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".
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...
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...
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...
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.
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,...
By Kathy Olevsky
I believe most martial arts school owners and managers spend a great deal of time wondering what they should do to bring in new members. This is a dilemma I am well acquainted with.
One of the most important lessons I learned in this business came at a time when our numbers were dwindling. I couldn’t figure out how to get more leads. I had already reviewed all my notes from previous martial arts events and tried to double down on referrals — but to no avail.
Then a thought occurred to me: “I can’t be the only one dealing with this!” So, I went through the phone book and gathered the numbers of 10 other school owners. I called them one by one and asked each of them to give me three tips about things they did that garnered new leads. That was a great lesson in networking, as well as an excellent source of inspiration. The other owners were all very forthcoming, and we had a nice exchange of ideas, including what tactics were...
By Philip E. Goss Jr., Esq.
Each year as we change to a new calendar, we look toward a new beginning and new goals. In most United States jurisdictions, the law typically has two “new years”: one that begins January 1 and another that commonly starts between July and November of the same calendar year. These are the timeframes in which newly enacted laws become effective.
You have probably seen newspaper columns or internet posts outlining the recent law changes in your jurisdiction. These notices are not usually exhaustive. They just highlight the changes that are most interesting to casual consumers. Issues that could adversely affect your day-to-day business operations may not be covered or may be buried deep within the news release. It’s interesting to learn how tips must be divided among restaurant servers, and it’s good to know that driving while using a cellphone is unlawful. However, these things have limited value to your martial arts...
By Nguyen “Tom” Griggs
Hello, friends! I want to thank everyone who provided valuable feedback regarding my B.L.A.C.K. B.E.L.T. series. I promise to continue delivering valuable insights and information.
During the next five articles, we’re going to discuss how the concepts from Japanese jujitsu can be applied to your teams. I know that all our arts share similar principles, so feel free to apply them accordingly.
My instructor Torey Overstreet constantly reminds us that if you must use force to make a technique work, then you are doing it incorrectly. Now, some functional strength is necessary when applying a technique, but force implies a rough and harsh application of strength.
Effective leadership requires you to be strong all the time, but rarely forceful. I’ve known several leaders who firmly believed that if you had to raise your voice in anger or frustration, then you...
By Beth A. Block
None of us ever wants to face the situation one of your fellow school owners was forced to confront a few years ago. It came out of nowhere and left the owner absolutely shocked.
This particular school employed a part-time instructor who had worked there for years. He was super with children. He was patient and caring and inspired even the youngest and most reluctant kids.
Then one day, the studio owner received a phone call from a mom. She said her son would not be returning to camp or class. When the owner asked why, Mom said her son told her that the part-time instructor punched all the new kids in the privates. When her son complained that it hurt, the instructor took him into the bathroom and looked at his genitals and touched him.
This is everyone’s nightmare!
The school owner called me shortly after she spoke to the mom. Over the next several days, the owner and I spoke several times. I want to break down the most important parts of our...
How Two Instructors Guide Their Students to Black Belt — and Then Retain Them as Contributing Members of the Dojo!
Rob and Kathy Olevsky (author of MASuccess’ “You Messed Up! Now What?” column) took over a struggling school in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1979. Forty years later, they not only have a thriving business but dozens of black belts who are happy to pay full tuition. Learn what they did right — and a few things they did wrong — along the way!
By Keith Yates
It was the late 1970s, and Kathy Kilmartin was a 21-year-old taking karate lessons at the only martial arts school in Raleigh, North Carolina. She caught the eye of one of the instructors, a man named Rob Olevsky, but the dojo had a strict policy against teachers dating students. However, after repeated requests, the school’s owner says Rob could ask her out on a date — but only if Rob bought out Kathy’s contract in case she quit.
By Kathy Olevsky
All martial arts schools go through phases of growth. Conversely, there are times when their numbers dwindle. The biggest lesson I have learned over the past 45 years in business is that you must properly analyze your numbers to find out why you are not growing and what you have done in the past that has promoted growth.
Prior to using my statistics, I simply went off what I thought was happening. This process of guesswork rarely helped me correct a curve in my business. However, as a small-business owner, I found it difficult to actually access the proper statistics.
Today, there are many software programs designed for martial arts schools. They can help guide business owners by providing all the necessary statistics to correct any depression in business. Before these programs became available, I kept track of our numbers using written charts, which I would periodically review to see what we might be overlooking or doing wrong. This might not be as...
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