Host a Spar-a-Thon

One method of attracting media attention is by creating a provocative event that lends itself to headlines and social media memes. One the best is a Spar-a-Thon. 

This type of promotion works best when the cause is something that is anti-violence. For instance, See USA Karate Students Fight Their Instructors in a Death Match to Stop Domestic Abuse / Child Abuse / Bullying / Etc…. The death match is the “death of FILL IN THE BLANK.” That is the kind of headline that editors like and readers stop to check out.

IMPORTANT: Create a true partnership with an organization that will appreciate and promote such an event. You want more than a “Thank you” card when it is over. You want them pushing the event as hard, if not harder than you are. After all, they are getting the money, not you.

Here is the deal: They have resources you do not have. You have an attention-getting, donation prompting event with the kind of people they don’t know. People who will hit each other for good.

You have to emphasize this point. It is not Your School raising money for Their Organization. It’s both of you working to make an event as successful and visible as possible. Everyone wins.

Be sure to get the charity organization fully behind this. You the event on:

1. Their website

2. Announced on their email list.

3. Promoted by their promotions / community service, media relations team over and over again.

4. To their current donors.

5. Their newsletters

6. Any other resource they have to promote their cause. Be sure that they have a lot of them, and you want them all working for the event.

A spar-a-thon is like any other a-thon. Students seek out pledges for the number of 2-minute (or any duration you set) round they will spar with their instructors. For instance, if you have five instructors participating, students can seek pledges, for instance, of $2 per round for five rounds. The student spars each instructor one round for a total of $10. If he gets ten donations like that, he raises $100.

While the build up to the event is a “death match” be sure the instructors are well-chosen for their control and ego-less approach to sparring students. They want to let the students at least seem competitive every round.

Let a student sweep you to the ground and stomp you. Give them plenty of chances to score.

There is a ton of variations to this. Here are some.

1. Have the student start with the lowest ranking / skilled instructor and work his way up to the master instructor participating. Give them a 1-minute rest. This system creates an efficient and exciting process for fans to watch and students to struggle through. Take it easy on them, because they will get exhausted by round three.

This gauntlet line gives the student a sense of sacrifice and contribution. It also makes for some fun visuals. It looks like they are truly fighting to the death against the cause. They will be staggering tired, so the instructors have to be extra careful but also playful

Make sure the audience is yelling encouragement and showing vocal appreciation as the fighters end the gauntlet.

Also, be sure to have lots of water, first aid, and maybe an ambulance standing by.

2. Be creative once the event starts. Try to get people excited to contribute on the spot. For example:

    a. “Who’ll contribute $10 to see Mr. 4th Dan spar Mr. 5th, Dan? Who’ll match it?”

    b. Auction off fights. a. “Who wants to see School Hotshot spar with Mr. Master for two minutes? It’s a charity death match, and it starts at $20. Can I get $20? $20 there! Can I get $25?”

    c. If you have media there, see if you can get the reporter to spar (be ever so gentle) if the crowd will pay for it. Get the reporters permission first. “I need just $100 for Mr. Reporter to spar with Mr. Master. Who will kick in the first $20?”

    d. “Mr. Hot Shot / Master Instructor seems to be getting a little tired. Who can blame him? How about if we attack him with two fighters? Can I get $100 to see Mr. Hot Shot / Master Instructor spar two black belts for one minute?”

e. Use your imagination and have safe fun.

Let MATA members know about your event and what you did to make it work and what you would do differently next time.