Monkey see. Monkey do.

I don’t usually follow the UFC too closely, but last Saturday night we were invited to a friend’s house to watch the fights.

There were plenty of people there with their families. Kids aged from new born (that’d be us) to early teen years. It was a good night and some of the fights were good too.

I enjoy watching the tactical/strategic aspect of the fight, but once someone clearly can’t defend themselves (due to being unconscious or very close too it) and then being pounded senseless with 5 or 6 additional strikes to the head, is when I turn off. There’s no skill involved when it gets to that stage. It just looks like a gang beating.

To watch someone be split open with blood pouring out of their head, their eyes swollen shut, be repeatedly beaten and then strangled is very graphic.

Yet at the party the parents of 4 year old kids were cheering and yelling and allowing their children to be in the same room witnessing everything that was going on.

Monkey see, monkey do.

Clearly the kids saw the enjoyment the parents were receiving from watching the fight. So what did they do?

They mimicked what was on the big screen TV. There it was… Two 4 year UFC fighters running about pounding into each other, punching with clenched fists, taking each other down to the floor, while the parents cheered them on.

Five minutes later one of the parents caught one of the kids hitting again and told them “We don’t hit!”.

Are you as confused as I am with the logic here? Imagine how confused the kids were!

Why is it ok for 4 year olds to be watching the UFC in the first place? Why do some parents encourage violent actions and promote graphic imagery as a positive part of their child’s development?

Fortunately most people wouldn’t teach their kids that it’s ok to hit another unless is was self defense, but the 4 year old who is encouraged to do it because their drunk parent gets excited watching the UFC is going to grow up confused, and maybe turn into the schoolyard bully.

As instructors who work so hard in teaching kids positive values through martial arts we will occasionally be faced with some parents who teach (perhaps unknowingly) the opposite.

Your thoughts?

The heat…

Yikes.

This week summer has hit early in Southern California.

Where I live the last 3 days have been…

  • 100 F / 37.8 C
  • 106 F/41.1 C
  • 101 F / 38.3 C

It’s been brutal. And if it’s anything like last summer, we’ll probably get 4 months of it too.

Although people who live here are accustomed to hot weather, it’s the change from moderate to hot that really affects the behavior of students.

To put it simply, this week people have been downright grumpy. Students have been unfocused and lethargic… and when that happens the performance of your class takes a dive.

To my best judgement this is for several reasons…

  1. It’s hot. And it’s just simply uncomfortable.
  2. Many of my junior students spend the afternoon in the pool, so when they get to class, they’re exhausted.
  3. Dehydration – people simply aren’t consuming enough water. I had one young adult student ask to leave class last night because “everything is starting to turn black”.

The point to all this is that when there is a big change in weather, schedule, or anything else that is considerably different to the norm, usually you’ll see a decrease in the positive attitude and performance of students, particularly if you teach kids.

What can you do about it?

  1. Expect less than their best

    Don’t demand their best on days like these. You more than likely won’t get it, and you’ll get frustrated asking for it.
  2. Revise old content

    When students are so unfocused, stick to revising past content or issue a challenge of some kind that makes revising past content fun.

  3. Educate

    Explain that in order to perform better, “you need to feel better”. Feel better by doing the things that put your mind and body in a good shape. Such as drinking plenty of water and eating healthily.

It’s all fairly much common sense but so many instructors take a forceful approach and punish students in every condition, no matter what their rank. Sure if it’s your black belt class and you want to push them, go for it, but stay smart and observe your students for signs of fatigue.

When their gas tanks are empty, there’s no sense trying to drive them uphill.

– Jason

Build it and they will come?

In the famous baseball movie, Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner was convinced to “build it and they will come”. If you’ve never seen the movie he turns his farm into a baseball diamond to which the Chicago Black Sox come.

And while this Hollywood flick has a warm and fuzzy feel to it, what they didn’t tell you in that movie is that there is a HECK of a lot more to making something successful that will draw loads of people.

Building your dream is part of it, but if nobody knows you’re there, why will they come?

Smart martial arts school owners realize there are 3 parts to getting exposure.

These are:

1) Promote!

2) Promote!

and

3) Promote!

I’ve heard so many stories of great teachers opening their own full time school and then failing within a short time because they forgot to do 3 of the most important things.

Promote.

Promote.

Promote.

You can have the best dojo in your area, but unless people know you’re there; and unless you’re constantly getting a flood of new traffic through your doors and onto the floor, you’re expenses are going to outweigh your profits. And when that happens even the best teachers are only prepared to subsidise their club for so long before they have to close their doors.

Each week I look to do something to increase the exposure of my karate school. This might be as simple as inviting someone new to try class (like a neighbor, or someone I meet during the day, etc), to doing a full scale joint venture promotion with another business in my area.

The point is to be proactive and not just to sit by the phone and wait for it to ring. Do something right now to increase the exposure of your martial arts school.

Stuck for ideas?

Here’s 3 for you…

1. Swap flyers with local businesses in your area. Preferably ones who have the types of customers you want for students. For example, a good business would be a gym or a dance studio, as these have active people who exercise. A bad business to trade flyers with would be an antique shop.

2. Network with friends of friends. Next time your at a bbq, birthday party, etc, be sure to hand out business cards and actively promote your business.

3. Set up your web site and be sure to put your web address on all of your marketing materials. This means your windows, flyers, cards, etc. Also sign up with Google Adwords. You can pay just a few cents per click to have highly targeted and local traffic sent to your site.

Of course you can always take a full page ad with the Yellow Pages that will cost you $1000’s but I can’t tell you how well that works, because I’ve never used them. I’ve always looked for low cost marketing alternatives which has grown my school from nothing to approx. 140 students in 5 years. Many of the ideas I use I got from Marco Mazzanti’s Early Learning System, which I absolutely swear by.

Funakoshi said, “Karate is like boiling water – you must continually add heat”.

It’s the same for your karate business.

– Jason

Dislocated shoulders, high blood sugar and a black belt…

Last Saturday was an important day for some of my students…

It was grading day.

It was a tough test for many of my brown belts. I pushed them all close to their physical limits, but not without incident.

During the toughest part of the test (the ju kumite or dojo fighting part):

– One student dislocated her shoulder when another blocked her ridgehand strike. Yikes!

– And another student who is diabetic was having issues keeping his blood sugar in check. Since my Grandpa was diabetic and I’d witnessed his seizures first hand, I knew how important it was to keep an eye on the situation.

There have been countless incidents reported over the years of martial arts schools beating on their students to within an inch of their lives, even death. And while I believe that black belts must be earned and not given away, there is a difference between pushing someone to THEIR physical and mental limits, and continuously beating on someone because “that’s how you earn your belt”. A new black belt isn’t going to mean much to a grieving family.

With both situations on Saturday, I assessed where each person was relative to THEIR physical limit and wellbeing. I’m not a doctor, but it doesn’t take much insight to realize that when someone dislocates their shoulder that the fighting should stop.

(I popped her shoulder back in place but since we couldn’t be sure of additional damage, she was excused from the remainder of the test and went to Urgent Care for assessment).

Equally as important – when someone’s blood sugar might be moving towards an unsafe level, fighting should stop.

(In this case we took a couple of minutes to manage his blood sugar and I’m pleased to say that he continued the test and earned his black belt).

To me it doesn’t make much sense for a student to “tough it out” on the verge of a seizure or with a dislocated shoulder. The risks of serious injury and death are real.

Yet some schools continue to smash and bash because that’s what they do. That’s what they’ve always done. And that’s how in some weird frame of mind, makes you stronger.

Most of us realize that’s an ignorant point of view.

My point to all this here is BE SMART. Yes, absolutely push your students out of their comfort zones as that’s where they grow. But also realize that each person has a different physical limit, and you’ll need to manage each person a little differently.

– Jason

P.S. If you thought that life threatening beat downs don’t happen check out this post I found where one student recalls his situation that left him temporarily paralyzed in the ER…

https://www.karatethejapaneseway.com/karate_underground/viewtopic.php?t=6931