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The Martial Arts Industry Association exists to help grow martial arts participation by helping school owners succeed. Many school owners are never exposed to the foundational business concepts necessary to run and grow a successful business. At MAIA, we can help fill that need, as we are made up of school owners who have walked in your shoes, know your struggles, and can help with strategies to elevate you from novice to a "blackbelt in business".

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Never Stop Learning

lesson learned mentor Mar 25, 2020

by Kathy Olevsky

 

I’ve operated a martial arts school full time for 45 years. I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. And I’ll share the solutions I used to overcome them.

 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday life of running a martial arts school that we often forget the key components of our success in the arts. When running a business, certain issues rise to the top and get our attention. It’s easy to assume that these are the important issues. In reality, the things we let sink to the bottom are often the ones that make or break us.

In the early days of owning my first dojo, my instructor used to say, “You...

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Let Them Go

by Kathy Olevsky

 

We all know someone who seems to stir up drama like it’s their job. There’s one in every dojo. Sometimes this person is your most talented student, so you try to overlook the attitude you get on or off the floor. Sometimes this person is the family member paying for several of your students, so you grin and bear it for the sake of income. Sometimes this person is the parent of a student who excels in class and who personally does not give you any problems. Whoever he or she is, such a person is the cause of “dojo drama.”

You can ignore the person or make excuses, but sooner or later you have to make a decision. In the second scenario, you might decide that the monthly tuition for multiple students is worth putting up with the drama-causer who’s footing the bill.

However, the decision is more difficult when it involves a student who has talent you want to keep but an attitude you want to lose. When a student belittles others in...

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Electronic Document Storage: Do Ya Feel Lucky?

lesson learned Mar 09, 2020

by Philip E. Goss Jr., Esq.

 

I am all at once amazed, befuddled, frightened and impressed by one of the most common things I see people do: rely completely on their cellphone for maintaining their schedule, paying bills, navigating unfamiliar terrain and God knows what else. They do all this with the apparent confidence that every action they complete, including executing legally binding agreements, is made valid by the mere fact that it’s accomplished through technology.

Much of my hesitancy to develop comfort with a paperless world was hardwired into me by my early office experiences. My formative years occurred when fax machines were the size of small refrigerators and printer paper was secured by steel teeth running on parallel tracks, requiring the removal of serrated edges before use. If you really needed to get a document somewhere in a hurry, you had to use a company that guaranteed overnight delivery. No email for the masses in the early 1980s!

The definition of...

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Showing Versus Helping

by Nguyen “Tom” Griggs

 

I want to share some insights regarding the distinctions between two concepts that are often confused: helping and showing. Both relate to leadership and teamwork.

As martial arts professionals, we are often asked by our students for assistance with techniques, combinations, kata and so on. But when we assist them, what’s the difference between helping and showing? It’s more than just a matter of semantics.

“Helping” means giving tips and critiques. “Showing” requires giving a demonstration of the task. The reason I’m pointing out the difference is that too often, conflict and frustration result from confusing the terms.

For example, suppose you needed people to help you move. However, when you asked for help, you probably expected that people would give you some amount of their time and show up ready to pack boxes and carry things.

Now imagine if the people arrived, and instead of packing and...

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Who Are You?

lesson learned Dec 27, 2019

by Kathy Olevsky

 

I’ve operated a martial arts school full time for 45 years. I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. And I’ll share the solutions I used to overcome them.

 

Your “separation point” is the feature that sets training at your dojo apart from other activities for children, teens and adults in your community: Why martial arts and not soccer, lacrosse, ballet, etc.? Within the arts, your separation point is what differentiates yours from other martial arts schools. Why would someone want to train in taekwondo with you, for example, rather than at the academy down the road?

You should be able to answer these...

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Dilapidated

lesson learned motivation Dec 17, 2019

by Karen Eden

 

I recently returned to my hometown for a visit. In between chatting with old friends, I allowed myself time to wander and explore the “memory lanes” of my childhood. Many of the places and experiences there were pleasant — others, not so much. After some internal debate, I decided to visit a place that’s been the source of nightmares since sixth grade: my old middle school.

You see, before I was a black belt six times over, before I knew how to hold my head up, before I realized that, belt or not, we all have so much inherent worth as humans, I was a victim of bullying. I was an easy target: poor, ethnic and undeniably geeky. Nowhere in my life would I ever again face such horrific experiences as I did middle school!

I realize that I’m not alone in that regard. No one, I’ve come to learn, escapes middle school unscathed. But combined with the brokenness of my home life, the ostracism and bullying from my peers those three...

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12 Rules for Training, Part 1

lesson learned mentor Oct 07, 2019

by Dave Kovar

 

To be quality martial arts instructors, we must keep up with our own training. Over the decades, I’ve relied on a dozen rules that have helped me develop my skills and maintain my longevity in the dojo.

The rules started as unconscious habits, but as time went by, I became mindfully aware of them to such an extent that I solidified them into rules. Whenever I put them into practice, good things happen. I’m confident you will find them as valuable in your training.

 

1          Empty Your Cup

Most martial arts instructors have their students bow onto the mat before they train and bow off the mat afterward. They do this for a variety of reasons, but the one that’s most important for me is it helps me empty my cup. Bowing can remind you that the world outside ends the moment you step onto the mat.

By making this action a ritual and consciously trying to clear your head before every training...

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Balance the New With the Old

by Kathy Olevsky

 

I’ve operated a martial arts school full time for 45 years. I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. And I’ll share the solutions I used to overcome them.

 

Over the years, I have realized the importance of balancing the addition of new things with the maintenance of tradition and integrity. In my school’s karate program, we adhere to the same high standards as we always have. The black belt of today is the same as the black belt of many years ago. However, many of our students also partake in our yoga-stretch class, our cardio-fitness class, and our judo and jujitsu classes.

In this industry, it’s essential...

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Trick or Treat

by Beth A. Block

 

Trick or treat; give me something good to eat! Many fall celebrations revolve around food. That’s not surprising because food has brought human beings together since the beginning of our history. Many studies have shown that food fosters relationships between people and helps build communities.

Halloween, in particular, is all about sweets. In our martial arts studios, we offer parents a safe alternative to taking their children from house to house trick-or-treating. Our celebrations usually include games, prizes and candy — which means they’re guaranteed to keep young students happy.

Thanksgiving follows on the heels of Halloween. What do you visualize when you think of Thanksgiving? Turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and other favorite foods, most likely. Of course, the other thing that comes to mind is family.

Celebrations offer you a chance to strengthen the family and community bonds that are present in your martial arts studio. It...

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Quit Your Job, Chase Your Dream!

lesson learned motivation Sep 22, 2019

Guest Blog by Michelle Hodnett

 

Project Dojo is a nonprofit community outreach program in Pueblo, Colorado, that works with at-risk children. Through the power of martial arts, Project Dojo seeks to inspire and motivate kids within a safe environment, while continuing to teach the traditions of martial arts. This is the story of Project Dojo co-founder Michelle Hodnett’s experiences in her martial art journey.

 

The Epiphany

I stared down at my coffee, knowing I was going to be on another sixteen-hour shift. I worked as a corrections officer in the local jail, in the segregation unit. Here, the inmates who had been deemed too dangerous or violent for the general population lived while they served out their sentences.

Suddenly, the radio clicked in: “Code 82, Seg 4!” Setting my coffee down, I rushed out with the sergeant and three other officers. As we ran down the hall, the blood rushed to my ears. I could smell fried baloney, leftover from lunch,...

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