Steve Rooke celebrates 20 years in Uechi-Ryu Karate on Oct. 4. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
by Stephen Dafoe
Sensai Steve Rooke of Rooke School of Karate has a special milestone this weekend (OCt. 4) as he celebrates 20 years in Uechi-Ryu Karate.
Sensei Steve Rooke has been a practitioner of the martial art since 1999 and holds the rank of Godan (5th Degree Black Belt) and Shihan (Master Instructor).
“I was a young buck way back then,” Rooke recalls of his entry into the martial art int he late ’90s. [I was] 32 years old and full of fire and ice and lots of time. The boys were young, and my training was four or five days a week.
Rooke said he did well in the early days, progressing quickly and earning his first- and second-degree black belts within two years. Then came the third, and eventually the others.
The instructor’s last two tests have been out of the country. Rooke earned his fourth-degree black belt in Florida in 2009, and his fifth-degree belt in Connecticut in 2015. He will test for his sixth-degree belt in 2021 in St. Albert.
“It’s been really good because it’s something I’ve always been interested in throughout my life, even in my early childhood days,” Rooke said. “There wasn’t a lot to offer around this location, and other sports always took precedent. When we were able to find something for the boys … and I saw the style, it just triggered that emotion to get involved with the style and start learning the martial art.”
Two belts ago, Rooke opened Rooke School of Karate and began teaching students young and old the discipline of Uechi-Ryu Karate.
“Once I got my third-degree black belt, I was allowed to open a dojo, so in 2006 we opened a dojo,” Rooke said.
Kim Rooke, Steve Rooke’s partner and wife of 30 years said the martial arts life has been good.
“Mom always thought he’d be a teacher because he was always great with kids,” Kim Rooke said. “It’s neat to see that the kids stick around and they like to be involved. You can see his passion that he takes not only to his kids but the kids in the dojo. You can really see that family, which is really cool. What you see at home is what you see at the dojo.”
The couple recently spent their 30th wedding anniversary touring Japan while Rooke and some of his students were visiting the home of Uechi-Ryu Karate.