The Keys to a Successful Martial Arts Business

Running a full time karate school can be a challenge.

I used to think that my instructor sat around all day and casually rolled up to teach for a few hours each night, while spending the rest of the day lazing in the sun. When I started my own full time school a few years ago I soon realized there is a lot more to running a full time school than I imagined.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade it for a 9 to 5 job (Errr, I mean a 4:30am to 7:30pm with the commute! ), with 8 different bosses asking me if I got the memo about the TPS reports.

As a full time instructor although you might only be teaching 15-25 hours per week, there are other tasks you need to take care of on a daily basis. These things most people don’t realize until they start their own business.

Over the next few posts I’ll share some of these with you. The first being…

Marketing Your Karate School

Yes, you have to do it and you have to do it constantly in order to continue to get new students through your door and onto the floor. Many businesses fail because they have little idea of how to do this critical part.

This doesn’t mean randomly spending $500 on flyers and having some kid place them on car windshields, or walking around your neighborhood knocking on doors trying to get people to come to class.

It means carefully testing different low cost (and in some instances free) , time conserving marketing methods, and tracking the results. Then you can spend your effort on those things that work well for you and avoid the things that waste your time and money.

When testing new marketing methods my personal rule is I need to be able to test it for $50 or less. Then if it works, I can spend more on it. But giving $2,000 to some direct mail marketing company without a personally proven result might be the torpedo that sinks your ship.

In a nutshell, test small, pay attention to your results, and roll out the big guns when you KNOW it works….

Stay tuned for next week’s installment…

Karate Poison Ball (Karate Game)

If there is one karate game that my kids classes love more than any other it’s Karate Poison Ball…

This game soars like an eagle above all other games – no other comes remotely close to producing the level of exhilaration kids feel when I tell them it’s time for “Poison Ball”.

Quite often the first thing young kids will ask me as soon as they walk into class is “Are we going to play Poison Ball today, Sensei?”

My response is often, “We’ll see. If you’re good we might play it at the end of class.”

And yet this game is really nothing more than dodge ball / poison ball with a karate twist.

Here’s how it works…

Karate Poison Ball

Students spread out in the middle of the floor with you standing at one end.

Choose an assistant instructor or a senior student to stand at the other end.

Your job is to get the kids “out” by throwing the ball at them and hitting them. If the ball misses all students or is returned to the other end of the room, it’s your assistant’s turn to throw the ball.

Your students’ job is to not get hit by either moving and avoiding it, or punching the ball away.

If the ball hits any other part of their body; if a student picks up the ball to give it back to you; if a student kicks the ball; or if it hits their belt or uniform at all; or if you think that their “punch” didn’t resemble a karate technique, then they’re out!

Students who are out take a seat at the end of the room out of the way and cheer for the remaining kids.

Two more things to note:

– Use a plastic air filled ball.

– Play this game at the end of class as a reward for a job well done.

Yes, it’s ok to bribe your students at the start of class by letting them know what’s in store when their good. If they don’t behave, do 200 punches in shiko dachi instead. You’ll quickly see a shift in how your class responds.

The notion of this simple game has the power to move mountains, change behaviors for the better and send your kid’s class home happy.



Martial Arts Warm-Up Drill

Here’s a good martial arts warm-up drill. I use this often with my classes and want to share it with you today. It’s good because both people are working – one is practicing their stance while the other is constantly moving.

One person stands in Shiko Dachi/Sumo Stance (or kiba dachi) with their hands on their head and is responsible for counting. The other person starts facing their partner and must make 10 passes between their partner’s legs by dropping to their knees, crawling under their partner, standing up and run around to the front again.

With each pass the student must turn the opposite way after emerging from under their partner, so they are making a figure 8 pattern. For example, on the first pass they must stand up and turn left, run to the front, drop down and pass through the legs again, stand up and turn right and run to the front.

As a warm-up do 10 passes (5 figure 8s), and as an endurance drill do 20 passes, 3 times each.

The constant standing up, dropping down, turning and thinking becomes challenging as your students fatigue.

Try it out and let me know how it works for you…

Of course if you’re looking for a bunch more of karate warm up drills and exercises you can always check out my 125 Dynamite Drills which is available here