Training in the Time of COVID-19
by Robert Wolfe
Many martial arts schools in Pennsylvania are struggling with the continuing COVID-19 related restrictions. Dojo, schools, and gyms are currently prevented from indoor, in-person training, and instructors are gradually realizing that even when a county has been transitioned to the “Green” phase — the so-called “new normal” — indoor training can only be conducted with no more than 50% of class capacity and a minimum of six-feet separation between participants. In other words, anything resembling proper martial arts training remains forbidden. And that’s the “new normal,” at least in Pennsylvania.
While I simply do not believe everyone’s going to put with these restrictions indefinitely (or that the restrictions are actually necessary, indefinitely), our dojo is exceptionally fortunate in that we have an alternative that enables us to train in-person while observing the mandates that are in effect. Note that we are strictly following the advice of a physician on the front-lines of treating COVID-19.
As you can tell from the photos on our website and social media, we have an outstanding facility in which to train. We’re all very much looking forward to being able to use the dojo again, regularly. In the meantime, however, our landlord also owns a very large field behind the building that houses the dojo. The field is essentially a gigantic, grass lawn, surrounded by immense hedges for privacy, and is meticulously maintained.
Now that the weather has warmed, on any clear day we can conduct weapons-based training that maintains physical separation between participants, while enhancing health with exposure to plenty of fresh air and sunshine and allowing a measure of normal, social interaction. Aikijutsu, although primarily a grappling art, contains a substantial repertoire of weapons with use of bokken (wooden swords) and jo (four-foot staff). Kenjutsu, of course, is all weapons. Training outdoors is valuable in its own right and, rather than being a make-do compromise, is a very enjoyable and beneficial change of pace from the normal training routine.