03:15PM, Tuesday 07 April 2020
Samurai Kickboxing UK, which was established in Cookham just over 10 years ago, has come up with a novel way to continue its classes for children by using the teleconferencing app Zoom.
The coronavirus pandemic meant that regular classes for the kickboxing group’s 500 plus students were no longer possible, but founder Matt Collins moved swiftly to ensure that students could continue working towards their grading and new belt exams.
Alongside instructors Alex and Kelly, Matt has been using the Zoom app to coach students in the comfort of their own homes, a little like the Body Coach Joe Wicks.
However, Matt, who now lives in Jersey, is able to interact with the children and the coaches are able to provide feedback on their technique. So far it’s proved to have been a big hit with the students and 80 per cent have managed to download the app and take part in the live sessions. The feedback has also been overwhelmingly positive.
Speaking about the switch to online classes, Matt’s sister Paula says the experience has generally been a positive one for all concerned. And she’s confident it will enable the kickboxing classes to be taken to a much wider audience.
“It’s something we had been thinking about doing, but because of what’s happened we’ve had to pull it out of the bag in a few days,” she said.
“We wanted to keep the classes going and have had loads of great feedback. There was an 80 per cent take up in the first week which we were blown away by.
“It did help that parents had already paid for the term, so in a sense it was a free offering. But we are launching our updated timetable for the children, based on their belt and age, and we’ve also merged with another company called Yoga Tonic in Cookham and we’re going to do online yoga kickouts. It’s really exciting and it’s something we’re relishing.
“It’s kind of like what Joe Wicks is doing, but he has no interaction. With Samurai you need to be able to see what the kids are doing. We use Zoom and can see a gallery of them across the top. All of the videos are live. So Alex might be running the class and Kelly will sit in and make sure the kids are doing things right. It’s like a host and a co host. It can be quite technical as you’d imagine, but for the four to six year olds there is a lot of game playing.”
Samurai have just launched April’s classes and have once again been pleasantly surprised by the numbers signing up. They’ll run through the Easter holiday period as they don’t want to lose momentum and the children are working towards gradings every couple of months so don’t want to fall behind.
“I think if they were to just drop it they’d fall behind,” added Paula. “The parents are also at home with their kids trying to find stuff for them to do. I watch my smallest doing his class and it’s just so good. They’re really engaged and do a lot of fitness as well as technique.
“Zoom is so straightforward and works well with large numbers. And it means we now have a massive reach potentially. We could reach further than Bucks and Berks and go out nationally hopefully. It’s small steps but we’re getting there.”
The feedback received by Samurai so far has been really pleasing. Below are a handful of comments from parents of children taking part in the online classes.
"Many thanks for a fabulous kickboxing session today. My daughter loved it and I think it was really nice and good for her to have some 'normality' in her day. (She did however do the class in an Elsa dress... we will be ready in Little Samurai outfit next time!!!) Thanks for getting it sorted so quickly."
"Thank you so much for setting up the online lessons. Both my boys were fully engaged for the whole lesson, which was fantastic."
"Absolutely fabulous guys. Thank you soooooo much. My son really enjoyed it."
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