My Dear Omega Family! What a year this has been… Sheesh! As I sit and reflect on all the things that have transpired and all the things that all of us have had to pivot and get used to, it is monumental. 2020 – The year our whole world got turned upside down due to the global pandemic called COVID-19. I am amazed at all the “new normal” practices and phrases that we all have had to get used to – things like 6-foot social distancing, 14-day quarantining, make sure to wear your mask, did you get that Zoom link for your class, stop playing with your computer camera, and many more. However, through all of this craziness and new things to get used to, one word comes to mind regarding all of your responses to these challenges – Resilience.

As I look back on the start of this year, classes and our programs were running at full capacity with new students coming in each week. Those who were getting ready to test for Black Belt in July were well into their pretesting experience and doing very well. We started getting these news announcements about this crazy virus that was spreading all over China. We even saw alarming footage of cities in China in lockdown and everyone was walking around wearing masks. I thought to myself “that would be so hard to be in that situation and have to be forced to stay at home and wear those masks.” Oh, how naïve we all were. Because in a few short months into 2020 the whole world was turned upside down. Schools shut down, churches shut down, and our studio had to shut down in-person classes for 2 months. I was so worried about our studio and what this would mean and how we would survive – I was a little terrified that this would cause Omega to close its doors. Looking back on this time, I am ashamed that I even thought this. Because guess what… YOU ALL STEPPED UP!

I vividly remember being guided and led through this time by our Heavenly Father’s spirit. I remember sitting with all my instructors and tasking them with learning how to hold martial art classes over Zoom and then I gave each of them groups to be in charge of. I sort of played quarterback through all of this by visiting each Zoom class each day and seeing what an amazing job you all were doing. Sure, we lost a few students during this time – but we stayed alive because of the amazing instructors’ efforts and our amazing students who were willing to be taught martial arts over the internet. Wow, what a crazy time. This went on for 2 months and things started to look better and better for Utah’s small businesses around June 2020.

In June we started back at the studio holding very small classes and still doing a number of Zoom classes. The thought was “At least we are able to teach and see our students”. A huge blessing came out of all of this too; I was finally compelled to complete the At Home Kwanjangnim videos. I had been procrastinating tackling this project for so many years and this year we finally did it. It has been such a blessing in our studio to have those home resources (thanks to Kim for all the many hours of videoing and editing each and every video). Black Belt testing was very unorthodox, but we held it and the candidates did so amazing. I am so proud of them for wanting to stick to their goals and see this test through to the end – even through this pandemic.

Throughout the remaining part of 2020 there were still challenges that came up and we had to quickly pivot and keep being innovative so that Omega and its students could progress. We also grew our student base in a tremendous way from September to the end of the year. This was largely due to the fact that people were ready to be out of the house and Omega was open and holding classes; I am so grateful to the fact that we were ready and prepared to take in all the amazing students that we did. What a blessing!

All in all, 2020’s success was measured in the individual resilience that each student and instructor showed to “stick with it” even though everything was telling you to give up and not keep going. This is the essence of Omega – A Way of Life. Things are going to be hard; we need to expect that there will always be challenges in various forms. However, it is up to us individually to decide to keep going and then gather strength collectively from all those who share in this same line of thinking. Resilience is a choice and the effects of this choice determine the pathway you take. This past year so many of you could have chosen a different pathway and the results could have been so different individually and collectively. I am so honored to be amongst so many warriors in life that are OK with choosing a hard pathway and sticking to it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing your true colors when things got challenging. You are all amazing and that is why I feel so privileged to be a part of this great Omega Family!

Kwanjangnim Richard