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#23 CARPE DIEM LONDON

Posted on 2018/04/06

Carpe Diem BJJ London opened on 1 February this year, and the journey thus far has been a long one. Tsuyoshi moved to London for this and he seems to have been through a lot, but in the end we successfully opened the London dojo.

I went to London to see Tsuyoshi soon after the opening. At the time London was in the middle of the worst cold snap in ten years. It was cold, rainy, and the skies were gray. Man, I would never want to live here, I thought. Tsuyoshi was in high spirits, though. He’s grown his hair out and ties it back, striking an almost samurai-like figure. I had imagined after first moving to London it would be tough for him. Now he seemed somehow more adult than before, more mature. That might be an obvious thing for a guy in his mid-thirties to be, but to me Tsuyoshi may always seem more like a kid.

Tsuyoshi is the only guy that I think completely gets the concept of Carpe Diem BJJ. We’ve worked together nearly every day for so many years. He was there when we first struggled to run the dojo. He was there when I was wrestling with all the many decisions to be made when we were expanding.

Telling Tsuyoshi how to run a dojo at this point would be meaningless. In fact, when I visited London it was I that learned a lot from him. I recalled the struggles involved in starting a new dojo, and I was really happy when at one point he said to me, “Now I finally get what you mean by ‘struggle.’” I’ve always been really strict with him, instructing him in being both a professional BJJ player and a dojo operator. Mentally speaking, I think there were probably a lot of tough times in that respect. I struggled with it, too, but in the end I did it for Tsuyoshi and his future. Running a dojo is no easy task. You need a fire in your heart but at the same time you need a cool head, and the only way to know when and how to use which one is through long experience.

Tsuyoshi showed me around London while I was there…shopping on Bond street, sipping coffee together at some cafe. Now that I think of it, we never took the time to do stuff like that when we were back in Tokyo. For me it was a very refreshingly fun time. Tsuyoshi already seems to know London like the back of his hand. He’s even picked up a bit of the local accent in his English. It’s like the Tsuyoshi I know isn’t even there anymore.

I want to help the London dojo prosper, but at the same time I think London rules have to apply, demanding a different approach than how we do things in the Japan dojos. That’s why I can’t really give any advice on how to run the place, but all the same I think the process of creating a good dojo is probably not very different. To me, a “good dojo” is one with a powerful team and lots of members, all working toward their own goals and having a good time doing it. I see Tsuyoshi building that kind of place.

Alex and Ollie are putting in a lot of effort, too. Both were members of Carpe Diem in Japan and both understand the Carpe Diem BJJ culture very well. I expect they will provide Tsuyoshi with excellent support.

I taught some classes while I was in London as well. I felt nervous for the first time in a long while. I have no idea why. I couldn’t speak English very smoothly and started to panic a little. I may have been frantic over trying to live up to the intense expectations of the London students, receiving training straight from the director of Carpe Diem BJJ.

After two hours I was exhausted. All the students listened carefully to what I was teaching, which is an important aspect of the culture I refer to above. I think people who instead show up to a dojo thinking all they need is sparring have the wrong attitude and will have a negative impact on the environment, and I make sure all my head instructors know this.

The day the dojo opened, Tsuyoshi wrote the following on the Carpe Diem BJJ London Facebook page.

Our promise to new members.

We guarantee that our gym will always be clean, all classes will start on time and all instructors will know your name. We will ensure we provide you with a safe and progressive environment to train in and will support you on your journey. Whether your goal is to exercise and get fit, or to train and compete like a pro, we’ll be here for you and we’re sure you’ll have an amazing time in our gym.

Come and train with us.

That says it all, really. I have no worries.

To Tsuyoshi: All I ask is that you stay healthy, remember to show gratitude to the people around you, and smile. If something bad happens in your life, let it go. It’s not the end of the world. You tend to be too hard on both yourself and others. See the faults you find as charming instead, and then forgive them all. Everyone in Japan is supporting you. We wish you happiness and will see you again in London!

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