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Stay Open or Close - We say stay open!

# STAY OPEN OR CLOSE WE SAY STAY OPEN - THE GOVERNMENT AGREES! This is a segment from what the Federal Government recommends - They provided this recent advice to sports involved in the Coalition of the Major Professional and Participation Sports (Netball, AFL, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Soccer, Cricket and Tennis) that community sport should continue across Australia for the following reasons: - For the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the community; - There is no suggestion or evidence that the virus can be transmitted through sweat. MAA - would like to add to this by saying that martial arts clubs provide an invaluable service to the community, by inspiring people, keeping them fit and most importantly at this time, upholding their mental health. There are many people that rely on their social interaction at the club and the Sensei’s words of wisdom, without this they could slip back into depression. We all know that depression creates further negativity and can manifest into more health issues, that can compromise the immune system. This potentially makes people more vulnerable to COVID-19 and other viruses. Martial Arts Schools actually have a duty to stay open, not close, because a few students have suspended or cancelled their memberships. Many schools are professional full-time facilities with lease agreements, staff obligations etc and can’t just close up without going broke. This is a time when you communicate more directly and regularly with your members, tell them what you are doing to keep them safe. You will see that so many school owners are already doing this by – posting photos / videos of new hygiene protocols, giving people more mat space, a greater focus on the fitness / technical aspects, more personalised tuition (smaller classes) and supplementary / additional online classes for example. Be creative, think about giving your members more reasons to come to training than to stay at home. We know they will lose their fitness, put on weight and perhaps get depressed as well. In order to help your members you can remind them of why they train. Some sports are still playing competition with contact, but without spectators. A number of the martial arts clubs have dropped partner drills and sparring obviously to reduce the chance of an infection. A locally transmitted infection has to come from a person bringing it into the club and people with symptoms are being told to self-isolate, so chances are reduced. That said, remember there are still very few locally transmitted cases in Australia, the majority of infected people are those returning from overseas. What I’m concerned about for martial artists is: #1 Some smaller clubs renting halls who just decided to close their doors, just because a few students dropped off, with the belief they will re-open in a month or so, Every time a club closes in these circumstances the students spread the word that it closed to stop infection. These students will tell others that they can’t train in martial arts because they might get COVID-19. Then you get other people responding with ‘my club is open, are they doing the wrong thing’. This has the potential to escalate and involve the government, which brings us to my next point. #2 We know how easy it is for the government to get the wrong advice and before you know it martial arts could be deemed a breeding ground for COVID-19. We could then be faced with a government directive to shut all schools. We need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances just as so many of you are doing right now. We don’t want to be in a position where the government thinks all we do is fight / spar and that’s too much close contact. We need to be able to show that we can operate without personal contact if we need to. We can say there are three levels of distancing in training: #1 Sparring / partner drills #2 Bag work with partners #3 Kata / forms – general warm ups / conditioning exercises My advice for coming months is reduce the time you spend with #1 and I know that might hard for grappling schools.

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