by Christopher Rappold
Think for a moment about your martial arts school and its current positioning. For better or worse, COVID-19 exposed a weakness in most martial arts programs across the country: We struggle to know what to do when we can’t teach lessons in person. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but together, we need to learn as much as possible from this experience.
To spark the learning, I would pose a question: How do you compete against the thousands of free martial arts videos on YouTube? How do you take on the popular mainstream fitness videos and the free live training offered by their brands? How do you compete against Peloton Bike and dozens of other trendy home-workout items? Answer: You don’t!
Now, before anyone concludes that I’m saying you should just throw in the towel, I ask you to think a bit more strategically. Instead of, “How can I compete?” ask yourself, “What can I offer that others...
by Herb Borkland
Loren W. Christensen, 10th-degree black belt and founder of American Freestyle, served 27 years in law enforcement, first as an Army MP and then as an LEO in Portland, Oregon. For a quarter of a century, he has been a defensive-tactics instructor. He’s had a parallel career as a martial arts journalist and “book doctor,” which started when he wrote a 1968 piece for Reader’s Digest. Among his works are Policing Saigon, Knife Fighter, Self-Defense for Women, Fighting the Pain-Resistant Attacker and Meditation for Warriors.
MASuccess: Where did you grow up, and what did your dad do?
Loren Christensen: I was born in Vancouver, Washington. Dad was a truck driver.
MAS: How did you first get involved with martial arts?
Christensen: I was a teenage body builder. I broke my back in a weight-lifting contest, so after that, no more lifting. I had heard about karate in 1965, and I found a school in Portland, Oregon, run by Wu Ying...
by Kathy Olevsky
In the martial arts industry, we constantly have to reinvent ourselves to stay relevant. For example, many years ago, my husband and I ran a very traditional karate school. In the mid-1980s, the two of us moved into cross-training in other styles, but we kept it a secret from most students. We didn’t want to muddy our message, which was that we were a regular karate school.
What we learned is that offering multiple styles in one dojo can be a game-changer. That happened when we transitioned from teaching karate exclusively to offering instruction in karate, kendo, iaido, judo, jujitsu and a variety of weapons. Instead of it becoming confusing to the general public, it became enticing. Students liked the fact that we offered them more choices.
Similarly, we never could have predicted what happened to our world with the COVID-19 pandemic. All of a sudden, we had to transition from physical entities to online businesses. Not surprisingly, the martial arts...
by Christopher Rappold
If you had been told in January of this year that our world was about to shut down, would you have believed it? For most of us, the onset of COVID-19 was surreal, almost like watching a far-fetched movie plot unfolding in real time. And as with all unwelcome surprises, no one wants to go through it again. That said, I do want to make sure that our (literal) 20/20 hindsight results in the correct insights that will leave us better prepared for whatever else the future brings.
Because this column focuses on retention, my observations will target four key takeaways. The lessons to be learned — or relearned — from this pandemic are critical to sustained martial arts student retention and success.
1 Building strong relationships is a high-value activity.
To get through any kind of crisis requires more than just your efforts. It takes the collective support of friends, family, team...
by Melissa Torres, MAIA Division Manager
Persevere: to persist in anything undertaken; to maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement; to continue steadfastly. This is something we need now more than ever.
It’s hard to believe how much the world has changed since the last issue of MASuccess went to press. No one could have predicted the unprecedented events that are sweeping the globe. However, I’m confident that we can come back stronger than we were before.
My heart goes out to all our Century and MAIA martial arts schools and gyms across the country that are struggling after being forced to shut their doors — and especially to those that had to make the difficult decision to lay off employees or beg for rent forgiveness. But we will persevere. We will get through this together.
I want you to feel hopeful, inspired and motivated during this time. When we do get back to normal, I want it to be better than the old normal. Trials in...
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...
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...
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...
by Frank Silverman
As I write this column, I have to admit that although I’m well aware of the time — it’s just after 6 p.m. — I have absolutely no idea what day of the week it is. This means one of two things: Either I’m on an awesome vacation or we’re still in the middle of our country’s — actually, the world’s — battle with COVID-19, otherwise known as the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Doing what’s best for my family, my company, my community and our industry now means doing the opposite of what I’m used to doing. Instead of going to the office Monday through Friday like I’m used to, I’ll be staying home. My “shelter in place” will encompass this Saturday, when my school was supposed to hold a black-belt test that many students were looking forward to.
Days are fading into nights, and weeks are running together. I’m working in shorts and a T-shirt rather than my gi or...
by Jason Flame, MAIA Elite Consultant
Communication is the key to success in any relationship. It’s important that we go above and beyond when it comes to communicating with our students and parents. Having systems in place to maintain frequency and consistency of contact will prevent students from “falling through the cracks.”
Keep in mind that our families are often inundated with information from other activities, work and their personal lives. Face-to-face interaction is always best, but when we need to communicate and are unable to see them in person, we have several options for staying in touch. When relaying information to our students, we should keep these simple yet valuable communication methods in mind.
Nothing beats letting someone hear our voice when we really need to communicate something urgent or significant. Progress checks, enrollment notifications, renewal reminders and upgrade decisions all require discussion. Every quarter, we...
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