It is hard to believe it has been four months since BMAC went into hibernation because of the Coronavirus lockdown. We ended our regular classes back on 17th March, which now feels like a very distant memory.
In that time, we have tried various methods to keep the spirit of the club alive. How we do that has very much evolved over time and as lockdown has progressed.
Initially the club black belts held video calls to plan what we would do once the lockdown was over and we could resume classes. It quickly became apparent that this was going to be a much longer interruption than we first thought.
We extended the video calls to the entire club, as a way of keeping in touch with everyone. This provided a forum for discussion and to ask questions but soon the energy dropped off.
The next stage was our black belts creating a series of instructional videos. This produced workouts that could be done indoors, in a confined space and using whatever we could use as a substitute opponent. To create a sense of routine, the videos were released on a Thursday and a Saturday with the relevant instructor describing it on a Tuesday night video call and taking questions.
This worked well but again, after a few weeks, the energy and enthusiasm started to drop. There are only so many times you can talk through similar routines without it becoming repetitive. Although everyone was encouraged to try the workouts, the Tuesday night sessions were not providing any exercise.
This inspired our Virtual Lockdown Knockdown for charity. This gave the club a focus for a few weeks as we prepared our 30 minutes of punching and held the actual event. For the first time since we started the video calls, everyone was physically involved and got a chance to work up a sweat. We might be onto something.
Like the VLK, currently we have two black belts leading a group workout on the weekly video calls. Again, working in a confined space has proved an interesting challenge but we have been able to manage a nice variety of practices, sweat a bit and get some movement. In addition, we have been recording the sessions so that members who cannot make the call (or have ropey internet connections) can watch them later.
In tandem with these sessions, as lockout restrictions have eased, we have had small groups meet outdoors (in line with guidance) to practise kata and movement. Socially distanced kata at that.
This week has seen restrictions eased again and, weather permitting, we will now be able to meet in groups from a total of five households. It will still be a socially distanced practice but is another step back to normality.
The last four months have very much been a learning process. How to adapt a martial arts club to an environment of training in isolation is a challenge. We are still a long way from normal service being resumed but as our practice has changed and evolved during lockdown, we have kept our members engaged, raised money for charity, had some fun and kept the spirit of BMAC alive and kicking.
Stay safe and let’s look forward to the day we can return to full practice.
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.