Info for Martial Arts School Owners and Instructors

The Martial Arts Teachers’ Association (MATA) is a professional organization that helps martial arts school owners and instructors improve their teaching skills and grow their schools with proven marketing, management, and curriculum design.

Click JOIN MATA to learn more.

martial arts instructor association and curriculum

Martial Arts Instructors, How Do You Answer This Question?

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.

When speaking with the media, or a prospect, it’s important to have your sound bites memorized. Here is a key point though. You want to make sure your sound bite is unique from other schools. For instance, the reporter asks, “What can you tell me about USA Karate?” You answer, “We teach more than just kicking and punching. We instill life skills that help our students to succeed in all areas of life.”

There is nothing wrong with that statement. But, the odds are that 80% of the schools in your area would say the same thing and also have a Black Belt Excellence sign over their mirrors.

How can you make your pitch more compelling? Here are a few suggestions that focus more on why than what. Each has a long and short version.

The reporter asks, “What can you tell me about USA Karate?”

  1. Self-defense starts with confidence, self-control, and situational awareness. That’s why everything we teach starts with mental self-defense before it ever escalates to physical self-defense. You win 100% of the fights you’re never in.
    • We teach prevention first. Self-defense starts with confidence, self-control, and situational awareness. You win 100% of the fights you’re never in.
  2. We make sure our students are in great shape and can defend themselves, but they get a lot more than that. That’s why people are surprised when one of our students answers the question, “Have you ever had to use martial arts in real life?” The answer is, “Of course! I use them every day.” The confidence and self-discipline we teach is invaluable on a day-to-day basis.
    • We emphasize mental skills along with self-defense. Our students have told us that the confidence and self-discipline we teach is invaluable on a day-to-day basis.
  3.  Here in “Your town or city” we’ve seen a steady decay of respect. Our school is on a mission to change that. That’s why we teach our students the value of treating others like they’d like to be treated. It’s the golden rule. We all agree that the more respect we show each other, the better our world will be. Of course, our students also learn to respect the power of the self-defense skills they’re learning and to use them wisely.
    • For us, respect comes first. Respect for your right to safety. Respect for the skills you use and, of course, the golden rule, respect for others.
  4. It’s pretty amazing really. With social media, we’re hearing back from students who trained with us years ago and moved on with their lives. The most common message we get is, “I’ve never had to punch or kick anyone in a self-defense situation. But, the self-discipline and respect that your school taught me had a massive effect on my life. Thank you, sir!” That’s why we love what we do at USA Karate.
    • The most common message we get from students is, “I’ve never had to punch or kick anyone in a self-defense situation. But, the self-discipline and respect that your school taught me has been huge.” We’re most proud of that.


What are some of your sound bites? Post them below in the comments.

Check out the new MATA Press Release program to supercharge your publicity and become the martial arts star in your area.

You May Also Like…