Warrior’s Road by Toa Henare: No. 1



Warrior’s Road by Toa Henare: No. 1

The Road so Far – an Introduction:


It’s been three years, one month, and five days since I was first inducted into the New Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo. I had always wanted to become a wrestler, but it wasn’t until five years ago that I started giving 100% to achieving that goal. I actually first set foot in the NJPW Dojo for the 2014 Newcomer test. Most people don’t know, but I was rejected the first time I tried out for the greatest Pro Wrestling company in the world. Along with Hirai Kawato and Teruaki Kanemitsu, I was among 33 other competitors fighting for a spot at the Dojo back then. I wasn’t chosen the first time. Or the second. But I knew one thing: NEVER GIVE UP.

After I was rejected, I did what any other journeying Warrior would do: I searched the world to find my place in the wrestling industry. That journey took me from New Zealand to Australia; from Australia to Hong Kong; to the United Kingdom and Ireland, and finally to Florida in the United States of America. I was presented an opportunity to try out for another company known throughout the world as the industry juggernaut. Yet, I knew in my heart that Japan was the place I wanted to be. I wanted to become a Strong Style wrestler forged in the fires of the Dojo in order to achieve my goal. The call came as I was one day away from starting my life with a different company. “The Dojo is ready for you, there is a room free and you have to get to Japan on your own”. I had one night to think about it; to make one decision that would shape the rest of my life, for the rest of my life. I booked my tickets back from Florida to New Zealand, and then flew again from New Zealand to Japan to start my journey as a “Dojo-sei”. Overall, the road so far has encompassed three long years of blood, push-ups, sweat, tears, squats, challenges, neck-bridges, an Achilles injury, flights and shoulder tackles – all for one main goal: to be the greatest Warrior who ever laced a pair of boots in the wrestling world.

Since I was born, I always wanted to be a Warrior, whether it be a fighter, a soldier, a wrestler, a competitor, or even a protector. It’s the one thing I’ve always maintained throughout the entirety of my life. I work on it day in and day out; challenging myself and the person I was yesterday, while laying strong foundations step by step to ensure that the future lays on a sturdy base. Having this as a central tenet in my life naturally brought me here to Japan. With a strong and rich history of Warriors and Warrior culture I was always drawn to the virtues of honour and loyalty, of holding yourself to a high standard. One Warrior in particular struck me like an arrow piercing the innards of my spirit: Musashi Miyamoto.

While I first conducted my training in the traditional Maori martial art of Mau Rakau, I came across a powerful quote from the respected Samurai: “It is said that the Warrior’s way is a twofold way of pen and sword, and that he should have a taste for both Ways. Even if a man has no natural ability, he can be a Warrior by staying with both divisions of the Way”. It made me think deep and hard about who I am as a person, and what I could bring to the world. While currently New Japan Pro Wrestling fans know me as a wild and brash powerhouse who loves to drop shoulders and do a Haka inside the ring – I I also enjoy writing and academia. When the NJPW office approached me, I was excited to get a start to show NJPW fans the other edge of the sword – Toa Henare, outside the ring.

Right now, I am currently in between tours (Ryogoku Kokugikan was my last match, and I had Osaka-Jo Hall off). There are a few goals I’m aiming for in the near future: One is to take out Ishii on the upcoming Australian Tour.  I am hoping, wishing that they will make it a NEVER Championship match: if I win that, I’ll become the first Maori to ever win a major championship! Second, is to enter into the G1 Climax. So many people have put their name forward, but I have been working so hard for the past two years. I’ve had more matches than anybody else in the world, and although I’ve come up short more times than not, I put 100% of my heart into every little thing I do and I know I deserve a shot, an opportunity to call myself one of the best Heavyweights in the world. Finally: to become more powerful – and reach a Maori equivalent of becoming a Super Saiyan!!

On my time off – I like to ‘smash some iron’ as we say in the West – in Japan it means “Weight Training”. Gold’s Gym are always amazing, and treat the wrestlers with a lot of respect. They let us train in any Golds Gym free of charge – how amazing is that? People talk to me as if it is a job or a duty to go to the gym, but for me it’s fun and I enjoy doing it. I enjoy training for strength and power, but recently have been trying to take more of a conditioning approach – so I can last longer during singles matches and bring out the best of my opponents.

I also like to go to the gaming arcades in Iidabashi and Akihabara and fight other guys in a game of Tekken (I usually lose because professional players in Japan and Korea are a thousand times more difficult than guys in New Zealand and Australia). One time my Japanese cousin came and we fought for a few hours on Tekken – like we used to do when we were five years old.

I read a lot, especially during the bus trips – the last book I read cover-to-cover was 1984 – one of the most famous Western Novels about a dystopian society which I finished just before the Okayama matches during the Best of the Super Jr. Tour. My favourite book I’ve read would have to be the Lord of The Rings. Japanese fans know the movie better than the book, but hey! Shot in NEW ZEALAND!!! It’s hard to get full original text books in English, so I usually purchase a famous book every time I’m at an airport.

I like going to the dojo and annoying Shota:

But most of all – I love the natural world and everything inside of it. For a Warrior, there is always something you have to fight for, something you have to protect – for me, it is the natural world. From the ocean to the forests, to animals and the winds: Shizen-kai no tame ni tatakauuuu!

That’s it for now! Shin Nihhon Puroresu NO TAME NI TATAKAU!!