Spiritual Content of Kata

Roy Kenneth Kamen

The Virtual Dojo

• 3-31-2020 •

Zoom Karate Class

The country is locked down. Schools and businesses have closed to create “social distancing”. People are working remotely from home, and children are busy taking online classes. It is a changing world because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic.

Since the Brooklyn Middle school, the Isshinryu Dojo on the Upper East Side as well as my Dojo in Chinatown all closed, there have been no Martial Arts classes for several weeks. And we all feel the loss.

Thankfully today’s technology can help ease the isolation, loneliness, and lack of physical exercise. The new video conferencing programs available have allowed us to stay connected in ways we never dreamed of years ago.

I have begun using one of these programs to create and run online Karate classes for my Isshinryu and Goju-ryu Taisho Dharuma adult stretch and flex Karate classes. I was skeptical at first that the students would accept this and that it would be workable from a logistics perspective.

I am thrilled to report that this has been a success! We have, on average, 12 children in each class. I run three classes, three days a week, and the adult class almost every day. Being with other people practicing Karate has been a beautiful thing. We all get some exercise, learn something new and enjoy talking with each other before and after class. We have in our group a doctor who is working at a major New York City hospital taking a break to fit in some movement to relieve his stress. We have a gentleman from Italy join. He told us about life in Italy under the COVID-19 healthcare crush. The technology certainly bridges the gap between us no matter where we are.

I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of workout videos uploaded to Youtube and Facebook. What I enjoy about the video-conferenced classes is that I can see my students and correct their postures, techniques, and movements in real-time. They can ask me questions, and if I don’t have an answer, someone else in class does. It’s been a bright spot in an otherwise stressful situation. You can’t do that watching a pre-recorded workout video!

My mind goes to the Brooklyn students, many who do not have access to this technology in their homes. What are they doing with their time? Are they isolating at home, or are they wandering their neighborhood? Are they healthy? How are they keeping up with their schoolwork? So many unanswered questions. I hope they are all well, and can’t wait to see them again.

My Virtual Dojo online Karate classes will continue until the Pandemic is over. I think more people will embrace the technology with this new way of social interaction and education, at least for the time being.

One thing is for sure, I am getting a lot of exercise and my social needs met in total physical isolation. #stayhome

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