This Dojo Needs an Enema!

I have a good friend from Baltimore (who also used to train with Guro Billy Bryant) named Kenny. Because he is an LEO, I won’t share his full name–but if you know Billy well, you must know Kenny. He is more of a fighter/boxer than martial artist, but Kenny is about as serious a martial artist as one can be. He can fight better than most martial artists I know, but doesn’t possess any of the silly things martial artists enjoy–like rank.

When Billy Bryant was developing his system–back when he was a Kenpo guy trying to learn the FMAs, Kenny was there. When Billy was researching the real history (or the “historic history”, as Billy used to call it)… it was Kenny that went to the Library of Congress gathering the facts.

Anyway, I said all that to say this:  that I respect the hell out of Kenny and he is one of the people who influenced the way I am as a teacher and as a fighter. When I was struggling with joining the commercial FMA people in order to build my business and afford to send my mom back to the Philippines to a nice home–Kenny helped me take what I do best and make a living with it. At the same time, when I was experimenting with ideas about fighting and the martial arts and combining my boxing experiences with them, he was my guinea pig as well as my conscience.

Well, when Kenny suggested that the modern-day martial arts school needed an overhaul, I listened.

Here’s the thing. There is a recession out there. People will still spend money on stuff they don’t need, they just don’t want to feel like they are spending money. You notice how people won’t pay the entire $100 credit card bill, but they will spend $150 on Starbuck’s–$5 at a time? (30 days times $5/day) Or let the $50 gym membership go, but spend $60 a weekend eating out?  Or put off $75 for tutoring for the kids, while spending $75 at the movies taking them to see silly movies?

The martial arts school owner must find a way to get our students to pay our tuition without feeling like they are putting out a large sum of money. Sort of like my private lesson students who used to pay $250+ for lessons each month. It sounds like a lot, but when they are spending $45 per session, it doesn’t feel the same way. It’s not a trick or gimmick, but you are giving the student the ability to determine how much he can afford to spend and how much he WILL spend… by charging “per class”.

Example:  I normally charge $149 a month for my FMA. Lots of people liked my school but didn’t join because that amount sounds high. But by using the “per class” method, I could charge $25 per class, and the students who could only afford $75 would attend 3 classes a month, the ones who could afford $100 would attend 4… and so on. I could make it as cheap as I want in order for students to be able to attend more classes–be creative!

Even if classes were $8 per class, and a student wanted to attend 4 days a week, he would spend $128/month. Or if his budget tells him to cut it off after $90, he could just limit himself. There is a benefit to you as well. If you’re anything like me, you will receive $6-7k from your students at the beginning of the month. You will pay a couple thousand on rent, another thousand on bills and advertising, then broke by the 20th of the month and giving your late students the evil eye while teaching classes. By receiving your rate by-the-class, every time a student walks in the door you have cash in hand, and it’s easier for him to manage and budget–than trying to come up with $100 by a certain date every month.

That’s all I’m saying…

So let’s look at one more thing. The class. Must it completely be a formal class? Consider this:  When you join a boxing gym, you pay a membership to come in. You change, then out onto the floor. Start with some warm-ups, then shadow box, then stretch, then hit the bags, then do a few stations, then at some point the trainer calls you to either hit pads with someone or jump in the ring to spar. With all of that–in about a two hour session–you’ve been training alone for most of it, and only spend a total of about 10 minutes with a trainer. Fighters who train like this–rather than in a formal class–are some of the most fit, most knowledgeable and able fighters around. And if you were to train in Asia, and take your pick; I’ve trained in 4 countries, they all train and teach this way. The most time you spend with a trainer other than when you are in competition training, is when you first join. This is where they give you the basic run-down of how to move, how to punch and how to kick. The rest of that time you are alone and someone only occasionally passes through to make corrections. And what drives you forward to fighting superiority is plain old hard work, and the old-fashioned idea of self-motivation that got lost in the modernization of the martial arts school. By creating a “corporate culture” of discipline and hard work, teaching becomes easier and you will be able to handle more people with fewer instructors. And the great thing here is that you eliminate the hassle of scheduling teachers, specific classes and time slots and conflicting schedules. No more objections to enrolling because they can’t get to class on time. No more trying to find a teacher for your 8 p.m. class so you can go home to have dinner with the wife. Students expect to train alone, and you can even have advanced students in the gym to watch the novices while they get their own workout in.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I hope I’ve given you plenty to consider (and reconsider) in respects to your schools. Maybe it’s time to give your school an “enema” and rid it of all the BS preventing your commercial success from arriving. Thanks for visiting my blog.