Martial Arts Business: Own a School? Developing Value a Priority?

You Weren’t Trained to Apply Yourself to THE WORK

Let’s admit it, as we were coming up as students/teachers, most (if not all) of us were NOT “trained” to apply any sort of academic or professional rigor to our methods of community service, community integration, community education, and/or course development.

Martial art

We were not guided to develop documentation of our efforts as proof of what the foundation of our efforts / education / and training are about –or what they produce.

Marketing The Schools

But HAD WE, marketing our schools, gaining credibility with educators and school administrators, and other people and entities within our communities, AND providing valued services that actually address and/or solve relevant-to-today problems in our communities would be, well —-it would all be very different than what “we” do today as martial arts teachers.

We came up in a school, most of us, that had a very, VERY narrow focus of effort and curriculum. Some of us came up in a business-education environment where billing services and “consultant” associations were the primary providers of teacher education and school-management-focus —and those institutions, which in the past I played a significant role in, only just scratched the surface of ANY sort of intelligent approach to teaching, to intent, to mission, to actual education, and to anything but the most rudimentary, simplistic approach to “the work.”

For the sake of argument, there are/were exceptions, of course, but in general the industry has been absorbed in and propagating a “freshmen year” “dance / health club” approach to the work of the martial arts teacher –for more than two decades now.

Ultimate Black Belt Test

In this work, The 100. and The Ultimate Black Belt Test, which you are part of, we are redesigning HOW we think about who we are to our community. We’re rethinking WHAT we are capable of, HOW we “make money” –and from WHAT. We are breaking out of the very narrow box, definition, description, and role of teacher/business owner that the industry has, for all accounts and purposes, accepted as “the standard.”

To make your career more profitable and meaningful, I suggest you reject the industry’s dominant paradigm of school management, curriculum, and marketing. Unsubscribe from the magazines, for now, that promote a kind of repetitive, brain dead approach to “school success.” Disconnect from the sales conferences and conventions and seminars (except for technical) promoted by the industry. Refuse to participate in the idiocy of the franchised, boxed, pizza party, milquetoast world of the billing services and the multitude of “consultants” promoting the same old, tired approach.

Refuse to participate in the time-wasting dialogs on Facebook about “overcoming sales objections,” and what two-for-one deals and cage-fitness programs schools are jumping on this month; instead, jump into the world of avant garde education and educational technology. Launch yourself out of the current and popular description of what a Sensei does, for a living, and how a martial arts school serves its community.

In every group there are people who major in minors, people who get stuck, and who are driven by motivations that, in the end, are about the most inane and misguided ambitions. Then there are leaders and people who grow, purposefully; people who break out of the herd. If you and I met every day for 10 minutes or more, for the next 10 years –and I was a part of the team of people you looked to for help –all I would do is encourage you to hang out with the best of the best people, thinkers, and doers in the world; I’m afraid that, at the moment and in my opinion, these people are NOT “martial arts masters” or “industry / business gurus.”

Changing your peer group, alone, would –or could, if you’re present and accounted for –show you, quite clearly, how shallow our training has been. It would also show you exactly how to proceed and how to build an all new level of value in what you/we do as teachers of the martial arts.

Core Training

The core training we’ve received has great value (we all know that); it’s how we have not been trained to represent that training in the world, that is causing us to run in place as professional teachers and leaders.

I have dedicated the remainder of my career to elevating the profession of “martial arts teacher” to something very different than it is today. Step number 1 is to reject the foolishness of high pressure sales, of “sales formulas,” of deceit and unsustainable business practices, of promoting educational concepts without actually studying the subjects, of modeling sales methods promoted by “consultants” who aren’t holding themselves to standards that bring dignity and value to our profession. We must elevate the quality of our work, both on the mat –and in the world.

It’s not an essay, this work, it’s not a seminar, an article, a report, or something learned at “the convention,” or from high priced marketeers. This work is a daily on-going dialogue. It’s a daily practice. It’s a tightening of the screws of mission, intent, purpose, and value-in-today’s world —-and it’s a loosening of the hold that sales-people, marketers, retailers, franchisers, and profiteers have had on our thinking, career expectations, and the very essence of how we go about our work.

The farther I move away from the martial arts industry as it is today, the clearer the better path becomes. My goal is to explore better, smarter methods –and lead the industry in a better direction. All of this work depends on you. If I can get you to approach the work from a smarter and more value-driven place –and you manifest that kind of success in your own career, the “industry” will follow.