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MAIA LLC. MAIA1000 LLC.Century Blvd.




2019 2019


1000 Century Blvd. Oklahoma City, OK 73110 Oklahoma City, OK 73110 (866)626-6226 (866)626-6226


Distinguished guest Distinguished guest

Use Google and facebook to Build Your Business Now!

ISSN 2380-561 7(PRINT ) 2469-6889(ONLINE )




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©2019 #16899

© 2019 MAIA, LLC #16855 © 2019 MAIA, LLC #16855

Why Instructors Are Choosing Zoom for Online Classes Item Number: MAS16220 Description: MASUCCESS JUL/AUG 2020


© MAIA 2020 #18833

, During these unprecedented times, we want you to know we are in this with you - now and always. Let us help you take the first step towards getting your school not just back to normal, but better than normal.


NEED HELP? WE HAVE AN EXPERT FOR EVERY AREA OF YOUR BUSINESS. No matter what you are struggling with, we have the coach for you. Schedule an appointment today to learn how MAIA can change your business.


Multi-School Specialist & Lead Coach


Large School Specialist

KURT KLINGENMEYER Small School Specialist


Executive Director & Wealth Specialist



Community Networking Specialist


After-School & Summer Camp Specialist


Digital Marketing Specialist

Connect with a Coach at MAIAHub.com/Connect © 2019 MAIA, LLC. #18831

While we won’t get to see you in Vegas this summer, we still want to provide school owners and instructors with business and operations strategies, digital marketing tips, instructor workshops and training techniques to help you get back on your feet.


Save the Date

June 30-July 1 Visit MASuperShow.com and Follow Facebook.com/MASuperShow for Details


© 2020 MAIA, LLC #18832




Hold to Your Standards


In February 2020, martial artists sustained a serious blow from the coronavirus, but we’re far from defeated. Read this message from the executive director of the Martial Arts Industry Association.


An expert in internet marketing explains how to you can begin reaching a bigger audience online right now — for free! This is a crash course in using Google and Facebook when you need them most.


Bloom Where You’re Planted


Loren W. Christensen: Feeling the Beauty of Karate


B Y E R I C P. F L E I S H M A N

Adapt or Die: How to Keep Your Dojo’s KABOOM






We brainstormed with Mike Chat, Dave Kovar, John Hackleman, Mike Metzger and Deb Cupples to get their best advice for their industry peers during this global pandemic.

Our Industry Will Never Give Up!


5 Ways to Stay in Touch With Your Students



Spark is the industry-leading software for automating martial arts schools. It eliminates the soulsucking parts of running a business so you can focus on your passion: teaching.



When you add the Ninja Trix program to your martial arts school, your students will flip over it! Even better, your business will benefit. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.



Retention in the Age of COVID-19


Wavering Waivers


Trade Secrets and Non-Solicitation: Additional Arrows in Your Legal Quiver



“When people hit really hard with a closed fist, there’s a greater chance for them to injure their wrist, even if they’re punching correctly. But if you’re striking with the palm of your hand, you aren’t as likely to get hurt, and the palm strike can be very powerful.” — CYNTHIA ROTHROCK

26 34 44 52





“We Americans are resilient. We martial artists are warriors. COVID-19 is no match for those two qualities. Long-term, we as an industry are here to stay. When we conquer this virus, our schools will be packed again.”


s I write this column, I have to admit that although I’m well aware of the time — it’s just after 6 p.m. — I have absolutely no idea what day of the week it is. This means one of two things: Either I’m on an awesome vacation or we’re still in the middle of our country’s — actually, the world’s — battle with COVID-19, otherwise known as the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Doing what’s best for my family, my company, my community and our industry now means doing the opposite of what I’m used to doing. Instead of going to the office Monday through Friday like I’m used to, I’ll be staying home. My “shelter in place” will encompass this Saturday, when my school was supposed to hold a black-belt test that many students were looking forward to. Days are fading into nights, and weeks are running together. I’m working in shorts and a T-shirt rather than my gi or my business casual attire. Instead of talking to MAIA members about how to grow their schools, I’m working with martial arts professionals and focusing on pure survival. Instead of having phone calls with my clients, I’m hosting Zoom calls and Facebook Live events detailing how to apply for disaster-relief and payroll-protection loans. This is a different fight than we’re used to, for sure! I never thought the bulk of my day would revolve around coaching school owners through rent negotiations, loan forgiveness, payroll help and ways to get a banker to move just a little bit faster. That said, there are some things I’m doing better than I have in the past few years. For example, I am always on time to dinner with my wife and two daughters. I replanted the horrible-looking plants out front — I seem to have some free weekends, so why not? Earlier this week, I played what surely was my first ever pre-breakfast game of UNO with my 8-year-old. I now sleep until 8:30 a.m. (when

H S y

reflexes don’t wake me up sooner) because I have no traffic to fight on my way to my new office: the kitchen table. Yes, there will be some major consequences from these not-so-normal times and the new normal that’s sure to follow. There will be changes that we’ll need to endure for the rest of our lives and maybe even our children’s lives. It’s a tough time, no sugarcoating here. But we Americans are resilient. We martial artists are warriors. COVID-19 is no match for those two qualities. Long-term, we as an industry are here to stay. When we conquer this virus, our schools will be packed again. This isn’t a fun time for anyone, but there are some opportunities to reconnect with family and spend time at home doing things you don’t normally do. Don’t lose your focus on your business; it needs your attention now more than ever. Do take advantage of the unique opportunities you have. On behalf of the Martial Arts Industry Association and our parent company Century Martial Arts, I wish you and yours a safe and healthy next few months. Before you know it, we’ll be kicking and punching each other, rolling around on the mat together and, most important, enjoying the arts — not only by ourselves but with our martial arts families.

To contact Frank Silverman, send an email to teamcfck@aol.com. Find him on Twitter and Facebook at @franksilverman.

L w


HOw DO YOU keeP YOUr ScHOOl OPeN eveN If you aren’t techy?

Let MAIA Digital Marketing Specialist, Cris Rodriguez walk you through the steps on how to

• SET UP YOUR ONLINE ACADEMY • INCREASE REVENUE • RETAIN AND RECRUIT STUDENTS and much more during this new world of online training!

SIGN UP TODAY and change the way you are doing your online classes. VirtualMartialArtsBlueprint.com © MAIA 2020 #18830





Director of the Martial Arts Industry Association, and the owner and operator of 11 martial arts schools in Orlando, FL. He’s also the author of Business Is Business: Passion and Profit in the Martial Arts Industry. Follow Frank on Twitter and Facebook @franksilverman. Contact him at teamcfck@aol.com.

Manager of the Martial Arts Industry Association. She is a practitioner of kung fu san soo, Cage Fitness and yoga. She is passionate about helping school owners succeed and achieve their goals. She can be reached at mtorres@masuccess.com.




is a sensei in Japanese jujitsu at TNT Jujitsu under Hanshi Torey Overstreet in Houston, TX. He’s the owner of Lead Connect Grow, LLC. Organizations hire him to develop black belt-level professionals in the areas of Teams, Leadership and Conflict Management. Feel free to email him at tom@ntgriggs.com.


a chain of successful martial art schools. Additionally, he operates Pro-Mac (Professional Martial Arts College), dedicated to helping martial artists become professionals in Business Management, Mat Mastery, Sales Mastery, Wealth Management and CuttingEdge Classroom Concepts. In 2010, he was the recipient of the Martial Arts Industry Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Contact him at dave.kovar@kovars.com or check out his blog at kovarsblog.kovarsystems.com.



Jhoon Rhee’s original white belts at America’s first taekwondo school and, later, a closeddoor student of Chinese “soft” styles pioneer Robert W. Smith. For three years, starting on ESPN, he hosted the weekly Black Belts TV show. He did the screenplay for Cynthia Rothrock’s HBO-featured Honor and Glory and is an Inside Kung-Fu Hall of Fame martial arts writer. He can be reached at herbork@comcast.net.



founder of a successful martial arts organization, Personal Best Karate, headquartered in Norton, MA. He’s a five-time world karate champion and is currently the executive director of the world-renowned Team Paul Mitchell, a championship team supported by sport-karate’s longest-running sponsorship. Rappold is the author of the landmark MAIA program Retention Based Sparring. He can be reached at founder@personalbestkarate.com.

MIKE METZGER IS A MARTIAL Arts Industry Association consultant and the owner of 14 martial arts schools. He has consulted for various school owners around the world. He can be contacted via email at mmetzger@masuccess.com.



belt in karate, is the president of Block Insurance in Orlando, FL. Block has protected businesses that serve children for the past 24 years. She is the writer of Martial Arts Minute, a weekly riskmanagement newsletter. You can reach her at (800) 225-0863 or beth@blockins.net.




Publications Editor for the Martial Arts Industry Association. She has trained and fought in MMA and muay Thai, and currently trains in jeet kune do. She can be reached at slobban@centurymartialarts.com.

VOL. 21, NO. 4 // JULY/AUGUST 2020 MAIA LLC, 1000 Century Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73110;


John Corcoran




husband, Rob, own and operate Karate International in North Carolina. Kathy is the managing partner in their five-school operation. She’s an 8th-degree black belt with 32 full-time years of teaching and operating martial arts schools. She can be reached for questions or comments at kathy.olevsky@raleighkarate.com.

Robert W. Young

(866) 626-6226.




Sarah Lobban

E R I C T H E T R A I N E R ( E R I C P.


Fleishman) is a Hollywood-based celebrity personal trainer with over 28 years’ experience. He has worked with top actors and musicians, MMA fighters, and the military. He hosts the popular TV show “Celebrity Sweat,” which you can watch on Amazon Prime. His enthusiastic message of living a healthy life has been adopted by many groups, most recently the American Culinary Federation. For questions or comments, contact Eric the Trainer at Mainemonster@gmail.com.

PHILIP E. GOSS, JR., ESQ. IS a member of the Florida and several other


Federal Bar Associations. Phil welcomes any e-mail comments or questions at PhilGosslaw@gmail.com and will attempt to respond personally, time permitting.

M A I A I N T E R N AT I O N A L C O N S U LTA N T S Kurt Klingenmeyer Robby Beard Mike Metzger Jason Flame Adam Parman Antonio Fournier Shane Tassoul Cris Rodriguez ADVERTISING DIRECTOR

Donna Diamond ART DIRECTOR


David Barnett

Sarah Lobban

Beth A. Block

Mike Metzger

Herb Borkland

Kristin Miller

Karen Eden

Kathy Olevsky

Jason Flame

Suzanne Pisano

Eric P. Fleishman

Christopher Rappold

Antonio Fournier

Frank Silverman

Philip E. Goss Jr., Esq.

Shane Tassoul

Nguyen “Tom” Griggs

Melissa Torres


Dwight Trower

Perry William Kelly



master of tang soo do. She’s a broadcast journalist who has appeared nationally on CNN, FOX and Animal Planet as well as on local affiliates for NBC and PBS. Karen is also a published book author and magazine columnist who has written for or been featured in every major martial arts magazine globally. Contact her at renedenherdman@gmail.com.

Kurt Klingenmeyer Dave Kovar CORRESPONDENTS

Herb Borkland (VA) Karen Eden (CO) Andrea F. Harkins (AZ) Andre Lima (CA) PUBLISHER

David Wahl

Perry William Kelly (CANADA) Terry L. Wilson (CA) Keith D. Yates (TX)

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts and photographs submitted to MASUCCESS, if they are to be returned, and no responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. All rights for letters submitted to this magazine will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and as subject to the editorial staff’s right to edit and to comment editorially. MAIA, its owners, directors, officers, employees, subsidiaries, successors and assigns are not responsible in any manner for any injury that may occur by reading and/or following the instructions herein. As publisher, MAIA makes no endorsements, representations, guarantees or warranties concerning the products and or services presented or advertised herein. We expressly disclaim any and all liability arising from or relating to the manufacture, sale, distribution, use, misuse or other act of any party in regard to such products and/or services. MASUCCESS is a trademark of the MAIA. © 2020 MAIA LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. The mission of MAIA is to grow, promote and protect the martial arts industry, and to provide benefits to its members to help them become more successful. JULY/AUGUST 2020 13









True or false: After Bruce Lee’s death in 1973, a large number of copycat films sprung up in a genre that’s now referred to as “Brucesploitation.”


What are the “eight limbs” of muay Thai?


Ten-time NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony trains in which martial art? A) Jeet kune do B) Boxing C) Krav maga D) Brazilian jiu-jitsu

In what year was Brazilian jiu-jitsu founding father Carlos Gracie born?


ANSWERS: 1) True. 2) Boxing. 3) Fists, elbows, shins and knees. 4) 1902. 14 MASUCCESS













s e e t h e f u l l l i n e o f t ra i n i n g b a g s a t

C e n t u r y M a r t i a l A r t s .co m /co l l e c t i o n s /t ra i n i n g - b a g s

“Century” is a registered trademark of Century, LLC. All rights reserved. © 2020 Century, LLC. #18802




86,000 As part of MAIA Elite, we have quarterly training for the owners. For our staff, we pay for their trip to Vegas for the SuperShow each year, as well as any other opportunities that present themselves..” — CHRIS HAMM, LEGACY MARTIAL ARTS, HARKER HEIGHTS, TX

We have a monthly training session that all staff and black belts must attend, as well as their required two classes per week in the style of their choice. I engage in business training daily and martial arts training weekly.” — H E I D I C H A P M A N , P A K ’ S K A R A T E A C A D E M Y, B O S S I E R C I T Y, L A

Our instructor team and staff train at least once per month outside of our school. Whether it be martial arts training camps, seminars and clinics, or business conferences and training, we are always getting outside to learn new skills and improve our product.” — D AV I D C H U R C H , C H U R C H ’ S TA E K W O N D O A M E R I C A , M A RY V I L L E , T N



s e v o l G r u o Y

Shop our washable boxing gloves at strivegloves.com

“Century” is a registered trademark of Century, LLC. All rights reserved. © 2020 Century, LLC. #18369


1.3 % My school has remained open during this time

1.9 % My school was not forced to close, but I

decided to close for the safety of my students and staff

80.4% My school was forced to close, but we are

still holding virtual classes

16.4% My school was forced to close, and we are

not holding virtual classes


0 % I have actually added new staff 47 % I do not have any staff members 23 % I had to lay off one or more staff members 13 % I kept all my staff during this time but had to reduce their pay

17 % I kept all my staff during this time and kept their pay the same




Average on the scale



Average on the scale


4% I have actually gained students 35 % 0%-15% loss 20 % 16%-25% loss 14% 26%-49% loss 10 % 50%-60% loss 17 % 61% or greater loss JULY/AUGUST 2020 19






This is the perfect complement to any home gym, as well as an amazing stand-alone tool. The Fitness Training Station from Century Martial Arts is a bag hanger that refuses to be only that. Its durable steel frame features dip bars, pull-up handles and push-up handles, plus pegs for hanging plate weights to boost the unit’s stability. It gives you everything you need for an upper-body workout that hits the chest, biceps and triceps. And that’s not even mentioning the main function of the Fitness Training Station — to hold a heavy bag for your martial arts training! The Station will handle a bag that weighs up to a 100 pounds and can easily be set up anywhere: in your home office, garage or bedroom, anywhere you have the space. Best part is the unit doesn’t require drilling into a wall or the ceiling to install. Bag not included. Some assembly required.

For more information on this and other great Century products, call a helpful Century Sales Representative at (800) 626-2789 or visit www.CenturyMartialArts.com.



Made of durable 3-inch steel tubing, this Heavy Bag Stand lives up to its name, holding a bag weighing up to 100 pounds. It has weight pegs for added stability, making it great for any home gym where you can’t or don’t want to drill holes in the wall or ceiling to hang a bag. Bag not included. Some assembly required.

For more information on this and other great Century products, call a helpful Century Sales Representative at (800) 626-2789 or visit www.CenturyMartialArts.com.




In fights, your cornerman is there to support you. So is the Cornerman bag stand. Its angular shape allows it to fit neatly into any corner of your house, taking up less space. It holds a bag weighing up to 100 pounds and can be adjusted to hang the bag at different heights. Bag not included. Some assembly required.

For more information on this and other great Century products, call a helpful Century Sales Representative at (800) 626-2789 or visit www.CenturyMartialArts.com.



We’re Here for You During These Challenging Times! BY MELISSA TORRES


“I speak for the entire team at MAIA when I say that we want nothing more than for you to succeed. We want to be there for you during this time and help you with whatever questions, hardships or difficulties you are facing.”



ersevere: to persist in anything undertaken; to maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement; to continue steadfastly. This is something we need now more than ever. It’s hard to believe how much the world has changed since the last issue of MASuccess went to press. No one could have predicted the unprecedented events that are sweeping the globe. However, I’m confident that we can come back stronger than we were before. My heart goes out to all our Century and MAIA martial arts schools and gyms across the country that are struggling after being forced to shut their doors — and especially to those that had to make the difficult decision to lay off employees or beg for rent forgiveness. But we will persevere. We will get through this together. I want you to feel hopeful, inspired and motivated during this time. When we do get back to normal, I want it to be better than the old normal. Trials in life only make us more resilient. I’m so proud of how many of you have jumped on the challenge of learning how to teach virtual classes and how many have shared inspiring stories of virtual club nominations, belt tests and even new initiatives that include dropping off belts at your students’ doors. I speak for the entire team at MAIA when I say that we want nothing more than for you to succeed. We want to be there for you during this time and help you with whatever questions, hardships or difficulties you are facing. We may not have all the answers, but we can at least make life easier and point you in the right direction. When we can help you succeed, you can help your students, and together we can make a difference in the lives of people across the country. One update I’m happy to bring you is that Small Business Administration loans have been made available through the government. Now, much of this changes daily, and funds are reportedly limited, so I hope that plenty of government-backed loans are still available when this magazine hits your mailbox. Don’t wait!

We know the loan process can be confusing, so we compiled the information to the best of our knowledge in one place to help you succeed. Find it at MAIAHub.com/SBA-Loan-Assistance. The two loans we want to highlight are summarized on this website. We highly recommend you take advantage of these loans that the government is providing because they can also be forgiven. One loan is the Paycheck Protection Program, which can be used to help pay your employees, rent and utilities. This one must be applied for through an SBA lender — typically, your bank. We have the paperwork on the website listed above to make it easier for you. The other one is the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, which can be used to help small businesses offset revenue lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can apply online, and it shouldn’t take much time. The link is also on the website. The biggest thing to know is that you need to get the paperwork submitted to apply for these loans as quickly as possible. Whether you think you qualify or not, go ahead and submit the paperwork. The worst thing they can do is say “no.” But it’s important for you to try. We have additional resources available at MAIAHub.com in case you have more questions. I would encourage you to follow our Facebook group (Facebook.com/MAIAHub) and request to join if you haven’t already. We frequently go live with MAIA Executive Director Frank Silverman, and we have the Metzger/Tassoul Show every Thursday. Take advantage of these free resources, especially while you are stuck at home (if you are still stuck at home). We want to be a resource to help you get through these difficult times. If there is anything we can assist you with, please reach out to the team at MAIA and let us know. All of you are in our thoughts, and we are inspired every day to read about your success stories. We will continue to persevere as an industry. We are all in this together.

To contact Melissa Torres, send an email to mtorres@masuccess.com.



©2020 #18254



Your School Information Here

To get your free customizable monthly Marketing Resource, visit MAIAHUB.com or get the download link from our Facebook page: fb.com/masuccess.




n February 2020, the stock market hit an all-time high of 29,348. Unemployment was at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. And the martial arts school business seemed to be riding an infinite wave of new student signups. Then BAM! We were knocked on our collective butts by an invisible foe that has gone on to kill thousands of people, shut down economies around the world, drive up the U.S. unemployment rate to an estimated 20 percent and, literally, terrorize people in ways not seen in modern times. And that wave of student signups? It disappeared. Nearly every martial arts school in America was shuttered as cities and states implemented the recommended quarantine procedures. It served as a stark reminder that life can — and sometimes does — change on a dime. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, I started receiving email messages and voicemails from school owners: “I don’t know what to do!” “How will I pay my bills?” “How can I possibly pay my employees?” 28 MASUCCESS

“Should I lay off people?” “What can I do if my school is closed down for months?” The martial artists who contacted me in search of answers were numerous, and to be honest, I didn’t have any good answers to give them. There was no precedent for what was happening, and we were all in what amounted to uncharted territory. We were just feeling our way through the calamity while hoping it would end quickly. I discovered, however, that acknowledging the uncertainty was just an initial reaction. It wasn’t a plan of action. As we teach our students, it’s not what happens to you but how you react to it that matters. That’s the essence of resilience! In any fight — whether it’s in a ring, on the street or in life — as soon as you get knocked down, you get back up. This realization has made me both hopeful for the future and deeply proud that the martial arts industry is working together to get back up off the ground. Are we bruised and battered? Absolutely! Are we slightly dazed? Like we were just sucker-punched! However, against an

Now is the time to work harder than ever. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. enemy that none of us has ever faced, we’re doing what we have to do not only to survive the crisis but to come back stronger than ever — and smarter than ever. I can’t say enough about the martial arts community. It’s not the largest community out there, as we all know. There are a number of fantastic human beings in this social circle, but there are only so many practicing and working martial artists in the world. However, whenever a crisis like this hits, you really appreciate and feel the common bond of this group. We are a family. I’m reminded of this when I see videos of instructors going the extra mile for their students — delivering belts or equipment straight to their homes. I’m reminded of it when I see people post their first virtual belt promotions or Black Belt Club nominations and the students are just as excited as they are when they’re in their school. It inspires me more than I can express. My team and I have witnessed many schools hosting free virtual classes for their communities and many instructors serving as free virtual physical-education teachers for children in those communities. It’s been amazing to see the creativity and the determination to push on and continue spreading the lifechanging benefits of martial arts during this tough time. One thing we always say in the Martial Arts Industry Association is that no one sits on the bench in martial arts. All students get to participate and earn their belt rank according to the amount of effort and determination they put into their training. Sadly, I predict a less-promising future for team sports like soccer, football and basketball. They will be much slower to return to normal. The takeaway? This is our time to shine. It’s our chance to show our communities how important it is to have an

outlet like martial arts for everyone, no matter his or her age. A lot of people will think it’s easy to give up at a time like this. The odds are stacked against us, which is all the justification some of us need to throw in the towel. Those same odds can discourage us and make us want to quit. However, that’s not what martial artists are about, and that’s why I believe our future is still as bright as ever, even with COVID-19 at the forefront. I say that because I know that it takes years of practice, dedication, trials and setbacks for any of us to truly find our footing as martial artists. With each belt rank, we learn something about life and about ourselves. We learn how to keep going. We learn how to persist even when adversity strikes. By the time we earn our black belt, we have overcome so many obstacles. We need to think of the coronavirus as just another obstacle to overcome. We must lean into it with everything we’ve got. The obstacle is the way! As I write this, states are beginning to reopen fitness centers and gyms. Obviously, that’s not the case for everyone. Certain states have been hit harder than others and will take longer to reopen. However, it gives me hope that the reopening of martial arts schools is right around the corner. Nobody knows what life will look like a month from now, let alone a year from now. Let’s hope, however, that the virus is on the downturn. If you’ve been hit hard by the pandemic, don’t give up. I know you can overcome this because that’s what we do. Now is the time to work harder than ever. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. We as instructors and teachers need to set the example, now more than ever, for our students. We constantly encourage them to set goals and then pursue them, to work hard in the dojo and at home to master their art, and to never give up. Let’s show everyone — martial artists and nonmartial artists alike across the nation — what we are made of. We don’t back down in adverse situations. We face them head on. So while you’re out there, being the warriors and heroes to your students, remember that we are here to help you however we can. We are a resilient group, and we will get through this together. If you ever need or want assistance navigating this new world, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help you just as you are here to help your students! JULY/AUGUST 2020 29


Hold to Your Standards



“Right now, we martial artists are taking a collective belt test. As with any test, we must ask what the standards are. What do we ask of our students when they stand before us to advance in rank? And most important, are we willing to ask those same things of ourselves right now and hold to our own standards?”


s I write this, we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Every day, we’re being tested and stretched in new ways — as leaders, martial artists, school owners, instructors and role models. Despite all the chaos and the unprecedented levels of change, there is one simple point that needs to be made: No matter how things go, we must hold to our standards. The reason is very simple. How we act, speak and behave during the crisis says more about our character than any platitudes, student creeds or tenets ever will. In other words, the pandemic is showing who we really are through how we behave during difficult times. I want to share a personal experience that pertains to holding to one’s standards. During my time as a martial artist, I’ve had the honor of training under several instructors in various styles. As a result, I hold several black belts. The lesson I’m about to share comes from one of my promotion exams. I was testing for blue belt in a hybrid Americankarate system. Although I already had a black belt in jujitsu and a brown belt in taekwondo, I’ve always believed in starting from the bottom and working my way up in a new art because that’s the best way to learn, grow and truly become part of the system. My instructor was gracious enough to let me work at my own pace, and when I tested, he and the senior belts would observe and correct accordingly. During my blue-belt test, I probably didn’t look as sharp as I could have while performing the punch-kick combinations. When I completed that section, my instructor asked how I would rate my performance. My honest answer was that it was “good.” Incredulous, he asked, “Just good?” When my confusion became apparent, he invited a junior student to answer. The young man came forward, bowed and stood at attention. The instructor asked, “When I ask you, ‘How do you think you did?’ what should the answer be?” The young man replied, “The correct answer is, ‘I did my best, but I can always do better, sir!’ That is how you answer, sir.” All young bravado aside, I understood that this was a learning point for me, but my standards

wouldn’t let me rest in a state of mediocrity. Consequently, I said, “Sir, I thank you for the lesson. Would you like me to repeat everything to the best of my ability?” At that moment, everyone groaned and looked down as if I’d just made my life more difficult. My instructor smiled because he knew that doing my best and holding to a standard of quality mattered. I repeated the entire combination portion of the test at breakneck speed and felt like I’d run a half-marathon. Then came the kata, sparring, self-defense and grappling, and despite feeling half dead, I performed everything to the best of my ability although at the normal pace. Many of us may have heard a motivational saying that goes something like this: Our thoughts inform our beliefs, which inform our attitudes, which inform our actions, which define our character. There are variations of this “character equation,” but what I love is that it teaches us that our actions truly define our character. In my view, our actions say more about us than our words. As we navigate the treacherous waters of the pandemic, it becomes easy for us to let the harsher aspects of our personalities show. Stress, anxiety and other factors easily can get the best of us. Who could blame anyone for being quick to anger, for showing frustration and even for lashing out under this kind of pressure? Right now, we martial artists are taking a collective belt test. As with any test, we must ask what the standards are. What do we ask of our students when they stand before us to advance in rank? And most important, are we willing to ask those same things of ourselves right now and hold to our own standards? If nothing else, think of these trying times as another instance for you to develop your legacy. Stay healthy and stay safe. You are earning some serious stripes right now! Perform with excellence and hold to your standards.

Nguyen “Tom” Griggs is a professional consultant/speaker on subjects that include teams, leadership and conflict. To contact him, send an email to tom@ntgriggs.com.


Bloom Where You’re Planted BY DAVE KOVAR

“One thing I know for certain is that our lives will improve the moment we decide to change our perspective and look at things differently.”



here is a samurai maxim that states, “Do what a weed does and bloom where planted.” Have you ever seen a dandelion sprouting from a crack in the sidewalk? It’s not complaining about not having enough sun or whining about the lack of soil or not getting enough rain. It just does the best it can to bloom and grow tall. We often dismiss the dandelion as a weed, but in this case, we can learn from its example. One thing I know for certain is that our lives will improve the moment we decide to change our perspective and look at things differently. I witnessed an excellent example of “blooming where planted” a few years back. My wife and I were crossing the Bay Bridge on our way into San Francisco for the day. The Bay Bridge probably has 18 toll booths, and it’s not uncommon to wait in line for half an hour before reaching one of them. It was a beautiful morning, and we were eager to get into the city. We weren’t quite irritated with the line, but we were more than ready to be done with it. As we approached the toll booth, I rolled down my window and was greeted by an attendant who was swaying to the sound of smooth jazz. She smiled at me as she took my money and said, “Today is a great day to be going into the city. Please enjoy yourselves!” We could hear in her tone that she truly meant it. My wife and I were impressed with her sincerity, and her attitude and comment helped shape the mood of what went on to become a great day. On the way home that evening, we crossed the Crockett Bridge and pulled up to another toll booth. I normally don’t think too much about these brief interactions, but after that morning, I found myself wondering what this operator would be like. As we pulled up, she didn’t even make eye contact. She grunted something and took my money. If I could have read her mind, I’m sure I

would have encountered something like, “My sister is an architect, my brother is an attorney and here I am wasting my time at this toll booth.” It’s interesting to think about how both ladies were doing the same job but with completely different perspectives. Our toll-booth friend at the Bay Bridge decided to bring joy and meaning to a position that we normally would not consider meaningful. She’d bloomed where she was planted. Think of the positive impact she had on hundreds of people that morning! Think of the thousands of days she has brightened since. She’s almost certainly living a more rewarding life because she made the decision to be happy and to contribute where she could. So what’s the lesson here? For me, it’s about remembering to bring meaning to whatever we’re doing, regardless of how trivial it may seem. The good news for us is that it’s easy to find meaning in the teaching of martial arts. I might be biased, but I believe nothing is more important than what we do. After all, what else addresses so many of today’s problems so well? Someone needs confidence? We can help. Someone needs to get in shape? See us. Someone wants a child to be able to focus better? We’re the place. Someone wants a fun activity while learning the value of hard work? That’s us. When we remember this and make a conscious decision to act accordingly, everything about our schools and our businesses will improve — and bloom.

To contact Dave Kovar, send an email to dave.kovar@kovars.com.



7 Strategies for $uccess How to Reach a Bigger Audience Online BY CRIS RODRIGUEZ


yourself and then put in the time and energy needed to implement them, and which skills you want to delegate or hire out. Keep this in mind as you consider the seven strategies below.


Use Facebook Live Marketing has come a long way from the days of radio, television and billboards. It’s evolved to include live-streaming video and interactive content. Facebook Live is the best platform for engaging viewers via video. Why use Facebook Live for your academy? Consider these stats: According to HubSpot, businesses that use online video grow revenue 49 percent more quickly than those that don’t. Some 59 percent of marketing professionals say that video has the best return on investment. Approximately 78 percent of executives who use live video for business say it offers deeper interactions with viewers. With that said … Facebook has more than 1.66 billion daily users. And in five years, Facebook is projected to be mostly video. Those are some insane numbers. When you incorporate Facebook Live into your strategy, you provide real-time information and unique content for your viewers in a way that no other platform will allow. So what can you use Facebook Live to do? A good strategy would include: • Weekly updates • Videos that showcase your virtual classes • Promotions for free community events • Interviews with teachers, doctors and entertainers • Giveaways and contests One of my favorites is organizing live Q&As. Your audience has a chance to ask questions and get answers in real time. An added bonus is traffic on your page, which organically increases your Facebook reach.

When you incorporate Facebook Live into your strategy, you provide real-time information and unique content for your viewers in a way that no other platform will allow.


Photo by Hadrian/Shutterstock.com


n March 2020, our industry was shaken to the core. COVID-19 hit us like a ton of bricks, leaving many school owners feeling helpless. For some, switching to online classes was pretty simple; for others, it probably felt like preparing for a quantum physics exam. Resources that my team and I put out, like the Virtual Martial Arts Blueprint and the Ultimate Facebook Ads Workshop, flew off the shelves as school owners searched for digital tools to help them survive. Many schools, however, still took a hard hit. Freeze requests poured in. Cancellation emails and phone calls happened daily. School owners watched as their tuition billing declined. When a mass exodus of clients happens with any business, often the owner will have a knee-jerk reaction to eliminate expenses. Unfortunately, said owner frequently eliminates the one expense that actually can bring in more revenue, and that’s marketing. With many of the traditional forms of marketing thrown out the window because of stay-at-home orders, online marketing was and still is the most viable option. But online advertising costs money and requires two things: skill and strategy. Most martial arts school owners have plenty of both when they’re on the mat, but put them in front of Facebook Ads Manager and they’re tying on a white belt. When times are tough, leaders adapt and overcome. And while paid advertising is the fastest way to gain new students — regardless of whether you’re in a pandemic — it’s not the only way. Smart school owners leverage the power of social media and the internet every single day. And while you may not have a large marketing budget, that doesn’t mean you’re out for the count. This is why I put together the seven strategies for reaching a larger audience online for free. That’s right — they won’t cost you a dime. They will, however, cost you some time. As with everything in business, you’ll need to invest time and energy, or money. It’s your job to determine which skills you want to learn

Before you post, invest some effort and engage with your friends, leave some comments and like other people’s posts. STRATEGY 2:

Photo by Hadrian/Shutterstock.com

Engage With Posts You already know that being online is crucial for your business. You likely have also heard fellow school owners say things like, “You’ll never be able to beat the algorithm. I’ve wasted so much time posting things on Instagram, but that doesn’t bring customers in my door.” Well, this is where I tell you that it’s quite the contrary. There are many things you can do to increase your online engagement, and the rationale is pretty simple: When more people see your content, more people will see your services, and more people will buy from you. Using social media gives you an opportunity to be omnipresent. And at the end of the day, the best-known beats the best. Simply put, you have to be the best-known martial arts business in your community. So how do you do this? Most important is being consistent. Lack of consistency severely impacts your reach. If you posted once last month and then post again today, you’re telling the social networks that you’re not active on their platforms. That means they won’t give you preference in their feeds. The social platforms want you to play by their rules — and play often. If you’re a loyal friend to them, they’ll be a loyal friend to you. So post often. Next, engage first. The social networks are smart. They know your behavior. If you’re simply a passive user, scrolling but not engaging with anyone, then guess what? You won’t get any engagement when you post. So before you post, invest some effort and engage with your friends, leave some comments and like other people’s posts. It’s also good to interact as your business. You’re on these platforms to gain exposure for your business, so interact as your business. Engage as your business by commenting, liking, sharing and posting. This way, you bring awareness to your business

profile, which will bring people back to your business page so they can connect with you. Finally, talk to your audience rather than at your audience. We’re all human beings, trying to navigate these artificially intelligent platforms, and we want to be recognized as such. These are social platforms, after all, so they want you to be social. This means talking to people and with people. When posting on social media, remember that you’re looking for engagement. Ask open-ended questions and join the conversations that ensue. This will increase your engagement, which increases your visibility and in the end increases your class size. You may be thinking, OK, that sounds great, but what do I post? I recommend checking out MAIA Edge. It comes with a done-for-you social media calendar that takes all the guesswork out of posting.


Repurpose Reviews on Social Media If you gave me a choice between a lead received on Facebook and a lead received from one of my students, I’d take the referral every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Your students should be advocates for your school. As such, they are among the cheapest and best ways to get more students via word of mouth. If you’ve had a Facebook profile for some time or a Google My Business account, you should have a plethora of positive reviews from your students. Maybe you even have full-on video testimonials from them. How simple would it be to repurpose those reviews and testimonials for use on your social media pages? Here’s a fact: No one was taking online classes in your community prior to COVID-19. Guess what this means? They never experienced it and had nothing to compare it to. Some still might JULY/AUGUST 2020 37

find it difficult to see the value of learning martial arts online. Which is where “social proof” comes in. The term was coined in Robert B. Cialdini’s 1984 book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which is a great read for any business owner. He writes, “Social proof describes a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.” A simple post in your Facebook Group asking your students for some testimonials that pertain to your online classes will give you plenty of content to post on your Facebook business page. Presto! You now have social proof on your social media outlets, and that will spread awareness of all your virtual programs.


Host Free Community Events As a former MAIA Elite client and now the organization’s digitalmarketing consultant, I can attest to the power of hosting mass intros through free community events. Prior to the pandemic, we hosted such events at least once a month, and they were among our top marketing strategies for signing up new students. So what is a mass intro? For your business, it's a marketing event that’s organized to maximize your chance of signing up as many new students as possible in less than an hour. For your community, it's a free event that introduces people to the wonderful world of martial arts, after which they receive a special offer to continue their training. Many times, these free community events have a theme like Stranger Danger, Bully Buster or Focus for Better Grades. During the school year, my academy would use its partnerships with local elementary schools to help fill these gatherings.

School may be out, but you still can create a Facebook event on your business page and use it to drive traffic to your online community event. It costs zero dollars to create such an event, and it costs nothing to have students share it with their Facebook friends so it can gain traction. At the end of the community event, offer a weekly virtual program option or pitch a paid trial.


Update Google My Business Let’s switch gears from Facebook to Google. Understanding Google requires an understanding of intent-based marketing. The term describes any kind of marketing that aims to meet a prospect’s intent, or what the person really wants or needs at a particular moment. Let’s say you just purchased a bicycle. You go out for a ride, and the bike breaks. You now have an intent (a need) to fix your bike. So you grab your smartphone or laptop, and where do you go? Do you open Facebook or Instagram to get your bike fixed? Of course not. You head to Google and search for “bicycle repair shops.” Why? Because you have an intent: Your bike is broken, and you need it repaired. This type of marketing helps you scoop up today’s buyers. In contrast, platforms like Facebook and Instagram help you pick up future buyers. Which do you need? Both. Now that you understand what function Google serves, you need to understand Google My Business. Google describes it as a “free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps.”




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Your martial arts school will have a Google My Business listing. Once you verify your listing, you can edit your information so it helps your prospects and customers find you and tells them your story, gives them offers and keeps them up to date. Since this is a free listing that appears for your business on both Google Maps and Google local search results, it’s imperative that the information is correct. Due to many martial arts schools operating on virtual office hours, you should update the following for your facility: • Special hours • Relevant COVID-19 offerings like your virtual martial arts programs • Photos of you teaching virtual classes Finally, make sure you post on your Google My Business listing. (More on this in the next section.) Make it a habit to go in once a quarter and spruce up your listing with whatever is current. And make it a habit to go in once a day and just post. Now, let’s dive into that strategy.


Create Google Posts Similarly to how you can post on social media platforms, you also can post on Google. Many school owners and businesses in general are unaware of this — which is good for you! This will help your listing stand out from your competitors. Earlier, I explained that you should use Google as intent-based marketing, which is quite unlike social media, where people scroll because they’re bored. What does this mean for you? The prospects you connect with because of Google are actively seeking what you offer, and Google My Business posts allow you to update your special offers right on your Google My Business listing — again, for free. You can add offers, updates and events. And right now, Google My Business features a special “COVID-19 Update” section that enables you to make sure prospects get a picture of what’s happening at your academy. Posting there consistently





Jackson Rudolph

makes it clear to prospects that your business is concerned with staying current.


Write Relevant Blog Posts While I know you probably didn’t open your martial arts academy because you wanted to be a writer, one thing I do know is that school owners love to talk about the martial arts. Writing relevant blog posts like “At-Home Online Activities for Kids” is a great way for you to show up on the first page of a Google search. Be sure to use longer keywords to do this. If you want to take it a step further and add your city name, you will have the potential to receive traffic from clients who can sign up at your academy once this is over. To leverage this free traffic, you need a website that allows you to post blogs. My personal favorite industry website com-

pany is Market Muscles. If you decide to give it a try, tell them Cris sent you. They’ll take great care of you. So there you have it! Seven free ways to reach a greater audience online. Small budget? No problem. No budget? No problem. Take some time and implement the strategies described here, and you will take a giant step toward positioning your school at the top of the minds of the members of your community, and that will give you and your team the opportunity to serve them with your virtual martial arts program.

Cris Rodriguez holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a third degree in taekwondo. The co-owner of Gracie PAC MMA, she has 25 years of experience in the martial arts and 18 years of experience as a teacher. Based in Tampa, Florida, Rodriguez has studied internet marketing for eight years and is the founder of Grow Pro Agency, a digital-marketing firm that runs Facebook and Instagram ads for martial arts school owners.

Avoid These Top 3 Advertising Mistakes If you currently have a marketing budget allocated to bringing in new students, you’ll benefit from reading about the top three advertising mistakes people are making during the COVID-19 pandemic.


• NOT ADVERTISING AT ALL: This is one of the most obvious blunders. I can’t stress enough how important it is for your school to advertise. Facebook Ads are extremely affordable right now, and you’re doing your academy a disservice by not using them to bring in new students. What else can advertising do for your school? Top-of-mind awareness. Exposing people to your ads and your academy keeps you at the top of their minds. People won’t go out of their way to think about a martial arts academy right now. They’re thinking about their families, their jobs and their health. So if you’re not putting yourself out there, how will they get exposed to your brand? When generating revenue is more important than ever, don’t cut the costs that bring in money. • RUNNING ONLY NORMAL ADS AND NOT MENTIONING THE TIMES WE’RE IN: All stressful situations require us to adapt. Adaptation includes


not running the same old ads you’re used to sending out. When the situation is as unfamiliar as this pandemic, doing so will make you seem less than empathetic. In short, new times call for new measures. Change your advertising to reflect the current situation. Openly acknowledge the times we’re in. You can’t just shrug off a pandemic. No one will click on an ad for martial arts instruction that doesn’t address how the academy will handle things like social distancing and CDC guidelines. This goes hand-in-hand with running specific COVID-19 ads. Test ad copy such as “Are you stuck at home? Try our virtual martial arts classes today!” It acknowledges a common issue and suggests a solution. The world is constantly changing. In order to not just survive but also thrive during this pandemic, you must adapt. • GIVING AWAY EVERYTHING FOR FREE: The No. 1 goal of any business is to make a profit. When it comes to martial arts academies, just getting people in the door (or on the computer) is not enough. What does it matter if you have 100 students in your online class but only 10 of them are actually paying? You’re providing value to those who

need it, and that’s worth having them pay for. I’m not saying you should charge for everything you offer. A free class or trial is a great way to introduce leads to the martial arts at a low barrier to entry, and once they see the value you provide, it’s time to pitch your paid offer. Free offers are great to get people in the door. Just make sure you have an appropriate paid offer in place to follow it up. These are the three of the most common advertising mistakes people are making in the COVID-19 pandemic. To summarize the solutions: Advertise your school. It keeps you top-of-mind and generates revenue. Acknowledge and address the situation we’re in. Run ads accordingly. Have a solid sales structure in place to ensure you don’t give away everything for free. If you need help launching profitable Facebook Ads, check out the recordings from my Ultimate Facebook Ads Workshop at OnlineAdsWorkshop.com. For the meager investment of $99, you can net huge returns. You’ll discover that the best ads are about the customer and how your academy will change the person’s life.



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Are Here to Help You Run Your Business!

MASuccess asked five prominent martial arts instructors for their best advice for their industry peers during this global pandemic. Here is what they offered. IMMEDIATELY START TEACHING YOUR ART ONLINE Sometimes it’s best to begin with the end in mind. Do you want to help your students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you want to support your local schools, businesses and communities? Do you want to provide leadership during this time of uncertainty? I’m guessing that you will answer yes to all these questions. Now more than ever, people need to feel connected, and many of them need you to continue to serve as their instructor. Likewise, communities need leaders to provide certainty and security. They need you to continue to be a martial arts leader to provide stability and structure. To do that, you’ll need to rely on technology, perhaps to a degree you never have. The good news is, it’s not that difficult. First, however, we must address the elephant in the room: If you’re focused on money right now, your head is in the wrong place. It’s not about money — at least, not in the short term. Any action you take needs to come from the heart. You may be struggling to make ends meet, but people can smell a rat who’s looking to make a buck during a time of crisis. Forge ahead in the martial arts industry because you care, because you want to help. At the same time, remember that what you do will serve as marketing in that it will connect with new students and generate referrals that might turn into new students. Much more important, however, is the goodwill you’ll generate. As it spreads, people will remember that you were there for them and for their community, and that will build your reputation more than any marketing promotion ever could.

Now for the nuts and bolts: You’ll want to use Zoom to run your online classes and special events. It will enable you to interact with your students whether you’re charging for lessons or not. What’s more, it will allow you to see them while they watch you. The free version of Zoom offers 40-minute sessions for as many as 100 participants. Leveling up, $14.99 a month will net you sessions that last as long as 24 hours for up to 100 participants. These virtual meetings will cover most of your day-today needs — except if you need to hold a graduation ceremony, a seminar or a community event that’s likely to attract more than 100 people. As a martial arts instructor, you’ll find Zoom to be fullfeatured. You can highlight a particular student and allow his or her camera to temporarily take over the screen, then easily switch back to your feed. You can bring in guest instructors from remote locations. You can let parents who are, for example, doctors, nutritionists or yoga experts provide tidbits of instruction or words of wisdom in the middle of a class. And yes, you can organize Zoom birthday parties. I just had one, and it was amazing! Friends from around the world joined in, making it a party the likes of which I’d never experienced. Other Zoom features include the ability to auto-record your classes and store them in the cloud or on your computer so they’re available to students who miss the live stream. If you don’t think you’re tech savvy enough to manage such things, ask a teenage student for help. Be sure to give the person a cool school-logo’d piece of apparel or gear and acknowledge the assistance publicly.

Another essential is to use social media to convey to the public free information, complimentary training and other kinds of support via videos and live events. Unlike Zoom, using social media in this manner is a one-way street. Your audience can see you, but you cannot see them. On the plus side, however, such outreaches on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are watched live. That increases the fun factor. You can use live events to deliver your message and the associated training, and you can save the videos and repost them later for the benefit of your school and community. CAUTION: As a school owner, you shouldn’t teach your classes only on social media because it goes out to everybody for free. An instructor should maintain separation between what he or she delivers to paying students (even if their membership fees are temporarily frozen) versus non-students. I recommend using social media as a tool for sharing a positive message, a training tip, a combination, a stretching technique, an observation on mindset or even a free workshop that supports the community. This can be done daily, weekly or monthly — in addition to your regular Zoom classes.

When you host a virtual live event, know that people are much more forgiving. It doesn’t matter if you stumble over your words, forget what to say or even make a mistake. In fact, it’s almost expected. All this means there’s much less pressure to perform, which matters to people who are uncomfortable on camera. If you’re new to being on camera and doing virtual classes, here are some tips based on my experiences: • Demonstrate: We all lose the attention of some students when we’re teaching in person. It’s even easier for them to get distracted while watching you on screen. So start with a demonstration that gives them a clear visual of what they will be doing for each segment of your class. A strong voice is a confident voice. Project that voice with energy. • Explain: Use words to describe the technique clearly, then show them as you explain it again. • Practice: Do the technique along with your students. Keep in mind that if they see you stop moving, they will stop. So challenge them by continuing to move throughout the time you want them to practice. This matters because they won’t have other students to watch. All they’ll have is you on their screen, so don’t get caught just standing there. • Confirm the result: To do this, “spotlight” certain students by selecting them to demonstrate what they’ve learned. Don’t choose only the best technicians; also highlight those who show the best attitude, energy, effort and improvement. This allows them to motivate each other without excluding those who are struggling and not as advanced. • Hide your weakness, show your strength: The media bombard us with uncertainty and negativity throughout the day. Don’t add to that. Instead, deliver powerful messages of 46 MASUCCESS

strength, support, encouragement and positivity during all your online sessions. QUICK REVIEW: Use Zoom to put your school online and use social media to show support for your community. Run special Zoom classes and live events, parties and movie nights. Be the leader your students need right now. Show your support and spread positivity. If you focus on what’s really important now, it will come back to you tenfold in the future. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing it. — Mike Chat Seven-time world forms and weapons champion, Founder of the XMA

“I would like to invite all martial arts schools to partner with me for my daily Superhero Training Series, which goes out live every weekday at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time. Just email me at xmachat@gmail.com, and I’ll create a special invite video that tells your students that you’ve partnered with the Blue Power Ranger to provide daily Superhero Training as part of your Black Belt Club/Leadership Program for free.” — Mike Chat

ENSURE YOUR ONLINE SUCCESS WITH THE THREE A’S In my 42 years of owning and operating a martial arts school, I’ve seen lots of things. I’ve seen fads come and go, overcome hard times and relished good times. I thought I’d seen everything, but I never saw this coming. COVID-19 has changed the world for everyone, and it’s affected our industry in a profound way. Over the past two months, I’ve spent several hours every day talking to school owners around the world. It’s been amazing to see the ways they’re adjusting to the situation. From my interactions, it’s become clear that some school owners will come through this crisis with flying colors, while others might not make it to the end of the year — unless they start doing things differently now. Here, I’ll share what I believe are the keys to making it through this crisis with your school still functioning and perhaps even thriving. Doing that centers on the three A’s. ATTITUDE: It’s essential to remember that we can’t always control what’s going on around us. COVID-19 has proved that. What we can control is what we choose to focus on and what actions we take — which, in turn, will influence the outcome. As martial arts instructors, we can talk for days to our students about the importance of having the right attitude. The real question is, Do we have the right attitude for the situation we’re facing? This is our chance to practice what we preach. Below, I’ll share some things that I’ve found helpful in trying to stay positive and focused. It begins with a strong morning routine that involves reading or listening to something inspirational. I follow that with exercise and a period of quiet contemplation. I avoid using electronics until I’ve had a chance to start my day with these positive rituals. Next, I try to state any current challenge I’m facing in the form of a question that assumes there’s an answer. The question I ask myself every day is, “How can I manage this crisis in a way that brings maximum benefit to my community, my business and my family?” By thinking of the situation this way, it naturally directs my mind to become more solution-oriented. Finally, I’m careful of where I get information. If I watch hours of news every day and read negative threads on Facebook, I won’t be at my best, and chances are I won’t make the wisest decisions. Remember that fear is contagious. If you surround yourself with fearful people,

there’s a good chance some of it will rub off on you. Do you know what else is contagious? Being calm and courageous. That’s what the world needs from us right now. ADAPTABILITY AND ACTION: Three months ago, who would’ve thought we would be teaching martial arts classes on Zoom? Certainly not me. It’s ironic that we’d been trying to get our TV platform up and running for years, but once the crisis hit, we had it running in three days. We’d been trying to schedule one-onone progress checks with all our students for the past several months, but after the onset of COVID, we were able to get to virtually all 3,000 of them in two weeks. My team has worked harder than ever, and I’m proud of them. But it’s not just us. I’m amazed by the commitment so many of our leaders are showing in an effort to keep our industry intact. It’s been remarkable. Here are some of the best practices we’re seeing as we transition to teaching online. • We do biweekly private lessons with every student on Facebook or Zoom. The lessons are very short, in some cases just 10 minutes, but that allows us to have a lot of them. I’ve always believed that time doesn’t equate to value and that it’s better to have shorter lessons with more people than longer lessons with fewer people. One of the most important things we can do right now is maintain our emotional connection with our students. • We have a full schedule of group Zoom classes for various ages and belt ranks. We teach almost as many classes online as we used to teach in person; the difference is that each is only a half hour long. We use at least two instructors in each class so we can make sure to give feedback to everyone. We try to “spotlight” everyone, as well. • We make our online curriculum available 24/7. Our students have access to everything they need through our password-protected website. There’s also a place on the site where they can log their attendance, which allows us to keep track of the number of classes they attend. • Belt and stripe testing is business as usual. We use private lessons and small group classes to do our tests and have found that it works surprisingly well. In some respects, it works better than it used to. That’s not just in our schools; I’ve heard the same from people all over the country. Example: We hand-deliver belts to each student, dropping them off at the front door. It’s time-consuming but Dave Kovar worth it. JULY/AUGUST 2020 47

FINE-TUNE YOUR DELIVERY FOR ONLINE CLASSES I love my martial art — Hawaiian kempo — and even though I have a good-size school with a good number of students, the fact that I live in a small town has made me realize that I can’t reach all the people I would like to reach. Years ago, I spent a lot of time wrestling with the idea of teaching my system online and even promoting people in my belt system online. I was told by many martial artists that if I tried to spread my system online and do promotions, I would be selling out. But I decided to do it anyway. I started slowly. I created the Pit Online Dojo but didn’t really push it. To be honest, I had a hard time figuring out all the different marketing techniques that are possible on the internet. I quickly discovered that although my school has always been pretty visible — it’s located on the main street in my town — and has a very good reputation, trying to reach around the world was a lot different than operating within a 5-mile radius. Fast-forward two and a half years: Along comes the coronavirus lockdown. All of a sudden, every single martial arts school in the country is online, and interactive Zoom lessons are now the norm. The people who told me I was selling out by taking my art online are all online. They’re not just teaching interactive classes; they’re also conducting belt tests and organizing promotions online. Instead of saying, “I told you so,” I’d rather tell you how you can move forward. Teaching martial arts online can be done, and it can be done efficiently, effectively and without selling out. You can do it without compromising any of your traditional belt requirements or martial arts values. It just has to be done right. Now, let’s talk about what that entails. We always hear about how important systems are in martial arts schools, and I’m the first to admit that they are very important. I also have heard many times that a system-driven school is much better than a personality-driven school. I’ve always questioned that logic, even while admitting that systems are very important. However, I also firmly believe that the personality driv48 MASUCCESS

ing the school is every bit as important as the system driving the school, and that’s especially true when it comes to online training. Yes, having a good camera and microphone is essential. Likewise, having a great background and sufficient space to maneuver is important. However, the crucial thing to have is an instructor who not only is proficient at the skills being taught but also has the personality to keep students engaged. The personality of the instructor always has been important in the success of a martial arts school, but with the dynamics of teaching online, a strong personality is more important than ever, and that requires you to turn up your dynamic and dramatic skills. Let me explain. As instructors, we frequently have issues keeping our students’ attention — and that’s when we’re a couple of feet in front of them! Now, we’re miles away, trying to get them to focus on a computer screen or a cellphone. Making matters worse, they might have Facebook and Instagram open at the same time. Hence the need to be dynamic and dramatic. I’ll start with dynamic. You should be dynamic in the way you explain the techniques, philosophies and strategies of your martial art. By “dynamic,” I mean explosive and strong. Whether you’re explaining how to land a left hook to your opponent’s chin in person or explaining how to land a left hook to your opponent’s chin online, you need to project power. That doesn’t necessarily mean yelling; it means explaining with strong, clear words and body language. The same applies when you teach a technique by demonstrating it. It should be conveyed as a dynamic strike that your online students can hear and see. Now, let’s talk about dramatic. While the word “dynamic” always has a positive connotation, sometimes the word “dramatic” doesn’t. I’ll be the first to admit to occasionally overdoing dramatic. It’s much easier than overdoing dynamic, yet with that said, you should be more dramatic when you’re teaching in front of a camera than when you’re in person. The reason for this is you need to get and keep your audience’s attention. Throwing in the right amount of drama, along with being dynamic and technically correct, is the right approach to teaching in person and even more important when teaching online. IN A NUTSHELL: Dynamic is about showing and explaining powerful, explosive techniques. Move sharply and speak loudly. Don’t yell. Dramatic is about showing and explaining your lessons with extra flair, even borderline exaggeration. For good measure, throw in a little humor as long as it’s age-appropriate. So, while being technically correct is paramount, if you want to be effective online, you need to accept that there are differences in the way you present information. You should resist the urge to go overboard, but you must ramp up on the dynamic and the dramatic when you’re on camera. Remember that no matter how good your material is, if you don’t have your students’ attention, it’s not a successful class. Success requires that good techniques are given — and that those good techniques are received.

Photo by Cory Sorensen

• We actively communicate with inactive students. We never assume that they’re reading the mass emails we send out, so we text and call them every week. It’s amazing how many we’ve been able to save. None of us wanted this crisis, but we have it and have to deal with it. I honestly believe that a lot of good will come from it. I’ve already seen this happen. Perhaps you have, as well. No one knows what our businesses will look like in a year. What I do know is that with the right attitude, adaptability and action, they will look a lot better than they would otherwise. — Dave Kovar MAIA’s 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, MASuccess columnist

Teaching martial arts online can be done, and it can be done efficiently, effectively and without selling out. You can do it without compromising any of your traditional belt requirements or martial arts values.

Photo by Cory Sorensen

— John Hackleman


This is a whole new world for us. Teaching our students virtually instead of personally may require different skill sets, but we will rise to the occasion and do whatever it takes to keep our students safe, strong and healthy. Live clean, train hard, fight dirty … and don’t let anyone take your lunch money. — John Hackleman Founder of The Pit in Arroyo Grande, CA, Trainer of UFC great Chuck Liddell ADAPT TO THE CHANGES WITH VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION COVID-19 has had a monumental impact on the world. Economies have been disrupted, lives have been lost and life as we know it has been changed. We can dwell on the negative, but we should remember that there has been some positive in all this. Families are spending more time together, pollution levels are dropping and companies are finding ways to do business that their leaders never envisioned. The martial arts industry has discovered a way to provide distance learning more efficiently than any other industry, but is this a replacement for the traditional face-to-face approach? The answer is not cut and dried. Long-term, I don’t believe we can train students to be proficient in a martial art without engaging in physical contact and the rest of the overall learning experience in an in-person environment. I do believe that virtual martial arts training can be a fine way to conduct introductory classes designed to recruit new students, preview upgrade programs and provide excitement. If you’ve been offering virtual interactive classes, I’m sure you’ve had some positive feedback from parents. Such feedback tells us there’s an acceptance of and possibly a desire for this type of instruction to be given from time to time. Therefore, listed below are five ways you can use virtual martial arts classes to enhance your businesses and impact your community.

Mike Metzger

students to feel relaxed as they try your program without the intimidation or fear. UPGRADE PREVIEWS: If you have a school that offers upgrades, virtual previews are a great way to excite them and showcase the value of your upgrade program. If you want to showcase your program to a large number of students, you can have a team or group of instructors demo the different techniques, weapons and whatever else is involved. If you were to do this live, you’d have to limit the number of people who attend based on mat space. Offering a virtual preview eliminates that problem.

SPECIAL EVENTS: You can host “parents night out” events by organizing online activities like scavenger hunts, “instructor says” games and trivia contests. By being creative and offering virtual events, you can accommodate many more students than you could in person.

DEMONSTRATIONS: Letting people watch a demonstration is a great way to generate interest in your art. You can offer virtual demos for businesses, students who are having a birthday party (outside your training hall), public schools that you’ve partnered with, or any leads who show interest but haven’t enrolled. Virtual demos can be a great way to motivate them to join. At the end of the day, do I feel like virtual martial arts instruction can permanently replace live in-person instruction? No. I do believe, however, that it can complement what we do and add tremendous value. I’m excited to find out what the future will bring, and I’m confident that we will be ready to adapt. — Mike Metzger Owner of 14 martial arts schools, MAIA consultant

VIRTUAL TRIAL CLASSES: We know that one of the biggest hurdles for people is overcoming the fear of just trying a martial art. When children take their first lesson, they’re sometimes shy or scared. For adults, the feeling is often one of intimidation. Virtual intro classes offer a low-stress way for potential new

USE TECHNOLOGY TO CONVEY HOPE COVID-19 is a health tragedy, a social depression and a business catastrophe. How do we find inspiration at a time like this, when desperation has invaded our lives? We must focus on a bright future for ourselves, our families and our students.

PRIVATE LESSONS: Virtual instruction can be used for private lessons especially if a student wants to work on forms or specific techniques. The benefit of doing this is there’s no need for additional space and it’s a great way to retain students even if they’ve moved away.


Our responsibility as martial arts instructors and business owners is to provide a steady stream of optimism. What I’ve learned over the past several weeks is that our students are looking to us primarily for one thing: hope. Martial arts school owners worldwide have made the shift to virtual classes and private lessons conducted via Facebook, Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams and other platforms. We’re providing our students and their families with physical fitness at a time when they’re under lockdown and need a method for reducing stress and worry. We’re doing the right thing in a time of crisis. Most of us are providing this service while waiving or suspending tuition fees because we know we’re making a difference every day. We’re fortunate that our students look to us for guidance because we have the proper mindset to help them. As martial arts instructors, we’ve provided a safe place for empowerment and spent years leading our students in the right direction. We have passion, positivity and strength, and we’re generous when people need us most.

Our students and their families may be struggling with sickness, loss of employment, and postponements of family celebrations, education and more. They appreciate our contributions to their daily life more than we can imagine. Your school — whether it’s at a retail location, in a park or inside a shopping mall — will survive this pandemic. Your students and their families respect you and know that you’re doing everything you can to ease the pain and frustration they’re experiencing. Let’s face it: Your students know that you’re afraid, but they expect you to be their leader. They look to you for advice and inspiration, and this is when they need it most. Be a positive force in their lives and be the person they can turn to in times of desperation. It will make a huge difference in the long run. You’ve got this! You’ve built your business from the ground up, and you know how to do the right thing. Let’s work hard on fostering community and get through this together. — Deb Cupples 4th degree black belt, Founder of Community Karate and Fitness


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I’ve shared a little anecdote in my sidebar about what inspired me to create something new for my students. It was a story about determination and perseverance and how one person’s idea can make all the difference. You should take a few minutes to think about what you did to turn yourself around when you “hit the wall” the last time you were training. Was there a story behind it? Was there a mentor who helped to give you some extra encouragement? Maybe there was something in your past that helped you to persevere through the monotonous, but critical, training that you needed to get to the next level. Uncover creativity through your own personal successes. It doesn’t have to be a complex idea. In fact, it should start with something very simple, like kicking a bag over and over again and turning it into a competition. There’s some creativity hiding in there somewhere; you just have to dig around to find it. While these ideas come easy to me, I know that not everyone is able to come up with new ways to teach. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Talk with your instructors, parents, friends, peers and ask them how they find their inspiration. You never know where your next idea will come from and the excitement that it might bring to your classroom. e

Our responsibility as martial arts instructors and business owners is to provide a steady stream of optimism.

m Deb Cupples, 4th-degree black belt, is the founder and chief instructor of Community Karate and Fitness in Colorado Springs, CO. Her inspiration to infuse enthusiasm in teaching martial arts is endless. She can be reached at: MrsC@CommunityKarateandFitness.com. To read many more insider tips about becoming a better instructor and successful school owner, visit the Martial Arts Industry Association’s website at www.maiahub.com. Through this constantly enhanced website, members can access a massive amount of useful information on just about any topic from A to Z.

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JUNE 2019



The Software Helping Schools Not Just Survive, But Thrive, During COVID-19


done than your staff can handle. People slip through the cracks. Money is left on the table. Well — what if all that soul-sucking, mind-numbing work just ... disappeared? That is what Spark is helping 1,000+ schools do: Get out of the nonsense and get back to just changing lives. In fact, Spark saves schools an average of 10 hours per week, if they use even basic features. Schools making the most use of Spark save 20+ hours per week and some have even completely replaced their front desk staff. I want to share with you how three schools — from three different regions — are using Spark to do just that. The first two highlight features we’d implemented before COVID-19 that have since become even more important. The last one is a story of a school (one of many) that was literally saved by new features and resources we created right when the disaster hit. I guarantee you will get a lot out of these stories, even if you never use Spark! (Though I sure hope you’ll give us a try — I know you’ll love it.) Let’s dive in.

“Finally breaking my

120-student ceiling ... and hitting 200 students.” Francois Daneau’s school has been in business for 25 years. As hard as he’s tried, though, breaking that 120-student count has been impossible for him. And believe me, he’s tried. Francois is a hard worker and a passionate instructor. It turns out his big problem was communication slipping through the cracks. And who can blame him? When you’re giving your all to teach your best classes, it’s hard to stay on top of follow-ups for prospects, trials, leads and members.

Photos Courtesy of Spark

e change lives. It’s what we do as school owners. That’s exactly why I created Spark, the industryleading software for, well, running and automating your entire school. And that’s exactly why the martial arts industry will always be my home. But there are parts of running a school that are soul-sucking — that might even make you want to quit sometimes. It makes sense. I mean, I’m guessing you became an instructor for the same reasons I did: Passion for spreading martial arts. Passion for changing lives. Seeing the look on a parent’s face when their child finally shows respect. Seeing an adult experience confidence for the first time in their entire life. I’m going to take another guess and say things like email and SMS follow-ups are not what you wake up in the morning excited for. “I can’t wait to send some emails and texts to yesterday’s noshows!” — No one, ever. So most school owners do what any of us would do: Delegate all that to your staff. Right? But staff hate these calls, too. That’s because they became instructors for those very same reasons you did: Passion. Inspiration. Change. No one became an instructor to cold-call leads and speak to angry people on the other end of the phone and try to get them in the door! Over time, this burns even the best staff members. Not to mention there’s usually more work to be


Photos Courtesy of Spark

Spark saves schools an average of 10 hours per week, if they use even basic features. Schools making the most use of Spark save 20+ hours per week.

But Grandmaster Cheong Park, owner of seven highly successful schools, always says: “The difference between successful and unsuccessful schools is FOLLOW-UP.” And if you ever enter your info on any of Grandmaster Park’s websites, you’ll see what he means! For MONTHS, his staff will call you, email you and text you to get you to come in! Well, by using a combination of messaging automation, online calendars and online checkouts, Francois’s school suddenly ran with more efficiency than ever. It was like he added a fleet of full-time marketers to his staff ... only all he did was add Spark. He didn’t need to remember to follow up with leads. It happened while he slept. He didn’t need to chase down no-shows ... expiring credit cards ... membership renewals ... testing fees ... birthday reminders ... or anything else. Online calendars meant no more manual scheduling. Automated reminders via SMS and email improved his show rate dramatically. Online checkouts meant no more manual pay-

ments for trials. Automated messaging nurtured trials into becoming members. Listen: schools are small businesses. We can’t all afford to hire a full staff to do all of this for us. That’s why we created Spark. To do it for you.

“35 new paid trials and

200 positive replies in under 24 hours.”

Dan Heart’s kids program was under a year old, but gaining traction fast. However, his messages to leads weren’t converting like they should. That’s when Dan activated “Ignite” — our new done-for-you follow-up engine we co-created with the industry’s most successful copywriter, David Tendrich. David crafted these autoJULY/AUGUST 2020 55

(By the way — Ignite already has emails, SMS, landing pages, Facebook Ads and checkouts for Virtual Online Classes. Schools are seeing tremendous growth.)

“Surviving ‘Corona-

pocalypse’ ... and generating more leads and attendance than ever.” Alana Johnson’s school, like so many others, was hit hard by COVID-19. Cancel requests filled her inbox as families were laid off. Well, while schools were facing this terrible time, we got to work. I personally didn’t sleep more than three hours a night the first two weeks of COVID-19. I was coding 15-20 hours/day and my team worked overtime, too. My poor wife miraculously handled our five kids who were all home from school! (Thank you, sweetie!) We rolled out powerful new features that helped Alana and all of our other “Sparktans” (that’s what we call Spark members, because you’re warriors! Like Spartans!). First, we deployed the “Coronavirus Rescue Kit” by David Tendrich and Logan Snyder (Logan is a Facebook Ads genius we discovered last year — highly recommend reaching out to him on Facebook for lead generation). It contained emails, SMS messages, done-for-you checkouts and Facebook Ads. Schools that could pull themselves out of panic-mode enough to use this kit saw incredible results. Kaleb Pushard of Mika’s Family Martial Arts generated over 1,000 leads in under a week using only our Facebook Ads and Done-forYou Checkout Pages. Yes, you read that right.

Photos Courtesy of Spark

mated emails and SMS messages after helping thousands of schools shatter sales records and helping e-commerce companies scale as high as $50m/year. Ignite runs on our new One Goal System. It’s pretty genius: If someone enters their info on your website but doesn’t register for a trial, Ignite has “one goal” — get them to register for a trial! If they do that but don’t schedule an intro, Ignite has “one goal” — get them to schedule an intro! We have goals all the way through membership that even start the conversation around upgrades. Well, one of the cool parts of Ignite is when you turn it on, it “auto-magically” starts working your existing lead database. It’s not uncommon for schools to get flooded when this happens. Mike Nebgen got 50 trials two months in a row because of this. David Rosenberg achieved similar results. So did Dan Heart. He got 200 positive SMS and email replies and 35 trials in a day. Not bad, right? Sometimes you’re sitting on a big old pile of kindling ... and all you need is a match. Ignite provides the match. Done-for-you.


Photos Courtesy of Spark

1,000+ new trial members for Virtual Online Training. In under a week. But we also deployed new technology that paired with Zoom and other streaming services. Our new “Roster System” allowed for Mass Virtual Intros and Automated Class Reminders. Our Automated Virtual Attendance Tracking enabled schools to follow up with students and get them into Virtual Class. More than ever, corona made it clear that follow-up is key. We did everything we could to make it easier and more automated for schools. In fact, it quickly became common for Sparktans to see 50-100+ members in a single class ... and in a single Intro Class. Alana wrote me a heartfelt message saying these initiatives literally saved her business. She was one of dozens of school owners I received messages from like this. It’s messages like this that fuel my fire and keep me going. So thank you, Alana.

So what’s the big takeaway from all this? Do you need powerful tools to be successful? Will you fail without them? No way! Hard work and diligence are key, and no tool will ever replace those. What I’m hoping to get across here is that the right tools AMPLIFY hard work, passion and persistence. They let you multiply your efforts — without lifting a finger.

That’s what we created Spark for. That’s the mission that we wake up with every day and get to work on. That’s why I’ve slept less and worked more during this “Corona-pocalypse” than I have in my entire life. Martial arts is too important a mission. The world needs it, now more than ever. As martial artists, we’re doing everything we can to help. JULY/AUGUST 2020 57

ENTER THE NINJA Add the NINJA TRIX Program to Your School. Your Students Will Flip Over It! (And Your Business Will Benefit) BY PERRY WILLIAM KELLY


It was the popularity of this small-screen blockbuster that planted a seed in the mind of Florida school owner Steve Butts. While witnessing the growing popularity of American Ninja Warrior, he thought long and hard about why he was making his martial arts students put in two years of traditional training before they learned the tricks needed for extreme-forms competition and cutting-edge demos. He wondered, Why can’t I offer a hybrid type of training that blends American Ninja Warrior moves and traditional martial arts and begins the very first moment the student steps on the mat? The answer Butts gave himself: “I can offer such a program!” Thus was born Ninja Trix.

Appeal of the Ninja In a nutshell, Ninja Trix is a program that blends martial arts, gymnastics and obstacle-course training in a manner that lays a solid foundation of martial arts skills while meeting the youthful

Photos Courtesy of Steve Butts


s a society, we’re drawn to people who can contort and maneuver their bodies in extreme ways. One example of this fascination comes from the Olympic Games. Every four years, we’re enthralled by the gymnastics competition. Our obsession with this one sport has resulted in more than 5 million of our kids enrolling in gymnastics programs every year. Another example comes from cinema. We flock to theaters to watch action heroes like Daniel Craig (James Bond), Keanu Reeves (John Wick) and Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible movies) leap from building to building and flip vehicles end over end while kicking butt and taking names. Our last example — and the most important one for this story — comes from a television series called American Ninja Warrior. On average, 7 million of us tune in every week to watch competitors push their bodies to the limit on obstacle courses that challenge them in aerobic and anerobic ways.

desire to jump, flip and trick. Instead of having to pick one physicharacter development as exemplified by the life of Christ. cal pursuit or another, they can do all of them. “Many parents have said they really appreciate that aspect of Perhaps most important, school owners like you can offer this our program because it reinforces what they teach at home,” exciting product to your current students while you market it to she said. a larger demographic. Ninja Trix can function as a stand-alone Her experience teaching in public schools and a private marprogram, an add-on program or an upgrade to your current protial arts academy is key to her knowing what kids like — and gram. As well, it can add new and exciting skills to the repertoire what attracts them to Ninja Trix. “I’ve always loved creativity of your demonstration team and your tournament competitors and thinking outside the box,” she said. “In my kid’s classes, I who are into extreme forms. Furthermore, it can generate a would add all kinds of obstacles to make it more exciting and revenue stream that’s fed by monthly tuition, retail sales (for adventurous for the students. I don’t mind change and trying example, Ninja Trix T-shirts) and birthday parties. new things, so the Ninja Trix program complemented everyAs a school owner, you may be relucthing I wanted to do but didn’t tant to append yet another program have the means [to try].” Ninja Trix is a program to what you already teach. Ninja Trix She saw a significant uptick that blends martial arts, has taken steps to allay your fears. The after launching Ninja Trix, and she company makes available to clients attributes that to three truisms. gymnastics and obstacleeverything they will need, including a First, kids love running, jumping course training in a manner 24-month curriculum with ongoing curand climbing — and they have the riculum development, class plans, marenergy such endeavors require. that lays a solid foundation keting materials, uniforms and instrucSecond, the program offers kids of martial arts skills while tor training. The training comes with an opportunity to join an activity meeting the youthful desire an online curriculum guide that teaches that’s less intimidating than a instructors how to run classes, as well regular martial arts class. Third, to jump, flip and trick. as online videos that break down every some students who struggle with skill in the program and, most important, describe ways to spot students to make training safe and fun while encouraging growth. Ninja Trix classes are designed to be taught with a rotatingstyle curriculum, which allows new students to start at any time during a cycle. Beginners participate twice a week with Lil Ninjas (ages 4-6), which consists of 30-minute classes, and Jr. Ninjas (ages 7-12), which consists of 45-minute classes. As student enrollment grows, the program can expand into a full schedule that features beginner, intermediate and advanced classes with up to 160 students, and it all takes just 10 hours a week. Every three months, students are eligible to level up during a branded Ninja Graduation Ceremony.

Photos Courtesy of Steve Butts

Success of the Ninja To better appreciate just how successful the addition of Ninja Trix can be for a school owner, MASuccess chatted with Twila Schuler, owner of Rising Son Karate in Kirksville, Missouri. A martial artist since she was 17, Schuler has a fourth-degree black belt in shotokan karate and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. (She trained under former UFC champ Royce Gracie.) Schuler spent several years working with Chuck Norris’ Kick Drugs Out of America (now KickStart), where she focused on assisting atrisk youth at Perry Middle School in Carrollton, Texas. Then she moved to Missouri to be closer to her mother and decided to open a school in Kirksville. Schuler’s facility focuses on self-defense and the Christian faith. She says that much of her teaching revolves around JULY/AUGUST 2020 61

traditional martial arts classes find that Ninja Trix better suits their personality and needs. Shortly after Schuler launched the program in Kirksville, kids began flocking to her school. “We doubled our income from just the Ninja Trix classes alone,” she said. “Pretty much now when new kids come, they want Ninja Trix over the regular martial arts program.” BONUS: Schuler reported that three-quarters of her preNinja Trix students wound up taking Ninja Trix.

Refinement of the Ninja Schuler’s success with Ninja Trix stems in part from innovations she devised and implemented. For example, when a student learns a new move and is able to duplicate it, the student rings the school bell, which signals his or her classmates that a short victory dance is in order. Such practices boost the confidence of the successful student and motivate the others to conquer similarly challenging moves. This combination of martial arts and play is paying huge dividends at Schuler’s school. “We offer … a special all-in-one deal which makes it affordable for the parents and irresistible for the kids,” she said. “They like the freedom of movement and climbing and jumping the best. The karate program is very tightly structured, and the Ninja Trix program, although very wellstructured, offers them the chance to let loose and run out some energy in different, creative ways.” One aspect of the program that’s turned into a veritable goldmine for Schuler is Ninja Trix birthday parties. Her birthday business has doubled, and on some weekends, her staff has had to decline bookings because demand exceeded supply. “Parents [are] planning a year in advance for their child’s next birthday party,” she said. “Parents compare it to Chucky Cheese, and the kids say it’s even better. When we hear kids saying on multiple occasions, ‘This is the best birthday party I’ve ever been to,’ then we know we’ve done our job.

❱ Under the specter of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown it’s caused, martial artists everywhere are being forced to weather some difficult times. Weathering this period in style — and in a fashion that’s good for your business — requires thinking outside the box. It might be trite to quote the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but all of us must do our part to ensure that our children remain safe during this crisis. In addition to taking the proper precautions against the virus, we must encourage our kids to get regular exercise so they stay strong and 62 MASUCCESS

“Also, we’ve been told many times that when the kids wake up in the morning, they ask if it’s ninja day. Parents are happy, too, because their child sleeps really good the night after they’ve had Ninja Trix class.” When speaking with Schuler, it becomes evident that she loves children and she loves enhancing their lives while they’re under her care. “The challenges, [when] taken in stages, help build confidence, and there’s nothing better than seeing a child reach a goal they didn’t believe would happen, and it carries over to other aspects of their life,” she said. “And when parents say they don’t have any problems motivating their kids to come to class, I’m happy about that.” Schuler’s motivation to better the lives of children, coupled with her Christian faith, is inspired by the memory of her son Zac. Six years ago, Zac lost his battle with brain cancer when he was just 12. The youth was dedicated to helping pre-school students, and before he passed, he admonished his mother to never quit teaching. Like Zac, Twila Schuler is dedicated to serving the needs of young martial artists, and she’s seen the value that a program like Ninja Trix can bring to a school. As a school owner, perhaps you’ve noticed rising interest in tricking and extreme forms and weapons among your students. If so, perhaps the time has come to pull these themes together, cash in on this revolutionary program and provide your students with something they will love. Who knows — you might see one of them in a future season of American Ninja Warrior!

Perry William Kelly has a sixth-degree black belt in jiu-jitsu and is an instructor in four other martial arts. He’s the former national coordinator for use of force for the Correctional Service of Canada. In 2017 he was a karate gold medalist at the World Police and Fire Games, and in 2018 he received the Joe Lewis Eternal Warrior Award. His website is perrywkelly.com.

have an immune system that functions at full capacity. One way to do this is to act as a role model and exercise on a daily basis. Even better, you can do this while coming up with ways for them to keep their bodies in tune. Enter the ninja! The Ninja Trix program can offer a helping hand by providing online classes that take place in the garage, in the backyard or even in an empty room in your house. During the pandemic, Ninja Trix developed a series of streaming videos to serve as a guide for at-home training. The company also encourages instructors

to use Facebook Live or other platforms to keep youngsters engaged and active while sheltering at home. Company leaders have brainstormed to discover which household articles can be substituted for the obstacles and equipment used in conventional Ninja Trix classes. They’ve even set up contests that can be undertaken at home — for example, who can do the most burpees in 60 seconds — and participants are encouraged to post their results online. Also posted online are daily attendance records, which has turned out to be a valuable method for motivating students to practice on their own until the crisis is over and martial arts classes have returned to normal.

• Ninja Trix is a fully insurable program. • Ninja Trix targets two age groups: 4-6 years old and 7-12 years old. However, the tricks can be used as foundational skills by extreme-forms competitors and demo teams. • Ninja Trix is designed to be offered in martial arts schools that range from 1,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet. • Ninja Trix uses an obstacle course and mat that should be purchased before starting the program. The complete 10-piece kit is available from Century Martial Arts, as are additional obstacles. • Ninja Trix features a complete line of apparel, which can create an additional revenue stream for participating schools. • Ninja Trix can be launched by calling (850) 530-0234, by emailing steve@ninjatrix.com or by visiting NinjaTrix.club.



Loren W. Christensen: Feeling the Beauty of Karate BY HERB BORKLAND

“In this column, we examine the pivotal point in a prominent black belt’s career, the event that launched him or her toward success in martial arts business, sports or films.”



oren W. Christensen, 10th-degree black belt and founder of American Freestyle, served 27 years in law enforcement, first as an Army MP and then as an LEO in Portland, Oregon. For a quarter of a century, he has been a defensive-tactics instructor. He’s had a parallel career as a martial arts journalist and “book doctor,” which started when he wrote a 1968 piece for Reader’s Digest. Among his works are Policing Saigon, Knife Fighter, Self-Defense for Women, Fighting the Pain-Resistant Attacker and Meditation for Warriors. MASuccess: Where did you grow up, and what did your dad do? Loren Christensen: I was born in Vancouver, Washington. Dad was a truck driver. MAS: How did you first get involved with martial arts? Christensen: I was a teenage bodybuilder. I broke my back in a weightlifting contest, so after that, no more lifting. I had heard about karate in 1965, and I found a school in Portland, Oregon, run by Wu Ying Mun, who trained with Bruce Lee. Knowing how to win fights was a necessity, not an option. I went on to serve in the Army during the Vietnam War. I was an MP in Saigon at the time it was called “the most dangerous city in the world,” and I got tired of fighting after a 14-hour shift. I walked beats in bathhouses and bars. At 5-feet-10, I was the smallest MP, but my martial arts background helped. An easy night was only four fights, but usually there were 10 to 12. I came off duty with fingers wrenched, “battle lip,” torn trousers. I learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. I was restless after ’Nam and couldn’t settle down, so I went to college. I got involved in the college theater and wanted to go into radio, so I took a radio-ad writing class. I wrote a radio play that was accepted by a French company. I also started writ-

ing for martial arts magazines. I’d go find subjects in San Francisco — in those days, a mecca for fighting stylists. Eventually, I got a bachelor’s degree in sociology in the 1980s. In 1972 a buddy of mine, a Portland cop, said, “Why don’t you join the force?” I told him, “I just did a year in ’Nam worth 20 years on your beat.” But I did become a policeman. I was a Police Academy defensive-tactics instructor for 25 years. With police work, you can’t punch and kick people, and it made my American Freestyle training more street-applicable. MAS: What was your turning point? Christensen: My first school was in a chiropractic college gymnasium with 15-foot-long windows facing west. July sun streamed through those windows, almost like a church. The floor trembled; dust danced in sunbeams. With me and martial arts, it was love at first sight. MAS: What does the future hold? Christensen: As long as I am still blessed and can train, I will continue. I have a few students. When the hard stuff gets too hard, I’ll go back to tai chi. I can’t imagine not training. Once, I broke a knee and sat in a chair for six months, working on my hand techniques. It’s not about fighting anymore. I don’t even think about it, although my style is street-oriented. People ask me, “Why do you keep training?” I say, “[Because] I’m not that good.” Never be satisfied because, quite frankly, you aren’t that good. There is always somebody out there who can beat you up. There is a school of thought that says a black belt elevates you to about the level of a real good street fighter who has never had a lesson.

To contact Herb Borkland, send an email to herbork@comcast.net.



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Adapt or Die: How to Keep Your Dojo’s KABOOM BY ERIC P. FLEISHMAN

“We are martial artists. Our traditions are strong and have been passed down over generations. It’s our mission to keep the world in harmony, and until our final breath, we will continue to do so. In our presence, you are safe.”


or many in the martial arts community, this pandemic not only has brought their businesses to a halt but also is threatening to break their spirits. The positive momentum you had built up likely has been interrupted. However, in times of crisis, the strong rise to the occasion, helping themselves and others through the momentary darkness. It’s time to get off the couch and lead your students on the greatest journey. Here’s how to put the KABOOM back into your dojo. Stay on Brand Have you noticed that the colors you chose, the logo you created and the tagline you’ve used since you opened your school have started to feel a little tired and outdated? Why not take this opportunity to rebrand your dojo with fresh messaging? Brainstorm with friends and associates who know you and your business. Choose a spirit animal and make new patches and T-shirts. Think about how far you’ve taken your business and where you want to go next. Update your name, logo and slogan in a way that updates your image. Rally the Troops Even if your business is temporarily closed, check in with your instructors and reassure them that everything will be all right. Lead them to a place of mental and emotional security, and they’ll reflect your positive attitude toward your students. To that end, implement a phone tree that enables you to delegate the task of calling parents and students. Charge your staff with making students feel happy and with reminding them that their training can continue as planned, just in a slightly more socially distanced way. Your instructors, staff, parents and students are your army; step up and lead them. Clean Up Your Act This COVID crisis centers around the spread of a virus. Stopping it can be accomplished only by keeping unwanted germs to a minimum. Even when we “go back,” there will be some who remain skeptical of

your ability to maintain a germ-free environment inside the dojo. Begin reassuring them now by giving your school a deep cleaning. Scrub the floors, disinfect the mats, spray the gloves, vacuum the carpets and repaint the walls white if they’re looking a little tired. You can even put a mask on BOB. Take a video of your efforts and edit it down to 59 seconds with a fat beat behind it. Viola! It’s the perfect “reopening soon” social media post. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #cleanestdojoever. Ask for Help With your doors shut, it may be difficult to get by financially. That’s why Congress passed several multibillion-dollar stimulus packages meant to assist small businesses and reignite our economy. That’s the good news. The bad news is you won’t receive any financial aid unless you apply for it. Use Zoom to Achieve KABOOM To make sure your class schedule isn’t interrupted, teach your students on Zoom, the industry standard for digital meetings. Students can see and hear their instructor, and the instructor can see and hear them — from their homes. You can give your students homework and demand proof of completion by having them post videos of their practice sessions on social media. This can draw attention to your school. You can host free virtual “bring a friend” days when students invite their pals to join their Zoom class. Consider recruiting a famous instructor in your art — even though he or she may live on the other side of the country — to teach a class. Make It Big When it comes time to reopen your dojo, make a big splash. Host a giant reopening celebration, complete with a food drive that supports a local food bank. The party will convey a powerful underlying message: We are martial artists. Our traditions are strong and have been passed down over generations. We take care of people in our community and help those in need. It’s our mission to keep the world in harmony, and until our final breath, we will continue to do so. In our presence, you are safe.


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Our Industry Will Never Give Up! BY KATHY OLEVSKY

“I’ve operated a martial arts school full time for 45 years. I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my career, which are common errors among school owners throughout our industry. And I’ll share the solutions I used to overcome them.”



n the martial arts industry, we constantly have to reinvent ourselves to stay relevant. For example, many years ago, my husband and I ran a very traditional karate school. In the mid-1980s, the two of us moved into cross-training in other styles, but we kept it a secret from most students. We didn’t want to muddy our message, which was that we were a regular karate school. What we learned is that offering multiple styles in one dojo can be a game-changer. That happened when we transitioned from teaching karate exclusively to offering instruction in karate, kendo, iaido, judo, jujitsu and a variety of weapons. Instead of it becoming confusing to the general public, it became enticing. Students liked the fact that we offered them more choices. Similarly, we never could have predicted what happened to our world with the COVID-19 pandemic. All of a sudden, we had to transition from physical entities to online businesses. Not surprisingly, the martial arts industry adapted. Those who wanted to survive tapped into their “never quit” mindset. After doing the research, schools all over the world moved to online platforms like Zoom, WebEx and Google Hangouts. As a result of the pandemic, many martial artists had to teach themselves how to become virtual entrepreneurs. In early April, shortly after we went online, our school enrolled our first student who lived 3,000 miles away. The person wanted a virtual martial arts program. We had moved our curriculum online and had even modified our website to let people know that we were not closed; we were virtual. We originally did it to save the students we currently taught. In the long run, the “stay at home” order helped us discover that we could stay in business. In some ways, it inspired us to improve what we offered.

Just like in the 1980s when we discovered that cross-training in other arts and offering them in our dojo was a smart change, there is a benefit to being forced to teach online. I’d venture to say that most of us are learning that this is a different aspect of our business, one that we had not tapped. Our school, along with many others, moved toward it rather than giving up. We modified our website to include a learning module system that made delivery of the online curriculum even easier. Our previous investment in great student-retention software turned out to be serendipitous, as we had made the switch only eight months before COVID-19 hit the United States. Throughout the industry, martial arts schools have learned how to help each other. We have learned that to survive, we must work as hard as we worked to achieve our black belts. We move forward and adapt. We don’t let obstacles block our path. This is a new world, and as we always do, we will lean into it. In doing so, we will gain new talent that will benefit us far into the future.

To contact Kathy Olevsky, send an email to kathy.olevsky@raleighkarate.com.

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School Showcase July/August 2020 School Owner

Derrick “D-Nice” Wilson School Name


Houston, Texas Styles/Disciplines

Moo Duk Kwan 70 MASUCCESS

Photos Courtesy of Derrick “D-Nice” Wilson

Wilson Karate Academy

Why did you begin teaching martial arts? I was born into the martial arts, and it has become a part of my life. What is your school name and how did you choose it? Wilson Karate Academy. My instructor’s school name was just Karate Academy, so I added my name to my academy. What is your school’s motto or student creed? “Don’t start none; won’t be none.” What is your personal teaching philosophy? We do not use bad words such as “can’t” and “quit.” How long have you been teaching? Thirty-five years. How long have you owned your school? Seven years. Who or what inspires you? My instructor, grandmaster Linda Denley.

Photos Courtesy of Derrick “D-Nice” Wilson

What is something unique that your school or your student body does well? We are a family-oriented school. What do you find most rewarding about working in the martial arts? That I get to watch my students become [productive] members of their community and well-rounded adults. What is your favorite inspirational quote? In order succeed, you should never quit! If you could give one bit of advice to your fellow martial arts school owners, what would it be? Owning a school is a process, and you have to trust the process. In the long run, it is worth the wait and dedication.



5 Ways to Stay in Touch With Your Students BY JASON FLAME


“Texting can serve as an alternative to a phone call. More people are likely to respond to a text message quickly, although it’s far less personal.”


ommunication is the key to success in any relationship. It’s important that we go above and beyond when it comes to communicating with our students and parents. Having systems in place to maintain frequency and consistency of contact will prevent students from “falling through the cracks.” Keep in mind that our families are often inundated with information from other activities, work and their personal lives. Face-to-face interaction is always best, but when we need to communicate and are unable to see them in person, we have several options for staying in touch. When relaying information to our students, we should keep these simple yet valuable communication methods in mind. Phone Nothing beats letting someone hear our voice when we really need to communicate something urgent or significant. Progress checks, enrollment notifications, renewal reminders and upgrade decisions all require discussion. Every quarter, we should make a point of calling every family for a progress check. A simple phone call can help us build rapport and strengthen our relationship with a parent or student. Text Texting can serve as an alternative to a phone call. More people are likely to respond to a text message quickly, although it’s far less personal. Nevertheless, sending text messages for reminders, updates and confirmations is convenient and effective. A more creative way to “text” our students involves transmitting an audio or video message through the texting app, rather than simply sending written words. E-Mail Yes, weekly and monthly newsletters are still a thing! We may not send out printed copies any-


more, but e-mailing a list of upcoming events, life lessons and important announcements is always welcomed by parents who are trying to balance their busy schedules. We may want to create a template for this outreach and schedule the mailings in advance to save time. We must be sure to keep our e-mail list up to date to reflect new enrollments and dropouts. Social Media As more and more platforms allow us to communicate with our students, we have an increasing number of opportunities to be creative. Not only can we relay announcements and conduct marketing campaigns on social media but we also can use the platforms for retention. Highlighting our students’ achievements with photos and videos posted on social media is always well-received. When time permits, we should engage in posts made by our students and parents. For example, we can congratulate them on a job well done in an endeavor outside the martial arts or simply send a “happy birthday” note. Staying engaged in students’ lives shows that we care about them as people, not just as students, and that’s a great retention tool. U.S. Postal Service Everyone loves getting “old-fashioned” mail. Handwritten notes are a great way to add a personal touch. At my school, our goal is to ensure that every student receives a “good job” note every quarter or every testing cycle. This is a simple yet effective way of showing students that we notice them. It also gives them something they can keep with their martial arts memories.

Jason Flame is a MAIA Elite Consultant and the owner of Moorpark Karate & Krav Maga in Southern California. To contact him, call (805) 6571775 or send an email to TSDUKarate@gmail.com.


Take the Martial Arts Business Health Quiz Today Once you have a clear picture of how healthy your academy is right now, connect with a coach to see how MAIA can help you get where you want to be.


© 2019 MAIA, LLC. #17799


Retention in the Age of COVID-19 BY CHRISTOPHER RAPPOLD

“Looking back, did you keep your staff up to date regarding critical decisions? Did you keep your students and families informed of your plans, despite not knowing how this whole situation would play out?”


f you had been told in January of this year that our world was about to shut down, would you have believed it? For most of us, the onset of COVID19 was surreal, almost like watching a far-fetched movie plot unfolding in real time. And as with all unwelcome surprises, no one wants to go through it again. That said, I do want to make sure that our (literal) 20/20 hindsight results in the correct insights that will leave us better prepared for whatever else the future brings. Because this column focuses on retention, my observations will target four key takeaways. The lessons to be learned — or relearned — from this pandemic are critical to sustained martial arts student retention and success. 1. Building strong relationships is a highvalue activity. To get through any kind of crisis requires more than just your efforts. It takes the collective support of friends, family, team members and the students in your school. Provided that these relationships are strong and have been properly nurtured, you’ll feel grateful for the people around you because they all want to be part of the solution. All of a sudden, remembering birthdays, acknowledging effort, sending cards of congratulations, being your students’ biggest fan and showing genuine interest in the lives of your instructors and students have become key to laying a solid foundation that will enable you to thrive in uncertain times. If this mutual relationship hasn’t been fostered, your foundation will feel like it sits on shifting sand. 2. Open and honest communication makes a school strong. This is especially true while navigating uncharted waters. Frequent communication becomes vital to keeping everything moving and ensuring that uncertainty and fear are minimized. Most people prefer someone who is willing to communicate even if they don’t have perfect answers, rather than someone who does not communicate at all. Looking back, did you keep your staff up to date regarding critical decisions? Did you keep your stu-


dents and families informed of your plans, despite not knowing how this whole situation would play out? Were you proactive and responsive to the special circumstances of those who had to bear overwhelming hardship? 3. How you respond either builds confidence or erodes it. Whether you’re a longtime school owner or relatively new to teaching, everyone is paying attention to how you handle the pressure of this situation. Like a professional athlete when the game is on the line, some will rise up and shine, while others will crack under the pressure. Depending on how you respond, the next time something happens, people will either look to you for guidance, help and direction — or they will look away. 4. Teaching the total experience of martial arts creates a high value in people’s lives. If you didn’t realize this before, you know it now: There’s a lot more to martial arts than kicks, punches and submissions. A teacher who regularly weaves into his or her lessons the components of a true martial arts lifestyle creates a relationship that will prosper even in a virtual world. The release of stress, the perfection of skills, the importance of posture, the benefits of strengthening the body, the power of breathing, meditation and visualization — these are all invaluable tools that will improve any student’s life. A narrow paradigm that mandates in-person, onthe-mat training creates vulnerabilities in the value of your teaching and may even limit your students’ potential during their martial arts journey. Every individual and business will go through challenges that are the result of things both within their control and out of it, things like the COVID-19 pandemic. As I ride the wave of being a professional martial artist, I want to make sure the meaningful lessons of life and business are dissected and then used to make what I do in the future even better. I want to ensure that the notion of constant and never-ending improvement isn’t just a saying; I want it to be an applied business system. I’m sure you are the same.

To contact Chris Rappold, send an email to founder@personalbestkarate.com.

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Wavering Waivers BY BETH A. BLOCK

“The Americans With Disabilities Act requires that you make reasonable accommodations for disabled people. I would never suggest you refuse to accommodate disabled people, but you need to think hard about what a ‘reasonable accommodation’ looks like in your studio.”



e all use waivers, although I have noticed that the degree of faith we have in them varies from person to person. Some of us see them as unbreakable shields against all lawsuits. Others think they are barely worth the paper they’re written on. I’ve examined waivers in this column before. Here, I’ll cover the issue of handling waivers when students inform you that they have a medical issue that could affect their ability to fully participate in classes and tests. Side Note No.1: I’m no stranger to dealing with this issue from the student’s perspective. I have epilepsy and cannot take a hit to the head. My husband has asthma and must use an inhaler from time to time. Our studio accommodates these special needs. Recently, I was talking to a studio owner about one of his students. The student was preparing for her black-belt test. Over the past six months, she underwent surgery to fuse three discs in her neck. She came through the operations wonderfully, and her surgeon cleared her for everything except sparring and grappling. The owner had told her that she had to spar to test and that she should just block to make sure she didn’t get hit in the head. I completely understand using objective standards to test students, so I asked him to show me where he’d told students — in writing — that these standards were required to pass the black-belt test. He said he’d never put anything in writing or given anyone a specific list of requirements. Strike one. I asked him if a student would be allowed to keep training at an under-rank level without ever testing again. He said he hadn’t prepared for this scenario and wasn’t sure. Even if he said yes, he told me, he didn’t know if this answer would satisfy the student. Strike two. My last question to him: Had he made any accommodations for other students, like asthmatics, diabetics, heart patients, etc.? He said he wasn’t sure what I meant by “accommodations,” then explained that an asthmatic student could, for example, keep an emergency inhaler in an equipment bag. And just like that, he’d admitted to accommodating other students. Strike three.

Side Note No.2: The Americans With Disabilities Act requires that you make reasonable accommodations for disabled people. Refusing accommodations can land you in trouble. I would never suggest you refuse to accommodate disabled people, but you need to think hard about what a “reasonable accommodation” looks like in your studio. If you want to teach a completely traditional program with objective testing standards, you need to put that in writing and apply it across the board. That means you don’t let anyone train if that person cannot meet those objective physical, mental and emotional standards. You also need to have that statement in all your online, in-studio and printed materials. Be aware that by doing this, you will narrow your potential customer base. Coming back to the owner who told his student that she had to spar to test for her black belt, I want to share a couple of thoughts. The fact that she signed a waiver is important — it also became useless as soon as she told her instructor that she couldn’t spar and he told her she had to anyway. Because he had never laid out his objective standards, if she was to spar and become injured, that waiver would not even be worth using as toilet paper. Although the owner told her she had to be sure to protect her head, we all know that accidents happen. Relying on an accident not happening in the heat of sparring can be called optimistic if you want to be kind. It can be called foolish if you want to be honest. Think about your studio: Do you want to have objective standards? If so, communicate this to everyone now. Have proof that everyone has received that communication. Include it in your new student paperwork — and have proof you delivered it. Are you going to exclude all students with special needs/disabilities? If so, be prepared to explain to the Americans With Disabilities compliance board why you’re doing that. If not, where will you draw the line? Be prepared to explain why you drew the line there and nowhere else.

For more information on The Americans With Disabilities Act, contact Beth A. Block at beth@blockins.net or call (800) 225-0863.

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Trade Secrets and Non-Solicitation: Additional Arrows in Your Legal Quiver BY PHILIP E. GOSS JR., ESQ.

“Unless you take ‘reasonable’ steps to protect a trade secret, it will not be seen as a trade secret.”



roperly and effectively restricting former employees from competing with your business has always been a three-part operation. A written restrictive covenant, in jurisdictions that allow them, traditionally has been the first line of defense. However, as I outlined last time, such restrictive covenants have come under blistering attack in the past decade. Now, in many jurisdictions, restrictive covenants are not merely unenforceable; they’re also illegal. In such jurisdictions, the proper use of tradesecret protections and non-solicitation agreements can, in many circumstances, give you the tools you need to protect your economic interests. Trade-secret protection is legally enforceable in all jurisdictions. In simple terms, a trade secret is any information with independent economic value, which is not generally known or readily ascertainable to the public and which has been protected to maintain its secrecy. Your method of instruction will not be defined as a trade secret. Likely, neither will your curriculum. The most valuable independent assets in a martial arts school, without a doubt, are your customer/ student list and, perhaps to a lesser extent, your written marketing methods, procedures and forms. With regard to the limited (but very valuable) trade secrets outlined above, you’ll find that you have two categories of employees: those who require access to that information and those who do not. In the operation of your school, there are many reasons certain employees require access to customer lists. They can include following up when a student misses a class, informing students of school news and contacting parents regarding re-enrollment. If the use of trade-secret information is integral in an employee’s duties, such information can be protected from future disclosure if — and likely only if — you are proactive and safeguard those interests. Always treat trade secrets as you would cash money, which means restricting access to those individuals who have a real need for such information. The first part of trade-secret protection is not granting blanket access to said secrets to every

single employee. Grant access only when the need for sharing that knowledge arises. Unless you take “reasonable” steps to protect a trade secret, it will not be seen as a trade secret. To that end, you should create a written policy regarding your trade secrets, one that defines what information is considered a trade secret and explains that unauthorized dissemination is absolutely forbidden. The second part is having dedicated computer passwords for each employee and restricting use of company computers to performance of the individual’s job or when otherwise directed by you. Any violation of these rules, no matter how minor, must be met with immediate and appropriate consequences. One final note on the issue: The law in many jurisdictions specifically precludes third parties from accepting unauthorized trade secrets. If a former employee quits and starts working for a competitor, a letter informing the new employer that any use of business information provided by the former employee could place the new employer in legal jeopardy is in order. Your former employee’s value to a competing school may be greatly lessened when the new employer finds out that he or she cannot poach your students. The third part of trade-secret protection is using a non-solicitation agreement. Arguably, this is a weak stepsister of the restrictive covenant. I say this because restraint-of-trade arguments are now being successfully used against restrictive covenants, and they can be used against non-solicitation agreements, as well. However, there’s no downside to making a non-solicitation agreement part of your employment agreement. A non-solicitation agreement is a very basic clause. In short, the employee agrees, in writing, that for a certain timeframe following separation of employment, he or she shall not solicit your customers or employees to leave your school. In order of strength, restrictive covenants and trade-secret protections are the workhorses that keep former employees in check, followed by nonsolicitation agreements. In appropriate circumstances, an employment agreement with all of them is your best bet.


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“Today, many of us find ourselves challenged with being able to make it in our chosen careers as martial arts school owners. We may ask, after all the hard work, if this is it. Are we are going to ‘lose our magic’ or simply disappear?”



ruth be told, there have been times throughout my life when I thought for sure that my career as I knew it was over — as if the “magic” I possessed was suddenly going to disappear and leave me high and dry. I often talk about the years when I would leave early in the morning before my newscast with FOX News to teach martial arts in the middle of the ghetto. I had made a promise to myself to give back when I knew that I had been blessed. A few years later, the community called out to me with even greater needs. It was a calling I knew I needed to answer. I found myself going from a major market TV anchor job to feeding homeless people in the inner city. “That’s not who you are, Karen. You’re better than that!” I was told. That was a time in my life when I wondered if I would simply disappear. Maybe this was it for me. But you know me. If I know I have to do something, then I’ll do it simply because it’s the right thing to do. Three years went by, and I was quite humbled. I often waved at and made small talk with the reporters I had once worked with. I’d smile when they turned away because I could feel them thinking, Man, I hope that doesn’t happen to me. But what my comrades and others did not know has become very evident today. You see, it’s about “cream.” It always rises to the top. When I was a field reporter, I did a story with the dairy association. It was a job that landed me in the middle of a cow pasture. “The cream is the best part of the milk,” the farmer told me. “And if you don’t process it, it will naturally rise to the top.” I have witnessed, in person, the cream rising to the top. It’s a simple story with a deep message that I’m often reminded of. Today, many of us find ourselves challenged with being able to make it in our chosen careers as mar-

tial arts school owners. We may ask, after all the hard work, if this is it. Are we are going to “lose our magic” or simply disappear? If we could just realize that the same ingredients that got us where we are now are not going to fail us in the future, we would know that no, we will not just vanish! I’ve come to realize that separating ourselves from all the other ingredients is a natural process that people either have or they don’t. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of believing in yourself and trusting that process. I humbly stand before you to say that after working in the ghetto, things only got better for me. As a matter of fact, things got better for me in ways that had nothing to do with the TV news business. I’m often asked if I miss being in TV news. In case you’re wondering, the answer is no. If I had one wish today, it would be that we all stop worrying about whether or not we will rise to the top again. Because the truth is, it’s not about where you are at this particular point in your life. It’s about who you are. And you are cream.

To contact Karen Eden, send an email to renedenherdman@gmail.com or visit the Facebook group “The Eden Assignment.”



HOOL COMPETITION As Martial Artists and Business Leaders, we possess one of the most important attributes: Perseverance! We always fight to Win. No matter how many times we get knocked down, we will rise again. During these challenging times, we have worked together to create a new business paradigm. Virtual learning has allowed martial arts school owners and their instructors to keep students and staff engaged. Zoom, BlueJeans and other video conferencing platforms have made it very easy to continue teaching. Students are still able to grow their skills while remaining safe and secure in their homes. School Owners are committed to the one thing they value most: their students. In turn, this ensures that the schools will be there to welcome students when this challenge is over and for years to come. By Dave Sklar

to review performance at your leisure and then rate them backto-back. In addition, video submission allows you to build learning plans for your students and testing needs. On the other hand, video submission does not provide the excitement of performances live. Of course, this may be seen as an advantage to some school owners who believe they need to protect their students from an overly aggressive environment.

To keep students connected, we have even extended the virtual opportunities to include competition. As Co-Director of USA Sport Karate and host of the International Martial Arts Festival at Walt Disney World, I have promoted and managed over 400 events over the course of 26 years. I have seen our sport go from taped rings, paper scoring, flip cards and other archaic practices, to the use of mats for rings, advanced computer programs like Uventex (our system of choice), and video monitors in every ring. Now it is time for us to reinvent, stay relevant and transform our industry once again. So, since this season is on hold in public spaces, we have begun to host live Forms and Weapons competitions online. The martial arts business demands constant nurturing to stay alive and this new tactic allows our schools to generate revenue during these trying times. Even more hopeful is the idea that we will attract new athletes from around the world. While some love the excitement of crowded rooms filled with other competitors, there are also those who enjoy a less stressful environment. This new format allows us to play to the strengths of all our athletes. We are also able to bring people who may not have the time, means or desire to travel long distances to compete. We are available for everyone, everywhere, if they want to share their skills and find out how they stand up to the competition. We know that the best athletes are those who test their skills and continue to grow and learn from their teachers.

SHOULD YOU DO A VIDEO SUBMISSION OR LIVE EVENT There are a couple of ways to run your Virtual Inner School Competition. You must decide if you are going take video submissions uploaded by competitors, or hold a live streaming event. There are pros and cons for each method. USa Sport Karate Live integrated with Uventex, the event management computer platform, to provide a simple method of uploading the athlete videos. The video upload method is more forgiving, since it allows the athlete to send their best performance. Receiving videos allows you to review all the performances to rate the athletes against their peers. This method requires submission and result due dates and times. You will be able 86 MASUCCESS

The alternative method for your virtual event is utilizing a live platform. This is an exciting, real time competition which rivals an in-person experience. Another advantage is the ability to promote your school to a wider audience via a live stream of your event. Therefore, you are essentially marketing your school for free. There are some important things to think about as you develop your event game plan. You need think about written guidelines and rules, including a clear definition of who can engage on the live platform. You must be in control of who enters your competition space. Guidelines may include such requirements as, “Only athletes on camera; school uniform only,� and the correct placement of the camera they use. These are just a few things you should consider. USA Sport Karate has developed standard guidelines, and has delivered an exceptional experience for the athletes. We are currently the only organization offering live online competition. We are currently the only organization offering LIVE online competition.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO RUN YOUR EVENT 1. Video Conferencing Platform for Live Event

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If you decide on a live competition, you will need a video session platform. The most popular one is Zoom. However you may already be using a platform for virtual classes. You will need a strong internet connection so that the picture quality is good. The student also needs a strong connection on their end. Once you generate links for each Session, you will email the students the links, rules and guidelines for participation. The guidelines will help them to be ready to show their best performance and answer many of their frequently asked questions. The rules will make sure that you can avoid some of the challenges of going Live, i.e., uninvited guests on the broadcast.

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With a live event, you are literally running a broadcast center. This means you will need a live broadcast coordinator or director. This person is responsible for ensuring all students are in position for their performance, then pulling the next student out of the waiting queue, ensuring they are on camera, muting and un-muting mics, sharing screens, signing in judges, etc. This is a very important position, since they are responsible for what everyone sees and hears on the live stream. Preferably you need someone that knows or will train in how to use the video platform properly.

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3. Judges You will need judges to score the competitors. If you are running live competitions you will need three judges to lessen the possibility of ties. In a live competition, if you use Uventex, we have developed a Judge’s App making it possible to score remotely and have the score go directly into the program. This will give almost instant results. If you are using using video submissions for your competition, you could simply have one judge scoring each division. You can provide them with score sheets for their divisions. They can turn these sheets into the main coordinator, to announce the winners. Whether you use a live competition or video submission, there is a recording so you can use the competition as an evaluation tool for your students. This will ad another benefit to your event. You will have the ability to use the performance recordings as an evaluation tool to see the areas that your students need additional training.

RULES You must have a set of rules for all athletes to compete under. These may vary based on the divisions. Keep in mind that some rules may not work in a virtual setting. Students may be performing in a variety of environments, so things like boundaries will be set by their stationary camera setup and not by a physical ring. Ultimately you can set the rules or here is a link to the rules that we run our regular events with: http://usasportkarate.com/divisions-rules/. Feel free to use or modify these, or create your own rules depending on how you want your competition to run. I recommend picking one style of competition at a time, i.e. traditional forms or kata, creative forms, etc. This will save time and keep you focused on one specific division. Once you have finished this event successfully, you can host other divisions for future tournaments. This process controls the scope so you can keep your event manageable.

4. Awards Everyone loves the gratification of getting an award for a good performance. Obviously it is very hard to give an immediate physical award virtually. However, you can give a digital certificate right away. Because you want your students to come back to your school when they can, or soon as it is safe, you can host a live award ceremony as part of your school upon reopening. Now you are giving your students an incentive to come back to the school and get them physically re-engaged. You could get some trophies or medals, it will not make a difference which. After a long stretch of being away from your school, an award celebration may be just the excitement they need.

5. Scorekeeper Scorekeepers in a virtual setting, whether live or video, basically keep track of the scores and help figure the results. If you are using an event platform; then the system has built in scoring and will figure and track the results. The scorekeeper can also make sure judges are logged in for scoring on a live event.

6. Announcer at Live Event Adding an announcer creates excitement that makes your students feel like they are truly on a live broadcast. This person will keep the event moving by filling the space on the broadcast with information about each division, athlete and how they place. This helps with transitions from one athlete to

the next and keeps your audience engaged. It is helpful for someone to collect data points and athlete info prior to the event. If you are using a format like USA Sport Karate Live integrated with Uventex, it will collect the info you need as they register. Keep in mind these are your students, you can add information about them from your records. Our announcers are used to this format. If you are using one of your own people they must have an articulate, professional speaking manner. They should practice before and make sure during the preliminary waiting period, that they can pronounce each athlete’s name clearly and correctly.

DECIDE ON HOW YOU WANT TO RUN YOUR EVENT 1. Paper Some of you may be most familiar and comfortable using a paper scoring system. If you do not currently have paper score sheets, feel free to email me at info@kickusa.com, and I will send one to you. While this method does not provide you with all the benefits of computerized online platform, it does the job. It is like using an actual map instead of the GPS on your smart phone to find out how to get somewhere.

2. Computer Utilizing a computer platform to run your event offers a myriad of advantages. There are two opportunities for a computer platform to make your job as school owner easier. You may choose to use an integrated event platform, which we will talk about more later on. You may also choose to use a computer as a tool to gather, track and evaluate the student and event information.

3. Turn Key Solution The most comprehensive solution is having a separate martial arts event organization to run the back office for your event. USA Sport Karate has the ability to run your inner school event from registration to awards. This frees you up so you can focus on the motivation and training of your students as well as the responsibility of running your business. If you are interested in generating a new revenue stream without the pressure of running the event completely on your own, then this is the best solution for you. If you choose to use a third party solution such as USA Sport Karate Live, you will have the flexibility to determine which elements you would like to manage yourself while still leveraging the expertise of an organization that is in the event management business. JULY/AUGUST 2020 87

PROMOTION FOR YOUR EVENT Many of your students may have lapsed in their training during these challenging times. The anticipation of your inner school tournament is a good way for your students to reconnect with the school, with you and their training. You have many methods to announce the tournament and what is happening in the school. If you decide on an inner school tournament, you should have a marketing plan in place. 1. Email – A catchy subject line with a well-worded email can get their attention. Include an event flyer along with information about your school’s event. It is important to let them know that no matter where your student is in their training at this moment, your event is a great opportunity to get back to their normal martial arts routine. If you have an opportunity to address the student personally by email, you can help remind them that they are part of your martial arts family. 2. Text – Since people are more likely to look at a text, it is often a great way to remind them that you have sent an email. It is also great way to keep sending reminders. Nobody ignores a text. They may delete it, but they are going to look at it. 3. Social Media – This is used for both marketing and for live streaming. The big advantage is that most everyone is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Make sure that your social media platform includes a flyer with dates, times, email, phone number with clickable links to your information including your website. 4. Website – You want to drive everyone to your website. This is where you can showcase your school, your students and your Inner School Event. Your website allows you have comprehensive information to get your students excited about training and your event.

GAME DAY Live Events Live events require you to run your rings/divisions by session times. You do not want 50 people all online waiting their turn. Each session for a live event is a division within your competition, with its own unique link. The USA Sport Karate Live integrated with the Uventex Platform will generate these for you by division. These are emailed to the athlete along with guidelines for participation. They log in with this unique division link and they are in the waiting room. In this waiting room you can make sure their camera angles are correct and they are positioned for their best performance. Finally, each student performs and then the scores are given. If you are using our platform, the judges enter their scores in the judges app and they go straight to the system. Scores are automatically added and you have your winners. Then you repeat the process for each division.

Video System If you are also using the video submission method, the timeline 88 MASUCCESS

for your event begins the day you start to accept video submissions. Your competition ends the day you will have all the videos reviewed and evaluated, and then the winners are selected. You can then post the winning videos on your website for your students to see. Of course you can always record and post the live event on your website as well.

Post Event Party As I mentioned previously, you should have a live, in-person award party and celebration. This will drive everyone to your school to get their award. I would suggest this part include all your students and their families. This will be just what you need to get some energy back in your school after this long isolation. It is also an opportunity to let everyone know that you are still here, healthy and ready for training. This is also the time for a subtle incentive to get them back. You could offer options such asa discounted Promo Month, special seminars equipment specials, etc. -- anything that gives them an incentive to continue training in your school.

It’s a Wrap There is always opportunity in adversity. The challenges we face force us to think outside the box and in the process we grow. Hosting a Virtual Inner School Competition can help engage your students, keep them connected to your school and keep them motivated for the return to in-class training. You also create a new revenue stream. Finally, just because the quarantine ends, does not mean that all the things you have started virtually have to end. Imagine a world where your students can train anytime, anywhere, when they are home sick or away on vacation. You could actually give them homework while they are on vacation. How many of your students leave for the summer? Some never return. Virtual training and competition can keep them connected with no excuse for taking a leave of absence from your school and leave from paying their tuition. USA Sport Karate in partnership with Uventex can offer you complete management of your inner school event. If you decide on video, live or combination of both, or if you would just like to manage it yourself, we can get you set up properly and then you take over. If you would like more information on this article or setting up your event, email us at info@kickusa.com or info@blitzmat.com. We can also be reached at 407-897-6856. In the meantime, feel free to check us out at www.usasportkarate.com.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an action but a habit.” Aristotle

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