Five karate kids kicking coronavirus into touch

Five karate kids from one family are kicking and punching the coronavirus crisis into touch through virtual classes.

Mikie, 16, Kayde, 11, Marley, nine, Ernie, seven and Rudy, five, were exercising in the garden of their home in Tooting, south-west London, as the country went into lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Along with many thousands of children, the five Clarke-Collins boys have been told not to go to school until the national emergency is over.

As a way to keep active at home, the family have joined virtual karate classes led by Tooting-based instructor Linda Marchant.

In a virtual interview with the PA news agency, junior black-belt Mikie explained why it was important to keep active.

He said: “It keeps us fit and healthy and also gives us life skills about how to defend ourselves in real life situations.”

His brown-belt brother Kayde added: “And it’s fun.”

On the difference between virtual karate and real-life classes, Mikie said: “It’s different because it does not have the same atmosphere but we are doing the same.

“Our amazing Sensei is still doing it for us. So it is really good.”

Yellow-belt Ernie also said karate was good for staying fit.

Ms Marchant, 7th dan, has been practising the goju ryu style – made famous by the original Karate Kid movies – for more than 40 years.

She said it had never been a better time to take advantage of new technology and bring karate into people’s homes.

“To be able to reach out in people’s homes, it’s something to be considered for the future, it could be something we look at after all this is over.”

While virtual classes with “effectively zero audience” felt very different, it had potential to help people like carers who cannot easily go out to keep fit, she said.

Since setting up the online classes with the help of students, around 80 adults and children have joined, with some as far afield as Germany, Canada, Denmark and the Central African Republic.

On bringing the wider international community together, Ms Marchant said: “There are lots of smiles when I see people training.

“It is having a positive effect. It’s only day two of the lockdown – I want to keep people smiling until day 32 and beyond.”