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ARTICLE | ADVICE ON TRAINING DURING COVID-19 | by Orjan Pettersen


The current global pandemic is not only a medical emergency, but threatens a global recession akin to the Great Depression in the 1930s. Indeed, in the UK, where I’m writing from, the impact on GDP is projected to be even greater than the 20th century’s biggest economic shock.


Governments are already setting up rescue and mitigation packages worth hundreds of billions of dollars, euros and pounds to limit the impact and protect businesses and employees.


As affected countries increasingly experience movement restrictions, quarantines and closures of everyday activities, the self defence and martial arts sectors - based on close contact - is in the frontline of this economic trauma.


Some will already have their school or dojo under lockdown whilst others will inevitably experience cancellations or freezes or memberships and subscriptions.


This is a clear and present danger to cash flows, liquidity and longevity of many schools and dojos.


There is an admirable emergence of strategies by many to continue to provide a level of temporary and chargeable service to members. This could be through restructured classes or online servicing to members or a combination of both.


Earlier this week, I published an article around some strategies that could help struggling self defence schools maintain sanitary and safer conditions through social distancing in their teaching. Due to the imperative of the situation for many, I’ve included an updated extract of these in this post.


If you are impacted but can remain (legally) open, what are some of the strategies you can apply to reassure your students and keep them as safe as possible?

First of all, the sanitary regime around your classes is paramount.


Hand washing pre, during and post-workouts should be enforced.


The intermittent use of sanitisers by students is also recommended.


Ensuring no one attends who may have been knowingly exposed to COVID-19 in a personal or professional setting is also key.


Anyone with any symptoms should not turn up to class but self-isolate according to local public health advice.


Cleaning of all equipment before and after each session with appropriate disinfectants should take place.


Secondly, structurally, if your local advice is to avoid excessive social contact, there are useful tactics you can apply in your sessions to allay fears from students and maintain a safer training environment.


If students work with each other, limit them to working with just one single other student throughout the session. Don’t mix any further.


Create a environment where social distance of 6ft is maintained between each pairing or individual student.


This can be achieved in an outdoors environment if you school is facing closures or restrictive access, weather permitting.


If any or all of students are concerned about pairing up or working with other students, create a class content of so-called ‘dry drills’.


These practices can be extended to large parts of a Krav Maga curriculum and is how many students and instructors already have to train if they are away from their own or a recognised school, or indeed, just applied as personal development training in a regular fashion.


You can run classes based on kicks, hand-strikes (and any combinations thereof) simply based on solo dry drills. Just apply your imagination if you’re an instructor. It’s actually a great tool to work on technical skills.


The same applies of course to any falls, rolls and kicks and standing up from the floor. The footwork around different stances and movement is always practiced solo anyway. Go ahead with these.


Indeed, many techniques, from chokes, headlocks, grabs and bear hugs are often trained in dry drills, so working in this way is already applicable to these areas, at least temporarily.


Weapon defences such against knives and impact weapons can also be worked without a partner or indeed the weapon itself. You just practice the movements and the techniques themselves.


The social distancing is also an excellent opportunity to work on some conditioning and cardiovascular enhancements, too. There’s no proximity needed to work out hard.


If you think about it, you can run a social distance Krav Maga class many times over to cover a temporary challenge over some weeks or even longer if you plan properly and have the opportunity to do so.


Some schools, where access to even social distanced classes are not possible or desired, are already turning to online tuition.


Although this is restrictive in nature, it is infinitely more beneficial than no training at all. Eventually, the arrangement will be temporary in nature. Online tuition, presented as a class in structure, content and timing, whether live streamed or via a clearly-structured video that can be done on-demand are excellent examples or self defence training initiatives that can be applied. These can also be complemented by more personal or group training by the instructor to single or multiple students via appropriate sharing apps.


Physical activity and well-being is an essential component of a good immune system, together with sleep, nutrition and recovery. This is your greatest weapon against COVID-19.


Don’t let your health defences down now. You’ll need them more than ever this year.


Remember, this pandemic is shorter term. Your training is longer term. Accept a change in nature in what you do, but be persistent, dedicated and supportive of your local school as they temporarily adapt to service you during extraordinary times.


They will thank you now. In the end, you will end up thanking them.

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