In response to President Trump’s new three phased initiative to reopen the country, Gracie Barra has prepared a blueprint for resuming classes at their locations around the globe. As we enter week four of the quarantine, many gyms facing economic distress have been seeking a way to reopen with minimal risk to students. These guidelines were posted to the various GB social media accounts and made available for download earlier today.
“The goal of Gracie Barra has always been the continuing of the sport,” said GB North America Executive-Director Flávio Almeida in an exclusive JJT interview. Switching to online-only in the early stages of the outbreak, GB has developed safety guidelines and home training tools for their members at home.
The first step, according to Almeida and head of GB school development David Weber, is passing gating criteria locally. Vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter and GB classes will continue to be held online while states determine the standards for reopening businesses. GB will tackle issues on a state by state, and county by county basis.
Next, GB will begin allowing no contact classes. Allowing a max of eight students per class, two instructors will take the class through positional drills and verbal instruction. Students will drill in 6×6 ft. squares, with 1,000 ft. of mat space allowing for eight students. All classes will still be live streamed for at risk students confined to their homes. Also, students will be asked to arrive in uniform or change in their cars.
Each student will be asked to bring in a homemade grappling dummy to utilize during training. Several GB schools have put out grappling dummy tutorials on their channels, and other black belts like JJT podcast guest Dr. Rhadi Ferguson have done the same.
Depending on new information as it comes out, this phase could last up to four weeks according to Almeida. As the situation improves, partner drilling will be re implemented in a limited capacity. Students are to pair up in drills and remain with that same partner for the duration of phase three. These pairs will still drill in the isolated cubes, but class sizes will double as a result. Live sparring will be allowed between partners.
Sanitation protocols have been increased to better combat bacteria. Gyms are to be aerated multiple times per day by opening windows, and mats are to be cleaned with other highly trafficked areas at a greater frequency. The standard flip flop rule is also to be enforced to a more strict degree.
As all of this unfolds, star GB athletes like the Estima brothers and Felipe Penahave stepped in to lend a hand. “A lot of them are doing online classes, and engaging with our students worldwide,” Almeida said. While safety is paramount, GB has made a large effort to maintain the social aspect of their gyms. Zoom hangouts hosted by franchise owners keep them tied to their communities, and updates are constantly posted to social media. “These basic protocols are really good for the industry to study, debate, improve and finally UNITE in order to keep serving our amazing students’,” said Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhaes.
“All it will take is two or three outbreaks in gyms for there to be a crisis,” Amleida said. By making their initiative public, Gracie Barra hopes to keep infection down in the martial arts community as a whole.
The Jiu-Jitsu Times will follow the response to COVID-19 as the situation develops.