During such a time of uncertainty for small businesses, and with martial arts studios still being deemed nonessential during the slow reopening of California, the United Studios of Self Defense in Temecula is taking their approach to staying open, virtually, to a whole level. USSD Sensei Jose Rodriguez and his staff have brought in some serious help in the form of superheroes to run their virtual classes. From Spider Man, Power Rangers, Kung-Fu Panda, Deadpool and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, families are being treated to “ninja training” during their time at home.

United Studios of Self Defense team members Ashley Wilch, Kristin Osorio and Will Biehl hang with members of the Power Rangers at 2019’s Temecula Greek Festival. Valley News/Courtesy photo

“We use the suits as a way to send a message to kids about self-control, patience, doing the right thing, bully prevention and how to use karate as an activity that helps promote self-discipline and respect,” Rodriguez said. “Since the coronavirus quarantine started, we thought it would be a really fun idea to teach some of our virtual karate classes in the Ninja Turtle suits to put a smile on the faces of our younger students who are struggling with dealing with the quarantine. It has been so rewarding to see how the Ninja Turtle suits can brighten the kids’ days.”

Rodriguez has lived in Temecula his entire life and said he feels very connected to the community.

“I was raised in Temecula and my mom was a small-business owner of a taco shop in Old Town Temecula in the early 90s. I have been a small-business owner in Temecula since 2008, and I currently own two martial arts studios in Temecula and Murrieta,” he said.

Sensei Jose Rodriguez and assistant Austin Coutts of the United Studios of Self Defense in Temecula host a karate training demonstration at local schools with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Valley News/Courtesy photo

The day the government announced the closure of businesses, everyone at USSD went into creativity mode and designed an entire online training curriculum the same day for their students.

“We now teach all of our karate classes virtually via Zoom, FaceTime and Google Duo,” Rodriguez said. “We offer classes every single weekday Monday-Friday ages 4 to adult.”

With an extremely popular online presence already in place, before the pandemic, students have taken their new style of virtual training seriously. Of course, with the creative ways Sensei Jose and his staff have come up to keep the communication between students and teacher’s fun, yet instructional, it is no wonder why they are seeing an increase in online interaction from their families.

Raphael the Ninja Turtle hosts a recent online training session with students of the United Studios of Self Defense in Temecula. Valley News/Courtesy photo

To help the community during the coronavirus pandemic, USSD started an initiative to help local businesses in the area by offering two free weeks of karate plus a personal one-on-one FaceTime call with one of their special guest superheroes to anyone who shops at a local business and shows them their receipt. USSD is nominating and shouting out 10 new businesses per day on their social media platforms for people to support.

“We feel extremely humbled that we are able to impact the lives of our USSD families and community through the magic of the martial arts,” Rodriguez said. “It is becoming evident that we all need to do our part to encourage the youth in our area to overcome emotional and mental obstacles and to become the best version of themselves during this trying time of quarantine.”

For families who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and cannot afford online karate classes, USSD has started up a YouTube channel called “Karate for Kids.” The videos are free and offer a fun and interactive way for children to learn karate at home and keep them fit and busy during quarantine.

For more information about the United Studios of Self Defense in Temecula, visit their Facebook page. Sensei Jose Rodriguez can be reached by email at ussdtem@yahoo.com, or by calling 951-795-3998.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.