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...
Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, legendary fighter Jeff Smith pulled off a dual goal unprecedented back then and extremely rare even today. He became a world kickboxing champion while simultaneously mastering the martial arts school business! Furthermore, he pioneered savvy business techniques still practiced by current school owners. Read Smith’s extraordinary story and prepare to come away inspired!
By Herb Borkland
In the early 1960s, when Americans were first meeting the Beatles, Jhoon Rhee, the “Father of American Taekwondo,” owned four schools in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland. He also regularly traveled around the country to a dozen taekwondo clubs, where he tested students trained by some of his black belts. One such club was located in Kingsville at Texas A&M University, where teenaged Jeff Smith’s mother worked and Jeff delivered daily newspapers.
“One day on my route, I noticed a sign for a karate...
By Karen Eden
Huey Lewis and the News was a very popular Top 40 band for more than a couple of decades. Back in my radio days, I was backstage when Huey Lewis was coming off from a “standing-room-only” performance. I could tell he was more than pleased with his show; he was literally wiping the sweat off of his face.
Just then, I heard someone make a comment to him.
“I remember seeing you at the Aqua Knot nightclub when you were a start-up band,” said the man.
“Oh, wow!” replied Huey, with almost a look of pain on his face.
Huey wasn’t rude or impolite. But I could never understand why he had such a deflated look on his face when that guy told him that. Until now.
A lot of years have gone by since then. I’ve come into my own as an author of four books and a journalist with over 20 years of writing for martial arts magazines and newscasts.
I’m always honored when someone conjures up...
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.
When I first started in the martial arts back in the late 1970's, it was common to hear an instructor say to a student, “Only one in 1,000 will make it to black belt.” That statement was a source of pride. It meant that a black belt was to be truly honored. It meant that a black belt wasn’t a common man (or woman); they were elite.
The statement was made with good intentions, but it did irreparable harm!
Dwight Trower has dedicated his time and skill to teaching kids and adults with Down Syndrome at his Family Martial Art Academy in St. Louis, MO. These special-needs martial artists never pay for a lesson. It's a labor of love for Trower that comes back tenfold with every kick and punch thrown by his students in this unique class.
By: Terry Wilson
Dwight Trower was in a trade school learning how to be an auto mechanic and, at the time, saw it as his clear-cut future. That is, until he took his first karate class. From that moment forward, he was propelled on a path that would eventually forever change his life and the lives of untold numbers of special-needs students.
“Even as a blue belt, I was an assistant teacher,” Trower says today. “My instructor told me that I had a gift for teaching, especially working with kids.
“With a class full of students, there were usually one or two of them that were on the autism spectrum or had Down syndrome. So,...
Bobby and Charlene Lawrence operate Utah's largest chain of karate schools — 19 locations teaching more than 2,200 active students. Their four children and 20 grandchildren have grown up in the martial arts business. Read how their fascinating, family-oriented approach has built a martial arts empire and influenced tens of thousands of students in the Beehive State.
By: Keith D. Yates
Once, Bobby Lawrence was a public school teacher, athletic coach and attorney. While he was busy working in the corporate world, his wife, Charlene, turned their martial arts hobby into a one-school business. Today, they run the largest chain of karate schools in the entire state of Utah, encompassing 19 different locations. They are all Bobby Lawrence Karate Schools, some of them licensed. But the husband-and-wife team, who’ve been in the martial arts business since the 1980s, oversee the chain’s operations.
And it isn’t just the two of them. Their sons and even...
Knoxville, Tennessee’s Barry Van Over went from the hills of Appalachia to the forefront of the 21st-century martial arts revolution. Franchising is his dynamic vision for the future of martial arts businesses.
By Keith D. Yates
While people have been practicing martial arts for thousands of years, the ancient disciplines have never been more popular than they are today. Statista is an online statistics, market research and business-intelligence portal that provides access to data from market and opinion research institutions. The last time the company conducted a survey, in 2016, into how many people practiced martial arts, it discovered that almost four million people, ages six and older, were practicing martial arts.
With more than 20,000 martial arts studios operating across the nation and the rise of martial arts in the mainstream, there is reason to believe that those numbers would be even higher today.
One of the reasons why martial arts is so...
James Lee of Eagle, Colorado, has developed a unique way to funnel 30-40 public elementary-school kids right into his commercial school. So effective is his program that public-schools come to him year after year to do it again! Check out what he does differently and why it works.
Even though James Lee took his first karate lesson at the age of seven, he didn’t get past yellow belt until he was 13. No, it wasn’t because he was a slow learner. It was because he was moved from city to city as a child due to his parents’ work schedule. In spite of the moving around, he begged his parents to find a new martial arts school in each new city. According to him, he was so enthusiastic that he’d start his new classes before they even unpacked their boxed possessions!
At the age of 19, Lee was a brown belt and, in between enjoying the ski slopes, he continued to practice with the goal of going back to Louisiana to earn his black belt. Then, his plan was to return to the...
Tae Bo creator Billy Blanks has launched a new fitness program that can boost revenues for martial arts schools during off-peak hours. “Billy’s Boom Boxing” fuses aerobics with many martial arts customs, including katas, self-defense applications, bagwork, and even a rank system using colored hand wraps and gloves. School owners in the program could draw a new wave of fitness clients from the general public that normally won’t take martial arts lessons.
From 1998 to 2001, the first martial arts-oriented fitness program ever to capture the mass-market participation of the general public took hold. In fact, it became a worldwide fitness phenomenon. Called Tae Bo, a name based on the “tae” in taekwondo and the “bo” in boxing, it was created by retired semi-contact karate world champion and master-level black belt Billy Blanks.
Blanks launched the program at his karate school in Sherman Oaks, CA. It was a high-intensity...
by Herb Borkland
As a 16-year-old Kansas City Golden Gloves fighter, Bob Thurman ran up an 86–3 record. In 1977, Thurman joined legendary karate pioneer Jim Harrison’s bushidokan style. Thurman entered pro kickboxing in 1979, posting a 19-1 record before his stunning 1982 defeat of world Middleweight Champion Alvin Prouder.
Thurman defended his World title 10 times. But, in 1989, after a mugger’s murderous assault on his wife, Betsy, he retired from the ring to create and teach worldwide his “CounterAttactics” system. It’s designed to stress mental awareness, psychological strategies, and tactics and techniques for surviving and escaping from street violence.
Bob Thurman: I grew up in Kansas City. My step-father ran a hotel-management company.
My real father was a Marine Corps colonel — a Marine’s Marine. I get my ass-kicking from him,
but my step-dad was an amazing human being.
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