How to Teach Martial Arts

How to Teach

Here are some examples of how to teach and explain the martial arts.

The MATA Instructor Certification Program provides teachers an effective process to create and maintain a productive classroom environment.

Most certifications are style and skill based or a course created by a single person.

The MATA Certification was authored by 18 different veteran black belts who are also experts in their respective fields such as law, psychology, pedagogy, movement science, motivation, and communication.

How to Teach Videos

  1. 2 Most Damaging Words
  2. How To Practice
  3. Key Point On All Combos
  4. Mma Sparring Coaching
  5. How To Avoid A Fight
  6. 2 Most Important Questions
  7. Martial Arts & Self-Confidence
  8. Quit Tagging Your Teaching
  9. Overview Of Warm Ups
  10. Sentence Analogy

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Black Belt Eyes

by John Graden

I created a black-and-white ad of a student throwing a perfect jump sidekick under a great headline, “Kids Don’t Seem to Mind Our Summer School.” The ad was a big hit. Schools reported 40 to 60 phone calls, more than they had ever received. Some members, though, wanted to cancel because they didn’t do that technique. Others complained because they wore white uniforms, but the kid in the ad was in a white gi. This is a classic example of Black Belt Eyes.

Black Belt Eyes illustrate how the Core Dynamics are reflected in what we do. In most cases, Black Belt Eyes are based upon false assumptions. For instance, with the jump sidekick ad, the guys who canceled may have feared that a mom would bring the ad in and say, “I want to enroll my child, but first show me this kick.” Or, “Do you have that uniform in white, like this ad?” Of course, that never happens, but we are so deeply connected to our systems that our Black Belt Eyes often get in the way of our more useful Market Eyes. Black Belt Eyes assumed people would see they wore a different color uniform or wouldn’t recognize the technique. Market Eyes are the eyes of your potential students, who don’t know a jump sidekick from a jumping jack.

When Black Belt Eyes see an ad with a jump sidekick, they are drawn to the most important aspect of the ad for black belts. It’s not the headline, the copy, or the offer. Black Belt Eyes will check to make sure the kid has his foot bladed and the other foot is tucked. That’s not a bad thing. It reflects your standards as a black belt. But if you choose not to run that ad because you don’t do jump kicks, then your Black Belt Eyes may have cost you 40 to 60 phone calls which should have converted to 20 to 30 new students.

Black Belt Eyes work against you when you assume that a person with little or no martial arts experience will feel the same about it as you do.

A Black Belt Eyes ad will have someone getting kicked in the head. The owner knows that one of life’s simple pleasures is wrapping your foot around someone’s head with a hook kick or round kick. The readers, however, with their Market Eyes, may translate that image into what will happen to them at that school. They can’t even imagine getting their leg up that high, so they are not identifying with the kicker.

Black Belt Eyes tell the market what it needs, rather than listening to the market and giving it what it wants. Black Belt Eyes show that we care about what we do. They are not bad, but you have to be aware of them. Most of all, recognize when they get in your way.

Has a spouse or significant other made a suggestion about your school or how you teach? What was your reaction? I know mine was essentially ‘Who the heck are you to tell me, the black belt, about martial arts?’ The key, though, is they don’t care about martial arts; they care about you. They usually represent Market Eyes, and they are almost always right.

Other examples of Black Belt Eyes are:

Using your style name as a headline, or worse, a school name. This is a huge assumption that the reader knows how your style translates to benefits for them.

Using a logo that looks like martial arts hieroglyphics. If your logo contains a fist, a yin/yang, a circle, a triangle, Asian lettering, or a bug, you may have Black Belt Eyes. As quickly as you can, seek professional help with the MATA Logo Design service at www.martialartsteachers.com.

Listing techniques in your marketing, rather than benefits. This may disappoint you, but the odds are miniscule that someone seeing an ad that touts Hun Gar 3 Step Waza will exclaim to his wife, “Honey! Hun Gar 3 Step Waza! Just what I’ve always wanted!” Only your Black Belt Eyes will know what that means.

Listing your tournament wins, hall of fame inductions, or that you trained the military police. Black Belt Eyes assume people want to know that you are an accomplished black belt. No one cares. Truthfully. Mike Tyson is a great boxer, but I don’t want him teaching my kids. Study the ads for private schools. They don’t list the teachers’ résumés. Market Eyes want to know what you can do for them or their children.

Having long classes. The assumption is that more is better. The truth is that better is better. If more were better, a four-hour class would be better than a two-hour class. People are busy, and it’s presumptuous to assume that your class is so important it has to take two hours of their day. Most people have 16 waking hours per day. Two hours is over 10 percent of that day. Good instructors can teach a great class and produce outstanding black belts using one-hour classes. If your classes are longer than, reduce them to one hour. Your students will not complain. They will thank you.

Keeping archaic exam requirements that are important to you, not the student. When I was a student, you had to break two boards with a reverse punch, round kick two boards, and running jump side kick over two people to break three boards. This was for the blue belt to 4th degree (kyu or kup) brown belt and usually occurred about a year into training. 

I opened my school with the same requirements. I have great video of my black belts like Kathy Marlor breaking and bouncing off boards during these marathon exams. When the children’s invasion began in the mid-1980s, those requirements became a real problem. Eight- and ten-year-olds have no business doing those types of breaks. So I dropped board breaking as a requirement and added board-breaking seminars that the students could pay to attend. I turned a negative element of the exam process into a fun profit center. To do that, I had to overcome my Black Belt Eyes.

Conducting marathon exams. During the days of my marathon Saturday exams, it seemed as though we measured the quality of an exam by the number of ambulance calls. I thought it was important for students to deal with the stress of the high-pressure, marathon exams, because it would help them deal with the stress of self-defense—which is just dumb. I also waited until enough people were ready before I held the exam. This is classic Black Belt Eyes combined with the Control Factor.

In time, I switched to monthly exams (stripes and belts) that were held in class. This greatly increased retention and student progress, and reduced stress.

Displaying weapons on the wall or in the office. You may love weapons, but to the market, a wall full of knives, swords, and spears looks like a weapons cache. Mothers, in particular, do not respond well to the prospects of their darling child being exposed to these instruments of death.

Displaying photos of yourself hitting, getting hit, or breaking. One school had a photo of the instructor being front kicked, full power, in the groin. His Black Belt Eyes felt that the photo showed he could withstand any blow. My Market Eyes made me wince and turn away. There is nothing interesting, appealing, or tasteful about such a photo. Take down the 1989 photos of you, and replace them with pictures of your happy students. It’s OK to have a shot of yourself; just make sure it’s tasteful and professionally shot.

Media coverage, such as magazine covers or newspaper articles, are also fine. Tip: If you are on a TV show, have someone take a photo that includes the cameras. This is a good way to get mileage out of a TV appearance. You can’t post a video on your wall, but this type of photo shows you were on a TV show. Media appearances build confidence in students and prospects. Photos of you breaking flaming bricks don’t.

Having a smelly school. This could be called Black Belt Nose. When prospects walked into my school, their eyes watered and their faces contorted from the sweaty stench soaked into our carpet. I used to tell them with pride, “We earned that smell . . .” Not good.

Sparring too soon. Black Belt Eyes say, “Sparring prepares you for self-defense.” Market Eyes say, “That’s scary, and it hurts.” Few things lead to high dropouts faster than sparring. Sparring is important, and I love it. But the smartest curriculum adjustment I ever made was to push back the time when students had to spar. Rather than after three months, which was how I was raised, it became eight months. During those eight months, we work on limited sparring drills and defense and prepare the students how to spar before they are thrown in the ring.

I made the change after years of having the following scenario played out too often. Typically, a female student would enroll and soon become an A student. She was in every class. She was at every function. She volunteered to help. She changed her work hours or made changes in her life to make sure she could do karate.

This lasted for three months until she reached the rank where sparring was required. Then I wouldn’t see her again until running into her at the mall or a restaurant. “Sally! Great to see you. We sure miss you in class.” “Oh, um, hi, Mr. Graden . . . Yeah, I’ve been really busy lately. Gotta go.”

If I had a Truth Translator the real message would be, “I trusted you. I really trusted you and embraced your school into my life. Then you put me up against that guy, and I had no idea what to do. He hit me on my nose, and it hurt. I will not trust you again.” When I tell this story in seminars, the classic Black Belt Eyes vs Market Eyes exchange reveals itself, as the owners’ wives and girlfriends elbow them in the ribs. “I told you!”

Some guys argue that sparring is important. I agree. However, how can you teach sparring to someone who drops out?

Today people, especially women, are taught never to hit someone. We have to be patient and help them get comfortable with the idea of hitting and getting hit. We have to give them strategies to get out of the way of a bigger, faster opponent and, most of all, we have to drill them over and over so they are ready to spar when they reach that level.

Setting heavy traditional requirements in the first year. If your white-belt class consists of traditional stances, blocks, and forms, you are going to have a tough time keeping students. Give your students material they can use right away.

We pushed all of our traditional tae kwon do techniques back to green belt. White, gold, and orange belt were spent on working on pad drills, practical self-defense, sparring, and footwork drills. The students loved it. They felt a sense of competence right away.  As important as they are, the traditional martial arts are very hard to learn. By front-loading your curriculum with your core traditional material, you put some of the most difficult techniques to learn with your most inexperienced students.

This is especially true for children. Forms were created by highly disciplined adults to be taught to other highly disciplined adults. They were not designed to be taught to eight-year-olds with ADHD.

Teaching a new student a front stance and then trying to layer on a down block-lunge punch is not only hard, but you almost have to apologize for the lack of practicality. We say things like, “You would never really block this way, but this is a block against a kick to the groin.” That, my friend, are Black Belt Eyes in action.

Having too many “shoulds” in your curriculum. It’s natural for a new school owner to have dreams of creating a great martial arts school. He dreams that his black belts will be the best, and people will flock to his school. When this enterprising black belt sits down to design the ultimate curriculum, he thinks to himself, “Hmmm. My students should learn the traditional basics. They should be able to do a form or two each belt. They should know the basic traditional stances and blocks. They should be able to do all the kicks and punches. They should learn some self-defense. They should be able to do one-steps and spar as well.”

There are two consequences to this line of thinking.

a. Each requirement will have to be covered in class to prepare students for their exams. 

b. With so many requirements, students will have less time to work on each, so quality will be difficult to obtain and maintain.

When you have too many requirements for each belt, you are strapping yourself to covering those techniques in each class. If you don’t cover them, students will not be ready for exams, and it won’t be their fault. If you have 20 requirements for an orange-belt exam, you have to spend a large amount of class covering these 20 techniques. With that many requirements being covered each class, your creativity is hindered. Your classes will tend to be the same. This level of repetition is good only to the degree you don’t lose students to boredom.

The key is to require only the base skills on exams. You’ll have to decide what those base skills are. You can still teach the other 100 techniques you think students “should” learn, but you don’t box yourself in as a teacher. For instance, I can teach spin hook kick to a class of blue belts but not require it on an exam. It’s not a core technique, but it is fun.

Self-defense escapes can also fall into this category, though it depends. Self-defense is at the core of most programs, but typically, it’s not taught very well, and it’s hard to practice. There is a lot of speculation, “I do this, which will make him do that . . .” in self-defense that is style based. Realistically, a headlock escape practiced at 50 percent speed and power works 100 percent of the time. A headlock escape practiced at 75 percent speed and power works less. But how well does it work when both students are going at it 100 percent? Most of us never do that, so who knows?

Students have a finite amount of time to practice your curriculum. If they have 20 techniques to master in order to pass your orange-belt exam, they will spend half the amount of time on each technique than if they only had 10 techniques. For example, in a 12-week testing cycle you expect students to attend class twice a week. This is a total of 24 hours in class. In each class, you devote 20 minutes to requirements. That is total of 8 hours working on test requirements. Some requirements, like forms, take much more time to master, while others, like a ridge hand, take less time.

It only makes sense that a student who has 10 requirements to learn in 8 hours will spend twice as much time on each one as a student who has 20 to learn. Conversely, an instructor will have twice as much time on each of 10 requirements in 8 hours than one who has to cover 20. Odds are, the students with 10 requirements will have a higher competence level than those with 20.

Our Black Belt Eyes lead us to believe that our students will be good because they know more, but again, more is not better. Better is better. Fewer requirements make better students and aid retention, because students who feel they are doing well are happy students and stay in the school. Competence leads to confidence.

Just remember that Market Eyes pay the bills. The next time your spouse or significant other makes the suggestion that tying students together with a belt and having them spar may not be a good move, take a deep breath, listen, and say, “Thank you.”

Your life is defined by your patterns of behavior and thought. Actions do speak louder than words. The Core Dynamics are five crucial areas of our professional life. The top schools owners manage the Control Factor; they have Found Their Own Voice; they Value What They Do; they have Clarity of Purpose; and they balance their Black Belt Eyes with educated Market Eyes.

The Masters on Change

by John Graden

Here are some quotations regarding styles from three of the most influential martial artists in history:

“The art does not make the man. The man makes the art.” – Gichin Funakoshi

“You limit a style by labeling it.” – Bruce Lee

“The style serves the student. The student doesn’t serve the style.” – Joe Lewis

Despite my roots in tae kwon do, my responsibility is to my students, not tae kwon do, kickboxing, Joe Lewis Fighting Systems, or any other source of information. My job is to create the best black belts possible in a school that authentically represents what I believe in. In large part, that responsibility is expressed through my curriculum.

When Does a System Freeze?

The history of the arts, however, is the tendency to freeze a curriculum and then resist any change or suggestion of change. I love Shotokan and know that the reason I did so well in forms division was my adaptation of the core elements of Shotokan, which is deeper balance and more powerful and crisp blocks and punches than my root system of tae kwon do.

We have the great system of Shotokan because of the work of Gichin Funakoshi. In fact, the genesis of Shotokan is in the massive change Funakoshi’s made to Okinawan karate. He radically changed the recipe book, yet for the most part the book has not changed since.

It’s also entertaining to me to see modern Jeet Kune Do teachers argue over what is real JKD. If anyone didn’t want his system to freeze, it was Bruce Lee. He was way ahead of his time in his approach to creating a practical martial art that was not confined or restricted by history.

Joe Lewis is someone who has continually updated his material. Recently we trained one-on-one for the first time in over a decade. He had me fire some of the excellent Joe Lewis Fighting Systems’ combinations on the bag in my garage. He stopped me and started to show me how to throw a straight right hand. My mouth kind of dropped, my eyes got wide, and I shook my head in disbelief. He said, “What?” I said, “That is the exact opposite of what you taught me in the 80s!” He said, “What? I’m not supposed to evolve?” It was the perfect response.

Here was a 60-year-old black belt who was in his fourth decade as a worldwide recognized pioneer and superstar, but in his mind, he is in his fourth decade of evolution. While I’m on the subject of Joe Lewis, let me also mention this. Joe is a very traditional martial artist. I am, too. We don’t express our traditions by holding on to techniques or rituals. We express them by making sure our students: execute with proper form, can defend themselves and develop the tenacity to never quit.

A Martial Arts School Full of Pooh Bears

The first step to increasing your product sales is to logo everything in sight. Harely Davidson now makes more money selling t-shirts and jackets than they make selling motor-bikes. That’s the power of a recognizable logo and a good line of merchandise.

Disney, Warner Brothers and Coke-a-Cola make huge sums of money selling their logo merchandise. If it works for sugar water, it will work for us. Of course, you have to have an attractive logo that people won’t be embarrassed to wear. Be sure to read the report on how to create a good logo.

Logo-wear works on a number of levels:

  1. People like to show they are an accepted member of a group. The more prestigious and “cool” the group, the better. Given a choice, most people might prefer to show the world they belong to the Harvard Athletic Club than the South Emerald City Community College Athletic Club.
  1. Provided you do a good job, students and parents will be proud of their association with you and your school. When someone is proud of their association they typically want others to know.
  1. A “School Logo Only” policy helps to reduce the temptation for students to purchase items outside the school. When a student or parent buys product through the mail or at your local sports discount store this cuts you out of the profit loop.

Logo your uniforms, sparring equipment and t-shirts but don’t stop there. Logo hats, sweat shirts, pens and anything else you plan to sell or give away.

What Items Can You Sell in Your Pro-shop?

  • Sparring equipment
  • A full line of Logo t-shirts, tanks and sweats
  • Caps, headbands and visors
  • Polo style embroidered shirts
  • Warm up suits
  • Martial arts shoes
  • Regular gi’s, colored gi’s and custom gi’s all screen printed with logo
  • Black belt club specialty items
  • Books and videos pursuant to your style
  • Kicking and punching pads 

Selling Training Aids

Training aids are not just for use in the school. Their purchase and use at home could be encouraged by you and all your staff since this not only helps profits but also aids in retention.

Few schools that I know of make much of an effort to sell training aids for use outside the school. This is usually simply because they have not created a system to do this.

If you enroll 20 students per month, let’s create a plan to sell 20 kicking shields to them. Kicking shields are used extensively in the school but do all of your young students have a kicking shield at home?No, but they have a baseball bat a ball and a glove. They have a soccer ball to play with. You can be sure mom or dad enjoys throwing or kicking the ball as well!

Think about it! What is the best way to show a parent that the child is really interested in martial arts?

What is the best way to get the parent emotionally bonded to their child’s success in his martial arts program? Get the parent involved. While you may not get every parent to enroll you can at least encourage the parents to buy a kicking shield and work out with their child on a weekend for ten or twenty minutes.

What if you had a five page booklet with photos of you showing the parent how to hold the target, what techniques to practice and how, plus tips on what to remind the child to focus on? What would that cost you to produce? With a digital camera, a computer and a printer, next to nothing but the time to put it together.

Heavy bags, blockers and focus mitts are also idea for encouraging practice at home and interaction with another member of the family. Each time a parent sees his child practicing at home it reinforces that child’s commitment to martial arts and re-enforces the parents resolve to continue investing in lessons.

Other training aids such as stretching machines are more adult in their appeal but should also be promoted for home use especially around Christmas time.

 

 

The Guru Story

The obvious answer is anytime, but you will find that certain times will offer the opportunity for a quick and easy sale because of a students heightened state of emotion. Remember that people always buy out of emotion backed up by logic.

 

When the student first enrolls his interest is at a peak. Give him a few days to get into the program and recover from his initial investment in your lessons. By then he should already be expressing interest in one or two products and is almost certainly open to “cross-selling.”

 

The first major “high” in a student’s experience in your school is after they pass their first rank test. This is another period of time when their emotions are high and therefore a prime time to sell them products. Books, videos and equipment related to the new material they are going to learn would clearly be well received at this stage.

One time a student really appreciates some suggestive selling is if they get hurt. A barefooted student who has just stubbed his toe will be very receptive and appreciate a suggestion of martial arts shoes.

When someone gets a bruised shin, forearm or bone, let them know that protective pads are available. Consider also, carrying dit dat jow, a Chinese herbal preparation of some repute. It significantly enhances the healing of bruises. Stretching machines and books and videos on stretching can be sold as a preventative measure to strained muscles.

Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Opportunities to serve your students will present themselves on a daily basis. When you order and stock your merchandise, pay attention to other factors that influence spending habits. For instance, don’t load up with t-shirts in January unless you live in a warm weather climate. Instead, buy school logo sweatshirts and warm-up suits.

The same is true when approaching summer; sell off all those heavy sweats at a pre-summer sale using the money to get your new line of t-shirts on display. Remove any leftover winter stock until next season so as not to clutter up your display. This also will serve to keep seasonal merchandise from getting old.

Sparring equipment will traditionally sell better in the winter than in the summer. One reason is because people tend to workout much harder when it’s colder and also because you normally will have more students in the winter than in the summer.

Books and videos sell best around Christmas and well into the New Year. This is partly because they make good gifts but there also is another reason. Just as the New Year is a great time for new student enrollments, it’s a great time to sell. When people engage in a new activity, they are hungry for information.

Feed that desire with a good selection of related books and videos. This hunger for information can actually be helped by severe winter weather. There is a lot of time to read and watch a video on a new form or other subject of interest.

Halloween is a good time to display uniforms in your front window. Depending on the latest fad, some years you may sell a lot of uniforms for one time costume use only. Of course with each person who comes in off the street to purchase a Halloween costume, you will give a guest pass and offer them a free trial lesson.

You may get several students a year from this type of approach. It may even pay to take out a small ad in your local paper advertising that your carry such uniforms.

Prospective students will come to you in a variety of ways; capitalize on this in any way you can.

Look at your own school and try to see how trends develop. Some things will just sell better at one time of the year than another. This may vary from area to area. Analyze these trends and order your merchandise with these in mind. With attention to detail in this area you should be able to keep your inventory under control and at the same time enjoy increased sales and profitability.

Take Care of Yourself

If you school uses kicking pads, focus mitts, freestanding bags, stretch racks, heavy bags, and other tools of the trade, here is a great way to keep them in brand new condition and at the same time, creating extra income off the product.

Every six months or so, sell your existing equipment to your students. Then, use the funds your receive from them to purchase another supply of brand new equipment. Six months later, do it again. You keep repeating this cycle every six months or so.

In time, your students will make you offers for the equipment they are using in the class. If you are not ready to sell the used item, up-sell them to a new one.

Let’s look at the numbers for this. A high end shield might cost $50 brand new. As a wholesale customer, your cost is about $25 (50%). You purchase it for $25, use it in class.

You tell your students that you are going to upgrade the equipment and will be selling the shields on a first come first served basis. The price is $35. That’s $15 off retail and $10 profit for you.

Leading by Example

Wouldn’t it be great to be able produce and sell t-shirts for your school and events that would make you money with zero risk? Here is the answer. Teespring.com

Teespring allows you to design your own shirt, offer a variety of styles and colors, PROFIT from each one sold and handles everything from shipping to customer service.

There is a low threshold of shirts that have to be sold. Typically that level is 5 shirts have to be sold before any are shipped. If they don’t sell, you have zero cost or risk. Create shirts for your school, style, special teams, events, intra-school tournaments and so on. You could even have t-shirt design contests for your students.

Watch the video below and then visit Teespring.com.

Weekly Goal Commitment

T-shirts are the worlds most popular form of clothing (at least that we can see). Most of us have drawers full of t-shirts adorned with rock concerts, tournaments, states, cars and commercial companies all pushing a place, a product, or a name.

  1. Expand your line and design choices.

Most schools typically have one or two t-shirts designs. Once a student has bought both why should he buy any more? The answer of course is Boosting T-shirt Sales

he won’t he won’t that is unless you expand and offer a full line of t-shirts. That doesn’t means offering 5 or 6 shirts with designs right away. It means creating a look built around your logo. That look can be changed and altered as long as you don’ t change the logo. NEVER CHANGE YOUR LOGO from one product to the next. Same colors, same image ALWAYS. Your logo is your brand, don’t mess with it. However, you could have a special black belt graduation t-shirt with all the new black belts names on it.

Just remember that when Nike t-shirt or Reebok create a new t-shirt, they use a new supporting image or slogan, but the logo stays the same. They might change the color, but rarely even that. The design is built around the logo or accented by the logo.

Everyone needs clothing, so why not provide a quality line of t-shirts with your schools logo on them and sell them to everyone you can?

  1. Use summer rules to sell more shirts

During the summer months allow your students to come to class wearing gi pants, belt, and a logo t-shirt instead of the regular full uniform. This will stimulate t-shirt sales especially if you promote this by newsletters, letters, notices and mentioning it in every class.

  1. Suggest that all demo team or competition team members wear a specific shirt.

Tell all demo team members, competition team members or any other special program you may have to wear the same t-shirt or Polo style shirt when going to an event to show team spirit. Suggest that all the proud parents get into the spirit by doing the same.

  1. Have a sale once or twice a year to move old merchandise.

At the end of each new season do what real department stores in the mall do. Have a sale and clear out all your old designs to make room for next seasons designs. The fashion business is based on new not on doing the same old thing year after year.

You must introduce new designs at least once a year to give your student an parents something fresh to look at. A word of caution though. It is better to run a little short and miss a few sales than to have over ordered and have to fire sale your inventory to get back to even.

A few cycles of that and students will simply wait for the items to go on sale to buy.

  1. Display t-shirts in your window just like a mall store.

Put a t-shirt display in the window during the summer months if it’s done well enough you will often attract the attention of passers by. You may even enroll people from off the street who came into the school with the intention of buying a t-shirt they liked.

  1. Use t-shirts as a premium to sell more expensive items.

 

Because t-shirts are such a valuable marketing tool it pays to use them occasionally as promotions and incentives to stimulate sales in other items. For example you might give away a free t-shirt with the purchase of a video or a heavy bag.

 

  1. Staff team colors.

 

If you have a line of t-shirts, have your staff wear different designs on different day to promote the full range of products. If you notice in doctors or dentists office you will often see this type of thing in action just because it look professional like the whole staff is on the same team. For example.

 

Monday – Blue Logoed Polo shirt

Tuesday – Logo t-shirt

Wednesday – White polo shirt

Thursday – Multi logo t-shirt

Friday – Black belt club t-shirt

Saturday – Red polo shirt

 

  1. Shirt of the month club.

 

One school we know of has a t-shirt of the month club where each month for an extra ten dollars the student gets a new t-shirt. While that might be a bit much for you, you could try introducing a new design each quarter and making it the shirt of the quarter.

 

  1. Introduce a separate line of t-shirts for Black Belt Club members only.

 

By introducing a separate line of Black Belt Club designs you can create a market with in a market and enhance the status and desirability of your Black Belt Club. This works best if you have a specific logo for your Black Belt Club.

 

  1. Consider your shirts a marketing expense that pays twice.

 

Remember apart from the obvious financial benefits of selling more t-shirts and making a profit everyone who buys a t-shirt becomes a walking billboard for your school and you can never have enough of them! You get paid when they purchase the shirt, and hopefully, you’ll get paid again when a new student enrolls because he discovered your school on the shirt of his friend.

60-Second Speeches

A great way to sell uniforms without any pressure and a good profit is to allow your students to wear different colored uniforms at different levels of training. This not only increases sales but retention as well.

Martial arts may be the only activity in the world the discourages students from upgrading their apparel. Think about it. White belts, the most nervous, self-conscious person in the school is usually stuck with the worse quality uniform.

The belt is sticking straight out, the folds are still in the uniform. Then we tell them we are going to improve their self-confidence! Of course, anything would be better than this! We’re kidding (a little).

Truthfully, many schools have traditional rules and reasoning for being restrictive in what students can wear. We respect that. Maybe, instead of changing colors, you upgrade the quality instead.

Help a new student get into a better uniform fast. They will feel better in class when they look better. Of course, some will argue that humility is part of the training, and we agree.

Being a white belt and struggling with all the new terminology, techniques, stretches, exercises and rituals will humble the best of us. Letting them wear a nicer uniform just helps them focus more on what is really important, learning the next belt level material rather than feeling like they look silly in a cheap uniform.

Other ideas include special uniforms for your demo team, leadership team, instructors and staff. Even if you must stick to an all white or black uniform, maybe you can have white with a black stripe or colored collars to create appeal for an upgrade in uniform.

Some schools build the new uniform into the belt requirements. For instances, by the time you test for your gold belt in three months, you’ll need at least the level 2 uniform for $49.95. Other schools allow a student to purchase a uniform that matches their belt rank.

This only makes sense at certain ranks like blue belt or red belt. We don’t want to encourage a world of gold, green, or orange uniforms. But, at a significant milestone rank, a matching uniform is an interesting idea.

Remember to make sure your uniforms are customized with a screen print logo on the back, or a quality aplicay so that your students are not tempted to buy a uniform from any other source than your school.

If you sell just two gi’s per year per student at an average of $30 profit and you have 200 students that’s an extra $12,000 in net profit from gi sales alone! Just think what you could do with an extra $12,000 and it takes almost no effort!

My Kung Fu is Better Than Yours
Call your local Police Department and ask them to come and talk to your teens. Have your teens invite their friends for this event. The theme for the event could be about gangs, drugs or drunk driving. Again, write an article about this event and advertise in your local newspaper to show that your school is not the typical martial arts school.
The Golden Child of Martial Arts

The Gillette Company turned itself around when it made the marketing decision or, came to the realization, depending on how you look at it, that the real money was not made in selling a blade holder and razor.

The real money was made with the repeat sales of the razors. The money in cleaning teeth is not in tooth brushes, it’s the tooth paste that people use and have to replace that creates huge cash flow.

The in-house seminar business can take a lesson or two from these examples. Your students will receive a free product/weapon/training aid for enrolling in the class. The item is presented as a freebie that is included in the price of the class, but in reality, you are selling the item for 10 to 20 times your cost in exchange for taking an hour to teach a group of people about it.

If you charge $25 for a padded nunchaku seminar and have 20 people enroll, that’s $500 gross. They each get a pair of chucks which cost you $2 each for a total investment of $40. That’s a $460 profit for a one-hour class that you’ll have fun teaching. A class like that once a month will add nearly $6,000 to your profits.

At Christmas time, you can sell packages of seminars, three for $60 so the student can pick which classes he attends throughout the year.

  1. Run a padded nunchaku seminar at $25 for the class. Each person who signs up gets a free pair of padded nunchaku.
  1. Run a self-defense class and charge $35 for the class. Each person signing up receives a free My Defense Tool®.
  1. Run a bo stick class for $25 and include one of the several available books on the subject “absolutely free”
  1. Pick the weapon or creative form and you can build a seminar around it. You don’t have to be an expert in the weapon to teach a group of beginners. Pick up a video or call one of your buddies who will show you a solid one hour step-by-step class you can teach.

Think about it. History, how the weapon was created, common misconceptions, etc… will take the first 15 minutes. Then, the basic blocks and strikes for 20 minutes. Then some two person drills such as blocks and counters followed by actual target practice on focus mitts will take another 15-minutes leaving 10-minutes for a short form followed by Q n A and a review.

The possibilities are endless! Check our downloads area for sample flyers for these classes. They are easy to teach and great profit makers.

Despite the fact that you are, in a roundabout way, selling merchandise, your students will perceive added value because you are advertising the actual merchandise as free.

Another excellent way to increase merchandise sales is by simply incorporating a particular training item into your regular class. For example, teach a class on speed and timing utilizing focus mitts.

Tell students they should practice this drill at home with a friend on a regular basis. One will invariably ask ” But how do we get the focus mitts?” This gives you the perfect opportunity to tell him “Right here!”.

Over a period of time you can do the same thing with a speed bag, heavy bag, kicking shield, stretching machine, video or almost anything else. A

s you teach, simply continue to state the benefits of training with that particular piece of equipment. With this method, you need say or do nothing different from what you might normally say in class.

Note: Because many schools do not offer weapons training or offer it only to a select few, weapons seminars may offer you an opportunity to pull in students from outside of your school.

These may be students or people who have no time or inclination to participate in a full course of study, yet have a specialized interest in the particular seminar topic that you are offering.

Clarity of Purpose

If you have a weekly Black Belt Club class, then your Black Belt Club events can be quarterly. If not, then you may consider a monthly event. This can range from board breaking, tournament kata (your tournament), Spar Wars (students spar against instructors), advance stretching and a musical kata class. Usually there is no charge since it is a Black Belt Club class and it’s important to create lots of anticipation for the event. In class, students in the Black Belt Club should be glad they joined and students not yet in the Black Belt Club should desire to.

In The Big Dream

This is NOT a sleepover. It’s a parents night out. Sleepovers have too much liability for the risk. Drop-off is at 7:30p.m. Saturday and a pickup by 9 the next morning. Students pay $25 and bring a sleeping bag, toothbrush, pillow and any games they might want to play. We average 70 – 80 kids for a revenue total of $1,700 – $2,000.

Expenses include staffing, pizza, prizes and the rental of a TV and VCR if your school doesn’t have them. You will need a big screen to accommodate that many kids. One of the most popular activities is Karoake. The kids love to sing and dance and generally be silly while crooning Hound Dog like Elvis.

Your leadership team is very important to the success of this since you want to keep about a 5:1 ratio of kids to leaders. With good preparation and strong leadership, you should be able to pull it off without many hitches.

Black Belt Scandals

We do not encourage our students to attend tournaments. We know from decades of experience that tournaments are sources of great frustration, disappointment, and anger. It’s not unusual for one of your top A students to never return to class after getting ripped off and disillusioned at a tournament. Parents, in particular, are not appreciative of spending $75 for an entry fee plus travel expenses and have it end up, as so many do, an exercise in frustration.

We also recognize that people have only so much they can budget for karate and we much prefer that it be budgeted for our school and not the local tournament promoter.

We use our intra-school tournament to satisfy the desire to compete. Since everyone knows each other and everyone is knowledgeable about the rules, the event runs smoothly.

The scheduling secret is dividing the divisions up by arrival time. For example:

ArrivalDivision Starts

White / Gold belts10a.m.10:30a.m.

Orange / Green11:30a.m.12 noon

Blue / Red1p.m.1:30p.m.

Brown / Black2:30p.m.3p.m.

This allows the family to schedule the tournament into their Saturday instead of spending all day waiting for their division to start.

When the students arrive they are divided by age and rank into divisions of three or four people. This is the entire division for first, second or third place. The students then compete against the other two or three people in that division. This guarantees that everyone wins an award and is the secret to smiling faces.

We charge $40 for our tournament and allow spectators to attend for free. With proper preparation and promotion, you should be able to get a 60 – 70 percent participation rate. Be sure to arrange a victory party at a local restaurant for the competitors. A good arrangement is for the medal winners to receive a discount or free drink to add to the day’s excitement. Since everyone wins a medal, the restaurant can look forward to a busy day if the premium is attractive. Once we had a restaurant offer a free meal to the first place winners and a 10 percent discount to all participants. We had over 50 winners so, needless to say, he had to change arrangements next time.

Congruency in Values

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.

The Lower the Price, the Lower the Expectations
You Can't Help the Poor By Becoming One of Them
The Enemy of Success is Complacency

Videos

John Graden Interviews Tony Robbins

John Graden – Building Bridges Keynote

John Graden – Symptoms of the Impostor Syndrome

John Graden – Baggage Keynote

John Graden – Redefining Yourself

John Graden – Self-Confidence

John Graden – Personal Development

John Graden – Fire, Ready, Aim!

John Graden – Black Belt Leadership

Leadership Team

Special Programs: Leadership Team

 

The Lid of Leadership by John Graden

Leadership Program Class Planner Suggestions

Your leadership class should include instruction on specific topics related to leadership skill development such as communication skills, instructional skills, and professional skill development. Team members should actively participate leading stretches, warm-ups, and basic drills. A segment of the class should be spent covering specific technical development lessons to continually improve each team members’ technique. The class should end with a personal development lesson with discussions on topics like tact and diplomacy, goal setting, and attitude.

If you are hosting your leadership class only once per month, it is a good idea to have your class on Saturdays as part of a rotating Black Belt and Master Club special class, so that your weekday class schedule isn’t interrupted and stays consistent. It is best to schedule the class to run approximately one and a half hours to fully cover the necessary monthly leadership material and give more value to your program. Your saturday slot can look something like this:

9:00- 9:45Cardio Kickboxing
10:00- 10:30Little Ninjas
10:30-10:45Juniors Class
11:00-1:00

Private Lessons

*By appointment only

1:00- 2:30

 Black Belt and Master Club Special Classes

If you are hosting your leadership class twice per month, you can also rotate the class with another special class such as demo team or padded weapons class. This class can run 45 minutes and the planner can be split up between both monthly classes. Your classes can be held on a weekday or remain the same as suggested on Saturdays.

Providing a weekly leadership class can be beneficial as long as you have enough material to cover on a weekly basis without running into the challenge of being too repetitious. Having a weekly leadership class gives added value to your leadership program because you are offering more classes to the student. A weekly leadership class also can prevent over crowdedness so that more attention can be given to each individual, especially when role-playing.

The following is an example of how your leadership class can be broken down:

Subject Duration of subject    Breakdown of subject

Team member practice

30 minutes:

10 min- stretching

10 min- warm-up

10 min- basic drill

Beginner team members will take turns leading the class in stretching, intermediate will take turns leading in warm-ups, and advanced will practice leading basic drills.
Technical development

15 minutes:

5 min- explanation

10 min- class application

Proper execution of basic Taekwondo kicks: side kick, round kick, front kick, and hook kick.
Leadership development

30 minutes:

20 min- lecture

10 min- volunteer participation

Team members will learn how to use speaking skills and body language when speaking in front of a crowd. Have some volunteers practice in front of the class.
Personal development

15 minutes:

10 min- lecture

5 min- group discussion

Team members will learn importance of tact and diplomacy and will discuss the subject in groups.

This planner can be modified to fit your style and needs. The important thing that should be included is the comprehensive leadership development lessons and personal development lessons.

Leadership Team Handbook

“Welcome to the Best of the Best”!

Your selection to our Leadership Team is the result of numerous meetings, discussions and ”spirited lobbying” by your instructors to narrow the choices down to you; the best of the best. Your acceptance of a Leadership Team position is a big responsibility and should not be taken lightly.

We are totally dependent on our Leadership Team to help us maintain our, “Tradition of Excellence.” Our goal remains to provide the very best training for our students. This requires a motivated and talented leadership team.

As part of the tradition and heritage of the martial arts, students have always assisted the instructor to maintain the quality and integrity of the school. While we didn’t always have a title for the team, we had the desire to teach and the pride in our school to go the extra mile to insure our reputation as the best!

You too must have tremendous pride in your school and the desire to help others enjoy the benefits and excitement we offer. For this to happen, you must be very open minded and teachable. Teaching students our way requires very special qualities.

As a Leadership Team member, you will be trained in the art of communication. Much more than the technical skill of your sidekick, your skill as a successful communicator and motivator will determine your success as a teacher.

“Confidential”

As a Leadership Team member, you will be “taken into the kitchen.” You will understand more about the actual operation and management of this school. While there is nothing to hide from anyone, we prefer that this information stay in our Leadership Team classroom and not find its way into the locker room.

Most people prefer not to know what goes on in the kitchen of a restaurant. All they want to see is the beautiful meal served. We are no different.

Leadership Team Responsibilities

Leadership Team members must accept fully the following responsibilities in order to maintain their Leadership Team status. Failure to perform in these areas must result in the stepping down of a Leadership Team member (and returning of this manual) in order to allow another student a chance.

1. Leadership Team members teach a minimum of two -one hour classes per week.

2. Leadership Team members teach at least one 20-minute private lesson per week.

3. Leadership Team members must attend Leadership Team seminars, classes and workshops.

Our Commitment To Youtc “Our Commitment To You”

The very best tool for learning about yourself and your martial arts is to teach. We will provide you with the guidance to develop your martial arts teaching skills and the opportunity to apply that knowledge consistently. As you well know, our instructors are some of the very best teachers many of us have ever encountered. The teaching system that we have developed works and works well.

TEN Leadership Team TIPS FOR SUCCESS

1. New Leadership Team members assisting in a class should not wander and help. Instead, they would be most helpful as role models. By positioning next to the students having the most difficult time, they can execute with the class at a pace suitable for the target students.

2. More experienced Leadership Team members, with the instructor’s permission, may wander and correct.

3. Wandering corrections should be brief and led with a smile.

4. It’s very important to keep moving. Try and make contact (a gentle, guiding hand) with each student twice during a class. Avoid hovering over one person. This tends to make them all the more nervous and error prone.

5. If you make a verbal correction, make it quickly and move on. Do not over-explain or allude to the obvious. Examples would be phrases such as, “this is a fist,” or “this is your belt.” Being a student doesn’t translate to total ignorance.

6.  Correct and Praise – Try to find something good to say along with a correction. An example might be, “Joey, your sidekick is straight as an arrow, now let’s get that foot to blade and you’ll have a black belt kick!”

Do not praise if it is not for real. If it is not a good job, don’t say, “good job!” It’s phony and everyone knows it. However, you will usually be able to find something about the technique worthy of note. Maybe it’s the snap or the knee positioning or just the effort. Be sincere, your students will respect it.

7. Never speak to a student while an instructor is speaking to the class.

8. Always support the school and its efforts. If we have a change or a challenge, never get caught up in a negative conversation about it. If you hear a student nay-saying something, back the school up and help them to understand why it’s in their best interest to ride the horse in the direction it’s going.

9. If you are leading a group or single student, do not make more than one correction per step. Resist the urge to correct every student in the group after only one step. By the time you get to the last person, the first one is already bored and forgotten what you told them.

When working with one student, do not correct every element of their balance, posture, shoulders, weight distribution, angles. power and so on. Keep the pace moving with. For example: “Step. Eyes straight. Step. Square those shoulders. Step. Good power, now punch down the center. Step. slide those feet like a cat. Step. there! Now point your feet straight!”

10. Use your voice, face and body! What is the opposite of love? Is it hate? No, it’s indifference! When you lead a group with a stone face, and a monotone voice, you are conveying a message of indifference and boredom!

If you want enthusiasm from a group you have to give enthusiasm to the group! When you want power, you turn the volume up and put power into your words. When you want slow technique for form, you speak a little slower and softer.

In any case you must project loud enough for everyone not to just hear your voice but to feel your energy. Too many of us have a blast teaching but never get around to telling our face about it! Loosen up and have some fun. Karate shouldn’t mask emotions rather it should allow you the confidence to be more expressive.

Before Class

Five minutes before a kid’s class, you would like to be interacting with the students and getting a feel for their mental state. Are they excited or tired? This will tell you a lot about the warm up you will do.

Help the less excited by taking their mind off the day’s challenges. Maybe you could ask them if there is anything you could help them with before class. Another very good question is, “How do you feel about your next exam?” Or, “How did your test go?”

Not only does this show interest and caring but it gives you a great opportunity to follow up with some quality one-on-one by reviewing the techniques they may be concerned with or struggled with on the exam.

Two-minutes before class, you can start lining them up with the shorter students up front (have the kids sit down for the last minute or so to insure they stay in line). This time can also be spent collecting cards and talking to the students about their martial arts and previewing the exciting class they are about to have.

Caution, do not talk down to students regardless of age. With kids, you may watch your vocabulary level but have fun with them. They want to have fun with you, so it’s OK to joke a bit as long as you don’t allow things to get silly.

Class should be fun but not funny. A little fun works as comedy relief but should not be your theme nor should the laugh be at the expense of another person.

What Do I Do?

Time Management For A Leadership Team Member

During Class

Warm ups are tailored to the theme of the class. If the class will spar, have them do movement drills and combinations in a loose, free form manner. Do not have a group of students with their sparring gear on execute horse stance punching, basics or forms.

Remember, stretching is part of the workout, not the warm up. Students should get a little sweat going to insure the muscles are warm and ready for stretching.

During class you will want to learn to, “read the instructor.” If the instructor is demonstrating a technique, then, with permission, you can wander and correct as the students try to model the instructor.

Then, if the instructor stands up and starts to wander, you can jump into the demonstrating position. If the instructor is wandering, you can provide a visual example for the students. If the instructor is demonstrating, you can wander and make corrections.

Always position yourself so the students can see you. If you have a Leadership Team partner, then one of you would work the front and the other would work the back. Then, when the class turns around they have a model to follow.

Corrections while wandering should be very brief and not as much commanding as suggesting. For instance, as a blue belt, you may have less success with a sharp, “blade your foot!” than you would with a kind but firm, “don’t forget to blade your foot” or “let me help you blade your foot.”

It’s very important to allow someone to maintain his or her dignity when being corrected. This is not the place for power-hungry egos.

Your tone is one of stern encouragement and always with a positive attitude. In their enthusiasm to do a good job, new Leadership Team members tend to over-explain and over-correct. Less is best in the beginning or, for that matter, at any time. Choose your words wisely and they will carry more weight and power.

After Class Seek the Silence

Silent students are often taken for granted since they seem to always be there and never seem to have a problem with anything. In fact, they’re so quiet you hardly notice when they are gone. That’s the danger.

Seek these students out and introduce yourself. Engage them in conversation with questions such as, “How are your classes coming along?” or “How did you do with that new kick?” or “Are you looking forward to your exam?”

In addition to the silent students, seek out the students who struggled in class and offer, if they have time, to review the material for them. This is where Leadership Team serves a great function for the entire school.

Our instructors are swamped after every class and many students will not ask for help from them because they seem so busy. Leadership Team fills the gap and reaches the students that need that extra help.

Private Lessons

This is where you, “cut your teeth.” One-on-one private lessons provide you with a variety of students, ranks and situations to learn from. It’s very important that you establish the time you will be teaching privates. As the week goes by, check the appointment book to see who you are working with and what material they want covered.

This gives you a chance to prepare and seek out help you may need on how to teach something.

Privates are only 20-minutes long so they can’t really cover more than one or two techniques with very little if any warm up. The student should know what they need to work on and you want to focus completely on it.

If, for instance, the student wants to work on round kick and after 10 minutes you feel you’ve covered it completely, grab a target and let them work round kick on the target. Have them hold the target for you so they can see how it’s done.

Be sure to watch your clock so you can review and end at the 20 minute mark. Finish by walking the student off the deck and, in the case of children, touching base with the parents and updating them on what was covered and your recommendations tor practice at home.

What Is My Real Contribution?

Your high profile role is as an instructor-in-training. However, often the more critical but less measurable and certainly lower profile role is as a mentor / liaison for the students.

Often students are more at ease talking to a Leadership Team member than a high ranking Black Belt. Cultivate that rapport into relationships of trust and caring. You may have no idea how powerful your simple, “Hello. Nice to see you,” comment is to a student.

People do not get praised enough in our world. In most cases, the last time someone heard any applause was at their high school graduation!

Here is a chance for you to really make a difference in someone’s life. By helping them to feel more comfortable at this school we, as a team, have a much better chance of getting them to believe in their potential. If we can get that belief we can get the person to Black Belt! It’s worked with us and with your help, it will work with others!

Developing an Eye for Good Staff

Recruiting good instructors is a lot like recruiting a student. The potential staff member must clearly see and understand the benefits of devoting their time, energy and a portion of their career to you. You also must develop a solid training program to grow your staff members along a rewarding career path.

Like any good program from white belt to black belt, this requires lots of planning. Good staff training and retention does not happen by accident. If both of you are going to invest the time and effort required for training, then make sure is worthwhile for both of you. By showing the instructor exactly what benefits he will receive from you over a period of time, you will increase your chances of success.

Why would someone want to become a martial arts instructor? Seems like an easy question to us, since that’s what we chose. But it helps to understand that people train for different reasons and you can be sure they become instructors for different reasons as well.

Benefits as an instructor might include:

  1. Making a good living doing what they love.
  2. Long term job security.
  3. Respect from peers.
  4. Potential advancement to becoming a head instructor in charge of several schools or their own school.
  5. The opportunity to advance their martial arts skills.

When To Start Looking For Staff

You can actually begin to plant seeds with new students within weeks of them joining the school. You will have some students that seem to be like a fish in water at the school. Everything about the school and the arts appeal to them. They are always present and giving 100%.

Sometimes that’s because they have nothing else going on. They have not yet found their calling, but may very have in your school. How do you find out? You ask.

Periodically, you plant seeds with questions such as:

  1. Joe, what do you do for a living? How do you like that?
  2. Joe, that’s our leadership team. They take special classes and learn how to teach martial arts. We’ve found that the skills really help them in work also. Do you think that would interest you?
  3. Joe, if we were having this conversation in three years, and everything had gone the way you want it to, what would you be doing?
  4. Joe, how do you like your job? Is there anything you would rather be doing?

Odds are you will not ask these questions at the same time. As you can see, they are progressively more probing, which means you will need to build some trust with your student first.

But, we’ve had many cases where we were able to hire a four-month Orange belt to teach intros and enroll people. The key is to keep your eyes out for potential staff regardless of their rank. It’s not where they start, it’s where they end up that matters.

How To Surround Yourself with Ready, Willing, and Able Instructors

One of the biggest challenges is a perceived lack of instructors. We say perceived because it’s our view that most of us are surrounded by instructors just waiting to be discovered. Often, instructors don’t feel as though they can afford to pay someone what they need to exist and they’re right.

Others judge the potential of an instructor by the level of their technical execution when, in reality, they may have 10-to-20 very personable, enthused students who may not have the best round kick but love to help people and feel important.

The question is, how do you find these diamonds in the rough? The secret is the formation of an intern or leadership program.

In obtaining a degree in education, university students are required to be interns for a period of time for little or no money. In pursuit of a medical degree, one of the most difficult and trying periods is the internship. In following our idea of operating a karate school like a private school instead of a gym, it would certainly be advantageous to look at this internship program very closely.

During most of our classes, you will find the student body broken down into groups of six to eight people per group. While the class may number 25 – 30 students we endeavor to keep an eight or ten to one student to instructor ratio.

Paying four to five instructors for each class would not only be impractical, it would be impossible. However, these instructors are members of our leadership program and as such are very enthused and trained volunteers.

They receive weekly classes in leadership skills and communication in addition to straightforward lessons on how to teach our curriculum. Payment is the furthest thing from their mind. They are honored to have the opportunity to help their school and flattered that we would ask them to help teach, and they should be.

Our school takes great pride in the quality of student we produce and if someone is considered skilled enough to contribute to that, then it is indeed an honor. As a result, some of them have even decided that to make martial arts their career.

Understand that with very rare exceptions, this leadership team never runs a class or is responsible for more than six to eight students for any longer than 10 – 15-minutes at a time. They are not ready for that level of responsibility and frankly, students want the main instructor to work with them.

However, it’s not necessary that the main instructor work with the class every minute. A parallel example would be a dentist’s or doctor’ office. The assistant takes care of the preparation for the first half of the visit and then the doctor comes in and takes care of the expert detail work.

In most cases, the main instructor is very careful to match a group or individual with a leadership team member with the ability to handle the job.

Often, leadership team members are restricted to just wandering corrections. As they advance in skill and experience they progress to teaching small groups or individuals.

The beauty of this system is that you are really helping these people take their martial arts skills to a new level. As you well know, teaching is an art in itself that instills confidence, clear and concise communications skills and the ability to motivate.

These skills can be translated outside of the school in both the professional world of management and the academic world. Leadership team members are given special privileges in recognition and appreciation of their outstanding contribution to the school.

They may receive special uniforms, patches and, in rare cases, scholarships for tuition. The key is to select your leadership team carefully, then monitor and train them. In other words, inspect what you expect.

What is My Real Contribution as a Leadership Team Member?

Your high profile role is as an instructor-in-training. However, often the more critical but less measurable and certainly lower profile role is as a mentor / liaison for the students.

Often students are more at ease talking to a Leadership Team member than a high ranking Black Belt. Cultivate that rapport into relationships of trust and caring. You may have no idea how powerful your simple, “Hello. Nice to see you,” comment is to a student.

People do not get praised enough in our world. In most cases, the last time someone heard any applause was at their high school graduation!

Here is a chance for you to really make a difference in someone’s life. By helping them to feel more comfortable at this school we, as a team, have a much better chance of getting them to believe in their potential. If we can get that belief we can get the person to Black Belt! It’s worked with us and with your help, it will work with others!

Leadership Team - Private Lessons

This is where you, “cut your teeth.” One-on-one private lessons provide you with a variety of students, ranks and situations to learn from. It’s very important that you establish the time you will be teaching privates. As the week goes by, check the appointment book to see who you are working with and what material they want covered.

This gives you a chance to prepare and seek out help you may need on how to teach something.

Privates are only 20-minutes long so they can’t really cover more than one or two techniques with very little if any warm up. The student should know what they need to work on and you want to focus completely on it.

If, for instance, the student wants to work on round kick and after 10 minutes you feel you’ve covered it completely, grab a target and let them work round kick on the target. Have them hold the target for you so they can see how it’s done.

Be sure to watch your clock so you can review and end at the 20 minute mark. Finish by walking the student off the deck and, in the case of children, touching base with the parents and updating them on what was covered and your recommendations tor practice at home.

Leadership Team - Before Class

Five minutes before a kid’s class, you would like to be interacting with the students and getting a feel for their mental state. Are they excited or tired? This will tell you a lot about the warm up you will do.

Help the less excited by taking their mind off the day’s challenges. Maybe you could ask them if there is anything you could help them with before class. Another very good question is, “How do you feel about your next exam?” Or, “How did your test go?”

Not only does this show interest and caring but it gives you a great opportunity to follow up with some quality one-on-one by reviewing the techniques they may be concerned with or struggled with on the exam.

Two-minutes before class, you can start lining them up with the shorter students up front (have the kids sit down for the last minute or so to insure they stay in line). This time can also be spent collecting cards and talking to the students about their martial arts and previewing the exciting class they are about to have.

Caution, do not talk down to students regardless of age. With kids, you may watch your vocabulary level but have fun with them. They want to have fun with you, so it’s OK to joke a bit as long as you don’t allow things to get silly.

Class should be fun but not funny. A little fun works as comedy relief but should not be your theme nor should the laugh be at the expense of another person.

Leadership Team - After Class Seek the Silence

Silent students are often taken for granted since they seem to always be there and never seem to have a problem with anything. In fact, they’re so quiet you hardly notice when they are gone. That’s the danger.

Seek these students out and introduce yourself. Engage them in conversation with questions such as, “How are your classes coming along?” or “How did you do with that new kick?” or “Are you looking forward to your exam?”

In addition to the silent students, seek out the students who struggled in class and offer, if they have time, to review the material for them. This is where Leadership Team serves a great function for the entire school.

Our instructors are swamped after every class and many students will not ask for help from them because they seem so busy. Leadership Team fills the gap and reaches the students that need that extra help.

Leadership Team - Before Class

During Class

Warm ups are tailored to the theme of the class. If the class will spar, have them do movement drills and combinations in a loose, free form manner. Do not have a group of students with their sparring gear on execute horse stance punching, basics or forms.

Remember, stretching is part of the workout, not the warm up. Students should get a little sweat going to insure the muscles are warm and ready for stretching.

During class you will want to learn to, “read the instructor.” If the instructor is demonstrating a technique, then, with permission, you can wander and correct as the students try to model the instructor.

Then, if the instructor stands up and starts to wander, you can jump into the demonstrating position. If the instructor is wandering, you can provide a visual example for the students. If the instructor is demonstrating, you can wander and make corrections.

Always position yourself so the students can see you. If you have a Leadership Team partner, then one of you would work the front and the other would work the back. Then, when the class turns around they have a model to follow.

Corrections while wandering should be very brief and not as much commanding as suggesting. For instance, as a blue belt, you may have less success with a sharp, “blade your foot!” than you would with a kind but firm, “don’t forget to blade your foot” or “let me help you blade your foot.”

It’s very important to allow someone to maintain his or her dignity when being corrected. This is not the place for power-hungry egos.

Your tone is one of stern encouragement and always with a positive attitude. In their enthusiasm to do a good job, new Leadership Team members tend to over-explain and over-correct. Less is best in the beginning or, for that matter, at any time. Choose your words wisely and they will carry more weight and power.

Leadership Team - Ten Tips for Success

1. New Leadership Team members assisting in a class should not wander and help. Instead, they would be most helpful as role models. By positioning next to the students having the most difficult time, they can execute with the class at a pace suitable for the target students.

2. More experienced Leadership Team members, with the instructor’s permission, may wander and correct.

3. Wandering corrections should be brief and led with a smile.

4. It’s very important to keep moving. Try and make contact (a gentle, guiding hand) with each student twice during a class. Avoid hovering over one person. This tends to make them all the more nervous and error prone.

5. If you make a verbal correction, make it quickly and move on. Do not over-explain or allude to the obvious. Examples would be phrases such as, “this is a fist,” or “this is your belt.” Being a student doesn’t translate to total ignorance.

6.  Correct and Praise – Try to find something good to say along with a correction. An example might be, “Joey, your sidekick is straight as an arrow, now let’s get that foot to blade and you’ll have a black belt kick!”

Do not praise if it is not for real. If it is not a good job, don’t say, “good job!” It’s phony and everyone knows it. However, you will usually be able to find something about the technique worthy of note. Maybe it’s the snap or the knee positioning or just the effort. Be sincere, your students will respect it.

7. Never speak to a student while an instructor is speaking to the class.

8. Always support the school and its efforts. If we have a change or a challenge, never get caught up in a negative conversation about it. If you hear a student nay-saying something, back the school up and help them to understand why it’s in their best interest to ride the horse in the direction it’s going.

9. If you are leading a group or single student, do not make more than one correction per step. Resist the urge to correct every student in the group after only one step. By the time you get to the last person, the first one is already bored and forgotten what you told them.

When working with one student, do not correct every element of their balance, posture, shoulders, weight distribution, angles. power and so on. Keep the pace moving with. For example: “Step. Eyes straight. Step. Square those shoulders. Step. Good power, now punch down the center. Step. slide those feet like a cat. Step. there! Now point your feet straight!”

10. Use your voice, face and body! What is the opposite of love? Is it hate? No, it’s indifference! When you lead a group with a stone face, and a monotone voice, you are conveying a message of indifference and boredom!

If you want enthusiasm from a group you have to give enthusiasm to the group! When you want power, you turn the volume up and put power into your words. When you want slow technique for form, you speak a little slower and softer.

In any case you must project loud enough for everyone not to just hear your voice but to feel your energy. Too many of us have a blast teaching but never get around to telling our face about it! Loosen up and have some fun. Karate shouldn’t mask emotions rather it should allow you the confidence to be more expressive.

Drills for Classes

Drills for Classes

Click on the title to reveal the drill.

 

Video Drills and Demos

These are somewhat more challenging than practical. They are designed to help increase athletic ability.

From pool noodles to kicking pads here are some practical and creative drills to keep classes interesting.

Here are some more practical and creative drills to keep classes interesting.

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