Karate is now closed until 2021. A crazy year in the rear view mirror

Seasons greetings to all the families of Red Tiger Karate Club. We have made it through to the end of 2020! What a huge sigh of relief! 2020 has certainly been an unforgettable one. There have been plenty of ups and downs and one things for sure, the majority of us will be glad to see the back of it! What a stinker!

Classes restart again on Monday 4th January 2021, although we have decided to leave it another week and await guidance before opening bookings for January.

This year has been enormously challenging for all local sports clubs (not just karate clubs). Tough decisions have had to be made that have affected all of our families, livelihoods, venues and our community. We have faced all challenges head on and done our absolute best to keep you informed and provide you with high quality karate tuition in the safest possible way.

We have moved our lessons online and catered for all grades and abilities. We’ve done a parents class and inspired a whole new set of students who now have made karate a big part of their life. They are feeling the benefits, found new friends and are on that road to Black Belt. Our Cadets stepped up to teach lessons during the day and provide specialist classes in the evenings. Lola and Kyle Girault, Amy O’ Donovan, Jaime Pratley, Grace and Izzy Baron and Molly Austin, you are all superstars.

We have adapted to ZOOM and provided hundreds of online lessons so that we can play our part in keeping you all safe at home. It is daunting to be responsible for the safety of so many, so if you feel we have been over cautious this year, then we apologise. But we have done it for you.

We’ve moved our lessons back into the dojo and adhered strictly to the EKF guidance. The way our lessons have been run, I believe it is as safe as you possibly can be outside of your own home. You have all complied with the rules and co-operated fully. Even our smallest Tigers have adapted extraordinarily.  It’s been different but SO UPLIFTING to see all of your lovely faces and teach you in person again.

Even if we have to stay in our own box with our shoes on and we can’t hit each other anymore. It’s different but we still love it. We are together. It’s still karate. It still keeps your body fit and your mind strong. There is nothing like the feeling of other peoples energy in the dojo. I have to say I am missing the parents though! Cannot wait to have you all back.

In the dojo or on ZOOM, I’m pleased to say that plenty of progress has been made. There have been some tremendous Guest Instructors to learn from; including several JKS Hombu Dojo instructors, Karate Legends Matt Price Sensei and Junior Le Fevre Sensei and most recently future Olympian Joe Kellaway Sensei. As Sensei’s, we’ve had the chance to get to know students we wouldn’t normally get to teach and I feel as a Club we have all grown closer. We’ve also worked together and learned from each others different teaching styles and methods.

It’s all personal growth and time very well spent. When all we’ve had is time, it’s been great to spend it ZOOMING with each other.

We have done Kyu gradings online, held Grace Barons Kata Competition, sent out plenty of prizes and medals and just last weekend; done our Student of the Year Course online – how crazy is that? Our students have been there every step of the way, enthusiastic, patient and always eager to learn. Our job is easy because you guys are a pleasure to teach.

The parents have also been amazing. I know this year hasn’t been easy to keep up with the changes, how to book onto classes, when you can book and how to get links but you have all been enormously supportive and patient with us. We know that many of you have struggled to get your children to continue to persevere with their karate and we are so glad you have.

We thank you for this and the online system will get simpler, once we can cater for more students in classes, I promise. You won’t have to log in and out of different accounts, it will all be much more convenient. Whilst we have to strictly limit places etc. the system will remain ‘as is’ for the first few months of 2021 I’m afraid.

We are so GRATEFUL for each and every one of you that has supported our Club this year. Our Instructors – your positivity, adaptability and enthusiasm in the face of such adversity has been incredible. We appreciate each and every one of you, including those who are closing the year out no longer teaching. You will always be made most welcome to return. Without your courage and passion for what we do, we would have no Club. Each and every one of you have made a valuable contribution and your loyalty will never be forgotten.

When people mention Paul and I and thank us for all we do, I just have to say that without all the Instructors, we just couldn’t and wouldn’t want to do any of it. Without the constant support of our team and especially Mike and Leesa Sensei who are ALWAYS there for us, it just wouldn’t have been possible. We are so lucky to have them. Two nicer people you cannot meet. They are always offering their help, support, covering classes, listening, advising, kicking our backsides, settling our arguments, making us laugh our heads off, our Club wouldn’t be the amazing place it is. Working with them is a pleasure.

Helen Dolan Sensei and Debbie Carter Sensei have also stepped up for us big time. The administration that has gone into the ZOOMING, navigating the new online system and managing the class bookings system has been an enormous task, too great for one person and they have helped me so much. Thank you both.

Our Assistants and Cadets have also been incredible this year. Thank you all. Your hard work and commitment will be rewarded.

Although there have been many moments of enjoyment this year, we know there have been plenty of our families affected by the Virus. Those who have suffered loss in any shape or form, we send our condolences and you are always in our thoughts. Things may get worse before they get better, but get better they will. It cannot rain forever! To those battling with their health, we send you strength and love.

There is plenty to look forward to in 2021 and I for one can’t wait to get back in the dojo already. We’ve new license books to issue, new Kyu grading certificates and so many great plans. The Squad will be reformed and we will get the BLACK BELT GRADING done.

Enjoy the rest everyone, eat, drink and be merry and we can work it all off in January!

Stay safe and stick to the guidance. We look forward to seeing you all back on Monday 4th January and onward.

From our family to yours,

Have a good one 🙂

Paul Sensei, Rachael Sensei and our mad kids – Dexter and Spencer x

P.S. Thank you for all the pressies and cards, they are much appreciated.