Instructor Guide to Home-Safe Online Sanctioned Events

Effective September 1, 2020, the AJJF will begin the sanctioning of home-safe online events.

Home-safe: Event activities can be done in a home environment safely, without mats, without a live partner, and within limited space.

Online: Participants interact from separated locations, with the use of common technology.

Sanctioned Event: Endorsed by the AJJF, conforms to policy, and counts as a mat activity for black belt examination requirements.

Home Safe Activities

Home-safe: Event activities can be done in a home environment safely, without mats, without a live partner, and within limited space.

To be clear, instructors and participants should be prepared to follow these home-safe guidelines: no rolls/falls/dropping to the ground; need no more than about 6 x 6 feet clear, flat space; no drafting of non-jujitsu family members (or pets) to serve as uke; no mats needed.

Lesson Plan

As an instructor, you have many years of experience teaching and transmitting the concepts and skills of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu. You can envision a topic, step on the mat, size up the class and deliver a wonderful class.

Teaching in-person classes in your home dojo with ongoing students is different than teaching at an AJJF regional clinic or national convention. And that is different from teaching at a multi-style seminar with students who are skilled martial artists, but do not have Danzan Ryu experience.

Similarly, teaching jujitsu in an online format is different from teaching in-person. It is a challenge! It can be daunting. But is it also exciting to stretch your imagination to find brand new ways to share the arts you know so well. For example, a pool noodle is a simple prop that can simulate a partner’s arm or leg as you show a proper body position.

When teaching online, we cannot ignore the technology involved. The best way to ensure that you have your technology under control is to test it out ahead of time. Do a dry-run of your class with trusted colleagues who will give you honest and valuable feedback.

Network Connectivity

In simple terms, you want to make sure your computer or tablet has a strong enough network connection to send your awesome Danzan Ryu lesson out to the students who are watching online. It is a distraction when you are demonstrating a physical technique and your students see choppy movements and hear audio dropouts.

Here are some tips to make the most out of your home internet connection. If you have housemates, ask them to refrain from streaming video or using other network-intensive apps during your online class. If your device only shows a few bars of wifi signal strength, set up your teaching area closer to your wifi router. Close other apps on your device that may be competing for network bandwidth.

If you have a limit on the number of gigabytes of data on your wifi data plan, keep in mind that one hour of a zoom session can consume 1 gigabyte of data or more.

Device, Camera and Microphone

If feasible, plan to use a tablet, laptop or desktop computer as the device for your class. A smartphone screen may be too small to be your primary device while teaching.

Place your device on a stable, solid, stationary surface. If your device is bouncing around, the students will see an image of you that is bouncing around.

The built-in camera and microphone of your tablet or laptop may be adequate. A desktop computer will need the addition of a webcam (a camera/microphone that connects to your desktop computer).

Your Lighting and Space

Set up a space where you have good lighting and enough clear space for any demonstration of techniques. Avoid spaces where there will be people, noise, traffic and distractions that can be picked up by your device camera or microphone. Avoid spaces where there is a bright window, lamp or overhead light that is in the camera view; try to place lighting sources behind the device camera, not in its view. All of this will help ensure that others can see and hear you during the online session.

When you test out your lesson plan with your trusted colleagues, map out which parts of the space you are in the camera’s view and how much of your own body is visible. Think about whether the online students will only need to see your upper body, or just your hands, or a prop, or if they need to see your entire body.

You’ll need to know where to position yourself so students can see enough to understand the lesson. Sometimes that may be a close up; other times it may be head-to-toe.

Student Practice Space

Again, keep in mind that lesson plans must be designed to include only activities that can be done safely in a confined space with no mats. Most participants will be attending the event solo. Participants cannot not (and should not) grab random family members or pets to act as uke during the class.

Just as students have different levels of martial arts experience and aptitude, we can anticipate that students will have different home setups for participating in an online class. Some students may have elaborate setups. Others may be viewing the class on their smartphone, may be competing for bandwidth with their housemates, may have bright lights in the background, or may run into some technology breakdown. You probably won’t be able to solve those limitations; if action is needed, the session facilitator will intervene.

Session Facilitator

Each online session should have a facilitator to manage the technical aspects of the session. This allows the instructor to focus on instruction, not technology. The facilitator will be the gatekeeper that allows students into the virtual classroom, takes control of issues related to muting/unmuting student microphones, and monitors questions typed in the chat area.

In a way, the session facilitator is similar to the caller of an exam or kata tournament. They act on behalf of both the student and the instructor to help the class go more smoothly.

Questions? Need Help?

Reach out to eventhelp@ajjf.org. That will connect you with a group of individuals within the AJJF who have the talent and expertise to help with a variety of topics associated with online sanctioned events.