As we near, hopefully, the end of the pandemic and life begins to more closely resemble normality, it could be a good time to ask what the Pandemic has taught us.
What initially began as an inconvenience quite quickly became our lifestyle. No travel, no visitors, no public gatherings, concerts, movies, sports, schools, bars or restaurants. Most of the things that we had, for so long, taken for granted were off the agenda.
Our Taekwon-Do school like every other area of life was also badly affected. Classes have been cancelled for over 12 months now and as much as Zoom has allowed us to continue nothing beats face to face training.Zoom gave us a lot but we still were not interacting with our fellow students, sweating, learning, sparring, smiling.
Things have improved significantly since the dark days of Lockdown. We returned to training, albeit outdoors in the Basketball courts of Bracken ETNS. This month has been an absolute tonic. Yes, we are allowed contact training, partner work, pad work and much more. Our training options are almost endless and it is brilliant to see the students buzzing and excited again. Laughing and joking, talking and sharing.
This is what we have been missing most, this is the lesson that Covid-19 has taught us. We are a Community. We are an extended family. We love the time we get to spend together and missed it when it was taken from us.
Our Junior Leaders and Assistant Instructors are like older sisters and brothers to our students. They feel for their losses and celebrate their victories no matter how insignificant they seem to outsiders. They are important to us. The trust we have earned, the connections we have nurtured, the bonds we have built. This is our Community, this is what we have really missed.
It is so great to finally have that back.
For many of us 2020 was a year best forgotten. The arrival of the dreaded Covid 19 pandemic meant major changes to how we normally went about our lives. Schools were closed, holidays were cancelled, masks were, and still are, being worn.
In many cases we are cut of from Family members and friends. For our Taekwon-Do students we have not been able to train exactly how we would like, in the Dojang and with our friends.
Thankfully, with the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine, there is an end in sight and a future to look forward to.
When I reflect on the last year there are still many reasons for optimism. Many of us learned to communicate and learn through the online world for maybe the first time.
Early on we set up our Facebook Private Members group. Straight away this meant we could continue to learn through Facebook Live classes.
Next we build our Online Academy allowing students to access all of their grade specific material 24/7. To date we have added fundamental techniques, Patterns, Sparring Drills, Kicking drills, Mobility and Conditioning Programs. In all there are over 100 different videos and growing weekly.
One of the highlights of the year cam from Mid June to Mid September when we actually were able to train "Normally" again in Castleland. Classes were packed and I have never seen our students and Instructors so enthusiastic.
Admittedly it was a real blow when we had to go back into lockdown from Mid September . All was not lost however because now we moved our classes onto the Zoom platform.
This allowed us to break our classes into smaller more grade specific groups eg White Belt and Yellow Tags, Yellow Belt and Green Tags, Green Belt and Blue Tags, Blue Belts and Red Tags, Red Belt and Black Tags, and Black Belt only classes.
Our ability to intereact with students in real time, coupled with revision aids in the Online Academy has allowed our students to continue to progress.
While all physical competitions, for the most part, were cancelled we still managed to hold two online Patterns Championships. these events were very well attended and the standard remained high.
The online platform also allowed us offer workshops for students and Parents alike in Mobility, Fitness Kickboxing and Yoga. We were fortunate to have some guest Instructors for these and we extend our gratitude to them.
We now offer a weekly Strength and Conditioning Class for our Cadet members each Saturday morning. This class is conducted by Mr Carl McGrath 3rd Dan and has proven very popular.
Our Instructors too have been taking advantage of many online offerings. To date Carl has attended online seminars with over 10 world champions in various disciplines.
Along with Mr Martin Ibbotson 1st Dan, I was fortunate to attend the First 3-Day Online Instructors Course offered by the International Taekwon-Do Federation. Myself and Mr McGrath also attended a seminar on the "Do" hosted by ITF-Belgium which proved very enlightening. Our next event is the International Kids Course spread over 3 weekends in January.
All of these things took place in a year when we were supposedly "closed down". I can't wait to see how much more busy we're going to be when lockdown finally ends.
For now, lockdown continues and so do we. Our regular Zoom classes will re-commence this coming Monday 4th of January. Zoom links will be sent out in advance as usual. If you wish to kick start 2021 by resuming classes please contact Mandy on 085-1046627.
We have also created a Free Beginners Online Taekwon-Do Course.
If you know of anyone you think could benefit from our classes during the continued lockdown please feel free to share the link below.
Castleland, Balbriggan, County Dublin, Ireland
18:00 – 21:00
Castleland Community Centre
Classes also available
Flemington Community Centre.