In 1974, Patrick Wrenn was invited by Elvis Presley, Elvis sidekick/bodyguard Red West and Bill “Superfoot” Wallace to help establish what has since been called “the greatest martial arts school of all time.” It’s the 4,300-square-foot, Memphis-based Tennessee Karate Institute (TKI). The original TKI only lasted four years, but, 39 years later, Wrenn has reopened it at its original location as part museum/part school.
Recipient of the Martial Arts Lifetime Achievement Award and Joe Lewis Eternal Warrior, the indomitable 10th-dan Wrenn has continued over the years to teach his Combative Arts despite continuous injuries and ill-health.
Herb Borkland: Where did you grow up, and what did yourdad do?
Patrick Wrenn: I was born in Massachusetts and grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. My father was a self-made, multimillionaire real-estate developer.
After college, I went into business for myself importing birds of prey, reptiles and saltwater...
It's almost the New Year, the time for resolutions. Grand expectations. Weight loss. Goal-setting. Making a change for the better and trying to stick with it for the next 365 days.
Then, the first week winds down and the confetti settles. Champagne gets flat. By this time, I can’t tell you how many Facebook posts I see saying things, “Can we just start this New Year over?” Or, “I need a re-do.” And, of course, the standard: “This is the worst year ever!”
Since we have such high expectations for the New Year, we get frazzled at the first thing that goes wrong. We tend to associate the first week of the New Year with how the rest of the year will go. We think, “Why does everything happen to me?”
Having expectations and setting goals is important and you should definitely do it. In fact, if you haven’t written out a list of the goals you want to accomplish, stop reading and do it now! We have all heard that you...
I've been operating a martial arts school full-time for 40 years. I think I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is because I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this reality-based column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my business career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. Then I’ll share the solutions I applied to overcome them.
In our early years in running a dojo as black belt instructors, we came to work, taught classes and tried hard to manage a business that was our sole source of income. As instructors and owners, we made student progress the priority in the school. While that’s a respectable and sensible idea, it left out a very important pillar of our growth.
I think, in those early years, we were missing a huge opportunity. We basically never showed...
This time of year I always think of my late friend, Ron Lyle. If you know boxing, then you know of Ron Lyle. But I don’t know him from that perspective. I know him from a different perspective that perhaps no one else would have even paid attention to.
World Heavyweight Champion contender Ron Lyle just happened to grow up in the neighborhood where I teach my inner- city martial arts program in Denver, CO. I always wondered who the older black guy was in the back of the room watching me teach classes. He didn’t say anything. He just watched and would emulate my moves as if he was trying to remember them.
When I found out that it was Ron Lyle, who was also teaching the boxing program downstairs, it became a running joke of “who could beat up who” if we both got in the ring. He always smiled and said I would win.
Over the next few years, we would spend many hours during the center’s down time talking about a lot of life, past and...
Attorneys are vital to the success and continued viability of your school. However, there is always an inherent and unavoidable conflict between you and your attorney. Any time people are paid for a service or you pay for a service, each party will act to protect his/her best financial interests.
Here’s my list of 10 things (some related to fees and some not) that your attorney would rather you not know (or ignore):
I don’t charge the same hourly rate for all types of cases. Litigation is not charged at the same level as would assistance in filing administrative documents.
Let’s be honest. All things an attorney does don’t require similar sets of skills. Similarly, it never hurts to attempt to negotiate a reduced rate. If you’re a new client or even one that has a longstanding relationship, asking for a discount, or even a flat fee, is a possibility. As my father always said, “The answer to an...
This month, let’s discuss levity and its role in leadership and teams.
“Levity” is “cheerfulness” or “enjoyment.” As we work and try to manage successful businesses, it’s easy to lose sight of just having fun. Honestly, there are some days when we fight just to get out of bed.
However, there are always moments when some joyfulness and laughter can be found. Even when things seem hard or crazy, you have to be intentional in finding levity. Allow me to share a wild but true story.
In my previous column series, “Pop’s Pearls of Wisdom,” I stated that my parents owned liquor stores and then motels. One day, my dad and I were working the front desk at the motel when he received a call from a customer. The client complained that there was a rat in his room.
We were quite thorough about pest control and cleanliness. My dad was tired from several days of rowdy customers and the previous...
As we exit the holiday season and enter the new year, the media is bombarding us about how the internet is seizing more and more sales from the standard brick-and-mortar businesses.
I am happy to say that my schools are somewhat internet-proof. A portion of our sales do compete with the internet: items like weapons, gear, uniforms, etc. But we have many ways to combat this.
For example, we offer the very best pricing, whenever possible, for purchasing products within the school. We cobrand anything and everything possible, and that becomes the “must-use” products for our students. We frequently offer new t-shirt designs for our student that are only available at the school. Most importantly, we program all product into our curriculum whenever possible.
All that said, my ways of combating internet sales is not the topic of this article. Changing with the times and adjusting to the environment is.
Over the holidays, I went shopping at a...
We’re about to kick off a new year, and can you believe it? It’s already almost 2019! I have always enjoyed the start of a new year. Last year’s in the rear-view mirror and only goals and opportunities lie ahead.
If you haven’t yet taken the time to decide what’s going to make 2019 worthwhile from a martial arts, teaching and business perspective, now is the time to do it before it’s too late. Get yourself and your team ready to avoid making this just a continuation of what has been done in the past. Instead, use it as a chance to do it the right way by clarifying your purpose and bringing your “A” game!
I remember back when I was competing in sport karate. The best scenario was to jump out front with a lead against your opponent. When I was able to start with the lead, I was able to “game-plan” the match on my terms. That means I wasn’t being forced by a time limit into being behind, which would require...
By Christopher Rappold
With 2018 behind us, it’s a good time to take a pause and assess how the year went.
I have always enjoyed taking half a day away from the office and looking at the cumulative results from that particular year. Though I look every day, week and month at how our schools are doing, there is something about looking at the total of 12 months of results that gives a different picture and perspective.
I start with my team. I take a look at their martial arts, fitness, personal and professional development from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
Did they make the kind of progress that both of us were working toward? Are their goals and the goals of the school intersecting in a way that creates a win-win, long-term relationship? Are there any tweaks that need to be made? What are things we did together that had the most impact, and what are the things that missed the target and need improvement?
Having excellent student...
By Philip E. Goss, Jr., Esq.
I believe we can all agree that pre-employment background checks are a good thing. They’re good for knowing if the prospective employee has any dark clouds that could affect her ability to perform the job in that she’s hired to perform. These checks are exceptionally good for determining if that person has any disqualifying events that could cause your school harm, things like any sex based adverse history or a criminal record.
It’s absolutely vital to prove that you took proactive steps to weed out someone who could commit any crimes against your student population, (again there’s that nasty issue of sex-based harassment or assaults). Background checks will not act to dismiss a case against your school, but they will act as an affirmative defense when faced with a negligent hiring or negligent retention lawsuit.
As with many things, conducting pre- or post-employment background checks is not the easy thing it...
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