March 30: Day 5: Waking up was bittersweet, knowing the possible opportunity today presented, but also knowing that it was the last day not just at dojo but with the group as well. Once we got to the dojo, all of the trainees agreed to sing happy birthday to Sky when the coaches arrived. His birthday wasn’t until that next Monday, but this was our last day with him so we serenaded him a few days early. Today’s training was the culmination of everything we learned all week. Circuit training was back, and we all left everything we had in the gym that day. We then ran through everything we worked on all week. Even over the span of 5 days, the level of improvement I noticed not just in the other trainees, but in myself was astonishing. Everyone started off the week struggling with certain things, but by this last day we ran through everything like we had been there for months. Training in the dojo is truly like nothing else I can think of. When the final training was done, everybody lined up to get some personal advice and reflections from the coaches. We all also used this time to add each other on various social media platforms, as this camp was an amazing networking experience as well. After many thank you’s and ありがとうございます’s it was time to head out. I said my goodbyes to my new friends, Shibata-San, Coach Sky and Tire-San. I returned the rental car, ubered to the airport, got on a plane back home, and have slowly been returning back to reality over the past few weeks.
Final thoughts: It may have been the most work I’ve ever done in my life, but it was also one of the best experiences of said life. I found where my limits were and blasted through them multiple times each day. I left everything I had in that dojo to the point that my tank is still empty. I also met some people that I’m just as close with after knowing for a few weeks as I am with some people I know from high school. While it was surreal to train with Sky, Shibata-San and even Okada-San (whom I consider to be the single best wrestler on the planet), the connections I made with people from all over the world were the main things that made going to this camp a once in a lifetime experience. Beyond learning a new style of Pro Wrestling, this camp was a test to see how much everyone was willing to push themselves and each other. These 5 days in L.A. were legitimately life changing as I got to train with some of the best wrestlers on the planet, make connections with people from all over the world, got to spend a week in one of my favorite places, got to bask in the glory of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles one more time, and got to have the experience of a lifetime that only 29 other people on the planet got to experience. I know this travelogue was light on the actual details of the camp, and that’s because the week was spent doing many squats and drilling basics. This wasn’t a seminar, it was a small taste of what the actual New Japan Dojo in Tokyo would be like. And I can say that after the small taste I got, I’m eagerly preparing myself for seconds. Thanks for reading.