Longtime sensei will begin new chapter in Golden | SteamboatToday.com

Longtime sensei will begin new chapter in Golden

John F. Russell

— Michael David Bauk is ready to turn the page and start a new chapter.

"I looked it up, and it's not a mid-life crisis," jokes Bauk, who turned 51 in January.

"My students just went down to Denver and did really well at the National Championships, which was a really, really big challenge," the sensei said. "Now, it's my turn."

Bauk, who came to Steamboat Springs 18 years ago and opened the Rocky Mountain Karate Academy on April 3, 2000, is going to move to Golden and open a dojo in a much larger town, where he isn't as well known.

When he leaves in June, Bauk will hand his current dojo to the black belts he has instructed — many of whom he has taught since the first day he opened his studio 16 years ago.

He explained its customary for black belts to open a dojo in another town or at least several miles away from where they honed their craft, but Bauk said in this case, things are a little backwards. He said he doesn't mind because it allows his students to carry on what he started in Steamboat Springs so many years ago and allows him to take on some new challenges.

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"This time I'm going to open a studio where nobody knows who I am or what I'm about," Bauk said. "It's a big challenge for sure. This time, I will not be trying to do this in a town of 10,000, but in a town of a million."

In addition to opening the new dojo outside of Denver, he hopes to continue working as a personal trainer and a motivational speaker. It's a pretty good mix for the fifth-degree black belt who also has a passion for performing as an actor on stage. There is no question his presence and humor will be missed in this year's Cabaret.

But more importantly, when Bauk heads to Golden in June, he'll be leaving behind a legacy.

The longtime sensei said he has taught more than 500 karate students on the hardwood floors of his dojo, which is located just off Lincoln Avenue in an unassuming office building, which also is home to a dentist, hair stylist and credit union. He has instructed another 300 in his women's kickboxing classes.

Not only has the dojo provided a home for Bauk, but it's also been a classroom. While his students have learned the basics of karate and kick boxing, he has focused his attention on becoming the best teacher he can be. This is a place where he has learned what it takes to pass on his knowledge to the next generation, where he has inspired a love for karate and a place where that love thrived.

Bauk has total confidence that his former students will maintain the reputation he built in Steamboat in classes and continue to provide a space where children and adults can explore and practice the art of karate.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966