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Who Said It Would Be Easy?

martial arts Dec 19, 2020

by Dave Kovar


I love the martial arts. I thoroughly enjoy teaching. I’m continually in awe of what martial arts training does for people. And I find great pleasure in coaching other school owners — at least, most of the time.

Occasionally, I come across a school owner who does nothing but complain about how hard it is to run to a school. (Just to be clear, 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for all of us, and I understand the need to vent. That’s not what I’m talking about here.) Whenever I hear such complaints, two thoughts pop into my head. The first is, “Yes, it is hard to run a martial arts school.” The second is, “Who ever said it would be easy?”

What worthwhile career is easy? What career allows you to make a good living, has a profound and positive impact on society, and doesn’t require a lot of hard work and occasional stress? I can’t think of any. Can you? I didn’t think so. It’s been my experience that once I understand that something is hard work, if I can weigh the benefits and find it worthwhile, it becomes easier.

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned along the way. Perhaps you’ll find some of them useful.

  • There are thousands of ways to be successful in the martial arts industry. My travels to other schools have shown me that there’s no one path to success. The key is to find out which way works best for you.
  • You have to be willing to work hard and work smart. There was a time back in the 1980s and ’90s when the martial arts were rising rapidly in popularity. Perhaps you didn’t have to work as hard to generate new members then as you do now. But it is what it is. This is still a great time to be in the martial arts profession.
  • If you don’t know what you’re doing, you probably won’t be in business for very long. When you’re new to running a school or struggling because you’re unhappy with your results, find a mentor. There are many great business coaches out there. Find one you’re comfortable with, listen to his or her advice, and then take action. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.
  • Forget about what the school down the street is doing. There’s nothing you can do about it, and stressing over that actions of others is a waste of energy. Just hope that the owner has a good program. Why? Because no one benefits from a poorly run school. That hurts all of us. In most cases, when students have a bad experience at a martial arts school, they don’t leave and enroll at another school. They just quit, and they often come to view the martial arts in a negative way. We shouldn’t spend time fighting over the small percentage of the public that’s currently interested in training. Instead, we should spend our time getting more people interested. That way, there are plenty of students for everyone.
  • Be the best example that you can be. You represent the martial arts to your circle of influence. This may be a cliché, but it’s also very true.
  • Never forget the impact that a well-run martial arts school you can have on your students and your community. Try to be a positive force in the lives of others. For me, this means being a martial artist first, a teacher second and a businessperson third.


To contact Dave Kovar, send an email to [email protected].

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