WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Many martial arts studios were hit hard by the pandemic, leaving a lot of students without their classes.

Armored Self Defense in Winston-Salem went virtual when its studio closed last year. Chief instructor Travis Cook says students found time and space at home to train on their own.

“Luckily most of our students had someone who could hold targets or somebody that trains with them currently at home in the programs here that they could partner with at home,” Cook says.

Once Cook and partner Connie Chesner reopened the martial arts studio in Clemmons they began thoroughly sanitizing mats and targets students use in drills. Students must social distance as much as possible during class. Hand-to-hand sparring has taken a back seat to reduce contact between students.

“Our current student body was pretty open to coming back in, especially with the safety protocols that we put into place,” Cook says.

The pandemic continued to impact the studio. Armored Self Defense unexpectedly had to move locations on short notice. The owners moved it to Tinderbox Fitness in Winston-Salem.

“It was a difficult switch because it had to happen so rapidly, but unfortunately, that’s not something we could control, but we could control how we approached it,” Cook says.

Cook and Chesner prioritize their students’ safety and progress, which parents appreciate during uncertain times. Most parents were relieved their children could get back to some sense of normalcy by being back in class.

“This is literally the only thing he gets out of the house to do. This is his gym, this is his way to get that energy out,” says Tempest Watkins, the mother of a 12-year-old student.

Armored Self Defense offers Tae Kwon Do and Krav Maga classes. For more information on how to get involved, click here.