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The Martial Arts Industry Association's MASuccess Magazine exists to help grow martial arts participation by helping school owners succeed.

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So Many Mistakes

lesson learned motivation Jun 20, 2021

by Kathy Olevsky

 

I’ve written this column for 10 years now, telling the world how I’ve survived 45 years in the martial arts business despite having made many mistakes. In fact, I have not even begun to cover them all. I share my stories to help you learn from them — and because it’s important to know that you, too, may blunder along the way but that your school can survive.

 

 

After the major changes and constant unpredictability of 2020, the martial arts industry started to come back strong in 2021. During this time, we had to get experimental — sometimes successfully and sometimes not. At this time, I would like to share some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my years of running a school (not just 2020) in the hope that the solutions I found can help you as our industry continues to revive.

 

Pay and Charge Your Black Belts. In our early years, we followed the tradition that holds that when students reach black belt,...

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Roadblocks

by Kathy Olevsky

 

I recently read a post in a Facebook group about how an instructor wanted to ban phones in the lobby. The idea, I believe, was to get parents to engage more with their children — with fewer distractions from their phones. Many experts in the martial arts business have said that we need to take giant steps in 2021 to get our businesses back to normal after a year of difficulties due to the COVID pandemic. However, there are ways to encourage parent participation and ways to alienate parents.

We instructors need to take into account that many parents and adult students have moved on to working remotely. In our school, there are parents who bring their children to class but are still on the clock for their jobs. They continue their work hours in our lobby or in their cars while their child trains. Some come in with their phones on because they’re on call. For this reason, we’ve decided to do whatever we can to help them improve their lives. Our...

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Helping Ourselves Through Helping Others

lesson learned mentor Feb 23, 2021

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.

Near the end of 2020, one of our locations was contacted by a fellow martial arts school owner looking to rent some space. He’d been forced to close his school because of COVID and was trying to restart his program while keeping costs as low as possible.

This is just one of many ways that we martial arts instructors can consider helping each other. Those of us who have managed to stay afloat and continue to teach in our commercial space might benefit from some extra...

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Beyond Social Distance

business lesson learned Feb 21, 2021

by Beth A. Block

 

  

Mats, bags, video gear, audio systems, oh my! Many of us transport our equipment to other locations. We might be traveling for a test or a graduation, or maybe we’re moving to a new studio space. Some of us might even be using a trailer as a permanent storage unit. Surely, there are more reasons for moving our things than those, but you get the point.

What none of us thinks about while we’re doing this is insurance for all our “stuff,” whether we plan to store it or move it. Be honest — does insurance ever come to mind unless you have a claim? I’ve got a quarter that says it doesn’t. (I’m smiling as I type. Please don’t contact me with serious quarter claims.)

A few months ago, I received a call from a studio owner. She said that during the summer of 2020, she would work out in the park and take her equipment with her every day. In the evening, she would clean the equipment and drive the...

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Pivot, Adapt, Survive

lesson learned Dec 26, 2020

by Kathy Olevsky

 

“Pivot” and “adapt” have become buzzwords in business during the past year. Add “survive” and you have probably the most important words of 2020. Small businesses had to recreate themselves to make it through a year of economic turmoil. It will be a time we talk about for years to come.

In September 2020, I was looking for a solution to get my current students back through the doors. There was great concern about resuming self-defense training and sparring because they involve a high degree of partner contact. We had no problem getting new students to come in, but we were struggling to get our older students to return.

Around that time, I noticed that many people in the martial arts were doing their best to try new things and share them with anyone who would listen. One of the best qualities of the martial arts community became apparent: We have more than our share of creativity. So many of us were trying to survive that we...

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Videoconferencing Classes Can Raise Unintended-Liability Consequences

by Philip E. Goss Jr., Esq.

In this new COVID-19 world, many of you are using videoconferencing in lieu of in-person classes. Is teaching virtually in this manner without potential liability? The short answer is no.

As you know, classes conducted on your school premises have many built-in liability protections. For example, no student will be injured by a rambunctious pet or younger sibling running across the studio floor. No misplaced pieces of furniture will get in the way of full-power kicks.

Furthermore, should a student be injured at your school, you’ll have immediate knowledge of the incident, as well as the ability to take remedial action and then create an incident report that records all the facts while they’re fresh in the minds of witnesses.

Clearly, these protections do not apply when instruction takes place via videoconferencing. Nevertheless, many instructors are using video. Assuming you’re one of them, I offer the following cautionary advice.

...

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The Mirror Reveals

lesson learned Dec 23, 2020

by Nguyen “Tom” Griggs

 

One of the best tools for growth is the mirror. If you have the right mindset, the mirror can help you answer two crucial questions: Who is looking back at you? And who will you become?

When I was about to take my first wife to the hospital to give birth, I thought, OK, after you leave, you’ll return with a baby. You’ll be a dad, and your life will never be the same. There were definitely some fearful emotions that day, but there was also a sense of excitement and joy. The person in the mirror was scared but filled with hope.

A few years later, I came home one Saturday to an empty house after my now ex-wife had departed with our son. I was met with a deafening silence. The furniture was gone, my family was absent and I was left to look in the mirror at the one person I blamed for what had happened. The person in the mirror was angry, hurt, resentful and lonely.

Some years later, my son and I stood in front of a mirror as we got...

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The Best Defense

covid-19 lesson learned Dec 22, 2020

Beth A. Block

 

Flu season is upon us. American citizens, including martial arts studio owners and martial arts students, remain divided over masks. Some people have legitimate medical reasons for why they cannot wear a mask; others simply will not wear one.

To minimize liability, I recommend following the guidelines issued by your county, your state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You also need to consider the Americans With Disabilities Act. Walking the tightrope between these two mandates can cause problems for business owners. An issue already has cropped for one of my clients.

A studio owner encountered a parent who claimed not to be able to wear a mask for a medical reason. The owner reminded the parent of the studio’s published policy of mask wearing. The parent threatened to get an attorney involved. The owner came to me for help, and I did some research. If you find yourself in a similar situation, what I learned could be useful to you, too.

...

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More Change

lesson learned mentor Oct 01, 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.

First, the good news: Many of us are back to teaching in our schools.

Now, the bad news: Some of us are dealing with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, and our states are taking action to address it. I know a few martial arts school owners who could not sustain their businesses. As a result, they had to close their doors.

Basically, we all are operating on the same premise: We will open our schools if we can, and if not, we will operate virtually until in-person training is...

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Tournament Trauma

lesson learned mentor Sep 01, 2020

by Beth A. Block

 

Tournaments can be an important part of martial arts training. They allow us to experience the drive of competition, to learn to accept defeat gracefully and to feel the thrill of victory. Some studios require participation; some make it optional. Others do not train their students to compete at all. No matter where you stand, there is one certainty when it comes to tournaments: They always carry a risk of injury.

In this column, I will focus on a specific tournament story not because COVID-19 is over — the disease is still an important risk to manage — but because I want to remind everyone that we face other risks in the martial arts.

A few years ago, I attended a tournament that involved several hundred people and dozens of studios. The insurance companies I represent always advise the organizers of such events to have EMTs on-site. That’s recommended because, as we all know, participants can get injured no matter how careful the organizer...

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