While many businesses struggling to stay alive during the pandemic are concerned with their own survival, one South Florida business owner says his mission is more profound. In this case, it is just as much a matter of the business surviving COVID-19, as it is a matter of how the business helps people overcome it -- emotionally.
Grant Campbell is a renowned martial artist and instructor who pushes his students even while teaching virtually -- a method that has become the norm after the onset of the pandemic. He was the World Karate Champion in 1991 and a nine-time USA National Champion, All American.
Though the coronavirus-related challenges we face today seem different than those associated with a martial art, the owner of Grant Campbell USA Karate in Hollywood, says the skills to overcome them are the same.
“This pandemic is an opportunity for you to apply the mental disciplines and the mental skills that you’re learning. You’ve learned to apply yourself to the task at hand, to remain focused. To be resourceful. These are the things you have to do in order to survive,” Campbell pointed out.
But the pandemic has jeopardized the survival of the business itself. Though he continues training his students mostly online, Campell says the coronavirus has caused enrollment to drop by 40%.
"New students aren't coming in at the same rate that they were previously and that does hurt financially, but I’m committed to it so I’m using my own savings to keep the school going," Campbell said.
Shihan Campbell, as his students call him, says he applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, but never got a response. Still, he is intent on keeping the business afloat, if only to help others manage these difficult times.
Brandon Phillips, who’s been training with Campbell since he was 10 years old, corroborates the positive effect karate has had on his life emotionally, as well as physically. And he is grateful for Campbell's efforts to keep the academy alive in spite of the financial struggles.
“I think it’s spectacular that even in these situations when we’re not able to be in the same building, we are still able to pursue and grow as a school and as a family,” Phillips said.
The lifelong martial artist, who says this year marks his 50th year practicing the sport, offers this advice in order to make the most of such a trying time.
“In martial art, we don’t run from our fears. What we do is we learn to actually confront them. We learn how to actually develop them and we learn how to turn a weakness into a strength. I would say, ‘Use this pandemic to develop yourself for personal growth,'" Campbell said.