• 5-27-2020 •
One by one, the minutes tick by. They turn into hours, then days, then weeks, then months. We almost lose track of what day it is or even what the time is. Friends are missed, and school is longed for as we peer out the window knowing danger lurks outside with every person you pass.
Masks, gloves, social distancing, hand washing, and sanitizing becomes our new normal. Staying home is deemed being safe. We may even start out enjoying the break from our everyday routines. But then Social isolation begins to creep into our minds and take its toll. We want to be with other people, friends and family. We want to go back to work and school. We want our normal back.
SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness, has taken many of our family members, friends, and teachers. And it is not just in our communities. It is happening all over the World. This is what a Pandemic of a novel virus looks like. Our immune systems have never encountered this particular virus. Therefore, no one has any biological defense. There are no drugs or vaccines to stop it. All we can do is hide from being exposed.
The Pandemic has caused us to close our Dojo’s. Many of us want to continue training but cannot do so and are left on our own to practice at home. I, too, felt the void that home training has caused, so I began teaching Taisho Dharma, Sanchin, and Tensho Katas using Zoom video conferencing on my computer. Karate enthusiasts join from all over the World. Each person’s home transforms into a dojo where they work out with other Karateka strengthening the body, mind, and spirit.
People from all over the World have joined the virtual Karate classes. We have people join from Spain, Canada, the UK, Ukraine, South Korea, South Africa, Trinidad, and all across the United States. We share local news of the Pandemic and then get down to training.
When I first started teaching via Zoom, I was hesitant not knowing what to expect or how people would react. I had many questions and doubts. However, things worked out very well, and I often hear from participants that the classes feel like we are actually in the physical Dojo. They report a feeling of camaraderie with the other students, just like at the physical Dojo. We are, after all, training together.
One major piece of the class puzzle that was missing was actual physical contact with each other, which is so vital to getting the feel of Martial Arts. It is the question most people have about virtual training. To recreate the feeling of touch, I created “Solo Kakie.” Typically a two-person contact sensitivity drill, Solo Kakie, pits one arm against the other following standard principles of Martial application. Class participants were skeptical at first, but after a few minutes of doing the drill, they noted how it felt like the real thing, complete with exhausted shoulders, wrists, and hands.
I’ve been teaching 13 classes a week with ages ranging from three to seventy, kids, teens, men and women, beginners, intermediates, and advanced. Usually, in a Dojo, you practice one style. In the virtual Dojo, we have students from Goju-Ryu, Wado-Ryu, and Shito-Ryu. It’s like a melting pot of Karate!
All that was left was to give our Dojo a name, and I chose One World Dojo because, in the end, no matter where you live or what you do, in the time of Pandemics, we are all living together, separately, in one World.