Kickboxing academy ready for take-off after Covid-19 battle
- Credit: Daniel Mason/Archant
A world martial arts medallist forced to launch his kickboxing academy more than a year later hopes his fighting background can help his business grow even stronger.
Stuart Harris was due to open RKA Kickboxing Academy in March last year but was forced to delay the launch because of the first Covid-19 lockdown.
“We were painting the walls just before the mats went down and my wife phoned and said ‘have you heard the news?’ I said no, so she said the country goes into lockdown,” he said.
“To be used to teaching in person and the way you can interact with people, it’s totally different.”
Stuart, who previously ran four clubs in and around the Fens, runs RKA on Thorby Avenue with his daughter and two instructors as he wanted to encourage his daughter to take up martial arts.
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The 47-year-old has now since been able to arrange face-to-face sessions as well as online lessons, but not without its challenges.
“We moved our core students to online that transferred with us, and it’s very difficult to teach that way and keep people going, but we managed it,” he said.
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“Teaching online blows your mind sometimes. It’s difficult for the students, as an instructor, and you can’t fully see what they’re doing."
Since launching, Stuart has seen a two-fold increase in members, ranging from five to 58-years-old, and has overseen the progress of novices into world title contenders.
The former boxer has also improved his facilities thanks partly to a £2,500 support grant from Fenland District Council.
“Teaching martial arts is a dangerous hobby to get into, so when it comes to equipment, there’s no point buying cheap because it could damage and hurt people,” Stuart said.
“The most important thing is passing on the knowledge on martial arts and if people want to do it, we can help them on their journey.”
Stuart, who is coming out of retirement to fight for a British title in November, grew up in north London and learned self-defence from childhood.
It is this lesson, as well as never giving up, that he believes can help RKA grow as a staple of the local community.
“Coming from a fighting background, you’re not going to give up, you’re going to keep fighting and that’s what we’ve done,” he said.
“We’ve got to keep that impact going, making sure our classes are run professionally, making sure people are enjoying them.
“I think if we foresaw what was happening, would we have gone ahead? Probably not. But as we come out and start to move forward, I think it’s made us stronger.”
For more information on RKA Kickboxing Academy, visit: https://rkakickboxingacademy.co.uk/.