USK Martial Arts

USK Martial Arts creates a virtual dojang with Cisco Webex and Quaversal

USK Martial Arts is a family-owned and operated traditional Korean martial arts training academy for children and adults. From its locations in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and Charlotte, North Carolina, the school specializes in Tang Soo Do and Taekwondo, has an extensive after-school program, hosts ninja birthday parties, and runs popular summer camps. USK Martial Arts is based on the philosophy that martial arts are a lifestyle and a tool to convey life lessons.

In 1995, Grandmaster M. K. Kim, a two-time world champion medal holder and master of Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, Hae Dong Kum Do and Hap Ki Do first opened his doors to the community. Today the schools are run by Grandmaster Kim’s oldest daughter, Master Amy Kim, who shares her father’s teaching legacy to inspire and guide students to live a healthier life.

In response to COVID-19, the school closed its physical doors in March, and started to think about ways to continue to connect to its students and community of around 300 families.

“We were looking for a way to continue to impact and influence our students and community,” explained Master Amy. “But to do that we needed to change how we connected and shared our trainings and lessons, and find a way to keep our doors virtually open. We needed to create a virtual dojang.”

Master Amy talked to one of her students, Paul Campbell, the founder of a Charlotte-based technology company that specializes in collaboration technologies, including Cisco Webex.

“When I talked to Paul and Quaversal, I got some ideas of the direction we could take and an introduction to Cisco Webex. I wasn’t familiar with Webex, and at first, thought it was the same as a Facebook Live or a Zoom platform. But I was intrigued to find out more about what made it different.”

Quaversal showed Master Amy and her team how Cisco Webex would help them interact with students and parents, highlighting the security and simplicity of Webex to other solutions, and sharing features that would help USK maintain their connection with their existing community, and catapult their online experience.

“With the security and control that Webex provides, I was really glad that we went with Webex over Zoom,” added Master Amy.“There are some specific Webex functions that suit businesses, and even more to those looking to offer virtual classes. This includes the ability for Cisco Webex to call the instructor when they launch the virtual dojang, to record classes for later distribution and feedback, and provide multi-user displays at the USK facility to see all the students simultaneously.

Quaversal guided USK on how to set everything up. “There’s a comfort in working with a team with a philosophy to help users understand technology,” added Master Amy. “Quaversal ensured we had everything set up right, that computers were hard-wired, the links to television screens were working. They ran through everything with us on the Webex platform too: how to record, sign in, start meetings, lock meeting rooms after a certain period of time, work mute controls, look at the attendee numbers, and to understand if there were internet connection problems on our end or with students.”

Features that Master Amy appreciates?  “The video clarity, being able to record sessions so we can review it, send classes to students who weren’t able to join us in the livestream or simply want to see it again. I also like the peace of mind given by the security of the platform – we need something that is business-proof.”

USK Martial Arts started with one virtual class a day, and within a week scaled up to run up to 25 classes a week online using Cisco Webex.

“We started with one Webex class a day, to test the waters. After the class we would do a small group chat session with our students for feedback. Then we scaled up to eight classes on Mondays and Wednesdays and five classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  We were able to ramp up the connection frequency with students, and divide our audience so the teachings are catered to student’s ranking level and experience, so we are delivering their curriculum, and they still get credits” explained Master Amy.

She continued: “I definitely received good feedback. Most of our families have been really appreciative of our efforts. We need to keep stepping up to the challenge of working in a new way. Yes, communication is hard. We use emails and Facebook to complement our virtual lessons and keep dialogue going, to stay in contact with students, follow up with them, make sure they come to class. We can review our Webex dashboard to see how many students joined classes, who, and what time they signed in.”

“Running lessons and trainings virtually is different,” added Master Amy. “I know that some of our students may not feel comfortable with livestreaming, or don’t like seeing themselves on the camera. So, we do have a small percentage of students that haven’t jumped on quite yet, but there are families we’ve been seeing two or three times a week. And that’s just around the amount of time that we would normally see them if they were in person.

Master Amy added: “Webex is a lifeline right now, it’s given our business room to breathe so that we still function and continue to teach at least some percentage of our students. I know a lot of schools that don’t have means of a way to be able to do the virtual training and still be able to see their students. We’re honestly thankful.”

Master Amy concludes: “We are considering keeping virtual lessons as an added-on service. For example, some of our students go away to college, and want to train but they can’t come to physical lessons. So, we may be use Webex in the future. But for now, it’s about connecting with our community. It’s an uncertain time for everyone right now and being able to have a positive impact on our community, is as important as ever. The two-way communication offered by a reliable, secure platform such as Cisco Webex, and working with a team as supportive as Quaversal has helped us to share our message of positivity in these uncertain times.”

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