#SupportLocal: Hard work perseverance is key to Newcastle Dojo

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By Maurice Garvey

LOCKDOWN restrictions chopped the number of people allowed to attend karate and martial arts classes, but one Dojo in Newcastle is getting to grips with the challenge.

Newcastle School of Karate kickstarted Zoom classes to keep their students engaged during the early restrictive phase of Covid-19, and have recently put on extra classes during the week to adhere to social distancing.

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The Newcastle School of Karate facilities

“Keeping their interest was vital so our Zoom classes online was a big help, it gave them something to look forward to each night,” said Sean O’Brien, who opened the Newcastle dojo 10 years ago.

“We lay on more classes to comply with the rules within our clubs. It is now down to 6/8 students per class, no one-on-one training (fighting). We implemented new sanitising stations, plus all students temperatures are taken on entering the premises.

 

We will not be attending competitions home or abroad. Covid-19 has made things very difficult for everyone in sport and in life in general and not just us.”

Another challenge was the rent on O’Brien’s new premises needed to be paid each month but with no students attending class there was no funds coming in.

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The Newcastle School of Karate facilities

“Luckily our landlord was very helpful and worked with us through the renovation of the club and helped us out each month. Many thanks to Salus Training Services Newcastle and Hydrojet Services Newcastle for their support.”

Sensei O’Brien, a Chief Instructor of WMAI Wado Martial Arts Ireland and President of AMA Ireland attributes his success to “hard work, perseverance and students that stand by you and believe in you.”

“Also a wife that backs you and supports you through thick and thin for over 40 years plus never letting go of your dreams no matter how long it takes you.”

WMAI Newcastle School of Karate caters for boys and girls aged six and up, and also train veterans.

The Dojo has three fully qualified instructors including O’Brien, and up to 35 students. They also have a Child Protection Officer and a Garda Vetting Officer within the association.

“We provide and have Karate classes four nights a week Mon-Tues-Wed-Friday for Juniors and Seniors and all classes are full from beginners to seniors - we also have a club in Rathangan Co. Kildare on a Thursday evening from 6.30pm to 8pm,” said O’Brien.

Sensei O’Brien praises the community spirit attached to the club.

“No matter what I ask, people are willing to give a hand and at the same time everyone is there to learn and progress in class and in life,” he said.

“At this point I am just concentrating on our new premises in Stone Manor House Taye Lane Newcastle and hopefully in the next few months the Covid-19 pandemic eases for everyone and we can get back to some kind of normality.

“I am also working on two new events for the new year - WMAI 4 Nations Karate Championships and the WUKF Professional Karate Gala will be live streamed to the world.

We will have a world title up for grabs and a world title defense along with four other fights on the night and I am working on trying to get the World Champion and 2021 Olympic Challenger from France, Mr Christophe Pinna, to come out of retirement and fight at our Professional Karate Gala.

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