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Anita and Nathan in their BJJ uniforms

Community Through COVID

With the academies closed due to COVID-19, we’ve all been adjusting to a new way of living. Finding ways to keep up on our training can be a challenge, but luckily, it’s 2020 and we are the Zoom generation! It’s been incredible to see the whole world quickly pivot to virtual interactions in recent weeks. Everything has become a video call, from elementary school classrooms to work meetings to happy hour with friends. The fitness and martial arts industries are no exception, and as of Monday, April 6th, Easton Training Center’s live Zoom classes are available seven days a week throughout the closure. You can check out our virtual resource hub for schedules, technique videos, and more.

One of the more surprising things about the quarantine lifestyle is that it has the potential to broaden our horizons and strengthen our relationships even while it confines us to our homes. The martial arts community is strong and welcoming, and in the age of the Internet, we can use this time of crisis as a catalyst for connection. One such new connection to our Easton family is a black belt from the other side of the country.

The Lam-Wright family at Nathan's promotion to yellow-white belt.

Professor Anita Lam-Wright’s home academy is Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Rockland, a Renzo Gracie affiliate academy in Nyack, NY. Like the academy’s owner, Professor Omar Jimenez, Anita got her start at the flagship Renzo Gracie Academy in Manhattan before moving to the northern suburbs where she now lives with her family. Her son Nathan is 10, and he holds a yellow-white belt in BJJ.

I spoke with Anita on the phone, and she says that she and her family are an active bunch, so they’ve been making movement a prioirty. Going for walks, riding their bikes, and doing kettlebell workouts, pad work, and Jiu Jitsu drills with Nathan in what she affectionately calls their “hojo” or home dojo. “I’m lucky to have a 10-year-old training partner,” she says. She’s also been practicing Ginastica Natural, a dynamic system of movement drills based on BJJ, and utilizing Professor Renzo’s online Gallerr Academy.

Anita’s husband Jeff in a recent bike race.

Like many of us, Anita has taken to the web to find resources for staying active in quarantine. While browsing Instagram recently, she came across the live Tigers BJJ classes hosted by Coach Jaymin Bagley and Professor Nick Reid on Zoom. In her search for online content, Anita says she hasn’t found many BJJ classes that aren’t behind a paywall or reserved for members only. And even fewer resources for kids. So she and Nathan were excited to be able to join in on the Easton class.

Though she teaches kids’ BJJ at their academy, she’s finding that with the addition of homeschooling to her regular mom life, it’s nice for the two of them to add in some variety by having a class to attend. “It’s something to look forward to,” she says. And she’s getting ideas to launch her own online classes for the kids of Rockland. “The kids need it so badly…it’s good for them to see their friends on the screen.”

Easton's live BJJ class for kids on zoom

Anita says she and Nathan weren’t sure what to expect at first, but she’s realized that it’s not so different from visiting another academy while traveling. They’re enjoying the technique drills, Coach Jaymin’s Mat Chats, and the fact that class etiquette is still upheld in the virtual setting. For them, the live class format is great because they like getting feedback from the instructors, and it’s nice to feel connected–being part of something despite being isolated. “You guys are doing a good service to the BJJ community, especially making it available to everyone,” she says.

Anita Lam-Wright and Kay Stephenson
Professor Anita Lam Wright with Professor Kay Stephenson (Renzo Gracie’s first female black belt), who is a nurse serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. Thank you, Professor Kay!

Our hope is that our live classes will continue to be a helpful resource for our Easton community, as well as our wide-reaching martial arts family, to get through this challenging time. And when this is all over, we hope to see Anita and Nathan on the mats at Easton for a visit!

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