“Secrets” of the Filipino Fighting Arts
Words from a Modern-Day Warrior

My Book: Make a Living with Backyard Dojo

I’ve written a small book, which my editor calls a “mini-book” because it’s only 22 pages long. I wrote it for the Masters of small, independant martial arts schools who would like to feed their families with their schools. These are not men who want hundreds of students and million-dollar high-tech dojos. They are true to tradition, in both skill and business practice, and the most they want is to open a humble commercial location that pays the bills and puts food on the table and their kids through college.

I have invested thousands of dollars trying to learn the business side of the martial arts. I’ve been talked into offering a belt system, utilizing contracts, teaching in day care centers (seriously), teaching seminars on tour, even opening satellite classes across the country. I have taught in the middle east, in central america, as well as in sober living homes. All this, in pursuit of wanting nothing more than to afford teaching the real art to my most dedicated students while these other ventures paid my bills. My ultimate goal back then was to offer my training for free. I learned a lot about business, and learned a lot about how I can market and run my business without doing what everyone else does.

Anyway, the one thing I noticed was that I could not find business information that was directed at a guy like me–who teaches full contact; who uses profanity in my classes; who yells at students; who has ex-cons and gang bangers in my classes; a man whose students (including children) leave the school bruised, banged up, bloodied, and sometimes in need of stitches. Yes, I have insurance. Yes, I pay taxes. And yes, there is a market for my type of martial arts. I have a website, I’m in the Yellow Pages, occasionally I am on the radio and on cable TV, and I don’t promise good grades.

I have seen many good friends and good martial artists who have closed shop because they did not have the business tools to stay in business. One of the painful reminders of this, was last year, when I had refused several students of a friend’s dojo who attempted to join when they saw the writing on the wall. 6 months later, they were there after his school closed, and then he stopped teaching out of his garage. I’ll say this here, and some of those students read this blog, but I thought as traditional Karate teachers in Sacramento go, he was absolutely the best… even better than me.

So I wrote this book for you guys. The guy who surfs the net looking for ways to keep his school going while his wife urges him to “get a real job”. The guy (who, like I once was) working for minimum wage on a graveyard shift job in order to keep a school. The guy (like I was) who used money from tournament winnings to pay bills because his enrollment was too low to pay rent and eat.

I was asked to make it at least 40 pages, but I had a message to give, and it came out to 22 pages. Sorry Mike! I didn’t want to fluff it up or pad with filler just to make it seem “worth the money”… I know people who teach their martial arts that way. You’ll find that the other books I write will be the same way:  short, to the point, but full of good, useful information. And I am not some young, wet-behind-the-ears MBA who knows nothing about what the real business world is like.  Just like I am not some 50-something millionaire Karate clown trying to convince you that you’re not legit unless you’re selling belt exams and birthday parties. If you want to really put bread on the table with good, quality martial arts, this book is for you.

Look at our “Offerings” page off the main page, and you’ll see ordering information there. Please, leave comments or at least email me to give me feedback after you’ve read it!

Thanks for reading my blog!

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5 Responses to “My Book: Make a Living with Backyard Dojo”

  1. Well done Guro but next time, use your own life story, don’t steal mine :o) I learnt long ago that if you offer free classes, that is the value people put on the instruction…. nothing! I too did menial jobs to allow me to be able to teach the rest of the time. Now I teach for fun but I still charge a nominal fee out of principle. I used to do seminars for instructors on how to run your school as a viable business and yet not become a McDojo. My WalkSafe/Corral Arnis school at Surry Hills was in an alley behind a brothel (they sponsored us to the 1994 WEKAF in Manila, Tiffany’s Tiradors). We did it in all weathers, by streetlight and hosted some big name MAs in the park across the street including Richard Bustillo, Tino Ceberano, Tony Blauer and so on. Although we went full on on the street, I never claimed once on my insurance. My broker even came over once to see our school as he was amazed at our claim free record (not accident free !)
    Your book is a great contribution to the business.
    Perry Gamsby
    Sydney, Australia

    • thank you i’m glad you been true to the art. it is very hard to teach the best art we can and make a decent living in the same time, but its not impossible. hope you like the rest of our articles!

  2. […] the way, go to the Offerings page and order my book. called “Making a Living with Your Backyard/Garage/Community Center Dojo”. You […]

  3. […] it or not, my most popular book (well, hell–I’ve only written three) is my book on the Backyard Dojo. FMAs, in my opinion, have suffered because we have not figured out a way to market the arts and […]


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