Johnny Gardner is one of many students to train at Fale Dojo where he participated in the three-month professional wrestling course. Gardner, a New Zealander was living in Brisbane, Australia when he returned to take part in the September 2018 intake.
“I grew up between Auckland and a little town called Kaeo in the far north which has a population of 1100,” said Gardner.
Gardner’s passion to pursue wrestling was inspired by watching wrestlers he felt he identified with. However, his love for it came from a connection he shared with his grandfather.
“I had known about wrestling for as long as I can remember,” he recalled. “But I really started getting into it around the age of 12 when I saw Rey Mysterio wrestling on TV.”
“I was always the smallest kid wherever I went, so when I saw this small guy beating up bigger guys it resonated with me so much, I was hooked from that day forward.”
“Watching wrestling is also one of my favourite memories I have of my Grandfather,” Gardner stated. “He would tell me stories of when Harley Race and other old-time wrestlers would come to New Zealand to wrestle.”
Gardner started wrestling in Brisbane where he created the name John Skyfall. He was determined to find the most comprehensive training school to invest in his chosen career path. Gardner’s search would lead him back to New Zealand.
“I followed Fale-San on Instagram and saw a post about Fale Dojo,” Gardner explained. “I did some research and found the website, and I thought to myself if I am ever going to make something of myself as a wrestler, I need to take a chance and sign up for the Dojo’s three-month course, even if that meant putting my life on hold for three months and flying back to NZ.”
Under the expert guidance of Toks ‘Bad Luck’ Fale, Tony Kozina and Mark Tui, the young lions were pushed to go beyond their limits. The regime brought the lion’s closer together; strengthening the collective. Gardner, in particular, showed incredible endurance. Even with a damaged wrist, Gardner continued to train while he was in pain.
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Do what you have to do, to do what you want to do. At Fale Dojo it’s all about HEART! @johnny_g_nz is a perfect example of what it takes to make his dream a reality, wrist is damaged, and in a cast but he makes no excuses! Keeps his head down and he works! What’s your excuse! Don’t wait start now!
“I think my challenges were pretty much the same as a lot of other lions in terms of general fitness,” he shared. “There were a lot of times where I thought ‘why have I come here, this is so hard’, but at the end of the day I knew I had nothing to lose and just carried on.”
Gardner added: “I learned that I am capable of more than I ever thought or was told. The training itself not only strengthens you physically but mentally as well. Training that hard on a daily basis just makes other everyday problems seem so small and I am definitely a stronger individual after my time there.”
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PLEASE ignore the pre sneeze facials to the right, it’s been a somewhat rough 3 months but I learned to love every second of it. A big thank you to @ttkozina1 @toksfale @alii_mareko for the encouragement and and getting my arse into gear, what an experience. @faledojo is the place to be in 2019 so if pro wrestling is life pursuit don’t hesitate! #investinyourself #younglions2018
Gardner reaped the benefits of his training at Fale Dojo and it wasn’t until after he had graduated that he was able to process the significance.
He explained: “I returned to Brisbane and continued wrestling, it was rewarding implementing everything I learned from Fale Dojo both in my personal and professional life.”
“It didn’t really cross my mind at the time, but, after leaving, I realised that the Dojo was much more than a wrestling facility. I don’t think any other wrestling school could’ve impacted me the way Fale Dojo did.”
Gardner is presently resting and healing his body while much of the wrestling profession is on hiatus due to the global pandemic. In the meantime, the graduate from Kaeo has applied his skills to become a personal trainer.
“I have taken a little step back from wrestling for 2020, just to continue rehabbing the injuries,” said the young lion. “I have also become a qualified PT, in the hopes of passing on the lessons I learned during my time at the Dojo.”
Johnny Gardner epitomises the Fale Dojo moto, ‘invest in yourself’. He’d developed a very solid foundation which helped him progress after graduating from the programme. Along the way, he endorsed Stacey McInnes who would go onto become the first female to train in the three-month course. McInnes has also enjoyed the fruits of her work since graduating. As a personal trainer, Gardner invests in others. This skill requires one to give clients their full and undivided attention and to help develop them both physically and mentally.
“I came to Fale Dojo in the hopes of becoming a better wrestler and hopefully get my foot in the door with New Japan Pro-Wrestling, but I left with so much more,” Gardner expressed. “Not only did I become a better wrestler but I learnt so much more about myself. Fale-San, Tony-San and Mark-San taught me self-discipline, mental fortitude and a whole list of values that I didn’t have previously, which have helped me immensely in my personal life. I owe a lot to the team at Fale Dojo they changed my life for the better and I cannot thank them enough.
“I would highly recommend Fale Dojo. It not only teaches the in-ring aspect of professional wrestling but all dimensions of the business,” Gardner said in closing. “I could list it all here but I would ask that you’d trust me as there aren’t enough words to describe.”