by Frank Silverman
As I write this column, I have to admit that although I’m well aware of the time — it’s just after 6 p.m. — I have absolutely no idea what day of the week it is. This means one of two things: Either I’m on an awesome vacation or we’re still in the middle of our country’s — actually, the world’s — battle with COVID-19, otherwise known as the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Doing what’s best for my family, my company, my community and our industry now means doing the opposite of what I’m used to doing. Instead of going to the office Monday through Friday like I’m used to, I’ll be staying home. My “shelter in place” will encompass this Saturday, when my school was supposed to hold a black-belt test that many students were looking forward to.
Days are fading into nights, and weeks are running together. I’m working in shorts and a T-shirt rather than my gi or my usual business casual attire. Instead of talking to MAIA members about how to grow their schools, I’m working with martial arts professionals and focusing on pure survival. Instead of having phone calls with my clients, I’m hosting Zoom calls and Facebook Live events detailing how to apply for disaster and payroll-protection loans.
This is a different fight than we’re used to, for sure! I never thought the bulk of my day would focus on coaching school owners through rent differing, loan forgiveness, payroll help and ways to get a banker to move just a little bit faster.
That said, there are some things I’m doing better than I have in the past few years. For example, I am always on time to dinner with my wife and two daughters. I replanted the horrible-looking plants out front — I seem to have some free weekends, so why not? Earlier this week, I played what surely was my first ever pre-breakfast game of UNO with my 8-year-old. I now sleep in until 8:30 a.m. (when reflexes don’t wake me up sooner) because I have no traffic to fight on my way to my new office: the kitchen table.
Yes, there will be some major consequences from these not-so-normal times and the new normal that’s sure to follow. There will be changes that we’ll need to endure for the rest of our lives and maybe even our children’s lives. It’s a tough time, no sugarcoating here. But we Americans are resilient. We martial artists are warriors. COVID-19 is no match for those two qualities. Long-term, we as an industry are here to stay. When we conquer this virus, our schools will be packed again.
This isn’t a fun time for anyone, but there are some opportunities to reconnect with family and spend time at home doing things you don’t normally do. Don’t lose your focus on your business; it needs your attention now more than ever. Do take advantage of the unique opportunities you may have.
On behalf of the Martial Arts Industry Association and our parent company Century Martial Arts, I wish you and your families a safe and healthy next few months. Before you know it, we’ll be kicking and punching each other, rolling around on the mat together and, most important, enjoying the arts — not only by ourselves but with our martial arts families.
To contact Frank Silverman, send an email to [email protected] Find him on Twitter and Facebook at @franksilverman.
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