How Do You Hook Them?

What’s your procedure when you have a new parent walk into your school wanting to put their kids in your class?

For most instructors they simply say “Here’s some information”, as they pass a dull, colorless and boring flyer to the prospective parent. Or they might simply say “We have class on Wednesday at 5.30pm.”

I see this all the time when visiting other instructor’s studios and now I know why they haven’t got as many students as they would like.

The person who walks into your club is INTERESTED! That’s why they are there. They WANT to sign up…. Or at least try a class!

These people are HOT leads and you need to do everything in your power to get them into your class, because as you know, once they try a class they more than likely will become students.

But by leaving it to chance… by giving them “information” and hoping they will return is a waste of your advertising dollars and energy.

The most critical step is to get their information!

I’ll say that again – the most critical step is to get your prospect’s information.

That way you can contact them again… and again…slowly building rapport and luring them to all the benefits of your karate school.

Here’s an easy way to do it.

First you need to have a “class registration” form handy with all the other promotional info that you give out. This form should ask for parent’s names, student’s names, address, phone etc.

Second, instead of just saying “Here’s some info, fill out this form so I can contact you again”, you need to ADD VALUE to your process. I probably wouldn’t fill out a class enrolment form for the next day with all my personal information if this was the approach and neither would you or your prospective students…

But if you do a quick “2 minute class” with your prospective student’s parents right there in reception it can make the world of difference.

For example, I grab a pair of focus mitts and TELL nicely (not ask) the prospective child to stand in front of me. You don’t want to give them any opportunity to say “NO” – that’s why you “tell nicely” instead of ask.

I then ask them, “Do you want to have some fun?”

It’s a bit of a rhetorical question of course – what sane kid doesn’t want to have fun? But it’s a good way to start the bonding process with your kids. And it causes them to answer you. In this case we don’t “tell them to have fun” – they confirm it with “yes!”.

Next I hold up the mitts and get them to hit them a few times and once we’re done (about 30-60 seconds later) I congratulate them with “Awesome job! Gimme 5!”

This again builds rapport, makes the kids feel great and the parents see first hand how you work with children.

I then ask the child “Did you have fun?”

Of course they say “Yes!”

Quite often they’ll then turn to their parent and say “Mom, I wanna do karate!”, at which point I kindly direct (not ask) the parent to fill out a class enrolment form and at the same time I book them in for a free class the next Wednesday.

If they don’t ask their parents about doing karate, I’ll then speak with the parent directly and say “Wow! They did a really great job. I think they’ll do well in the program. I’ve got a free class on Wednesday at 4.00pm that’s just for beginners just like your son. It’s a lot of fun.”

I then turn to the child and ask “Would you like to do a real karate class on Wednesday?”

Again, I’ve directed the conversation to the child, who in turn asks their parent. What parent will say “no” to a child that is so happy and feeling great after the 2 minute class?

If they don’t ask their parent, or just simply nod their head, I’ll say to them “Why don’t you ask your Mom if you can come along on Wednesday to try a real karate class?”

Again, the question comes from the child to the parent – not from you.

Then at this point we fill out the paper work and book them in for class as mentioned above.

Now the beauty of this system is that you have a written commitment from the parent and an excited child.

If the parent doesn’t bring the child back on Wednesday, the child will be nagging and asking when they are going to go to karate. Then when you follow up the next day by phone, the parent more than likely will apologize for missing class and reschedule a time to come in.

I think you’ll agree this little approach is far more powerful than simply saying “here’s some information” or “try a class”. It’s been a huge success for my club and can be for yours too!

To your karate school’s success!

– Jason

Dealing With Hijackers

You know… I’m sure, that one of the most frustrating things as a teacher is trying to keep your class under control.

It only takes one little hijacker and before you know it you’re teaching at a circus, not a karate dojo.

I’m sure you know the feeling all too well – when your class is going great and then it happens. Litte Mister Attitude answers every question you ask with the complete OPPOSITE of what he knows to be the right answer, just to push your buttons…

Then other kids start to giggle and all hell breaks loose.

Since I’ve been using the Early Learning System, this happens 10 times less often than it used to, as kids really don’t WANT to mess around – they tend to take charge of their progress and are more focused. It usually only happens now when I have NEW kids attending class for the first time.

Anyway, if you do have a kid act up in class, you gotta “nip it in the bud” so to speak. Right there and then. If you let the first kid get away with ANYTHING, they’ll push you for more and then the whole class joins in until 1 of 2 things happen.

1) You completely lose it and yell like there’s no tomorrow. THE SHOCK FACTOR usually gets kids’ attention for the rest of the class, but the negatives associated with it far outweigh the immediate results you get.

In other words, bringing in FEAR and ANGER only generate more FEAR and ANGER in your class. They might behave out of fear, but this does little for the growth of your kids – and absolutely kills the growth of your club!

If your kids’ parents see you behave like that, you’re slitting your own throat. After all, you’re supposed to be the SENSEI – in their eyes a master of the martial arts. A person with patience, self control and a calm demeanor, right?

Why would a prospective parent join a club based on FEAR and ANGER? Do you think you’ll get many referrals operating from that perspective? If you do, guess what? The types of people you’ll attract will be the same way, and you’ll have an entire class of little demons to work with.

Been there, done that, not going back.

2) You persevere and be patient… again and again and again. You might tell them “One more time and I’ll….” – but if you never follow through on your promise, kids will call your bluff.


The result – loss of credibility and lack of control.

Do you ever get those parents call you and say “I’d like to put my kid in your class because he has disciplinary problems and I think martial arts will help.”?

Well, guess what?

The problems lie at home with parents often using one of the above 2 options to get kids to behave. No wonder they’re messing around in class, right?

Well, don’t despair – here’s my disciplinary procedure….

It’s taken me years to refine and stick to, and the funny thing is that it’s actually really simple. =)

It works great and goes hand in hand with the Early Learning System. As the ELS is about maintaining a positive approach, empowering your students to take charge of their own progress and rewarding them often for achieving their goals, the following acts as the STICK in the “carrot and the stick” equation (as we’ve already got the drive for continual improvement and achievement in place).

Are you ready?


First some definitions…

Dealing With Negative Behavior

Minor infringements include things like:

– talking when sensei is talking
– continuing an exercise after “yame”
– messing around with other kids
– disobedience
– bad attitude

Major infringements include things like:

– striking another student with intent to hurt
– physically or verbally abusing the sensei
– disrespecting the dojo

Use the following guide to deal with bad behavior for minor infringements. For major infringements – jump directly to #4 or #5.

1st infringement – warning (depending on the severity).
2nd infringement – timeout (set the number of minutes equal to the age of the child).
3rd infringement – demotion to white belt.
4th infringement – expulsion from class.
Repeated infringements – expulsion from club.

Now when I put this system in place all of a sudden there was CONSISTENCY! Kids new exactly what was next if they didn’t behave. There wasn’t any confusion.

I’ve tried negative physical punishment and a whole bunch of other stuff, but the above system works far better.

It’s hard and takes a lot of practice on your part, but when you make this commitment to your teaching system, you’ll find that your kids will transform from demons to angels.

– Jason

P.S. Please post your comments here! I want to hear YOUR stories and methods too.

What Are The Points For?

In my last post you might have picked up that I award my 4-7 year olds “points” for doing well in an activity, winning a game or just behaving well. When I tell people about the “points”, they ask “What are the points for?”

Well it’s not like a credit card membership program where they can be redeemed for prizes… And it’s not like they can actually do anything else with the points… They’re just “points”.

They have no value other than the value the kids give them. So for a class of 4-7 year olds, man, points are cool! You should see their faces when they get awarded points! They love it.

Points are awarded for effort or great results.

But here’s the thing…

If you decide to use my proprietary point system =) then you gotta do it in the right way.

You have to award a HUGE number of points for the kids to get excited. You can just say, “Great job David – here’s one point.”

It’s got to be something to blow their minds, but at the same time a number that they can comprehend. I found that 5,000 points is a good number, 10,000 if you have an activity and it’s the “final” round, or if you really want to get them excited go bigger.

Points are a great motivator for bad behavior too. If you have a kid who is goofing off in class, simply take 5,000 points away from them. Within about 5 seconds their behavior usually improves 10 fold.

Now here are some things you need to know about points.

Warning #1 – The larger the number, the more excited the kids get.

Warning #2 – Points are a double edged sword. Kids who don’t get points can get upset.

Warning #3 – Points don’t usually work for older kids or adults. =)

Use points in your next class and see how it well it works. Be enthusiastic when you give your points and you’ll see the energy in the room rise instantly.

– Jason