Remote Dojo Learning – How’s it Going?

It’s obvious to say that we’ve all been impacted by the Covid epidemic in some shape or form. Our personal lives have been disrupted, plans changed or even cancelled, and social norms altered.

Our dojo has had quite a change in the way we’re trying to stay current in our training, retain membership, and even encourage new people to join. When the epidemic hit and we were forced to terminate training as a group, we started to explore the virtual options available. Zoom became our go-to for virtual meets and all members of the dojo were tasked with finding and sharing creative ways to continue their training, either physically or mentally.

We continued meeting virtually at least once a week, with a designated leader and a rough agenda. Some of the topics we covered over a period of a couple months included:

  1. How much Covid sucks and how our lives are impacted
  2. Tricks and techniques for studying at home with limited space and low ceilings
  3. Concepts, terminology, history of the art and budo in general
  4. Video watch and then critique of students and instructors
  5. How much Covid sucks and how our lives are impacted

We had some really great classes!

It wasn’t a substitute for in-person learning, but WAS a good practice in “mitori-geiko” or learning through watching. It WAS a good practice in critical thinking and the use of video to see mistakes we make but are unaware of. It WAS a good practice in learning some of the key philosophical concepts in Japanese swordsmanship.

And it WAS a great way to stay connected with the people you know and love in the dojo.

I learned how to use a FedEx envelope under my knee to practice sliding through furikaburi on carpet. I learned how to adapt with a kodachi bokuto when the ceilings were low and still be able to do at least the basic patterns and kata. I learned how to drop and rise more gracefully while performing the Omori-ryu chiburi. Lots of great stuff that was ALL contributed by students!

I think we under-utilize our students in our dojo classes, and now I’m going to have to re-think how to better utilize their creativity and ideas where appropriate.

Now we’re back in the dojo, though in much smaller numbers. We’re still utilizing Zoom in our practice and want remote members to continue to join and learn – even if it is a form of mitori-geiko. The challenges with the online learning is that we’re not able to easily view and offer feedback for those who actually are moving through the kata and physically practicing in some space of their own. That’s something we’re going to have to do some serious consideration and adapt until we’re ALL back in the dojo.

We’re actually opening enrollment again too! I’m cautiously excited to see how this works with instruction of new people while maintaining the appropriate distance, and with fewer in-person senpai to assist. Can a virtual senpai be utilized for new beginners? Good question.

It is a brave new world, and we’ll just have to adapt!

“We don’t want to change. Every change is a menace to stability.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

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