Two weeks ago I fulfilled a longtime dream by opening my own Dojo space in Ultimo Sydney and it was the completion of not only a very spiritual journey but a very important circle of life for me.
The first Martial Art I ever practiced was Karate with my Dad at 6 years old and I went on to study Judo, Kung Fu, Thai boxing, Western Boxing and BJJ. What a lot of people don’t know is that my first black belt was awarded to me by the man in the photo above, Kancho Yoshiji Soeno of Shidokan Karate, former student of Mas Oyama, former kick boxer, and living martial arts legend. I was able to meet Kancho by walking into the first Sydney Shidokan Dojo by accident at its original location of Harris St Ultimo, literally 5 mins away from our current Dojo. That was almost 25 years ago and was a huge turning point in my life.
“Every Circle begins with a point”.
At the time I was a little bit lost literally and figuratively. My life was without any real focus having just dropped out of Uni for the second time, getting over a long term relationship break up (because I trained too much) and was travelling around different places to train in Muay Thai, Karate and Boxing trying to find the perfect style and training format with very little money.
I hadn’t spent much time in that part of town and was trying to make my way back to Central when I noticed a sign outside a terrace house that read Japanese Martial Arts. Inside I met three Japanese Blackbelts and was introduced to the mixed martial art that was Shidokan. Shidokan took elements of Kyokushin Karate, Muay Thai and Judo along with a philosophy that you can learn from all fighting arts and use them to improve your own Karate. For me it was hand in (boxing) glove. A perfect fit.
Through Shidokan I learnt about true Budo spirit and the concept that no style was stronger than another but rather that personal application and spirit was a true reflection of fighting. I got to travel overseas to fight and to stay in Japan with the uchi deshi (live in students) at Shidokan Honbu (HQ). I liked the freedom of the style yet it still had the discipline, culture and etiquette of Karate.Whatever arts or styles I studied before or from here on in, I now considered all as being my Karate rather than separate styles or components of different styles. For so long I had been told by instructors of each of the styles I had done that their style was the best and that the other styles were crap for this or that reason.Most importantly I found a purpose to my life. That purpose was to become what I had seen and experienced in Japan. A real student of Budo Karate.I decided to make Karate my life focus to make my life better.
Fast forward to 2017 after plenty of lessons and challenges from so many amazing teachers, dojo mates and opponents I’m finally able to pay forward the lessons I have been receiving for so many years with the style that was the starting point of this particular circle of my life. At the new Dojo I’m now starting a new circle of life and hopefully I can help be the starting point of someone else’s Martial Arts journey. Every circle begins with a point.
The first step is coming in.
“Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself”-Jean Paul Sartre