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Adapt or Die: How to Keep Your Dojo’s KABOOM

eric the trainer Jul 17, 2020

by Eric P. Fleishman


For many in the martial arts community, this pandemic not only has brought their businesses to a halt but also is threatening to break their spirits. The positive momentum you had built up likely has been interrupted. However, I believe that in times of crisis, the strong rise to the occasion, helping themselves and others through the momentary darkness. Isn’t that what being a martial artist is about — helping restore balance during times of chaos?

It’s time to get off the couch, turn off those movies you’ve been watching and lead your students on the greatest journey. Here’s how to put the KABOOM back into your dojo.


Stay on Brand

Have you noticed that the colors you chose, the logo you created and the tagline you’ve been using since you opened your school have started to feel a little tired and outdated? Why not take this opportunity to rebrand your dojo with fresh messaging?

It’s the perfect time to brainstorm with friends and associates who know you and your business. Choose a spirit animal and make new patches and T-shirts. Think about how far you’ve taken your business and where you want to go next. Update your name, logo and slogan in a way that updates your image.


Rally the Troops

A good leader stays in close contact with his peeps to guide, motivate and inspire them through rough terrain. Even if your business is temporarily closed, check in with your instructors and reassure them that everything is going to be all right. Lead them to a place of mental and emotional security, and they’ll reflect your positive attitude toward your students.

To that end, implement a phone tree that enables you to delegate the task of calling parents and students. Charge your staff with making students feel happy and with reminding them their training can continue as planned, just in a slightly more socially distanced way. Your instructors, staff, parents and students are your army; step up and lead them.


Clean Up Your Act

This COVID crisis centers around the spread of a virus. Stopping it can be accomplished only by keeping unwanted germs to a minimum. Even when we all “go back,” there will be some who remain skeptical of your ability to maintain a germ-free environment inside the dojo.

Begin reassuring them now by giving your school a deep cleaning. Scrub the floors, disinfect the mats, spray the gloves, vacuum the carpets and repaint the walls white if they’re looking a little tired. You can even put a mask on BOB. Take a video of your efforts and edit it down to 59 seconds with a fat beat behind it. Viola! It’s the perfect “reopening soon” social media post. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #cleanestdojoever.


Ask for Help

With your doors shut, it’s nearly impossible to get by financially, let alone thrive. That’s why Congress passed several multi-billion-dollar stimulus packages meant to assist small businesses and reignite our economy. That’s the good news. The bad news is you won’t receive any financial aid unless you apply for it.

Remember that the crisis was not caused by you, so don’t even start with the self-hatred. Instead, realize that life has thrown us an unexpected curveball. Call your bank or financial advisor and apply for government assistance today.


Use Zoom to Achieve KABOOM

To make sure your class schedule isn’t interrupted, teach your students on Zoom, a digital-meeting platform that has become the industry standard. Students can see and hear their instructor, and the instructor can see and hear them — from their homes.

You can give your students homework and demand proof of completing by having them post videos of their practice sessions on social media. This can draw attention to your school. You can host free virtual “bring a friend” days when students invite their pals to join their Zoom class. Consider recruiting a famous instructor in your art — even though he or she may live on the other side of the country — to teach a Zoom class.


Make It Big

When it comes time to reopen your dojo, make a big splash. Host a giant reopening celebration, complete with a food drive that supports a local food bank. The party will convey a powerful underlying message:

We are martial artists. Our traditions are strong and have been passed down over generations. We take care of people in our community and help those in need. It’s our mission to keep the world in harmony, and until our final breath, we will continue to do so. In our presence, you are safe.


Eric P. Fleishman — aka Eric the Trainer — is a Hollywood-based trainer of celebrities. In the 28 years he’s worked in the industry, he’s taught actors, musicians, MMA fighters and military personnel. He hosts a popular TV show called Celebrity Sweat, which is available on Amazon Prime. His message of healthy living has been adopted by many groups, most recently the American Culinary Federation.

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