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Martial arts preparing for slow return to training

July 3, 2020   ·   0 Comments

With some sports being given the green light to start some practices and training, the world of martial arts is now looking for a re-start with personal classes in mid July.

The Canadian Black Belt Academy in Tottenham had to close its doors in mid March, however, they were prepared after monitoring the situation and realizing that the current pandemic was going to affect classes.

“We were shut down on March 18,” explained Sensei Jason Figliano who owns and operates the popular Tottenham dojo. “We pivoted right away and offered on-line classes prior – we saw it coming. We were able to retain about half of our membership base. We do classes six days a week plus private lessons. We’re trying to give the kids a sense of normalcy because there’s a lot of scared kids out there. A lot of parents stuck with us because they appreciated the effort.”

It has been a tough few months for the dojo. Staff are currently volunteering to help keep the place open.

Sensei Figliano said they are managing to pay the rent, but that’s about it.

He is now looking forward to starting classes in the dojo in July.

“The problem we ran into is they tried grouping us with concerts and sporting events,” Sensei Figliano explained. “Then they said sports are allowed as long as they are non-contact, which is fine because we can do all of training solo, but then, on another page down (on the guideline document) it said boxing, wrestling, and martial arts are not allowed. It was pretty much a Catch-22. We adapted an entire program around solo training.”

Getting students back in the dojo will require some additional effort to stay in-line with physical distancing and sanitizing guidelines.

“We’re going to open July 16,” Sensei Figliano said. “The guidelines are more strict than if you walked into a Walmart or went to the beach. We’re having social distancing and hand sanitizing as well as shortened classes to allow for a sanitization period. We have mandatory questions before a students enters as well as temperature checks. We’re not using masks because we are doing social distancing and I don’t want to add to the fear for the kids. I did a survey on this. The biggest fear is not with the parents, it’s with the kids. There’s a lot of kids who want to play but they’re scared to do that, and we’re not going to add to that fear. We went above and beyond what the government required just to allow us to open.”

As venues slowly begin to open, the students at the Canadian Black Belt Academy will appreciate getting back into the dojo and resuming their training with the Sensei.

By Brian Lockhart


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