Progress is Impossible Without Change

Out of every situation something comes up that can create an opportunity to run and hide or change for progress.

Back in March we were prepping for an exceptionally large graduation ceremony that we would host offsite at Hamilton District Christian High School. It was going to be amazing; all instructors were preparing for a special demonstration and we even had a group of black belt kids that were ready to perform. The goal was to wow and dazzle the crowds and show off our local martial arts talent. That week we had a big decision to make, do we move forward, or do we postpone the event? We made the difficult, but right decision to delay graduation and then we hunkered down into the middle of the pandemic.

That weekend was rather stressful, we ran classes up until Tuesday and then we made the difficult decision to close but it did not end there. We scrambled to create a digital platform for students where we would service them through virtual lessons as well as create a video curriculum library which is almost 120 videos at present. Kathy immediately crafted and mailed a letter with detailed instructions on how to access our new teaching method so that the students would not miss a beat.

Three days later we are up and running! But all the students that had already tested prior to graduation still had their belts were sitting here. Kathy put a lot of miles on her car that week and decided to visit each student and hand deliver their belts to them.

As the lessons went on and time past, we continued to try to provide every opportunity for the students to access the school. Birthday boards were delivered or picked up, STAR sheets were delivered in the mail, email and post after post inundated our student’s mailboxes. Then something magical happened June arrived; we could teach outside!

Again, at this point we had to decide, do we try to teach outdoor classes in the parking lot. We had no mirrors; we had no mats and what were we to do. It was blistering hot and at first it felt a little awkward but soon the students settled in. I know this may sound so cliché, but it became the new norm. In fact, it was rather exciting to finally see our students face to face as attitudes improved and momentum started to build.

Fast forward another month and then we were doing the same thing all over again and now we were running inside classes with some new rules and regulations to keep it safe. In my wildest dreams I never thought that we would be running three martial arts schools at once. It was virtual, outdoor, and indoor scheduled classes every day of the week. Sure, it was and still is a lot of work, but it’s been worth it! In fact, I would say the most enjoyable part of the past 18 years at First Choice Martial Arts has been the past few months when we finally got to see our students face-to-face again!

This has been really inspiring for me, my family as well as all our instructors and students at First Choice Martial Arts. Sure, this is not the plan, and I can guarantee there may be some more bumps in the road to come but we have come to embrace change and move forward. The alternative was to run and hide and I am glad that we have decided to navigate the difficult waters with great students like you.

We are in this together and progress is impossible without change.

Sensei Chris