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Corona, karate and Itosu-kai Denmark


Itosu-kai Denmark teaches karate outside during the pandemic.



A status from Bosatsu in Copenhagen


In Denmark people started talking about COVID 19 in february this year. At first, the virus

seemed far away, and was the cause of little, if any, alarm. But as reports of the virus

spreading in Italy started coming in, the board in Bosatsu decided to take the necessary

precautions. We decided on a limit to how many students each room in our dojo could

accommodate, how parents should act once they had dropped off their kids, which classes

we would have to postpone or even cancel, and how to raise the level of hygiene in the club.

Everything was in place. The plan was clear. Or so we thought.


Lockdown

The very next evening - March 11th, the Danish Prime Minister held a press conference. She

announced that major parts of the country would be under lockdown, effective immediately.

All the plans we had just made went out the window. The club was closed. All classes were

canceled. Initially for two weeks, but it quickly became clear, that this would be extended

indefinitely.


The lockdown meant cancellations all over the place. All national tournaments were either

postponed or cancelled, including the Danish National Championships, where all three

Danish Itosukai clubs had high expectations, coming off good results in the last year. At

Kaizen Karatedo in Kolding, they were sadly also forced to cancel their own Doryoku Cup.

Cancellations weren’t only national, though. Sensei Michael Andersen (Bosatsu) and Sensei

Tejs Damkjær (Dragør) were both supposed to travel with the Danish national team to the

European Championships in Azerbaijan, but this too was cancelled.

The board got together (virtually), and set things in motion in order to inform the members

about the new reality. But we also decided, that we should look into any and all opportunities

for keeping the club alive, and making sure that we had something to return to, after the

crisis.


Planning ahead

In the beginning of the lockdown, training was not an option. Instead we spent time setting

new goals for the club, and defining values and visions for where how we want to see

Bosatsu developing. We rarely have time for these reflections in an otherwise busy

schedule, but lockdown gave us the perfect opportunity for important discussion, that will

hopefully pave the way for an even stronger club in the years to come.

Also, we decided to keep our students motivated by posting daily drills on instagram, and

encouraging them to share videos of their home training sessions.


A window of opportunity

After the first couple of weeks on lockdown, following the restrictions from our national

authorities, we discovered the possibility of doing outdoor training sessions in small groups,

with ample distance. We decided to try it out - at first we let our competition team meet up

and train together. Obviously, sparring was not an option, but drills, physical training and

cardio made sense, and the students were thrilled to meet up and train together. It was an

immediate success.

The clubs in Dragør and Kolding also quickly got started on outdoor training, so the entire

Danish Itosukai family soon got back on their feet after a devastationg blow. In Dragør they

even managed to involve the youngest students in the outdoor sessions.


Expanding the activities


We quickly began adding more classes to the outdoor plan. Kids, youths and adults all

signed up for park training, and even though it presents an extra workload to the instructors

(we have a maximum of 9 students pr. group - by law), everyone in and around the club is

happy to take part.

Eventually, we were also able to provide training for the toddlers, and our kumite competition

team have just been allowed to do light sparring. So at this point, more than half the students

in the club train in the park, training is scheduled for 5 times a week, and even though it is

different, we are enjoying every minute of it.


A different kind of belt test

These activities also mean that we will be able to stick to our plan of doing a big belt test in

June, although it might have to happen in the park instead of the dojo.

It will be different and challenging to our students, but it will also be a test they will never

forget.


Michael Andersen

The Chief Instructor

Itosu-kai Denmark




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