Today I would like to tell you a little bit more about my recently established Global Virtual Dojo of Traditional Karate. I would like to explain my motivation for embarking on this project, what I intend to achieve with it and basically what it is all about.As we are all very aware of, the world changed drastically and dramatically a little less than a year ago with the advent of the pandemic.
This also affected in a major way all Karate dojos and organizations all over the world and the resulting ‘knock-on’ or ‘after-shock’ effect in the global economy is bound to have a considerable influence on the way Dojo’s are going to operate in the near and distant future.
When the pandemic took off, global assumption was that it was temporarily and would blow over in a month or two’s time with a few countries being affected and that it would stay territorial in those few countries only.
A few medical experts worldwide warned that it could be more serious than perceived and that it could possibly escalate, but their concerns were met with skepticism, so to speak, by most governments and individuals – the common person simply did not conceive that it could be that serious or take on a permanent flavor.
But in a very short time it went global, affecting 90% of the countries in the world in different degrees of severity – and as we now realize, it is turning out to be one of the biggest and at the same time, deadliest in some cases, threats or disasters known to mankind over the past century.
When different countries went into a lock down to try and to contain the virus, South Africa was one of the first. We originally went into a three week lock down which eventually was extended to 8 weeks and then extended again.
It was a strange reality and also a bit traumatic as, all of a sudden, the global village as we knew, it ceased to exist and freedom of movement was restricted drastically.
Dojo’s were locked down, initially not a big concern, but as the lockdown was extended and extended, many instructors suddenly found themselves without an income – and we do not receive any form of financial support or compensation from our government in this country!
Unrestricted worldwide travel was put on hold and chaos ensued for many people – holidays were cut short, jobs were lost, families separated and on the Karate front, Gasshukus at all levels were cancelled and gradually, more and more Dojos were closed.
It was a surrealistic experience for most of us, but as the reality sunk in, we realized that we needed to continue our Dojo’s, which took years to establish! In my language, Afrikaans, we have a saying when things get rough ‘Maak ‘n Plan!’ which means, Make a Plan!
So I started – and got most of the South African Dojo’s to do the same – to use virtual technology, such as YouTube, Vimeo, but when it was evident that this is going to be a long term situation, Zoom, Skype, Google and others were utilized – quite a radical change from the traditional ‘in-Dojo’ situation in so many ways – the social aspects, the Student/Teacher relationship, the Sempai/Kohei relationship and most importantly, the Dojo ambiance of positivity. Also, the presentations taught on Zoom was still pretty much amateurish and not tying in with my ‘in Pursuit of Excellence’ mindset!
As an ex-schoolteacher before my full time Military career, I was pretty much aware of the shortcomings in the transfer of knowledge department with these amateurish Zoom classes. Again, we still had it in the back of our minds that this was a temporary measure, although the new reality was starting to filter through!
For myself, it was a time of serious personal introspection because of a few very important factors:
I do realize that the road ahead of me, is considerably shorter than the one behind me, and this comes with all kinds of reality checks!
One of the things that struck me in my life through the years, is the sadness and resulting insignificance when a prominent person in any sphere of life, overstays his or her welcome! It is indeed a life skill in my opinion to realize when to come and much more important – when to leave!
In life skill and management training courses in the Military, one of the most dangerous scenarios presented to one when doing planning and appreciations, is the example of two old generals from the previous war, sitting and discussing the previous war in order to plan the next one!
Nothing in future will be the same as yesterday, so you need to plan for tomorrow, using tomorrow’s possible scenarios and technology!
So, I understand it’s getting close to my time to ‘Go!’
In line with this I had already made an informal, unofficial decision to myself at the end of 2019, when I looked back on numerous trips through the year to Okinawa, USA, Europe, the UK, etc., that 2020 would probably be the last year of me travelling and teaching extensively internationally.
The effect of travelling and flying long distances had been taking a heavy toll on my body for some time now, and although I really took great care of myself and my body, time and tide waits for no man, and it definitely gets harder with age. I could either extend my own physical karate training a bit longer by not travelling, or I could start facing consequences which could cut short my own physical training career.
When one does not train physically yourself, the flame starts going dimmer and dimmer, it affects one’s passion and it will definitely also affect one’s teaching and transferring knowledge credibility eventually.
Over the years I have accumulated a following of serious, likeminded persons – mostly from the countries that I visited annually, but also amongst serious practitioners from all over, including other styles and organizations.
I feel that I still have a lot of knowledge to share to up and coming Karate Ka and would really love to share that knowledge and see the results manifests in my lifetime in addition to their own Sensei’s inputs in their home Dojo’s – it should be seen as an add-on to their existing Karate experience!
So how do I go about, without physically travelling to all corners of the world to teach, to still get to my objectives of sharing my knowledge and skills and opinions with serious Karate Ka?
As much as I hate technology – you will have noticed I am very rarely on social media – I realized that I would need to face up to this fear and become proficient in using technology otherwise, I will just be another Karate cowboy that faded into the sunset!
One of the lessons that was thumped into your head during my military days was not to try and reinvent the wheel! The wheel is there already – find out a way to use it to your advantage!
I then considered who I would like to reach, so to speak, and I realized that 60% of Karate Ka presently in the ranks of senior Kyu to Dan grades, were Generation X and later, totally familiar and comfortable with technology, as just paging through social media and audio visual platforms will prove and, as I often do sitting at airports – look at what people are doing while waiting for their flight – 99% were either on phones, tablets or computers, so proof that this was the way to go!
I also realized that simply presenting Zoom classes or Gasshukus, is a temporary arrangement and that a lot of the knowledge goes over the students heads because of sound problems, etc. These classes have more of an entertainment value to keep the interest, but eventually, the serious person is looking for something more substantial that makes sense to him or her!
I would thus need a more permanent platform, accessible from anywhere in the world, at any time, where I could display my knowledge by presenting properly manufactured and constructed classes to which members could have carte blanche access to use for self-training – the difference between this and an online Zoom class being, that they can pause, rewind and replay the classes to fully understand what is being taught at a time of their own convenience and which they could plan for themselves without interferences! For this there needed to be some kind of a Library!
Generation X and later persons are a lot more inquisitive than my generation was and they want to know things and they want clear answers, so it was logical to assume that they would probably also welcome an opportunity to communicate with myself on issues or questions that they have on all Karate related matter, so it was important to establish some kind of a Community forum for this with anytime access to the discussions via the Library.
But the most important factor was to keep intact and promote the real values and, the essence of the Martial Arts – this is difficult in an online class – one would need a more permanent platform for this.
After discussing with some of my students and with really creative and constructive inputs from my son – a very successful self-made businessman living in the USA known as the ‘Cashflow Ninja’ (google him), I decided on the Global Virtual Dojo for Traditional Karate where members will have anytime access to classes taught by me in my Dojo in a condensed form, as I explained previously, as well as having a communal forum once a month to discuss their questions and issues.
So, with the Global Virtual Dojo for Traditional Karate, I would like to leave behind a legacy of experiences, information, ideas, perceptions, opinions and history to future generations of serious Karate Ka to help them to plot their best road to pursuing their own excellence!
If you are interested in the Global Virtual Dojo, visit
Music by Basson Laubscher