Anyone who has been reading my column over the years knows that I don’t jump into political debates or hot topics. I have no issue discussing them, but written articles are one-sided and the opportunity to debate doesn’t exist, so I don’t use this avenue for such.
I’m not sure a discussion of small schools and large schools is a “hot topic,” but I do know that, depending on how the topic is approached, it gets people fired up. Ever since the martial arts industry in North America got started, this schism, real or imaginary, has continued to get airtime – especially in this heyday of social media, where we do most of our “talking” from the safety of our keyboards.
First and foremost, it’s important to remind ourselves that we are all in the same industry and throwing stones at one another is counterproductive. Big school, small school, teaching out of a garage or owning multiple locations – it really doesn’t affect the one fundamental point. We all love the martial arts and we want to see our students become the best they can be.
We all want to help our communities, too, while earning a living doing what we love. Too often, however, there’s an underlying assumption that a large school is large because the owner(s) sold out or that a small school is small because of poor business practices.
Although, anecdotally, there are schools that do struggle because of inferior business practices and there are schools with huge numbers who have sold out, these are rare and certainly not mutually exclusive. What I mean by that is, some small schools choose to stay small. They enjoy a more personal one-on-one experience by limiting their student count.
There are large schools with world champions, top-ranked fighters and best-of-the-best martial artists. Being big, small and anywhere in between is thus an arbitrary attribute. The reasons for the size are only relevant to the school owner and his/her staff.
We all share the goal to teach good quality martial arts. We share the goal to the best as we can possibly be — both in the ring and out.
If an instructor teaches poor marital arts, it has nothing to do with the size of the school; it has everything to do with the quality and skill of the instructor.
So, how do we move on from the nonproductive name calling (“sell-out,” “used car salesman,” “loser,” or “wanna-be business person”)?
I strongly believe it’s about giving each other the benefit of the doubt rather than making judgments that are more about our own biases than about real facts.
Let’s instead assume that we all want what is best for our students and we all want to be the best we can be. Then the most important barometer of any school’s success will never be their student count, but rather the quality of martial arts being taught — and learned — at the school. In this approach, we must all be united in our commitment to deliver a great product.
Come meet and interact with your fellow school owners and instructors, small and large, at the 2019 MASuperShow in Las Vegas. Let’s train and learn from the experts and together celebrate the industry we all love!
For more information visit www.masupershow.com or call the Martial Arts Industry Association (MAIA) at (866) 626-6226.
Contact Frank Silverman at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter and Facebook @franksilverman.
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