Martial Arts Business Plan

This organization specialise in providing martial arts business plan and help to start up school owners.

March 2, 2009 at 2:38 pm Leave a comment

Husband and Wife Team Business Success in Martial Arts

The business world is full of self-made prophecies that are seldom adhered too. ‘Don’t work with family’ – that’s one of them. ‘Be weary of mixing business with pleasure’; that’s another one. Married East Midlands couple Sean and Julie Hutton are guilty on both counts, but they really don’t seem to care. “We love working with each other,” they say, with a natural confidence that exudes not only pride in their work, but also great success.

Not that it hasn’t been hard work, of course. Like all successful start-up schools they had to overcome the pitfalls, like disenfranchised instructors and mentors that didn’t seem to follow their distinct family ethic. “That’s the reason why we left our original instructor,” Sean says, “we were pulling in different directions. For him it was all about getting in as much money within the first few months as he possibly could, and making them sign contracts that they couldn’t get out of. That’s not fair.” Such integrity spurred the couple on to go independent, and set up their own schools in their East Midlands home, with numbers increasing at such a rate that they currently operate three different schools in Loughborough, Coalville and Shepshed. Not bad for a couple who’ve only been teaching for four years, and have only been running their own organisation for a year and a half.

The couple run East Midlands Karate, but the name is slightly ambiguous, as the club doesn’t restrict itself to just the Japanese arts. “Our roots are in Taekwondo,” says Sean, “but we wanted to teach a more varied curriculum, so we’ve introduced elements of kickboxing, traditional Taekwondo, Ju Jitsu, and recently we’ve enrolled a Judo instructor.” Sean likes the aspect of creating the ‘well-rounded’ martial artist, fluent in all trades: “Taekwondo and Karate are very stand-up martial arts, but what happens when you go on the floor? With us we’re addressing that by learning Ju Jitsu and Judo as well, and its more fun,” a concept that certainly appeals to the many families that enrol in their schools.

By creating such a family-friendly atmosphere, the couple’s intention to ‘have fun’ is cemented by refusing to take the arts too seriously, preferring a less regimented style of teaching that young children can relate to – “less philosophy, more practical,” as Julie puts it. “We don’t teach the foreign languages,” says Sean, “there’s too many for a start!” he jokes, referring to their credentials as a multi-style school teaching martial arts from Japan, Korea and China. The couple love the fact that their organization appeals to so many families, with their students’ ages ranging from 5 to 60, with regular competitions and a demonstration team for the pupils to get involved in. Julie, particularly, feels that their work transcends the martial boundaries and has a positive social effect on the community. “We’re enhancing and developing children, teaching them courtesy, respect, and discipline,” she says, “I think that’s the qualities that our school brings to families in the community.” “We teach them leadership and communication skills, simple things like meeting and greeting people,” says Sean, on how their style of teaching is having a positive affect on the next generation.

“As a family school,” Sean adds, “we make sure that the parents get involved. Even if it’s just making them hold a shield or bag. They feel like they’re doing their bit, and the parent’s get a real buzz out of it. Once they get into it…” Sean pauses as Julie says “…they put their hand up again and again,” in that endearing way that married couples have of finishing each other’s sentences. This parental demand for more adult lessons has stemmed into a regular regime of quite varied classes for beginners and advanced, from adult self-defense to children’s fitness, with regular gradings and weapons training.

Such ethical, humble family values could only come from a couple that have a close-knit family of their own. Sean and Julie have been married for twenty years and have a son and a daughter. Not too surprisingly, both of their children are black belts. They even lead the demo team. “We go as a family, we train as a family, and we teach as a family,” says Sean, “yes, it’s work, but ultimately, we’re all together.” They know precisely how children behave and families react because they’ve been there themselves. Julie’s love for the martial arts was even given to her by a member of her own family, her young nephew, who first showed her the ways of the mat and since then she’s never looked back, coaxing the rest of her family to get involved, including her husband Sean. When the couple were heading towards their black belts, they were asked if they would like to run their former instructor’s satellite school. They both enrolled in the same Instructor’s Career Course, and soon went independent and started doing things their own way. Worries concerning how to manage a viable business as a married couple have never entered their minds, after all, who could either of them trust any more than each other?

Julie calls herself a full-time martial artist. She takes care of the admin during the day, and teaches at night. Sean is just as multi-skilled, so the two are well balanced at switching roles. “To be successful you have to work as a team,” Julie says, “you have to both make sure that you’ve got the same qualities, to be able to meet and greet, to be able to enroll, and also to be able to teach. Because we did our training together we’re on the same wavelength, we know exactly the line in which we want our business to take.” This integral body of trust has made them a great asset to the pupils that train there, developing a great communication with the students who feel that they have become a part of the Hutton family philosophy. I ask them how the pupils respond to their teachers’ being married, to which Sean replies, “I think it works well. There’s a greater element of trust because you’re a family. People are more comfortable and relaxed knowing that it’s a family run school.”

But how does Sean feel about the widely held belief that teaching the martial arts is a predominantly male-dominated role? “That’s precisely what’s different about us,” he says, “with most couples it’s the guy who does the teaching and he gets his wife to help out doing administration. Here, we have the advantage that Julie is almost as good an instructor as I am!” Endearingly, they both laugh. “We can change roles,” he says, “it’s not a problem.”

Such flexibility in their teaching makes them quite a unique concept, and has made them particularly popular in the eyes of their officials, receiving sponsorship from their governing body, the UKASKO (the United Kingdom All Styles Karate Organization). The couple are keen to point out that the association don’t have any influence over their curriculum, and are utilized mostly when grading, and invitations to nationwide events, plus for insurance and licensing purposes. “We came to them as a ready-made package,” Sean says, “we needed a little bit of backup, to add some… what’s the word?” Julie interjects. “Clout?” Sean continues. “Yes, a little bit of clout, really.” UKASKO help to nationally recognize the achievements of those who obtain their black belts through Sean and Julie’s East Midlands Karate schools, but aside from their overseeing input, the couple are pretty much self-made, and have achieved all of this completely on their own.

“We do everything ourselves,” says Julie, “from the advertising, the promotion, the administration, the enrolling, the teaching, we do everything.” They are the epitome of hard work and hard graft, with a sincere, unselfish and solid family spirit. Just like The Waltons. They even get members of the family to take over when they’re away on holidays, someone that they can trust almost as explicably as each other, which must be a difficult prospect to measure up against. “We love working together, and because our children are involved, the two combine,” Julie says, “we find time during the day to train together, when the children are at school, then in the evenings we’re training anyway. We’re all into the martial arts so we’ve never found it a problem balancing work with pleasure. The kids have never suffered as a result of us working at night, because they also see it as a social thing as they’ve made so many friends at martial arts. They love it, its part of their lives because it’s all they’ve ever known.”

So who will take over when, and if, they ever stop teaching? The kids? “That’s a nice thought, but it’s entirely up to them. They’ve got to want to do it.” In the meantime, though, the couple are keen to look beyond their three East Midlands schools (which they refer to as just one school; the flexibility of teaching is such that if you miss one lesson in Loughborough, its easy to catch up in Coalville, or even Shepshed). They’re optimistic enough to see that as the club grows and more and more students decide to join, they will ultimately have to branch out and expand their business.

But where to next? “I don’t think we’ll leave the East Midlands,” Julie says assuredly, “you face further complications keeping hold of your administration if you go out too far.” After all, there are still a few major cities just up the road that the two haven’t yet ventured their business into, like Derby, Leicester, Burton and Nottingham. As Sean puts it, “there’s more than enough to keep us busy”. Julie doesn’t hold back on her long term plans, she tells me that they hope to eventually train up students who can run their own satellite schools under the family-patented East Midlands name, which sounds logical enough, but she insists that whoever they pass the mantel onto, they will have to meet the tried-and-tested Hutton family values. “That’s why we tend to do everything ourselves,” she says, “there are so many people who wouldn’t even consider working with their husband or wife. So we realize that who ever we put in these instructor positions in the future, they will have to be like minded and share the same values as us.”

These values encompass the edification of youth, through confidence-training, discipline and dedication, while promoting a fun, family-friendly atmosphere that enables the students to learn, develop and progress in a lively, easy-going environment. “We tend not to attract the real hardcore ‘fight school’ type students,” Sean admits, “we tend to attract families because we’re not that sort of hardcore martial arts school.” This isn’t offering them a disservice, as their many pupils are clearly happy with how Sean and Julie manage to balance things. As someone who has worked with children all her life, Julie sees her teaching as more of an important step in the development of youth, whether they’re learning ‘hardcore’ martial arts or not.

And what advice would they offer to any budding young enthusiast who wants to settle down and start up their own business? “It depends on their own background of teaching and what support they’ve had from their instructor,” says Julie, “but if anyone has the desire to do what we’ve done, I think it’s a gut feeling that you get that you just have to take. As long as you work together, and you can trust each other, and make sure that you share everything to balance out the pressure.” Judging from the sought-after business that the couple have managed to achieve, and in such a short space of time, those who claim that working with family doesn’t work would do well to take a leaf out of Sean and Julie’s book. After all, they’ve pretty much rewritten the rules.

Lee Mainprize is a martial arts business and marketing expert visit for martial arts teachers and instructors resource

February 25, 2009 at 1:39 pm Leave a comment

Accounting Systems For Martial Arts Business

As a school owner it is essential that you know exactly how your business is performing on a month by month business. Rather than ignoring this valuable information the successful school owner would know exactly how much income had been generated last month, how this income had been generated, how much expenses were paid and exactly how much should be provided for certain events.

Without recording your transactions on a regular basis it is impossible to know the above details with any certainty, and even harder to identify whether you are meeting or exceeding budgets.

Reports can be easily generated from accounting systems, providing you with information such as profit and loss accounts, various breakdowns of expenses, budget reports, and graphs detailing year to date performance.

In this article I am going to look at several different methods of keeping your bookkeeping records and provide honest feedback from an accountants point of view so that you can make an informed choice for your business.

To grade the different packages I am going to use the following criteria:

Cost there is no point purchasing enterprise-level software with a correspondingly high price tag for a small school!
Ease of use again, there is no reason for purchasing software that is so complicated that it doesnt get used!

Reporting the standard of reporting provided from the system is vital for allowing you to monitor the progress of your business.

Manual Cashbook

Ratings: Cost: 4/5 (Approximately 10 20) Ease of use: 4/5

Reporting: 0/5

The manual cashbook has probably been used by all of you at some point the big red (or green) book provided by an accountant so that you can handwrite all of your payments and receipts at the end of the year.

Advantages: Low cost, relatively easy to use

Disadvantages: No reporting,each column has to be totaled manually

Excel Spreadsheets

Ratings: Cost: 5/5 (Free of charge)

Ease of use: 3/5

Reporting: 1/5

Excel spreadsheets are essentially a computerized version of the manual cashbook, available free of charge (provided that you have spreadsheet software).

Advantages: Excel analysis and summary tools, free of charge

Disadvantages: Reporting in Excel is complex, potential formula issues

Online Accounting

Ratings: Cost 5/5 (Free of charge)

Ease of use 4/5

Reporting 3/5

A secure online accounting tool provided by your accountant will provide you with the ease of use of a manual bookkeeping (with no manual totaling!) and basic reports found in comprehensive packages such as Profit and Loss, category breakdowns, graphs etc.

Advantages: Reporting, ease of use, free of charge, no software installation

Disadvantages: Ideally requires broadband connection


Ratings: Cost 2/5 (Approximately 100 upwards)

Ease of use 3/5

Reporting 4/5

Quickbooks is a comprehensive package targeted at small business owners to assist them with the management of their financial affairs, offering various reports and functions.

Advantages: Detailed reporting, ease of use compared to Sage

Disadvantages:Cost, training requirements, ongoing updates

Sage Accounting

Ratings: Cost 2/5 (Approximately 129 upwards)

Ease of use 2/5

Reporting 5/5

Sage is an established accounting software providing comprehensive reporting and more functions than you will ever need, albeit with a steep learning curve.

Advantages:Detailed reporting, potential departmental / budget analysis

Disadvantages:Cost, learning curve, ongoing updates

If you feel that your system is not currently providing you with the reports that you feel would assist you in your business it would be worthwhile discussing this with your accountant to decide whether a change would be beneficial. For example, our firm provide online accountancy packages and tailor made Excel spreadsheets. We are also Sage Accountants Club members, and as such can advise all of our clients how to select and implement a package to suit their needs.

All information given above does not constitute advice. It is essential that you contact your accountant or tax advisor before acting on any of the information given below as they will have an in depth knowledge of your individual circumstances. No liability will be accepted by either the author or Dennis & Turnbull in relation to the information provided above.

Dennis & Turnbull Accountants.

Lee Mainprize is a martial arts business and marketing expert visit for martial arts teachers resources

February 25, 2009 at 1:38 pm Leave a comment

Instructors Guide To Martial Arts Sales Lesson

1. 3 Rules of Concentration

Focus your Eyes, Focus Your Mind, Focus Your Body

2. Yes Sir & No Sir

3. Two Most important techniques attention & Bow


4. Self Defense Stance/Victim/Victor


5. Guarding Stance (switching stance)


6. Recap 1-5

7. Double Punch (6 reps each stance)

8. Where to Punch and Where not to punch (very important)

9. How high can you kick (goal setting/perseverance)



10. Front Kick

11. Review

12. Double Punch on pads and duck CO-ORDINATION SPEED AND POWER

13. Add front kick pads

14. Blocks 1-4 using blocker

15. Blocker Drill (duck, jump, side step)

16. Review Student Creed No 2 (tidy room)

Kids Introductory Lesson Script

3 Rules of Concentration

We are never taught how to listen, and concentrate, we find that the smartest children are the ones who can concentrate, the kids who are not so smart are the ones who are looking out of the window when the teachers talking

we teach the 3 Rules of Concentration to develop the very important skills of Concentration, these are Focus your Eyes, to show your concentrating always look me in the eyes (look away) I am concentrating now, would I be a good teacher (thumb down) no, and guess what it’s the same for students too, Focus your Mind so think about whats being said to you so you understand, and third Focus your Body always sit and stand straight and tall (do both). (Get the child to go through it saying with you”.

Yes Sir/No Sir

(name) whenever I ask you a question I want you to Say Yes Sir or No Sir, can you say yes sir well done (name)”

Self Control & Concentration

(Practice set position)

can you say self control and concentration, we start by practicing controlling our body once we can do this the mind will follow, self control to be able to stop yourself from punching someone when your angry, or when you are in the sweet shop and you havent got any money and your real hungry and you want to take a chocolate bar what stops us is good self control


(Practice bow)

If I was mean to you I mean really mean! Would it be easy for you to be nice to me, no it wouldnt, would it! But if I was nice to you, what would happen, that’s right you would be nice to me, so Respect is treating other people how you want to be treated. But Im not going to wait for you to be nice to me; I am going to be nice first. Do you know who the most important people in the world to respect are, that’s right your Parents and Teachers well done (name)

Self Defense Stance Victim/Victor

(name) we are all a little bit like aliens we have antennas which give off signals that tell us what kind of a person we are, there are two kinds of kids, victims and victors, victims are the kids that get bullied they don’t appear very confident, they don’t look people in the eyes, their shoulders are hunched over, they take small steps and look weak. The Victor, the child that doesn’t get bullied is the one that looks people in the eyes, stands tall with shoulders back, and takes bigger steps, and looks strong. Which one would you like to be (name)

If we feel threatened by someone we don’t want them to get too close, and we don’t want to stand like this, where we can be hit every where, so we put our hands up like this and stand like this, and say I’m too angry to talk right now I need to calm down

Guarding Stance Spirit and Intensity

When we jumped into stance we shout loud and move really fast and strong, this helps develop our spirit and intensity, now I am not going to pay you to do this well, but these are the kind of qualities that an employer will pay lots for when you you get older.

How High Can you Kick

You can always do better than you think you can 100 times rule/perseverance

(name) can you show me how high you think you can kick with your hand, wow that high, (raise about 6 inches) I think you can kick this high, (they kick your hand)

How come (name) you said you could kick this high when really you could kick this high! Do you know what that taught you You can kick higher than you thought you could! And in life we can always do better than we think we can, at school, at home, at martial arts, this is really important (use hand) if you think your this good that’s as good as you will be! But if you aim higher with your goals you will definitely achieve more repeat after me You can always do better than you think you can

How many time would you have tried to kick my hand before you gave up 10, 20, (they answer) well we have a rule in the martial arts we try everything for 100 times, Ill let you into a secret mine is 1000 times! (to parent) as an adult we often tell our children to keep trying but we forget to do this ourselves, after all we didn’t stop trying after a couple of times when we where trying to walk, we kept going until we could, martial arts develops an unshakable commitment and perseverance to everything we do, these qualities are priceless

Punching Pads


As well as the mental benefits martial arts develops such as self control, concentration and respect, we also develop physical skills like speed, power and co-ordination which improve their athletic ability and also help with other sports too!

Student Creed

We also have a Student Creed, all the children recite the Creed at the beginning of the lesson, the student creed articulates the values of training in the martial arts such as avoiding negative peer pressure, smoking, drugs, and alcohol.

Go through Creed 2 with Child

I will develop Self Discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and other

Discipline is where your Mum/Dad says (name) go and tidy your room and you go and do it. Self Discipline is where you know your room needs tidying and you go and do it without being told, this is the best kind of discipline. To practice your Self Discipline I want you to keep your room tidy for your next lesson, show me with your hand how tidy it’s going to be! Wow that’s going to be really tidy, and Ill ask your parents next time you come in how well you’ve done

Parents martial arts class is the only class that will teach your child focus, discipline, respect and self control any child needs these skills to be successful.

Lee Mainprize is a martial arts business and marketing expert visit for martial arts instructors resources.

February 25, 2009 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Public Demonstation Guide For Martial Arts Business Exposure

Assemble your demonstration team. Regularly scheduled meetings should be held, and each team member should be given specific assignments. Everyone must be involved; a demonstration looks disorganized if team members are standing about with no apparent function. Team members should take their cue from the instructor; and remain in the background before and after their performances.

To maximize the effect of larger demonstrations, divide your team so that members are performing at each end of the performance area. Keep the demonstration moving smoothly and swiftly. Practice martial arts etiquette at all times. Professionalism and organization will minimize slow spots during which the audience can lose interest in the presentation.

Keeping the Audience Interested

Offering prizes or premiums ensures interest. Your selection of prizes may vary depending on the audience, but free lessons are almost guaranteed to bring students to your doors. Patches, gear bags, and T-shirts bearing your schools insignia are also good incentives, and provide advertising-in the form of name recognition-for your school.

Ask audience members to print their names, addresses and telephone numbers when they sign up for the giveaway. This information can be used for future contact with those who do not enroll at the demonstration.

Raffle items should be appealing to those in your audience. Free lessons, items bearing the schools insignia, and books and videos featuring your school can be effective giveaways. As a rule, the larger the demonstration, the greater the prize.

The Actual Demonstration

Your choice of routines should be governed by the makeup of your audience. The purpose of the demonstration is to make the audience believe that they, too, can perform these techniques. Demonstrations should not be so complex that they intimidate the audience.

The introduction sets the tone for the demonstration. Be sure to introduce yourself, your team members, and your school, and explain why you are there. Give the location of the school and invite the audience to visit. Share your excitement about your school and its benefits. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Initiate your demonstration by having the team members bow to the audience, demonstrating respect and martial arts etiquette. Next, perform light or comedic skits utilizing the good guy versus the bad guy formula, and showing how your school can save the day.

Follow the lighter skits with your more serious demonstrations of the art. Save spectacular routines for later in the demonstration. When different belt levels participate, explain the significance of each belt to the audience. Start with the lower levels, and continue from there. Present all team members, and let the audience know how long they have been practicing. If children, older persons, or newer students are team members, allow them to perform techniques that show their skill. The audience will see that everyone can participate at your school, and can enjoy and benefit from it.

The senior instructor should be your speaker throughout the demonstration. This person will guide the audience through each technique and explain its benefits. A staff member can walk among the audience with sign-up sheets for anyone who is interested.

Lee Mainprize is a martial arts business and marketing expert visit for martial arts teachers resources

February 25, 2009 at 1:34 pm Leave a comment

Build A Teaching Team Will Grow Your Martial Arts Business

Setting up a Leadership Program is essential for your martial arts schools success if it is to continue to grow. There will come a point when you can’t physically do everything yourself, or what happens when you need some cover this is where your Leadership Team comes in.

Martial Arts business is a specialist area which means it is easier to develop your own future staff than it is to take a chance on advertising externally for someone you don’t know that much about and has already has been taught certain habits good or bad by someone else.

For your students to take the Leadership Program seriously and be fully committed it is best to charge them for the privilege of your knowledge and the expert training they will receive. This program should be one of the most expensive you offer, between 50-100% more than your most basic program. You can have a separate class for your leadership program, here are some ideas for content.


Includes all the Black Belt Diploma Benefits

XMA Type Martial Arts Training or something exciting not taught as part of your other programs

Elite Presentation & Performance Training

Advanced Personal Development Programme

Self Awareness & Understand Others

Leadership Training

Public Speaking, Communication Skills, Confidence Training

Assistant Instructor Coaching Certificate

Leadership Uniform

In a 1 hour class you could split in the following way:

Personal Development Training – 15 mins

In this section you could use Stephen Coveys “7 Habits” or Anthony Robbins “Personal Power” program or others and pass on the knowledge you learn by teaching it to your students. Try and be creative in your teaching and don’t just talk to your students. Use exercises, discussions and games they work really well.

Leadership Training – 15 mins

In this section you could alternate between the teaching and systems training of your school, for example you might have the students learn and practice the telephone procedures for one month, and then have them work on the teaching subjects for the next month then move onto enrollment procedures etc. Remember to break the training down week by week without having the class go through everything too soon. You want the students to have a good time and learn whilst you develop new instructors.

Martial Arts Specialist Training – 30 mins

In this part of the lesson have a well structured martial arts curriculum that is exciting to learn and is not offered in any other programs in your school.

Lee Mainprize is a martial arts business and marketing expert visit for martial arts teachers resources.

February 25, 2009 at 1:33 pm Leave a comment

How To Use VIP Passes To Market Your Martial Arts School

Every month give all your students between 2-5 trial passes to give to their friends, ask students for their support rather than demanding it! Most will not you use them but if just two percent give the passes and you give out 200 passes, that’s 4 leads without little effort and cost.

The best way to obtain referrals is to give an outstanding service, through teaching great classes and helping students achieve their goals. Have Raving Fans and they will be happy to recommend your school to their friends and family.

Highlight that most of our members are referred by others which helps make the school a good place to come to by having quality people attend.

Referrals should be your biggest source of prospects other than leads you generate yourself.

Referrals come from not just satisfied customers but raving fans, remember the last time you went to see a great movie, how many people did you tell to go and see that movie Right! Lots and lots. The same thing should happen with your students, the following factors will encourage your students to refer.

Exciting classes

Friendly & Courteous staff

Giving more than expected

Helping people achieve their goals

Incentives i.e pro-shop vouchers

Another strategy is a VIP or trial pass strategy with a difference! Heres how it works; you enter a beginner introductory lesson date and time on the passes, you distribute as many as you can. You then hold a mass introductory/beginner lesson. I work this strategy for 3 months a year and typically enroll between 6-12 people every group introductory class.

Lee Mainprize is a business and martial arts marketing expert visit for martial arts instructor resources

February 25, 2009 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

3 Ways To Get Marketing Referrals

Referrals should be your biggest source of marketing your martial arts school other than leads you generate yourself.

Referrals come from not just satisfied customers but raving fans, remember the last time you went to see a great movie, how many people did you tell to go and see that movie Right! Lots and lots. The same thing should happen with your students, the following factors will encourage your students to refer.

Exciting classes

Friendly & Courteous staff

Giving more than expected

Helping people achieve their goals


3 of the best times to get referrals from your existing members

Upon Enrollment

Upon a new student’s enrollment (right after the paperwork is signed) you request three names and numbers of people to whom the new student would like to extend the VIP opportunity. Remember that you are not asking IF they know anyone, you are asking WHO they know. “Now that you are a student, you can invite three of your friends to take advantage of the VIP membership. Simply fill these cards out and I will be right back.”

After Testing

At your next testing, have each student bring a friend to watch him or her perform. Have a guest list for them to sign in and present each guest with a VIP pass after the event.

After Upgrading

When a student has upgraded to a higher level of training, tell them it is now their responsibility to sponsor a friend into the program. Have them fill out a VIP pass and return it to you on the spot.

Lee Mainprize is a business and martial arts marketing expert visit for martial arts teachers resources.

February 25, 2009 at 1:30 pm Leave a comment

The Kovars Talk About Their Martial Arts Business Success

Younger brother Dave acknowledging that “I would still be teaching thirty students now if it wasn’t for my brother’s aptitude for combining core business principles with the simple but often forgotten rule of putting the student first.”

With Tim’s work on the marketing and sales side of the business, the Satori Academy quickly grew to 450 students. “Before long we were opening our second, third and then fourth locations in the local neighbourhood.” For the Kovars this was a key period in getting the fundamental basics right. “You have to make sure the people you are putting into your organization are going to help make it bigger and stronger.” Indeed a key element for Tim was hiring individuals who “love what you hate rather than love what you do.” For example, if you dislike the administration side of things, don’t recruit someone simply because they share your passion for the martial arts, simply employ someone who can take care of the crucial role of administration – “they have to demonstrate strengths where you have weaknesses.” Dave is also keen to emphasize that putting training into your instructors is another key area of “getting the basics right.” Evidence of this was clear in the recent Satori Academy black belt grading where junior students were going for their first, second and third degree black belts. “I would definitely say that the quality now was better than when I had three students going for black belt in 1989.” This ‘quality’, in terms of students performing to the best of their individual ability, is down to having instructors who have a passion for the martial arts, but also as Tim is keen to point out, “your instructors need to have compassion for their students. It’s all about giving top quality tuition.’

‘Being a martial arts instructor is a profession in its own right. It is a career and it is how I make my living’ Dave Kovar ‘Being a martial arts instructor is a profession in its own right. It is a career and it is how I make my living’

Dave Kovar

The idea of expanding your martial arts school and at the same time providing quality tuition is a controversial area in the world of martial arts. In recent years, certain commentators of the martial way have expressed concerns at instructors operating their school as a business. Indeed, one published author recently claimed that the relationship between student and instructor had become a “mere commercial transaction.” It was an idea that I was keen to discuss with the Kovars, who certainly have strong opinions on the subject. “A martial arts instructor is a profession in its own right. It is a career and it is how I make my living. I can relate to the perception but to be perfectly honest I think those kinds of statements are a kop out. I would be curious to see how many students that particular individual has in his school. If I had twenty million dollars I would still teach, who is anyone to judge?” Tim agrees with this. “You will always have guys slinging mud over student numbers. But as a student, would you rather go to a school that is financially solvent, rather than a school that is going to disappear in 12 months time? I know what I would choose.’

‘If you have what I call a Hollywood approach where you believe in hard punishing training every session you teach, that the white belts must clean the dojo before and after class, and wearing protective equipment is for wimps then quite frankly you are failing your students.’ Tim Kovar

The question of how to grow your martial arts business without losing the core values that the martial arts is based on is something that Dave experiences a lot of through his teaching in PROMAC. ‘Instructors ask me all the time how they can grow their business without looking like they are in it for the money. My answer to this is simple – do you think you would be a better instructor if you worked a six to three job on a construction site and then started class? I don’t think so. Put aside the fact that I have the Satori Academies and PROMAC, at the end of the day I am a martial artist first, a teacher second, and a businessman third. It is that simple.” Dave is a strong believer in maintaining his own training, starting the day at 5:30 am with a gym workout followed by meditation and sparring with senior grades. “You must never forget that you can employ all the best marketing tools and sales techniques available on the market but if you are not doing the job on the mat then none of that will matter. I like to keep training because I love to do it and it is my passion in life. If I step into that training hall and I cannot do the business I will be failing my students.” This is something Tim also feels strongly about. “On the idea of quality teaching I like to use the analogy of hurting the student. What I mean is if a student gets hurt they will always associate martial arts with that pain and they will not come back. If you have what I call a Hollywood approach where you believe in hard punishing training every session you teach, that the white belts must clean the dojo before and after class, and wearing protective equipment is for wimps then quite frankly you are failing your students.” As Dave emphasizes, “as an instructor you have a duty to motivate your students and get the best out of them. Junior grades need protection and they need to be nurtured. Otherwise, if they get hurt early on in their training they will be put off martial arts for life and that is a crime!”

The long-term goal for the Kovars is to gradually increase the Satori Academy so that by 2010 they have 70 fully operational schools. They also plan to build on the initial success of PROMAC. “Right now we are building the infrastructure that is making this target possible,” says Dave. Yet this number will not be reached by sacrificing any of the values that the Kovars have built with their existing framework so far. For Tim, “what it all boils down to is that our success is only measured by the relationship between instructor and student. The instructor is there to serve and they should never lose sight of that. It’s a message I am constantly communicating to our team of instructors.” Dave is equally vocal on this. “When I walk into my local store or if I’m walking down the street, I want to be able to hold my head high, knowing that what I am doing with the martial arts is really making a difference in the community – its keeping kids out of trouble and helping people lose weight and keep fit, whatever it may be, rather than ripping people off.’

After spending time with the Kovars it was clear that from the way they conducted business in their academies and with PROMAC, their ethos has been built on the very principles that were first introduced to them as students of the martial arts, proving that you can “get big” without “selling out.” They have embraced modern business principles, which remains a key component in their success, but they have never lost sight of the basic rule when growing their business – the importance of the student/instructor relationship. As Tim Kovar summed up: ‘As a martial arts school owner you have a duty to make the connection between passion and humanity, to ensure what you are doing is making a real difference. Do it for the students first and foremost, and the money and the growth of your business will follow. Do it for the money and you can forget about it.” A message that we can all understand.

Lee Mainprize is a martial arts business and marketing expert visit for martial arts instructors resources.

February 25, 2009 at 1:28 pm Leave a comment

The Art Of Martial Arts Business & Marketing Success with Stephen Oliver

“What’s really disturbing to me is how many martial arts instructors somehow feel they must “take a vow of poverty” to teach quality martial arts. The reality is the better you do at developing your students and creating a quality school the easier it becomes to make a living comparable to professionals with similar levels of training in any field.” – Grandmaster Stephen Oliver, 8th Dan

This month Martial Arts School Owner interview one of the martial arts most outstanding individuals, 8th degree black belt, president and founder of Mile High Karate, Grand Master Stephen Oliver. From the outset of our meeting I realize it is more than just a lifetime’s commitment to hard training and technical excellence that has enabled Grand Master Oliver to achieve so much in his career that has spanned well over thirty years. Perhaps it is the real passion that he has for providing high quality instruction to his students while providing an opportunity for his school owners and staff to make an incredible living and even going as far in his marketing campaign to boldly state that ‘that each and every Black Belt ever developed at Mile High Karate has said the experience was not only worth $1,000,000.00 but literally was priceless!’ Or is it his unwavering commitment to community projects such as Chuck Norris’ ‘Kick drugs out of America’? The answer is that Grand Master Oliver’s success cannot be attributed to one particular factor in his career. He combines with ease all the savvy marketing and business techniques available to any business person, at the same time demonstrating the true attributes of a traditional martial arts instructor. So whatever stage you are at with your teaching there is something to learn from Grand Master Oliver. He’s become the leading consultant in the field through his school owner’s coaching program and his Mile High Karate schools are busy expanding internationally through Regional Developer “Master’ franchises.

After graduating from high school Master Oliver moved to Washington D.C to take up further studies at Georgetown University, and to help pay for his education began teaching at a branch of the Jhoon Rhee Institute. However, it soon became clear that the way martial arts were being taught needed change. ‘During the 1960’s and 1970’s in the United States the martial arts appealed most to a lower class of people who were primarily focused on fighting more effectively. Back in Texas and Oklahoma the contact rules in competition were really open to flexible interpretation.’ It was clear to Grandmaster Oliver that if he was to open up his knowledge of martial arts to a wider audience, and build a sustainable martial arts school business he needed to curtail the ‘blood and guts’ attitude that had come to dominate the art in that early period. Over the years from his early teaching days at the university ‘both the percentage of students graduating to Black Belt – and, their abilities when they get there have improved dramatically and also our students tend to be more highly educated as interested in the wider range of developmental benefits that the program offers.’

It was during this early period at university that Grandmaster Oliver began looking into the idea that his passion for the arts really could become his living. “In the early 1980’s I was finishing up my college degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. I was a branch manager for the Jhoon Rhee Institute (which had 9 locations in Washington, D.C.). I thought I was going to go on to an MBA at Harvard or Stanford University then a career in a big corporation.” When finishing up at Georgetown Grandmaster Oliver courted several of the worlds most recognized businesses such as Proctor & Gamble, IBM, and several Big Banks such as Chase Manhattan based in New York City. However, after thinking about that path as a career and looking at what he could earn out of college- he decided to put together an extensive business plan and move to Denver, Colorado to open a chain of martial arts schools. “My model was really the Jhoon Rhee Institute and when I moved I opened five schools in 18 months – with only about $10,000 in capital. I knew I was ridiculously undercapitalized but just did it anyway.” Following his passion for the arts was something that would pay off in a big way and by the age of 25 he was the head of a million dollar operation.

He is however, the first to admit that over a thirty year career in the martial arts is hasn’t been all plain sailing. “I clearly encountered many obstacles over the years. My biggest crisis was back in 1989 when I basically lost about 70% of my staff and went through a protracted divorce at the same time. It all coincided with the biggest economic collapse in the Colorado economy ever. That took several years to dig out of – and, led to me going back to get my MBA which was more for an emotional break than it was to really learn more stuff on how to run my business. Additionally, just the fortitude of character to pull through all of that and become highly successful again was an incredibly valuable experience.” Yet through it all Grandmaster Oliver never lost sight of the passion and the drive to be innovative in the martial arts with his Mile High Karate school chain. “We have done several things that I believe are unusual. First, many of the organizations that try to expand nationally and internationally focus on one, sometimes two areas of the business but fail to really combine all of them.” Adding that; “with my schools we’ve managed to support the individual schools by getting their billing, their accounting, and their payroll done for them by someone else.”

Another key foundation of Mile High Karate is providing focused training programs on all three critical success factors that each school must focus on:

1.) Effective internal and external marketing systems

2.) Structured pricing systems and presentation processes to effectively enroll and upgrade students – much of it supported with automatic processes or incredibly effective sales tools

3.) Effective instructor training systems combined with scientifically and structured curriculum to ensure the highest possible quality of students. At the same time Grandmaster Oliver remains totally focused on instilling the core values and philosophies in the growing Mile High Karate chain, “the over-all culture of the organization is very important.

We really work to make sure that all of our staff and black belts are working interdependently. It’s very important for everyone to always be “a product of the product” focusing on both high physical skill as well as achieving the highest level of mental and emotional mastery. We really focus on having every instructor and member of the organization always exhibiting the highest levels of integrity and success motivation.”

During my time with Grandmaster Oliver, it was clear that apart from being a very talented martial artist and instructor, he is an individual that believes the path to success is through constant learning. Although fortunate to have had a university education and the opportunity for further formal training in various business disciplines, he firmly believes that anyone with the drive for further self improvement can achieve it; adding that “most formal education is about learning how to learn, not so much about learning anything specifically that is helpful as an entrepreneur or as a teacher. Over the years I have been very focused on continuing to pick a subject matter and either formally or informally educating myself to a very high level in areas that are practical and necessary for my continued success not just as a business person but as a martial arts school owner.” Building one of the USA’s most successful chains of martial arts schools has not been easy, and it has required some tough decisions along the way combined with sharp business acumen and he is quick to add that “I often get a reputation of focusing on the money -but that is not accurate.

We’ve developed an incredible martial arts organization with Jeff Smith and many other high quality Black Belts in the leadership hierarchy making sure we have the best possible Black Belts and provide a situation where school owners and their staff can equal or exceed their income opportunities from any other endeavor.” Indeed the reality for Grandmaster Oliver is that the better you do at developing your students and creating a quality school the easier it becomes to make a living comparable to professionals with similar levels of training in any field.

Lee Mainprize is a business and martial arts marketing expert visit for martial arts teachers resources.

February 25, 2009 at 1:27 pm Leave a comment

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