Fold, Survive or Thrive?

If you watch the TV, pay attention to the radio or listen to the constant banter around you, more than likely you’re hearing all about financial doom and gloom. It’s a never ending cycle of how retailers are down in sales, how 25% of retail businesses are forecast to go under within the next 2 years, skyrocketing unemployment, etc.

Blah, blah, blah…

There’s a saying, “What you focus on expands.”

As a small business owner it’s important that you don’t focus on all this negativity. Of course you need to be aware of the current economic situation but don’t dwell on it, as those who focus on failure are destined to achieve it.

Instead of worrying about “what if this…” and “what if that…”, focus on what you need to do to get more students through your doors, and how to keep them longer. For many people that probably means getting off their butts, getting educated in marketing and taking some action instead of sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.

With economic experts saying the next couple of years are going to be challenging, you have 3 options:

  1. Are you going to be taken out by the current economic conditions?
  2. Are you going to survive?
  3. Or are you going to thrive?

One thing is for sure, doing nothing leads to nothing.

It’s up to you.

– Jason

When it rains it pours…

Last week we got hit with a ton of rain.

Thankfully this doesn’t happen all that often but as they say, when it rains it pours.

And my dojo flooded.


Yep – the landlord has refused to fix a leak that they’ve known about for 2 years and now as a result its costing them hundreds of dollars in emergency maintenance to get my dojo dry and operational.

Not to mention the frustration and inconvenience to us as we had to rip up 150 or so mats, close the school for 24 hours, and spend a lot of time personally calling and letting students know that class had been cancelled.

In addition I had to be there to advise and monitor the contractors doing the dry out/clean up work to make sure they put everything back the right way in time for class.

It was an absolute headache and I was extremely irritated and annoyed at the whole situation. I was frustrated because the situation could have been avoided if the landlord had have done something 2 years ago, besides raise our rent!

However I tried to keep a cool head during the process and thanked my lucky stars that all I have to deal with was a flooded dojo and not something worse, like our friends Amber and Chris who lost their 4 year old son, Brett in a car accident less than two weeks ago.

When I considered that it really put things in perspective. A flooded dojo seemed insignificant when compared to their loss.

Thank goodness I have the opportunity to run a full time school and enjoy what I do for a living, even when it means the occasional headache every now and again.

It’s just part of doing business.

As Dr. Richard Carlson says in the title of his bestseller, “Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff!”

– Jason

Teaching Karate Footwork

Footwork is so important yet in my opinion it’s something that isn’t taught often enough or well enough by many instructors.

Good footwork and dynamic movement allows you to cover distance quickly, evade or score as you please. Good footwork allows you to hit and not get hit.

Take a look at Lyoto Machida if you’re into the UFC and you’ll see a traditional karateka with excellent footwork, who has applied his skill and beaten some of the best of the UFC. In fact his record is 13-0 with victories over such names like Tito Ortiz and BJ Penn. He frustrates his opponents with his dynamic movement and is extremely hard to hit, takedown or corner. Lyoto Machida is a great example of someone in the public eye that has mastered dynamic movement.

However too many karate students aren’t interested in learning footwork, or their instructors spend little time teaching it. Many students instead want to do the next fancy technique, or BJJ submission that is the flavor of the month. When really if they possessed better footwork their chances of being cornered and taken down are hugely reduced.

(Don’t get me wrong – having good ground skills are extremely important – however it’s just ONE part of being a complete fighter.)

As success coach Tony Robbins says, “Repetition is the mother of skill”. Realize however “repetition” has another son named “boredom”. As a full time professional instructor I realize that learning proper footwork can be monotonous for students. The way around that is to mask the repetitions by doing various drills that build those skill sets. Then boredom will be less likely to be a full time resident in your dojo.

Also here’s a link to an article I wrote a few years ago for my KarateTips subscribers to help explain dynamic movement. You’re welcome to share it with your students.

Take the time to teach proper footwork regularly, and you’ll see huge differences in your student’s fighting ability.



Did You Achieve Your Karate School Goals?

What have you achieved this year as far as your karate school goes?

Have you achieved your goals?

I hope you just didn’t say to yourself, “Goals? What goals?”

Did you exceed them or fall short?

It’s this time of the year I start to think about how my karate school has performed over the last 12 months. I look at each of the following and compare it to last year (actually I do this on a monthly basis, but at this time of the year I do a yearly comparison):

  • quality of teaching
  • # of instructors
  • # of assistant instructors
  • total student count
  • # of black belts
  • student retention level
  • effective advertising sources
  • net profit

In challenging economic times, knowing your “stats” is even more important than usual. Knowing the health of your school is critical. I’m pleased to say that for each of the eight items above we improved/increased each when compared to last year despite the current economic conditions.

This tells me that we’re doing something right. But when I start to see one or more of those factors decrease, it tells me the opposite.

Knowing these stats allows you as a martial arts school owner to keep your finger on the pulse so to speak. It allows you to fix what’s not working and ramp up what is working. It allows you to stay on track.

There’s a saying, “That which is monitored increases”.

So if you don’t already know your stats, it’s time to start recording and comparing them.

Twelve months from now will you be in the same boat or will you know your stats?

– Jason

Upgrading Junior Karate Students

Last night I moved 4 of my junior students up to my adult karate class.

My adult class is usually restricted to those 15 years and up, but I had to make an exception for these four (all are 13 and 14 years old).

The reason for the move was that 2 of them were top of the junior class and were feeling a little unchallenged. There skills are excellent and they are very capable. The reason I moved the other 2 is that they’re as tall or taller than me. And one of them outweighs me by 20 lbs! Far too big for the kids class.

Some were in for a rude awakening.

After 20 minutes I had one wanting to quit. It wasn’t that class any different to how we usually train as adults, it was the fact that there is a significant difference in the way I run my adults and kids classes.

Yikes… this was hard work all of a sudden!

I was firm with newly upgraded student and told him that unless he has a medical condition he hasn’t told me about (like being asthmatic), then he had to suck it up and break through his mental barrier of “I can’t do this Sensei”. I refused to let him quit despite his repeated requests to sit out because he felt “congested” in his words. In reality he wasn’t actually congested, but was out of breath and clearly hadn’t pushed himself to his “second wind” before.

At the same time I realized that if he completed class it was important to praise him for his effort. It was important for him to come to the realization that he could in fact do it. And that what he perceived as his limit, was a far cry short of his actual limit.

At the end of the class I wanted him to feel as though he’d been challenged and yet had gotten through it. I wanted him to have the feeling of achieving something he didn’t think possible, and to link that feeling to pleasure (the praise and sense of achievement).

Had I let him quit and sat him out of class, or had I pushed him further than he was capable and not rewarded him with praise, his association with the Adult class would be completely different. He would have seen it as a place of pain and discomfort instead of one of challenge and achievement.

As teachers it’s critically important that we realize that each student is unique, and must be treated with individual attention to get the best results. Avoid the “one size fits all approach” and get to know your students. Know their limits, their abilities and what motivates them – then use that to elicit their best.

Once you do this your classes will be easier to teach and you’ll retain more of the students you enroll.