by Adam Parman
As American states begin allowing businesses to reopen, many martial arts school owners are finding themselves in a strange new world filled with challenges, financial pressures, fears and, in many cases, far fewer students than they once had. This has made their lives anything but easy. Their minds are filled with self-doubt and apprehension.
As a martial artist, you know what it’s like to be pummeled in a fight — and what it takes to come back and win. But do you have the fortitude and the know-how to do the same with your business? No doubt you’ve heard about martial art schools across the country closing their doors for the last time, and you’ve vowed that even though it’s apparent that not every business will survive, you won’t be one of the victims. But that may not be enough. Chances are you also can benefit from a few pointers.
I’m based in Atlanta, Georgia, which means I live in one of the first states to...
by Perry William Kelly
The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place, and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
Those well-known words come from the mouth of a fictional boxer named Rocky Balboa. The character, played by Sylvester Stallone, is telling his son what he needs to do to make it in life. I say that truer words have never being spoken, especially in our current times, when things are fine one day and the next, the world as we know it changes forever. Repeatedly.
Cris Rodriguez is like Balboa in that she won’t let setbacks define her future. Instead, she applies a counter to every submission attempt that life throws at her as she travels the path to success — even when one of those submission attempts involves running a...
By Terry L. Wilson
According to the dictionary, the definition of racism includes the belief that certain ethnic groups are inferior to others, which supposedly justifies discriminatory behavior. In 1985 Tommy Gilbert, an African-American police officer in Oakland, California, and a part-time kajukenbo instructor, ran up against just such an attitude as he searched for a location for a new school. He found the perfect building in an ideal spot — which is when the trouble began.
Tommy Gilbert inquired about renting the facility and came face to face with a woman whose photo could have accompanied any dictionary’s definition of the word “racism.”
“Back in 1985 and ’86, my dad was teaching in the backyard of our home,” said Damon Gilbert, Tommy Gilbert’s son. “As the classes grew, Dad started looking for a storefront to open a school. The area he was looking in was San Leandro, California. It was a very nice, diverse area.
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 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
Ninth-dan Tom Thompson holds the record for the fastest brown-belt promotion in Skipper Mullen’s system. In 1971, at age 21, Thompson partnered with Allen Steen to become the fourth importer of martial arts supplies in America. An active lecturer, researcher and author, Thompson is also the founder and former director of the Fellowship of Christian Martial Artists. On November 14, 2009, he became both the oldest football player in NCAA history and, at age 59, the oldest to score a point during a game. He and his wife own AFC Management, Inc., which operates the Alpha Fitness Centers in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex.
MASuccess: Where did you grow up, and what did your dad do?
Tom Thompson: I grew up in Dallas, Texas. By age 15, I lived alone with my father because of a dysfunctional family. He did a number of things before passing.
MAS: How did you first hear about martial arts?
Thompson: I was in 10th grade and knew of a...
by Karen Eden
I never thought that anything good could come out of being irritated — until I read up on one of my favorite gems: the pearl. I didn’t know that pearls usually aren’t perfectly round, and I didn’t know that it takes so long to create one. But what was most surprising was how something so beautiful could come out of something so irritating.
Take, for instance, the pearl of the rare and fragile Tahitian Black-Lipped Oyster. Each pearl takes up to two years to cultivate, and then only three in 100 are deemed to be of high quality. If you are fortunate enough to get a string of “high-quality” pearls, it will cost you the price of a luxury car.
Perhaps my favorite part of the pearl success story is knowing that every single pearl starts with a tiny grain of sand. The piece of sand is placed inside the mollusk. Because it’s irritating to the mollusk’s delicate insides, the animal secretes a natural liquid that...
by Kathy Olevsky
Over time, I’ve found that change is uncomfortable for me. I’m sure that many of you have experienced the same. When you become good at something and therefore successful, it’s hard to watch it all slip backward to the point where you have to start over.
Case in point: As a result of the stay-at-home orders, most martial arts instructors transitioned to online learning and teaching. I was in shock when I first realized that our once-thriving business would not be operating at a capacity even close to what it was pre-pandemic.
After the shock came the fear. How was my business of nearly 45 years going to survive this?
Finally came the research, the brainstorming and the planning. We vowed to do what it took to survive. We always had, and we always will. We are martial artists, and we know how to rise above. Everything is hard, but that doesn’t mean we quit. It means we work harder.
Now, months later, we still offer online...
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