Fale Dojo is excited to welcome the first of three intakes for 2019. The February intake is the biggest group yet which consists of ten Young Lions. These successful applicants have travelled from all over the world as well as parts of New Zealand to embark on the three-month pro wrestling training course led by Head Trainer Toks Fale and his coaching staff.
This group marks a milestone for the Dojo, in addition to being the largest group to date, the roll call also includes the first female student. The level of experience between this brave young pride ranges from a minimum of two years to a decade. Nevertheless, each student will gain the same world-class education at @FaleDojo. This program will help prepare them for the next goal, to hopefully gain a place at the New Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo in Tokyo where they will receive further training. The Fale Dojo curriculum is based on New Japan’s ‘strong style’ genre with added disciplines in amateur wrestling, boxing and kickboxing. There is a great emphasis put on these extra skill sets with strong style being a fusion of pro wrestling and combat fighting. New Japan expects its wrestlers to be equipped in this certain style.
The recent intake of students has varied stories and explanations as to how they came to Fale Dojo. These journeys not only represent different levels of wrestling experience but also demonstrate the wide cultural reach that Fale Dojo has outside of New Zealand with many students coming from abroad. The combination of these diverse cultures and experiences enriches the Dojo and shows how popular it is becoming for a training destination. This three-part series will focus on the student’s journey as they adapt to their new surroundings.
Aaron Solow has been active in pro wrestling for ten years. Solow’s decade experience includes wrestling across the US independent scene and the UK circuit, and competing on WWE programmes such as NXT and 205 Live!
As a young fan growing up in South San Francisco, California, Solow was drawn to Chris Jericho’s charisma, and Tatanka’s aura and tribal attire, specifically his red hair. Tatanka appealed to Solow, who is part Filipino as there were very few representations of ethnic heroes in wrestling during the early ’90s. When Solow became a wrestler, he dyed part of his hair red as a tribute to his hero, the Native American Tatanka.
Solow had always wanted to compete in New Japan Pro Wrestling, however, he was unsure of how to pursue this goal until the opportunity arose to train at Fale Dojo.
Solow became aware of the Dojo through his association with his trainer Davey Richards, Toks Fale and Tony Kozina.
“Tony-San helped with my decision to come to Fale Dojo,” said Solow.
“Fale-san also assured me that coming here was one of the only ways to get to New Japan.”
Solow received his initial training at Lance Storm’s Wrestling Academy in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He upskilled his craft throughout his career by gaining further coaching from Jason Styles in California and Richards in St Louis, Missouri. Now as a Young Lion, Solow cites Fale Dojo as the next level from his previous training, he is pleased that he made the choice to come to the Dojo.
“The training at Fale Dojo has been very different from my previous training,” stated Solow.
“It is very intense, but I am learning a lot and I’m glad I made the choice to come here.”
Germany’s Oskar Münchow is fairly new to pro wrestling. Recently celebrating his second year, Münchow competed in track and field, soccer, basketball and judo prior to becoming a wrestler.
Münchow regards Shawn Michaels and Stan Hansen as two of his favourite wrestlers. Münchow, who stands at 6 foot 5 inches hopes to one-day master Hansen’s signature ‘lariat’ move.
As a fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Münchow became very interested in wanting to study the Japanese strong style. His initiative led him to find the Fale Dojo online and apply for the three-month course.
Münchow is enjoying his experience at the Dojo and the expectations of the intensive training. He shared that his biggest challenge is learning the Japanese customs, though he is confident that he will absorb the culture.
“The hardest part for me is learning the protocol, in particular, the greetings that are spoken in Japanese,” said Münchow.
“I still find it pretty hard to learn and remember the Japanese language, but I’m sure that I’ll get used to it.”
Münchow is thrilled about the NZ scenery. Like others in the current intake, Münchow is visiting NZ for the first time.
“New Zealand is by far the prettiest country I have ever been to,” he stated.
“I love its nature and the city a lot. It’s all very green and full of nature, and the weather so far has been nothing but great!”
One of the benefits of training at Fale Dojo is the Auckland setting that is usually implemented into the Young Lion’s training sessions. During their stay, the students are treated to experiencing Auckland’s rich and diverse culture.
Toks Fale, a proud Aucklander and one to never forget his roots, has always made it a point to introduce each group to the city’s landscape.
“I’m proud of being from Auckland,” said Fale.
“With every intake, I try and show them the beauty of the city.”
“There are many spots around where you can get a view of the whole city,” he shared.
“I also enjoy taking them up to Mangere Mountain and One Tree Hill during the training sessions.”
Vik Pawaar moved from India to NZ in 2012 in the hopes of pursuing his dream in becoming a pro wrestler. At the time there were no wrestling promotions and training facilities available in India, so he looked to the Kiwi wrestling scene as a way to start his journey.
While competing in Christchurch, Pawaar was referred to Fale Dojo when its Auckland facility first opened. Pawaar was one of the early graduates to train at Fale Dojo and receive one on one training from Toks Fale. Pawaar has returned to do the three-month training course again, and he is excited to be doing so as part of a large group.
“I am most definitely looking forward to the training again,” said Pawaar.
“There are more students to learn from and share my past experience with.”
Pawaar’s experience includes being present at the New Japan try-outs which the Dojo hosted in 2017. This gave Pawaar a taste of what to expect.
“I found it to be a great learning experience,” he recalled.
“It gave me a taste of where I could go, and it pushed me beyond my limits.’
Pawaar is also experienced in MMA, Jujitsu and kickboxing, as well as having a background in powerlifting. He finds training to be challenging and rewarding and he also appreciates the positive atmosphere within his group.
“Training has been good and challenging,” explained Pawaar.
“But it’s great to be part of such a nice big team, where everyone motivates and pushes each other, helps each other and stays humble to each other.”