Hi everyone, I cannot believe it has been 6 months since our last communication.
We hope and pray that you and your families have stayed well and are coping with this dreadful pandemic.
Sadly the Fellowship family has endured some tragedies during this time and our hearts and thoughts go out to them and their families.
The Executive have been working with the British Aikido Board to get some semblance of Aikido running again and on two occasions we were expecting to announce something to you only to be thwarted by Government changes in rules for “sports” such as ours.
However I am pleased to confirm we are seeing some light and with vaccines on the way too, we are positive that we will be able to get Aikido up and running again fully at some point in 2021.
In the meantime, we have been working on an interim solution which, subject to the new tier rules, we are hopeful that most students will be able to partake in.
The BAB has managed to gain approval to a contact-free form of Aikido to take place in COVID-secure conditions indoors.
Sensei Dominic Foster has kindly accepted the role as our Covid-19 Officer and with Sensei Holden, we have worked diligently to pull together a practical operational model for The Fellowship together with a teaching syllabus that fits within the rules.
Our main challenge has been the COVID restrictions at our venues and mat sizes which need to be adequate to allow for the social distancing rules required.
Regrettably, the Universities simply are not allowing us to operate at this time which means Birmingham and Wolverhampton will not be available to us in 2020.
We continue to work with these venues for 2021 bookings and will inform you when we have some firm dates set up.
On the bright side, we are very optimistic that we WILL be having a Summer School, in whatever form possible in 2021!
Contact-free Aikido at Fleet:
The great news is that Sensei Foster has been successful in securing a suitable venue (Maida Gym) in Aldershot, Hampshire and will be starting our first Covid-Secure Aikido classes (Fridays and Sundays) after lockdown 2.
Everyone is welcome (see Fleet Aikido Club web site for details) but you will need to renew your membership if expired (either contact the Secretary before or you can pay and renew when you arrive for your first class).
Also please check with Sensei Foster before you travel as class numbers are restricted under COVID rules.
We were hoping to arrange a work-shop at Maida Gym before Christmas but lockdown 2 put paid to that but we will look to arrange this in the new year if Birmingham University is still out of bounds.
Sensei Holden and I plan to periodically visit on Sunday mornings so if you are permitted to travel safely and support the club, please do so.
ZOOM Meetings & Webinars
Video meetings and webinars are now becoming the norm and at least a great way for us to get together “virtually” to talk Aikido and keep in touch.
I am pleased to confirm that the Fellowship has invested in a zoom license which enables us to hold meetings with up to 100 callers.
We will therefore be setting up a series of meetings, drop-in chats, webinars to keep us connected and involved. They cost you nothing and hopefully will set us all up ready for getting back to “Aikido new norm” as soon as we are able.
The first meeting of all members is on Sunday 29th November at 10:30.
Contact the Aikido Fellowship Secretary for the meeting invite and instructions on how to download and use Zoom if you do not have these details already.
At the meeting I will cover a lot more but more importantly it is a chance for a chat, hear how things are going for you and get your input into the types of topics to cover on our webinars, best times for calls etc.
We are aware that a number of you were due to take your gradings this year before the pandemic hit.
We have decided that we do not want anyone to lose out due to COVID, therefore we are prepared to arrange assessments for those of you who wish to take this option.
You will need to provide an email to the Aikido Fellowship Secretary summarising your current grade, when last awarded, how much practice (including events) you had put in since your last grading and why you feel you are ready for promotion.
We will seek your instructors support and arrange a half hour Zoom interview with me, Sensei Holden, Sensei Foster and your instructor. Normal fees will apply. Certificates will be posted to you.
Fellowship Membership Fees
All memberships were frozen since lockdown 1.
When you decide to start practicing again (including contactless classes and events) you will need to renew your membership if expired.
We do not want anyone to lose out due to the pandemic so have agreed that any unexpired portions of membership from the date of lockdown will be taken into account when you next renew your membership. Therefore if you have 4 months unexpired membership since lockdown, your next renewal fee will be charged at 8 months with a 12 month expiry date.
Hopefully this makes sense but Sensei Holden and Sensei Foster will be able to explain individual costs when you renew.
The cost to the Fellowship is around £500 but we voted to agree the loss as we feel we can weather the storm next year.
That’s all I need to report here but really would like to chat to you all and provide more insight into the way forward on the Zoom call on the 29th so would be great to see you if you can make it.
As always we are open to any questions via email to the Secretary should you have any and keep watching the web site for updates we hope may be more regular going forward.
On behalf of the Committee thank-you for your ongoing support and best wishes for good health and happiness to you and your families during the coming months.