by Kathy Olevsky
I’ve been writing this column for 10 years now, telling the world how I’ve survived 45 years in the martial arts business despite many mistakes. In fact, I have not even begun to cover close to all of them. I share my stories to help you learn from them, and because it is important for you to know that you, too, may blunder along the way, but that your school can survive all the same.
For five years, my martial arts business experienced slow-but-steady growth while meeting the needs of a solid foundation of students. The staff became skilled at keeping our students happy and excited about training as they rose through the ranks. Our retention rate was good.
Then everything changed when COVID struck. I’m guessing it’s the same for many dojo around the world.
We lost more than 100 students because of the pandemic. Then we grew by 150 students between February 2021 and August 2021. All of a sudden, we had to increase our support for...
by Dave Kovar
I believe that one of the X factors that enable people to operate a successful martial arts school is maintaining a passion for the arts. Looking at it from the outside, most people think that because we run martial arts schools, we get to work out all the time. For many people, this is not the case. As a matter of fact, it can be challenging to find time to train when you’re running a business, raising a family and balancing other commitments.
With that said, we’ve tried to create a culture in our schools where personal training is not only encouraged but also expected. This has dramatically helped my team and me maintain our love of martial arts and our desire to improve, regardless of age or athletic potential.
As for me, I’m proud to say (at the risk of sounding arrogant) that it’s been 50 years since my first wrestling match in 1971, and I’m still training. I’ve certainly had my share of injuries along the way, but...
A Successful Business Requires a Talented Person at the Helm!
by Kelly Murray-Grys
I started training in the martial arts in 1986 when I was just 4 years old. I was the only girl in my class and, even more notable, one of very few girls I knew who did karate. The dojo didn’t have air conditioning to deal with the summer heat, and we all did our pushups on our knuckles on the hardwood floor. On more than a few occasions, I was hit in the abdomen to the point of having the wind knocked out of me while being told that if I’d kept my guard up, I wouldn’t have gotten hit. Needless to say, it was a different time to be a martial artist.
A couple of other observations from that time: Our instructors didn’t give much thought to our feelings, nobody cared if we were under the weather on a given day, chest protectors hadn’t become the norm, and it was considered a privilege to mop the dojo floor at the end of the day. The staff of the school was composed...
by Dave Kovar
In my 40-plus years of running a martial arts school, I have seen many people come and go. I’ve also seen a handful of organizations that have continued to grow and thrive, decade after decade. In my effort to find out what has kept those schools in the game for so long, I’ve stumbled across what I refer to as the “four quadrants.” Although they might not use this terminology, the schools that excel have these in common.
The four quadrants consist of the individual and the team when viewed from an internal and an external perspective. They’re loosely based on my studies of Ken Wilber’s program on Integral Business.
1 — Individual Internal 2 — Team Internal
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.
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...
by Beth A. Block and Andrew J. Horner
Many people involved with youth sports programs don’t know what the Youth Safe Sports Act (YSSA) is, despite the fact that it’s almost two years old. This legislation is important for two reasons: First, it’s designed to keep our students safe from sexual predators, which is something we all want. Second, failure to comply with the law can result in severe consequences for martial arts school owners — even if the failure was merely one of ignorance and no actual assault occurred.
We’ll start with a brief review. Congress passed the YSSA in February 2018. The legislation was written in response to the abuse scandals that surrounded Jerry Sandusky (Penn State), Larry Nassar (USA Gymnastics) and Kristofer Bland (Pop Warner). The bill passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Donald Trump. With the enactment of this law, all businesses that teach, train or work with youth, as well as all...
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...
by Philip E. Goss Jr., Esq.
As a regular contributor to MASuccess, I derive great satisfaction from two things. One is receiving positive feedback in regard to my coverage of certain issues. The second is when someone lets me know that a problem I covered, which had previously flown under the radar, has become a hot-button issue.
On that note, I will bring up two topics that I’ve touched on and that are generating controversy in various jurisdictions: wage theft and salary inquiries. The second topic spans two issues: the ever-increasing prohibition against asking prospective employees about their previous salaries and the practice of paying similarly situated male employees more than females.
In the past, local government entities were hesitant to become involved in employment-related issues. When it came to wage and hour issues, protection of private-sector employees was minimal at best. Previously, an employee who suffered harm because an employer...
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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