by Kathy Olevsky
Over time, I’ve found that change is uncomfortable for me. I’m sure that many of you have experienced the same. When you become good at something and therefore successful, it’s hard to watch it all slip backward to the point where you have to start over.
Case in point: As a result of the stay-at-home orders, most martial arts instructors transitioned to online learning and teaching. I was in shock when I first realized that our once-thriving business would not be operating at a capacity even close to what it was pre-pandemic.
After the shock came the fear. How was my business of nearly 45 years going to survive this?
Finally came the research, the brainstorming and the planning. We vowed to do what it took to survive. We always had, and we always will. We are martial artists, and we know how to rise above. Everything is hard, but that doesn’t mean we quit. It means we work harder.
Now, months later, we still offer online instruction and have resumed some classes in our dojo. We’re not back to teaching 20-plus classes a day six days a week, but we are organizing more private lessons than ever before. We’re conducting outdoor classes for those who still don’t want to enter an enclosed space. We’re providing online instruction for those who still need to stay home. We’re striving to meet the needs of as many students as we can, rather than asking them to conform to our physical space the way we used to.
At the beginning of this column, I noted that I don’t like change. That’s because I like to be in control. I like the feeling of having confidence in my habits and my procedures. With COVID-19, it was hard to accept that I needed to change, but none of us had a choice. So we did it, and we turned to each other for help.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reviewing all the online training that Century Martial Arts has made available. Without even going to a martial arts convention, I got to train with Mike Chat, Apolo Ladra, Mike Lee, Martina Leal and others.
Furthermore, I participated in many groups on social media that continue to provide support and knowledge for their members, making it relatively simple to search for answers to any question. We all were forced to recreate our businesses, and almost everyone is open and helpful.
With COVID, we martial arts instructors were turned into white belts again, and we had to experience what they feel when they start class in our schools. We had to follow directions on new equipment. We had to set up new routines. We had to build a new knowledge base.
At this point, I think I might be a green belt. On my path to becoming a black belt on this new journey, I’ve learned to ask my clients what they need instead of dictating our program to them. I’ve learned that we can’t offer one choice anymore. If we want to grow back to anything close to what we were before the pandemic, we have to get comfortable with change and know that we’re simply in a learning process again.
With that in mind, I have a new mantra: Plan, set a schedule, adapt to changes and move forward.
To contact Kathy Olevsky, send an email to [email protected]
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