Space for back-fist strikes, axe kicks, internet and a device, is all that’s needed to participate in The Martial Arts Academy’s live online classes.
“We don’t want anyone kicking over Mum’s special vase or anything – but room to move is really all you need,” says Martial Arts Academy co-director Scott Coburn.
Unable to teach at their Papamoa, Katikati and Tauranga branches, the Academy improvised by providing members with several virtual classes, using Zoom, during the last two weeks of lockdown.
“Tutors did this from their homes, so classes looked like Brazilian Jujitsu on the lawn and Muay Thai in the driveway.”
“We didn’t know if anyone would be interested, but before we knew it, we had classes of more than 20 people.”
The Academy took it up a notch for the start of term two on April 28, by committing to offer more than 20 classes a week.
Since moving to Alert Level 3, classes have been filmed in a studio set up by Scott, and co-director Ryan Clement, at the Tauranga branch. It’s decked-out with tripods and a TV, so the instructor can see the class.
“At the end of each session, the mics are turned on so participants can ask the tutor questions in front of the class – just like we normally would.”
A camera that moves with the instructor is yet to come.
Teaching classes online is something the Academy has always wanted to do, and COVID-19 restrictions have helped kick the project into gear.
“Ryan and I have pulled off a year’s worth of work in a month to get it off the ground.
“We are excited to get back into it, and keep our members on track for grading.”
They have also introduced free combat-based fitness classes for the community.
“When we were hit by COVID-19, we received phenomenal support. Some members were kind enough to continue paying their membership fees, even when we initially had no classes.
“We want to give back and help people remain active while staying in their bubbles at home.
“It’s also an opportunity for our member’s parents, who usually come to the Academy to watch practices, to get up and have a go.”
After COVID-19 restrictions lift, virtual classes will continue to be offered.
“Online classes open up future opportunities, like having international guest teachers. Most importantly though, they have made martial arts more accessible to people in our community.”
For more information, visit The Martial Arts Academy Facebook page.
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