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The Martial Arts Industry Association's MASuccess Magazine exists to help grow martial arts participation by helping school owners succeed.

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Pivot, Adapt, Survive

lesson learned Dec 26, 2020

by Kathy Olevsky

 

“Pivot” and “adapt” have become buzzwords in business during the past year. Add “survive” and you have probably the most important words of 2020. Small businesses had to recreate themselves to make it through a year of economic turmoil. It will be a time we talk about for years to come.

In September 2020, I was looking for a solution to get my current students back through the doors. There was great concern about resuming self-defense training and sparring because they involve a high degree of partner contact. We had no problem getting new students to come in, but we were struggling to get our older students to return.

Around that time, I noticed that many people in the martial arts were doing their best to try new things and share them with anyone who would listen. One of the best qualities of the martial arts community became apparent: We have more than our share of creativity. So many of us were trying to survive that we...

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Videoconferencing Classes Can Raise Unintended-Liability Consequences

by Philip E. Goss Jr., Esq.

In this new COVID-19 world, many of you are using videoconferencing in lieu of in-person classes. Is teaching virtually in this manner without potential liability? The short answer is no.

As you know, classes conducted on your school premises have many built-in liability protections. For example, no student will be injured by a rambunctious pet or younger sibling running across the studio floor. No misplaced pieces of furniture will get in the way of full-power kicks.

Furthermore, should a student be injured at your school, you’ll have immediate knowledge of the incident, as well as the ability to take remedial action and then create an incident report that records all the facts while they’re fresh in the minds of witnesses.

Clearly, these protections do not apply when instruction takes place via videoconferencing. Nevertheless, many instructors are using video. Assuming you’re one of them, I offer the following cautionary advice.

...

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The Mirror Reveals

lesson learned Dec 23, 2020

by Nguyen “Tom” Griggs

 

One of the best tools for growth is the mirror. If you have the right mindset, the mirror can help you answer two crucial questions: Who is looking back at you? And who will you become?

When I was about to take my first wife to the hospital to give birth, I thought, OK, after you leave, you’ll return with a baby. You’ll be a dad, and your life will never be the same. There were definitely some fearful emotions that day, but there was also a sense of excitement and joy. The person in the mirror was scared but filled with hope.

A few years later, I came home one Saturday to an empty house after my now ex-wife had departed with our son. I was met with a deafening silence. The furniture was gone, my family was absent and I was left to look in the mirror at the one person I blamed for what had happened. The person in the mirror was angry, hurt, resentful and lonely.

Some years later, my son and I stood in front of a mirror as we got...

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The Best Defense

covid-19 lesson learned Dec 22, 2020

Beth A. Block

 

Flu season is upon us. American citizens, including martial arts studio owners and martial arts students, remain divided over masks. Some people have legitimate medical reasons for why they cannot wear a mask; others simply will not wear one.

To minimize liability, I recommend following the guidelines issued by your county, your state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You also need to consider the Americans With Disabilities Act. Walking the tightrope between these two mandates can cause problems for business owners. An issue already has cropped for one of my clients.

A studio owner encountered a parent who claimed not to be able to wear a mask for a medical reason. The owner reminded the parent of the studio’s published policy of mask wearing. The parent threatened to get an attorney involved. The owner came to me for help, and I did some research. If you find yourself in a similar situation, what I learned could be useful to you, too.

...

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More Change

lesson learned mentor Oct 01, 2020

by Kathy Olevsky

 

I’ve operated a martial arts school full time for 45 years. I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. And I’ll share the solutions I used to overcome them.

First, the good news: Many of us are back to teaching in our schools.

Now, the bad news: Some of us are dealing with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, and our states are taking action to address it. I know a few martial arts school owners who could not sustain their businesses. As a result, they had to close their doors.

Basically, we all are operating on the same premise: We will open our schools if we can, and if not, we will operate virtually until in-person training is...

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Tournament Trauma

lesson learned mentor Sep 01, 2020

by Beth A. Block

 

Tournaments can be an important part of martial arts training. They allow us to experience the drive of competition, to learn to accept defeat gracefully and to feel the thrill of victory. Some studios require participation; some make it optional. Others do not train their students to compete at all. No matter where you stand, there is one certainty when it comes to tournaments: They always carry a risk of injury.

In this column, I will focus on a specific tournament story not because COVID-19 is over — the disease is still an important risk to manage — but because I want to remind everyone that we face other risks in the martial arts.

A few years ago, I attended a tournament that involved several hundred people and dozens of studios. The insurance companies I represent always advise the organizers of such events to have EMTs on-site. That’s recommended because, as we all know, participants can get injured no matter how careful the organizer...

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A Force Majeure Clause Is Good — If You Define the Terms in Future Enrollment Agreements

lesson learned Sep 01, 2020

by Philip E. Goss Jr., Esq.

 

 

There is no question that the pandemic has created great challenges to martial arts schools. On the business side, many students or parents have been reluctant to pay tuition or wish to cancel their enrollment agreement even though factors outside your control have prevented you from providing regular classes. Additionally, if you do not outright own your business premises, there are probably lenders or landlords knocking at your door for rental or mortgage payments. The trickledown is clear: If you do not receive payments for tuition, likely you will be hard-pressed to fulfill your monthly rental/mortgage obligations.

Find a copy of the latest iteration of your student-enrollment agreement and read the fine print. If the term force majeure or act of God is present, you can be sure that the initial drafting of the document was the work of a lawyer. Force majeure is an obscure Latin phrase, now seen in the news as the (generally mistaken)...

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Trade Secrets and Non-Solicitation: Additional Arrows in Your Legal Quiver

lesson learned Jul 22, 2020

by Philip E. Goss Jr., Esq.

 

Properly and effectively restricting former employees from competing with your business has always been a three-part operation. A written restrictive covenant, in jurisdictions that allow them, traditionally has been the first line of defense. However, as I outlined last time, such restrictive covenants have come under blistering attack in the past decade. Now, in many jurisdictions, restrictive covenants are not merely unenforceable; they’re also illegal.

In such jurisdictions, the proper use of trade-secret protections and non-solicitation agreements can, in many circumstances, give you the tools you need to protect your economic interests.

Trade-secret protection is legally enforceable in all jurisdictions. In simple terms, a trade secret is any information with independent economic value, which is not generally known or readily ascertainable to the public and which has been protected to maintain its secrecy.

Your method of instruction...

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Wavering Waivers

lesson learned sparring Jul 20, 2020

by Beth A. Block

 

We all use waivers, although I have noticed that the degree of faith we have in them varies from person to person. Some of us see them as unbreakable shields against all lawsuits. Others think they are barely worth the paper they’re written on.

I’ve examined waivers in this column before, including the following points: the fact that our activity is inherently risky; whether we need to have both parents sign a child’s waiver; the value of having a waiver written by a local attorney; and whether a parent can sign away a child’s right to sue.

In this column, I’ll cover the issue of handling waivers when students inform you that they have a medical issue that could affect their ability to fully participate in classes and tests. What would you do in that situation? How would you make accommodations for the student — and would you be willing to?

Side Note No.1: I’m no stranger to dealing with this issue from the...

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Never Stop Learning

lesson learned mentor Mar 25, 2020

by Kathy Olevsky

 

I’ve operated a martial arts school full time for 45 years. I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. And I’ll share the solutions I used to overcome them.

 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday life of running a martial arts school that we often forget the key components of our success in the arts. When running a business, certain issues rise to the top and get our attention. It’s easy to assume that these are the important issues. In reality, the things we let sink to the bottom are often the ones that make or break us.

In the early days of owning my first dojo, my instructor used to say, “You...

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