Summer can be a notoriously rough time for many dojos, particularly in the United States. So many students take off on vacation leaving many karate instructors wondering how they’ll make ends meet, and how they’ll prevent more students from quitting since class attendances are already down. It’s can be a worrisome time for many a sensei.
Today I wanted to share with you 5 things you can do over summer that will:
- increase morale
- increase friendships
- increase student enrollments
- and be a lot of fun
Each of these things below are EASY to organize and are low maintenance. Plus the rewards to you and your students will be lasting. So grab your calendar and pencil in each of these over the next 2 months.
Let’s get started.
1. Karate Beach Day
You’ve seen the photos… heck, maybe you’re even in them. Just go to Google and type “karate at the beach” and click on images.This is a fun event you can organize for your students, adults and kids… so long as you live within an hour or so of the coast. If you live in the center of the country, like Kansas then you’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle. If that’s the case you’ll have to organize a mountain day instead… ooops, my bad.That’s not gonna work in Kansas either.
The point is, organize a special day for your students to do some training in an environment that’s different to what’s usual for you. Make everyone arrive EARLY like 7 or 8 am and organize a training session for 90 minutes or so, in the sand and water. Then once you’re done people can enjoy the day in a social environment free of karate.
2. Karate Movie Night
This is a fun experience for kids to enjoy themselves outside of karate. Pick a movie that’s on at your local cinema that’s suitable for your audience and go as a group. In some smaller towns you might even be able to get a private screening. Talk to your local movie theater and organize it. This kind of thing works really well when marital art movies like “The Karate Kid” and “Kung Fu Panda” are showing, but any kids movie works fine too….
3. Bring a Parent Day
*** Pay attention to this one ***. While this is a fun opportunity to increase family bonds, this is also a great way to recruit more adult students. One of the problems in today’s world is that many people are confused as to what “karate” actually is. There is so much misinformation thanks to MMA and knucklehead commentators who’ve never actually studied or practiced the original art. Very few adults in the 18 – 35 year old age group want to practice traditional karate – instead they “want to do MMA“.
Use the Bring-a-Parent day to educate parents as to what karate really is. Let them experience for themselves how to move, hit and evade – teach them the technically correct way to do it. If you do a good job, give them a good workout (but not too hard), you’ll increase the bond between parent and child and have a few express interest in becoming adult students. I suspect you have several parents right now who’ve thought about taking karate, but for whatever reason haven’t pursued it. This is your opportunity to give them the nudge they need…
4. Bowling Night
Last year I hosted 2 bowling outings. One for my adult class and one for my instructors. This is a great way to form friendships, and have a laugh at each other in a social environment. Book a couple of lanes at your local bowling center and just do it! You can offer a prize to the winner (say a private lesson, a small trophy, etc) and make it a fun evening by having students who throw a gutter ball do 5 pushups, or if someone gets a “turkey” then everyone else gets 5 pushups!
5. UFC Night
Whether or not you personally like or watch the UFC, I can almost guarantee your adult students will have an interest so long as they can relate to the fighters. For us karate-ka look to see when fighters like Lyoto Machida, GSP, Stephen Thompson, etc are up next. Other great strikers like Anderson Silva and Junior Dos Santos while not karate-ka have great footwork and technique that your students will enjoy and be able to relate to. Host a UFC night at your place at a sports bar, or even at one of your student’s houses, where you can all watch the fights together. Nothing bonds people like a common interest.
So there you have it – 5 things to do over summer to increase the friendships, boost morale and keep people training in your dojo.
What other things can you think of? (post ’em below and please share on your favorite social network).