'Staring at your screen...but kick and punch': Burke Karate Academy goes virtual

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By: Joey Lamar | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
April 21, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Social distancing has forced many local business to reinvent themselves, like Burke Karate Academy, who now holds all classes online.

On March 24, Burke's Karate held its first online class.

"We were not left with a lot of options with the virus impacting so many businesses," owner Russell Burke said.

Normally, the studio on Capital Circle NE would be filled with kids, but now they watch online.

Online viewers include Pete Knowlton, who is an instructor at the academy and does the classes with his two daughters.

"Kind of breaks up the day," Knowlton said. "You know, staring at your screen, this is an opportunity to get up and still look at a screen, but kick and punch."

After four weeks of online classes, Knowlton sees some advantages and disadvantages.

"You can do some of the things online and then practice them without everybody watching you," he said. "The hard part is trying to find enough space that you don't kick your friends or your cabinets or your cats or whatever is running around."

On the teacher's side, the biggest downside to Zoom classes is the loss of individual correction.

"Trying to address exercises and techniques that will benefit the group," Burke said. "If you have a student that is just at the house and you're not talking to that student, they are going to tune out."

In-person classes average 20 to 25 participants, but Knowlton says he has seen an increase in Zoom participation.

"As this has gone on longer and longer," Knowlton said, "More and more students have come and joined us."

Burke says the support they received from the parents has been tremendous and they will continue the Zoom classes for as long as guidelines require them.