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Industry Consultation With Government

Dear Prime Minister,

First of all, I would like to thank the government for your hard work in keeping us all safe during this pandemic.

I’m writing on behalf of the martial arts industry, to provide insight into the operations of the industry and voice some concerns we have regarding the effect on the business owners and the greater community they serve given  the prolonged lockdowns and/or restrictions for Martial Arts clubs / schools.

We understand most government decisions are often influenced by consultation with industry experts, as it provides a more informed outcome. Martial Arts Australia (MAA) is the largest authority (by membership & services), so we feel our input will give you greater ability, to make more informed decisions regarding our sector.

AGENDA:
# The industry numbers # Essential services to the community
# The size and diversity of the Martial Arts Industry
# The types of venues and training facilities
# No Contact vs Contact / Class spacing vs Set numbers
# The economical cost to the industry # Our COVID Plan

The government and much of the community may not be fully cognisant of the size of the martial arts industry, or the important work it provides through its’ varied essential services. Perhaps this is because there is a lot of self-imposed segregation and secrecy, which we have been working on changing.

It’s relatively common place for authorities / communities to put all martial arts into one box. The industry is more diverse than tradies.  For example, an electrician does a different job than a carpenter. In a similar vein Tai Chi is different to Karate which is different to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and so on. As such, the martial arts industry is made up of many varied “Trades” offering differing services within the one industry.

Martial Artists work with more groups in our community than virtually any other professional.  They help people with disabilities to elite athletes all age groups (children / seniors). They run programs in primary / high schools, the corporate sector as well as security, police and the military. Other sports and the fitness industry draw from, martial arts techniques / training regimes to enhance their own codes.

Every industry / sector is finding it tough, but with a few adjustments to the restrictions, the martial arts industry could operate at a sustainable level, without creating more outbreaks. On behalf of the industry we trust you will read through our proposed (COVID PLAN OF OPERATION) and consider our proposal.

Martial Arts Industry background (Australia)

THE SIZE OF THE INDUSTRY By sharing some accurate statistics on industry activities, the types of operation, their economic contribution and community service, we hope to give you a better perspective on our relevance and contribution to the community and the economy.

THE STATISITICS – The Association: Martial Arts Australia (MAA):
Martial Arts Australia (MAA) – 5000+ clubs (the largest Australian association)
Martial Arts Australia (MAA)  – involving 700,000+ households
Martial Arts Australia (MAA)  – 3000+ clubs worldwide network

THE STATISITICS – The Industry:
Martial Arts Industry – 8500+ clubs in total Martial Arts Industry – involving more than 1.5mil households Excluding – police, military and security personnel

MARTIAL ARTS BENEFITS THAT SERVE OUR COMMUNITY:
# The Mental strength to manage depression and despair
# The Mental clarity to make informed judgements to resist negative influences
# The Physical outlet to control anger and frustration
# Greater Confidence to face increasing conflict in the community
# More Physical ability to protect oneself and ones families especially in these times of crisis
# The Self-Healing ability both physically and emotionally
# Greater Will to keep it all together when facing family deaths, job losses and the unknown
# More Discipline to stay focused and calm in all aspect of life with a positive mindset

MARTIAL ARTS CLUB SPLITS BY VENUE:
# 55% of clubs operate (hourly rental) out of – their home, community hall, YMCA, PCYC
# 45% of clubs operate by renting space in a gym or lease / buy  their own venue
# Some groups also have mobile PT services going to client homes / parks
# Some groups also run school / corporate group programs

HOW ACCURATE IS OUR DATA?
We provide professional services to clubs / gyms such as insurance, billing, bookkeeping, accountancy, websites, software, instructor courses, video production and an industry magazine through our professional memberships.

The information we collect on our members gives us a very accurate account on the impact, COVID 19 pandemic is having on the martial arts industry. We communication daily with the industry as a whole and with many instructors on an individual basis.

After 27 years as MAA Chairman and nearly 50 years of personal experience within the industry, my rationale is that Australia would be better off, with Instructors actively serving the community, as soon as it’s safe to do so.

In the interest of understanding the impact current restrictions/lockdowns are having on this industry, we feel it is important to point out some of the ways martial arts is uniquely able to mitigate against the threat of Covid, whilst delivering a valued service to the broader community.

CLUB ACTIVITIES:
There are the three ways that training is conducted in martial arts schools such as warm/cool downs, individual techniques and partner drills/sparring. Training is segmented by the level of contact a student will have with another person and how many times they might change partners such as:
# NO CONTACT - When doing warm-ups / cool downs and individual skill drills
# PARTIAL CONTACT - When holding pads for partners, skill drills and sparring

PRIORITY OPENING FULL-TIME SCHOOLS FIRST – BEFORE GYMS
We feel opening full-time facilities will give the industry greater control over the safety of the community and have a much better outcome for the economy.
# Operators are highly motivated to implement their own strict COVID plan
# Operators employ staff which creates more jobs
# Operators have lease payments on venues /equipment so they can start reducing debt
# Many part time operators renting halls are hobbyists and don’t plan to open in the near future if at all

FULL-TIME SCHOOLS ARE DIVIDED INTO:
# Dedicated single discipline operation (20%)
# Hybrid operation with two or more disciplines (40%)
# Hybrid operation with multi discipline operation plus small gym section (30%)
# Super gym / multi disciplines / obstacle courses / group fitness / café / sauna etc (10%)

Typical Class – 1 hour –FLEXIBLE CONTACT - STYLES / DISCIPLINES (Karate, Taekwondo, KungFu, Wushu, Tang So Do, Silat, Capoeira, Ninjutsu, Iaido, Kendo, Kobudo)   
# 15 mins Warm ups individually
# 25 mins core techniques / drills (could also include holding striking shields)
# 20 mins partner drills
# 10 mins cool down / stretching individually (occasionally partnered)

The above can operate by teaching without contact for a limited time but without it most students don’t want to participate. This makes it hard for the operator to maintain sufficient students to cover costs when he is not providing the students with the full service.

Typical Class – 1 hour  – REQUIRE CONTACT - STYLES / DISCIPLINES (Judo, Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Grappling, Kickboxing, Boxing, Aikido, Hapkido, MMA, Sambo, Krav Maga)
# 10 mins warm ups individually
# 40 mins partner drills
# 10 mins cool down / stretching individually (occasionally partnered)

These schools can’t operate until all restrictions on contact are lifted. This is because the greater percentage of their training, is skilled based with a partner.

WE HAVE AN EVOLVING COVID 19 PLAN:
All clubs that have opened have been very industrious thinking outside the box, to implement the most stringent heath measures, to protect everyone in keeping with Government guidelines. As Government guidelines have evolved throughout the pandemic, our members have adjusted their respective Covid Safe plans to keep in line with recommendations at each stage.

THE INDUSTRY WILL WORK HARD TO KEEP THE COMMUNITY SAFE GENERAL RULES
# Restrict parents staying in the venue when they drop off their children (they can watch via live online video)
# All visitors to apply hand sanitiser on entry and departure
# Leaving 15 minutes between classes to clean all areas
# Restricting the use of toilets when possible and cleaning after each use
# All staff (reception / instructors) to wear face shields or masks
# Temperature check and ask each member / parent COVID questions

There are two stages as far as the martial arts is concerned – No Contact and Contact (working with partners). Many clubs can open with No Contact (to initially open), but they really need partner drills to operate with all their services.

ACTIVITY RULES – NO CONTACT RESTRICTIONS
# No sharing of protective equipment
# Freestanding punching bags cleaned between each use
# Members to keep their distance (1.5m) # Members to wear face shields or masks
# Classes will be no longer than 60 mins (the new normal is 45 mins)

ACTIVITY RULES – CONTACT IS ALLOWED
# No sharing of protective equipment
# Freestanding punching bags cleaned between each use
# Members to keep their distance - when not partnered
# Members to wear face shields or masks
# Classes will be no longer than 60 mins (the new normal is 45 mins)
# Partners will not work together for no longer than 10 minutes before rotating
# Hand held punch bags will be cleaned before rotating groups

RESTRICTING CLASS ATTENDANCE BY SPACE - VERSUS BY A SET NUMBER OF ATTENDEES
BY SPACE – 1.5m spacing Clubs can get back to pre-Covid numbers much quicker making them more viable. Generally, class sizes vary between 10 -50 people with the average being around 30 students. This is also good for outdoor training.

BY A SET NUMBER -  Previous limits have been 2, 5, 10 members Clubs will have to run 5 times more classes per 50 members to include everyone.

This means the SAME AMOUNT OF EXPOSURES as per spacing, but spread over a longer period. It will also be a far greater costs to the operator in cleaning, instruction and utilities with no reduction in risk. 

PLEASE CONSIDER

# Opening martial arts schools before Gyms because they nurture and empower people in a guided and control environment. They can also clean their equipment much easier because most don’t use gym equipment. 
# Choose training activities by the floor space (expanded limit for outdoors) rather than a set number.
# Consult with us to discuss a COVID Plan for now and moving forward.

By allowing businesses to open their doors does not necessarily mean they can survive if they do. They lack confidence / motivation, they have lost staff / customers and they hold a lot of debt. The odds are against a lot of businesses in this area and the longer we leave it, the harder it will be to get back on track. If you would like further information on how the pandemic is impacting the martial arts industry and what we plan to do help it recover, please ask us.

Yours sincerely

Graham Slater
Director - Martial Arts Australia

General Operations: Unit 6 / 12 Henderson Road, Knoxfield, Victoria, Australia
PO Box 2057, Blackburn South, Victoria, 3130
M:   61+ 419 569 565
P:   61+ 3 8601 1124
E:   support@martialartsaustralia.com.au

PEAK INDUSTRY BODY – ONE STOP SHOP FOR SCHOOL OWNERS
The following products are referred through an external third party licenced and / or endorsed provider:
INSURANCE | BILLING | CLUB SOFTWARE | WEBSITE DESIGN | MOBILE APPS |VIDEO PRODUCTION ­|MARTIAL ARTS UNIVERSITIES |
The following products are provided in house: PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS | INSTRUCTOR ACCREDITATION | INSTRUCTORS COURSES | BUSINESS MAGAZINE | CLUB MARKETING |BUSINESS TOOLS |

TO MARTIAL ARTS SCHOOL OWNERS
If you would like any help personally, MAA is here to assist you where we can, just ask us what you need.
If you would like to share your COVID story on how the pandemic is affecting you, hardships and successes and we can publish this in our next magazine. We trust this will help so many others, as we are all in this together. Many people have made it to the other side and hearing examples of how they did will surely be helpful.
Just send them to: support@martialartsaustralia.com.au Subject: COVID STORY

 

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