Dojo re-opening at 12.01am on Friday!

Shaun Oneill


Shaun Oneill


THE Dojo Martial Arts & Fitness Centre will be reopening this Friday (July 10) - with their first session for adults kicking off at one minute past midnight!

Their members are so keen to get back that they could not wait a single minute longer!

Initially things will be very different in the centre.

With contact strictly limited - partner work for Ju Jitsu techniques will be off the table.

However, with mental health being top priority at the moment for everyone, management have got their heads together to plan a careful reintroduction for students: working from general fitness, mobility and strength exercises - to practicing solo weapons kata & shadow boxing.

The current centre is fortunately large enough to allow for students to be spaced with a full two metre boundary.

This will obviously mean much smaller class sizes but the team are working to supply more sessions (with a 15 minute interval for sanitation in between) to accommodate all their members.

Centre manager David Toney said they are moving all class payments to a monthly direct debit to avoid contact at pay point and to make enrolling quicker.

“My wife Anne came up with the solution to run entry like a car MOT system. We have a roller shutter door which we will lift up and we will have four volunteers at stations, and four smaller queues, under the roof, with spacing marked out.,” outlined David.

“Our coaches will take the kids’ name and spray their hands with sanitizer on entry, and the children will be guided to their personal mat, which is clearly coloured grey, with the surrounding mats blue.”

Guardian Sport asked if people may be fearful about coming back after such a long time and with Covid 19 still a threat?

“We want to make everything as easy as possible, especially for the children returning,” said Anne Toney.

“So we have given our governing body training to all volunteers. Part of this emphasises the need to ensure that children aren’t intimidated by the new measures.

“One of our coaches came up with a little ninja cartoon to help teach kids how they need to act - remembering to limit contact, not to touch their face, wash hands etc. because ‘Ninjas leave no trace!’”

Anne continued - “They are going to play a version of ‘The blue mats are lava’ to keep the kids motivated to staying in their personal space. Children learn best with play and having fun diminishes their fear, so we are hopeful parents will continue to place their trust in us.”

One of the parents contacted the Mayor of Mid & East Antrim, Cllr. Peter Johnston, and it is hoped he will be visiting this Thursday to see the new set up for himself.

The parent also nominated the centre’s volunteers to be commended for their efforts, particularly during lockdown.

She made special mention of Sensei Steve Meneely and Sensei Mikey Graham for their twice weekly Zoom sessions for children which parents found an absolute godsend.

Apparently the adults were not just so keen on having to take classes online & had been messaging constantly asking when they could get back on the mats.

So David’s brainwave was to come up with the Moonlit Training session!

It is certainly a new normal in these strange times but, as always,The Dojo appears to have come up with some creative ideas to ‘combat’ the issues they are facing.

We wish them well!

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