I'm going to try and start blogging on our site to give you some latest updates about the school, useful information etc. For this first post I wanted to talk about how COVID-19 has impacted martial arts training.
Before COVID-19? We only had in person classes, I was still subletting, and there was no option to attend remotely. Ever.
Likewise, my parent school (where I learn new material from and receive my own ranks from) is in California. The only way I ever got to train with them was by flying back to CA a few times a year.
Fast forward to COVID-19. For March-May we had to switch to a 100% Zoom virtual class experience due to the lockdown completely closing our sublet location, Integrated Fighting Arts. Classes were allowed to resume in mid-May, but at this point many of you were not comfortable returning to in person at this time. So I chose to do a hybrid approach and we had a combo class where some people were on Zoom and the rest were in person.
The CA dojo had also gone into lockdown, and my favorite silver lining from this time was that one month into their lockdown they finally decided to get on Zoom too. Black Belt class at them was always 7-8pm PST on Monday's and Wednesday's, which is 9pm for us in CST, so this was a perfect "after I put the kids to sleep" time to hop in my garage dojo and join class to train with them.
At first I didn't have a big TV, so I would just mount my iPhone to the fence wall at IFA, and then prop my iPad up as our "display" to watch the remote students with on Zoom, and we made due. It wasn't ideal, but thankfully a few months after re-opening, Frank, owner of IFA, purchased a large 65" 4K TV and wall mounted it in the wrestling mat area. I picked up a iPhone -> HDMI adapter, and now we could see you all really well on the big screen if you were joining via Zoom!
A few months into Zoom-land with the CA dojo, they also got Master Professor comfortable enough with the setup once they too got a large TV and tripod to mount in their dojo, and I also was able to add in 1 hour weekly private lessons over Zoom with MP.
Now, as things continue, and are looking up with vaccines starting to roll out, I have been thinking about long term plans. I believe Zoom is here to stay, at least for the next year, but possibly longer even after we are all vaccinated. I don't see why my instructor would ever discontinue our weekly private lessons, even after everyone else in CA is back in person with him. Likewise, I know some of you join Zoom from further of a drive away than is convenient, and so I plan to split the Zoom/in person classes into two separate classes, so that we can continue your training in that format even if you only ever do virtual.
I think this is going to provide the best experience for everyone, and for some of you, you would never have joined due to distance or time availability otherwise without these Zoom options. So why stop?
The split will happen once we move into our new dedicated store front. I'm finalizing the lease for that place currently and will post an official update once it has been signed!
Also the other big COVID-19 change was I made the entire student portal during COVID. All your forms typed up, with accompanying videos. The YouTube channel was created and filled out. Just a plethora of resources to help you all (and myself) practice better! Enjoy!