In keeping with the theme of determination and unity, Fale Dojo / NZ Dojo Pro-Wrestling Coach, Tony Kozina weighed in on the success of the 2023 February intake.
“We concluded the February 2023 intake on a very high note,” said Tony Kozina. “We are finally retaining promising young lions, which isn’t so simple when you consider they need work visas to stay for an extended period of time.”
“This is something we have worked on and envisioned for many years now,” Kozina elaborated. “The ball is now rolling for Fale Dojo, and we have some exciting plans for the June intake with the hopes of retaining even more young lions.”
The intake entailed the core elements which included the Exhibition student showcase which took place at the end of February. In preparation for the show, the lions were joined by Dojo graduates and New Japan Tamashii wrestlers, Tome & Stevie Filip (2019), and Richard Mulu (2020) in a sparring workout.
In addition, the lions took part in extra activities such as the Saturday morning walks up Auckland landmark, One Tree Hill, and participating in the Dojo’s General Community Classes in boxing and kickboxing, this further helped strengthen the bond of the newest intake of young lions.
“This intake was one of the very best,” Kozina emphasised, this being his fourteenth intake. “Everyone who stayed the full 3 months brought a lot of heart to the table, and that’s what it takes to thrive in the professional wrestling world.”
TIM & ROBIN KOSLOWSKI
Brothers, Tim, and Robin Koslowski, are the third set of brothers to enter the Fale Dojo training system, following the United Kingdom’s Josh and Joel Stevenson from 2017, and Australia’s Tome and Stevie Filip. The Koslowski brothers began their training in 2022 at the wXw Academy. Tim also honed his craft for two months at the Vulcan Pro Wrestling school in Sydney, Australia. It was there where Tim met Dojo graduate, Andrew Villalobos, who directed him to Fale Dojo. Robin, the youngest of the Koslowski brothers, spoke on their behalf.
“Andrew-San recommended Fale Dojo to Tim when he was training with him in Sydney. Our dream is to learn pro wrestling the proper way and work in Japan. So, we thought the Dojo was the best place to go.
“Training at Fale Dojo is really hard and intense, but it’s 100% worth it. Everyone is making immense progress every week. We are doing large amounts of intense exercise, but you have to learn to ignore the pain and just keep going.
“The wrestling style we are learning here is different from what we have learned before, so we had to relearn and adapt to the new style. We kept going during training even though our body and mind were telling you to stop. That was our biggest accomplishment.
“The coaches and trainers have high standards, but they give everything to push you through the training sessions. You can always talk to them, and they will help you out.”
County Meath, Leinster, Ireland
A lot of firsts for this intake, in particular for Cian Devin; a former Mixed Martial Arts fighter with a specialist background in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Devin is also the first lion from Ireland to train at the Dojo. Devin’s combat skills were noted during the Exhibition event when he defeated Jordan Allan Wright in a 2 out of 3 falls submission match. Along with fellow lion, Cameron McCallum, Devin assisted Tony Kozina during a wrestling boot camp working with a young and local rugby league team in preparation for their season. Whilst Devin arrived with no previous wrestling experience, he has made tremendous progress over the last three months, learning to fuse his combat abilities with New Japan’s strong style.
“I came to Fale Dojo because I felt it was the best place for me to learn wrestling and learn it the right way. My initial thoughts after arriving were feelings of uncertainty about what was ahead of me for the next 13 weeks.
“My biggest challenges have been using my voice and trying to be more outgoing both in training and in the ring. I have also been working on trying not to be too self-critical and instead just enjoying the process of training and learning.
“I would say making it through each training session no matter what we had to do that day is a big accomplishment for me both mentally and physically. Also taking part in an Exhibition and participating in a grappling match felt like a big achievement.
“Learning from Fale-San and Tony-San and the other Senpais about pro-wrestling has been a huge learning experience. It’s shown me how much dedication and attention to detail it takes to become a professional. Every Senpai that’s been involved in our training has been a huge help and very encouraging throughout.
“I always had huge respect for the wrestling business, but coming here has opened my eyes even more to just how much hard work and dedication goes into making a career in wrestling. I’ve also learned a little bit more about the business side of things as well which has also been interesting.
“I’m excited to see what the future holds for not just myself but everyone in this intake…maybe we’ll all cross paths again someday soon!”
Tongariro, Ruapehu District, New Zealand
Trent Hooper is part of a new generation of New Zealand wrestling hopefuls taking their dreams to the next level. Having trained a year and a half in Christchurch, a change of environment under world-class leadership at the Dojo is exactly what Hooper needed to push beyond his comfort zone in his quest for a full-time career in professional wrestling.
“My initial reactions to Dojo life were a mix of shock, exhaustion, and suck it up. Obviously, we all work hard, and the Senpais constantly pushed us to our limits. I just tried my best to remind myself that I needed to keep pushing through to get the best out of this opportunity.
“I had a lot of self-doubt when in training and I put a lot of pressure on myself to rush and reach these goals. I learned that taking a step back and seeing that even if I wasn’t where I wanted to be I was still improving. This helped settle my thoughts, kept me motivated, and pushed me ahead.
“In one of our final training sessions, Mark [Tui]-San led us in a time trial which involved burpees, takedowns, assault bike, kick sits, and clean and press. Everyone else went in pairs, but I had to go by myself since we were at odd numbers. I only had the clock to race against, and I managed to squeeze out the fastest time with the support of the other lions cheering me on. This was an awesome moment for me, as it really put into perspective the hard work, I’d put into the intake so far and made me excited to see how much more I could achieve before the intake ends.
“Working with the coaches has been an absolute blessing. I’m surrounded by the best that the country has to offer right now, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather learn. Looking ahead, I feel like I have a much clearer vision of how I can approach the business. I have goals and aspirations to be involved with Tamashii and New Japan for the foreseeable future. Right now, I just need to focus on becoming a better wrestler one day at a time and jumping at the opportunities as they come.
“This intake has made me very excited for what the rest of the year has in store, and I’m forever thankful for this opportunity.”
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Learning from scratch with an open mind can make the most teachable students, as Tony Kozina has often shared. Such was the case for Will Driscoll. As a wrestling fan since childhood, Driscoll aspired to become a professional wrestler. His lifelong dream was activated when he signed up for an extended stay at Fale Dojo, thus making Driscoll the first Canadian to train at Fale Dojo.
“While researching professional wrestling schools, I found Fale Dojo. I thought it was perfect, I never wanted to half-ass anything especially something as important to me as wrestling. The Dojo seemed the most legitimate place for an individual like me who knows nothing about wrestling or the ins and outs of the business. It was the first place I sent an email to even if it was across the world and they got back to me quickly and here I am signed up for three intakes.
“Arriving across the world let alone the Fale Dojo was a huge culture shock for sure. A different country with unfamiliar settings and traditions will always have me a little disorientated. Coming to the Dojo house for the first time was when it really felt real. Living at just one house with a ton of other people took some getting used to.
“Once we started the training that too set me back a bit. You didn’t really know what training was going to entail before arriving, and again having not wrestled or done anything before it was a different environment for me. I like to believe I’m in decent shape but even then, the workouts at first seemed daunting. When you take yourself out of the situation in your head though and take a breath you really do appreciate and understand everything that goes on, I learned to be very grateful to be here pretty early on.
“There were many challenges to this intake but also, I was very grateful again to be part of this one in particular. I believe I lucked out with the other individuals who were a part of this intake. Everyone was so supportive of each other and there was rarely any confrontation in the house. This came as a surprise as I thought confrontation was going to be a problem, however, I was happily mistaken. It took some getting used to, to be able to open up to others and be yourself with strangers 24/7.
“My biggest accomplishment was completing the entire intake. I’m not sure if it’s the norm but this intake has seen its fair share of people leave, for various reasons and situations. However, just sticking through all the ups and downs helped build up my character. I couldn’t be more excited for these next intakes. I know more concrete accomplishments are coming at Fale-Dojo thanks to my coaches and Senpais.
“The trainers were great. As soon as you opened up the more helpful they were. I truly believe as an intake a big reason for our success was due to the Senpais at the house, they deserve a lot of credit. Tony-San was the definition of a wrestling genius and was just full of knowledge if you asked him the right questions. Fale-San helped with so much more than just wrestling but also life around it as well which I didn’t expect from the Dojo. They really worked on the young lions helping them become better people in general.
“Being a part of the Dojo made me see wrestling in a different way. Everything was new to me. Instead of seeing it all from a fans point of view, I slowly began to see and experience all the ins and outs to make it and be a part of it. It’s very humbling. I couldn’t be more grateful to start my career here at the Fale Dojo.”
Vitória da Conquista, Bahia, Brazil
Pedro Henrique was the youngest of the 2023 February intake and was the first lion to travel from Brazil. Drawn to the Dojo’s notoriety, Henrique was persistent to train under Toks Fale, an option he believed best for him. As he had played amateur soccer since childhood, Henrique found familiarity in Fale and Tony Kozina’s leadership.
“The training at Fale Dojo was immensely hard. Once you received the body shock in the first few days, you began to realise what you signed up for. I never forgot the first 500 squats; I came to love them.
“My greatest challenge was getting my confidence up. There were a few moments of genuine struggle, but dialogue and communication was the key. In times like this, I thank Fale-San, Tony-San, and my fellow lions for helping me find myself.
“I’m pleased I made it through the three months, and I’m forever grateful for the various lessons I learned from the coaches and Senpais: From a wrestling aspect, to combat sports training and the rolls, and disciplines in day-to-day life.
“The coaching aspect felt familiar to me as I’ve been through this sort of sports training before. The Senior Senpais were wonderful, and a big part of what made this intake such an incredible experience. Fale-San and Tony-San were exceptional coaches In all aspects, they really helped me in moments where I felt I was losing myself.
“As training went on, I focused a lot on the technical nuances that wrestling had to offer. It was great to watch pro wrestling from a more analytical perspective rather than as a fan.
“I’d like to sing the praises of the entire group as a whole. I felt we were really switched on and united as a group. This made the intake process a lot more fluid and nicer, I love all these guys. I came to NZ alone and with nothing, and no one with me, but by the end of the intake, all of them felt like family.”
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