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Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture
COVID 19 and the dojo

How are you planning to handle it?

At this point my plan (I'm in Washington state, US) is to tell people to not show up within 72 hours of a cough or fever, like the schools are doing here. I have a small dedicated group of students who I trust to follow this advice. I don't know how to do a "no contact" class other than spend a couple classes on kata and concepts, and my classes are mostly application-focused, which compounds the weight of the decision.

Of course, there is a risk here no matter what, do you have plans for your dojo? Are you thinking about just shutting down if the outbreak hits your area?

Tau
Tau's picture

Full disclosure. I've worked two shifts in my local Coronavirus pod so I've been in full PPE assessing patients. You can look on my Facebook wall if you want a laugh. In work we're getting regular updates.

General advice:

- First and foremost it's an emerging and ever changing situation. Simply, nothing is certain. Advice is changing rapidly

- Exercise common sense. Handwashing like you should anyway. Dojo cleanliness like you should anyway. I would add an emphasis on door handles. No hysteria. You don't need to stockpile bogroll. 

- No harm in having some hand gell available for students. Bear in mind that alcohol gell can be harsh on your hands. Soap-and-water is far better anyway, albeit not as convenient

- The common cold is caused by a number of viruses including various strains of coronavius. Most of us manage to catch a cold once a year. On that basis you've probably had a coronavirus or two in your lifetime, probably more. You're still alive to read this, right?

- What makes Covid-19 different is that it's new and... we don't fully understand it. We don't have the immunity. It does seem to spread very easily. We aren't sure how it's spread. We think via respiratory droplets.

- Most masks will not directly stop the spread of viruses. For that you need specialist FFP3 masks unless, like all the most gorgeous men, you're bearded in which case it's the PAPR hood which is what I wear. On the subject, the media hype over staff being asked to shave. I haven't read this officially yet. Even some clean-shaven folk can't get a seal with an FFP3 mask due to facial shape. I raise this because there's no need to have all of your students masked for training. Although I accept that they may be ugly enough that they should be masked anyway. Where masks do help is a physical reminder and barrier from touching your face and then another person or a surface such as a door hand. It is for this reason that some professionals do feel that they have a role to play.

- If a student wouldn't turn up due to coughing/snotting/spluttering then that's good. Keeping those students away is always a good thing regardless of the cause

- Be concious of where your students might have been on holiday. You may want to ask them to contact health providers (their GP or 111 here in the UK) for advice.

- Numbers of affected people in China has just dropped. It looks like isolation methods such as self-isolation at home or herd isolation such as communities appears to be effective. This is a positive sign

- Be aware of suseptible people (the very old, the very young and the immunosuppressed.) You should know your students. All of my students fill out a membership application form that includes health screening every year. More information on this is in my book, which is available on amazon.

I've rambled. The short version is excercise common sense and keep an eye on the official advice, keeping in mind that it is changing regularly.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Great post that Peter! Thanks for sharing!

If we apply self-protection principles to the virus then:

The precautions taken should always be commensurate to the risk.

If the risk is greater than the precautions, then you’re unnecessarily vulnerable. If the precautions are greater than the risk, then you could be acting on anxiety and paranoia and that’s not healthy.

As it stands, good hygiene and following government advice seems to be sensible and commensurate. Training can continue as normal and there is no need to swap gis for hazmat suits at this stage :-) As it stands, the chances of most people catching it are very low, as are the likely effects on health (most people experiencing only mild symptoms). The fact many are acting as if this is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse is harmful in itself. Sensible precautions as per Peter’s post would be the way to go.

All the best,

Iain

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Thansk all, good ideas there.

Well, I think the urgency is maybe a bit different for me. The big outbreak in the nursing home here is an hour or so from me, and we have documented cases within 30 miles. I'm personally sure the virus is already in my town, but without availablilty of widespread testing (which there still isn't), we will never know.

I feel like just mirroring the public health advice for the dojo is sufficient for now. If I had a larger or more public dojo I might be considering closing it for safety. I also have two students who are over 60 and so in the range for more than mild symptoms should they catch it.

Marcus_1
Marcus_1's picture
deltabluesman
deltabluesman's picture

It's a tough decision.  I work in the health care industry and a lot of our clients are starting to adopt a more cautious approach to the virus (cancelling travel, putting restrictions on large gatherings, etc.).  This has just happened in the past few days.  I suspect this trend will continue.

Personally, I intend to keep training until we have a confirmed case of the virus in my area.  At that point, I'll probably stop grappling and just switch to kata and cardio.  I work with a lot of older people and I don't want to accidentally spread the virus to them.  Once there's more information about this (hopefully by early April), I'll reconsider and make new plans.  

You're probably already aware of it, but Johns Hopkins has a good resource center on the virus:  https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

Best,

-J

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

I don't even know how to run a class without contact. I mean I can do it, but boy it'll be tough.

Tau
Tau's picture

Zach Zinn wrote:

I don't even know how to run a class without contact. I mean I can do it, but boy it'll be tough.

Kihon and solo kata. There you go. I've been a student in classes like that. I've never taught them like that and have desire to. But it's possible.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

The point is moot, the person whose space we use (it's his home dojo/workout space) has decided to close it. I don't blame him, we have cases right in our county, so it's a tough call. Oh well, I guess I will be trying to do some kind of "distance learning" for my students, might actually make some videos.

tubbydrawers
tubbydrawers's picture

hi, 

I tried to add this last night but I was on my phone and it said there was an error :-( so now on my pc!

Anyway, I was teaching last night - in Australia - and one of my Advanced students as such - he is about 11 or so said that his parents are going to remove him form Karate when the school term ends in 2 weeks because of the virus.

I am not sure if they want to pull him out together or just for a few months.

So that is what I am now facing - If i send an email to everyone - all the parents might pull their kids out of class or do I just leave it for now and let them make their own minds up. To be honest last night was the first class we did where we concetrated on Kihon and Kata where there was no partner work this term. All just looking for good form and movement without the partners.

Craig

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

I feel fortunate I do not have a commerical dojo which requires a lot of money to sustain itself. I feel like this is going to be pretty devastating in the short term to Dojos, particularly larger ones. I'm going to work on some "distance learning" material for my students this weekend likely, and transition to having some video thing I send out to keep people engaged, hopefully.

When I spoke to the guy who owns our space (a student) I explained that my position was the same as the schools in our county - if you have any symptoms within 72 hours of class, do not come. Keep the dojo very clean etc. He was not comfortable with this, and I understand, it being his space, his choice.

tubbydrawers
tubbydrawers's picture

Well I was given the invoice for next term this week and I am unsure now of what will happen. I can pay it, thats not a problem, its wondering if anyone will turn up! 

But yeah, i am going to film some things this weekend for some of the students so at least they can do some form of training if people decide to leave for a bit.

But at least we have toilet paper in the school HA HA - just not anywhere else in the shops here. 7.30am this morning I was the local supermarket and the aisle is empty of all paper producst, wet wipes, etc.

no

Tau
Tau's picture

Stephen Kesting sent out an interesting e-mail this morning which I disagree with but encourage you to read (my evaluation I could be wrong.) I think he's already shared this via social media.

Today's guidlines to health care professionals is that "contact" is defined as closer than two metres for longer than fifteen minutes. This is based on droplet spread and numbers required for infection.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

I’m currently putting some “enforced solo training” videos together for the app. We have members all over the globe and some can’t leave their home, some can’t get to the dojo because the kids are off school, some have closed for a few weeks, etc. I therefore figured some weekly solo training ideas / missions may be helpful and appreciated. If anyone feels they could benefit from that, please email app@iainabernethy.com and we can set up free access.

All the best,

Iain

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

I put together a quick video for my students on Kasai No Genri, it cuts off at the end because I ran out of room. Probably not hugely relevant to most people,  but I figured I'd share it as an example.

I plan on releasing videos for them once per week, I also sent them a quick video on using a pole for solo training, and plan on lots of solo training content from here on out. I was happy to see your email on this Iain, and look forward to seeing your ideas and recommendations.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Zach,

Zach Zinn wrote:
I plan on releasing videos for them once per week, I also sent them a quick video on using a pole for solo training, and plan on lots of solo training content from here on out.

Good stuff! I think it’s superb how adaptable and innovative people are being.

Zach Zinn wrote:
I was happy to see your email on this Iain, and look forward to seeing your ideas and recommendations.

Great! I hope to get another one out over the weekend.

Speak soon!

All the best,

Iain

PS Love that t-shirt ... It’s a collector’s item :-)

Kiwikarateka
Kiwikarateka's picture

The dojo I train at (located in New Zealand) has just closed for the week as a precaution but based on how things are going we will likely close for quite a while. We're thinking of ideas to keep people engaged with the club and training while everyone stays home and will be doing a poll to see what our members are interested in.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi All,

Now that 1/3 of the world’s population is on lockdown, remote communication, online training and solo training are likely to be core topics of interest. Please be sure to share related ideas and experiences in this thread. What is working for you and yours? Any success stories to share?   

All the best,

Iain

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

I did my first Zoom session tonight. People seemed really happy to be able to connect and do some training, albeit in a limited capacity. It felt a little awkward at first for me, going back to just teaching kihon..but fundamentals of movement, stepping, striking etc. are always relevant, and I was able to find my groove. I have been releasing one or two videos per week - usually geared towards solo training- as well as setting up this weekly Zoom session. I am also going to brush up my documentation etc.

I'm not super comfortable with my videos, I mean they are made to share with people I know intimately, and I am wearing sloppy clothes in my bedroom... but I'm happy to link them if people would benefit from seeing what someone else is doing.

One thing this is really driving home for me, perhaps due to my profession, but I think there is  a larger truth there:

Martial arts in this time serves a therapeutic purpose, this is always true, but right now it's pretty overt. People are scared, deeply worried about the future and of course we are all so isolated. So in these times, I feel like keeping programs going is doing a real service for people...it means even more now than it does when everything is hunky-dory.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

I’ve put this basic guide to online teaching together in the hope some will find it useful: https://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/content/basic-guide-online-martial-arts-teaching

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Zach Zinn wrote:
Martial arts in this time serves a therapeutic purpose, this is always true, but right now it's pretty overt. People are scared, deeply worried about the future and of course we are all so isolated. So in these times, I feel like keeping programs going is doing a real service for people...it means even more now than it does when everything is hunky-dory.

100%! Well said!

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Figured i'd share this weeks video I made for my students:

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Another thing I made for my students:

Basically using a crack in the sidewalk or other line, this is a timing drill, and a little about how you generate moving power:

Move as your stance crosses the crack, hit or practice a throw (tried to show simple examples of both) the second you have a root, in other words, once you have a ground connection you throw your technique, do not wait until your stance is set. Your stance will actually "set" slightly after you hit, and you will have much less recovery time. You can hit hard this way and maintain stability, while improving mobility. it's different from the way a lot of people do kihon. Eventually you can transfer this to bag work etc.

Other rules are: Don't do formal chambers or guards, keep your hands somewhere between your belly button and nose (though ideally higher than belly button) and go from whereever your hands are. Try not to "prepare to move" - just move.

Kiwikarateka
Kiwikarateka's picture

Just to update, New Zealand is on lockdown now for four weeks (though one of those weeks has passed already).  

My club has organised a 'Weekly training schedule' which is a Google doc with training plans for the week in it. We're also considering doing some social media challenges for our members, like do __ push ups, do a certain kata without stepping, etc. Stuff to keep people engaged with the club and karate.

We've also created a closed Facebook group to share info with members, and to try get members to post and share stuff of their own but at the moment it's just the admins sharing things haha

Azato
Azato's picture

To any teachers that haven't tried it yet I would strongly recomend teaching online through Zoom. If you had asked me a month ago is I could continue to run my school without teaching my students in person I would have thought it a ridiculous question. Over the last two weeks I have been teaching between 20 and 30 students a day online. I got about 60% of my usual revenue this month too which has allowed me to pay my rent without dipping too far into my savings. Its been said before but is worth saying again; there has never been a better time to be a martial artist. The internet is a total game changer and we should all take full advantage of its utility. Our students are all cooped up at home and need things to keep them busy. It isn't ideal of course, there are a lot of things that we can't do, but online classes are better than nothing.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

My Zoom classes have had better attendance than my in person classes. Normally I range between 6-8 adults, since going to Zoom 8-10 is more typical, the additions being people who normally wouldn't be able to make my in person class due to other time commitment, etc.