“Oh hello… I can’t see you – just pop your video on. Now I can’t hear you … THERE you are – hello, how you doing…?! “You’ve gone again, oh, there you are… no, that’s Mimi the dog…

“OK everyone, put yourselves on mute and let’s get going!

Welcome to virtual karate. Sensei Miranda set up our Zoom dojo just 10 days into lockdown and we’ve been going ever since. No way she was going to allow Covid-19 to stop our karate training or destroy the sense of family we all get from the club. It’s a surreal world, Zoom karate, but strangely comforting. We might be in lockdown but our schedules are full, FULL of karate training sessions. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays as ‘normal’ but then there are The Guests. Sensei Miranda seems permanently on Turbo Guest Booking Duty so we have these giants of karate – also her friends – zooming into our living rooms. Senseis Adel, Gary, Chris, Siri, George, Larsen, Diego, Bianca, Harrison… It’s INSANE the people she knows well enough to invite. And every single one of them cheerfully delivers a storming session for all grades.

Inside on TV, outside on tablets – training with guest instructors Sensei Adel Ismail, 6th Dan and Sensei Siri Opsahl, 5th Dan.  

Can’t tell my left from my right

It’s bonkers hard work, putting a class plan together then teaching it. For one thing feedback is a bit different. Students are mainly on mute to lessen tech interference so when we do get back in the real dojo no more silence and “thumbs up if you can hear me”. Also, I’m not sure if the good people at Zoom are aware of this but virtual training is seriously messing with everyone’s left and right. The neighbours are now used to hearing “Other leg, OTHER LEG!”. It helps if you start to recognise students’ living areas – “Not that way, towards the kitchen…”, “The piano should be on your left!”. Or, we could simply adopt guest Sensei Siri’s trick of slapping pieces of gaffer tape on our left leg and arm.

Sanity saver

Zoom karate is doing more than keeping us martial art fit, however. It’s a sanity saver. Keeping the awfulness of the virus at bay for 60 minutes while we concentrate on techniques and kata, maybe having a quick chat, always sharing something funny.

Is that the time?! Gotta go and move the furniture, plug in the right bit of kit, check the background won’t embarrass me and do some karate with (*checks diary*) Sensei Miranda! Life as ‘normal’ then, thank goodness.

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