep blue cheer floor which allows us to roll and fall safely. Five times a week people come to our house, change into their gis and train with us in our art that we love. We have a dojo at our house. This is one of my life's miracles. Down the stairs at the end of the hall is my dojo.
After our children grew up and moved out we converted their bedrooms into locker rooms. We are in the process of redoing the entire downstairs, one room at a time so the whole area looks clean and feels peaceful. The double garage doors are screened so we can open them up when the weather is fine. We have five other windows which contribute to the feel of being almost outside. The walls are covered with natural pine board and the ceiling is till shiny because we haven't decided what to cover the insulation with.
Our dojo is a manifestation of our marriage and our commitment to each other and our training. Ron has trained for 33 years and I, for 23. Our training enriches and enlivens our life together and with others. Each morning Ron and I do Ki exercises together. We teach 4 classes a week together. I teach one children's class with another of our black belts, Erik.
We talk, love, eat and sleep Aikido. Most couples are not so lucky as to have such a shared passion to help provide a framework for discussion and growth.
Our dojo is a community. We have people who have been with us for years. We have watched children grow up and we are all growing older together. We bow in. The chime rings. Class begins. The outside world disappears. Peacefulness and sanity are restored. Sometimes class shakes up the past and then it settles down again from a turn or a fall or a roll. Center returns. Calm is back.
When I think all is lost in the world I step into my dojo to remember our own personal miracle. I have a dojo at my house. People come to train with us. We share our space and art with all who want to explore the mystery that is Aikido with us. I am so very grateful for this perfect gift from the universe for Ron and me. We love having a dojo at the end of the hall.

Mary
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Old 02-14-2011, 08:40 PM   #2
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
Location: Stamford Connecticut
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Beautiful. Inspiring. Thank you.
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Old 02-14-2011, 08:48 PM   #3
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
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Re: what is your dojo like?

oops, didn't see the question at the top. Between 1975 and 1983 we had a small dojo at a YMCA. We used a variety of rooms there, whatever was available, but we liked to go on the roof in good weather, sometimes we saw the sunset in the west and the moonrise in the east. One time we saw a triple rainbow. We enjoyed our little dojo very much. Maybe I'll write a little about the people later. I hope at least several people write about their dojo on this thread, Mary has set a beautiful example and I would like to read them all.
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Old 02-14-2011, 09:27 PM   #4
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Given the price of land in Japan, it is very unlikely that many people here have a dojo which is part of their house. (In fact, the only person I can think of owns the local newspaper and is also independently wealthy.)

So our dojo is in the local junior high school. It is not very beautiful at all. The school is very strong in judo and actually has two dojos, so our dojo is very well used. In fact, the school does not conform to Japan's earthquake regulations, so another school is being built nearby. The old school gymnasium containing the dojos does conform and will still be used, but there will soon be yet another dojo. Japan has a very long tradition of local participation in schools and school activities, so having an aikido dojo in a school is not so unusual.

The mats are real, traditional, tatami and there are two layers. The area is the size of a judo competition mat (about 100 tatami?), with the precise competition area marked out with red-covered tatami. There is a photo of Jigoro Kano on the wall, and he is joined by his friend Morihei Ueshiba when we train. In Japan there is no tradition of supplying heating in such dojos and the ventilation is also 'natural', in the sense that one side of the dojo is completely open to the elements. This part is boarded up in winter, which in Hiroshima officially lasts from December till April.

The other dojo is in the 'Culture Centre' of a large shopping complex in central Hiroshima. It is a branch of an older, well-established dojo in Hiroshima, with very strong links to the local community. The dojo population is much larger than that of the other dojo, with a flourishing children's class. Many of the children are sons and daughters of parents I myself taught in the university, when they were students. Some of the parents train side by side with their kids. The dojo has strong links with the local Shinto shrine and always holds demonstrations during the local shrine festivals. Its existence reveals a side of 'local' Japan that foreign visitors rarely see.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 02-14-2011, 09:43 PM   #5
Walter Martindale
Location: Cambridge, ON
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Re: what is your dojo like?

awww. envy...
Our dojo is in trouble. I'm new (7 months) at this dojo. I arrived when the dojo sensei was away on holiday - a big class was 4 people incl. instructor.
It's in a gymnastics club - so the floor-ex floor is amazing to take ukemi - we bounce from the big throws.

However - the gym was bought by someone with a different attitude to life, and the rent went up quite dramatically - so - because a very good night is still - 4 - we're folding at the end of the month. Sensei is tired of trying to pull new members. I'm taking a job 5000 km away. The one Ikkyu is taking a job across 50 km of water and 80 km of driving (and moving there). The one sankyu is moving to Hawaii... Sad, really. Very nice, friendly vibe at the dojo but it's having to wrap.
Mary - I envy your position...
Peter - in '03 a bunch of us palefaced Canucks visited Hiroshima and had a practice with one of Kawahara's students - who's sensei at the police dojo. That (for me) was memorable. Wasn't winter - the open air training reminds me of a visit to Waseda Uni judo club in Jan 78. Whole session was newaza, gi was soaked in sweat, toes were white (as in cold - they're always almost white)
W

Last edited by Walter Martindale : 02-14-2011 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 02-14-2011, 09:56 PM   #6
Janet Rosen
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Walter, so sorry about your dojo. Hope you find a wonderful one waiting where you move.
Mary, your home dojo sounds lovely.
When there's more time tomorrow I'll describe the different ones I've been part of!

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 02-14-2011, 10:53 PM   #7
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
Peter - in '03 a bunch of us palefaced Canucks visited Hiroshima and had a practice with one of Kawahara's students - who's sensei at the police dojo. That (for me) was memorable. Wasn't winter - the open air training reminds me of a visit to Waseda Uni judo club in Jan 78. Whole session was newaza, gi was soaked in sweat, toes were white (as in cold - they're always almost white)
W
Walter,

That would be Sadao Kotani, who, like Mr Kawahara, was a member of Osaka Aikikai. Another old Osaka Aikikai member has a dojo in nearby Fukuyama. I had a memorable training session with Mr Kawahara there on one occasion. It was memorable for the session in the beer garden afterwards.

PAG

P A Goldsbury
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Old 02-15-2011, 12:09 AM   #8
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: what is your dojo like?

My current dojo





My old dojo was in a tractor garage. A layer of thin carpet and an inch of blue mat was our surface. For the first several years I trained at that dojo, we didn't have any drywall up and you could see the bags of pink insulation. It was pretty cold in there in the winter time. Once we got the drywall up and painted though, it began to look more like a dojo and less like a garage. The two doors didn't have screens on them though, so when it was hot and they were open, we would get crazy amounts of mosquitoes in the dojo!

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:07 AM   #9
guest1234567
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Beautiful description Mary and you are very lucky to have your own dojo. Our dojo is in a house with 3 floors, in the basement they do aerobic, there is always lively music, in the 1 and 2 floor there are fitness machines, in the 2 floor are bath and shower rooms for women and in the firstfloor is our dojo,bath and shower room for men, a small bar and the reception. The owner of the gym is a 5 Dan taekwondo teacher and leave us tuesdays and thursdays from 20-21:30 hrs for aikido, This month we began also to train on saturdays from 11:30-12:30
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:43 AM   #10
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Here is our dojo. It was opened in 1989. Every year the students have made some improvement or other, usually as my Xmas present. It's really been a community effort over the years.





I need to get some updated pictures as the students have made some major improvements...

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:53 AM   #11
Eva Antonia
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Hi all,

unfortunately I don't have a nice photo, but our dojo is rather nice. It is in the sports complex of a university institute, and it's 2 minutes (walking or biking) from home. The building was erected in the sixties, and although it's not particularly beautiful, it's under monument protection. It was never altered and even the sanitary installations are still the same as fifty years ago. That makes it quite old-fashioned and charming. Our dojo has wooden walls and some wooden stairs going down on the tatami, and having two window fronts, it is quite well lighted. Unfortunately we DO HAVE heating, and too much of it, with the old soviet system (full blast heating, regulate temperature by opening the window). But the rest is very nice. And rent is subsidised by the government, so there are no absurd fees to pay

Sometimes we also are too few people, but on other days there are lots...yesterday we were about fifteen and all but three hakamas. But on other days we are two or three people...

Have a nice day!

Eva
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Old 02-15-2011, 03:00 AM   #12
Hellis
Dojo: Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Reading this thread made me think back to some of the dojo's I have taught at. Circa 1959/60 I was invited to do a rare public demonstration of Aikido, when I got to the venue the mats were about 40 disused hospital bed mattresses side by side, I could only describe the experience as doing Aikido in a ploughed field.

On my first visit to Alamogordo New Mexico 1992, I was taken to see the dojo, it was a large old derelict brick makers shed, the students had worked hard to clean the place up..I was warned to be careful of the Tarantula that lived in a part of the dojo undisturbed. I hate any form of spiders, as if that was not enough, I was shown where a rattlesnake had made his home...I was younger and fitter then and able to move around a lot faster.

Henry Ellis
http://aikido-books.blogspot.com/
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Old 02-15-2011, 06:54 AM   #13
dps
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Re: what is your dojo like?

My first dojo was a gymnasium at Youngstown State University where I had started an Aikido club.

My next dojo was a converted gas station where sensei Cycyk taught Aikido for no fee, you donated what you could.

Sensei then moved his dojo to a health spa where the only costs where for joining the health spa and USAF dues. Sensei still did not ask for any money for himself.

My next dojo was in a housing project where the law enfrocement officers who ran the dojo gave free lessons to the residents of the project.

Then there was the Aikido club that I started at my church that ran for two years. The church bought the mats and we charged a few bucks a lesson for the church to help with costs.

Currently I am not attending any dojo due to family obligations. I have a 12' x 12' area in my basement that I can use when my current medical problems will allow.

Now it is wherever I am at and whoever I am with that I practice posture, balance, extension, connection, movement either mentally or subtly with my unsuspecting ukes.

dps

Last edited by dps : 02-15-2011 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:36 AM   #14
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
Location: Stamford Connecticut
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Last night or this morning, my husband and I were talking about the old YMCA dojo, and he said don't forget about the yard with the Mongolian grass it was like rolling on a cushion. I remember rolling down the hill by the old barn's stone walls (the only thing that remains of the barn) towards the raspberry patch which grew up where the old paddle tennis court had been. We had a large flat lawn east and a bit south of our house, too.

If you favor back yard practice, try Zoysia grass, they sell "plugs" which will spread and make a great lawn. It is heat and drought resistant it just stays brown a little longer in the spring than other types. It may be Korean, I'm not sure which of the mainland countries it is originally from. One brand I think is called "Amazoy"

A tip for all you outdoor practice fanatics, and those who do not have indoor facilities to use.... from Chuck and myself. We have a small backyard of regular grass, the zoysia part was sold and other people live there now. We are thinking of re starting zoysia on what is now the home plot of land remaining.

Thanks for the descriptions and the photos. Very inspiring.
Chuck and I hope to train again soon. (Snow back there now)
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:48 AM   #15
Janet Rosen
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Re: what is your dojo like?

This aikimutt smiled thinking back to make this post, because one could say the description of each dojo sort of reflected the dojo itself:
The first dojo I joined was a start up (I was student number 1), we set up little mats in a dance studio 2 evenings per week and took turns changing in the bathroom. It all appeared transitory...and in fact lasted only a couple of years.
Dojo #2 was an airy upstairs space with a large mat w/ lovely kamiza, a kitchen, and big changing rooms with showers. The focus was on external technique: large movements with lots of muscle and no work on the internals.
Dojo #3 was fairly small, very cozy, comfortable and welcoming. The dojo's founder had retired or died some years earlier and only the techniques he had taught were done, and only in the exact way he had done them: aikido as a museum piece.
Dojo #4 relocated three times (that's four locations) in three years.

Where I train now is in a leased building that has housed the dojo for over a dozen years, before that it was for many many years in another location in town. The floor is a gymnastics sprung floor with dark blue felt over it (the first time I came as a visitor, over 11 years ago, I took a breakfall from kotegaishe and laughed my head off as I rebounded several feet up!), large enough for our needs., with a row of seats along one area for visitors or kids' parents. There are small changing rooms with nowhere to sit (many of us, if not coming directly from work, simply show up in our gis). Walls lined with photos and w/ calligraphy from various sources, including Keiko Fukuda Sensei's rendering of "Maximum Efficiency, Minimum Effort."

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 02-15-2011, 12:11 PM   #16
RonRagusa
Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido
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Re: what is your dojo like?

When I read Mary's OP it brought back memories of the sequence of events that finally led us to taking the leap into debt to build our own dojo. My first venue was at the Y in Pittsfield, MA. We kept getting shuffled from room to room, having to tote the mats with us with each change. We ended up in the auditorium. From there I moved to the Cow House in Dalton, MA where I first met Mary. Nice space, good mats, short lived. We were moved to the basement of the Boy's Club in Dalton which was built around the same time as the Great Pyramid in Egypt, I think. Small damp space, wet walls, musty smell. Stayed there until 1991 when Mary and I packed up our houses and kids and moved to Great Barrington, MA. We rented space in a fitness studio for a while. Small, dark space with few mats, it got us by until we moved the operation into a large garage bay located behind an auto parts store and there we stayed until 2004 when we finally realized our dream and started construction on our new dojo. Long strange trip but I appreciate its worth every time I step out onto our mat.
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Old 02-15-2011, 12:22 PM   #17
Janet Rosen
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
My first venue was at the Y in Pittsfield, MA.
Oh my haven't thought about Pittsfield in decades...My Uncle Charlie was a doctor there in the 1960s into I guess the early 70s.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 02-15-2011, 12:46 PM   #18
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
We rented space in a fitness studio for a while. Small, dark space with few mats, it got us by until we moved the operation into a large garage bay located behind an auto parts store...
Bookman Sensei doesn't post here, but I was a part of his very first dojo when he came back from Japan thirty years ago He had a dojo near Greenlake in Seattle. It was directly underneath a dance studio. This was really fine except on "Tap Class" night. 20 people doing tap lessons overhead made for such a deafening sound that we could barely hear Bruce Sensei talking to us.

Ironically, when we opened in 1989, we were right across the hall from Backstage Dance Studio. Every quarter the girls would do a recital. One quarter their routine was done to the pounding beat of "Everybody Get Down" done with that falsetto voice.... I had to listen to that tune played over and over nightly for three months. I still have a hard time listening to it.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 02-15-2011, 01:19 PM   #19
Allen Beebe
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Peter, thanks for this. Many think that the traditional dojo is what they see in the movies. My present situation (outside of a school, city, or prefectural budokan) feels the most traditional (in a way) to my sentiments, in a home, every inch stuffed full of "stuff." (It is the training room, the sleeping room, the meeting room, the eating drinking room. In each case it "becomes" a different room due it's own understood decorum.) Inside students are literally inside. If they aren't part of the family, they don't belong. Maybe not "traditional" in many people's imagination, but definitely one type of tradition not so well known outside of Japan or even inside Japan to "outsiders."

Another thanks for the memory of putting on my heavy gi still damp with the the sweat of yesterday's training (hung up to "dry out" but the humidity too great for that to ever happen, or perhaps washed and hung up to "dry") the temperature of gi, room and me, whatever the outside is. My only hope of not breaking like the ice upon the first throw is to warm up from the inside out.

Very natural feeling!



Allen

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Given the price of land in Japan, it is very unlikely that many people here have a dojo which is part of their house. (In fact, the only person I can think of owns the local newspaper and is also independently wealthy.)

So our dojo is in the local junior high school. It is not very beautiful at all. The school is very strong in judo and actually has two dojos, so our dojo is very well used. In fact, the school does not conform to Japan's earthquake regulations, so another school is being built nearby. The old school gymnasium containing the dojos does conform and will still be used, but there will soon be yet another dojo. Japan has a very long tradition of local participation in schools and school activities, so having an aikido dojo in a school is not so unusual.

The mats are real, traditional, tatami and there are two layers. The area is the size of a judo competition mat (about 100 tatami?), with the precise competition area marked out with red-covered tatami. There is a photo of Jigoro Kano on the wall, and he is joined by his friend Morihei Ueshiba when we train. In Japan there is no tradition of supplying heating in such dojos and the ventilation is also 'natural', in the sense that one side of the dojo is completely open to the elements. This part is boarded up in winter, which in Hiroshima officially lasts from December till April.

The other dojo is in the 'Culture Centre' of a large shopping complex in central Hiroshima. It is a branch of an older, well-established dojo in Hiroshima, with very strong links to the local community. The dojo population is much larger than that of the other dojo, with a flourishing children's class. Many of the children are sons and daughters of parents I myself taught in the university, when they were students. Some of the parents train side by side with their kids. The dojo has strong links with the local Shinto shrine and always holds demonstrations during the local shrine festivals. Its existence reveals a side of 'local' Japan that foreign visitors rarely see.

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 02-15-2011, 01:57 PM   #20
lbb
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Re: what is your dojo like?

This is a picture of Green River Aikido from 2004, after the building had been acquired:



This is what the same building looked like in September 2009:



Yep, same building.
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Old 02-15-2011, 03:25 PM   #21
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
It was directly underneath a dance studio. This was really fine except on "Tap Class" night. 20 people doing tap lessons overhead made for such a deafening sound that we could barely hear Bruce Sensei talking to us.
HAHA.... I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. I did tap in college and tap can be extremely loud. Right below the dance studio was the work out gym. If you were ever in there working out during tap, forget about listening to the radio or tv. You better have your ipod because you aren't hearing anything except for our tapping melodies

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 02-23-2011, 03:10 AM   #22
Amassus
 
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Re: what is your dojo like?

My club trains out of a judo dojo. We have done this for years. My instructor's original teachers were judoka who took up aikido. So we rank with coloured belts and train out of a judo dojo



Dean.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:25 AM   #23
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: what is your dojo like?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Yep, same building.
What a lovely transition your dojo has made!!!

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:49 AM   #24
RoisinPitman
Dojo: Phoenix (Jersey) School for Therapeutic Arts
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Re: what is your dojo like?



My dojo is situation within the walls of a 200+ year olf Napoleonic Fort (Fort Regent) situated on a hill above the capital of Jersey, St. Helier. The dojo itself is in a converted barrack room.

Fort Regent, since the early 1970's, has become a sports and leisure centre for numerous sports and entertainment. There are approximately 8 other martial arts dojo within the Fort.

Last edited by RoisinPitman : 03-06-2011 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:08 PM   #25
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: what is your dojo like?

At the moment anywhere I am.......
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