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MARTIAL ARTS: Area gyms adjust to virtual learning - Odessa American: Sports

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MARTIAL ARTS: Area gyms adjust to virtual learning

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Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 4:47 pm

Usually when Matthews Martial Arts is closed for this long, it’s because of the Christmas break.

That hasn’t been the case this past week.

With businesses being shut down left and right due to the threat of the coronavirus and trying to comply with the CDC guidelines, many area martial arts studios have felt the sudden pinch as they’ve had to close for the time being.

Dustin Matthews, the owner of Matthews Martial Arts, has seen his gym closed for more than a week now, ever since the area schools announced their temporary closure for the time being.

“We went ahead and closed because we have 250 members and follow the schools’ lead, so we’ve been closed since school’s been closed,” Matthews said. “That’s also been our policy on closing days. We’ve been closed for the last weeks.”

With classes being halted, it’s brought a slew of challenges for Matthews and his instructors to find creative ways to continue to teach their students, even if they can’t be there.

“We’ve been in the process of posting videos online and trying to work on streaming classes,” Matthews said. “Like daily home training kits and giveaways to try and keep the interests buzzing.”

But the closure has made it tough for them to attract new members.

“As far as new members, we’re not seeing a lot of that, obviously, so we’re just working on keeping our members happy that we have,” Matthews said. “But the longer we’re closed, the tougher it’s going to be to do that.”

Among the things that they’ve been posting in their Facebook group has included links for the student to continue to practice.

“We’re posting home workouts for them that they can do and get the jitters out of them,” Matthews said.

So far, they’ve been able to stay busy doing whatever they can with the virtual teaching.

“We have about five employees,” Matthews said. “For the most part, everyone’s part time. We’ve been keeping them a little busy with shooting videos and whatnot and doing extra things around that we come up with.

“This is definitely an unexpected situation for us. We’ve never been closed for this long unless it was for Christmas.”

Matthews isn’t the only person who’s had to adjust to virtual teaching as Laura Zant, the owner of ATA Martial Arts in Odessa, has also been doing video work to teach her students.

“What we have done, we’ve done a bunch of virtual classes where we’ve been getting on Facebook Live or YouTube where we’ve been doing some online learning,” Zant said.

With that, the kids have made videos of themselves and then send it back to Zant and her instructors where they can critique it and correct anything.

“We’re just trying to do it this way,” Zant said. “We’re going to pull through and do what we can.”

But even that has posed some challenges.

“It’s really difficult for us because when you’re looking at a video, everything is mirrored so you have to adjust that so that the kids are not doing the incorrect side so you have to adjust that back to them so that they can learn it,” Zant said.

“What I’m doing is telling them to take each segment of the form alone and work on that alone so that when we can get back together again, we can put it all together and go from there.”

The Odessa Boys and Girls Judo Club has also been out closed for the time being.

The club, which met twice a week before the coronoavirus, has been communicating with its members by email and Facebook.

Unlike with Matthews Martial Arts and ATA, they have not been doing virtual lessons.

“We just miss working with everyone,” instructor John Taylor said. “We’re all volunteers. We don’t get paid to do this because this is a non-profit judo club. We don’t make money off it. People don’t pay to take judo lessons. We do it because we enjoy working with students and we don’t get to during this time.”

Like with Matthews, Taylor is very much looking forward to meeting with his students again.

“I hope that we can meet back with everyone in good health and ready to start training again,” Taylor said.

Odessa, TX

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