There are those who believe that the Filipino arts are not aesthetically pleasing enough to attract students. At least, not enough students to pay a two thousand dollar lease.
But it isn’t always about beauty, or fads, or marketing, either!
In the FMAs, we offer many reasons to study:
- a good, strong form of self-defense
- it can be a great workout, unlike the workout of many other forms of fighting
- we teach fighting skills much faster than many other styles
Can the arts help a kid get good grades? Can an FMA school be a cheap alternative to After School Day Care? Can it be set to music, like Tae Bo?
Man, I should slap you for those questions.
The Arts are in their own niche market. A book I once read told me that if you have concerns about the competition in your industry’s market, eliminate them. And what better way to eliminate competition than by carving your own niche in the market–where there IS no competition? It was recently noted on the discussion boards (at www.martialtalk.com/forum) that most cities have no full-time FMA school, yet every city boasts at least a few hundred FMA students. Wouldn’t it make sense, that the only school in town would be able to pull in a good portion of those students? Especially the ones who caught the FMA bug!
And this isn’t counting the potential students who crack open the Yellow Pages to find a place to teach self-defense and/or martial fitness… and stumble upon the FMA school. Sure, it don’t look like Jet Li’s fight scenes, but here are the benefits of studying the Filipino Martial Arts, sir…
It isn’t always all about slick marketing and mixing arts with more popular styles. Many times, we just have to do a better job relating to the needs of our public. I’m not referring to press releases and newspaper clippings, but simply to advertise the benefits of the arts we teach and then explaining what we do when they walk through our doors. After all, it isn’t much different from the challenges of Kung Fu Sifus in explaining why he doesn’t teach Monkey style Kung Fu or jump up into trees, and why the Tae Kwon Do Sabumnim explains that he is not teaching Karate and is not called a Sensei. Part of the recruitment and sales process is education, and that will make a huge difference in whether or not a school sinks or swims.
I believe that most martial arts students really don’t have a preference in what style they study, given a proper education while searching. They just want to know that they will either get in shape, or learn to defend themselves, or will be a muggers worst nightmare. The Filipino arts can provide those benefits and more. The question is, do you have the ability to put your style in front of enough people to pay the bills?
And this brings me back to the subject of how to run a school. I don’t believe enough attention has been given to the how, and this is why most martial arts schools fail–not just the Filipino schools, but martial arts schools in general. As the saying goes, “A Black Belt in the Dojo, but White Belt in the Office”. It isn’t a question of what style is marketable, just like the question of whether fighting ability depends on what style you practice. If that’s the case, then every hard core school would be broke, and every Tae Kwon Do school is making a ton of money.
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