by Nguyen “Tom” Griggs
As I write this, we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Every day, we’re being tested and stretched in new ways — as leaders, martial artists, school owners, instructors and role models.
Despite all the chaos and the unprecedented levels of change, there is one simple point I’d like to make: No matter how things go, we must hold to our standards. The reason is very simple.
How we act, speak and behave during the crisis says more about our character than any platitudes, student creeds or tenets ever will. In other words, the pandemic is showing who we really are through how we behave during difficult times.
I want to share a personal experience that pertains to holding to one’s standards. During my time as a martial artist, I’ve had the honor of training under several instructors in various styles. As a result, I hold several black belts. The lesson I’m about to share comes from one of my promotion...
by Karen Eden
Truth be told, there have been times throughout my life when I thought for sure that my career as I knew it was over — as if the “magic” I possessed was suddenly going to disappear and leave me high and dry.
I often talk about the years when I would leave early in the morning before my newscast with FOX News to teach martial arts in the middle of the ghetto. I had made a promise to myself to give back when I knew that I had been blessed. A few years later, the community called out to me with even greater needs. It was a calling I knew I needed to answer. I found myself going from a major market TV anchor job to feeding homeless people in the inner city. “That’s not who you are, Karen. You’re better than that!” I was told.
That was a time in my life when I wondered if I would simply disappear. Maybe this was it for me. But you know me. If I know I have to do something, then I’ll do it simply because it’s the...
MASuccess brainstormed with five prominent martial arts instructors to obtain their best advice for their peers during this global pandemic. Here is what they offered.
Immediately Start Teaching Your Art Online
Sometimes it’s best to begin with the end in mind. Do you want to help your students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you want to support your local schools, businesses and communities? Do you want to provide leadership during this a time of uncertainty? I’m guessing that you will answer yes to all these questions.
Now more than ever, people need to feel connected, and many of them need you to continue to serve as their instructor and their leader. Likewise, communities need leaders to provide certainty and security. Again, they need you to continue to be a martial arts leader to provide stability and structure. To do that, you’ll need to rely on technology, perhaps to a degree you never have. The good news is, it’s not that...
by Perry William Kelly
As a society, we’re fascinated by people who can contort and maneuver their bodies in extreme ways. One example of this comes from the Olympic Games. Every four years, we’re enthralled by the gymnastics competition. Our fascination with this one sport has resulted in more than 5 million of our kids enrolling in gymnastics programs every year.
Another example comes from cinema. We flock to theaters to watch martial arts/action heroes like Daniel Craig (James Bond), Keanu Reeves (John Wick) and Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible movies) leap from building to building and flip vehicles end over end while kicking butt and taking names.
Our last example — and the most important one for this story — comes from a television series called American Ninja Warrior. On average, 7 million of us tune in every week to watch competitors push their bodies to the limit on obstacle courses that challenge them in aerobic and anerobic...
Martial artists change lives. It’s what we do as teachers and school owners. That’s exactly why we created Spark, the industry-leading software for running and automating your school. And it’s why the martial arts industry will always be our home.
But there are parts of running a school that are soul-sucking and daunting. At times, they can even make you want to quit.
It makes total sense. We’re guessing that you became an instructor for the same reasons we did: You have a passion for spreading the martial arts – a passion for changing lives. You love to see the look on a parent’s face when a child finally shows respect. You’re ecstatic when you see an adult feel confident for the first time in his or her life.
We’re going to take another guess and say things like seeing to administrative tasks and transmitting emails and SMS follow-ups aren’t exactly what you feel excited to do when you wake up in the morning. “I...
by Cris Rodrigues
In March 2020, our industry was shaken to the core. COVID-19 hit us like a ton of bricks, leaving many school owners feeling helpless. For some, switching to online classes was pretty simple; for others, it probably felt like preparing for a quantum physics exam.
Resources that my team and I put out, like the Virtual Martial Arts Blueprint and the Ultimate Facebook Ads Workshop, flew off the shelves as school owners searched for digital tools to help them survive. Many schools, however, took a hard hit. Freeze requests poured in. Cancellation emails and phone calls happened daily. School owners watched as their tuition billing declined.
When a mass exodus of clients happens with any business, often the owner will have a knee-jerk reaction to eliminate expenses. Unfortunately, said owner frequently eliminates the one expense that actually can bring in more revenue, and that’s marketing.
With many of the traditional forms of marketing thrown out the...
by Frank Silverman, MAIA Executive Director
In February 2020, the stock market hit an all-time high of 29,348. Unemployment was at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. And the martial arts school business seemed to be riding an infinite wave of new student signups.
Then BAM! We were knocked on our collective butts by an invisible foe that has gone on to kill thousands of people, shut down the economy around the world, drive up the U.S. unemployment rate to an estimated 20 percent and, literally, terrorize people in ways not seen in modern times.
And that wave of student signups? It disappeared. Nearly every martial arts school in America was shuttered as cities and states implemented the recommended quarantine procedures.
It served as a stark reminder that life can — and sometimes does — change on a dime.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, I received countless email messages and voicemails from school owners:
“I don’t know what to do!”
by Cris Rodriguez
There are two aspects of owning a martial arts business in which we, as an industry, need to focus on, level up and improve our skill set: marketing strategies and sales systems.
After all, sales are the lifeblood of our businesses. Our schools live and die by the number of new members we can attract.
Here’s a fact: People are always going to quit.
And I don’t mean to sound harsh, but the reasons they quit doesn’t matter. Your school needs to bring in new people. Without leads walking through your doors, those doors will soon close and your opportunity to have an impact on your community will fade.
It seems silly to see posts in martial arts–related Facebook groups that treat “sales” like a dirty word. Or that martial arts training should be free. Or that if you charge for your classes, you’re a sellout. Give me a break!
The word “salesman” presents a negative image for a lot of people in our industry....
IS STAYING INDEPENDENT AN OPTION?
There are still many school owners who choose to remain independent. Their reason – whether fully justified or not – is that by remaining independent, they will avoid teaching a “watered-down” style, or teaching solely for profit.
These independents feel that by not affiliating or franchising, they have more control over what is taught in their curriculum and how it is taught. Many schools that teach traditional styles remain independent to avoid modernization.
However valid their opinions on franchises may be, many school owners also have business reasons for staying small and independent. Many of them have realized that economies of scale do not always work out (i.e.: more/bigger schools for bigger profits). Simply put, bigger is not necessarily always better.
These successful-but-small martial arts school owners have figured out that in some industries getting bigger does not always means more money in your...
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