Cheyne McMahon Karate Business

109 – Tripling Your Student Base In 2 Years With 100% Karate

Last time we spoke with Cheyne McMahon, he had just gone full time with 110 students when his dojo got flooded. Today, he has 340 students and is thriving as a Karate-only school.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How action takers work and think differently
  • The pay off of investing in your instructors
  • 100% Karate! Cheyne’s growth from 110 students to 340 students
  • Do this to motivate your white belts
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

As soon as I see the value in it, I'll do it straightaway, whether that's good or bad sometimes, but at the moment, everything I do is working out pretty well.

GEORGE: Hey, George Fourie here. Welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast episode. We're on episode 109 and chatting today to a good friend and a repeat guest, Cheyne McMahon. Good day, Cheyne.

CHEYNE: Hey, how are you? 

GEORGE: Good, good, good. So, been a while. Well, I'd say it's been a while since we spoke on the podcast, I was actually checking back and we spoke on episode number 74. Actually back in March 2019, so, depending when you're listening to this, close to the two year mark on doing this again. 

So, I wanted to chat again, really to document his journey, because it's been a long journey. We'll go a bit more into the details, but you can check out podcast number 74 for a bit more of the background – the first time we met, how we got started working together, and your dojo was flooded, wasn't it?

CHEYNE: Yeah, still remember that one like it was yesterday? Yeah.

GEORGE: Flooded dojo, we started working together, did a couple of cool things, and worked out well, you jumped up to 185 students. That was in December. Well, in February, so that was a couple of months later, shot to 200. I'll be prompting you to get that 300, you hit 300 students at the time of recording this. Well, last week, he said you were 325. This week you're at?

CHEYNE: Yeah, that's 348 students.

GEORGE: Just from the sidelines, and I'm going to hand it all over to Cheyne, but you know, one thing I admire about Cheyne is just relentless work ethic. You know, whenever we chat on a Zoom call or something, we chat about something, Cheyne goes quiet, and then he's like, “yep, it's done, it's sent”. 

And so, he's just a religious action taker, we can almost stop the podcast there if you want to get the value out of something and Cheyne's journey on how he progresses so fast, is just taking action all the time. It's probably a good place to start, right? Because what got you to that? What is it that prompts you to take action quickly? Is that something that came from, you know, from childhood? Or is it the discipline of karate? What's got you to that?

CHEYNE: Yeah, I think that that's just sort of my personality. I just want to, I just want to see the value in it, and I’ll just do it straightaway. Just like setting up Calendly. Last week, we were talking about it, as soon as I see the value in it, I'll do it straightaway. Whether that's good or bad sometimes, but at the moment, everything I do is working out pretty well. Some things don't work. But so far it's been it's been pretty good.

GEORGE: Yeah, I can't recall who shared this exactly. I think Elon Musk shared something similar, that the person who makes the most business decisions wins and in context, and I'm probably butchering this, but the overall story is, if you make 100 decisions a week or day, and 50 of them fail, then you still made 50 decisions in the right direction. The problem is when you overanalyze and you sit back, and you make 10 decisions, and still, 50% ratio, five of them fail. 

So, now you've made five steps in the right direction, versus 50. So either, you know, when we, when we think we are doing the wrong things, doing just many things all the time and making decisions rapidly, actually goes a bit further at the end of the day.

CHEYNE: You know, it's not like I'm making rash decisions on the spot that's going to impact my cash flow or my life in a massive way. But just little things that I see that are much better, I'll just change like that. But changing a timetable or a schedule, something like that? You need to sit down and figure that one out. There can't be just, you know, off the top.

GEORGE: Cool. So, look. So, I guess building on our conversation last time, yeah, you know, we chat every week, we get on our Partners group, we jump on calls and so forth. You know, your journey has been, it's gone from one thing to the other and improved, and then we had COVID, obviously, and that threw a curveball for everyone. But I mean, you've bounced right back, and things are moving. What's been working well for you? Let's just start with that.

CHEYNE: Yeah. Well, so, yeah, COVID hit. Like everybody we had to shut down and teach online classes. But, from that, we've actually incorporated a couple of things from the Zoom platform that we use. So, every class now is, is streamed live on our Zoom channel, or a Zoom link. So, that's been really great, because we've got people in, we've got another dojo. 

So, I'm in Brisbane, we have another dojo in Sydney, and so the instructors there can actually watch what we're doing. I've been recording some segments or sections of the class, and uploading them onto our YouTube channel, where the instructors can actually watch some of the drills that we've been doing, and then make sure, you know, we're all in sync on how we teach a particular technique, or kata, or whatever we're doing. So, that's been really good. When Zoom hit, we could, sorry, not Zoom. When COVID hit.

So, we could only have a certain amount of parents or people in the dojo when we could resume classes. So, we only let the juniors in, no parents. And since then, the behavior of the kids has been fantastic. So, there's no background noise, there's no distractions. It was purely instructors and kids. So, since then, we've taken away the waiting area and don't allow parents inside while the class is on. 

So, before and after, yep, but during the class, no. But if the parents want to watch, they can watch it on our Zoom link, which is always on, with the Zoom, we change the password every month, just for security. So, if we have someone who stops training, then they won't be able to watch the training from home. So, there are just a couple of things that have made us better since COVID.

GEORGE: Great, so now, you just don't let parents in, and parents, just become accustomed to, really took advantage of the fact that they can't sit around, and it's turned out for the better.

CHEYNE: Well, yeah, it's turned out better for the coffee shop next door to us too.

GEORGE: Right?

CHEYNE: Yeah, look. So, the parents know that they're not allowed, it's not that they're not allowed inside, just not during the class. So, they come in, drop their, especially when their kids are new. They bring their kids in, the kids sign themselves in and then the parents, either sit in their car or go for a walk. Some, if there's a partner, some will just go for a picnic. There's a pub across the road too, so, I'm sure a couple of sneaky people go there for a few quiet ones.

GEORGE: Cool. So, on that, I mean, we're talking about changes. So, you made that adjustment. That's been really good. What else do you do, I guess, do that's different? And maybe what things that you don't do, that normal schools might not be doing well?

CHEYNE: Something different that we do since I last spoke to you in the podcast. So, we've got a junior leader team and we also have an instructor's team, so, constantly developing instructors to assist in the class, as well as take their own class. Not so much the junior leaders, juniors are there to assist in the class – bow the kids in, show the kids what to do, where to go when they first start, and also set up any equipment. 

But as far as karate goes, what we do differently, I suppose is black belt is only just the beginning for us. We've got lots of second, third, fourth, fifth dans that train with us. There's something after black – you don't need to be an instructor. So, we've got, yeah, we also teach kobudo, which is weapons, to black belts and above. And karate, I suppose what we teach is Koshinkan Karate, which means old and new Karate, the school of the old and new. So we teach old style karate from Kinjo Hiroshi and Kazuya Mitani in Japan.

We also teach modern sports-style karate, for WKF style. So, we have different silvers for kids to adults. So with the kids, we teach modern sports, safe karate. For the adults, and why we have so many adults and why we keep so many adults, is we teach practical karate, practical self-defense, which has joint locks, throws, vital point strikes, weapons, grappling, all of those fun things that you can't teach the kids. 

That's what can make us different to most other karate buffs is that ability to be able to teach both. So, the same principles that we use in our sports karate, apply in our traditional, original karate. That's one of the things that make us a little bit different. And we're all about karate. So karate, karate, karate – we don't have to teach any kickboxing classes, any fitness kickboxing or fitness-cardio karate. 

We don't do birthday parties, we do social events, but it has nothing to do with karate, that's building a community. But yes, we don't have to supplement our classes in having another martial art here. We don't teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or kickboxing or Muay Thai in our space. It's only karate.

GEORGE: And why is that important to you? Because I know you really love karate. I know that, and obviously, you know, we all love our styles and know our styles can be a bit biased. But I know you've got such an in-depth history of it coming through the family, we could probably talk about that – your dad, Bob, had started out the business what, a good 30, 35 years ago?

CHEYNE: 31 years ago, yeah, the Australian Karate Academy, but he started teaching in 1972. So, he was one of the first to teach kids in Australia. This is before the craze of The Karate Kid. But that's a whole other story. Yeah, I just love karate. There are so many more things that we are starting to learn more about the history of karate, things like the Japanese influence into Okinawan martial arts, and the Chinese influence into Okinawan martial arts. 

Cheyne McMahon Karate Business

Those things are being discovered now through guys that live in Japan and live in Okinawa, or live in Germany or live in America. So yeah, there's still more and more and more things that we're learning about the development of karate, how it came about. So that keeps me, you know, really interested. There's a competition side, which, which I like as well, and I did compete for a long time. 

But now my focus is more on developing some of my athletes, and also developing our understanding of karate, getting back to the older style of karate, less kids karate, and more, you know, genuine, old style, real original, dento karate. I started when I was four and every job, everything I've ever done in my life, almost everything is key around karate. My holidays based on karate, where I go, the countries I visited have all been basically built around karate. 

GEORGE: I love that. Even though you're building a business, you're not deviating from your passion at all, you really just want to stay on the path. And so I want to play the opposite of that – is, do you see it, like, do you see it beneficial to have a different style for you? Or will it completely just sidetrack you from your passion and your focus of karate?

CHEYNE: Well, one of the things that we do is a two-week trial. So everybody, it doesn't matter if you've done karate before, everybody completes a two-week trial. If Little Johnny is a bad seed, then someone within the two weeks will ask him not to come back or if he's disrupting the class, if he's there to have fun and not learn karate, then we won't accept him into our club. 

Sometimes we stop enrollments, if the class is too full, we'll stop enrollments, and then we'll take enrollments for when there is space available in the class. So, that's one of the things that I do to ensure that what we're teaching is what I want to teach. You know, there are some karate or martial art schools that want as many as they can. 

Look, I want many too, you know, I want to teach quality karate to many people, but I'm not going to take people who aren't there to learn karate. Learning my karate, our style of karate, that's first and foremost, not 1500 students or a million dollars. It's karate first, business second. How can I say, but a business is a very close second sometimes.

GEORGE: Yeah, of course. I mean, it's the business that allows you to have the passion, and well, to live your passion, right? Because without that income supplying for it, then you don't want to be a struggling instructor as well, that, you know, you've got to go to work the day job and then put money in here, and then your life becomes complicated.

CHEYNE: Well, yeah, done that. So, now all my focus is karate, whereas before, maybe 30% karate, 70% work. So now, you know, I understand that some only want karate for the second or third or fourth part of their life, but for me, it is 100% part of my life. So, I can teach as many people as I can, the karate that I've, you know, spent 35 years developing and, yeah, the more the merrier in as long as their drive is also karate and not, you know, being silly. And I think, you know, we've had to ask some people not to come back, you know, whether they're white belt or brown belt or black belt.

GEORGE: How do you approach that? And what are sort of your, what are your benchmark values that you stick by? And if somebody crosses that line, they're out the door? What is that line? How does that line look?

CHEYNE: Well, for kids, it's quite easy. You can, I can see, mostly the parents pull them out, because they can see, you know, little Johnny is there for the games, not, not the karate. So while we have fun in karate, karate is not itself fun. It's hard work. It's repetitive, it's tiring, it's not games. So, with the kids, the majority of the class, 80% of the class is karate, bang-bang-bang-punch-punch-punch-move-move-move. 20% is fun for the kids, because you still have, they're still kids, you still have to give the kids high fives and positive reinforcement. 

You're not just teaching karate, you're also impacting the person's life, on how they deal with individual sport. They're learning values there on hard work and reward, whereas team sport's different. So, the individual activity or school sport, you still need to give positive reinforcement, positive views, to especially kids, especially kids' high fives, man, we give so many high fives. So, what was the question?

GEORGE: I don't know. But I have another one. And the question is, how do you know you cross? Sorry, the question was, how do you know if you cross the line? My follow-up question was on that, if you don't classify karate as a sport, what do you classify it as that? 

But back to the first question on the values. So, what is sort of your values, a benchmark of the line? And you mentioned, if they cross the line on, you know, they're just there for fun and games, that's easy. What else? What else is sort of really important for like, go-to rules or values that have got to be abided by?

CHEYNE: If they're not a positive influence into the dojo, you know, if they're constantly talking or draining other people as well, distracting other people from their own learning, being a bad partner. That is a big one. Especially in our adult classes, 90% of an adult class is partner work. It's not up and down drills, it's partner work. 

Also, karate is practice at home by yourself, practice at the dojo with Partners. I think modern karate has it reversed – it's 90% of solo practice at the dojo, which should really be 90% partner work, but anyway. So, you need to be a good partner, a partner that your partner wants to train with. If they don't want to train with you, then I will have a word with you. Especially with the adults and the kids as well. If you are, you know, an annoying kid whose elbows go out, then you know, you will get a warning. There are things that we look for – genuinely nice people, people that you want to hang out with.

GEORGE: Yeah. So if you can invite them over to your home, that's a good sign. And if you cringe at that idea, it is probably a bad idea.

CHEYNE: Yeah, nobody comes to my house, though.

GEORGE: No, of course not. So, on clarifying karate, you mentioned that you don't clarify karate as a sport. What do you clarify karate as?

CHEYNE: Well, I think there's sporting elements in karate, for sure. Especially modern karate, anything from 1936 onwards, I would probably classify that as a sports karate, where the intention are the activities to build strength and muscle and speed in a competitive environment. 

So, I would consider karate to be a self-defense program, whether that's weapons, or empty hands for lack of a better word. I consider karate to be first a combat system, self-defense, for sure, rather than a sport. I don't like the idea of karate as a sport because it takes away the like, how lethal some of the techniques are, and the intention of the techniques, you know, piercing somebody's eyes, for example, groin ups. You can't do that in any sport, but you can do that in karate. So, in that light, karate is considered as a sport, I think it waters down the original intention of karate.

GEORGE: Gotcha. So, okay to be used as a sport, but when the sport becomes the focus, then everything starts to deteriorate.

CHEYNE: Yeah, yeah, I mean, there is sports karate, and that's fine. That's just not, not what I like, you know, I don't like I didn't like the emphasis just on the sporting events. Yeah, I mean, everybody's got their own tastes, and how they compete as well for a long time. And we have competitors, but 90% of the people that join my dojo or join a dojo is to learn self-defense, not to compete for Australia at the Olympics. I think a lot of dojo do a disservice by not teaching proper self-defense. 

You know, they teach modern Japanese karate where they move up and down the floors, doing 50 punches and upper walls and roundhouse kicks – they are absolutely of no use to do any, for any self-defense. So, if you're advertising for sports karate, then yeah, go for it, but they all advertise self-defense karate, and I think I think they're lying. 

GEORGE: Gotcha. Okay. Want to talk a bit more about that – that's cool. I'm having to go there. Like, I mean, if there's things that are completely against your point of view, and this is a podcast, right, we have open discussion. I've never put two martial artists together that actually agree on the same point. It's rare, of course, but hey, but that's what makes it beautiful, right? There's diversity in opinion and its styles and everything else. But I like exploring what really pisses you off about it? You know? Maybe I've never asked that question what really pisses you off about, you know, in the industry or about different marketing or programs. It's time to let it out, Shane, it's your time to let it out right here.

CHEYNE: What annoys me is when I see people, yeah, advertising for self-defense, and all they are doing is what we call 3K karate. So, Katoki E-Kumite. It's karate that was developed for schoolchildren 100 years ago they're teaching as self-defense. That karate is originally for school kids – attacks to the eyes became punches to the body. Joint locks were taken out because they weren't safe for kids, of course, throws gone, all of the wrap on the close-in self-defense, or the self-preservation, the really dirty karate, the dirty side of, of combat was taken out to teach to children. 

And I appreciate that, and that's what we teach to kids. But people teaching that to adults, and calling it self-defense, or calling it traditional karate? It's not – it is modern, watered down children's karate, and that annoys me. What makes my dad different is in the 80s, he kept asking questions. Why? Why are we punting to the body? What is it? What is the original ideal? Why? Why, why, why? So, he started researching and talking to people outside of Queensland, outside of Australia, started getting answers. Whereas people are still doing the same thing as their instructor did years ago, without questioning why. 

You are just teaching ‘that's how my instructor taught us'. Well, your instructor learnt sports, modern sports, and children’s karate. And they're trying to adapt it to self-defense, and you can't, you can't unless you peel back the layers and understand the original intention of the technique. The original intention of why, why a block to the body became, should have really been a block to the face. You know, fingers to the eyes became punches to the body. Head butts, all of the really cool things that all of the Krav-Maga, self-defense experts are taught. 

But really, people aren't teaching that in karate. Not everybody – there are some, definitely. There's a deep growing list of people who are doing it. But we've been doing it for 30 years, and then people come here. Yeah. That grinds my gears.

GEORGE: That's great. Anything else that you need to do you need to share?

CHEYNE: Nah, I'm okay for now. 

GEORGE: Cool. All right, great. Perfect. Let's change gears just a little bit. Right? And get back to, get back to your business.

CHEYNE: So positive.

GEORGE: All right, yeah. We either gained a lot of listeners there, or lost a few. But that's, that's great, either way. So, just back on your business, right? So I mean, lots of change, two years. I mean, if you look at two years, right, two years, and going from 110 students to 340. 

So that's tripling your business in three years. I think it's important to always sometimes look at that, right? Because, you know, everybody wants, maybe some people want a bigger school, some people don't, some people want a good, thriving business, but want to stick to their core values of karate, or whatever your style might be. So, tripling your business in two years, man, well done. 

CHEYNE: Thank you!

GEORGE: Well done. What do you do differently now, than you did back when you were around 100 students?

Cheyne McMahon Karate Business

CHEYNE: How I schedule the classes are different, the layout of the classes. I want everybody at the end of the class to be sweating and smiling. Actually, I heard that of somebody, I can't remember if it was a couple, maybe a year and a half ago, and when it just clicked with me, sweating and smiling at the end, whether you're a four year-old, or an 84 year-old, you know that should be the emphasis when they're leaving the class. So, how we structure the classes are a little bit different. 

So, we do like, at the end, it's got to be not a hard workout, but something physical – back, punch, punching for the kids. Running, running, running, punching, punching, punching. In the middle of the class is the core basis of the lesson. Whether we're doing Kata or Qian for kids or e-Kumite or break falls or whatever that we're doing in the class, that's the cool part, the end of the class has got to be fun and fitness. So, that's one aspect. 

Another aspect that we do differently is how we schedule appointments with people. So, when somebody inquires, we book an appointment through an app, they come in, I run them through exactly how the classes run, the fees, how much the fees are, what's expected of them as members, how the gradings work, any extra money that they might have to pay for at some stage, the belt system, everything that they will need to know for the next 10 years of learning. There's different instructors, you know, more instructors, more instructors, you just cannot have enough instructors. 

If you think you have enough instructors, you need more, you need to be developing instructors. So, we've got a group of four or five middle grade adults that are just learning how to teach karate, not to, they're not out there teaching classes, but they're taking little five minute segments of a couple of people learning how to teach karate, so I identify them as future instructors. Everything organized like, man, I've never been so organized in my life. 

We have a 12-month calendar (that you helped me with) set up, so all the gradings are set. They know when the color gradings are, when the black belt gradings are on, you know, a competition tournament for them to be on, they know when we're running marketing, massively marketing, a budget and marketing windows at two weeks before school holidays, and then a week after school holidays. Everything is all set out. It's all ready to go. We've got a calendar that I'm constantly looking at and being organized. That's one of my buzzwords, organized. 

Yeah, so all of those things, we just have systems in place where I don't have to be at the dojo every day, or instructors that can take the classes, you know, come in and just do a couple of admin stuff. You know, just setting everything up. It took a while, but the dojo is running really smooth, really smooth at the moment. That's a big difference. Everything is organized. A Christmas party we had last year, I think by booking in August, so we already had everything organized. The Christmas party, all we had to do was just turn up, was all paid for, organized, food. We had a 180-something turnout for the Christmas party. And yeah, just those things – gradings, everybody logs on for the grading. 

So, we use an app where people pay for the grading as well. So, the two days before the grading, it stops. You can't book after the grading because I've got to organize belts. But people pay for the grading and they book themselves in for the grading. So, then I just have a look to see who's in the grading. So, having that just makes it a lot easier. Rather than constantly emailing Johnny – ‘Hey, Johnny, are you coming to the grading?' If Johnny's not registered, Johnny's not grading.

GEORGE: Great, yeah, I think, you know, one thing that I think could help anyone because it's sometimes when you go into growth mode, you're very ad-hoc, and you're very reactive, and you're doing whatever you can to just get to a point. But then when you start refining, one thing that's really helped me, is having that sort of marketing that you mentioned that we helped you with, is that marketing calendar. Thinking is hard, and it is, that's why most people just don't think, right? Because it's a hard thing to do. 

But if you know, you're going to have to plan this year, and you just you do the thinking once  and you map out what needs to be done, then now you're just getting on the train tracks and you're kind of, you know, on the treadmill, just running, just doing what you worked out what was the best plan. 

Obviously, things are going to come up and you're going to have to shuffle a few days here and there, but at least you got your core plan 80% done. And, you know, you know what needs to happen next. And that's how you get ahead of the game and you're not running, you know, two days before Mother's Day trying to figure out, ‘All right, well, what can I be doing? What? What's happening? What promotion's going out?'

CHEYNE: That's right. Yeah. And having a budget for those things as well, for the marketing plan, rather than having to scramble for a couple of 1000 bucks or ‘I can only spend 200 bucks', having that everything all mapped out Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, a show day or whatever you want to call it, Christmas, all those things all mapped out very easy. What worked well last year, and what didn't work well?

GEORGE: Cool. So, two last things I want to ask, you know, with your growth, you know, yep, marketing and so forth, but there's obviously a lot of retention, that's working. And so first up, quick chat just about what, what's keeping your students coming back?

CHEYNE: Well, one thing we brought in – is the after chat and the white belt grading. So, this has been really good. So, white belts after a certain amount of time, will get an email, maybe four weeks, or once they've done the trial, and it became a full member, and they'll get an email to come to a white belt only grading. So, it's a grading only for white belts. 

So, we did one on the weekend, we had five kids and three adults. So, it's only 20 minutes, half an hour. And I plan it on a Saturday after the normal classes, I'm already there. And it's just a little intro into how the gradings work. So, they go from white belt up to the first grade. Still, it's almost a half grade, semi-grade, to keep them motivated to come to the next grade. And that way, they're not going to be overawed when they come to the next grade and they already know what the process is. 

So, we talk a little bit about what to expect in the grading. So, that retention has been fantastic. So, bringing that in, for our adults, for the class, the first hour is all grades, and then the next half hour is 7th Kyu and above, which is about nine months of training. So, after about nine months to a year of training, you can come into the advanced class as well. So, those beginners can see the progression to artists, what I want to do, I want to start aspiring, I want to start learning with weapons. I want to start doing more Kata. 

So yeah, those retention tools have been really good for us. And also instructors, instructors, instructors, instructors. Just can't have enough, honestly, like, you can't do it all yourself. And that is why I failed at my you know, my last, not last day job, but so when I was like, 10 years ago, when I was teaching full time as well. I tried to do it all myself, you know, I was doing 30 classes, and it's killing yourself. So, you need other instructors, you need to train them and train them well. So, they're fantastic retention tools, because they are there talking to people. And they're another face of the dojo.

GEORGE: Yeah, and I guess I want to highlight this, because I recall a conversation where this was a big obstacle, because as we're talking about your passion for karate, that comes with a whole new expectation. And I recall, there was a time where it was really hard for you to let go of that, because it's very hard to match your standard, and pretty hard to match your standard means that instructors have a big role to fill, big shoes to go step into. And so, if anybody is struggling with that, what was sort of the point where you decided, well, I've got to let go?

CHEYNE: Well, it's the only way to grow the club, realistically. I took a step back and realized, ‘oh, I want to teach the instructors, I want to teach the teachers'. So, I would love dojo all around Australia, where I just teach the instructors. That would be my goal. So then, the more instructors you can teach, the more students they can teach and the more my karate style lineage, whatever you want to call it, is being learned. But yeah, you know, a big wake up was when I didn't want to go to teach. I realized I need other people to teach me. 

So all of our instructors are adult instructors, or instructors who are adults, not those who just teach adults, but we've got three instructors for our kids program. And I don't have to be there. I don't have to go to the dojo, I don't have to teach them, because they already know what to do. They're all black belts, all Queensland champions, or they've represented Queensland in sports karate. And they're all uni students, the adult instructors, some family members, which is fantastic, but apart from them, we've got two nidan, two second dan, one fifth dan, third dan, and a couple of shodan, first of all black belts, who are assistant instructors. This Friday night we're doing instructors course, yeah. You just can't do it all yourself. 

So, I didn't let go. I just made sure that what they're teaching is what I would teach. So, everything is structured, and there is some individuality into what you teach, because everybody is different. I'm different from my dad, same jokes, but, you know, my karate might be a little bit newer than my dad's karate. But that's just because of, you know, I'm around a different sort of group than my dad was. So, there is individuality in the class and what and how they teach it, but the technique, the kind of, the principles, how we move, how we kick, every punch, you know, how we throw, how we put a joint lock on, they're all the same. They're all the same. Just how you deliver it might be a little bit different. Their jokes might not be as good as mine.

GEORGE: Of course not. How could they?

CHEYNE: The punchline, the timing. 

GEORGE: Exactly. So, on that, you touched on goals. And so, what is the big vision for Australian Karate Academy?

CHEYNE: Well, during the 90s, my dad had 30, that's 30 clubs around Australia. I would like to have 31.

GEORGE: Just because competitiveness, is that right?

CHEYNE: So, you know, a lot of people were drawn to my dad, because he started teaching different aspects of karate, throws, and cooler weapons. All of these things were unknown in the 80s, early 90s, and my dad had already started doing it and teaching. So, we had a lot of people join us from different clubs, they might have a little club, and they joined, they needed some direction on, one, how to teach karate. 

You know, what to pick in karate, how to get back to what you wanted to teach people. There were a lot of clubs that didn't really know what to do, they were just teaching what they did when they learnt. So, I'd like to do, to build, and to help build more clubs. Using this, using our karate and the same marketing approach, the same idea that helped us grow. But still teaching quality karate. You know, that is my number one, teaching quality karate. And so yeah, 31 clubs, 2000 members.

GEORGE: Love it. So, if anybody wants to jump on that journey with you, how would they reach out to you?

CHEYNE: Yeah, Facebook, there's only one Shane McMahon with the c, h, e, y, n, e, so you don't have to look anywhere else. Just type in Cheyne McMahon and on Facebook, or you can jump to our Facebook page, which is Australian Karate Academy. And yeah, or shoot me an email, australiankarateacademy@gmail.com, very easy to find.

GEORGE: Love it. Well, we won't link your email address on the podcast, just because I don't think you want to purchase more Gis and more things from foreign countries. So, we'll skip that, but right, so, easy to find, Cheyne McMahon on Facebook. Cheyne, always great chatting to you, love watching your journey from the sideline and I think we need to chat a little sooner than two years, again? 

CHEYNE: Yeah! 

GEORGE: I'd say, what's the next benchmark for you? You said at the beginning of the year, 400? But I think you wanted students, but I think you're almost going to be there real soon. What's the big benchmark?

CHEYNE: Second dojo, in Brisbane next year. I think we're going to get to a point in our current dojo where we can teach or where I want to teach, you know, I don't want 800 in a 101 class teaching shit karate. Or karate, you know, I don't want that. So I think at this, my current location, 400, 450 would be a good amount, a manageable amount. 

So whether I set up the timetable, we still have, we still have extra room for more classes, more classes. And we've actually expanded since I last spoke to you too – we've taken another 50 square meters and we're hopefully taking another 35 square meters, just to open up the verge a bit more. Yeah, so that's the second dojo in Brisbane, where I can actually, that rule, we need to open two extras. Then we have three dojo. Right? You're talking about, what, that rule, George?

GEORGE: Yes. That was Robert DePalma that said that.

CHEYNE: Yeah, so you need, so no, extra two dojo in Brisbane. So, we have a dojo in Sydney, we just opened a second dojo in Sydney as well.

GEORGE: Perfect. So depending on when you're listening to this, we'll chat in 10 months from now. And we'll have a look at how that's going. No pressure. Well, pressure has been good for you. So, pressure.

CHEYNE: I'll just do it.

GEORGE: Just do it. There we go.

Cool. Cheyne, thanks so much for showing up. I'll catch you on the next one.

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George Fourie

Hi I'm George Fourie, the founder of MartialArtsMedia.com. When I'm not doing dad duties or training on the mats (which I manage to combine when my son is willing! :), I'm helping Martial Arts Gym owners grow their business through the power of online media.

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