Martial Arts Instructor News and Articles

John Graden

John Graden

Executive Director

John Graden led the martial arts into the modern era by creating the first professional association, trade journal & instructors certification program.

If you could collect $10,000 without using the billing company, but the billing company could collect the same $10,000, no more or less, you might think you have a $1,000 spread. The truth is there are many expenses involved in DIY (Do It Yourself) billing. Your own time, energy, and hard expenses associated with playing bill collector quickly eat up that $1,000 spread. Here are just some of the hard and soft expenses DIY will cost you:

1. The software to track students (including annual upgrades).

2. The mailing expenses for late notices.

3. The time to run cards, send out late notices, call late students, audit payment histories, and so on ($50,000 annual wage = $24 per hour. Double that if you are earning $100,000 per year).

4. The loss of standing with your students when you wear one hat of the wise instructor and another hat of the bill collector.

5. The loss of students. A good billing company will help you retain students by providing improved customer service and by having a stronger contractual relationship with the student.

6. The reduction in actual collections because students are not as concerned about stiffing you versus a large billing company.

7. The reduction in actual collections because you are a green belt at collections, while the billing company is a veteran black belt at getting students to pay.

What does all of this add up to? It varies with the school, of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were pretty close to that 10 percent mark. I give stress a high expense value. The real costs are in numbers three to five from the list above.

Playing accountant is not what you are good at, nor is it how you make your money. You will always make more by managing others than doing things yourself. A teacher nurtures, guides, and counsels students. A bill collector harasses people for money. These two roles do not mesh well. Your image as the nurturing, caring teacher can be ruined in an instant with one phone call or letter from you about missing money.

Finally, you may be a good black belt, but you are not as scary as a financial institution when it comes to deciding whom to pay. This is why big stores have their credit cards handled by outside firms. A good billing company will always collect more than you. They can be tougher than you, and it keeps you positioned in your community as a teacher, not a bill collector.

Even with the Martial Arts Teachers’ Association tuition at just $37 a month, I use a billing company to handle it. I am a teacher by nature, and that is where I want my efforts expended. I focus on writing, editing, content creation, program development, marketing, and member retention. I enjoy all of those tasks. I do not enjoy bill collecting.

You don’t hire a billing company to match your efforts. You hire them to exceed your efforts. This also allows you to focus on your core strength and responsibility as a school owner, which is creating and keeping students.

Notice Tyson’s hand is by his face, not his hip.

His chin is down instead of up.

His shoulder is up instead of pulled back.

His body is sideways to his opponent instead of squared off.

His legs are under his body not spread apart like he was riding a horse.

With this kind of form, he would fail his orange belt exam in most schools. 

How does that make any sense?

Sensei Tyson?

If Mike Tyson or a world champion kickboxer came to your school to teach your black belts. What do you think he would work on? Double punches, square blocks, and keeping your chin up?

I’m pretty sure he would emphasize head movement, how to snap your punches and a defense that does NOT include pulling your punch back to your hip.

I’m sure the students would learn advanced applications to adjust for different fighters. Notice I said advanced applications, not advanced strikes.

When you focus on application, you can apply that to almost any technique.

For instance, if the drill is about how to fight a taller fighter, the answer is more about footwork to stay on the outside until you can secure quick access. My brothers are 6′ 3″ and 6′ 4″ so I know something about fighting a taller opponent.

Drills that teach that application do not require complexity. They require simplicity.

The more complex a skill becomes, the less chance it can be used. Have you ever seen a double punch? Only in kata and here:

If you eliminated all kata and traditional skills, you could devote that time to drills and conditioning that would give your students a true advantage in sparring or self-defense.

Imagine teaching fewer skills that are easy to teach and learn than traditional skills and kata.

You could spend more time on the application of those skills rather than stepping up and down the classroom and holding blocks and punches out in the air, which leaves you wide open for a counterattack.

Rather than spending student’s time with the complexity and frustration of spending years perfecting the bad habits of pulling their hand back to their hip, keeping their chin up, aiming and holding a punch in the air, and blocking with power while stepping forward, your retention will improve. Your student quality will improve. Your curriculum consistency will improve.

This is the core of our white to black belt curriculum Empower Kickboxing.

It’s an old saying, but true. “Less is best.”

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