One month on…

Once upon a time, we had a dream.  A dojo where miserable, whining caretakers wouldn’t want to kick us out 10 seconds after we had finished training, a dojo where we could turn up whenever we liked, a dojo where we could leave our kit set up for next practice and continue where we left off, a dojo where idiots wouldn’t stick their heads around the door and ask ‘do you really fight with swords?’.  A dojo where we could leave our stuff in the changing rooms with no risk of thieving chav scumbags relieving us of mobile phones, money etc.

The only way to achieve the aforementioned dream dojo is to own it ourselves.

Well, that was last year.  Since then, we did sums, worked out costs v membership, soul-searched, and had minor panic attacks (and I seem to have commissioned a grey-hair factory in my beard over all this).  After sums etc, we started looking for a place but found nothing but a) overpriced storage space, or b) cheap but unusable crap.  After a while, we fell upon an old warehouse/manufacturing facility that had potential and didn’t cost the earth – and after a lot of stress and fear-mongering, we signed a lease.  Yep, we now have a dojo.

Cue six months of planning, designing, pondering, pricing etc, – after which we started work on the dojo – April 3rd, 2011 to be exact.

The warehouse as it was – an empty shell, thick of dust and not very dojo-esque at all:

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Initial design concepts created in Sketchup:

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Once we had an idea of the layout, we drew it up in AutoCAD, initially in 2D and then as a 3D model:

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Once we were happy with the layout, it was then rendered in 3D Studio:

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…and we then got building! A month later, the dojo has started to take shape and we could see the place starting to resemble the original renderings.

In that month, we have managed to fit in about 50 hours of work.  Not bad, considering our members all have jobs, families etc.  Much of that work (for most of us) has been building partition walls, plasterboarding and cleaning.  For Nige and Stu, it has been a demolition-dream-come-true. With very little help from the rest of us, they have stripped the ceiling of all the crap that was installed in there – unused water sprinklers, old gas pipes, bits of aircon etc.  However, when all the demolition is complete, they’re gonna be lost!  They might have to – gasp! – build something…

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The rest of us have had a crash course in timber construction, wall & floor anchors, steel & concrete fixing methodology, plasterboarding, door hanging and sitting on our fat arses eating barbecued food.  We have sweat our guts out carrying raw materials, a few of us got the usual building site cuts and scrapes, and one nearly got murdered by a dojo buddy with a sledgehammer! (we caught it on film too!  I won’t post the vid due to the post-near-murder profanity contained within but you can email me for a copy hehe!).

All in all, it has been hard work and screaming laughs in equal measure.  Every night, we pack our tools up and end up standing around for another 30 mins, just pondering what the place will look like soon.  It is a dream becoming reality for all of us, and what was once just enthusiasm on my part – has now rubbed off on the membership.  We’re all stoked about Heijoshin’s new home.

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So, were are we now?  The main walls are in.  The changing room walls are built.  The majority of plaster-boarding is done.  All doors are fitted.  Cost so far – about £950. A bit above budget, but then again, we have added a few design details so it can’t be helped.

We have less than two months to go to meet our planned deadline.  Let’s see how we get on.

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