Archives for March 2018

62 – Robin DePalma-Rowe from MA1st – Opening & Operating Multiple Martial Arts Schools

Robin DePalma-Rowe from MA1st shares key preparation strategies when preparing to open multiple martial arts schools.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How Robin learned the ropes of running multiple schools
  • The advantages and challenges of running a family martial arts business
  • Robin’s tips for martial arts school owners who are planning to open multiple schools
  • How to develop a strong team of workforce to achieve your school’s growth goals
  • How to prevent the common risks of entrusting your business to others
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

We have it set up with the high performance stay skill. We set this up as a career job. Where they’re going to make more working for us then if they went out on their own, because we do all the business side for them. They get to do all the fun side of just teaching, but we pay them well for it. And they see that. They see it, they appreciate it, they see the value and why would they go?

GEORGE: Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. Today I'm speaking with Robin DePalma Rowe. And Robin is the wife of Kyoshi Fred DePalma, who's from DePalma's Karate and MA1st, also hosting The Main Event in San Diego in April next month. So we’re going to have a bit of a chat and we had a bit of a laugh before starting this conversation. How would you refer your position in the organization Robin?

ROBIN: I call myself the vice president of the organization. And my husband is the president and then, we all know that the vice president is the one who does all the work, so we laugh, we say he married well.

GEORGE: Married well, all right. All right, and Fred's of course in Thailand right now, so he has no way to defend himself in this conversation. So this will be fun! All right, look Robin, I guess we should start right at the beginning – who is Robin DePalma Rowe?

ROBIN: So, I started in this company or in this business 21 years ago, that was actually when I met Fred. A month before we got married, I thought, you know, I don't know anything about martial arts. I should probably start training and at least have an idea of what martial arts is all about. And when we got married, he didn't want me to have anything to do with his school, he wanted to be able to come home and when he came home, he could leave work behind, dinner would be on the table, house is spotless – you know, that perfect fairytale wife and the joke was, within the first two months, he married the wrong person.

So I think it took about two months to start working at the school, but I started as janitor and gopher. And so I was cleaning the school and running errands, go for this, go for that. And then I think what made us both realize what my potential was, was when I started the cardio kickbox program. So we’d been married… it was within the first year of being together and I’d been training martial arts, I think I was a purple belt at the time and Tae Bo had just come out. And I was always into fitness, I wanted to be a personal trainer, I was on the fitness side and I said, you know what? I think I could do that cardio kickbox thing. Would you let me try it? And he was like, OK, give it a shot. He knew I had the fitness background for it and could run with it. And boy did I run with it!

So within… I don't know how long it took, but not too long, I had 700 cardio kickbox members training under me. And I was teaching 2-3 classes a day, run in different locations, teaching them all over the place. And I think that's where we both saw that this is kind of fun working together and what I'm capable of doing and then all of a sudden, he went from one school to six schools, and we have a lot of young guys running the schools, so we needed a strong program directors. So I got to then go be program director at six different locations. It was at two different locations every night, doing intros there. Doing enrollments over the phone, doing follow-ups with people in all the locations, from wherever I was from. And so I don't know how many people can say that they've been the program director of six schools all at once, but that was fun.

That was kind of my working up and then I moved up to assistant instructor at our biggest location, while still doing program directing at one location, as we started to get the other schools established. And then a few years, I don't know, I believe I was a black belt when I started to run my own school. And so we had a location where a manager needed to move on to other things, so I got to go fill in the head instructor manager position and at that location. That was our most profitable location ever, besides what my husband had done.

And so I ran that school for about 5-6 years and then built it up and at that point, sold it to my head instructor and then that's where we decided multiple locations, we’re going to start franchising. And I moved to a corporate office then to help them run and oversee everything.

So it's kind of, I had to work my way up, I worked every job on the way up. Learned how to do everything, did everything alone, then moved up to running my own school and then worked up to the corporate position. It was kind of the same thing you'd do in any career: start at the bottom and then work up to the corporate position and then that's where I got to help oversee everybody. It’s been fun, in addition to us doing it together, we have our boys who work it with us. Our oldest son manages one of our schools now and so it's fun to watch him excel and watch what he's developed into and what he continues to develop into.

So overseeing all the schools right now, oversee the marketing, the staff training, putting the events together, activities. I watch their numbers, deposits, the pro shop orders – everything. And I think the biggest thing I've learned in the past couple of years is watching the different dynamics at each location and how different personalities work together. My biggest thing now has been how to put proper teams together to get the best results. Quick summary there!

GEORGE: Quick summary. Ok, so that sparks a lot of questions. Just to start: how do you handle the family dynamics, as you mentioned it wasn't a planned thing to keep it in the family like it did, but that's what it's really grown into. Obviously, it works by the results that you're getting. So how do you manage the whole family dynamics within the business?

ROBIN: It was kind of trial and error as we came up through it. I don't like to stay at home, so I don't think it would have worked for me to be a stay at home mom anyway. But as the kids were growing up, I started to realize, you work at a karate school at night, well that's when your kids are home from school. So how do you mesh that to where you actually see your children? And number 1, I always had helpers. Part-time nannies, that would come and help when they were little and then when they got to be about the age of 8, we’d let them actually come work in the karate school with us.

So we'd give them little jobs, we'd have them run concession stands at belt exams and tournaments and let them earn money doing that. And taught them how to… we made them purchase their inventory and then taught them about profit and loss, you know? And sometimes they wouldn't sell enough and it would be upside down in their sales and then other times, they'd make a profit and they'd be excited. And then it got to where they’d actually hire staff to run their store for them and they'd pay their staff a few bucks, so they'd still get to make their money and then give the staff a little bit and have people run their store for them.

But we were really fortunate that our boys wanted to be part of this and I think what helped with that was that we never just said, well, you need to just help out, because it's a family business. We always gave them specific jobs and assignments and pay them for it. Let them earn things, work towards things. So that's why it's just been a lot of fun, doing this as a family. You know, it's a family environment anyway and then raising them up with a strong work ethics, they know how to count money, they know how to work the cash register, they know how to talk to people, they know how to talk to adults, they know how to be respectful to adults. I just look at all of the attributes that they have that they're way beyond the other kids their age with doing that. It’s been a real blessing to do that.

GEORGE: Wow, that's awesome. So that's got to be a lot of knowledge, getting passed on in a very systematic way and I like how you gave them control in little increments of handling their own stock and handling their own money. Obviously, the interaction and learning how to deal with people, that's fascinating. So Robin, you mentioned you went from one to six schools; now, I'm assuming there was a lot of progression and obstacles within that one to six. Do you mind elaborating on that a little more?

ROBIN: This is another funny one. So, my husband and I only dated four months before we got married. And lucky we were the right ones for each other, we've been married 21 years now. We dated four months, I met him, he had one school. By our first anniversary, we had six schools and a baby. And I just looked at him and I said, you either loved me or hated me – I don't know which one! He's from Connecticut when he originally opened in Connecticut in 1986, he had four schools in Connecticut and realized, probably five years into it, this is a good profession, this is what he was going to do, but he'd rather live in a better, warmer environment. And so, he traveled the country for a year to figure out where he wanted to live and ended up here in Arizona, where the weather is nice. And decided he was only going to have one school when he moved here.

And so, he opened his first school in Arizona in 1992 and then we got married in 1997, so from 1992 to 1997, he did really good with just that one school. But I think it was just eating at his brain that whole time. And then, I don't know, maybe now that he was married, he thought he had support or he needed a reason to get out of the house again, I don't know which one. But he opened five schools, five more schools in that first year, all at once. And really, I think the real reason behind it is by, now being out here five years, he had staff developed. Like, he had people developed that were ready to do it. And one school can only offer jobs to so many people and so by opening multiple locations, that gives a lot more people the opportunity to do this as a job.

GEORGE: Got it. So what's the biggest step you got to take transitioning from the first school to the second school?

ROBIN: First thing is, it's hard to own two. You really need to own three, if you're going to have multiple schools. Because that's where a lot of people go wrong, they think they're going to duplicate what they do in the second school, but you're only one person. So you can't be at both places. And so you'll end up leaving the one school to go and put all your energy into the other and then the original is going to drop. And then you put the energy into the other, and that one grows. But then you see the original drop, so you run back to save that and then the other one drops and so, really, the best way to do multiple schools is to be able to step out of it altogether and not be a key employee at any of them. And be able to oversee all of them, so that way, you can continually train the staff and oversee them, which helps you better duplicate your results.

GEORGE: Ok. So, the first step would be to really remove yourself from your first school?

ROBIN: Right. To get a strong team there and a good head instructor and a good management team there.

GEORGE: Ok, and what would you advise people, someone trying to do that? I mean, especially if you are the star of the school? So you're the main attraction and everybody wants to train with you, how do you step back and not be the center of attention without disrupting your entire student base?

ROBIN: Right, and that's the tricky part, but this is how you do it. We had to do this several times when we moved the head instructors and then I had to do it myself when I stepped out of my main school, you bring in your assistant instructor, who works alongside you and you start to move them into the more leadership role of the school. So you have them start to run more drills and be in charge of more things, while you're still on the floor with them.

But you're slowly transferring that power over to them. And then your students start to get used to that person being in charge, but you're still on the floor, so they don't even realize anything's going on. And then as that person starts to run things, you start being involved less and less and less, and eventually, you just kind of disappear and the students are now already set on your replacement and hardly even realize that you left.

GEORGE: All right. Now, during that, do you have sort of like a set timeframe that you go by, or you just judge it on the feeling within the class?

ROBIN: It's important, a lot of times you have to have a timeframe you have to have it done by. You can do it within three to six months, you could even do it in three as long as you have… the whole key is having a strong person that's taking your place. If you're going to replace yourself with a brand new instructor, who isn't very good at teaching, it's not going to work very well. You've got to have that team member that you've already built up, who can pretty much run things very similarly, or at least just, it’s going to be their personality, but can run things just as strongly as smoothly as you did, to make that easy transition.

And I think that’s the whole key. We always say, anybody who says they want to open multiple locations, we always tell them not to. It’s a lot of work! But we love it, I mean, it's fun, but my husband and I, we don't like downtime, we don't like to not be busy, we like to work hard. And we love seeing the growth of our team and seeing the results and watching their progression as we go through it. And we just feel, we like that we can affect so many more people through multiple locations.

But you've got to be ready for it. Don't do it without people ready, or it won’t work. You have to have people ready. And you have to be good at training your staff to do that.

GEORGE: Awesome. Ok, Robin, so let's just look at the devil's advocate position. So, you invested all this time into this instructor to take your place: have you ever felt the risk of that person could just say, hey, I've got all this student base – and I hear about this all the time happening with schools, that they've put all this focus on this one instructor and then the instructor just decides, hang on: I'm just going to go run off and open my school next door or, within the same reach and there goes all your student base. Has that ever happened to you, and if not, how do you combat that scenario?

ROBIN: I’m glad you asked that question. Has it ever happened to us: yes. And that's why we know how to do it right now, so it doesn't happen again. It happened to my husband, it was when I first met him. He had gone away to China for a month to train at the Shaolin temple, and while he was gone, he had a businessman whisper in his head instructors’ ear, hey, you can do this on your own. And when he came back from China, his student had moved a quarter mile down the street and solicited all the students. They didn't all go, but a handful of them did. Of course, because the head instructor is who they're used to, they're going to follow their head instructor, that's who they're connected to and who they want to train under.

And so, the way we prevent that from happening – we haven't had that happen since. So it's been 20 years now since that’s happened. So what do we do differently? We pay our guys well. We have it set up with a high performance stay skill, we set this up as a career job, where they're going to make more working for us then if they went out on their own because we do all the business side for them. They get to do the fun side of just teaching, but we pay them well for it. And they see that. They see it, they appreciate it, they see the value and why would they go?

We allow them to purchase their school and own it, anytime they want, they can run it and our top guy right now, we said, why don't you own your school? You can own it now, and you'd make more owning it, but you'd have more responsibility. And he said, why would I want to do that? He said, I'm perfectly happy with my pay, I'm getting paid well and you guys do all the hard stuff, while I get to do the fun. That's the key, is paying them well and making it a career, a career paying job for them, it’s a high paying career job. We actually have, my brother in law is an engineer – our top manager is making close to what an engineer would make.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Let's explore the hard stuff. So, the instructors got the easy part to take over the school and run the school, but you are doing the hard stuff. Now, what do you classify as the hard stuff?

ROBIN: The hard stuff is marketing, putting the marketing plans together. Our main marketing are festivals, getting into all the community and school festivals. We actually work with 80 elementary schools between our organization and my job is to research all of their websites, and see what events they have going on that we can be part of. And getting those booked for everybody. We run the Facebook ads – well, we hire a company to run those for us, but we’re getting those going and any of the marketing, we set up for them.

Their responsibility for the marketing side is following up with the people that we send in. So we send them in, you sign them up. So they're in charge of signing them up. But we give them a real easy six-week, quick start program, to try to make the sign-up process really easy. And I apologize, I just got a low battery warning on my phone. So hopefully, we’ll get this done before the battery dies!

GEORGE: Awesome!

ROBIN: We do all the payroll, all the bills, we’re responsible for all the leases, they aren't responsible financially for anything, they can just up and walk away anytime they wanted and we've got the responsibility of all of that. We put their calendars together, all the staff training. We put together the inventory orders, we put together the list that tells them what to order and how much to order of everything and how often to order it. We do all the numbers and the stats, I know a lot of people don't like doing those, so we do those for you. Those would be the main things I would classify as the hard stuff.

GEORGE: OK. So, to combat the battery life: as a last couple of questions. Firstly, let’s just chat about the Main Event. I’ll be heading over to San Diego in April, depending on when you listen to this or watch this episode. What can people expect at a… I mean, there are always events happening in the martial arts space. I guess some good, some bad, or I’d rather say good and not so good. What would you say is different from the Main Event to other industry events?

ROBIN: I would say there are two main things that are going to be different: our top one is that it is a smaller event, it's not over packed, which allows you to network more with people. So it's a more personal intimate event, where you're going to have time to actually interact with people and get to know people and you develop those connections and those friendships. And you actually have time to talk to the speakers and the speakers will talk back to you.

So you can ask them questions outside of their seminars. And I think that personal interaction, that's been their top takeaway, where they all say they really enjoyed that. With it being smaller too, our teams that we take to get to interact, they develop friendships. So they develop friendships with people all over the country, who do the same thing that they do. And I know they really appreciate that and building those friendships.

And then number two would be our speakers. The big thing we tell our speakers: whatever you're talking about, make sure you give all the information about it. You can't just be trying to sell something. And then we’re very particular on who the speakers are and what their content is, to make sure it's really valuable content and that you'll walk away with things you can actually implement when you go back to your school.

GEORGE: Alright, cool. And what can we be expecting from you, Robin?

ROBIN: I can do anything! I think one of my main topics this year has been leading your team to excellence or leading your students to excellence. And working both of those, so leading your team to excellence and leading your students to excellence. And I'm talking about what it takes to do that and how you have to really pull it out of them. You can't just tell them to do something; you have to get in there, get in their face and pull it out of them and lead them to that excellence. And that's going to create that passion in the martial arts that they need to have to want to give it their all as they are training to their black belt. And the same with our teams and our staff is, teaching them how to be excellent, continuously training them and teaching them how to get the most out of their students as they're teaching those, so it's a domino effect.

Those have been my big topics this year, trying to think of the… I can't think off the top of my head what the business one has been this year. But we always talk about marketing, that's a big one for everybody, how to get a student in the door. I think even more important than that is how to keep the students and that's been a big thing. We just talked about it in our manager meeting Monday. If you're not keeping your students, it does no good to keep them in the door. To get them in the door, you need to keep them and how do you keep them? They've got to want it. They've got to love how they feel when they're in class. They have to leave every class and go, man, that was the best thing ever! You know? That was an awesome class and if you leave with that feeling every day, then you're not going to quit. And so really, the feeling that they get when they're in class, it's that simple. The feeling they have when they're in class is what's going to keep them training and not quitting the training. Keep them training to black belt and beyond black belt.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Awesome – Robin, it's been great speaking with you. Are there any last words? And maybe going back to the beginning of the conversation, any last words about running the show, anything you want to add?

ROBIN: Yeah – I love my life, I love my job. I feel we’re really lucky to be able to live in this positive little bubble, with everything bad going on out there in the world. We are not a part of it, we don't have to be a part of it. We get to offer anybody who wants to, to come into our walls and experience the same positive and – I hate to say happy place, but this is a safe, positive environment, where you feel good about yourself, where you're accepted, where you're loved. And we just get to be a part of that all the time and we get to completely keep ourselves isolated from all the bad that's out there.

And I just feel so blessed that we get to do that and as we go around and meet these other martial artists, I feel we get to meet the best people in the world and become friends with the best people in the world. And having these events just help us to grow that network and helps all of us to join together and have that same type of relationship, the same type of feeling. To protect us from the bad that's out there and we get to just focus on the good.

GEORGE: I like that, fighting the good fight.

ROBIN: Yep!

GEORGE: Making the good difference. Awesome – Robin, thanks a lot for speaking with me today and for anybody that's interested in the Main Event, you can head to the-main-event.com and get some tickets there. And if not, if you're listening to this later, you know where to go find, you can get more information about the future events and things going on with the DePalma's and everyone else. Awesome – Robin, thanks a lot, I will see you in about a month.

ROBIN: Sounds good, all right! Thanks!

GEORGE: Thanks, see ya!

Awesome – thanks for listening and thank you, Robin. If you're getting great value out of this show, please give us a review, a 5-star review would be, of course, more than awesome. If you're listening on iTunes, you can go through the podcast app, which is the purple app button. You can access through there. Any other device would be the Android type of device, probably through Stitcher – the same thing. And then, if not, if you're watching this through the video or anywhere else, just leave us a review any way you can.

Cool! If you need any help with your marketing, digital marketing, Facebook ads, Google ads, SEO, websites, all this technical stuff that most people hate and we eat for breakfast, you can visit us on martialartsmedia.com and we’re happy to have a chat. Send us a message and we'll see if we can help you grow your business!

Awesome – have a great week, I’ll speak to you soon. Cheers!

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61 – Cat Zohar – Simple Member Engagement Tips For Martial Arts Student Retention

Cat Zohar shares simple martial arts student retention tips that any school owner can master.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Cat Zohar’s martial arts life, being an innovator and a visionary
  • How to establish rapport on the online platforms
  • The benefits of relationship marketing
  • The challenges in building relationship within large martial arts schools
  • Cat’s proven techniques for improving customer retention
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Of course, you can. If you can take your hand, putting it in front of you, look at it and then give yourself a direction to smile – smile. And be able to do that, you can great somebody when they walk in the door, I promise. You can train anybody to do that. If you are able to handle that little interaction right there, you can train someone to be friendly.

GEORGE: Hey, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. Today, I'm joined by Cat Zohar. I didn't check – Zohar, am I pronouncing that right?

CAT: That's correct!

GEORGE: Alright, awesome. So Cat will be joining me and about 11 other also martial arts instructors and business leaders at The Main Event and that's in San Diego, 26th to 28th of April, so that's next month. Depending on when you're watching and listening to this. So we’re going to have a bit of a chat and Cat has some amazing things going on in the industry. She got started when she was a 6-year old and I'm here to learn about what Cat does and have a great conversation and of course, bring great value to you. So welcome to the show Cat!

CAT: Thank you so much for having me George, I'm happy to be here! And hello everyone!

GEORGE: Awesome. So, let’s start right at the beginning – who is Cat Zohar?

CAT: Well, I think Cat Zohar is a martial arts innovator, martial arts visionary for the industry. I started martial arts practice when I was 6 years old in Cleveland, Ohio where I grew up. And it's something I've been most active in my entire life, so this is just the continuation and the next chapter of Cat Zohar, I guess you would say.

GEORGE: All right. So you mentioned innovation and visionary – can you elaborate a little bit on that?

CAT: I've done a lot of firsts in the martial arts industry. I started girls only martial arts program, designed just for young girls between the ages of 3 and 10 and we set up the Karate Princesses Program, which was designed specifically to teach real martial arts techniques and skills for protection – princess protection more appropriately referred to. But actually, giving them a base to take part in martial arts. When I was a young girl starting in my martial arts classes, my mom used to be like, girls don't do karate. So our motto and our tagline was, girls do karate too and that was really a big focus.

This was actually pre all of the pink belt stuff that you see today, so we actually had to make our own karate princesses belts out of cool princey pink fabrics and things like that. So we had a whole bunch of ways for the girls to earn bling for their belt by participating and doing princess like behaviors around their community as well as their household too and school.

So there was a bunch of things like that I've done over the years that have been… well, innovative for the industry and I've seen many different trends come and go over the years as well, but a lot of the things that I like to visually express to the people that I connect with is we’re taking what it is that they want to see happen and sometimes giving them the steps to be able to make that happen and how to be able to market what that is. Or maybe help guide them a little bit where I could see the direction developing or progressing fast for the people that they service.

GEORGE: Ok. And you mentioned you've seen a lot of things come and go: what's been the cool thing that you feel has stuck around over the years?

CAT: Well, here's another way where I feel that I bring that vision to the martial arts industry, where I actually coined the phrase that came into the industry is member engagement and one of the big things that I really focus, the most part of my recent career on has been developing and building those relationships with our students and parents. And if it comes down to it, the one thing that I feel will always be here, the personal connections and the relationships, despite the era of digital, websites and connecting and not answering phones and stuff like that. I still believe that that personal element and that interaction has got to be there. And not only does it have to be there, there are so many ways to be able to make it by design, so it works.

Not just for a school owner of multi-locations, but also a single school owner, or a single operator. And a lot of times, that's something that they have but they don't necessarily recognize what they have. They want to try and make your marketing, make them look super big, whereas their greatest marketing effort is actually just harvesting and nurturing those relationships that are small or that are intimate to them and that's some of the greatest ways that they're able to grow. What's interesting to me is, you'll see a lot of great big organizations trying to appear smaller, so that way they have that personal bond and connection. So it works both ways.

GEORGE: Very true, because that's been, just looking at the shift of the internet over the last few years: I think it really came to a point where everybody wanted to automate. Automate and how can you separate yourself from being connected, where now it's becoming, you can see all the changes happening in Facebook, especially – the focus is really, how do you facilitate more relationships? How do you facilitate more one to one type of relationships and connections? So how would you go about that? So if you wanted to create member engagement and you wanted. I assume you're talking through online platforms, right?

CAT: Yeah, it could be anything though. I mean relationships that I specifically refer to though is the actual connections that they have with the parents in the martial arts school and the kids that take part in their program. Or breaching that gap, it's for me what takes place. A lot of parents will drop their kids off to the martial arts program and then for a lot of times, they have even nannies or sitters that bring them to the classes and the parents don't actually get to see what their child learns, or what they do. Maybe it's with the exception of when they come to a belt promotion, or testing or grading.

So these are the types of things that when they do show up, they're like, oh, I didn't even recognize this was here, but the interaction with the instructor and the parent may not be that strong. But how can we actually make it that even an absentee participating parent is still involved with the school, where they feel like, oh, yeah, that's where my kid goes to martial arts, this is what we do. And where they feel a connection with it as well too. Which is not that foreign thing, my kid does that, it's his activity, it's whatever. It’s Tuesday night at 6 o'clock – no, it's more about how they actually can make that relationship grow stronger with the parents, so that way their parent is the ally. I hear so often martial arts school owners say, oh, it'd be great if it weren't for the parents.

Well, it's because they don't build that reform with the parents! They connect with the kid or they get the kid to like it and then they get hurt when the parent says, we’re going to pull him out, or we’re going to do another sport or we’re going to do another activity. Where one of the biggest things then that I see from a martial arts school owners perspective is, why would you do such a thing, you don't know! It’s because the school owner didn't communicate with them, or I told them, or it's because the parent doesn't see. Well, if the parent doesn't see, how do you show them? How do you tell them, how do you get them to be able to recognize that? How do you get them to see something bigger than just your sport, or your martial arts school as an activity for them? So these are the kind of things that I like to dive in on.

GEORGE: All right. And I can hear you're really passionate about that and it gets me thinking, that's really the.. It’s sort of the elephant in the room, right? Because you've got the student and you see the student every day, so you're building a relationship with the student, but the student is not the one that's paying the bill. So it's much easier for the parent to say, well, soccer is cheaper. Or easy to make that shift, because they're not part of the relationship. And I mean that most transactions, people might get started with the idea and for the skill set, but then they hang around because of the community. So I can see the value in that really involving them in the community and getting that happening. So the question is, do you have sort of a checklist or a process that you go about to facilitate that?

CAT: Yeah, actually there are several different tactics that we use, but the strategy that we overall build is developed on day one, is actually sitting the parents down and when we have our first lesson, letting them understand just how important it is to keep that communication going, but more importantly, to actually stop, take a minute, have a one to one conversation with them – not just, fill in this form and I’ll be right back, but instead, hey would you mind filling our permission slip to get them started and then we can take an interview together and see if this is a good fit and actually discuss what they want to see their child gain from the program.

And get them to open up about some of the things that they've seen or experienced in their child's behavior or mannerisms that may be concerning to them. And probe a little bit to actually get them to expand a little bit on why they feel for themselves their child needs either things that we deliver: better focus, better confidence, better self-esteem, stronger relationships with their classmates, better friendships – any of the millions of things martial arts can provide. Get them to actually have an experience, where you're discussing this with them and then from that, actually deliver that to them through your lesson.

And a lot of it just comes down to listening and most of it is that the processes and the things that we use really come down to just communication. You know, so often, we’ll hear a parent wants to pull their kid out and typically, not listening to the reasons that they say at that point is the reason why so many people don't return back to martial arts. I was always in the unique position, because I've had so many former students come back to the training after three months, after six months, after six years, after breaks or periods of time that they wanted to return back and it's because I never stopped treating them as a member, even after they weren't there. So we continually kept in contact or connection or random phone calls here or there out of the blue, where I wasn't doing anything more than just being like, hey what's going on? Missed you, how have you been? You know, or getting to be able to keep that contact going.

And now with social media, so we talk about what are some of the strategies we could specifically use. If you're using a closed space group for your members to be able to communicate anything that goes on in your classes, stop communicating so damn much about your classes! Nobody cares about the curriculum videos of the week and the month and posting all the videos and all the pictures of all these silly things, it's Greek to them. But instead, host conversations that actually spark a discussion, that get them to say, hey, this is what we do, this is how we handle this, or even as simple things as what's for dinner on Tuesday night? You know, giving them the chance to actually open up and build connections, so they feel they're connected to your martial arts school in a greater way than just that place they drop their kid off two days a week.

GEORGE: Alright, cool. That's perfect, that's awesome. So what do you see as the biggest obstacle here? Because I mean, there's this big transition right, if you're a small school, then it's very easy for you to facilitate this one to one relationships. Also, obviously, I mean, things like Facebook groups and so forth make it a lot easier, which is a real soft way to build that community feel. But then what if you start to scale and you're in the position of, all right, school number two, number three is opening up – how do you facilitate that through your staff and making sure that they are on track with the same strategy?

CAT: They have to be trained. People say, oh but I'm not a people person, or they use excuses like that, like, I can't teach charisma or anything like that and I think all that's bs! Of course, you can! If you can take your hand, putting it in front of you, look at it and then give yourself a direction to smile – smile. And be able to do that, you can great somebody when they walk in the door, I promise. You can train anybody to do that. If you are able to handle that little interaction right there, you can train someone to be friendly.

They might not have the personality of highness and warmth but you can condition them and practice through training and rehearsal and performance and reality and videotaping them and getting them to actually see themselves. And get them to be able to say, hey, welcome to our martial arts school! I'm so and so, I'm so glad to meet you and actually get them to learn these processes. And when we follow different types of pre-written scripts or material that we’re able to actually rehearse in training with our staff members and our coworkers and things like that and go over these things, well then, when we actually do it for real, it's not as awkward.

It might be a little bit at first, but here's the truth: everybody at first has awkwardness. It's like a first competition in the tournament, then by the time you've done a hundred of them, it's no longer awkward. In fact, you're like, can we get this stuff over with already! You know, I mean, I competed for 18 years, I know what that game is all about. So I mean, when the repetitiveness at first, you get that anxiousness, but the more they do it, the more comfortable they get at it, the more second nature it becomes. So you don't have to be a people person, but you have to at least care. And I wouldn't hire anybody that didn't care.

GEORGE: Awesome, I like that part. I was speaking to a client last week. We run a program called the Martial Arts Media Academy, where we help with marketing and facilitating all the connection, but I also really try to simplify the online space and really leverage programs. And it's something that came up in the conversation was, really trying to scale and having this problem where you're talking about member relationships and engagement, but the problem was that they found that most of their instructors are introverted. And they just don't have that very outgoing personality to really connect. And that was a big obstacle, or is currently a big obstacle for them is, how do they take that introverted personality to scale and be that outgoing person, or do they need to completely shift gears and train someone else, get someone in from the outside to take that front enroll.

CAT: You know, it could be both. One of the schools of thought that I subscribe to is, not everybody is engineered to do everything. Some people just naturally gravitate to certain areas. Bunny rabbits will never be able to swim, OK? That's just the way that they've been engineered and made, they're not going to be climbing trees either. So I mean, if we’re going to ask a bunny rabbit to climb a damn tree, he's going to fail. He's not going to do very well with that. You ask a monkey to climb a tree and then be, oh my god, you're a black belt at this stuff, how did you get so good? Oh, he's natural, right? Well, yeah, because some of us are actually naturals at certain things.

As far as communication, I believe with training, if they're able to get up in front of a group and be a martial arts instructor, they can just as easily be the martial arts instructor to the parents in the lobby and build those relationships the same way. When there's a disconnect is that they think that the parents are no longer their students too.

So when they take a different approach and a different lens through which they're seeing their martial arts school crew and actually recognize that the parents are there to support their children, so thus, the parents need the training to be able to better endure that role. The parents don't know how to do that necessarily unless they're taught and trained how to be able to do that.

So the person to teach them, who would that be? Well, the martial arts instructor, because what's their job? Their job is to teach! So if they see it not so much as, this obstacle or this barrier, but put it in terms of what they're already naturally selected and gifted for, hey I want to be a martial arts teacher, understand though that who we teach isn't just the person on the classroom floor, but it's everyone within the walls of our school.

And I think when we start viewing our martial arts school not just as a place that begins when we bow on the mat, but instead actually from the front door for whoever walks through, it's no different then. If you say you want to help people, or you want to change lives, or you want to be a martial arts instructor, we can be picky and choosy about the people… let me reshape that: yes, we can be picky and choosy about the people we take and the people we help; however, we have to recognize who are people that need our help.

And sometimes we think, well, the parents don't need our help – sometimes the parents need your help more than that kid on the mat, you know? They're the ones that actually are signing up, not just to be able to give their kid an activity, but also to learn how to better handle and parent their child. And to be able to do that, a lot of times it just comes down to better training and better practice with communications and drilling scenarios, both on the practice floor and how to be able to handle those announcements with the parents too. So making sure that the lobby is never a part of their martial arts school that isn't under their control. If that makes sense.

GEORGE: Yeah, for sure. I think to make it really practical, I like what you said, if you can look at your hand and smile, that's a really, really good start. Just a smile can do wonders. And I think I'll add to that, it's just really being present. Really being present in a situation is, if you can do those two things, and really smile and be present, understand where people are at, I think that's a good stepping stone. What would you add to that?

CAT: The only thing that I would add specifically is when they are given an opportunity to build a connection or a relationship with a student, understand that the student in front of them isn't just maybe the child for the class, but it's the parent or the guardian or whoever brought them to this practice as well. And be inclusive when you're teaching and let them recognize, let the instructor specifically recognize that being able to teach martial arts is part of the job, is also being able to enroll them and being comfortable with talking to them and having that connection.

Because if they want to help that kid that's going to be doing their classes, they have to have communication with that parent. Because if there's ever going to be a situation, that kids going to tell their mom or their dad first. And if the parent has enough respect for you and the program and what it benefits them with, they're able then to go back and relay that information to the instructor. Because the first person that's going to hear about the kid wanting to give up classes, or stop or runs into a challenge, maybe because they stubbed their toe in sparring or something silly like that, that we don't even give consideration, but could be very much a factor of why somebody doesn't want to take part or continue – if that's explained from the beginning, parents are heck of a lot more prepared for it when it does happen.

And we just kind of have to stop hiding the fact that there might be a time when they're going to say, I don't want to go to karate tonight, or I don't want to do martial arts or anything like that. Or I'd rather go out and play with my friends when the weather gets nice and that kind of thing that it's going to make a huge difference if they understand that and they know how their job as the parent is to support their kid in becoming a black belt, or becoming a martial artist I prefer to say, as opposed to just setting an end goal on it. Like get your black belt and then everybody wonders why they got one. They did it, that's what you told them they had to do! But yeah, get the parents to recognize. The first person they go to when there's a challenge is going to be that martial arts instructor to help them with it and see it through.

And the job of the instructor is to teach the parent that that's what they have to do. If that means they have to call them when they first get started, or if they have to keep that path of communication flowing – text messages are great right now, because if a parent wants to shoot you over a message about something that took place. But more importantly, if you want to shoot over that parent a video or a selfie, or something going on from class, especially if they're not present – it's the best way to be able to interact, engage and connect.

GEORGE: I like that, I like that. Quick selfie. This really reminds me  – and I don't know who I'm quoting yet, it could either be Dean Jackson or James Schramko, but the story comes from experiences, customer, experiences. And the stories about, if I walk into a coffee shop or a restaurant for example and they treat me bad, I get bad service and I just feel bad about the experience – that's 100% of my experience with that company is negative, 100%. But on the reverse side, if I'm a regular and I walk in there every morning to get my coffee, I get treated with respect, smile, all these things that we just spoke about and about my 10th trip to the coffee shop, they slip up and make a mistake – that's 10% of my experience with them that's bad.

So when it comes down to that, you have a bit more understanding and you feel a bit more, OK, well, they slipped up, it's OK. Because you've got that relationship and understanding. And I think that relates to a lot of what you're saying here because a martial arts journey is going to have its ups and downs. And it's coming, the bad experience is coming, the “I don't know if I want to do this anymore” is coming. So if you have the relationship to back all that up, chances are you're going to be able to save that relationship, save that student and keep them back on their path.

CAT: George, amen – that was exactly it! One of the big things they say is the difference between customer service and member engagement, because people say, oh, it's the same thing, it's customer service, and I'm like, you're so wrong, I want to say something else, but I remember I'm a martial artist and I don't do those kinds of things. Instead, though, I say to myself, well, you know, customer service is dealing with problems. If you ever have a customer service – I laugh when somebody says customer service department is going to return the martial arts student calls, and I'm like, you have a customer service department? What do you need that for? That's like where, what does that mean? That means problems and that you're just expecting to have lots of problems to have to deal with if you have a whole ton of staff doing customer service.

Member engagement though is pre-empting that, recognizing oh, we've been doing this for this many years, we recognize it – hey, this is a common occurrence and it's going to happen. It's not if it does – if you're the unicorn that this doesn't happen to, no! It's not going about it that way, it's expecting that, hey you know what, this is part of the game, this is just what happens. It's going to come in time, and when it does, this is what we're going to do about it. But member engagement is recognizing that. The kid who has floods and you don't teach an Okinawan system of martial arts, where their pants are up to their knees.

Their parents are not buying them a new uniform – you think that's because they have plans and aspirations for him to stick around another 5 more years? I mean, I probably would disagree. But giving that kid a new uniform, making the kid feel more comfortable then, forgetting about the $30 or the $20 or the $50 or the $100, I don't care how much your uniform is, but whatever that amount is, and saying, I care more about the relationship than I do about the uniform and I want to see this person stay – you make that gesture, you push that forward, hey: if we can give a new uniform to a new guy that we don't even know, why can't we give on to a kid who does practice in our program and doesn't have a proper fitting uniform.

Talk to the parent, it might be a budget thing. It might be not a high priority thing, but I’ll tell you who it's going to make a difference for that kid on the mat. That's member engagement, that's recognizing, man, that kids got to be embarrassed by the way he's getting a wedgie in the middle of his class. And it doesn't allow him to do anything because his mom won't buy him a new pair of pants, I mean, let's be real here, you know? I mean, this is what's going on, I mean, in the day where we have over… I don't even know what the correct word is, but just so much abundance of bullying going on, throughout the world.

This is real life crisis, it doesn't matter where you're at, but that's definitely something that… let's make sure that this doesn't become a zone where the kid is going to get bullied because some other smartass kid says something to him and says, your uniform is too short, or doesn't your mom love you enough to buy you new pants or whatever. Give them the respect of saying, hey, I recognize this. Because any parent is going to appreciate that, so it's just a matter of saying or recognizing where you see a situation, let the light bulb go off and say, that isn't right, let's do something about it.

I mean, everything gets triggered. We know this, right? Somebody misses a class for two weeks, chances are, you're going to get a phone call, or you're going to get a notice from the billing company, or you're going to get some kind of information, or a credit card payment isn't going to go through. And then another two weeks, so you know what's coming. So you can either pick up the phone or here's something better: what if we knew that was coming right on the same day they were supposed to be there and they weren't there? If I would date somebody and they say, oh, that was a great first date and then I don't hear from them for like a week or two weeks later and they send me a text, hey – they're not getting a response! Please! If you want to actually build a relationship with anyone, you have to have communication.

You've got to show that you care, you've got to recognize that, oh – this person actually does have my best interest in mind. And if you can convey that, you're not going to have a problem then when that parent has a situation they want to… or like you've mentioned: when you drop the ball. I ordered you the wrong size belt, I got you your belt, but unfortunately, it came in 5 sizes too big and all this. Well have another one for you in the next 4 or 5 days, but here – use this one for now. They're going to overlook those kinds of things. It's definitely in our benefit as martial arts school owners and operators to make sure that we get to know our people and connect with them and recognize when these things happen. Because customer service is too late, that's overcoming objections and that's like, it's such a buzzword. It's such a sad way of trying to build things around something that's already gone, so see it before it happens, you've got to catch it before it happens.

GEORGE: I like that. Awesome. What I really like about that is really, you eliminating the objections. And looking for the opportunity to build relationships is really what it is. And I like what you mentioned about the bullying part because there's always so much focus in advertising, we’re always fighting the bullies and build the confidence and build the fun, but then sometimes there's a disconnect on the actual mats. That was the ad, but is that what you're really doing in your school? Are you really paying attention to that, because as you've mentioned, bullying is a big thing and in Australia right now there's the no bullying week, so there's a lot of promotion and things going on about that. And I don't know if that's in the States as well, but a big thing about that is, is there an opportunity to be bullied right there in front of you? Or just feeling adequate, or not in place? Because of the social pressures.

CAT: I think it's more responsibility than ever. Any teacher, any teacher, any educator, not even in martial arts; a dance teacher, a music teacher, a school teacher has to recognize those things and recognize why someone might be getting singled out, or pushed out the same way and making sure there's a stronger connection with them, because you might be that only connection with them.

GEORGE: Awesome. Cat, it's been awesome speaking to you. And I'm looking forward to seeing you speak at The Main Event.

CAT: I’m looking forward to it!

GEORGE: Yes, and that's going to be awesome. Just a few last words: if people want to connect with you, find out more about you, how should they do that?

CAT: Send me a friend request over Facebook. I love to be able to connect with people, especially if you're in Australia or some other part of the world where I want to travel to one day and get a chance to vacation, I would love to connect with you and be your friend.

GEORGE: Is that what this podcast is really about? All right, awesome.

CAT: Find me on the Facebook, that's the best way to connect with me. And send me a PM if you have any questions about what we talked about today, I'll be happy to talk to you more.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Cat, it's been great speaking to you and I will see you in San Diego soon.

CAT: Pleasure is mine, thank you, George. Have a great day mate!

GEORGE: Thank you.

Awesome – thanks for listening, thanks, Cat Zohar. Great energy, great content. If you're enjoying the show and you're getting great value from it, please, let us know! A good way to do that would be to give us an awesome review, like a 5-star review on the iTunes platform, or Stitcher if you're listening to this on an android mobile device. So for the iPhone, I know you can go, there's a little purple icon, the podcast app and you can just go through the show there and give us a review. Stitcher, probably just follow the instructions, or wherever you're listening to this – just give us a feedback. We’d love to hear from you, I can see you are listening because I see the numbers, but podcasting being a very one-way communication platform, it's hard to get the feedback.

So it would be great to hear from more guests – that would be awesome. And if you need any help with your marketing, with marketing your school, especially on the tech side, the digital platforms that are forever going and changing, then get a hold of us. Get a hold of us on martialartsmedia.com we would be happy to chat with you and I look forward to bringing you another interview, another lady! And it's kind of ironic, four ladies in a row. It’s just pure coincidence. It's not because it's been a women's week, or anything like that, depending on when you're listening to this. It’s been pure coincidence and I'm hoping you're enjoying the change in perspective and change in energy and viewpoints, which is what this show is really about. How can we create good content, good things, good insights that you can apply to your business and that way we all learn and grow.

Awesome, well that's it from me. I will be back next week with another show and speak soon – cheers!

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60 – Andrea Harkins – The Martial Arts Woman Making A Difference One Life At A Time

Andrea Harkins a.k.a. The Martial Arts Woman uses her martial arts experience and blog to shed light on a sometimes negative world.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How does Andrea Harkins use martial arts to inspire people to become better version of themselves
  • How did “The Martial Arts Woman” concept come into existence
  • Andrea Harkins’ ultimate “mission” in life
  • Details about her two books
  • Advice to women who are having second thoughts about trying martial arts
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

Download the PDF transcription

When we look at the world today, there's going to be a lot of unhappy people and there's got to be a lot of people who just have no idea that they have any sense of worth anymore, because of all the strife and the things that we’re seeing. So I think if we start with each one of us bettering ourselves, whether it's our mindset, mind, body, spirit kind of thing, we can better ourselves. We’re going to change the world a little bit because we're all striving to do something better, and striving starts with yourself.

GEORGE: Good day, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media Business podcast episode. Today, I am with Andrea Harkins. And I had to practice that, just to make sure I got the pronunciation the American way. How are you today Andrea?

ANDREA: I'm doing great, how are you?

GEORGE: I'm doing awesome. Cool, so we’re going to talk about a lot of inspirational topics and Andrea has got a wealth of knowledge in the martial arts base and she's on a quite a mission to make a positive impact in the world, positive impact in the world. So we’re going to have a good conversation and as always, just see where this goes. So, Andrea, the first question would be of course, who is Andrea Harkins?

ANDREA: Well, thanks for asking that. I am also known out there as The Martial Arts Woman, which is the title of my first book, but really just something I've evolved into and my mission in what I do, which includes writing books, writing for magazines, outreach, teaching martial arts, practicing martial arts, really is to make the world a better place. And I use martial arts as my sort of symbol, or my metaphor for living an empowered life and reminding people that they can strive for more, that they can reach their goals and their dreams.

They just have to work for them and so I really reach out as much as I can in different ways, whether it's through a podcast, or writing and appearances, or whatever I can do to really remind people that, even if they're not a martial artist, they can have that martial art mindset, which is so powerful and so important in today's world, where everything is negative. We have to remind ourselves that we are positive and we can make a difference in the world and that's sort of what I try to do.

GEORGE: So where did this all began? From… I mean, obviously there was a big transition, your martial arts career and then going on this mission. Let’s start with the martial arts background, foundation.

ANDREA: Sure. I began martial arts in 1989 with my husband, who sort of dragged me to my first class. I wasn't really interested in going, I went for him and hated it in the beginning. It was just a little too crazy for me, the kicks and punches and throws, it was a Tang Soo Do system. So after not too long though, I really started to like it, and I thought, hey, I like this and I was pretty good at it and I've never been athletic. I was 26 when I started and realizing that I had some kind of potential as far as being an athlete, or doing something like this was really a great thing for me to learn. I ended up loving martial arts and I just continued and received my black belt, 2nd-degree black belt back in the 90s, I think. And I've just been practicing and teaching ever since. And so that's how the story began and it just continued.

And about 5 years ago, 6 years ago, I had written one article for the Martial Art Industry magazine and another blogger on Facebook contacted me, his name is Ando Mierzwa. And he contacted me, he's known as Sensei Ando on Facebook. And he said, I looked on the internet to find out about you and I couldn't find anything, how come? And I said, well, I'm not out there, why would I be out there? He said, well, you're a writer and you're a martial artist – why don't you put the two together? And he convinced me to start my blog, which is called The Martial Arts Woman. And I started this blog and it just was a nice little popular happy blog that people ended up liking. So I started making the transition there, although I had previously written for martial arts industry magazine that kind of put me out there a little bit.

And then from there, other magazines just started asking me to write for them, different topics. I write for Martial Art Illustrated UK, I write for Martial Art Business in Australia, I write for the Martial Art Guardian in the UK and I write for several magazines here in the States. And it was just, they all had different perspectives and invited me to write columns for them. I started writing for my local newspaper, a positivity martial art column, so it just kind of blossomed much more than I ever expected. And then, of course, I started speaking more, I started reaching out on social media more, so I have a big presence there. And I just found that it was a good niche for me.

GEORGE: OK, cool. Before going to the mission part, I want to ask you something on the actual blogging, because we wrote a program called the Martial Arts Media Academy and in that, a big component that I see that's missing in the martial arts face is content creation. For marketing, there's a big focus on ad creation, which is very, very important and you need to obviously have ads up there and good offers to get students in all the time. A big problem with that I find is that when you only focus on that and you don't focus on the giving aspect and the content creation aspect, then you are always just chasing the next ad and you are one ad away from not having leads, or students coming through your door.

Whereas, with the content creation, and I’m sure you would have found this, having a blog over the years, it's a really slow earn because at the beginning, you put content up and it's like, nobody responds and it… it slowly gets traction, but once it does, it's got that snowball down the mountain effect. And you can't stop it, it's just got this own audience, without being so dependent on all the social factors. So that's a bit of a background to my actual question.

So my question is – and I'm always trying to motivate school owners to get in front of the camera… I guess to get in front of the camera mostly, for the content creation. Blogging of course being… you do the writing and that's a written format, but any form or way of expressing and creating valuable content. So the actual question is: how did you sort of formulate a good way to really express your experience and thoughts and your mission through your blog and through writing?

ANDREA: Well, for me, I use everyday situations in my own life as a way to reach out to people. And my blog has no ads on it, I don't use it to make money. I use it so people get to know me, so when I have a book, or when I have something I want to talk about, they're ready to listen. Because they trust me and they know what to expect. But the blog content I use is, look, I had sort of a difficult time getting through a situation. And this is how I fixed that and I usually have a little martial arts story to tell.

So a lot of my inspirational, motivational content is simply from my life and that makes it very easy for me to have something to say all the time because we all go through good and bad, ups and downs constantly. And I can just pluck one of those situations out and say, you know, I had trouble doing this, or I was sick and I couldn't work out and I felt down about myself, I wasn't sure when I would get better. But martial arts reminded me that as long as I push through, I will be OK.

As long as I just, if I can break a board, if I can learn a new skill that I've never learned before in martial arts, well, I can certainly break through little barriers in my life. I can certainly learn new skills in life. And so I constantly have this sort of play between what we all face, each and every day and how martial arts has reminded me in some way that I'm a capable person, that I need to stop worrying and just push through like I always do.

So for me, content, I have so much content, because there's so much going on in my life all the time. And sometimes I use other people's lives. Somebody will talk to me about a problem or a situation, and I usually have a solution thanks to martial arts and what I've learned. So I just apply the two together. And sometimes I also do talk about being an instructor or being a martial artist and what to expect, or if you want to try it, that kind of thing. But often, my content is really about life.

GEORGE: So it comes down to from what I gather, from what you're saying, just honesty, not trying to portray a situation for the way people might want to perceive it, but really just: this is me, this is my situation and this is how I overcame it.

ANDREA: Yes.

GEORGE: So, did you find that hard, to really get to that point where you actually… and I'm not sure if this is every martial arts, for what I was referring to the program of, that's the exact way to go. But there is a big element to it because you've got to really put yourself out there and not be afraid of opinions and critique.

ANDREA: Yeah.

GEORGE: So is that sort of how you started? Just from the get-go, you were just comfortable expressing yourself, or did you start the blog and then did it slowly evolve to a raw honesty, where you can just express what's on your mind?

ANDREA: No, I think I started it that way. But I always knew in the beginning, that there was a risk of people criticizing me, not liking what I was saying or doing, because that's going to happen in social media, it's going to happen in blogging. And I was a little uncomfortable at first, but then I thought, you know what: I have nothing to hide, I'm just a genuine person and I want to remind people out there that I'm not one of those people way up here, who just pretends that they relate to what you're doing, or whatever. No, I just believe in being honest and truthful.

Of course, I'm not sharing every detail of my personal life, a lot of times it's just a concept or an idea, you know? How do you get to be more positive? How can you learn how to overcome your fears? And that kind of things, where I can just answer with little bits of stories about myself. And funny things that have happened to me, or what my fears were and how I was able to overcome them. Certainly, in martial arts, you face a lot of fears when you have to break your first board or do your first flip, or whatever it might be. And so again, I just apply that.

So it was not a difficult thing for me and I did expect some people not to like it. But really, I haven't had that much negativity about it in the past few years since I started. Here and there, being a woman in the martial arts, another topic to address is when you put yourself out there as a woman in martial arts – you're going to get some backlash from people and you're also going to be treated a certain way sometimes. There is still discrimination, there are still men who treat you in a sexual way because you're a martial artist, or whatever it might be. So that really has been the bigger burden from all of this and the backlash, where somebody is not caring about what I had to say.

So I think the blogging for any business though, is really important as long as you're genuine. Nobody really wants that kind of stock stuff, you know? They want to know a little bit about your school or tell me what happened with one of your students today and why that's important, or meaningful. And I think if you can focus on those kinds of genuine things in martial arts, or in your school, your program, whatever you're doing, that that's going to capture the attention of your potential fans, or your potential students, or that kind of thing. So I hope I answered your question, I think I went in five different directions on that one.

GEORGE: That's awesome. I do want to ask – and this is not to go on a negative track, because obviously as a male, I want to understand the different dynamics that a lady would go through in a martial arts journey. And I had Jess Fraser on the show, second-time last week and the first episode, she was talking about – because she was a bit of a digital Jiu Jitsu nomad. She was just travelling the world and her life was going to all the different schools. And she addressed a few of the topics that…

I wouldn't say discrimination, but it was just very different for her as a female. And getting a bit of backlash from a few instructors, where perhaps she didn't feel that welcome. So in the male-dominated sport, how different is it for a lady to go through the martial arts journey? Do you find that there's… I mean, for the most part, is it all good, or is it just sort of the negatives are just sort of a little bit from here, a little bit from here if that makes sense.

ANDREA: That makes sense. And in all honesty, my experiences have generally been very good. Martial art training, I haven't had any issues really. When I started in the 80s, of course, there were a lot more men than women, there were only a couple of women in classes and things like that. And I think what I noticed more were really just the men showing off more than any kind of discrimination, or difficulty with me being there.

GEORGE: Men don't do that, ever.

ANDREA: No, I know that. This was a long time ago.

GEORGE: I know, we've evolved as a species.

ANDREA: So, I think other than that I really never had negative experiences in my training, but what I can say is that negativity came out more in my presence on social media. Because there are not a lot of women out there and I'm really not negative about men, I love training with men. I don't have any issues with that at all. What happens on social media, where my problems came in, were just keyboard warrior kind of people, who were either insinuating I didn't know anything or trying to ask me out on a date, or you know, just weird stuff. It was really more from that and I had to block a lot of people and block a lot of men.

But I don't want to put all men in that bucket because really, most of my experiences have been very positive. We as women have to just face the fact that we are women and we try to be beautiful, we try to be happy, we try to be all of those things that we feel like society wants us to be. And in doing that, we have to kind of face those situations and figure out a good way to handle it.

And I certainly have heard different stories from different women, who have had both good and bad experiences with being out there in the martial arts. I think what we have to remember is that men and women are different and this is just my perspective. And this is one of those things that I sometimes get backlashes on saying, but we are different. So we practice differently, we have a different mindset. We may learn the same things from the same instructors, but we see things a little differently. We’re mothers, we’re sisters, and we’re daughters. We have a different mindset overall. Yes, we can take all that away and go into a tournament, or go into a situation, a self-defense situation, really strip ourselves of those things for those moments. But in reality, that's who we are.

And I always say, if there’s a husband and a wife, you don't expect them to be the same. They're both spouses, they're both married to each other, but they are not the same. They have different roles and they have different personalities and different ways of seeing the world. Or a brother and a sister, any opposite like that. We’re going to be different, so I think being in a male-dominated activity is challenging sometimes, but it really is about you as a woman, or you as a practitioner and to do it, you're on your way. And as long as you follow your own passion, your own calling, your own training, and then that's all you need to worry about.

GEORGE: Awesome. So, I want to get to the mission part. But I have one more question, just on this topic: what would you say to – because I might replay this section to my partner, who I try to push into martial arts, but it didn't work. What would you… how do I phrase this question: what would you tell ladies who are thinking about trying martial arts, but they are hesitant because it's a male-dominated sport?

ANDREA: Well, I would tell ladies that first of all, nowadays, I don't know that I would call it male-dominated. A lot of classes have half women, half men, or half girls, half boys. It's really come a long way from when I started. And it really… You take a martial art because you have an interest in it, not because there are men or women there. You just… if you're interested in it, that's what you do. And I would just tell them that, if I can do it – and this is something I say all the time: if I can do it, you can do it. I was just 26 years old woman when I started and just discovered that I enjoyed it. So like anything in life, you have to try what you're interested in.

It doesn't mean you'll stick with it forever – maybe you'll like it, maybe you won’t, but try it. It's just like trying a new food, or trying a new movie, or trying on a new pair of shoes. If it's something you're interested in, you give it a try and see what happens, there's no harm done.

In fact, I'm starting right now a new program, I actually moved from where I was living in the states to across the country. And I'm starting a program now called Martial Art Concepts, which is geared for people who have an interest in martial arts, but never knew what to expect. And it's going to have just a very simple martial art program, I guess you might say, where you're going to stretch, you're going to warm up, you're going to learn kicks, you're going to learn punches, you're going to learn blocks and drills. And self-defense and some breathing techniques and you're going to have a taste of martial arts, and a workout all in one. So sometimes, there are things like that that you can try. Also, self-defense is very important for women, so I would highly recommend. It could save your life, so I think that makes it worth it.

GEORGE: Awesome – so why not do it?

ANDREA: That's right.

GEORGE: Cool, so Andrea, tell me about your, just expand a bit more on your mission. You've reached this point where you really want to make a positive impact in the world and you're using martial arts as your metaphor. Big task, so how do you go about that? Where do you start and where do you see it going?

ANDREA: Well, I started just through the blog. And then for me, I started taking baby steps, because I wrote the first book and I knew that in order to sell a book nowadays, you really need a social media presence, you need to be out there. And I decided that I would try to really market myself on social media. And I didn't know really what to expect. And in fact, I hated posting photos of myself doing martial arts on any social media, because I thought, somebody, is always going to look at it and say, your foot is not right, your knee is not up, you're not standing the right way, your arms should be straight, not bent. I just really didn't want to do it.

But I thought OK, well this is how I'm supposed to do it. So I started posting pictures of myself doing kicks and putting little, certain little inspirational quotes or reminders on them. Here's me kicking, but you know, kicks are your fears, or whatever it might be. Or little blog type things to go with the photos. And it was again genuine, and it was again showing that this middle-aged woman can still do this – if I can do it, you can do it. So these are some of the places where I started to really push my mission a little bit more.

And between the blogging and the writing and the photos and the social media, I started to get a little bit of a following, people saying, I'm so glad you said that, you know? I was having a down day today and I just felt like I couldn't get through it today. I felt like I couldn't reach my goals and you reminded me that it's OK if you have a bad day every now and again, you just have to keep pushing through. So it was these little messages that people started taking to heart. When they read something, a lot of them comment, say, thank you so much for this, or I'm so happy that you understand how I'm feeling and that kind of thing. So it's almost like a little bit of a therapy session for us all, right? I get the chance to share and people get the chance to vent or read something inspirational and positive for them.

And when we look at the world today, there's got to be a lot of unhappy people in it. There's got to be a lot of people who just have no idea that they have any sense of worth anymore, because of all the strife and the things that we’re seeing. So I think if we start with each one of us bettering ourselves, whether it's our mindset, mind, body, spirit kind of thing, we can better ourselves. We’re going to change the world a little bit, because we're all striving to do something better, and striving starts with yourself, to better yourself, before you can make change around you. But if I can be happy and positive, somebody around me might start to feel happy and positive too. Why are you feeling so good about yourself, or so good about life? And I can share with them.

So that's sort of how the mission works for me. It's just the more I can spread it, the more I can tell people that they are important, they are worthy of reaching their dreams and goals. They are special, they're unique and when I can do that and people start feeling good about themselves, then we’re starting to change the dynamic of the negativity. And so that's really, it's a lofty goal and maybe I'll only touch a few people’s lives, but I figure that's better than nothing.

GEORGE: That's a very good way to put it. It's a topic that it's come up before, Bogdan Rosu is another person I interviewed from Romania. And his whole philosophy is personal development with martial arts. So to combine the two, and for me, as I mentioned to him, the reason I really got hooked on martial arts is because that's what put it together for me. I’ve always been on this personal development mission, but it was only when I started doing martial arts that it became physical and not just mental. And it was the change in body and focus that really, I guess as a person that likes to learn and try and better himself all the time, that's what was a big hook for me.

And obviously, it's different for everyone, some people go for self-defense and go for this, but ultimately, I mean, you're doing martial arts to better yourself. If you break it down to that, you're taking the step in this direction to become a better you. No matter what the reasoning is. So having, I guess for a martial arts instructor to really have that in mind, and I'm probably preaching to the choir because I'm talking to martial arts school owners for the most part. But I mean, I think it's just so important to have that in mind that that's really what it's about. It's all about the personal development and positive impact that you can make beyond the kicking and the punches of course.

ANDREA: Right, and if we can take that – and what I try to do is take exactly what you just said, about myself, my students, my peers and present it to people who are not martial artists. Present that concept, that mindset, that if you better yourself in some way – and of course, I say martial arts is a great way to do that, but if you better yourself in some way, whether it's a more positive attitude, whether it's working out, you need to start applying these things to your life. And you'll see a change.

So my mission goes even beyond who we are as martial artists, out into the public. The general public of people, because everybody loves martial arts. And if you say you're a martial artist and they're not, they go, oh, that's so cool! You can kick up here, you can do this… yes, I can, I can do that. And you can do that too. I think that's a great way to look at it and that's what we should all be striving for as martial artists or instructors. To better ourselves, to better the people around us, present a positive outlook on life, let people know that they are brave and that they can reach their goals. And I think we’re doing a fantastic job if we can do all of that.

GEORGE: Fantastic. So, Andrea, what's the ultimate outcome for you of your mission?

ANDREA: I think just every single day to make a positive change. Every single day. So, what's the final outcome – I don't know what the final one is. I just know that every day I strive to make a positive impact in some way, whether it's talking to someone like you, or just smiling to someone as I walk by, or reminding people how great martial arts are, or whatever it could be. Every day, I try to do that and I think in the end, if I can just know that I did my best to change the world in some positive way, then that really is my goal in itself. It's just really to keep going, to keep writing, to keep sharing. And I'll do that as long as I can.

GEORGE: Awesome. Fantastic, really inspiring to speak to you Andrea.

ANDREA: Thank you.

GEORGE: Andrea or Andrea?

ANDREA: Anything's fine.

GEORGE: I think I've gone to my default pronunciation. So you've got a fantastic blog and books – do you mind just sharing that, a couple of minutes, for anybody that wants to learn more about you, support your mission and have a read of all your awesome content and everything: how can people get in touch with you and find out more about you?

ANDREA: All right. Well, thank you so much for the opportunity. My blog is called the martial arts woman. So it’s, themartialartswoman.com, it's free, it's just got all kinds of different content on there. My book, The Martial arts Woman, which had more than 30 contributors, all over the world, women all over the world, who wrote about what it means to be a woman in the martial arts, or what they had to do just to learn martial arts, or how they applied martial arts to a self defense situation.

There are really amazing stories that you would never hear. When I started getting these stories in, I started to realize there's a whole chapter of life out there that people have never heard about, because they've never heard these stories that are amazing and inspirational. And I also wrote in the book a lot about my experiences, being in the martial arts. It's a book for everybody, it's a very motivational book. And that is on Amazon, the martial arts woman.

And my second book, Martial Art Inspirations for Everyone is also on Amazon and that really explains my mission and the name of it I guess. It is daily reflections that you can read, page long, that do exactly what I was talking about earlier: taking some of life's challenges and putting them together with a martial art kind of solution that we can all use and it's just inspirational.

And the third book that I'm working on right now is, How to Start Your Own Martial Art Program and this is a book about not starting a big dojo or a big school; this is for the people who want to teach on the side, you know, while they're working their full-time job or are in retirement or whatnot. So that will be coming out hopefully sometime this year.

So please give one of them a read and let me know what you think and you can contact me through the blog, themartialartswoman.com. There is a place there to contact me, so I hope to hear from some of your audience and even if we just chat for a few minutes – that would be awesome.

GEORGE: Awesome. Fantastic Andrea, thank you very much and we’ll link all the books and the blog in the transcript. Thank you very much.

ANDREA: Thank you, I had a wonderful time and thanks so much for having me.

GEORGE: You're welcome – speak soon!

ANDREA: Ok.

GEORGE: Thanks!

Awesome – thanks for listening. Hope you enjoyed the show with Andrea, it's pure coincidence that I actually got four ladies lined up to interview after each other. So if you're enjoying getting a different perspective from the martial arts place, we generally speak to a lot of men, because – hey, most men own martial arts schools. But it's just by pure coincidence that I've got four ladies lined up after each other, which ads a different touch to the podcasts. And as Andrea was mentioning, just seeing it from a different perspective as well.

So I hope you're getting great value out of it. If you are enjoying our show, please, do us a huge favor: the best thing you can do for us is give us that super five-star rating in iTunes. If you do have an iPhone, you can go directly through the podcast app. You can click here and just follow the section to reviews. Give us a five-star review – that would be awesome. If not an iPhone, just wherever you're watching, give us a good thumbs up. Much, much appreciated, and if there any help that you need with your schools’ marketing, perhaps your website, want to chat just about strategy, or get some help, visit us at martialartsmedia.com. We’re happy to help and see if we can help you grow your martial arts school.

Awesome – that's it for this week, I will speak to you soon – cheers!

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59 – Jess Fraser – Hiring Islands For BJJ Events & Raising The Bar For All Girls In Gi’s

Australian Girls in Gi's founder Jess Fraser catches up with George Fourie about mindset, hiring islands, events and more.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • What made Jess Fraser compete professionally again
  • Injured and unprepared, how Jess was able to win the Abu Dhabi trials
  • Optimism is a key to success
  • Renting an entire island for an Australian Girls in Gi Event
  • How Jess empowers women through martial arts
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

I sort of start the seminar with that. I'm Jess Fraser and I'm good at Jiu Jitsu. I might not be good at life stuff, but I'm good at Jiu Jitsu and I'm here to share that with you. And I'm OK with that now and I think that it's important for, definitely the women in the room to hear me say that.

You're listening to the audio version of the video interview for the Martial Arts Media business podcast, that took place on martialartsmedia.com for the full episode to watch the video, to download the transcript and see all the pretty pictures, you can go to martialartsmedia.com/59, that's the numbers 5-9. Thanks, enjoy the show.

GEORGE: Hey, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. I have a repeat guest with me today, Jess Fraser – how are you doing today Jess?

JESS: I'm doing good, welcome to my living room!

GEORGE: Awesome! Welcome to my semi-decorated office.

JESS: Yeah, I was just saying, I had some banners too, but I feel like this is a much more natural setting, you know?

GEORGE: Exactly! Well, natural behind me would not look that natural, so, we’ll just leave it at that. Well, welcome back to the show. It's been quite a journey. We are in the 50s, we are not sure where this episode is going to lie in numbers, but the last time we spoke to you was episode 13 and if you want to have a listen to that, martialartsmedia.com/13. And lots has happened in your Jiu-Jitsu journey and your events and everything so it's going to be great to catch up. And I do recall the last time we spoke, you were a bit of a nomad. You were travelling the world, basically training in and living in different locations and doing all that.

JESS: Yeah.

GEORGE: So I guess, perhaps that's a good point to start: what's changed, what's been happening in the life of Jess?

JESS: Oh wow. Heaps, you know. Last time we spoke, I think was like just over a year ago, so sort of just before camp last year. So that's what I do, I run Australian Girls in Gi and each year, I run a massive summer camp, so Australian summer being January, February, well, December, January, February. And so last year it was in January and this year it was in February, so I just finished another one. So last time we spoke, we were heading into one and I've done two since then.

So that's like routine thing that I do every year and again, and aside from that – I actually weirdly went back and traveled to the same places that I traveled to, I had just traveled to two years ago. So yeah, I kind of revisited Canada, America, went back to New York, trained at Marcelo’s again, saw Paul Schreiner, all that kind of stuff. So the year was sort of a repeat, but in so many different ways and definitely, last time I spoke to you guys – I do invite you to listen to the other podcast, the first one that we did, because I did this morning, just to make sure that I wouldn't totally repeat myself because I tend to, you know.

Black belts get the same stories, they tell them over and over again and I've become one of them. Last time I spoke, I was using the language of, I’m 37 and I'm old and I'm broken and the competition is over for me and I think that sat in my mind a lot after we spoke. But not because of how we spoke, it was just something that I was thinking about a lot at the time and then I ran my camp and that was really exciting, we had such a great time, the January camp last year and it was very successful and it was the last one that I will hold in Victoria.

So it was kind of a farewell to that campsite, which was fun. And during that, all of the coaches that I hired – so there are some really elite women here obviously, that are winning world championships and stuff overseas and I, of course, asked them to come onboard to showcase their coaching and information and technique and stuff at camps every year.

So during camp, all of those women went off to do the Abu Dhabi trials, so I was sort of, I was in this situation where I've sort of become the mom and the kids were going out to play and it was hard, you know. I wasn't jealous, but it was just like, oh shit, I really love Jiu-Jitsu and I used to be a competitor and I wish I was there but I'm doing this thing for the community and value both really highly and you know, I sort of sat with that for a while, trying to be OK with that, like my friends going away and winning the trials and then they're coming back and joining me and I just wanted to sort of be them. I wanted to be able to attend and compete and do everything.

So yeah, like a couple of weeks later, I was asked to go up to Sydney to help Hope Douglass prepare for a Copa Podio. So I'm a little bit bigger than her and I'm smaller than her – shorter, bigger. But I've got a really aggressive Jiu-Jitsu style, so I went up there and helped her out with her prep for Copa Podio. And we’re wrestling, you know, and I kind of, I was awake at 2 o'clock in the morning just thinking, why am I retired? Why have I done this, if I'm totally able to help other people still prepare and I'm the go-to, people pick up the phone to call me to go help them.

I just sort of had this feeling, a couple of things came together. Years and years ago, I used to be a smoker and my sister helped me quit, by giving me this one sentence that I clung to like a buoy in the ocean, you know? And it was, if you just don't have one more cigarette, just don't have the next one, you're just no longer a smoker. And that's how I quit, right?

GEORGE: Exactly how I quit!

JESS: Really? That's cool!

GEORGE: Yeah, the thing was, avoid the first cigarette. That was…

JESS: Just that one! You don't have to climb the mountain, you just have to avoid that one that's coming. So yeah, I sort of realized that if I just don't do another comp, I'm retired and it was something horrid in the middle of the night that woke me up, you know? And I just don't want to be, I just don't want to be! So in the middle of the night, I entered the Abu Dhabi trials and I think that was the Monday morning, 2 o'clock in the morning and the trials were the next Sunday and I hadn't competed and I was pretty out of shape. I wasn't fully back from the injury, I actually hurt the other bicep.

And then the next day, I'm rolling with Hope and she's asking me to do a certain guard pull because we knew that the woman she was fighting would do that. And I did it and I broke my toe, big toe. So I had a broken toe and I’d entered my first comp since almost two years because of the injuries and stuff. And it was my first comp, I think at black belt… yeah, it would have been. So all sorts of stupidity in that 2am decision, I came back to Melbourne and was training with my coach Martin Gonzalez again at Vanguard and like I said to him also, I've entered the Abu Dhabi trials. And he was like, why? And I sort of, I broke into tears and I was like because if I don't do another tournament, I'm retired.

And he was quite honest with me, he was just saying, I've seen the best Jess Fraser and apparently, you're not the best Jess Fraser. And I can get you to any tournament you want in the world, but giving me four days notice is not the coolest. And you're injured, you know, so I was all crying, you don't believe in me and he does believe in me. It's just pretty hard to prepare for a comp in 4 days, you know?

So we had four days to kind of get OK. And basically, my game plan, all the other ladies, Meghan had just fought Mackenzie Dern at the Japan Abu Dhabi grand slam, ended up in the final with her. And I also was aware of Kate Wilson going to be at the trials too. Kate Wilson was then a brown belt but is now a black belt and she's incredible. She's done really well internationally – I think she came in second at World’s as a brown belt and yeah, just generally a really good competitor, a prolific competitor. I see her all over the place, Japan open, that sort of stuff.

So there was a bunch of women in the Abu Dhabi trials for me and Sydney, because I missed the Melbourne one, teaching camp. And there was a bunch of women that were going to be a problem, you know? They're really good, they're winning international stuff. So I sort of went into the Abu Dhabi trials using more strategy than I've ever used before. My style is very aggressive and requires a lot of athleticism and I knew I didn't have the gas tank for it. So we just prepared essentially and mentally about how I was going to do things and basically, my coach said, look, you need to get OK with the fact that you're not going to bash these people. You're not going to win perfectly, you just need to win the matches.

So I did exactly that, and I won the trials, which was insane! It was just insane, you go into this tournament unprepared and it was a real risk for me emotionally and kind of ego-wise, you know? Because I hadn't been dominated in matches in Australia before and it was a very real risk, just where I was at. And I think that if I had it played like I usually played, I would have got beat up pretty good.

So I won the trials and then sought out the advice of one of the guys. I brought James Tomlinson to my camp last year. He's a strength and conditioning coach and also a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. I brought him into the camp in Melbourne to advise women on cross training for Jiu Jitsu. Cross training, not like the new gym, cross training strength and conditioning, longevity in the sport and I thought, OK, well practice what you preach. If you're going to tell the ladies to listen to him, you should listen to him.

So I sought out his services and we started working immediately on preparing for Abu Dhabi. And straight away, the things that he made me stop doing were some dietary things, but also he legitimately made me stop using the language of old and broken. Broken was the really big one that he was like, yep, no more. We don't speak like that because you're not old and you're not broken and we’re going to meddle in Abu Dhabi. And I was a bit like, whatever, I just want to turn up. I've not retired anymore, I'm excited.

So when I got to him, my right bicep was in trouble and the left bicep the long head is actually missing, so I considered myself broken for sure and he not only took me from injury to health; he took me beyond to the fittest I've ever been. And that was quite a process. And then we went to Abu Dhabi and I would say for all of my Jiu Jitsu career, I've been discussing myself like… I've been discussing sort of belts in a way, I think there's like the belt, there's the whole belt, and there's… say there are all the blue belts here. And then there's a big gap and there are the competitors, they just feel different, but they're still blue belts, it's a weird thing. They're the top of that and they're kind of a very different vibe to the majority of blue belts, but they're not a purple belt. It's a weird thing.

And all of my career, I've always said that I'm not here in the belt, I know I’m up here, but I think I'm the bottom internationally of this, you know? And people go, no, you're better than that, believe in yourself, whatever. I feel like I'm very realistic in my self-evaluation and I was pretty certain that that's where I was internationally at every belt rank, including the black belt.

So my job was not to win, but my job was to prove that to myself. So I was certain that I wouldn't even hit the podium and was terrified of allowing myself even to think that way, just mainly because I was scared of disappointment, or having to redefine myself if I didn't. And that fear I think limits you in competition, you need to actually believe that you will win it and just deal with the fact that you might be disappointed if you don't because a couple of tears is a lot better than limiting yourself I think. So J.T. from Richmond gym, that really got me back into a better headspace. He was really into me about this stuff and I never thought about it this way before.

So he was very into me with that, he was into me about thinking in a positive way, so there's a lot of stuff that I thought I was a realist or whatever, I understand where I'm going to come in the matches and he kind of got me outside of that headspace, you know? But he also… Stuff that I sort of rode off as just motivational quotes, things like only positive vibes, you know? And I now know how essential they are. For me, there's only progress in joy, you know? And he helped me move away from things that were making me feel really negative about myself or others and just stopped those things.

There was a lot of things where he was like, no more bad vibes. Just no more bad vibes, you've got to be happy, you know? And that just literally saw me soaring, right? The fittest I've ever been, the best I've ever rolled and I went to Abu Dhabi very prepared, like crazy prepared. I was prepared for 15-minute matches, you know? But it's, Abu Dhabi is short matches, which is really suitable for somebody like me that's really well into masters two or something, I don't know, age of 38-39 now.

So I went over in the adult's division and I fought really well and then hit Tammi Musumeci in the semifinals and I swept her, which I don't know whether has been done yet, you know? So there was that moment of like, holy shit! Oh my God! These people, they're exceptional and they're kind of unbeatable, but the techniques are beatable, so if I can just get my best spots… If you apply them, they work, you know? But if she gets the hit, it works for me too, you know? So I swept her and then I made some bad decisions about where I went after that. And she berimboloed me, she's best in the world in berimbolo,  took my back and then choked me, which I would love for that to not have happened, but it was the first time that I realized that we could do this, I can do this. And it's totally possible.

So the cool thing about Abu Dhabi… So she went on to the final the next day against Bia Mesquita and so… incredible athletes, the best in the world and I just missed out. So the cool thing about Abu Dhabi is you go back into this new division, they created a whole new division for anybody that didn't get through to those two final spots. So you start a whole new comp and I ended up winning that. So my bronze medal wasn't because I’d lost to somebody that won. I went into another comp and I won that little comp and so that was on the big screen on the final day and stuff, so I got to be the first Australian black belt to go onto the final day, which was just the coolest thing, you know?

The difference between that, I've been on that finals day before as a purple belt and it was televised and stuff and I had a panic attack from the first trip to the end of the match, so it took me years to be able to watch the match, because I was just so overwhelmed by it, it was very overwhelming, the cameras and all that kind of stuff. But I'm so glad I had that experience at purple, because then as a black belt, I just enjoyed every second, you know?

Not only was I thinking I was going to retire last year, I was like standing there, even for the final day, there was a moment where we’re all standing in the dark with all the lights going, the drums going and I was looking across and I could see Livia Gluchowska waiting for her match and I could see Lachlan Giles waiting for his match and it was just like we were these terracotta army standing in the dark, it was just the coolest thing! And then the music and the lights came up, and then the wrestle did this all once and it was just…  there was that moment where I was like, this is the coolest thing I've ever done in my life.

This is awesome and it was the first time in my life I enjoyed competition because it was just so cool! I've been terrified of competition and nervous and terrified of performance and all that kind of stuff in the past, but this thing was just a celebration of all the years leading up. It was just all of it, you know? Everything put in and all the people that had helped me and stuff. And I think it really goes to show that the joy really can bring the best out of you, you know?

The final day was just awesome, cool things happened. They announced me as Jess Fraser from New Zealand and that made me think instantly of my best mate in New Zealand, who's been on this whole journey with me Kirsty Mather and she's just opened the first gym in the South Island and I think in all of New Zealand to be owned by a woman, owned and operated by a woman and that's just… so instantly, as soon as they said it, Jess Fraser from New Zealand, I was just in a great space!

Because I thought of all these people I love out there with me and I knew that they'll be laughing, watching the live feed and it was just the coolest thing. Lachlan Giles volunteered – he's from a  different gym, you know, we don't train together, but he's from the same city and he volunteered to be my coach from the sidelines and so I was out there with people from Oz and then I won that match and the bronze medal and…  if you've seen the video, it's just the happiest I've ever been in my life. And even talking about it now, it was just…

GEORGE: You were happy!

JESS: It was just the coolest thing! I can't even put it into words how great it was. And it validated for me like I was talking about: there are the black belts and there's the gap and then there are the competitors and I am the bottom of that. And I'm good with that! The girls that are the top of that – I look up to! But I'm off them, so it's just really validating and just… yeah, I'm really happy about all of it. Liv Gluchowska also won a bronze medal that weekend and so we’re the first, we’re blazing trails. We did it blue belt and now we are black belts, so that's a pretty cool thing. And then, off the back of that, I kept the momentum going and I went to worlds and did my first black belt worlds. And I lost first round, but again, I just had so much fun.

There wasn't a whiff of nerves, it was just all about getting to go row with the woman that's really good at Jiu Jitsu and see what happens. And I dominated the match but lost some points and definitely, it's a strategy problem for me. I just want to fight and have fun and I had reverted back to just wrestling. And I just couldn't get a hook when I was on her back – good on her for protecting it. So her strategy was better and I might have been a bit more aggressive, but whatever.

But I had a lot of fun and then, I decided to do No Gi worlds because I figured this was probably me peaking, you know? At 38 and I went black belt and I've never done an international tournament in No Gi and I decided to do that, mainly…  that choice was mainly I'm moving into coaching for sure and that's really where my future is. And I feel like the sport is moving in a direction – and I say the sport, because I don't mean the martial arts part of it, but the sport is kind of moving in a direction of No Gi and a lot of the people that come into the sport have done so, because of the UFC and looking at things like Eddie Bravo’s tournaments and there's money in those tournaments and people are interested in No Gi and I felt like I would limit myself as a coach if I didn't understand it more.

So I took the Gi off for four months and had problems with the most challenging four months I've had on the mat since blue belt, really frustrating. There's was quite a few tears, it really took me back to that space of getting my ego smashed, you know, because there's a bunch of guys that I can handle fine in a Gi that I couldn't in No Gi, so that was really difficult and challenging in so many ways. Preparing for a ten-minute match at the age of 38, or several 10-minute matches in No Gi as well – aaah, it's like… it’s very physical, you know?

So that was really hard and I think that a lot of the fatigue really got to me as well. It didn’t really help my headspace resolve. So I prepared for that and then went over in December, and I did kind of a de-load victory with Dean Lister and stuff and that was really cool. Dean Lister was one of the most giving people on the mat, he just helped me out so much and he could see that I was struggling with performance anxiety and it was like, I think you just put a Gi on! Just come down here and have fun. Just the coolest thing to have this legend say, just chill out Jess. Don't worry about it, it's just another match.

And so that really helped me. He showed me some really cool stuff, made my game a bit broader as well, and I'm working on that stuff now. And yeah, and then I went and I took 3rd again, so it's really proven to me that there are some elite women and I just think they're crazy crazy crazy good, I'm hanging with them; I'm not beating them, but I'm there. And that in Gi and No Gi has sort of proven in a year that I thought I had retired, so I'm really happy. I couldn't be happier and it's changed my view of myself and what's possible in the sport and… yeah. Yeah, it's been a big year since I saw you.

GEORGE: That's awesome! And you keep referring back to the mind thing. And that's sort of the one, you're obviously capable of all the achievements that you've got, there's this pattern that you keep talking about, your mind is playing tricks on you, you're talking about, you're broken and you know…

JESS: Yeah.

GEORGE: …the age thing, you know, all this mental stuff going on.

JESS: Yeah.

GEORGE: Do you find that being the hardest thing with just Jiu Jitsu and everything in life, just really managing that mind, the mindset to actually take you to where you need to go.

JESS: Yeah, I mean, the hard thing is identifying it, you know? I didn't even know I was using that language. I had no idea, I kept saying it and I listened back to the podcast and I hear it and it's shocking to me, how often I did it. And sometimes it takes somebody on the outside to say, hey, you really need to pull up on that stuff, because it's not great. I’m now,  I'm really moving as many people as I can away from things like black belt spaz, I'm just not into the language of it, we just use different language at our gym.

Don't be a potato, it's totally inclusive language, and it helps not shame people and just… bad language can be really powerful, you know? And I know there are even people who call me up on being pc police, you can't say anything these days – but it's powerful, you know? If I keep telling myself that I'm a spaz – what a horrible thing to say! Or somebody else is and just the way that we see ourselves. You are what you repeat in behaviour.

GEORGE: Yeah.

JESS: And you are what your practice, you know? So it's important that you practice positive thought and process it if you want to do well. For me, I feel like it's essential. I couldn't have done what I did without it, I understand that now.

GEORGE: Yeah. I mean, and it's a big balance because you can't just have a positive mindset and do squat on the backend. But I mean, I'm having this conversation with quite a few people in our Martial Arts Media Academy program, which helps the school owners with their lead generation and so forth. And the conversation is always going, the focus is always on failure and it's just… I sparked a conversation with a few people, very negative outlook towards themselves and their results and a real skewed version of… I guess taking it very personally? Very small obstacles, turning it into big things and then reflecting that on themselves for the failure. And I mean, it's really hard to get that message across, but my message in its simplicity was, no one's ever been successful thinking of failure. You can't be looking there and expecting to go there.

JESS: Totally. Yeah.

GEORGE: Two opposite sides of the coin.

JESS: Exactly. Years ago, when I tried to play ice hockey, a really simple statement from the coach is, you've got to look where you want the puck to go – not at the puck, you know? In that self-reflection, don't be the puck in front of you, you know? Look at the goals and that sort of stuff. And I really used to write that stuff off, I think my cynicism or something wouldn't allow me to let that in and I see it now, you know? And it is powerful, it helps. Everything helps, you know?

If the difference between me and being in a final with these women, potentially in the future if I could, if the difference is that, why not just try it, you know? it's not going to hurt anything and it's not going to make you exhausted in any way, you know? It's not having to do sprints; it's something that you can do without it being at cost to you or anyone else. It worked for me, I don't know, might as well try, you know?

GEORGE: It's important that you also mentioned that you had some of this fail-safe thing happening, that you want to be realistic because you don't want to be disappointed as well, so you don't want to put…  it's almost like you're holding yourself back, right? Because you don't want to put yourself out there, like in the mindset, I'm going to win this, I'm going to win this and then you don't and you're crushed afterwards.

JESS: Yeah, but some people do. Some people do and I see a lot of affirmations and stuff, and people writing that sort of stuff and that's cool. Whatever they need to do to get that positive thought patterning in, of thinking as if they can win it. There are some people that are just like, I think that I am a winner and I believe – for me, I'm not there yet. I don't know how to think that way, but what I needed to do was just not block myself. So I'm thinking more in the way of, it is possible for me. It is possible. If I do everything right, this is possible, you know?

And the way that… for some reason, I think that in Abu Dhabi I had this… it was like my ears equalizing, popping to the logic of, oh, I have 50% chance of winning this thing tomorrow. Tomorrow, when I go – and this was even before the final day, but I had nerves going over and whatever and just going into the division I was like, but one of us is going to win that match! I’ve just got to do everything in my power to make it be me! And if that's not enough, that's cool too, you know?

The first day of getting into the bronze medal match on the finals day, that's what cleared it for me. Oh wow, it was like a real realization and I finally believed it and understood it. And I was like, well, one of us is going to get what we want tomorrow – just make it be you, you know? And then when I went into the finals day, which, of course, you're trying to get some sleep and you're freaking out because it's the first time an Ozzie has done it, a black belt and the thing…  I ended up finding my sister and just saying like, I'm kind of terrified of letting myself think that it could be me, you know? And she was like, what?! Just think that way! You know, just do it, allow it.

And I remember the moment, I just like…  it was really emotional for me. I was like, oh my God: I might actually get to have this. I might get to do something that I really wanted to do and it's OK that I think that way, you know? We sort of getting told a lot to be humble in this sport and I think that I went, if there was a grayscale of it, I think I went so far the other way, like never… I didn't want people to perceive me to be like cocky or whatever, you know? But now I realize that at some point you're going to have to. You're going to have to think that you're good at this thing, you know?

And now, I really test myself. When I go and do seminars internationally, you know, I sort of start the seminar with that. My name is Jess Fraser and I'm good at Jiu Jitsu. I might not be good at life stuff, but I'm good at Jiu Jitsu and I'm here to share that with you. And I'm OK with that now and I think that it's important for, definitely the women in the room to hear me say that and to say it just as a fact, not as a, woohoo, yay me, or anything weird; it's just, this is a fact. I’m good at it, I proved it, you know? And I'm OK with it. So that's part of my thing, I have to keep repeating that language.

GEORGE: So let's talk about your events because I was on your Facebook profile and I’ll include this photo in the transcript,  of course.

JESS: Yeah, of course.

GEORGE: There's a picture of you with how many people are at this event? I mean…

JESS: So it's 153 women from all over Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Indonesia, and Cambodia and some international travelers that were already in Australia, so Germany and Switzerland and places like that. So they were lucky enough to get the timing right. 153 women in a whole island that I rented for us. So I booked a whole island this year, which is…

GEORGE: You booked a whole island, all right.

JESS: An island, yes. A whole island and it has no public access, so I had to charter a ferry for 153 people to get onto and arrive at the camp. So I've got some drone footage around, that's floating around so you guys can see that if you want to have a look, I'm still in the throes of editing a lot for announcing the next years’ one.

But yeah, I started those camps in 2011, so this was my 8th, 8.5 – I did a mid-year camp that was a little bit smaller in Melbourne. So yeah, that was my 8th one and we had I think, and I'm not meant to call them staff, because of contracting laws, I call them crew, right? So I had 20 crew this year. We had 4 main coaches, we had something like 10 assistant coaches and they're women that have attended camps before and are elite athletes in Australia and from Hong Kong as well. So they're moving into the senior coaching roles.

The cool thing about that is creating employment for women within this sport and – I'm not allowed to say employment, you know what I mean though. Contract work, but yeah, so heaps of opportunities there, those opportunities you can apply for and stuff. And we now have somebody that is a full-time contractor for running the merch store, I’ve outsourced stuff like that, to a woman named Helina Jade, who is just a Godsend. She's amazing, she does like the whole thing for me, so she's actually working for AGIG now, so that's really cool.

But yeah, 153 women are on an island for three days, we caught the ferry out there and then just heaps of training and heaps of activities, so there's a lot of social activities for people to just have a good time. And it's kind of like… this one was kind of like a music festival, there were so many crazy, fun things to do and like costume parties and just cool stuff. But a lot of training, you know, so people mainly see the photos of us fooling around, because those are the amusing ones, but there was something like 12 hours of contact with training over a three day period, so it's a lot of training. That means we need a lot of down times, splashing around in a pool and that kind of stuff. So it was incredible, I think that's the first time that that's ever happened, that somebody… yeah, owned a whole island for Jiu Jitsu, and of course for women, it was crazy. So a 153 is pretty big, pretty big. I was very proud of that one, a real success, yeah.

GEORGE: Why is there no Australian guys in Gis doing a thing like this?

JESS: Yeah, I mean, this sort of comes back to my… every year at camp, I set an intention that is of course flavored by where I'm at in my own journey and I like to share that with people. I’m very open about that sort of stuff, I like them to see truly who I am and my ideals and stuff and if they're aligned with that, that's cool, and if they're not – that's cool too, you know? And so over the last two years, there's been quite a bit of backlash against feminism just generally, people think it's a dirty word, or a bad movement or something. And there's some confusion about what it is and what we’re trying to do and I think there's some confusion when it comes to Australian Girls in Gi, guys going, oh, that's sexist. Well, it's sort of not and to help people understand that, I kind of wrapped up in my theme for the year.

Every year, I set a theme for the AGIG camp and I try to get it to flavor the year ahead for all the Australian Girls in Gi, members. So in the past, we've done things like tackling comparison envy and just not comparing yourself to other women, not trying to drag them down as a way to balance that for yourself, you know? Celebrating women, one of our intentions was, become her biggest cheerleader and it's very easy. Once you see somebody that you're jealous of, it's very easy to become her biggest fan and it actually is for you, you know? So we've done that sort of thing, body acceptance, we've done learning how to learn, all this kind of stuff.

And this year, because people have been approaching me about this thing, well but it's not fair, it's only for women and that shouldn't be allowed and that's not legal and all this kind of stuff. And it is and what we’re doing is celebrating the women that are already in the sport. So we’re not saying that men… we don't want to be divisive, I don't know the word, in any way. I don't want to create a divide, I truly don't want to. I don't do it at my own academy, so I don't want to take that into the community, but the idea is to celebrate the women that are already in the sport and to encourage them to stay, so they can move into… who have stayed long enough to move into roles of leadership and community development and all this kind of stuff, you know? And then make it truly an equal sport, an inclusive sport, you know.

So the idea for me, I was just talking about the punk posters on my wall, it's like I started thinking of the riot grrrl movement of the 1990s and Kathleen Hanna, who is the lead singer of Bikini Kills, sort of started this thing called riot grrrl and basically, you know, at gigs, it wasn't about making sure that the men left or anything, but she did say this statement, girls to the front. And she was, I’m serious about it, girls to the front. Bring them to the front, let's prioritize them within the community and then celebrate them and that's cool, that's totally cool. We’re not trying to create a divide, we’re trying to create more celebration of people that are involved. And that's totally what AGIG is and it's totally what the camp was about.

So I asked them to be those girls to the front this year. And to fill the space, you know. And to create within the community, so I'm really asking of them, rather than to just be participants to start creating, start making Jiu-Jitsu art, start making montages, learn how to be a videographer, learn how to be a coach, learn how run a kids event, you know? I think some people are a bit scared to take up space in women's Jiu-Jitsu in Australia because they feel AGIG is a bit of a juggernaut, but I'm really sort of saying – but I want you to, I want to attend an event. I don't do kids camps or anything, I don't do that sort of stuff, I focus on adult women, I'm celebrating the adult women that are in the sport because I want them to stay and I want THEM to foster the kids, you know? Foster their development or whatever, so it… for me, that's what the flavor of this camp is and it's really, it's really what the theme of the camp was.

The year ahead, I'm hoping that they’re really inspired and they do this stuff. One of my mates just wrote a Jiu-Jitsu rap song and he's doing really well, that's J.T. my strength coach, so seeing that sort of stuff, I just want more of it and I want more from the women, you know? Because I don't believe that the community is set in stone with how it can and should be. I believe that it's a malleable thing and if we want a space that's all-inclusive, we have to create it that way. And just simply being a participant doesn't change anything. You can't be a participant – sorry, my battery just died, you can't really… hello, are you there? Sorry.

GEORGE: Yeah, cool.

JESS: Yeah, so you can't really be a participant and complain about how it's being run if you haven't offered energy and alternatives. So that's what I'm asking of the community this year and to help explain to other people what I'm trying to do. I really, just genuinely am so excited about men in the sport as well, but this just happens to be where I'm focused on my business, you know? And my life, so – yeah.

GEORGE: I think it's awesome!

JESS: Thank you, yeah, that's awesome.And so for me the whole range, even the merch and stuff this year has a punk flavor to it, and there's a reason for it. It's to remind the girls daily, be a mat punk, fill the space, back in the day we used to make fanzines, you know? And I'm just not seeing that in this community, I’d love to see more blogs and I’d love to see more podcasts and that sort of stuff and that it be women, not just always a male voice. And that's not to say that the male voice isn't worthy and totally exceptional, you know? I totally see that, but it's just I want more, there's no…  it won't detract from men if we add. It won't at all, so that's what I'm asking with Australian Girls in Gi.

GEORGE: That's awesome, I'm a big fan of what you're doing, I think it's awesome for the sport, I think you answered, you give answers to questions that I would ask and I think that your vision and creativity, it does a lot more good than it would do any divide or any harm. You’re simply making it OK for ladies to step up and do Jiu Jitsu, where they might not have felt comfortable in a male-dominated sport to do that.

JESS: For sure.

GEORGE: So just a few more questions for you: where are we headed with Australian Girls in Gi, and also which events are coming up, depending of course when the listener listens to this podcast. But what do you see happening in the near future?

JESS: Well, some cool things have happened. I've got a lot of advice about moving forward and last time I spoke to you, I was saying, I try not to focus too much on the competitions. And I sat down with some mentors and we looked at my strengths and weaknesses and got really realistic about that. And my strengths are definitely community and hands-on, physically rolling with people. I love doing that and things like the competitions were exhausting me and they weren't my forte, you know? I've always run good comps, but it's just not where my heart was.

So I've actually taken on Hope Douglass, who is a brown belt in Sydney and she's, along with her partner Ari, they've taken the Australian Girls in Gi comps, so they've created a whole season, they do Australia wide tour in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. So that autumn tour is coming up and yeah, so it's essentially a circuit for comps and I'll be looking at overall winners and rewarding that in a certain way, from the community side of Australian Girls in Gi. So that's now her baby, it's sort of like, it's got a lot to do with me because I sort of started it, but it's now completely hers and she's running with it and where I'm really proud of that is not only the Australian Girls in Gi offers tournaments for women, so definitely girls and teens and masters now, in the masters division you really get to have matches with other women.

It's been handed over to someone, so I've also created an opportunity for Hope to be able to fund her overseas travel to go on to compete and that sort of stuff. Like, I can't afford personally to sponsor her, but I can create that kind of opportunity, and she's really run with that, it looks incredible. She does a better job than I ever did and I'm just really happy about that. Like, that's what I wanted, is to create more opportunities for women and I feel like if I try to do it all, I’d be sort of getting in the way of that, so it's really nice to be able to see that happen and flourish. So she's doing that, there are all of those tournaments are on the Australian Girls in Gi website, which is just australiangirlsingi.com and also on our Facebook page. So the Facebook page has got all the events listed as Facebook events and that's a really easy way to keep up to date for that, so they're coming up.

I’m running things like the open mats in a bunch of different areas, but there are also some other women taking on the open mats too, so Jean Alvisse in Wollongong. She's a black belt as well, and she's going to start running some open mats in New South Wales, under the banner of Australian Girls in Gi, so again, really introducing her to the community and sharing that one out, like outsourcing. Also, I can really focus more on the camp, so the open mats I will do where they're easy for me to do, I'm going to try to do an east coast series, I've just got like a whole bunch of gyms applying, they're all expressing their interest to host. So hopefully, we’ll work from Cairns all the way down and do a whole month of open mat series and some seminars.

So what I do is, I do an open mat in that area and use that essentially as a crowdsourcing fund, like a little pool of cash to afford me to be there and then I usually spend a couple of private lessons with the most senior woman there, that's the leader in that area. So it's like I'm trying to train them, kind of situation, where the people that come to the open mats, it's like a $30 open mat, but there's 30 of them, they can fund upskilling the local female leader, which just has a great flow effect. And then, once we've done that a couple of times, we sort of move her into a leadership brawl as well, from Australian Girls in Gi, so she might become an assistant coach at one of the camps, or what not.

So it really sort of, we've got like a process now, that we can upskill everybody, everybody gets something out of it and it's all positive, but it all moves forward. So that's happening, but I also, I've just announced my first mixed camp, which is a really big deal and I'm absolutely terrified, but I have faith it will work, so I… you know, the girls at the camp, I was saying to them, I really need you to fill the space this year and be creative and do things that feel uncomfortable, because great things come out of it. And I felt like I couldn't do that, couldn't say that without doing that myself.

So my mid-year camp in July, that's in Melbourne CBD, just next to the zoo there and is an on-site camp. There are accommodation and food and stuff, so it's more for people. Melbourne people can come, but it's more for people to come down to Melbourne, for a full-on intensive Jiu-Jitsu camp. So it will be mixed, it's open to men, women, children – anyone that wants to come. Children obviously have to come with supervision. Yeah, the idea behind that is that for every ticket sold to a male, there needs to be a ticket sold to a female, so I'm doing a 50-50 ratio, just to keep that “women to the front” sort of thing going, so it's not just for men, but it's also not just for women so it's for everybody and that's my goal for that one. And it is a massive risk because I've never done before, but you know, I've got to try, and if it works, we’ll keep doing it, and if it doesn't – OK. I tried, you know, that's the whole point. And so that's in July.

And I have booked the dates for the huge camp, the summer camp for women only, so that is… all of this is on the Facebook page, I'm still trying to build a website side of it, it'll go up shortly, but the camp will be the weekend before Australia day in January and it's at an even better venue, like… I don't want to give too much away because it's just so incredible, I just can't even get my head around it. But yeah, that will be… last time we had an island, this time we have AGIG beach. We have… oh my God, if you could see this thing, it's just so astounding and I can't wait to really set that to everybody as news, but of course, I need to build up momentum for the mid-year camp before I can really push the camp next year, so that's happening.

I've also got a camp in Bali, as I always do every year. So mid-year camp, that's the first week of August essentially and that's one of those camps that we all hang out together and we do everything together and we go surfing and stuff and we’ll go on celebrating down the bars and stuff, and really explore Bali. But you organize your own accommodation and travel, just because everyone likes different tiers of travel. Like, I personally just like to sort of having what I have here than over there, whereas, other people are like, I'm in Bali, I'm going to live total pimp style, other people are like, I want it to be as good as possible. I just don't want to make those decisions for people. At the moment it's a 6-day intensive training camp, so 2 hours a day with me, plus you can do any of the Bali MMA classes, but I find that people are pretty exhausted.

And we’ll just go through a whole series, we’ll do workshops every day, essentially looking not at specific technique, but it will be like a submission series, a passing series, whatever, more of a workshop around those ideas and because it's a smaller group, that's more in the realm of 30 people, whereas the other camps are over a 100. I can actually workshop ideas for people. So if I've got someone that turns up that plays deep half and de la riva we can actually just cover the concepts of guard in the workshop and the next day concepts of passing, and that sort of stuff, so everybody benefits.

And that's much more me, that's really me coaching, whereas the overnight stay camps is a broad range of elite coaches that… it's different. So it's more like, they're more like sort of seminars, that all work together. The camps, the way that we structure it is we actually split the group into two – and I will be moving into splitting the group into three, just so we can get fewer people on the mat, more people at camp. But basically what happens is, this year, for instance, I was teaching open guard passing to one half of the room and Gene was teaching open guard, you know, on the other side of the room. And so for an hour and 15, you do the techniques, so it's like this group is doing this, this group is doing this.

So for an hour and 15, and then we do 45 minutes of brawls, and you have to roll with someone from the other group. So you get to rap out what you've just learned immediately, and then the next half of the day, we swap that. So you've actually learned both sides and you got to rap it out. And that's how the camps work. So people get a lot out of the camps, because they're repeating so often the content, whereas a seminar, sometimes I find that you go to a seminar and it's like, oh wow that was awesome – and you don't remember anything, because you didn't get a chance to apply it, so the camps are really great for actual content, and upping your skills.

GEORGE: Awesome. Cool, well Jess – it's been great catching up again, we’re going to have to do this again in about, I don't know, 30-40 episodes?

JESS: Yeah.

GEORGE: Maybe early next year.

JESS: Yeah, well hopefully next time we talk, I’ll be like, wow, the mixed camp was a total success! What an amazing thing, yay Australia! So, yes, fingers crossed on that one, I hope so. I have faith, you know, got to try.

GEORGE: Awesome, well, I'll have all the pictures and all the video footage and things on this episode page, just go to martialartsmedia.com and just look for the blog link, for the podcast link and you can go from there. And if people want to get a hold of you, jessfraser.com?

JESS: Yeah, that's me, yeah. Or anywhere through Australian Girls in Gi, you can find me, you know. If I personally don't get the messages, there are women that are moderating the groups that will pass it straight onto me, if you attention it to me. Also, anything that's Koala Jiu Jitsu, you know, so that's an easy way to remember me and find me, whether it's Instagram or whatever.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Awesome Jess, great catching up – I’ll speak to you soon.

JESS: Thank you!

GEORGE: Awesome, cheers!

Awesome – thank for listening, thanks, Jess Fraser for coming on the show once again. If you are a martial arts school owner and you need help with your marketing, you need help with the technical stuff, maybe a new website and just need to attract new students through online media – then you can speak to us! You can get a hold of us at martialartsmedia.com or visit martialartsmedia.academy, which is our coaching program, where we help you with your marketing. Not so much as just show you how to do it, but help you when you get stuck, which is I guess the big thing.

I mean, it's one thing to learn the strategies of how to attract new students, but it's when you apply them that people tend to get stuck with the application and perhaps you need a bit of a signing board to guide you through that. So if that's you and you need help, reach out to us at martialartsmedia.com, or visit us at martialartsmedia.academy and you can apply for our coaching program right there. Awesome – great interview lined up for you again next week, speak to you then. Transcript and full video of this episode again is at martialartsmedia.com/59. Thanks, speak soon – cheers!

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58 – Chris Nott – Family, Knowledge And Action Through Teaching Martial Arts

Chris Nott lives his passion through teaching martial arts. Here's how he got the business guidance that made that possible.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How martial arts business owners can benefit from martial arts events
  • The struggles Chris Nott underwent while starting his martial arts school
  • The importance of having a mentor for martial arts success
  • How Chris Nott was able to turn his passion into a career
  • Why it’s not yet too late for you to live your dreams
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

CHRIS: I think you, like any event that you go to, but especially for me The Main Event, because again it's run by people that already run successful schools … So there's a lot of events going on in our industry, and I like to go everywhere because that's where you learn, but specifically, if you run a martial arts school … An event run by somebody that runs multiple martial arts schools is for me a good thing already.

GEORGE: This podcast episode is the audio version of a video interview I had with Chris Nott. To get the full episode, access to the video, and to download the transcript, please go to martialartsmedia.com/58, that's forward slash 5 8. Here's the episode. Enjoy.

Hi, this is George Fourie, and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. Today, I am with Chris Nott, all the way from Mount Margate, Florida. How are you doing today, Chris?

CHRIS: I'm doing great, George. Good morning, buddy.

GEORGE: Awesome, and from FKA Martial Arts, and we're going to have a bit of a chat. We also are going to be meeting Chris officially at The Main Event in San Diego, so depending on when you're listening to this podcast episode, that is between the 26th and the 28th of April. That's going to be a lot of fun, if you're a business martial arts school owner or instructor, you want to learn a little bit more. Going to be a great event to attend to. We'll probably speak a little bit about that, but first I guess we got to start right from the beginning. Who is Chris Nott?

CHRIS: Well, hi. So like the rest of you guys, martial arts is my passion, always has been. When I came to the US, I turned what was I guess a hobby in the UK, because I think back in the day that's more how martial arts was perceived, at least in England, but it's obviously changed now, but in America it was already run as a structured professional business, it was a way to, I guess, do something that you love, but also make a living at that and support your family at the same time.

So I'm very fortunate to do what I do for a living. My passion is teaching anybody, kids, adults, doesn't matter, but I would say mainly I really enjoy teaching children.

GEORGE: How did this journey all begin? You immigrated from the UK, came to the United States, where did it all sort of originate?

CHRIS: Yeah, that's a great question. As a kid, I dabbled in martial arts at different clubs, or youth clubs, I guess, in England. Played a lot of other sports, as well, you know. Football, what we know as soccer, but martial arts was always a passion. I think, I guess like everybody else around my age, when you once saw a Bruce Lee movie, you were like that's it, I want to be Bruce Lee. That's I guess kind of what drew me to martial arts.

And to the states in '87. I trained in a couple of different styles and systems, and kind of settled on a school up here and managed to find an instructor for Jeet Kun Do, which was my passion. That's where I started looking at the opportunity to, I guess, get involved in martial arts more as a career than something as a hobby.

At the time, actually my background, I was a French polisher. I went to London College of Furniture, so when I first came to the States that's what I was doing for a living. I actually worked down here on the yachts and boats, refurbishing, doing that kind of thing. Eventually, when I got married and had kids, I kind of looked at that career path and said, you know, do I want to be around all those chemicals and dust and all that kind of stuff? Looking at my young family, I kind of want to grow up in a healthier lifestyle.

I got the opportunity through my training to go on to become an instructor, and then just decided to make a complete career change. That was I was probably, I came to this a lot later than most people, I was probably 29, 30 when I started. Most people have been doing this since they were children, at least involved in schools or living in the US. I started my school, I stayed with that instructor for a while teaching, and eventually, I guess like we all do, you have a sort of yearning to jump out on your own and give it a shot, you know… I actually opened my school ten or twelve years ago in a community center located in the City of Margate.

I started with two students, and over the course of three or four years, we grew that to about 100-150 students in the school, and I'm like hey, man, I could actually make a living doing this thing, you know? So I did a couple of Hail Mary’s, and we invested in the facility and the school. Be careful what you ask for because the first few years were a little harrier than I thought it was going to be. With perseverance and time, and studying and learning from people in our industry that have been there before us, we I think now got a really solid school, a good system. We have a good business.

My wife now works at the school. I have a few full-time employees. We run an afterschool, a summer camp program, a pretty strong kids martial arts program, and a good adult class at night. I guess that was the 100-mile-an-hour overview of how did I get involved with where I am now.

GEORGE: That's cool. What were those early obstacles? You say you started late. I mean I'm a complete latecomer, 36 when I finally started training martial arts because my son was training, so I thought it was a cool dad-son thing to get going. That got me into in super late, what I think is super late, although it's now my full-time passion. If you look at those early stages, what were the biggest obstacles you faced to really make that switch from taking your career into making that shift into full-time martial arts school?

CHRIS: I think always when you give up one career… I mean the career I was actually in was a career that generated very good revenue, so I mean I won't be cliché, but yes by giving up that kind of revenue that I was making to go into a business that I didn't have that at the time, I was lucky enough to have a wife that was super supportive. She had a good job, so that definitely, I guess, was like a good insurance policy, an umbrella for us, while we made that transition.

But yeah, you know, man, like everybody, when you start out, you struggle. There are some hairy months. You're like, oh my God, are we even going to be able to pay the bills? We went through all of that stress. But again, I think if you're able to do something in your life where you can line up your passion, and also turn that into something that generates a revenue, come on, man, that's the greatest thing, right? You get to wake up and do what you love. Again, not to sound cliché, but I guess the finances, in the beginning, were the obstacle and realizing maybe I didn't have all the tools to execute and do what it is I need to grow the school.

I think a lot of that comes down to if you, probably, if you start martial arts at a young age, and you're in a school, I don't know, I use Fred as an example, but if you're in a school like that where they're already successful, they have systems in place, the kids are going to come up through that structured system, and so they've already got all the tools to succeed.

You know what I'm saying? Versus you talk about you and I’m coming to the industry later, yeah, super passionate about martial arts, I think very lucky to have some awesome martial arts instructors, but maybe not the best business coaches in the world. So here you are like man, I got this great martial arts skill program I want to teach, and now how do I get the students, what's that all about? I'm sure people can relate to that.

GEORGE: That's an interesting topic because it's something that's been coming up a lot. Actually, I was writing an email about this about an hour ago, about advice within the industry. I think there's, I guess, and you see this in business and then you see this in martial arts, people get this superhero syndrome thing, that because you're successful in one thing, you assume that that advice applies to everything else.

I think because especially in martial arts when people reach such a high state of martial arts, that often we share business knowledge and things that they might not be that on top of, and people buy into that, they go the wrong way, get the wrong advice, and there's a lot of repercussions, of course.

CHRIS: Yeah, sure. Yeah.

GEORGE: How did you sort of getting to finding the right people to listen to, and the right business advice to move you forward?

CHRIS: First of all, by making lots of mistakes, unfortunately, I have to say. We learn I think more often, a lot more, from our mistakes than we do from the things that we do right. Then just sort of coming to a point where you're like oh, but I just don't know how to do this, or I don't know how to do that, I'd a better study. Right? Education is how we improve anything we do. If you don't know how to do something, you need to read or study. I guess in this day and age, Google it and watch it on YouTube. But even then, it's a good start.

I think at the end of the day, whatever kind of coaching you're going to get, my advice would be just simply this. Take a good look at the people you're about to go mentor and study under and look at what they've done. If they've been successful with that particular thing, there's a pretty good chance as long as you pay attention and listen to them and do what it is they ask you to do, you're going to have that same success, because it's proven. Does that make sense?

GEORGE: Yeah.

CHRIS: Versus hey, my friend told me this chap over there is doing this, let's try this, and now you're kind of just pissing in the wind, and you really don't know what kind of result you're going to get.

GEORGE: All right. Awesome. What sort of developed as your strength in the martial arts space?

CHRIS: Let's see, that's a good question. I mean I'm super passionate about teaching. I love to teach. If you're going to be doing your job, you better love what you do, you know? So I love to be on the mat, impart knowledge, see people learn and grow, and be a part of people's lives. I like to think I'm a pretty good people person. I wouldn't say accounting and bookkeeping is my strong suit.

God bless my wife for taking care of that side of our business. I enjoy, I guess, building our business, like day by day looking at what can we do next. I love the challenge of what are we going to do for our marketing this month, how are we going to grow the business, how can we impact more lives in our community by getting more students into the school. I would say those are my strengths.

GEORGE: Cool. I'm going to change gears. This just is a question I picked up looking at your website, fkamartialarts.com, but before we get to that, I think I just want to, I don't want to lose track from where we are…

CHRIS: Actually the site is familyknowledgeaction.com.

GEORGE: Family, Knowledge, Action.

CHRIS: Dot com. FKA, that's what it stands for, is Family, Knowledge, Action. So when we chose our school name, our philosophy is basically embracing families in our community and imparting knowledge through an action philosophy, and that's what became the name of our school.

GEORGE: Okay, because there's two. There's fkamartialarts.com.

CHRIS: Yeah. We actually for marketing, we have like a ton of different websites…

GEORGE: Right, okay.

CHRIS: Websites, but if you really want to kind of get a feel for who we are as a school, familyknowledgeaction.com will give you a good overview of all the different programs. I don't say that as a plug. I know you can edit that out, just so that you have the right address if people are looking at it, you know?

GEORGE: Okay, that's good, because that's the website I was looking at. I did because we develop websites for martial arts schools, so it's obviously always one thing I look at, and always look at just what people are doing.

CHRIS: Yeah.

GEORGE: Internal critique, is that good, could we do better…

CHRIS: Yeah, oh. Yeah, for sure, all the time.

GEORGE: Just I found it very cool, and I don't want to get into a big technology talk, but I found it very good the way, the style that you had on fkamartialarts.com, just with using the sort of WordPress blog type template, but really good strong headline, really talking to your audience, parents and kids. Really good keyword structure and so forth. Is that something that you pay a lot of attention to with your school marketing?

CHRIS: I really can't take credit for that, the websites. I'm involved in many different groups in our industry. I consult … Again, I basically like to think we have two companies running out of one location. We run a martial arts program for children and adults, and as I mentioned earlier we also have an afterschool and a summer camp program. Well, I think the confusion for a lot of people is they try to run them like they're the same business. They're really not. They're two separate companies, I have two separate staff teams, et cetera, et cetera, and therefore you need two separate kinds of marketing strategies for those programs.

I'm not trying to plug here, but I do mentor with an afterschool and summer camp program called Mast, and actually Dwayne, Dwayne Spries is the chap that runs that, and he's the one that I have to credit for the website. I can tell you that for us they work. We generate lovely. They may not look like the fanciest website on the planet, you know what I mean. I know there's a lot of other sites out there with many more bells and whistles, but sometimes I think less is more, right? Simplistic. As you just mentioned, big, bold headlines, hit you in the face. Looks more like a newspaper with some cheesy pictures on it.

GEORGE: Yeah.

CHRIS: It gets the job done. At the end of the day, our websites are … You know, I think we used to think that they were like oh, we got to show who we are, and all of our cool stuff, and look at all … No, we don't. They just want to know who you are, what are you going to … exactly, what.

GEORGE: All the bling at the back.

CHRIS: Yeah, but what do people really care about? What's in it for them, what are you doing for them, what services can you offer them. They don't care about your history, and I was born on the top of a mountain, and whatever that nonsense is. Anyhow, the sites work well for us. Yes.

GEORGE: Yeah. It's something we always talk about because we're always talking about conversions and websites. I just noticed that it really ticked the boxes, which was really good in the simplicity of it, which I think vouches for I think people get way too carried away with technology, and that's really web developers' fault because most web developers don't understand marketing and strategy, so they come to the party with the design aspect, how can we make this look flashy, and it actually just distracts from the user experience, which means not easy, people leave, get frustrated, they're not getting the actual message to fulfill their need, what they're actually looking for.

CHRIS: Yeah. I think, George, I 100% agree with you, mate. You know, at the end of the day, we look at our schools, and we have these opportunities, what we call our pillars of marketing, what do you have that's going to help you grow your school. Well, that's what your website, in my opinion, for whatever it's worth, should be, something that's going to help generate or explain who you are with a good sort of lead capture to get people interested, and as you said a good hook to get people to jump on and say hey, let me check this place out, man. For what it's worth, that's what I think, but what do I know? I'm no expert on websites and all that kind of stuff.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Cool, so getting back to I guess The Main Event. You're going to be speaking about a few things. If people had to come down to San Diego, which I think I'm travelling 25 hours to get there, so I think anybody in America could definitely make the trip, but what would you be … Sorry to cut you off there, but what are you going to be speaking about? What can people expect from your perspective?

CHRIS: Actually, I'm not speaking. I mean I will speak, but I'm teaching, so I'm not speaking so much as standing up there to give a dissertation or a speech about any particular topic. I wouldn't say speaking is my strong suit. Again, I love to teach, and I've been lucky enough to teach at The Main Event for the last three or four years, and again I just enjoy it. I'm going to teach a seminar. I know Fred said last year it might be an hour or two hours.

I'm not quite sure how long it's going to be, but I'm going to do my best in the time I teach to just share some of the core weapons-based drills that we do at our school, give a value to some of the instructors that come train, and if they have a good time that's awesome. Also, if they can take some of that information back and apply it to their schools, so whether they use it to help a weapons class, maybe a seminar, can use it in a birthday party, buddy days, add it to a little bit of the self-defense classes for adults, I'm going to try and quickly touch on a lot of different topics, and just give some value, I guess. That will be the goal. Make sure everybody has a good time, work out, and learn something.

GEORGE: Awesome. For you, as you have mentioned you've been to The Main Event the last four times, what do you feel as a school owner, what do you feel a school owner and an instructor would get out of going to an event like The Main Event?

CHRIS: I think like any event that you go to, but especially for me The Main Event, because again it's run by people that already run successful schools, so there's a lot of events going on in our industry, and I like to go everywhere because that's where you learn, but specifically if you run a martial arts school, an event run by somebody that runs multiple martial arts schools is for me a good thing already, because you know the content that you're going to get is going to be super relevant to what you do on a day to day basis, I guess, in your own school.

So whether you're looking to learn more about the business side of your school, learn a little bit more about the marketing side of your school, get some great tips on how to teach better classes, student retention, I've found that all of that is packed into the event, and again it's being given to you by people that have already done this over time. That to me is, again, you're going to learn, go study from people that already do it and have been successful with it, I would say.

GEORGE: Good point. Awesome. Hey, Chris, been great speaking to you. Is there anything that I should have asked you that I haven't asked you? It's the cliché question, but I'm asking it.

CHRIS: Would you like a pint, mate?

GEORGE: Well…

CHRIS: You didn't ask. You're an Aussie, that's just so rude.

GEORGE: It's twenty to eleven. I could probably pass. If you said yes, I would have some concerns.

CHRIS: Yeah, think of coffee, mate, it's too early for that. Maybe when I see you in San Diego, definitely we'll grab a beer together and chat. That would be awesome.

GEORGE: That'll be fantastic. All right, awesome. Chris, great speaking to you. If anybody wants to find more details about you, you mentioned the website that you corrected me on.

CHRIS: It's familyknowledgeaction.com. That's our school website. If not, people can message me on Facebook or whatever. I'm pretty accessible most of the time, so there you go.

GEORGE: All right. Awesome. Good stuff, Chris. I look forward to seeing you in San Diego and see you soon.

CHRIS: Alright, brother. Thanks, mate. Have a good one. We'll talk soon, okay?

GEORGE: Cheers.

CHRIS: See you.

GEORGE: Fantastic. I hope you enjoyed the interview. As mentioned, Chris and I will both be at The Main Event, so depending on when you're listening to this interview that is between the 26th and the 28th of April, and that will be in San Diego. For more details, you can go to the-main-event.com.

Otherwise, if you need help with your marketing, if you need help growing your school, if you are begging to get moving with your online campaigns, whether that's Facebook, Google, if you need to know how this whole search engine optimization thing works, it's one thing to hire a company, the other is to actually have the understanding yourself, and have a bit of a strategy before you hire someone.

That way you're a bit more in control of your business, and know what the right things are to do, and save a lot of money just on wasting time with people that might not be onboard with your martial arts business.

If you need any help, reach out to us. You can find more details, get in touch with us at martialartsmedia.com, or if you want to inquire about our martial arts academy program, you can go to martialartsmedia.academy. Thanks. I'll speak to you soon.

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You must not use our website to send unsolicited commercial communications. You must not use the content on our website for any marketing related purpose without our express written consent.

Restricted Access

We may in the future need to restrict access to parts (or all) of our website and reserve full rights to do so. If, at any point, we provide you with a username and password for you to access restricted areas of our website, you must ensure that both your username and password are kept confidential.

Use of Testimonials

In accordance to with the FTC guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, please be aware of the following:

Testimonials that appear on this site are actually received via text, audio or video submission. They are individual experiences, reflecting real life experiences of those who have used our products and/or services in some way. They are individual results and results do vary. We do not claim that they are typical results. The testimonials are not necessarily representative of all of those who will use our products and/or services.

The testimonials displayed in any form on this site (text, audio, video or other) are reproduced verbatim, except for correction of grammatical or typing errors. Some may have been shortened. In other words, not the whole message received by the testimonial writer is displayed when it seems too lengthy or not the whole statement seems relevant for the general public.

is not responsible for any of the opinions or comments posted on https://martialartsmedia.com. is not a forum for testimonials, however provides testimonials as a means for customers to share their experiences with one another. To protect against abuse, all testimonials appear after they have been reviewed by management of . doe not share the opinions, views or commentary of any testimonials on https://martialartsmedia.com – the opinions are strictly the views of the testimonial source.

The testimonials are never intended to make claims that our products and/or services can be used to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. Any such claims, implicit or explicit, in any shape or form, have not been clinically tested or evaluated.

How Do We Protect Your Information and Secure Information Transmissions?

Email is not recognized as a secure medium of communication. For this reason, we request that you do not send private information to us by email. However, doing so is allowed, but at your own risk. Some of the information you may enter on our website may be transmitted securely via a secure medium known as Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. Credit Card information and other sensitive information is never transmitted via email.

may use software programs to create summary statistics, which are used for such purposes as assessing the number of visitors to the different sections of our site, what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications, and identifying system performance or problem areas.

For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, uses software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy, currency or completeness of the content contain on this website or any sites linked to this site.

All the materials on this site are provided “as is” without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of merchantability, noninfringement of intellectual property or fitness for any particular purpose. In no event shall or its agents or associates be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of profits, business interruption, loss of information, injury or death) arising out of the use of or inability to use the materials, even if has been advised of the possibility of such loss or damages.

Policy Changes

We reserve the right to amend this privacy policy at any time with or without notice. However, please be assured that if the privacy policy changes in the future, we will not use the personal information you have submitted to us under this privacy policy in a manner that is materially inconsistent with this privacy policy, without your prior consent.

We are committed to conducting our business in accordance with these principles in order to ensure that the confidentiality of personal information is protected and maintained.

Contact

If you have any questions regarding this policy, or your dealings with our website, please contact us here:

Martial Arts Media™
Suite 218
5/115 Grand Boulevard
Joondalup WA
6027
Australia

Email: team (at) martialartsmedia dot com

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General Website Terms and Conditions of Use

We have taken every effort to design our Web site to be useful, informative, helpful, honest and fun.  Hopefully we’ve accomplished that — and would ask that you let us know if you’d like to see improvements or changes that would make it even easier for you to find the information you need and want.

All we ask is that you agree to abide by the following Terms and Conditions. Take a few minutes to look them over because by using our site you automatically agree to them. Naturally, if you don’t agree, please do not use the site. We reserve the right to make any modifications that we deem necessary at any time. Please continue to check these terms to see what those changes may be! Your continued use of the MartialArtsMedia.com Web site means that you accept those changes.

THANKS AGAIN FOR VISITING!

Restrictions on Use of Our Online Materials

All Online Materials on the MartialArtsMedia.com site are Copyrighted and all rights are reserved. Text, graphics, databases, HTML code, and all other intellectual property are protected by US and/or International Copyright Laws, and may not be copied, reprinted, published, reengineered, translated, hosted, or otherwise distributed by any means without explicit permission. All of the trademarks on this site are trademarks of MartialArtsMedia.com or of other owners used with their permission. You, the visitor, may download Online Materials for non-commercial, personal use only provided you 1) retain all copyright, trademark and propriety notices, 2) you make no modifications to the materials, 3) you do not use the materials in a manner that suggests an association with any of our products, services, events or brands, and 4) you do not download quantities of materials to a database, server, or personal computer for reuse for commercial purposes. You may not, however, copy, reproduce, republish, upload, post, transmit or distribute Online Materials in any way or for any other purpose unless you get our written permission first. Neither may you add, delete, distort or misrepresent any content on the MartialArtsMedia.com site. Any attempts to modify any Online Material, or to defeat or circumvent our security features is prohibited.

Everything you download, any software, plus all files, all images incorporated in or generated by the software, and all data accompanying it, is considered licensed to you by MartialArtsMedia.com or third-party licensors for your personal, non-commercial home use only. We do not transfer title of the software to you. That means that we retain full and complete title to the software and to all of the associated intellectual-property rights. You’re not allowed to redistribute or sell the material or to reverse-engineer, disassemble or otherwise convert it to any other form that people can use.

Submitting Your Online Material to Us

All remarks, suggestions, ideas, graphics, comments, or other information that you send to MartialArtsMedia.com through our site (other than information we promise to protect under our privacy policy becomes and remains our property, even if this agreement is later terminated.

That means that we don’t have to treat any such submission as confidential. You can’t sue us for using ideas you submit. If we use them, or anything like them, we don’t have to pay you or anyone else for them. We will have the exclusive ownership of all present and future rights to submissions of any kind. We can use them for any purpose we deem appropriate to our MartialArtsMedia.com mission, without compensating you or anyone else for them.

You acknowledge that you are responsible for any submission you make. This means that you (and not we) have full responsibility for the message, including its legality, reliability, appropriateness, originality, and copyright.

Limitation of Liability

MartialArtsMedia.com WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OR INJURY THAT ACCOMPANY OR RESULT FROM YOUR USE OF ANY OF ITS SITE.

THESE INCLUDE (BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO) DAMAGES OR INJURY CAUSED BY ANY:

  • USE OF (OR INABILITY TO USE) THE SITE
  • USE OF (OR INABILITY TO USE) ANY SITE TO WHICH YOU HYPERLINK FROM OUR SITE
  • FAILURE OF OUR SITE TO PERFORM IN THE MANNER YOU EXPECTED OR DESIRED
  • ERROR ON OUR SITE
  • OMISSION ON OUR SITE
  • INTERRUPTION OF AVAILABILITY OF OUR SITE
  • DEFECT ON OUR SITE
  • DELAY IN OPERATION OR TRANSMISSION OF OUR SITE
  • COMPUTER VIRUS OR LINE FAILURE
  • PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, INCLUDING:
    • DAMAGES INTENDED TO COMPENSATE SOMEONE DIRECTLY FOR A LOSS OR INJURY
    • DAMAGES REASONABLY EXPECTED TO RESULT FROM A LOSS OR INJURY (KNOWN IN LEGAL TERMS AS “CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES.”)
    • OTHER MISCELLANEOUS DAMAGES AND EXPENSES RESULTING DIRECTLY FROM A LOSS OR INJURY (KNOWN IN LEGAL TERMS AS “INCIDENTIAL DAMAGES.”)

WE ARE NOT LIABLE EVEN IF WE’VE BEEN NEGLIGENT OR IF OUR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR BOTH.

EXCEPTION: CERTAIN STATE LAWS MAY NOT ALLOW US TO LIMIT OR EXCLUDE LIABILITY FOR THESE “INCIDENTAL” OR “CONSEQUENTIAL” DAMAGES. IF YOU LIVE IN ONE OF THOSE STATES, THE ABOVE LIMITATION OBVIOUSLY WOULD NOT APPLY WHICH WOULD MEAN THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE THE RIGHT TO RECOVER THESE TYPES OF DAMAGES.

HOWEVER, IN ANY EVENT, OUR LIABILITY TO YOU FOR ALL LOSSES, DAMAGES, INJURIES, AND CLAIMS OF ANY AND EVERY KIND (WHETHER THE DAMAGES ARE CLAIMED UNDER THE TERMS OF A CONTRACT, OR CLAIMED TO BE CAUSED BY NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER WRONGFUL CONDUCT, OR THEY’RE CLAIMED UNDER ANY OTHER LEGAL THEORY) WILL NOT BE GREATER THAN THE AMOUNT YOU PAID IF ANYTHING TO ACCESS OUR SITE.

Links to Other Site

We sometimes provide referrals to and links to other World Wide Web sites from our site. Such a link should not be seen as an endorsement, approval or agreement with any information or resources offered at sites you can access through our site. If in doubt, always check the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address provided in your WWW browser to see if you are still in a MartialArtsMedia.com-operated site or have moved to another site. MartialArtsMedia.com is not responsible for the content or practices of third party sites that may be linked to our site. When MartialArtsMedia.com provides links or references to other Web sites, no inference or assumption should be made and no representation should be inferred that MartialArtsMedia.com is connected with, operates or controls these Web sites. Any approved link must not represent in any way, either explicitly or by implication, that you have received the endorsement, sponsorship or support of any MartialArtsMedia.com site or endorsement, sponsorship or support of MartialArtsMedia.com, including its respective employees, agents or directors.

Termination of This Agreement

This agreement is effective until terminated by either party. You may terminate this agreement at any time, by destroying all materials obtained from all MartialArtsMedia.com Web site, along with all related documentation and all copies and installations. MartialArtsMedia.com may terminate this agreement at any time and without notice to you, if, in its sole judgment, you breach any term or condition of this agreement. Upon termination, you must destroy all materials. In addition, by providing material on our Web site, we do not in any way promise that the materials will remain available to you. And MartialArtsMedia.com is entitled to terminate all or any part of any of its Web site without notice to you.

Jurisdiction and Other Points to Consider

If you use our site from locations outside of Australia, you are responsible for compliance with any applicable local laws.

These Terms of Use shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the the State of Western Australia, Australia as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such jurisdiction.

To the extent you have in any manner violated or threatened to violate MartialArtsMedia.com and/or its affiliates’ intellectual property rights, MartialArtsMedia.com and/or its affiliates may seek injunctive or other appropriate relief in any state or federal court in the State of Western Australia, Australia, and you consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in such courts.

Any other disputes will be resolved as follows:

If a dispute arises under this agreement, we agree to first try to resolve it with the help of a mutually agreed-upon mediator in the following location: Perth. Any costs and fees other than attorney fees associated with the mediation will be shared equally by each of us.

If it proves impossible to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution through mediation, we agree to submit the dispute to binding arbitration at the following location: Perth . Judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitration may be entered in any court with jurisdiction to do so.

MartialArtsMedia.com may modify these Terms of Use, and the agreement they create, at any time, simply by updating this posting and without notice to you. This is the ENTIRE agreement regarding all the matters that have been discussed.

The application of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, as amended, is expressly excluded.