By Joseph Cantu
Special to the PRESS
As we start to see public restrictions being lifted and adjusted to get the economy going again industry leaders from hair salons to hotels are volunteering and being asked by civic leaders to share their best business practices regarding customer safety and confidence during this unprecedented time. Across the country some businesses have already folded, some entrepreneurial dreams crushed, families have lost loved ones and millions of lives have been changed.
Our industry has been hit hard. Yes as martial arts fans, instructors and athletes we can’t stand not doing what we love. Some of us don’t agree with each other on COIVD-19 health/political issues but we share much more in common especially in jiu jitsu. We want our lives back and we live for the training.
Can we go right back to training as before? Yes and there are some out there who have still been training. All of us would rather not be closed or be told that we have to open up gradually. The truth is more likely that a face to face/physical contact business won’t be the first to open, whether we like it or not!
In Texas, for the most part, the martial arts industry is pretty much unregulated. Martial Arts schools with after school/transport programs are still able to side track the daycare loops, and unless you’re doing an MMA bout or putting on an ammy (amateur tournament) or pro show, there is no regulation prohibiting anyone from training, competing, opening a school or teaching.
Let’s keep it that way. It would behoove us to keep a high standard and accountability for our industry to avoid legislation and government intrusion. How can we do that?
We can start by sharing what we believe can or should be “best practices” for martial arts schools opening again in our communities during this pandemic. We may not need it. Just like I’d rather have my guns and not need them than need them and not have them – let’s take the lead.
We can make our own, share or maybe even have a general working plan for the RGV. Once you have your new guidelines, I highly recommend you contact your mayor or county judge to volunteer these “best practices.” It will not only help now but can lead to long lasting beneficial relationships in your community. Certainly, it will show our industry is ready and cares.
Here is what I am providing my local and county leaders:
Recommended Best Practices for opening up BJJ/MMA schools
- First and foremost cleaning and disinfecting protocols should be developed, implemented and posted.
- Disinfect all mats and training surfaces before and after each class
- Wash hands before and after class.
- Masks are optional but recommend and all students should bring their own sanitizer.
- No spectators in class. Parents can watch from outside training area provided they can also comply with social distancing guidelines
- Limit contact of any surfaces by:
Making sure you go to the restroom before or after class.
Place your towel, water bottle, etc on the edge mat or within reach of the edge.
- Limit exposure for first 2 weeks – 4 weeks by:
Have students reserve their class spot.
Limit class size depending on mat space.
Having kids and adults in the same class.
Have shorter class durations. Ex; three 30 minute classes or two 45 minute classes.
If available, use grappling training dummies.
Supplement curriculum with online training.
- For the safety of all coming back to training, consider drilling for at least 2-4 weeks with NO or little contact.
- Continue to follow social distancing guidelines as well as any local, county or state mandates.
It would be great if everything was normal again. Let’s get there from here. I hope all our martial art schools in the RGV community are safe, healthy and ready to bounce back!