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How to Move from the Bottom 3rd to the Top 3rd

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.

In every market or every measurement, there is a top third, middle third, and bottom third. Whether it’s weight, height, grades, or IQ there is always a spectrum.

People tend to gravitate and adopt the belief systems of the third they are in. For instance, the worldview of earning money is completely different for people raised in the bottom third of income compared to those raised in the top third.

When kids are raised in the bottom third, they may be taught that rich people are evil and that the only reason they got rich was by stepping on the little guy.

That not only creates a victim mindset, but it implies that you will always be one of the little guys. It’s a message without hope.

This mindset was illustrated in April when I posted the story of how our COBRA-Defense instructors, Joe Robaina of Miami, FL earned $9,500 for ten private lessons.

I shared the story to inspire and educate instructors with, what I deemed, a success story.

When the post hit social media, some of the comments from martial artists were negative. The responses are pretty much summed up in one guy’s comment, “That’s an f******* ripoff!”

By what or who’s standard is that a ripoff? Just because you can’t imagine having that kind of money, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It’s a matter of values.

The client was a self-made multimillionaire with a private jet. He valued time with his family more than money. To save time not money, he wanted to squeeze a 5-week academy into two 5-hour days.

That’s a hard concept to grasp when you’re trading time for money in a low-paying hourly job that you only have because you value money over time.

Far from being a ripoff, the private COBRA-Defense training was a godsend and he was “blown away” by the training. That speaks to the COBRA system and Joe Robaina’s focus on that top third.

While most COBRA instructors charge $299 for a Ten-Week academy, Joe charges $600. When I was in his school on June 7th, he already had 17 people paid and enrolled in his Academy 77 with a week to go.

The lesson is that in every area, there is a top third, middle third, and bottom third of wealth and income. Just because you may have been raised in the bottom doesn’t mean everyone was.

Learn how to focus, think, and operate as a successful person and you have a much better chance of becoming one rather than resenting their hard work and good fortune.

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