The owner of a Keizer ATA Martial Arts is changing the way the studio does business during the COVID-19 pandemic, and opening up some classes to anyone who wants to participate online. 

Carson Clews, owner of the dojo since 2016, said he’s turning what was once an in-person, group activity into an online experience he wants to share with the wider community. 

“The thing about martial arts is that it’s a progression,” Clews said. “All the students – no matter their age – want to move up to the next belt, but it means they need feedback that helps them get there.” 

Clews and his fellow instructors began offering classes via Zoom.us, a video conferencing site, shortly after bans on large groups were put in place. Students would tune in and perform skills while Clews watched and provided guidance. 

“I was worried that it wouldn’t be the same for me or the students, but we started getting really good feedback from our families,” he said. “The students are still developing skill competence even though we had to change the class space.”

While students can’t necessarily work with a heavy punching bag or spar with other students, Clews guides them through the same routines.

Now, those interested in sampling the studios lessons can participate for free by visiting the Keizer ATA website, keizerata.com, and clicking on the virtual martial arts option. Signing up will also result in getting text message reminders when classes are about to begin. 

Any new students, ages 4-6, can participate Monday through Wednesday from 5:30 to 6 p.m. or Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 4:30 p.m. Free family lessons are available Mondays and Wednesday from 6:45 to 7:15 p.m. or Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:20 to 5:50 p.m. 

Participants are encouraged to clear as large a space as possible and wear loose clothing that allows for a variety of movements. 

Current students are still expected to wear their uniforms and online attendance counts toward their belt progression. 

“We wanted to offer this to the wider community to help them get in some movement when they are more or less stuck at home,” Clews said. “Our goal is to come out of this pandemic stronger than ever and to show everyone that through adaptability and innovation, there is a light at the end of this very dark tunnel.”