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.

The Stairway to New Students

When you are marketing your martial arts school, it’s important to understand that each person who visits your website or watches your videos will have a different level of awareness relating to your school.

The best way to understand these different levels of awareness is to think of them as a stairway to new students. 

Unaware
At the bottom, you have people who are unaware of you or the benefits of your school.

Need/Desire Aware
They realize that they need the benefits of your school, but they have taken no action.

Solution Aware
They understand their need/desire and are aware there are several ways for them to satisfy that need.

Your Solution Aware
They have seen or heard about your school and how it compares to your competitors.

Ready to Join
These people are aware of your school and ready to join if you have a good new student system.

When you think about marketing as this staircase, it helps you calibrate your marketing to what stage of the staircase the prospect is on. The goal of your marketing is to move people up the staircase and increase their level of awareness of your school.

Take them on a journey from being unaware or your school to recognizing their need/desire of a martial arts school, to realizing that there are many schools available. Then realizing that your school is the best choice and finally joining your school. 

At each level of the stairway, match your messaging to speak to the people at that level and help them transition up to the next level. 

One of the best ways to deliver your message at every level of this stairway to new students is to use video.

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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