How it all started
We, Jan and Pia, had trained at Gothenburg’s Aikido Club for many years. It was time to create something new, to shoulder a greater responsibility and promote our aikido further. In the summer of 2003, we decided to form our own association.
What should we name our dojo? Our teacher Morihiro Saito used the Japanese word Riai to describe the aikido we practice (an integrated system of taijutsu, bokken and jo), which few had previously used in their club names. We decided our name would be “The Aikido Association Riai Aikido Dojo.”
The first seven years, we rented the gymnasium at The Oscar Fredriks School. We stored our 100 sqm jigsaw puzzle mats in a storage room, and laid the mats out before each training session and thus created a dojo. We had good relations with Oscar Fredriks and had many projects where we collaborated with the city district committee. Our vision from early on was to become a family dojo, where the whole family could train without sacrificing quality.
When the school was going to be renovated, we received the message in the spring of 2010 that we could not stay. Our dream had always been to have our own dojo. It should be in an elevated location and have a large windows to let in a lot of light. Imagine the luxury to one day have your own sauna, and maybe even your own cappuccino machine? We were 133 members, including 76 children and youth, without a home. We were open to any and all suggestions, and spread the message to members and parents.
In June, we learned from a parent about a space at Raketgatan 9. At the time it was a dance studio, which had been a rehearsal studio, and long before that Stadsteatern’s decor studio. The space was fantastic – big windows with a wonderful feel. But, since it was a laundry from 1942 without significant renovations, we soon realized it would require a lot of work to transform the space into the dojo we dreamed of. In addition, we would have to hook up new water and sewage lines. It was “Now or Never!” We did everything we had to, to gain access to the space. In September 2010 we signed the contract.
Our friends at the formerly Stigbergshuset’s Budohus, gave us training access in the autumn of 2010, so we could continue to train, while we designed and started the renovation of our new dojo.
We decided to make the training area as large as possible. Out of 260 sqm, we got 130 sqm of mat space, and the rest to other spaces. We tore most of it down ourselves. We hired a construction company for the roof, built the dressing rooms, sauna and moved walls. The members painted and tiled all the wet areas, plastered in the gym and painted.
Our beautiful wooden panel on our shomen wall (the wall along the front of the gym) was set up by Rune Berglund and Rune’s son Sven Berglund from Västergården’s carpentry. Our vision was a Japanese temple wall in dark wood and Rune had a Småland oak that fit perfectly. We dark-stained the panel with pigmented linseed oil and turpentine broken with oil paint.
When we asked Rune for something looking like big solid bolts to have in the panel, he looked mischievously and showed us into a seemingly secret room, where he dug out an old wooden box with a leather strip lock. In the box were the perfect nails! Hand forged nails in iron. In the kitchen, lobby and dojo, we chose matte organic paint from Lim & handtryck in the Mossa color series. We kept the entrance with the large glass windows, as well as the tiles and pipes inside the dojo from the old laundry.
On February 14, 2011, we had our first workout in our new dojo. It was a fantastic feeling. On April 5, we had an official inauguration with representatives from the Budo and Martial Arts Association, brf. Norra Guldheden and all residents from the community.
Some pictures from the renovation!
In October 2018, we celebrated our 15th anniversary as an association. Our vision of having a living dojo with a good kitchen, sauna and cappuccino machine is achieved! We also have a movie screen, our own drum group Riai Taiko Drum Circle and a theater group that the youth are responsible for.
Today, 2020, we have an active children, youth and adult activity and are about 220 members. We thrive fantastically well in our dojo and we hope that everyone who comes to us will feel welcome, whether you are training, visiting as a guest or waiting with a cup of coffee in the kitchen.