Karate Classes Pivot Online

Mar 31, 2020

Students Alora and Caden Shirkey take an online class from Brian Mayes Karate safe at home.
Credit Randi B. Hagi

While businesses struggle to adapt to social distancing guidelines in response to COVID-19, one business in the Harrisonburg area -- Brian Mayes Karate -- is “pivoting” instead of “panicking.” WMRA’s Randi B. Hagi reports.

(L to r) Jarod Driver, Brian Mayes, and Matthew Heinemann teach to the camera.
Credit Randi B. Hagi

[sound of karate class]

Brian Mayes owns four karate studios in and around Harrisonburg.  He says the phrase “we don’t panic, we pivot,” has become their mantra in the last few weeks. They’ve moved their classes online, live streaming them four days a week and uploading them to an online library for students to access any time.

BRIAN MAYES: ‘Pivot’ was what we were working on in our five to six year old class the week or two prior to the mandatory closing. So we basically incorporated the ‘we don’t panic, we pivot,’ based on what they were working on during class. And it’s really stuck … for a martial arts technique it’s basically the way we turn, turn on the ball of our foot, to make sure that we can maintain balance and stay steady throughout the technique.

Mayes says that almost all of their 600 active members have kept up with the online classes: from three-year-olds to adults, and beginners to black belts. If they tune in live, through the Zoom platform, the instructors can see and interact with the students in real time.

Credit Randi B. Hagi

MAYES: They’re extremely grateful that we’re trying to keep some type of normalcy within the students’ lives right now. ‘Cause there’s so many changes for the kids, and also for the adults, that we want to try to keep everything as consistent as possible. Keep everyone really active, healthy, and staying connected.

And there are some benefits for students learning through video.

(L to r) Chris Seibert, Brian Mayes, Chad Miller
Credit Randi B. Hagi

MAYES: Once it’s recorded, they can actually go back and slow it down, look at the techniques that they really need, and kind of play it in slow motion, pause it, and go at their own pace.