Martial Arts Instructor News and Articles

John Graden

John Graden

Executive Director

John Graden led the martial arts into the modern era by creating the first professional association, trade journal & instructors certification program.

I’ve said for decades that no one cares what style you teach but you. There is no better proof of this than the proliferation of social media. If you are interested in enrolling more students, read this carefully.

The Review Economy

We live in a review economy. Search the web as I have and look for reviews of martial arts schools that say, “I was looking for XYZ-Style and glad I found this place. Five stars for teaching XYZ-Style!”

Real reviews reflect what the market is looking for and expecting. Real reviews read more like, “Sensei Ford has a tremendous amount of patience (more than I could ever have with a group of 6-9-year-olds!).”

That is from an actual review for a traditional school that has 45 five star reviews on Yelp. Check it out at the end of this article.

A Powerful Driver of New Students Today

If you are not focused on reviews, you are leaving one of the most powerful drivers of enrolling more students to chance. That is a dangerous path to tread.

Studies show that consumers will spend 20% more for a business that has a majority of 5 and 4-star reviews. Wouldn’t you?

How to Get Good Reviews without Penalty

Google, Bing and other search engines know that businesses will try to scam the reviews either by soliciting reviews or posting negative reviews on competitor’s sites. If you get caught, you get whacked. Google can stop ranking your site and any other Google properties your business uses.

The good news is that it’s not that hard to gain control of your reviews in a compliant process.

Bad Review Strategies

  • Writing fake reviews for your school
  • Paying a third party to post fake reviews, posing as a customer.
  • Getting too many reviews at once. They may trip filters at the review sites that will cause the reviews to be deleted.
  • Bribing 5-star reviews for a reward

Good Review Strategies

  • Link to your review sites from your website with a Review Us page.
  • Include listings for review sites in your printed material
  • Include a Review Us in your email signature
  • Here is a great tool to create professional looking review requests

Review Generator Handout

Kaizen Dojo

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Notice Tyson’s hand is by his face, not his hip.

His chin is down instead of up.

His shoulder is up instead of pulled back.

His body is sideways to his opponent instead of squared off.

His legs are under his body not spread apart like he was riding a horse.

With this kind of form, he would fail his orange belt exam in most schools. 

How does that make any sense?

Sensei Tyson?

If Mike Tyson or a world champion kickboxer came to your school to teach your black belts. What do you think he would work on? Double punches, square blocks, and keeping your chin up?

I’m pretty sure he would emphasize head movement, how to snap your punches and a defense that does NOT include pulling your punch back to your hip.

I’m sure the students would learn advanced applications to adjust for different fighters. Notice I said advanced applications, not advanced strikes.

When you focus on application, you can apply that to almost any technique.

For instance, if the drill is about how to fight a taller fighter, the answer is more about footwork to stay on the outside until you can secure quick access. My brothers are 6′ 3″ and 6′ 4″ so I know something about fighting a taller opponent.

Drills that teach that application do not require complexity. They require simplicity.

The more complex a skill becomes, the less chance it can be used. Have you ever seen a double punch? Only in kata and here:

If you eliminated all kata and traditional skills, you could devote that time to drills and conditioning that would give your students a true advantage in sparring or self-defense.

Imagine teaching fewer skills that are easy to teach and learn than traditional skills and kata.

You could spend more time on the application of those skills rather than stepping up and down the classroom and holding blocks and punches out in the air, which leaves you wide open for a counterattack.

Rather than spending student’s time with the complexity and frustration of spending years perfecting the bad habits of pulling their hand back to their hip, keeping their chin up, aiming and holding a punch in the air, and blocking with power while stepping forward, your retention will improve. Your student quality will improve. Your curriculum consistency will improve.

This is the core of our white to black belt curriculum Empower Kickboxing.

It’s an old saying, but true. “Less is best.”

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