Making the most of the summer drag…

Yep it’s that time of year again in the northern hemisphere…


When summer arrives, the weather heats up and class numbers take a dive…

Kids are off school and on vacation with their families.

And for a lot of martial arts schools in the USA, June/July can be challenging financially to say the least. With class numbers dropping to about 60% of the regular attendance, many people are thinking… “Well, if I can just make it through these next couple of months, we should be good for the rest of the year.”

Intermittent cash flow is the biggest killer of small business.

So what can you do to help boost your bottom line during the summer months?

There are lots of things you can do to structure your karate school to have better cash flow, which is outside the scope of this post, but right now if you’re desperate and are thinking, “Man, I’d like to make an extra $1,000 this month!”, then listen up because here’s a surefire way to do exactly that. In fact you can make double or triple that if you get onto it early enough.

This is what I’m doing starting next week.

While many students are away, there are a bunch sitting around doing nothing but playing video games and driving their parents nuts. If you ask any parent, just about all of them are looking for things for their kids to do during the school break.

Hello Karate Summer Day Camp!

Basically I’m running a 3 day (4 hour per day from 9am – 1pm) summer camp. It’s at the dojo and with a week to go until it begins we have about 10 students signed up for it already at $90 per head. In your area maybe you can charge more?

Over the course of the 3 days my students will be learning things that we don’t usually cover in class, like judo, jujitsu, and fma stick fighting. The price includes equipment and is also open to friends who don’t do karate.

This is a great way to boost your June/July figures, get more students on your floor, help out the families who are looking for something to put their kids in, and teach your students some important skills that you don’t usually cover.

I can hear some instructors saying, “That’s fine for you if you know that extra stuff… but I don’t. So what can I teach?”

To those people I say, “You don’t have to be an expert in all of those areas. You just have to know more than your students, and be able to teach 3 hours or so on each topic. Heck, you could learn enough on YouTube this afternoon to teach for 3 days!”

There’s a famous saying that reflects this concept…

“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

That’s not to say that you should teach low quality garbage technique. I’m simply saying that you are an expert in the martial arts who has probably learned a few things outside of the regular things you teach. You can teach those things plus a few others you can learn online within a couple of hours… and *presto*, you have enough content for a 3 day summer camp.

Get to it! Before it’s too late…

– Jason

A story from the heart…

I want to share with you a story that I haven’t shared before…

It was nearly 6 years ago now, but it just seems like yesterday.

I remember it so vividly because it was a hot summer weekend in August 2002. We’d just moved back to the United States and been living in my parent’s in law’s house for a few months while they were away in Canada.

I remember seeing her lying there on the family room floor. She was breathing heavy and seemed exhausted. It thought it was just the heat so I cooled her down with some cool wet towels, but her huge muscular body still labored with every breath. Kuma (Japanese for “bear”) was our dog’s name. She was a ridgeback / mastiff cross with more muscles than I’ve ever seen in a dog. The muscles in the top of her head that moved her eyebrows were even defined and visible! She truly was a “bear” of a dog.

We originally were scheduled to move to California in 2001, but had to postpone our flight for a few months because in October 2001 Kuma was diagnosed with a form of cancer called osteo-sarcoma. Osteo-sarcoma is a very aggressive bone cancer most often found in the limbs of dogs. The only way to really treat it is amputation of the infected limb.

However, Kuma’s cancer was in her 4th rib. Suffice to say that we opted for surgery to save her life. After having 5 ribs removed and her diaphragm reattached to her 6th rib, she pulled through the surgery and recovered within 6 weeks. Following that she underwent 2 months of chemotherapy to wipeout any of the remaining cancer.

All looked good until 10 months later… Until that hot weekend in August 2002.

I remember, we tried to ring the vet but of course they were closed on the weekend, so for the next 2 days we cared for her as best we could. Again not thinking that it was anything other than it was probably the heat that was the reason for her lying about not doing much.

On the following Monday I went to the back door to call her, but she didn’t respond. I searched in the backyard and found her lying in a ditch next to the fence in the shade.

She raised her head and managed to wag her tail a little before putting her head back down in the dirt. I tried to get her up but she wouldn’t move, so I bent down using all my strength to lift her up and bring her inside. It was then I noticed how bloated she was, and I knew right then I something was up.

We put her in the car and rushed her to the vet. The vet looked her over, ran some blood work and sent the blood to the lab. As we weren’t going to find out the results until the next day, Dr. J kept her overnight and called us the next morning. We drove to the vet fearing the worst…

With a tear in his eye, Dr. J said, “Your dog is dying of cancer. She has acute lymphatic leukemia and her white cell count is over 100,000. The regular level for dog is about 17,000. She’s probably got less than 24 hours to live.”

It felt like someone just reached into our chests and ripped out hearts from us. We were shattered.

Dr. J said, “If you would like I can refer you to a specialist, though the chances of her pulling through this are slim.”

Of course we took the referral faster than you can say “thank you” and rushed with more urgency than I care to remember. I lifted Kuma into the back of our ’92 Sentra and just about blew the motor in that car as we flew down the 91 freeway to Fountain Valley.

Again I carried her into the waiting room, while Christina filled out the paperwork and we waited for what seemed to be an eternity for the specialist. As he called us into the room I remember Kuma couldn’t muster the strength to stand, so again I bent down and lifted her up. I still hear the laughter of a woman in that waiting room who thought the situation to be comical. I guess she didn’t understand the severity of what was really happening. She just thought the dog was being lazy I suppose…

The specialist told us our options and said he could give her a shot of something which would kill off the excessive white cells and pull them back into normal range. It was an expensive Band-Aid solution, but we said ok. And if it worked he thought that with some other drug treatment we would be able to manage her condition for the future. He also took some x-rays to check for any other abnormalities, and said that they would keep Kuma overnight to monitor her.

We said goodbye to Kuma and drove home.

The phone rang at 3:10am.


“This is Dr. M …. Your dog Kuma has just gone into cardiac arrest. Do we have your permission to attempt to revive her?”

“YES!” I yelled into the phone, “Of course.”

The doctor hung up.




We waited.

The phone rang again 8 minutes later.

“This is Dr. M”


“I’m sorry to tell you but attempts to revive Kuma were unsuccessful. We’re very sorry.”


“Please come by tomorrow to arrange what you’d like to do from here…”

I put the phone back in the cradle and sat stunned.

She was dead.

The next day when we went back to the vet, I asked if her original osteo sarcoma had anything to do with her developing leukemia. He said no. But he also showed us that the x-rays showed a 3rd type of cancerous boney lesions on her spine.

It seems that cancer was destined to take her one way or another.

You might be wondering why I even told you this story? It’s not a happy one, and not one that I like to relive too often.

The reason is that cancer kills dogs and humans everyday. Often for reasons we still don’t know, and our dogs don’t understand.

This morning I heard about someone who is making a difference for the dogs out there who are suffering from cancer, and those who are yet to get it.

His name is Ted Schneck and he’s riding across America raising money for cancer research for canines. He’s 31 days into his 82 day ride and his aim is to raise $100,000. When I went to his web site this morning to make my donation, I saw that he was only up to raising less than 8% of his goal, yet he’s more than a third of the way into his ride.

At his web site you can read about his adventures… from avoiding convicted felons with guns, to hiding from tornados, to having love-fests with dog lovers everywhere. He’s posting videos on youtube about his ride and you can see it all at his web site. Check it out at:

And if you can find it in your heart to give a little to support Ted and help him raise some funds for canine cancer research I’m sure he’d appreciate it. And so will the owners of dogs all around the world.

In case you’re wondering I don’t know Ted from a bar of soap. I just think he’s doing a wonderful service and hope you can also let people know even if you can’t make a donation.

– Jason

What’s up with the Bruce Lee noises?

Why is it that people feel compelled to make Bruce Lee noises when they walk past your karate school? Then proceed to pound on your windows, or yell louder until they get your attention…

From 10 year old kids to 50 year adults…

From punk teenage gansters to fully grown men with tatoos…

Common sense would suggest that mouthing off to people who study and practice fighting everyday might not be in their best interest… yet they still do it.

I used to take offense, but then I’d end up on a road I didn’t want to go down. I’d ask them to take a hike and tensions would rise… to the brink of DEFCON 1 before the enemy decided to back down.

Other times I tried ignoring them, but they just seemed to keep at it…

Then one day I tried a new approach…

As two 40 something year old guys walked by making stupid faces with accompanying Bruce Lee noises, I responded with a well timed “whooo-yaaahhh” with one eye shut and both hands held up as if I was about to do some kind of double karate chop…

They laughed histerically, mimicked the actions I just made, made a couple more noises and gave me a wave goodbye.

Sometimes all it takes is a little humor to turn a situation on its ear.

Are you systemized?

There’s a great book called “The E-myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber.

The E-Myth or “entrepreneurial myth” is the concept that a worker believing that just because they can perform a certain job or function, they believe they can run a business.

For example…

A “technician” (someone who works in a business) such as a mechanic is getting paid say $25 per hour but the boss is charging the customer $75 per hour. The technician thinks “Hey wait a minute. I’m the one doing all the work… where’s the other $50 going? I could open my own business and make far more money!”

So the technician suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure, quits and opens his business not realizing that just because he can fix cars, doesn’t mean that he can run a business. He hasn’t taken into consideration all the other aspects such as marketing, administration or any of the systems a business needs to have in place in order to grow.

These are skills that he hasn’t learned as he simply performs just ONE of the aspects of the mechanic’s business. He’s also never really considered all the overhead costs, or why the boss is charging $75/hour.

Gerber describes a successful business not as one where “people run the business” but one in which “the systems run the business and the people run the systems”.

In order to have a successful school you need to have systems in place so that your business runs even when you’re not there. This is the basic reason 9/10 businesses (including martial arts schools) fail within 5 years – a lack of systems.

You might be thinking “But I’m just teaching martial arts! How hard can that be?”

To give you some idea I’ve systemized just about every part of my business from the marketing, to collecting payment, to student administration, to the way we teach, to how we promote students, etc.

Everything has a system. Though it took a while to figure out, document and put it all in place it’s been worth it. The benefits are these…

  • A systemized business allows you to grow far more quickly.
  • A systemized business gives you freedom as you can step away and someone else can run it exactly as you have documented.
  • A systemized business is far easier to run. When you’ve figured out a successful process you can follow it every time.
  • A business with documented systems is far easier to sell if you ever want to. But an unsystemized business that is dependent on you is not sellable.

For example, I’m taking 10 minutes to write this blog right now while I’m on vacation, and I know my club will still run smoothly while I’m gone, because I’ve systemized my school. All classes still run as they would without me and I have faith in the people who are running the club while I’m not there because they were easy to train because the business is systemized.

Start structuring your school by designing systems to run your business. Document everything and create a “Business Procedures Manual”. Then anyone who needs to step in and run your school can then run those systems that will run your business.

If you’re not sure where to start, Marco Mazzanti’s Early Learning System will jump start you in the right direction. It’s what I’ve modeled my school on. Then if you’re looking for ways to organize the administration side of your business, you might consider the Dojo Organizer – again this is what I designed and use to keep track of student information.

To your success!


Adding new classes to increase revenue

One way to generate more income from your karate school is to add more specialty classes to your schedule.

For example, I teach karate as my #1 focus which brings in around 80% of the school’s income. However I also teach other RELATED specialty classes.

On Saturday mornings I teach Escrima for an hour and have students both who are in my primary karate class and also other students who do this class only. Students who already do karate get a discount on the Escrima class and those who do it only pay the regular price. From adding this one class the school makes an extra few hundred dollars per month.

Contrast this to the old way I used to teach this with Escrima being an irregular part of my karate classes.

1) It wasn’t often enough for students to retain their knowledge
2) Was drawing away from the learning time for the number #1 reason people train at my school (karate)
3) And it wasn’t helping the financial situation as we weren’t charging any extra to learn it.

Every 3 months or so I teach a 4 week women’s self defense class on a Saturday morning. It’s right after my Escrima class and goes for 90 minutes. Again this adds an extra few hundred dollars for the month. I also run other specialty classes and seminars from time to time for both my students and also for people from other clubs. These special classes add an extra 5-10% to the bottom line without any external advertising. I know if I got aggressive with this I could easily double those figures.

The point here is that adding RELATED specialty classes can increase your revenue and help you pay your rent, buy new equipment and make a few extra dollars. The good thing is that if you do it right the reward will be worth the extra effort.

The benefits of adding a related specialty class (or more) are these:

1) It adds to your bottom line.
2) It gives your school more exposure through the extra classes available.
3) It’s a good marketing tool to bring in new students and other family members.
4) Increases your depth as a teacher and increases your perceived value as a teacher.
5) It doesn’t take away from the learning time of your core class.

Now the key point is to make your extra classes related to your primary class. For example you don’t want to add a class on yoga or gymnastics. People come to you for karate/self defense, so teach things closely related, otherwise you’ll lose focus for your school and you’ll decrease your perceived (and paid) value as an expert in the martial arts.

Makiwara – How to repair a broken makiwara

Five years ago I showed how to build a makiwara from scratch for less than $50 and in about 4 hours or less. You can read that original article here:

Then a few month’s later during a heavy punching session, it split due to the continual impact.


I built a second one and this time it lasted about 9 months before it started to split again in the exact same spot. Yep, that same spot on the shaft about 12 inches above the ground.

Rather than punch it until it snapped in half (although that would have been extremely gratifying in the short term), I decided to employ some maturity and wisdom, and pull it out and set it aside until a later date.

That date came last weekend – 3.5 years later!

I opted to fix it by drilling a hole through the shaft close to the top of the split. I then poked a 3/8 inch bolt through and added a couple of big washers; one on either side. I then popped a nut on the back and tightened that sucker up super tight.

It’s not pretty… but it was a simple and practical solution.

It’s now battle worn with the scars to prove it.

The irony is that I procrastinated for 3.5 years about what to do with it. And it only took 2 minutes to fix…

I’m so frustrated I just want to hit something….