Published: 11:00, 13 May 2020
| Updated: 15:44, 18 December 2020
Combat Sports Academy has tackled the lockdown by embracing video-conference technology to deliver martial arts classes online.
The Strood-based club are using Zoom to help their students stay in peak fighting fitness while the gym is closed.
CSA owner and lead instructor Lee Johnstone said: “We made the decision to close the gym in March, before the national lockdown came into effect.
“It was clear to us that the Coronavirus pandemic was a serious concern and the safety of our staff and students is our main priority, so we closed our doors.”
Initially, the CSA team were able to produce instructional videos together in the gym and share them to their students via Facebook, but when the full national lockdown was announced and social distancing rules were enacted even this activity needed to be suspended.
“It was a real shame to have to stop making new instructionals,” Johnstone said.
“My coaching staff had put together some really good videos that had received a great response. It was helping to fill the training gap our students were facing, particularly our junior students who were also now out of school and stuck indoors for the foreseeable future.”
Lee and his coaching team continued to share archived tutorials and also fight videos of the club’s competitors, overlayed with commentary and analysis to help their students navigate lockdown.
Zoom has become a popular application for people working from home to stay in touch and it’s helped the CSA too.
The instructor said: “We have one coach in the gym in front of our camera set-up and thoroughly clean all areas before and after the session.
“We did some practice sessions to iron out the technical gremlins and then our kids’ instructor, Sam Diplock, held our first Zoom classes with our junior students. It was a great success and it was so nice to see our students working hard and training again.”
CSA continued to deliver adults’ and kids’ martial art classes via Zoom each week throughout lockdown, with classes posted on their facebook page.
The Combat Sports Academy, meanwhile, have been awarded £4,500 of National Lottery funding from Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund towards their outgoings during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Johnstone said: “The grant will help Combat Sports Academy pay our bills and stay afloat during the pandemic and restart with a fighting chance as soon as we can reopen. It’s been a tough time but this grant will really help me and my team keep going.”
Sport England chief exec Tim Hollingsworth said: “The £20m Community Emergency fund, made possible by National Lottery players is part of a multimillion pound package of support we are providing to ease the pressure on a huge number of the organisations who are central to the nation’s health and wellbeing.
“We are proud to be able to provide vital funding to Combat Sports Academy to help it through these extremely challenging times.”
Other clubs in Kent have benefited from funding too.