The March 2020 lock down undoubtedly proved difficult for all in the UK. From wearing masks, social distancing, shopping once a day, exercising for one hour a day, hospitals cancelling operations and cancer treatments, businesses going under with the loss of jobs to suicide rates escalating, the damage had a huge impact on our lives.
It obviously affected our karate club too. Our venues closed and we were forced to train outside with a maximum of 6 people. We adapted our training methods and did all that was asked of us to be covid safe. Out went sparring, padwork and bunkai, all hands on training methods requiring contact. In came Zoom meetings, HIIT for karate sessions and solo sparring drills.
Like other clubs that continued to train, we stayed at home if we felt unwell, exercised in well ventilated areas, disinfected our hands and social distanced.
I think the worst thing for our club was the uncertainty – not being able to make any plans past the end of the day. The reopening of our venues in late July 2020, was a big relief but our future was still uncertain.
The latest government guidelines on karate clubs has given us a little more clarity on staying open. The new 3 tier coronavirus lock down levels stipulate that even if the country goes into the ‘very high’ level, we can still train. I presume this means that our venues will still be able to accommodate us but if not, we’ll simply go outside again.
We’re fortunate that we have Lopping Hall and Loughton Club as regular venues. Both have on site managers who can clean the halls before and after each booking. Many venues do not have staff on site all day and cannot hire their halls whilst complying with government guidelines. Because of this, many venues have remained closed since March and may not reopen until 2021.
Sensei Stephen O’Brien