The toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has been vast, and as we wait for the vaccine roll-
outs to take effect, we all understand the need to stay safe. But during this whole time
when we have been told to stay safe and socially distance, martial arts practitioners
have been hit hard.
No matter what martial art you do, it is a contact sport. Whether it is MMA, kickboxing,
karate or jiu-jitsu, to be done properly, all martial arts involve physical contact – in
other words social distancing of precisely zero metres.
REORG Trustee Trent Scanlen owns Elevate Martial Arts & Strength in West London.
“The biggest impact has been on our coaching team and our staff,” he said. “We have
moved our business online as much as we can, but it’s tough.”
While online study is useful, it cannot replace the dojo. Studying martial arts, Trent
adds, is about “skills that have been passed down for thousands of years, hand to hand –
you can’t learn this stuff on YouTube”.
Before the lockdown hit, the UK health and fitness industry was in great health –
growing 20 per cent in five years to be worth around £5billion a year. It is far too early
to count the cost of the pandemic, but gyms have definitely been hit hard.
Marc Barton is a former A&E doctor and jiu-jitsu black belt who gave up a stressful life
working in casualty to teach full time at Kingston Jiu Jitsu.
“The terrible coronavirus crisis has hit the jiu-jitsu and martial arts community in
general very hard,” he said. “Following the closure of our club, we have had to adapt to
more creative ways of training online to try to survive.”
Getting creative is something we fully support at REORG. We have seen the positive
impact that martial arts training can have on people’s lives. The pandemic has thrown
us a huge curve ball, but the important thing now is to keep training, even if that means
following online classes and training on your own for the time being.
It is true that teachers and training partners are vital, but there is so much you can do in
the meantime. Don’t just watch YouTube videos, use them as a resource: pause, train,
learn. A lifetime of training in martial arts is full of challenges like injuries, time
pressure and lack of motivation. The pandemic is just another challenge, and we fully
intend to support each other, keep fighting and come out stronger on the other side.