NZ Dojo 2023 September Intake – Part One

The Fale Dojo / NZ Dojo 2023 September Intake commenced training on the first week of September. Led by Toks Fale, Head Coach, and NJPW star, he is joined by Mark Tui, Coach and foundation Dojo Graduate; and Tony Kozina, Pro-Wrestling Coach.

“With every intake, we are refining our training technique,” Coach Kozina stated, this class is his 16th intake. “We are learning better, more efficient ways to communicate so our young lions can understand and digest the information with better clarity.”

Tony Kozina

“This year, 2023, has been groundbreaking for us in our training development and the development of our senior lions, who have taken on leadership roles within the NZ Dojo,” Kozina continued. “We have the infrastructure now to expand our training, and this shows in the development of the September intake young lions.”

“I think I can speak for a number of our staff when I say I haven’t seen better development of talent than I have in 2023, and especially the September intake,” Kozina expanded on the evolution of the Fale Dojo young lion.

“I am very sad this intake is coming to a close because, with every week, these guys are sharpening their instincts in the ring,” said Kozina the 27-year veteran who helped train such names as Kyle O’Reilly, Aaron Solo, Davey Richards, and Bad Luck Fale. “They are understanding at a deeper level, and I give credit to the system that Fale Dojo has developed. Understand, it’s WE, not ME! I say that about the in-ring game, and I say it about Fale Dojo and the training system we have developed this year.”

The 2023 September intake consists of eighteen young lions, hailing from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United States, and Germany. Included in this class are Senior Senpais Nikolai Anton Bell, Johnny Gardner, Tyler Illes, Cameron McCallum, Trent Hooper, Cian Devin, and Will Driscoll. In addition, graduates Richard Mulu, Finn Grant, and Sean Tohi also support the intake as fellow competitors on the NJPW Lion’s Den series. By the conclusion of the three-month programme, the 2023 September intake will complete five Lion’s Den shows.

“This intake has some of the most unshakeable students we have ever seen,” Kozina observed of the immense challenges the young lions have overcome. “We have thrown everything at them conditioning-wise, and they survive with smiles on their faces. It gives me great hope for the future of professional wrestling. I am so happy that we have been able to start the ‘Lion’s Den’ series.”

“This could only happen because we have a such dedicated group,” Kozina said in closing. “Dedicated staff and dedicated students, willing to give it everything they have. I hate to see any of them go.”

This first piece of a two-part article looks at the young lions who are completing their second intake.

Tacoma, Washington, USA

Challenging, fulfilling, and enlightening is how Malcolm Evans best describes his time at Fale Dojo. Evans became a Senior Senpai, entering into a leadership role during his second intake. While overseeing the young lions at the Dojo house, the Senpai applied his excellent communication skills to assist the Trainers in the General Community Classes. In the ring, the imposing Evans competed on every Lion’s Den show, as well as the NJPW Tamashii event, that was held this oast September in Sydney, Australia. Evans wrestled a singles match against his powerhouse counterpart, the Rogue Army’s, Caveman Ugg, who is also a Fale Dojo graduate. Evans reflected on his journey.

“During this intake, I took on a minor leadership role and learned more about the business side of things. I also grew as a man, wrestler, and relationship builder.

“I’d be the first to tell you that after 12 years of wrestling, you never stop learning. This second intake was humbling: I got in where I could fit in, leading by example and keeping morale up at the Dojo house. In the first intake, I would just get things done without delegating tasks to the rest of the lions. I’ve always believed that if you want something done, you do it yourself. Fale-San pulled me aside and advised me that if I did everything on the lion’s behalf, then they would never learn. With the 2023 September intake, I was able to put Fale-San’s words into action. I can honestly say this will continue to be part of my coaching and teaching moving forward.

“On the business side of things, I joined the Dojo’s General Community Classes to help motivate the general members to achieve their fitness goals. Keeping them consistent in their attendance was especially important, and I would help with the classes as they grew and joined in when needed. I formed relationships and became an honorary Tongan; I am known as ‘Malekamu’ now to Fale-San who took notice of my communication skills. Moving forward, I’m looking forward to playing an important role in building New Japan Tamashii. To help expand the company in multiple countries through the connections I have created over the years. 2024 will be an outstanding year!

“In the last six months, I have seen an exponential amount of personal growth. I am truly humbled by my experiences here, and grateful for the opportunity to travel and wrestle in two different countries. I’ve built everlasting memories and lifelong friendships and relationships that will forever be ingrained in my being. I have strengthened my leadership skills by being more patient and allowing others to learn from their mistakes. I’m taking these skills and applying them in life as well as in business. I appreciate living in the moment and experiencing gratitude for what comes before me. With preparation and perseverance, it will lead to growth and prosperity. If you keep your eyes and ears open, be consistent, and stay disciplined you will achieve anything you put your mind to. Always be grateful.”

Adelaide, South Australia

Killer looks with killer goals, Adelaide’s Branden Richter transitioned into the role of a Senpai in his second consecutive intake, helping to lead the new members of the class. Meanwhile, on his journey, Richter has been refining his craft on the Lion’s Den shows. Richter spoke about the last three months of training.

“These last three months brought new goals and opportunities. After completing the 2023 June intake, I became a leader for the new lions in this current class. I’ve been showing them what it takes to reach the next step, and seeing their improvements has been a highlight for me.

“Another highlight is the continued growth through Lion’s Den. Having the opportunity to compete in two singles matches was a highlight, as in my first intake I was in tag matches. The feedback I received from Fale-San and Tony-San has motivated me to implement the adjustments they recommended post-matches in my future bouts.”

Kohlberg, Bayern, Germany

When Daniel Kallmeier first arrived at Fale Dojo for the 2023 June Intake, he set out to build his foundation, and was satisfied with the outcome. While in his second intake, Kallmeier aimed to build and progress his craft. On top of his training schedule, Kallmeier voluntarily joined in the Dojo’s General Community Classes, consistently in the last six months. Kallmeier, pleased with what he has achieved, intends to finish strong and leave nothing in the tank in this final week of the intake. Kallmeier shared the following comments.

“it was great to help guide and train with the new guys and see how they grew and developed the last couple of months. This experience helped me as a beginner to train with them and to personally get to better understand the concept of wrestling. It’s amazing to see what a group can achieve when they work as a team, and everybody gives 100 percent.

“I was motivated for my second intake, I wanted to get better in the ring. I saw my progress during my time here; I also wanted to work on my body to get stronger during the second intake and get in the shape I wanted to be in.

“Competing on Lion’s Den was a highlight. I only had one match in my first intake. So I was thankful that we had the chance to wrestle multiple times in front of a crowd. I gained some important experience with every wrestler that I competed with.

“I am happy and proud that I trained at Fale Dojo for the last six months. I pushed through pain, injuries, and a lot of self-doubt. I met so many amazing people and I am thankful for this experience and to everyone that helped me along the way.”

Hamburg, Germany

Returning for their second intake, brothers Tim and Robin Koslowski have developed into own respective styles. Tim has maintained his muscular and bulky physique that embodies his powerhouse style, while Robin’s grappling approach combined with his height is a blend that opponents have found difficult to combat. Interestingly, at the most recent Lion’s Den event, the Koslowski brothers squared off against each other in a singles match, with Tim submitting the younger Robin with an arm bar. The two brothers spoke about their post-graduate experience in a joint statement.

“The intake as seniors has been quite different from the intake as juniors. Now we were in charge of assisting and leading training. We taught the juniors how to clean everything properly and made them aware of all the details they had to pay attention to.

“During this intake, we got the opportunity to wrestle at the Lion’s Den shows. These shows were our highlights of the intake. We both feel like we have improved from match to match and felt more comfortable every time we stepped in the ring. We’re excited about what the future will bring and look forward to competing in the remaining Lion’s Den event.”

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Fraser Pittard has returned to Fale Dojo, he last trained as part of the 2022 June Intake. The graduate maintained contact with the Dojo after returning to Red Hill, Melbourne, where he began refereeing at several local shows. Since his arrival back to New Zealand, Pittard immersed himself once again in the Dojo’s rigorous workouts. Pittard has also honed his craft in refereeing under the guidance of Lloyd Morgan; graduate and NJPW Tamashii’s lead official. Pittard immediately started refereeing a handful of matches at the Lion’s Den events. More recently, the young lion, clothed in his zebra shirt uniform achieved a milestone in officiating an entire event by himself, recently at Lion’s Den 6 which was held on December 9. Pittard discussed his return to Fale Dojo.

“My experience at Fale Dojo has been much different from my last intake in June 2022. It’s been quite a ride since then, my time refereeing throughout Melbourne and greater Victoria allowed me to see many sides of the local scene, and I knew that I had to make my way back to the Dojo to expand on my training.

“The team at Fale Dojo has been so helpful and kind, helping me with my unique journey. I hope I’ve been helpful to the Dojo and to the new people who have come through this intake.

“This intake has been an interesting challenge, but I have stuck it in and managed to get through the training and come out much better than I was before, and with that, I can’t thank the Dojo enough.”

Fale Dojo

Cover Graphic: Blackstorm Creative 

NZ Dojo 2023 September Intake – Part Two

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