In February 2020 it was common to see 80 people on the floor of Longoria’s Tactical Martial Arts.
By moving into a new 17,600-square-foot building on O Street a few months earlier, the martial arts school had become the largest martial arts-only facility in the country.
“The scary part was that right after we started expanding, the pandemic hit,” said owner Daniel Longoria.
But the larger facility allowed for social distancing, so the school was able to stay open.
“It was a blessing,” said Pati Longoria, Daniel’s wife and program manager. “Had we not moved in here it would have been a lot harder.”
While the business was able to stay open, the Longorias still had to find ways to continue their martial arts programs with reduced contact. They implemented a contactless ticketing system, temperature checks at the door, the use of punching bags for different exercises, turning off the water fountains and having students bring water bottles and strict implementation of social distancing.
The Longorias also decided to follow the guidelines of Lincoln Public Schools so that the rules were kept consistent for the kids and parents.
The school offered live-streaming classes on Facebook for those who were either unable or didn’t feel comfortable coming in person.
The live streams also allowed the school to show any reticent parents that they were following protocols seriously, Daniel Longoria said.
“They would see the instructors with a can of Lysol spraying the kid’s gloves down before they put them in the bag,” he said. “So they could see we were doing everything we could to mitigate the transfer. They really appreciated it.”
Parents were impressed.
“It’s almost like they had gone through COVID before,” said Kristan Fujan, whose nine-year-old son Brockman has been taking taekwondo classes at Longoria’s for two years. Fujan said she always felt respected and well-informed whenever the school had to implement new safety measures.
“They showed they cared by taking those extra steps,” Fujan said. “There was a mutual respect for all the children’s health.”
As business begins to return to pre-pandemic numbers with kids returning to in-person classes, the Longorias remain grateful for the trust the parents placed in them.
“We haven’t come this far to stop now,” Pati Longoria said. “If you build it they will come.”