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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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To Retain the Best, You Have to Give Your Best!

by Chris Rappold

 

It is always exciting to enroll new students. In most cases, it’s a fresh start with no history, only the promise of a bright martial arts future. The students enter your school and take their first class, receive their first promotions and win their first trophies. Everything is new and exciting.

Through continued hard work — both yours and the students’ — they continue to advance. At first, you may have just one advanced student, but in what seems like no time, you have a class full of brown and black belts. It’s a dream come true.

Then, without warning, one of those advanced students, perhaps even one you had mentally tagged as an assistant instructor, discontinues training. You feel like you got punched in the stomach. Why would the person suddenly stop training? Isn’t this what he or she always wanted? Why would the student come so far, only to quit? These questions and others race through your mind.

While you’ll...

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5 Insights Into the Human-Relations Side of Retention

By Christopher Rappold

 

Finding out that a student is going to be leaving your school is never fun. If you care about making an impact on someone’s life and sincerely enjoy teaching, news of a departure can create some sleepless nights. While there is no magic answer to ensure this never happens, your time will always be well-spent ensuring that the highest percentage of your students remain dedicated to their training at your facility.

As I look back over 25 years of teaching, I do so with pride in what our team has produced. But, like you, I’ve been stung with the unexpected news of a student discontinuing his or her training more than once. Since we preach, “You can either get bitter or get better,” I offer the following preventative measures designed to keep such surprises to a minimum.

 

1. Know Your Students Beyond the Mat

It’s easy to forget that our students have lives outside the few hours they spend training with us each week. They...

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How to Solve the Two-Inch Problem

By Christopher Rappold

 

What is it that separates a good competitor from a great competitor? I have asked that question many times, and I have heard many answers. To be great, someone must be fast. Or must be strong. Or must have a long reach. Or must have superior strategy. The list of answers goes on.

While all these are valid, I believe that the biggest deciding factor between good and great is whether a person can control distance.

This answer is what I would call “the elusive obvious.” It is self-evident, but sometimes we are so close to it that we don’t appreciate its value. If distance is controlled, then offense, defense, blocks, punches and kicks all work. If distance is off, they all are rendered useless.

If distance is such a critical element of success in martial arts, why is it that most schools place a premium on punching and kicking and only teach distance as a necessary evil? As I reflected on the answer and spoke with others, two answers...

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Phil Wilemon: Training With Legends

motivation sparring Aug 09, 2019

By Herb Borkland

Tenth-dan Texas “Blood-and-Guts” era phenomenon Phil Wilemon started training in 1964. He won Allen Steen’s United States Karate Championships as a blue belt. As a brown belt, he either won or was disqualified in every tournament he entered, causing his longtime instructor Larry Caster to say, “Two out of three aren’t bad.”

Wilemon won 13 consecutive tournaments as a middleweight black belt and fought on national championship teams. A founding officer for the Texas Amateur Contact Karate Association, he also served as a representative for the Professional Karate Association in the Southwest. Wilemon refereed or coordinated more than 100 full-contact karate matches and is still in demand as an instructor and seminar leader.

 

Herb Borkland: Where did you grow up, and what did your dad do?

Phil Wilemon: I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and moved to Arlington in third grade. My father came from a long line of bankers but ended...

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Systems and Personality: Your Two Keys to Success

retention sparring Jul 15, 2019

By Christopher Rappold

 

As martial arts instructors continue to get better and better at teaching large populations in efficient ways, the temptation is to move towards total classroom systemization. And while systems do enable us to do certain things more efficiently than we have in the past, there are some decisions you need to make about what to systemize and what should be personalized.

Let’s break this down and look at it in two separate pieces.

First, let’s explore systems. Think about a favorite restaurant you frequent. Behind the scenes, there are probably a myriad of systems that help to ensure the experience is first-class: a setup of warming lights to ensure food arrives at the table hot, a dishwasher that ensures the silverware, glasses and plates sparkle, and an extensive food-preparation effort that probably started late morning or early afternoon that ensures there’s enough of the right kinds of food. Desserts are all premade and ready to be...

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How Is Toughness Taught In the Modern Martial Arts School?

By Christopher Rappold

 

An ability to be tough is needed to pursue any high-level training. And while different coaches, teachers and instructors may have different definitions for what it is, for the purpose of this discussion, I will break down being, “tough” into two different categories. They are mental toughness and physical toughness, both of which have great value in sport and in life.

Elements of Mental Toughness

As I think of mental toughness, three things come to mind:

  1. The ability to problem-solve.
  2. The ability to handle frustration.
  3. A high degree of confidence in battle.

Within the confines of a martial arts class, how can you teach these important skills? A simple solution may be to set up a scenario that requires a student to come up with what a solution to a problem in a limited amount of time.

At times, we as instructors are in a rush maintain a schedule, and do not allow students to explore different options. We forget that this process, though not...

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The Three Kinds of Teachers: Which One Are You?

By Christopher Rappold

 

The successful retention of students in a martial arts school is of paramount importance. It saves the school money by cutting down on monthly advertising budgets and replacing them with free referrals. It increases the cash flow by creating happier students who stay and train for longer. And it enables staff members and owners to earn a higher pay for the great services they provide.

All around, everyone wins when retention is high and the quit rate is low. But if this makes so much sense, then why, for some, does it seem to be so hard to do?

One answer to this that I would like to explore is the quality of the teacher. As you may well know, if you replace a bad teacher with a good one, all of a sudden, a school that was limping along will start to grow.

Conversely, I have seen a great teacher replaced by a teacher who was only “good” and the exact opposite happened. Perhaps you have seen the same. So, what is it that makes the difference...

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Sparring Does Not Lose Students When You Conduct Your Classes This Way

By Christopher Rappold

 

A student gets punched in the nose and starts to bleed. He’s embarrassed and fear starts to set in. He thinks to himself, “Maybe this isn’t for me.”

 

A woman in her 40s gets partnered up with a 17-year-old boy. Try as she might, she’s in a position where she can’t do anything. She is self-conscious and feels like she’s diminishing his workout.

 

Another student enjoys the martial arts class until the instructor says, “Everyone get your gear on and find a partner for sparring.”

 

Yet another student secretly hopes to not be partnered in sparring class with one particular peer who lacks control.

 

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? If the answer is yes, then, like many others, you have a very real problem that’s killing your ability to grow your school.

 

Let’s face it: Getting a new student isn’t easy. It requires time, effort and money. Why, then,...

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