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Scary times for local dojo, but they are not ready to quit

May 21, 2020   ·   0 Comments


While businesses around the province wait for the green light to re-open, there’s a lot of pressure on small business owners during the downtime.

Some enterprises will get the go-ahead earlier than others depending on the nature of the business and the amount of physical contact with the public.

As such, some sporting venues will likely be at the bottom of the list when it comes to getting the thumbs up to open their doors.

At Impact Martial Arts in Shelburne, physical contact is a part of the sport. The local martial arts school teaches Judo, which is all about self defence including grappling, throwing, and knowing how to fend off an attacker.

The studio opened in January with a lot of enthusiasm from students, however the COVID-19 pandemic brought a sudden stop to the classes at the Main Street location.

Dojo owner, Sensei Kyle Fegan, said he is doing everything he can to make sure the school can open as soon as possible while keeping in mind that Judo is a contact sport.

“It was startling, it was terrifying,” Sensei Fegan said of the sudden order to close the doors to the Dojo. “We completely shut down. As of March there was zero income coming in. I’m not one to charge my students if I’m not teaching. Because of the nature of the art that we teach, there’s not a lot we can do on social media or video. We tried a couple of videos but it’s not the same and certainly not worth charging students for. The fact that we still had to pay rent until the government finally gave a reprieve for that – that was little bit of help but we’re coming up on June, which will be the end of the third month, and there still doesn’t seem to be any end in sight for organizations like us. We’re very concerned. It’s very scary.”

Unlike most contact sports which have degrees of contact, Judo is a full on physical activity that requires two people in contact to train.

“Judo is very much an interactive sport,” Sensei Fegan explained. “As much as you’re fighting for yourself, you need a partner to fight to move your techniques along. As far as learning techniques and learning how to pull and move your opponent around, it’s not possible without resistance. I keep trying to reach out to our students and let them know we’re still here and we’re still fighting. We’re okay as long as we can get open soon, we’ll still be around.”

Because of the very nature of martial arts, Sensei Fegan thinks they will probably be allowed to open later rather than sooner.

“Realistically, I would expect we are going to be last, and I don’t fault anybody for that. It’s just the nature of what we do. I’m not willing to risk anyone’s health. I’m going to make sure this is taken care of and dealt with before we open. When we do get the green light, I plan on having wash stations or hand sanitizer readily available for any time students have any kind of interaction. We’re going to have to be religious about sanitizing before and after.”

Sensei Fegan said they are doing what ever they can to make sure they can re-open the Dojo safely and a soon as possible.

“It’s scary, but we’re fighting as hard as we can and we have no aspirations on quitting.”



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