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The Dojo

May 11, 2011

After training at my Dojo for about a year, I found myself looking for a new place to live. I had become very close to my shiatan (Master instructor) and his wife, and it was summer time when Martial Arts schools are at their slowest. It was decided that the answer to my housing needs, and a way to generate a little more money for the dojo was the small loft in the back of the school.

Our school, from the outside, looks like most that you find all over the place. Looking in the windows you see a 15’x30′ area with thick foam mats on the ground, a small shop area, mirrors covering one long wall. In the back, is one of the minor things that sets White Dragons apart from the others. Through a small hallway, you reach our back area. It’s approximately 25’x80′, with 90% of that area padded and set up as our main workout area. Just above the entrance to this area, is the loft. It’s open to the main area, with banners giving privacy to the loft. Very convienient to me, as I was teaching private lessons after work and before classes in the evening.

I had been living there for about 4 months, when late one early October night I was settling down for sleep. It was about 1:30 in the morning or so, when from the middle of the workout floor I heard a loud smack. Now I know that buildings can make some strange noises at times, but after 2 years in the martial arts I was very familiar with the sound of a roundhouse kick hitting one of the large, square shield pads that we use in training. Which is exactly what this sounded like.

I waited for about 20 seconds or so before deciding that what I heard was actually someone closing a door hard in the fireplace business next door, when I heard 2 smacks in rapid succession. My hair went on end as this sounded exactly like one of our advanced students or another blackbelt performing a low-high flip kick on those same shield pads. Prior to going to bed, I had already locked all the doors and searched the place to ensure that nobody was lingering around, hoping to steal some of the expensive swords or other weapons that we have in our shop area.

I got out of bed, moved one of the banners aside and looked out on the dojo floor. It was empty. Once again, I tell myself that buildings can make some strange noises. They come from the pipes, or the foundation settling, from the walls or the ceiling. These noises had come from the direct center of our workout area. While I’m looking around to see if shiatan or one of the other black belts with a key are messing with me, the sounds of someone working out begin to come from the center of the room again. I flip on the lights, and the noise stops. I went out onto the dojo floor and look for a small speaker that might have been placed there without me noticing. Nothing but grey, double-padded carpet.

I went back up to bed and try to fall asleep, pretending that I’m not hearing the sounds of someone having a workout that resumed just after I turned out the lights and continued on for a half an hour.

Now; if this had been the end of it, I could have blamed the pizza that I had eated earlier that night for giving me bad dreams. The same events happened on 3 out of the next 5 nights. Preparing myself for ridicule, I described the events as they had happened to my shiatan. After finishing, with a thoughtful look on his face he says “I wonder if it could be Matt”. I ask him what he meant, and he proceeds to tell me a story.

About 3 years prior to my coming to White Dragons, my instructor had a student named Matt. I can’t remember Matt’s last name, but he and shiatan had become very good friends, despite the 20 year age difference.It was around Halloween, when Matt and several of shiatan’s young blackbelts were out having fun and being stupid, as teenagers often are. They were taking turns riding on the hood of a jeep that one of them owned. When Matt was riding on the hood, they had to stop very suddenly for something. Matt flew off, and took the corner of the curb directly on his neck. He died instantly.

After telling me this story, shiatan said that the two of them were so close, that if there was any way Matt could come back, he probably would try. Over the course of the next 3 weeks, shiatan and at least 4 other blackbelts also experienced disturbances in the main dojo area. One night shiatan, myself and another blackbelt were in late making a few new disks for the cardio kickboxing classes that we also held there. While we were facing the stereo, we heard the sound of a strong kick connecting with a pad coming from behind us. It should be noted that this came from well away from where the pads are actually kept. shiatan said “Hi, Matt”. Immediately, the other blackbelt and I watched as shiatan broke out in goosebumps from head to toe. He shuddered and commanded loudly, “Get off me Matt!”. The goosebumps went away like turning off the lights. He stated that he felt Matt put his hands on my instructor’s shoulders.

A bout a week later, I was in the front of the school by the shop area cleaning up after the nights classes. At the end of each night, chores are assigned to the students. Things like cleaning the mirrors, taking out the trash and vaccuuming. I was vaccuuming while several other students werecleaning the mirrors, shiatan’s wife was doing some accounting behind the counter, and two of our blackbelts were still in the main dojo in the back. They had a bit of a romantic relationship, so we were giving them some room.

Suddenly we hear a loud shriek from the dojo, and Jamie comes sprinting into the room, followed by Sensei Jeff, who was one of shiatan’s main assistants. Jeff was looking quite pale and trying to grin as if to keep from grimacing. We ask what happened and he stated that he and Jamie had been seated at the far end of the Dojo, where we have 5-6 heavy everlast punching bags suspended from the ceiling. They had had their backs to the bags to keep an eye for anyone entering the dojo while they smooched a bit. While they were sitting there, they heard one of the bags get hit, and turned to find one of them swinging as if it had just been hit.

The final, and possibly the most siginficant of the events that happened before they went away for a while happened in late November. It was around or a little past midnight, when after watching a movie with my girlfriend at the mall accross the parking lot I stopped in to do a security check and use the bathroom. I had told Angie about Matt and the events that we had all experienced, but she never seemed to think much of it. After checking the lock on the back door behind the heavy bags, I walked to the front of the school where she was waiting in one of the chairs by the front counter.

I went in to use the bathroom, and when I came out Angie was quite pale. “Adam, what does Matt look like?” she asked. I took her to the small area that separated the front area from the main dojo, where a picture of Matt hung on the wall. After taking one look at the picture she took off running and leaped into the car outside. I went to the car and asked her what was wrong. She told me that while I was in the bathroom, she saw Matt standing in the opening from the Front area to the main dojo. She had been looking at the long line of pictures of the school’s black belts that was located over the mirrors in the front area. While looking at them, she saw Matt in the mirror. Matt looked at her, smiled and gave her a little nod, and walked back into the dojo. After that time, she vehemently refused to enter the school after dark, unless there were several people present.

That was the last “large” experience that I am aware of happenning in the school. Matt had died on Halloween, and with that season passing Matt seemed to move on to places unknown. But starting about 4 months later, every now and then someone who was in the school late at night would say that they could hear pads being hit in the dojo when they knew noone was there. Now whenever I am there late at night closing up, before I leave, I’ll usually call out to Matt, making sure that he’s keeping good form and watching over the school.

Some people may tell you there’s no such thing as ghosts or spirits, but there are those of us who know better.

Have a good workout, Sensei Matt.

– Posted by hucifer1; Fark

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