S&K Karate prove that virtual karate classes do work

S&K karate

Online classes are trending and a new breed of teacher is emerging. Trending, for the clueless parent, is a rapid rise in the use, views or followers of fashion, accessories, movies and personalities.

I have always disliked the term mostly because I associate it with personalities who have become popular through their inflated self-importance and hedonistic nature.

However, the recent shakeup in order and the ordinary, has forced me to reassess my perceptions.

A more responsible and altruistic personality now has an online following too.  They have never thought to go online in the past because the number of ‘followers’ was unimportant.

These are the teachers and instructors who have taken their classes online because of necessity.

S&K Karate’s online class experience

S&K Karate are a brilliant example of the new online heroes.  Steve Johnson and Karl von der Marwitz, the owners of S&K Karate are world class competitors as well as instructors.  I can speak from first-hand experience as I am one of their students. We practice Shorin-Ryu Shorinkan, a traditional self-defense style of karate.

Sensei (teacher in Japanese) Karl is a junior school teacher too and absolutely brilliant at his job. 

Under normal circumstances, the five to 12 year old karate class starts at 5.00 pm.  This, as parents well know, is the beginning of “suicide hour”.

Kids are tired, hungry and irritable.  Co-operation from six year olds at this time is almost impossible.  And yet I have watched Sensei Karl keep a class of thirty kids inspired, dedicated, happy and motivated for 45 minutes at this time.

Sensei Steve is a corporate director and a natural leader. He will calmly and efficiently bring order to chaos and the complex to simplicity. 

This is a partnership of complementary skills that is held together by a common love for karate.

Taking karate classes online

Karate by its very nature does not go in search of ‘likes’.  Karate was first practiced in secret and its entire ethos is about being humble.

Going online and public is just contrary to the spirit of karate.

However, when Covid-19 interrupted our training, Senseis Steve and Karl did not just sit back and hope for the best.  They knew change was necessary and they tackled the problem with the same determination that won them numerous world titles.

Going online was now as much of a necessity as clandestine training was 200 years ago.

Experiments were conducted, feedback was sought, technology investigated and acquired and classes restarted.

“We made collective use of our senior student’s knowledge of technology and online management techniques until we arrived at a functional solution for online teaching,” says Steve.

Karl adds, “It has taken an extraordinary level of dedication to make our karate classes work online.  Not only have we had to learn how to apply new technology but we have had to learn new teaching techniques and find the space to perform our moves.”

Overcoming the problems of online karate classes

Humans have a natural apprehension for change because change is hard work. We tend to see change as a problem but change, historically, has almost always resulted in improvements.

Steve says, “We see this change of teaching as a challenge. You can choose to let the change own you or you can choose to own the change.  If you take ownership of the new circumstances the problem WILL result in an improvement.”

Two things that you can do straight off.  Firstly, learn all there is to know about the new technology.  There are hundreds of articles and videos explaining how to use Zoom, WhatsApp Video, Microsoft Team or Skype.  Don’t wait to get into your online class to learn.  Own your technology before you start.

Secondly, find the space you need.  This may be difficult.  Home’s generally don’t have much space so chat to your family and get permission for the exclusive use for the space that you need for your online class.  Plan your moves in the space before the class starts to ensure that you know the limitations.

You’ve now owned what was a problem and simply moved into a new comfort zone. 

Karl adds, “We made a decision to keep our teaching as personal as possible and not put our tutorials in the public domain.  Zoom has worked very well for online classes and we used Facebook’s Video Album for hosting instructional videos for each belt level.  Our Facebook account is private and only our students have access.”

The benefits of online classes

Personally I found that watching myself on video has given me an opportunity to asses my technique far more critically and I have been able to make a large number of improvements.  For me, this has been the biggest benefit of online classes.  I now record my training and make improvements more quickly than in the past.

Students of all ages benefit emotionally from seeing their friends online. One of the greatest challenges for kids is not seeing their friends. We may be physically distant but online classes allow us to be emotionally close.   

The monotony of lockdown can be hugely depressing and creative thinking takes a big knock.  Just learning how to adapt to online classes is a relief from the drag and physical and mental exercise is wonderful for destressing and producing those happy little endorphins. 

Mom and dads you probably need a break too so online classes can give you the much needed time to yourself.

We won’t be in lockdown forever and the restrictions are easing but still try to use this time proactively.  Discover that technology is easy to use, learn to adapt to unusual circumstances and monitor your technique more closely with video reviews.

S&K Karate may not be trending in the traditional sense but they have set a new trend for online classes.   Can’t wait for the next Zoom class!

Stay safe and strong and keep training.

For more information on S&K Karate call Steve on 084 200 0111 or Karl on 082 650 1781

For more information on Extra Mural activities for kids? Click here.

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