Rocky Troutman couldn’t tell you how many children and adults have participated in martial arts classes at Rocky’s Dojo & Gym in Sugar Grove.
He knows there have been thousands.
“I couldn’t give you an accurate count, but we’ve even had two and three generations,” he said. “You know you’ve been doing something well for a long time when you taught the father and his kid, and then have his kid, the grandkid, so having three generations like that is pretty cool. It just says something about the teachings that we do and how they must’ve felt they’ve really benefitted their kid.”
Rocky’s Dojo & Gym will be celebrating its 40-year anniversary this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at 46 Terry Lane in Sugar Grove. All are invited.
There will be several exhibitions and performances of boxing, karate, kickboxing, MMA and Jujitsu.
The dojo will also be open for tours. Free food, kids games, face painting, a bouncy house and raffles are also part of the festivities, while 95.9 The River will broadcast the event.
“We’ll have a huge display of pictures from over the years and people will be able to walk around and see the dojo,” Troutman said. “I think most people are amazed when they come to our building because it’s so much bigger than they expect. With the two levels, it’s 6,400 square feet, and most karate schools are small. They come in and love our facility and all it offers.”
Troutman and his father, Ron Troutman, founded Champion Karate Studio in Aurora in 1974. They expanded their programming in 1984 when they built Rocky’s Dojo & Gym in Sugar Grove. They’ve moved twice while in Sugar Grove before settling into their current location in 1988.
“Martial arts schools seem to come and go all the time, and we’ll often have new students come in because their school has closed and now they’re training with us,” Rocky Troutman said. “I know there are schools that make more money but I guess we determine success in different ways and our being open this long shows the success we’ve had.”
Rocky’s Dojo & Gym had a booth at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil a couple weekends ago and Rocky Troutman found himself reminiscing with several parents of children he instructed 15 to 20 years ago.
“I saw so many people and it was great to hear stories about how well their kids are doing now,” Rocky Troutman said.
“What I get out of doing this is more than monetary, and even when I’m too old to do it we’ll have other instructors with the same passion who will.”
Sugar Grove resident Dolly Osborne’s children, Sage (11), Logan (9) and Noelle (6) have all taken karate classes at Rocky’s, while her husband Steve participated in kickboxing.
“Perhaps the biggest benefit was the kids got more focused and I didn’t really know if that would happen and it did,” she said. “They’ve become more respectful at home, especially the boys, so it’s been a good thing.”
A good thing for thousands.