The dojo is closed for now, but karate lessons press on.
The novel coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has put a halt to many organized recreational activities, but Wesley Chapel-based Keiko Shin Karate Academy has found another way to keep members sharp, while staying home — via virtual classes using the Zoom online video conference platform.
Sensei Ernesto Fuentes now is offering virtual karate lessons from the Keiko Shin Karate Academy in Wesley Chapel. Fuentes opened the academy about 15 years ago. (Courtesy of Keiko Shin Karate Academy)
Many Keiko Shin students find themselves training in their living rooms. Others find enough space in their bedrooms, backyard or lanai.
Even Sensei Ernesto Fuentes, who operates Keiko Shin, makes it a point to change up his own backdrop when facilitating karate activities and workouts to students.
Though it’s not quite the same as the traditional Keiko Shin dojo on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, students make do to practice katas and kick-punch combinations.
“Our kids are so dedicated that they made room, they found room,” Fuentes said. “They moved some furniture, and you’d be surprised to see how much space they have.”
The online classes have been continuing for the past month or so, around when the Pasco County School Board suspended all in-person school events and extracurricular activities until at least May.
To Fuentes, the virtual offerings help maintain students’ progress in achieving their karate goals, also keeping them active and motivated.
“We train hard. Virtually or no, we do train hard,” said Fuentes, who started the academy 15 years ago. “Parents are happy to not see their kids sitting on the couch, playing video games.”
Even in cyberspace, the academy has maintained a full schedule, Monday through Friday.
Keiko Shin karate students practice forms and techniques from the comfort of their homes. (Courtesy of Keiko Shin Karate Academy)