Before you start reading about the topic of this post, I want to mention that all the classes at are taught by well-trained, committed teachers who care about their students. I wanted to focus on one class in particular, but that is no reflection on the other classes whatsoever.
Sensei Steve Turoscy, Jr. is a fighter. I don’t mean that he is simply an excellent martial artist and an instinctive fighter. I mean that Sensei Steve has overcome a number of challenges in the time I have known him, challenges that less-motivated human beings would have considered too difficult. He has an internal locus of control that is inspirational. He will not be held back by his circumstances; instead, he wants everyone to know that he is going to overcome them, and that if you find yourself in the same kind of situation, you will overcome them, too.
You have to aspire to inspire before you expire.
Reason One: Everyone Is Welcome
I started Sensei Steve’s class as a white belt, after Sensei Kristie told me about the class and said I should try it out. Others told me it was a very difficult class and that I should wait, but Kristie convinced me that I would be fine. Therefore, I showed up the following Saturday morning at 8:00 AM, hoping that I would not be turned away. On the contrary, I was welcomed. I was also told to do what I can, and encouraged to continue to improve instead of expect to be able to do everything the first class, or even for several classes after that. If I remember correctly, I was the only one wearing a white shirt that day. Everyone else was a black belt. Although that was intimidating at first, by the end of class I felt better. I have been attending that class as often as possible since then. Since then, too, other white shirts have joined the class. They feel just as welcome, too.
Reason Two: You Are Always Challenged
When I think back to that first time and about how little I could actually do, and compare it to now when I can do so much more, I think it’s that Sensei Steve and the other students do not accept that a challenge is insurmountable. What they do believe is that practice is the only way overcome internal and external obstacles to your progress.
Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong.
Reason Three: You Never Know When Sensei Will Break the Routine
We have a format that combines PT, traditional martial arts, and fighting, and there is a certain rhythm to the class. You never know, though, when Sensei Steve will say he wants to try something different. He’s very creative, too, so those “different” things could be almost anything.
Our current schedule is:
– First Saturday: Regular Class
– Second Saturday: “Creative” Class
– Third Saturday: Regular Class
– Fourth or Last Saturday: Technique Class
Still, you never know if that regular class is going to turn into something you weren’t expecting. Sensei Steve can add something much more challenging when he is in the mood. He is also an observant teacher and knows when to change the routine to accommodate those of us whose achy joints and bones just can’t handle the regular routine that day. He has also been very kind to me personally, allowing me to modify as I must when doing some things. The point is: Sensei does what every good teacher should do. He reads the room and acts accordingly.
We often have more students join us the fourth / last Saturday of the month for Technique Class. It’s a great class! It gives us a chance to work on the techniques and kata that we need to know for our next test. I wish more people would come to the other classes, too. I’m sure they would find them enjoyable.
When I was training somewhere else, our classes were all the same. It was cookie-cutter curriculum that had to be followed by every teacher, handed down from corporate headquarters to the franchise owners. It was boring. So, it’s special to me to have teachers be able to try something new to get their point across. Additionally, Sensei Hoover is not one to sit back and let the curriculum get stale. He is constantly thinking about it, it seems. Changes to the curriculum happen all the time, in the hopes that our techniques will become more effective and efficient.
When you come regularly to a Saturday class at the North Dojo, you learn so much – about yourself, about the practice, and about dozens of absolutely wonderful people.
Reason Four: He Has Welcomed My Son into Class
My son is 15 1/2 years old, and this class is for adults. However, when he started working last May, I asked Sensei Steve if my son could come to class so he wouldn’t miss training on a Saturday. He agreed without hesitating. Recently, my son has been a regular in class, and in just the short time he has been coming regularly, I have seen a change in my son, both in practice and in spirit. He works very hard in that class; as a result, he is stronger, a bit more confident, a bit more strategic in his practice, and a lot more skilled as a fighter. My son has always been my best teacher, but now he is my teacher in martial arts class, too. Being able to train with him on Saturdays (as well as on Tuesdays) has been a blessing.
He isn’t the only young adult who has been able to train with us on Saturday, and those who do are special kids. They are bright, talented, and mature. We who are able to train with our children have been given a special gift. Sensei Steve would be the first to tell you about how much that gift meant to him while he was training with his own son, also named Steve, who now teaches at the West Dojo. One day, he told Lucas and I about how important those years were to him. Having seen the senseis interact, I know they were special to his son as well.
One of my favorite stories comes from another Mom who trains on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Her daughter often trains with us on Saturdays now. She says that at times she will think of a technique or a kata and struggle to visualize it properly. Usually, her daughter is on the bus going to school when this happens. So, she will call her daughter and ask her about it, which always leads to her daughter asking her in an exasperated voice why she is thinking about that now when she has work to do. Nonetheless, her daughter has the answer! Training with her child has added a complexity to their relationship, and another stretch of common ground upon which they can stand together.
How cool is that?
Reason Five: Class Starts at 8:00 AM
For the longest time, my workday has started at 5:00 AM when I first shuffle down the stairs to make coffee. Some days, I do start working at about 5:15, but more often, I am trying to wake up and ease into my day. Therefore, a class that starts at 8:00 gives me a chance to sleep in a bit (till 6:00!), but still get in a class early enough in the day that the rest of my day is mine to do with what I will. That usually involves a nap!
Because of the early hour of the class, my son is able to attend and still go to work on Saturdays. He loves that. Those of us who go to that class all agree that it is an ideal time, for any number of reasons.
Come in at eight, punch your ticket, and the rest of the day is yours.
Sensei Steve (paraphrased)
These are just some of the reasons I love Saturday’s 8 AM class so much. I’m sure that my classmates have many more to contribute as well. Please leave a comment using the form below. Thank you for reading.