BOONE — To provide a way for people to stay active during the COVID-19 pandemic and to give back to the community, Common Ground Martial Arts Academy students are Kicking for a Cause to give money to the Hunger and Health Coalition.

Common Ground Owner and Head Instructor Trapper Taylor said that as a way to engage martial arts students during the pandemic, the academy has set up monthly challenges as a way to keep up physical activity. Starting Aug. 15 and continuing through Sept. 15, Taylor has asked participants to each complete 1,000 martial arts kicks.

Each week Taylor assigns a certain martial arts kick for the students to complete and advises how many they should achieve. Taylor said he’s asking students to practice front, side, roundhouse, hook, axe and crescent kicks. Students are then asked to upload a video of themselves practicing the kicks to the Common Ground Martial Arts Academy Facebook page.

Once participants complete their 1,000 kicks after the month-long challenge, Common Ground Martial Arts Academy plans to donate $300 to the Hunger and Health Coalition in Boone. Community members who want to donate to Kicking for a Cause with proceeds going to the Hunger and Health Coalition can visit tinyurl.com/KickingforaCause.

Taylor said the academy’s students and instructors spend a lot of time working on character development, and the Kicking for a Cause fundraiser is a way for students to participate in martial arts with a community service element.

“I think that being secure in food is super important in our society,” Taylor said. “(The Hunger and Health Coalition does) an awful lot for the community.”

Hunger and Health Coalition Executive Director Elizabeth Young said the agency is thankful to Common Ground Martial Arts Academy for hosting the Kicking for a Cause fundraiser. She added that each dollar donated counts, as the agency can purchase $5 worth of food for $1.

“During a time when so much of our community is struggling, this makes such a palpable difference in the lives of our neighbors,” Young said. “We absolutely love the creativity of the academy and welcome innovative ideas to engage with each other during this wild time. We welcome volunteers of all ages and offer a variety of opportunities to plug into your community, both safely from home and in person.”

Common Ground currently has approximately 76 students enrolled at the academy, which is a decrease of 35-40 percent of its original enrollment before the pandemic started. Taylor said Common Ground is classified as a gym or fitness center, and was not able to host classes at its facility under Phase 2 of North Carolina’s re-opening plan unless it is deemed medically necessary for students. However, gyms are now allowed to open at 30 percent capacity under Phase 2.5, as announced by Gov. Roy Cooper on Sept. 1. The academy was still offering classes six days a week, four of which were conducted through Zoom, as of Aug. 27.

Taylor said the academy was offering in-person classes two days a week either at Brookshire Park in Boone or Grandfather Campground in Banner Elk. Students attending classes are required to wear masks when not in active training while they meet in person, and during active training students are spaced at least 10 feet apart with optional mask wearing.

For more information on Common Ground Martial Arts Academy, visit commongroundmaa.com. To watch Kicking with a Cause videos, visit the Common Ground Martial Arts Academy Facebook at www.facebook.com/commongroundmaa.

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