With the end of June hurtling towards us, it should be time for the club to vote for the latest recipient of the Russell Trophy. This would mark the fourth time the trophy has been awarded since we introduced it in 2018, and would have been the third time that the winner would be decided by club votes. It is democracy in action.
The trophy was introduced to recognise our members for their contribution to the club. It was named as a thank you to Hugh and Jackie for all they have done for our members over the years and we had to emphasise to Hugh that it was most definitely a recognition and not a memorial.
Given the trophy’s name, we all agreed that Hugh should be the first recipient and when we presented him with it at our Christmas night out in 2018, it was my honour to share the many warm comments, as well as a few cheeky ones, that the club made about him. Hugh even admitted that I almost got to him. Almost. The lengthy round of applause for Hugh as he shook hands with everyone was a fitting tribute and the best possible launch for the trophy.
We decided that the trophy would be presented every six months and all members would have an equal vote. Everyone votes for three members, with first, second and third place awarded 5-3-1 points. This ensures we get a deserved winner that is consistently recognised across the club.
What are the criteria for winning the trophy? We split it into six high level categories although it is up to everyone how these are interpreted.
Like the stories we gathered for Hugh, members are encouraged to supply comments why they are voting for a person. This has already turned into one of the best traditions and a highlight of our club as the levels of warmth, affection and encouragement in the comments has been incredible. It is clear that people put a lot of thought, heart and soul into the comments and everyone seems genuinely touched by the views of their fellow members.
All voting and comments are anonymous, so we get the fun game of “guess the commenter”.
We have had two rounds of club voting so far, in June and December 2019 with Ross Walton winning in June and John Marley taking home the trophy in December. Both were hugely deserving winners and you can see photos of them being presented here.
Of course, it will not have escaped anyone’s notice that these are unusual times. Like the rest of the country, BMAC has been in lockdown since mid-March, with all training being virtual sessions. These have taken place every week, including our Virtual Lockdown Knockdown night, and we have had up to 25 members involved in these. Given the efforts by all to keep the spirit and camaraderie of the club alive during the lock down, it was agreed that the trophy would be symbolically presented to the whole club. Whilst not everyone will get to keep the trophy, it recognises that keeping us going has very much been a team effort and everyone has demonstrated the qualities that the trophy embodies.
Hopefully, there is some light at the end of the tunnel and by the end of the year, we will be able to crown the next deserving winner of the trophy.
Until then, everybody wins!
How do you train in martial arts during a Coronavirus pandemic? BMAC has been running classes in the area for over 30 years so when the lockdown began the club had to find alternative ways to practise.
After a few weeks of video conference lessons which saw the club practise different sequences of moves, BMAC’s Virtual Lockdown Knockdown was born. We challenged ourselves to do at least 50,000 punches in 30 minutes to raise money for charity.
We chose three charities. Firstly, NHS Charities Together for the staff who as in the frontline of the virus. Our second choice was the Trussell Trust which runs a network of foodbanks across the UK including East Dunbartonshire. Our final charity was the Star Project based in Paisley which has provided support during the lockdown such as delivering food and medicine and organising online get-togethers to combat loneliness.
In addition to supporting these worthwhile causes, both John and Morag observed that doing this kept the spirit of BMAC alive and kicking (or, more appropriately, punching) during these unusual and difficult times.
On Tuesday 26th May, we gathered on our regular video conference and broadcast to the world via Twitch. In total 27 adult members, 6 juniors and a few possibly reluctant parents, had volunteered to punch like mad for half an hour.
30 minutes of straight punching might have got monotonous, so a few of us came up with sequences of punches and combinations to keep things interesting. Each sequence would be two minutes, with 15 of these in total making up the duration of the challenge. Each two-minute block was led by a member of the club and, as you can see from the photo of our video conference, it looked slightly chaotic. I thought it might be difficult to follow but it worked surprisingly well. It turns out we have a few budding Joe Wicks in the club.
We’ve all been missing the club, and Jamie captured the mood by saying that event really lifted his spirits, having greatly missed not being able to see, train and have fun with our group of friends has had an impact.
Of course, when there is no club it does have an impact on people’s fitness. Willie wondered if he would be able to manage 30 minutes of punching. Not only was the answer an emphatic “yes” but he also set one of the highest totals.
Martin H had only joined the club a few weeks before we were locked down and really enjoyed the challenge whilst noting the great spirit shown by all for some worthy causes
Iain K spotted something that I have noticed many times over the years. He was having a work-life balance challenge and was missing the club as a way to de-stress. Without that release, the lockdown was proving difficult. Getting a training session, even a virtual one, and a focus has been a help.
I could not agree more with Iain. The last three months have been hard going for so many of us. The training sessions and video conferences have been a teasing glimpse of normality and a reminder that better times lie ahead. In the current climate, that has been invaluable.
More than one person commented that they are proud to be part of the club and Iain made an interesting observation that the club is such a diverse group yet we all come together in a strong supportive way, look out for club members and do our best to help others. I am sorry, I have got something in my eye…
So that was BMAC’s Virtual Lockdown Knockdown. At the end of the 30 minutes, there were plenty of smiles and surprisingly sweaty club members. It felt almost like a regular class! Even better, the 50,000 punch target was smashed. In the end, the club managed an incredible 130,142 punches and thus far has raised over £1700 for our charities. A massive BMAC thankyou to everyone that has supported us.
It was an absolute blast and just about as close as you could get to a regular club session whilst training in isolation. We keep our collective fingers crossed that we will be able to return to regular training sometime soon but in the meantime, we will keep the virtual sessions going. After all, virtual training is better than no training.
The last word goes to Hugh: “It was really good to get together as a group although only virtually. We have all missed each other’s company as BMAC is a particularly social group as well as keen martial artists. Being able to do this for a good cause made the occasion doubly special. We are all so happy glad that we were able to beat our punching and fundraising targets”
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.