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...
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)...
by Frank Silverman
It’s hard to believe that as I write this column, we’re still talking about COVID-19. Although to be honest, it’s not so much that it’s hard to believe; it’s more that I don’t want to believe it. When I received an e-mail saying it was time to send in my essay, I — probably like everyone reading this — was at a unique spot: I had some extra time on my hands because the world has not yet returned to the pre-pandemic “norm.” At the same time, I’m crazy busy trying to adjust to the new norm and figure out how to operate a business under these conditions.
I also wasn’t sure if I should continue writing about how to reopen martial arts schools or if most already will have done so by the time this goes to print. Maybe I should I address how to handle a second wave of COVID-19? Will there even be a second wave?
Then it occurred to me that we’re in back-to-school season. What will...
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 Dave Kovar
Hagakure is a book written in the 17th century by a samurai named Tsunetomo Yamamoto. It’s claimed to be one of the first books to document the samurai lifestyle. Mikio Nishiuchi, my iaido teacher, required us to read it before a belt test a few years back. It was interesting, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
There was one thing Yamamoto wrote that really stuck with me. I didn’t fully understand it at first, but it felt profound. I’m now starting to grasp it, at least a little. I’m paraphrasing, but essentially Yamamoto says that a samurai is always aware, and in every situation, every encounter, there is a chance for growth and improvement if the person is paying attention.
I think about this often and try to find ways to apply the concept to my life. I travel frequently, and with travel comes inconvenience and unpredictability, so I try to think of my trips as chances to practice growth and improvement. Here are some of the ways I do...
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 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 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 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.
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