Chidokan began its life in Australia in 1969 at the North Sydney Police Boys Club, now the North Sydney PCYC. The PCYC became the Hombu dojo for Chidokan with countless thousands of students entering its doors over the decades. Numerous Chidokan events were held there including the huge celebrations of the 20th and 30th anniversaries as well as all the important dan grading ceremonies throughout the years.
At its peak, Chidokan occupied most of the rooms at the PCYC and classes were held at all hours and for all levels of students. However, in 2003 Kyoshi Sensei Clutterbuck retired from teaching and shortly after the Chidokan North Sydney dojo was closed. The PCYC is still standing and as busy as ever, offering every kind of martial art you can think of, except Karate.
Since 2003 many of the North Sydney Chidokan Karate-Ka continued to train under the banner of Chidokan either with Sensei Podda at his dojo or in private. I personally missed having a dojo to train at and certainly felt my training lacked the crucial one on one aspect. The Gasshuku were an excellent opportunity to fill this void as well as receive tuition, although they never seem to be regular enough.
At the March 2013 Gasshuku in Tocal, NSW I approached Soshi Sensei Hudson with the request of reopening a Sydney dojo in the hope that we could increase the number of Chidokan students and provide the all important focal point for Chidokan Karate-Do in Sydney. Soshi Sensei approved my request and so the process of establishing the dojo began.
By the end of April I had all the necessary credentials and paperwork in place and all that remained was a location. It’s a known fact that finding a sporting venue in Sydney is no easy task, so I feared the worst when trying to arrange a permanent booking during week nights. My fears were initially realised when I slowly worked my way through a list of over 20 local venues in the Northern Sydney area with no luck. From Chatswood to Seaforth, Neutral Bay to Willoughby, they were all fully booked with no chance of making a permanent booking. Throughout all this, I’d only been able to leave a message with the booking manager at the North Sydney PCYC and I wasn’t confident, considering it was a very busy place.
When they rang me back I was surprised to find out they only had single hour slots available at 6pm on Tuesday in the all-purpose room and 6:15 on Thursday in the “old Karate room”. The temptation to re-open the dojo in the same room at the PCYC was too much to resist and a permanent booking was made there and then.
The first official day of the new dojo was 7th May 2013 and the attendees were Sensei Podda, Sempai James Halliday and Terry Willis san. I was also extremely proud to have my family there to watch.
Our first session was based on the principles of Training with Purpose and we spent the whole hour on Gedan Barrai, Gyaku Zuki. My worry was that with such a broad spread of grades (6th Kyu to San Dan) the session wouldn’t suit everyone, but I was happily proved wrong. The combination of Chidokan techniques and Chidokan exercises meant that the session suited everyone and we all agreed it was a great way to start things off.
The Thursday session of the first week was held in the old Karate room and we agreed that training in the downstairs karate room had a strangely familiar feel to it. Possibly it’s the subconscious memories of all the blood, sweat and tears that have been shed there or maybe there’s still a faint echo of the millions of kiai’s that the room has been subjected to. Whatever it is, it feels great to ‘come home’.
I’d like to thank everyone for their assistance in setting up the dojo and for all their support during the process. I am proud to be part of Chidokan and even more proud that I have been able to make a contribution that I hope will grow and expand in the coming years. If you know of any other Chidokan students that are floating around and wondering where to train, please point them in the direction of the North Sydney PCYC.