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The first dojo I practiced at was a school hall in downtown Toronto. It was a large windowless room with low ceilings and the smell of lunch food hanging in the air. I loved it and took every class I could. Being a school, though, we were kicked out regularly – for concerts, parent teacher meetings, and all school holidays. During those times, we roamed from other schools to church halls, to public parks and parking lots. Some were good, most weren’t. Everyone dreamed of a permanent space. My training continued. The martial art I practiced changed but the spaces (and their limitations) remained for the most part the same. When I started my own dojo here in central London I was thrilled to have the privilege of using – yes – another school hall. For 7 years I enjoyed a wonderful space in a wonderful school. Every day, all of my students dutifully put the mats out and then put them away (there were 30 mats weighing 48 pounds each). We picked raisins and glitter off the back of them, pushed gymnastics equipment, play props and art projects aside, and of course, became accustomed to moving out for concerts, plays, fairs and other special events. My dream for a permanent space resurfaced after returning from a stay as live in student (uchi-deshi) at a very special dojo in California. As these things have a way of happening, it was very soon after when I came across the perfect building. Three years later, with some good fortune and a great deal of perseverance and hard work, the DOJO finally opened its doors and a building that had been neglected for nearly a decade began its new life in the community. A sanctuary in a crowded and busy city, a place dedicated to the practice of Aikido, and a space to be used by those in pursuit of a similar type of peace.
the DOJO • Aikido, health & wellbeing classes and venue hire in Kensal Rise, London
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