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Seven Rules for BJJ School Success

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.

1. Create a long-term perspective on this as your career.

In 20-years, if you reunite with the 8-year old in your class today he is not going to say, “Thank you for BJJ.” He’s going to say, “Thank you for teaching me discipline and self-control.”

Make sure your classes clearly define and teach these important life skills. Build a business that will take care of your family for decades.

2. The student is more important than the style.

Some people learn Russian Ballet or chess, and it improves their life. Billions of perfectly happy people have lived their life without BJJ just like you have lived without Russian Ballet.

Focus on the life-changing benefits of BJJ to truly have an impact on your student’s lives. Avoid the “My kung-fu is better than your kung-fu” mentality. It is short-sighted and irrelevant. No one cares except your BJJ buddies. They will not pay your bills.

3. If BJJ has helped you, You have a moral obligation to learn how to sell BJJ.

How much money would it take for someone to pay you to erase BJJ from your life? I don’t mean quit, I mean you never, ever took a lesson. Would you erase it for $10,000? $50,000? Most of you wouldn’t.

Most instructors want their students to get the same value. That only happens if you learn how to enroll students and keep them so they can have the same experience that you value so much.

When you mis-handle a call or don’t even call back, that person could desperately need what you sell, but you failed them. You also failed BJJ.

4. Every potential student you fail to enroll is a negative mark against BJJ.

If BJJ was so helpful to you, it’s your obligation to learn how to answer the phone, talk about your classes, and introduce people to BJJ in a manner that attracts more people to your school.

The BJJ school owner who feels it is beneath them to make that effort FAILS BJJ and their family. The truth is often that, like most small business owners, the BJJ school owner is simply afraid of rejection. Get over it.

5. Your can be a champion for a decade at the most.

If you are focused on winning trophies, you have about about a decade of your prime athletic years to do so. Just remember that there is a new champion every year and will be for decades. Your wins will only mean something to you. Other than your mommy and daddy, no one cares.

Build your business not your trophy case.

6. You can be a teacher for decades.

The sooner you commit to being the best BJJ teacher possible, the sooner you will start helping BJJ to grow. The world doesn’t need another BJJ champion. We need teachers. Focus on becoming an excellent communicator, motivator, and leader of men. Become a student of teaching not just BJJ.

7. Misery Loves Company.

When a crab tries to escape a boiling pot of boiling water, the other crabs pull him back down. Misery loves company. If you make the effort to learn how to answer the phone, set lesson appointments, and ask for a tuition check, you will catch heat from BJJ school owners who are not making that effort.

Your success makes them look bad. They don’t want that so they will discourage you. 

Ignoring them and taking control of your success may be the most difficult escape you’ve ever had to master. But, if you are as tough as you think you are, you can make that shift and start creating the BJJ school of your dreams.

Unless these guys want to pay your rent, build your home, and send your children to university, stay focused on your own path to success. Leave the crabs in the pot.

As you can tell, I have some pretty strong ideas on this subject. I’d like very much to help those of you who want to succeed. I’ve produced world champions while earning a six-figure income teaching martial arts as a full time career. Most hard core martial artists are SCARED to try to succeed.

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1 Comment

  1. Shaughn

    Boom! Truth bombs. Thank you for this.