How I Lost my Way as a Martial Arts Instructor
Know who you are, and why you are doing this. When I became a billing client of EFC, I attended one of their seminars in Atlanta. I was doing pretty good, but nothing like some of the EFC stars of the day. Still, it seemed the guys in Atlanta knew my name as a fighter, which was nice. As usual at these events, we shared information about student counts and, when I mentioned I had 245 students, they seemed impressed. They were even more impressed that my student body was mostly adults.
I didn’t know there had been a huge boom in the children’s market at the time due to The Karate Kid. The guys in Atlanta implied that I was missing half the market because I didn’t have a lot of child students. I listened, thought about it, and then made one of my worse decisions as a school owner. I started doing the things they did to attract and keep kids. I started the student creed, message of the week, and had kids screaming, “Yes, Sir!” on cue. In time, my school had totally changed from an adult school to a school full of kids or, as some like to call them, “a family school.” Mind you, this was more the influence of EFC clients than EFC itself.
My income increased. I paid off my house and socked the money away, but I hated it. I didn’t want to be at the school anymore. It was no fun explaining to a mom why her Miss Perfect daughter who gets straight As in school failed her blue belt exam. I had strayed big time from who I was as a martial artist and as a teacher.
Quality of life is a big issue with me and, for the first time in my martial arts career I had a job I didn’t like. Most of the kids were fine, and many were great. But some kids just drove me nuts mostly because of the control factor. Controlling kids and their parents is not a fun way for a control freak to spend time. A lot of instructors like to teach kids, but I don’t.
I had lost my way because I subscribed to someone else’s voice. But I learned something important. Since then, I’ve tried to make it clear that you need to know yourself and what you want to do. This is especially true today, when so many programs are available.