Taking it online – even the fullest of contact sports is finding virtual ways to keep on training

Gracie Barra Hastings, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy, is still managing to put on a full schedule of classes – despite the Coronavirus lockdown writes Rob Griffin.

The innovative martial arts school uses Zoom to teach ten sessions-a-week and makes them all available offline to members who are unable to watch live.

Head instructor Paul Bridges, who is broadcasting from his lounge with wife Ali, who is also an experienced BJJ black belt, said the art was all about overcoming obstacles. 

“It has been important for us to teach classes from home to stay connected with our students and enable them to continue learning,” he said. 

The pair are hosting sessions six-days-a week and looking to cover as much of the Gracie Barra Jiu Jitsu curriculum as possible.

These include classes for Gi, Nogi, street self-defence, kids, and catch wrestling, as well as concept tutorials to help students understand particular moves.

The club have even put together instructional videos on how to make ‘grappling dummies’ from martial arts clothing and pillows for those without training partners at home.

However, the process has presented plenty of challenges. For example, certain techniques, such as takedowns, obviously can’t be taught due to safety reasons.

“Teaching from home is tough as we are a contact sport and part of the experience is working within a group,” explained Bridges. “We’ve also needed to consider techniques that can be drilled solo or with grappling dummies as some students don’t have training partners.”

While it’s not yet clear when martial arts schools will re-open, GB Hastings is working on a plan to be able to deliver training sessions that comply with social distancing measures.

“As soon as we are allowed to open, we will do so and implement whatever measures are necessary to keep our members safe,” added Bridges.

The academy caters for all ages – members range in age from three to 78-years-old – and focuses on both sport and self-defence techniques.

If you are interested in finding out more information then ring Bridges on: 07967 659867 or visit www.graciebarrahastings.com.

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