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How to Get Stronger Testimonials

by | Offline Marketing & Sales

Setting Expectations for Martial Arts Students Upfront

Authority is highly influenced by emotion.

While your staff and students may intellectually understand that you are the boss and master instructor, they have to feel it, not think it.

It’s the emotional connection that anchors your authority on a deep level.

If there is one powerful moment in your role as a professional martial arts instructor, it’s in the enrollment conference.

While the parents may see you as the master black belt, they usually don’t have an authoritative reverence at this early stage.

The enrollment conference is a seminal moment for you to establish your authority and gain the respect and gratitude of the family you’re dealing with.

Presenting the programs and their cost to parents can be tense at times. Some parents want to negotiate. Others might object to the agreement. Some want a safety net in case their child wants to quit.

While it’s important that you are prepared to overcome any objections, it’s when the bottom line is signed and the initial investment is completed that you have a critical window to demonstrate your authority.

Many owners complete the transaction and gush with statements like, “Awesome. It’s great to have you on board. Johnny, you did an awesome job tonight. High five! Thanks Mrs. Jones it’s great to have Johnny as part of our family. Let me know if I can help with anything.”


Who has the role of authority here? Mrs. Jones and her credit card. That was a missed opportunity.

Let’s try again. You would adjust this script to the age and circumstance, but here is an authority template for the enrollment conference.

Mom has just enrolled Johnny into the program.

You, “Johnny. You want to learn Empower Kickboxing, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. I want you to understand that your mom just enrolled you into a six month program. You are going to learn a lot of great skills and lessons. It’s going to be fun and sometimes it’s going to be hard. That’s the good part because that means you’re learning. So you have to pay attention and practice at home 20-minutes a day when you don’t have class.

Are you going to work hard and practice?”

“Yes sir.”

“I’m glad. Your classes are Monday and Wednesday at 5pm. When are your classes?”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“Good. You’re a smart guy. That means that you have to be ready to come to class by 4:30 on Monday and Wednesdays so that you’re not late. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you are doing, you will be ready by 4:30, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. The first lesson is integrity. Integrity means that you do what you say you are going to do. You keep your promises. You promise to work hard and be ready for class, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you’re doing. Right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Great. We’re going to be so proud of you. Your mom just enrolled you, so please turn to her and say, ‘Thank you mom.”

“Thank you mom.”

“Alright. When someone does something good for you, you always say thank you. That’s called gratitude. What’s it called?”


“Correct. So you’ve learned two important lessons today. Integrity and gratitude. What does integrity mean?

“Keeping your promises.”

“Yes. What does gratitude mean?”

“Saying thank you.”

“You got it! You are going to do great, I can tell already.”

“Remember, your class is…”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“When will you be ready to come to class?”


“You have a good head on your shoulders Johnny. You’re going to be good at this.”

“Because you’ve showed your mom gratitude and you’re going to keep your promises, here is a school t-shirt for you to wear. Every time you put it on, I want you to think of integrity and gratitude. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“I just gave you a shirt. How do you show gratitude?”

“Thank you sir.”

As taught in the MATA Certification program, it’s also a good idea to let mom know that it’s important that she control what Johnny is doing around 4:30 which is the agreed upon to be ready for class.

If Johnny is playing with his friends or deep in a video game, it’s going to be harder to get him to get ready than if he is cleaning his bedroom or something he’d like to leave to go to class.

Keep in mind that mom is watching this happen before her eyes. What have you done to establish your authority?

  1. You’ve provided her with a language pattern that both her and Johnny understand. This is huge.
  2. You’ve given mom the “integrity” framework to deal with any reluctance to go to class.
  3. You’ve provided her with a strategy to engage Johnny in less fun activities so that going to class is an easy decision.
  4. You’ve laid out when Johnny should get ready for class without complaint.
  5. Before her eyes, you taught her son important lessons with real world examples. No doubt, your authority sky-rocketed in her eyes and in her heart.

Look for places where you can make these kinds of strong emotional connections.

Demonstrate true authority and leadership. That will last much longer than a trite, shallow compliments like “Awesome! Good job.”

This will help your students to understand how and why they are training with the best school.

Strategies for getting video testimonials

Part 1

In most martial arts schools, there are predictable events that you can time your review requests with.

  1. When a new student joins. 
  2. When a student advances in rank.
  3. When a student or family member praises the school.
  4. When a student wins a tournament.
  5. When a student or family member describes defending him or herself.
  6. During or after a special event.

Quick Capture

It’s a good idea to train your staff to “whip out their phones” when a student or family members praise the school. 

For instance: 

  1. A student or parent says, “That was a great class.” 
  2. The staff member politely asks, would you mind telling our Facebook followers about it? It’ll just take a second.” 

Staff member pulls out the phone and shoots a waist up clip. If the student flubs it, just say, “No problem. Ready for take 2?” Keep it light and fun. 

  1. It’s also okay to ask the student questions to answer. For instance, “What were you looking for in a martial arts school?” If you don’t like the answer, just ask for a “take 2” and coach on what you’d like to hear.

Here are some examples from our COBRA-Defense Conference in Miami in June.

While the event was happening, I was pulling instructors aside, placing them next to the COBRA banner and doing short interviews that I edited into bite-sized testimonials.


Even the best testimonial is useless if you can’t hear what the person is saying. I attached a lavalier collar microphone so that their voice would be captured above the event background noise. 

This COBRA-Defense testimonial is from Sidney Burns, the MATA 2018 Instructor of the Year. He didn’t just add COBRA-Defense to his school, he opened a new location that only teaches COBRA-Defense. He explained why in his testimonial. 

Rather than stop there, I asked him, “What is the difference in value that parents see in a COBRA-Defense class versus a martial arts class?” His answer was spot on. This is how you can lead a student down the path of saying what you want them to say in their own words. Stay curious.

Martin Lopez is another good example. He made his first statement and I followed up with questions to pull more out of him and he delivered. 

Keep in mind, both Sidney and Martin are good speakers. It’s much harder to get through a bunch of “ums, ahs, and um…” zzzzzzzzz

Take 2

Most people will not get it right on the first try. Here is one example of many different people that simply needed a “take 2.” Ask them to hold up 2 fingers, so it’s easier for you to find the edit spot later. Sometimes, you go on to 3 fingers, but if you get that far, it may be time for a different question or excuse them from the process. 

When people get stuck, ask this, “What would you tell your friends if they were considering joining our school?”


You may want to edit out some words or change the order of the comments using one of a ton of video editors. is a treasure chest of great tools and information that covers all of your post-production tasks such as:

  1. Caption the video. Most social media video is watched in mute, so make sure your message gets delivered by captioning the video.
  2. Transcribe the video. Take the captions and turn them into a couple of paragraphs under the video. Lot’s of people, like me, will not take the time to watch a captioned video and would prefer to read it. However, because the speaker is on the video saying nice things about your school, it still has more impact than if it was just a written review.
  3. Title the video with the student’s name and topic. Here I used a lower thirds from iMovie.

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