Work Samples

  • Megann Horstead

Student becomes master at Joe's Dojo


Seeing his name posted across the front of his own dojo will seem unreal for Joe Garvey.

Joe’s Dojo will be the new name of the Ardmore Avenue facility as Garvey takes over Sensei Steve’s Karate School.

Garvey was a student at the school for many years before returning to teach for the past eight years. He said he found a devotion to karate at a young age and is now making a living from it.

“It’s kind of a culmination point,” he said. “It’s not an everyday experience to start off with something at age 13.”

Joe Garvey, who already had been running the dojo for the past year, will now officially be head sensei and see his name posted on the school’s sign.

Steve Gross, who still owns the facility, said his role at the karate center will change after Saturday’s grand reopening, allowing him to focus on training teachers and advanced-level students and oversee tournaments.

Steve Gross owns three dojos, but after recently moving closer to his facilities in the Kankakee area, he tapped his former student to lead the Villa Park school.

“Joe started off as a student in the school. … Joe’s a good teacher – good technique and good heart,” Gross said.

Passing the torch at the dojo calls for rebranding, Garvey said.

Joe’s Dojo will differ in a number of ways from Sensei Steve’s, but Garvey said his dojo will maintain sight of previously held traditions.

“We both think very similarly,” Garvey said.

There will be a “broader focus on families working together and we don’t shy away from teaching personal development in the dojo,” Garvey said.

Personal development focuses on finding a connection between the mind and body, according to Garvey, who emphasized that it’s not just about kicking your opponent.

The dojo’s programming will continue its partnership with Villa Park Parks and Recreation.

Garvey also said he hopes the community realizes we offer more than just karate. The dojo offers cardio kickboxing, fit camp, a leadership edge class, and kinder fu, among other programs.

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