54 – Damien Martin - Risk Management Planning in Martial Arts - Martial Arts Marketing For Martial Arts Business

54 – Damien Martin – Risk Management Planning in Martial Arts

George Fourie speaks with Damien Martin about Risk Management planning in martial arts, training in Japan and instructing children with special needs.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How risk management applies to martial arts marketing.
  • The risk factors in martial arts schools that some school owners overlook.
  • The necessary steps in identifying, assessing and controlling threats in your school.
  • How Damien changes a prospect’s perception about his school.
  • Working with students with special needs and autism.
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Well, I learnt very early on that you don't have one advertising method that tries to bring you 20 students a month. You have 20 that try and bring you one. That way if one fails or one changes, you've still got the other 19 acting as a redundancy. Again, it comes back to risk management.

GEORGE: This podcast is the audio version of a video interview that was done on martialartsmedia.com. For the full interview with video and to download the transcript, please go to martialartsmedia.com/54. That's the number five, four.

Good day. George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com, and welcome to the Martial Arts Media business podcast. I have an awesome guest with me today. Damien Martin, all the way from Brisbane. How are you doing, Damien?

DAMIEN: Gold Coast, actually. But…

GEORGE: All right. Well, got that. It's close.

DAMIEN: Yeah, yeah. It's close enough.

GEORGE: It's close enough. All right. Well, that's a good way to start the podcast interview. So let's adjust from here on. Awesome. So we've got Damien on today and Damien is a wealth of knowledge in the industry. We're going to touch on perhaps some sensitive topics in regards to risk management and a few things.

And I met Damien quite a while back, officially face-to-face, at The Main Event in Sydney. That was last year. And we'd just finished building his website as well, which looks pretty cool, southerncrossmartialarts.com. So you can check that out.

So we're going to get started. So welcome to the call, Damien.

DAMIEN: Thank you and thanks for having me.

GEORGE: Cool. So to start right at the beginning, who is Damien Martin?

DAMIEN: Well, that depends on who you ask. But I've been training since 1982 when I started judo as a 12-year-old. Have been continuously training ever since. Been running teaching since 1987 and currently running the Southern Cross Martial Arts Association on the Gold Coast with my wife, Hannah. So we're a full-time center in Helensvale.

Primary focus these days is Okinawan Goju-Ryu and Okinawan Kobudo. So weaponry. As well as just the practical self-defense applications and things that spring from that and the other training that I've done over the years.

GEORGE: And when did you get started with Southern Cross Martial Arts?

DAMIEN: We started that in 2008. In 2008 I left the organization I'd been with since 1984, which was Zen Do Kai. We left there after some disagreements on future direction and not wishing to take advice on how to run a full-time school from people that don't run a full-time school.

At that point we were also running an RTO, delivering training to a bunch of government departments on risk management, self-defense and those sorts of things.

GEORGE: Alright, cool. So risk management, that's a topic that we've discussed in brief. What do you see, how do you see risk management and what do you see the effects of, I guess, the dangers of running a martial arts school?

DAMIEN: Well, just to back up where I'm coming from, I'm an OH&S consultant and have an advanced diploma in security and risk management. I worked in that particular space for well over 20 years. So most people tend to look at risk management from a physical point of view and think of risk as, you know, someone falls over and you get sued or one student beats another student up and you get sued.

And that's certainly an element of that but other risk factors that people don't tend to take into account in our industry is a risk to reputation. And I'm not just talking about social media and how many reviews you get and all those sorts of things. But, for example, if there's an accusation made of inappropriate behavior within your school that goes to the media, your school is destroyed.

Whether that allegation is baseless or based in fact. There are several instances in the recent past where similar things have happened to people in the entertainment industry who were later exonerated but they've lost their job, they've lost their marriage, they've lost their reputation. Now can't work in the industry based on, you know, false accusations.

And to be sure, there have been instances in the past where the accusations have not been baseless. And schools have been found and reported to be lacking in the recent Royal Commission into Child Abuse in Institutions where abuse happened within organizations and yet there was no child protection policy, there was no policy of checking when working with children or any of those sorts of things.

So those are some of the other issues. Then you've got your risks related to untruthful advertising and prosecution from the ACCC or Fair Trading in individual states. Like, for example, I've seen schools claim that they can cure autism. That's a pretty big claim and that is one that is likely to result in negative media attention. That negative media attention can destroy your own school but it can also negatively impact all of the other schools in the industry.

GEORGE: Okay. So, I mean, because I haven't really seen anything big in the media. Is this something that's sort of it's covered up before it sort of blows up type of thing? Or are there things going on in the underground that are just it's going to cause some obstacles and problems down the line?

DAMIEN: Sometimes things don't come to public light because there's out of court settlements with gag orders attached. So things like defamation or if someone sues for something. If there's a pre-trial settlement, the details are not made public.

Whereas if it goes to trial, the details can be found, for example, on the AustLII website, which is the Australian Law Library Index which catalogs all of the various cases that have gone to trial and come to a conclusion.

What insurance companies will often do is settle out of court. So if they settle out of court, that's usually based on there's a confidentiality agreement that you, you know, can't say what happened or what the accusation was or those sorts of things. You just take your money and shut up.

If you look at the AustLII library for things in relation to martial arts, there's a lot of disputes over contracts, there's a lot of disputes over trademarks. But a lot of stuff doesn't make public light that way. The other way that it can become public is if it goes to criminal trial. So like an instructor has perhaps, as has happened in a number of cases over the years, sexually assaulted students.

Other ways it happens is if it ends up on A Current Affair, and I can think of a couple of big instances over the last few years. One, in fact, in Melbourne actually led to a change in legislation relating to knives and martial arts weapons. A Current Affair ran a big story. It was a beat-up about a particular school and the particular instructor who focused particularly on knife fighting. And the next thing you know, the Victorian Government has changed the legislation based on that particular story.

The White Paper that was released on that, rather than a regulatory impact statement, gave the specifics of why the legislation came into being and how that was influenced by certain members of the industry who perhaps overstepped their authority to represent.

GEORGE: So where does the problem really start? You know, 'cause I guess the first thing I always … Like when I stepped into helping martial arts school owners with the marketing and so forth, I guess a big attraction to me was the ethical side of it. You know, like if this is what you practice as in an art, then I'd assume that's the way you live your life as well. Which I'm kind of shocked to see sometimes is completely not the case. But-

DAMIEN: Yeah. And I found that there's a direct relationship between the number of times an instructor mentions ethics and the amount of ethics they actually demonstrate themselves. Particularly some of the instructors I've met and worked with over the last sort of 35 years. There's been a lot of them go on and on and on about concepts like Bushido and loyalty and honor and justice and courage and these sorts of things, and yet that's lacking in their own lives in every way, shape or form.

They use the martial arts to feed their own egos. Now, there's a lot of those but it's a huge industry. I mean, the martial arts industry in Australia, nobody can really put a finger on how big it is. The Australia Bureau of Statistics varies, depending on which question is asked. And the Australian Sports Commission only looks at sporting bodies. It doesn't cover all of those martial arts organizations, some of which are quite large, that don't participate in Australian Sports Commission approved sporting activities.

So, you know, if you're not doing sport taekwondo or sport karate or sport jujitsu or sport judo, if you're doing recreational karate in a school hall somewhere, you're not in the figures. So, you know, no one really knows how big the industry is.

So it's broken up. Some people are really, really good. Some people are really, really bad and they tend to color it for the good people. But most people are just pretty much happy amateurs stumbling along, not deliberately meaning to injure anybody or cause anybody any grief. But they do so out of ignorance.

Martial artists tend to be quite credulous so they believe what their teacher told them without fact-checking and those sorts of things as a general rule. So if someone's teacher told them that a particular technique is invincible, then they've got no reason to check. That is the way a lot of people think.

Likewise, you know, I had a person who ran in the 1970s a large martial arts organization in Australia, probably the largest for about 20 years in this country, tell me that direct debit would never work because nobody would give you their bank account details. He was talking from a position of ignorance rather than being a professional business owner in the 21st century. That level of credulity, it just is a problem.

GEORGE: All right. So even if your instructor does these, what is it, these, what's it, yellow bamboo? I think it's called yellow bamboo. You must have seen that video. I think it's yellow bamboo, yeah.

DAMIEN: Yeah. Look, there's an awful lot of martial arts schools out there where the instructor's built up this reputation for being awesome at what they do because they only ever do it against non-resisting students. The real world is a different thing altogether.

So if they're not constantly testing the techniques against a resisting opponent, which is not the same thing as sparring. Sparring is, generally speaking, quite well-mannered and predictable. If they're not constantly pressure testing through scenarios and those sorts of things, or even combat sports application, then any claim that a technique is invincible is probably not true.

There are no absolutes. You know, martial arts instructors often tell their students, you know, if someone pulls a knife you run away. But you can't always run away and what if you can't run as good as the other guy? Again, the absolute of just run away is not true in all of that. You know, you can't always run away.

GEORGE: Yeah. So, I mean, what's the solution here? Because, I mean, if we look at the sort of evolution of this path, right? So let's say I'm an instructor and I'm training martial arts and I get this urge that I've got to create a school. You know, maybe it starts in my backyard and I get a few students, and then that sort of, you know, builds on itself. And then I'm like, “All right, I've got to get into premises.”

So where's the big gap and how do you fix the gap of where all these problems occur with risk management?

DAMIEN: Well, the same thing happens in a lot of other industries. You know, you get a lot of people, like they might be a very good craftsman at what they do. They might be a very good carpenter. They make wonderful chairs and tables and their things are well sought after. So they go out and they start and they set up a little shop, a little factory, to try and sell their wares.

That shop might not be zoned correctly. So they might set it up, you know, in an area where it's too noisy and finds themselves in trouble with the council. So martial arts schools, same sort of thing. They might not be insured for manufacturing things. Somebody sits on one of the chairs or does something with one of the chairs that they've built and it causes an injury, they might suddenly find that they needed insurance.

You know, it's no different really with the martial arts sector except that the martial arts sector is selling services based on, in a lot of cases, fantasy from what people have seen on TV. So there is no central body. Various countries and organizations have tried over the years, from the Dai Nippon Butokukai back in Japan pre-war and post war trying to coordinate all Japanese martial arts. That didn't work.

The Japan Karate Federation, the World Karate Federation. There have been so many organizations over the years try and bring all martial artists together, but martial artists are as diverse as language groups and cultures. You know, it's like saying that everybody's the same. And they're not. The martial arts themselves are not homogenous. They're very diverse.

People practice martial arts for different reasons. Some people want self-defense, or they think they do. Some want to get fit. Some for cultural reasons. Some do it because their friends do it. There's no one reason why people do martial arts.

So, you know, we're not all covered by the sporting bodies, for example. We're not all covered by international organizations and bodies because of the politics that are associated with those. It's a hugely diverse industry. And that's one of its strengths but it's also its biggest weakness.

GEORGE: So let's say I was a school owner and I'm not covered in any way. What do you think are the first steps that need to happen?

DAMIEN: Usually Google to start with, and do a basic business plan. You know, most small businesses fail in the first five years. They fail 'cause they fail to plan. You need to do a basic business plan. That basic business plan will ask the questions that you need to look at and address in relation to planning, zoning, insurance, accounting.

Like, you know, what's the best business structure for you? Are you going to be a sole trader, are you going to be part of a club or an incorporated not-for-profit association? Are you going to be a company? Is a family trust required? You know, you need advice from experts in the martial arts and the martial arts business sector, like you do in any business sector.

So I'd start with Google and a business plan. The business plan will set you on the right track for asking those questions.

GEORGE: Sounds good. So let's just touch on advertising. And I actually want to, you mentioned Japan and I know you've done some extensive traveling there the last couple of months. But let's talk about advertising because, you know, you mentioned that there's misleading advertising. And right now, at the time of recording this, there's a big shuffle on Facebook. A big change in structure in valuing more one-to-one interaction, valuing more local news.

So there's a lot of changes happening. And the first thing that marketers always do is they shut. Do they? This is the end? And marketers destroy everything. It's normally marketing becoming easier and people pushing boundaries, doing advertising and just it's becoming too easy. And because it becomes too easy there's not enough control.

And, I mean, I've seen this over the years in different platforms. Google being number one, known as the Big Google Slap where everybody lost all their AdWords accounts. Search engines being slapped. I mean, it's just a trend. It's a trend of the platform gets popular, there are eyeballs. Too many advertisers come onto the platform, make silly errors, it devalues the actual platform. And because the platform gets devalued, peoples' eyeballs go elsewhere and they've got to protect what they obviously own. Like with Facebook and such.

So, I mean, that's the things I'm seeing like in what's relevant right now with advertising, is there's a big cleanup happening. And I would suspect that if a lot of school owners had to lose their Facebook accounts, which happens, ad accounts get suspended on a day-to-day basis, their business will go with it. Because that's their one lead generation source. So your take on advertising and being within the boundaries?

DAMIEN: Well, I learnt very early on that you don't have one advertising method that tries to bring you 20 students a month. You have 20 that try and bring you one. That way if one fails or one changes, you've still got the other 19 acting as a redundancy. Again, it comes back to risk management.

To have all of your eggs in the Facebook market or the Facebook basket, so to speak, is a bit short sighted. You need to have those other methods out there. You've still got things like referrals, signage, people just knowing where you are. You know, there's a lot of other methods.

Some things don't work anymore. Yellow Pages, for example, doesn't work for us at all. Because we test and measure just about everything. Flyers in the letterbox don't work anymore. Again, we know that because we test and measure. We used to do the first four weeks of every year we'd do 10,000 flyers a week around our local area and then watch the associated web hits go up as people type in the web address and looked at our website and everything. That just stopped. It's not like it dwindled. It's one year it worked, the next year it did not. Or the year after.

So if we were putting all of our eggs in that particular basket, that would have been disastrous for us as an organization. You've just got to be somewhat diversified while staying on trend for the more current ways that people shop and think. You know, maybe Instagram will work for you in your area. Maybe it won't. Maybe Facebook is good in your area. Maybe it's not. Maybe Google AdWords works better.

Maybe you're in a country town and the newspaper advertising still works. You know, there's a lot of variables. You've got to know your own marketplace, your own client base and who comes to your school and who buys your services. A lot of people don't. They try and take a cookie-cutter approach. And, you know, for years everyone was buying their ads from organizations in America. MASuccess, those sorts of things.

And one thing I found early on in the '90s was that if there's an American flag on a uniform in an ad, that ad doesn't work in Australia. It might work in America but it doesn't work here. So you learn what your individual market requirements are and you've always got to be testing and measuring.

GEORGE: Yeah, so true. I mean, we've seen that with the same franchise, same marketing, same everything. Two different locations, two different results. Everything the same. And, you know, we always talk about, in my presentation I talk about five levels of awareness. I call it The Five Stages of the Student’s Signup Cycle. You know, there's your marketing but there's always the message that was received before and leading up to actually seeing your marketing. And that's going to also affect the actual response at the end of the day.

So, Damien, tell me about Japan. Tell me about your trip. Just to change gears here. Tell me about your trip to Japan and what did you get out of that experience?

DAMIEN: Well, we go to Okinawa, which obviously is part of Japan, every year to train with our Goju Sensei and with our Kobudo Sensei. Two different organizations but closely related. We just love the place, we love the people, we love the training. And we like, or I particularly like, those lightbulb moments that you get where practices within the martial arts that are remnants of where it came from, suddenly their purpose becomes apparent.

So, for example, a lot of the stories and things that are passed down, in martial arts schools in Australia at least, come from publications from the 1960s that were written by people that actually had very limited exposure to what they were writing about.

So these stories took on a life of their own. So there was, you know, the old Okinawan practice, for example, of practicing their training or their martial arts at the tombs of their family. So family tombs are a big thing in Okinawa and it was an even bigger thing pre-World War II.

And the theory was that they were, you know, spiritually connecting with their ancestors and all those sorts of things. And when we spoke to the Okinawans about it, apart from the sort of raised eyebrows to work out whether we were taking the piss, it was, “Well, the grass is cut short there. There are no snakes.” Everywhere else you could get bitten by a snake. And it's like, “Oh, that's very pragmatic.”

There's a lot of those sorts of things and, being a bit of a karate nerd and amateur historian, I really appreciate those moments. But the people are the main thing.

GEORGE: The people. So what are the sort of key things that you learn that you come back and you take a different approach in your school?

DAMIEN: Well, our journey with the Okinawan karate deal, like I was doing Zen Do Kai up until 2008. But in 1999 I started with Okinawan Goju as well. And my idea was to refine the Kata. Make them better, make them more practical, make them more understandable. Because if we've been doing this particular template of movements for the last 100, 150 years, it must have had a purpose.

So trying to find the purpose, trying to find the applications, was what sort of drove me down that path. So this year, on the way to Okinawa, we also went to China. To Fuzhou, which is where Kanryo Higashionna, who was Chōjun Miyagi, the founder of Goju's teacher, trained. And we found the or had found through a couple of years of research, the school where he trained.

And we wanted to go there and see what they were doing and why they were doing it, and how closely related it was to what we were doing. And I was pleasantly surprised that what they were doing was not that far removed from what we were doing. Some of it looked different but the applications were the same. The hip movement, the arm movement, the actual applications in different forms was the same.

Which for me, as a martial arts teacher, was good. I quite enjoyed that connection. So we're still fact-checking some of the things that they told us and we'll hopefully be publishing some information. It's a little bit of a historical addition, if you will, to the current sort of communal knowledge on origins of karate in Okinawa and the origins of Goju-Ryu in particular.

GEORGE: It sounds like you have a book coming out.

DAMIEN: I wouldn't say a book. Maybe a couple of articles but, I don't know, I don't think it's exciting enough for most people to justify the costs of publishing.

GEORGE: I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

DAMIEN: Well, based on the reaction I've had from some quarters on the Blitz article that was done about this for the December/January issue, what I found is by saying certain things it challenges people's beliefs to the core. And people's beliefs about their martial arts is very akin to people's beliefs about their religion. So we need to make sure that all our ducks are in a row.

GEORGE: Yeah. Yeah, I could see it opening a big can of worms. Yeah, especially if you touch on things, like you mentioned, with the tombstones and just things that people base their entire martial arts career upon, and now it sort of gets challenged. Yeah.

DAMIEN: Yeah, I think the Kung Fu TV series in the 1970s and then, you know, the later, the Ninja phase and all of those things that have been trends through the martial arts over the years have all left their little remnants in popular culture and the way people perceive martial arts and what they can be.

You know, like there's this common perception that karate is an antique and is not street effective. And if you're not doing Krav Maga then, you know, you're not doing the right thing. Or even in the MMA circles. But the core of a lot of Krav Maga technique came from karate. Krav Maga is a mixed martial art or a hybrid martial art. It forgets where some of its core techniques come from.

The MMA people that talk about, you know, the dominance of MMA fighters or this, that and the other forget that guys like Georges St-Pierre or Lyoto Machida and those guys were karate practitioners primarily. You know, everything has its place. So it's just another trend.

GEORGE: Yeah, so how do you … I mean, let's say I'm a prospect and I walk into Southern Cross Martial Arts and that's my thinking. My thinking is I've come from, you know, I'm looking at UFC and I've got this certain perception and that's sort of what I see as what I want. Or maybe what I don't want. How do you have that conversation?

DAMIEN: As much as possible, we put them on the floor and they start to train. And it's more about feeling and moving than it is about talking. The only way to change people's perceptions is to show them. You can tell them till you're blue in the face but people are so used to marketers lying to them now that they don't believe you.

So we get 'em on the floor and show them why we do what we do. We don't beat anybody up or anything like that, don't get me wrong. But get them on the floor to train, to feel their body moving and take it from there. And, look, what we do is not for everybody. Some people, some younger people want to spar more, for example. I did when I was in my 20s.

Now we're fully cognizant of the fact that people have jobs to go to and an income to make. They don't all want to live like, you know, karate hobos like we did with broken bits and pieces all the time. It's a different world. And we know more as well.

GEORGE: Awesome. Damien, I'm going to ask you one more question and now that I think of it, this could actually probably spur on a whole different episode, as such. But you mentioned that you work with kids with autism.

DAMIEN: Yep.

GEORGE: Now, this could probably be a much longer conversation but I just wanted to touch on it. What advice would you have for people that work with kids with autism or special needs?

DAMIEN: Well, we have a saying in the world of those that work with kids with autism. Basically, once you've met one autistic kid you've met one autistic kid. Meaning basically that they're all different. While there are stereotypical behaviors, each child is different, is motivated differently, works differently, mentally, physically, and so on.

But don't make assumptions and don't jump into conclusions. And the first thing that people need to do is get educated. There's plenty of programs out there on what autism actually is. Don't rely on memes that you read on Facebook. And actually, to be blunt, get a clue.

There's a lot of people now claiming that they specialize in teaching autistic kids. And we pick up the pieces. Yelling at them, screaming at them. You know, it's ridiculous what some people are doing. And it's, “Oh, this is the tradition.” Really? You know, it's not.

GEORGE: You mean, I can't believe all the memes I see on Facebook?

DAMIEN: No. Facebook is a wonderful way of connecting the world and so on, but it can also do so much harm. And some of these memes that are floating around. You know, like there's a correlation being found between gut flora and autism. Now, correlation does not indicate causation. All right, it's just something that they need to investigate further.

But you've got people out there that are advocating parents with autistic children get them to drink bleach, for example, because it'll kill the bad microbes and so. And it's horrendously harmful. But if you've worked with some of the parents that are so desperate to help their child, some of them try it. Based on some crap they see on the internet. It just…

So, yeah, I've seen martial arts schools advertise that they can cure autism. If that's not a potential A Current Affair episode, I don't know what is. You know, martial arts is good for children on the spectrum if they're working with caring and educated instructors. Because it has its consistency. Things are done pretty much the same way each class, as in your warm ups and those sorts of things. There's a predictability about it that makes them feel comfortable.

And we've had some amazing successes with some of our autistic kids. With one of our junior black belts now, he's 12, he's been with us for eight years. You know, his whole persona has changed based on the lessons that he's learned for dealing with other people. Just out of counting out loud in class and things like that.

GEORGE: Fascinating.

DAMIEN: Yeah, so I'd say that my main advice would be to get educated and get a clue rather than getting your education by getting on, say, Facebook. And I see this on a daily basis, and I've started deleting these groups. But they'll get on a martial arts business group, for example, and say I've got an autistic kid who's just joined my class. What do I do? And you'll get all of this stuff. It will be regurgitated by people.

And it all tends to be very stereotypical. It doesn't take into account that every autistic child is just as much an individual or unique as every other child that we teach. So, you know, we need to get to know them. A lot of kids with the autism spectrum have sensory processing disorders. So the idea of kiai, or kiai-ing in class, if that child is sensitive to noise, is going to be a major barrier.

Or they might have sensory processing issues with things touching their head. So if you wear helmets in class for sparring, that might be the issue and you need to work a way around that. There are so many different things.

GEORGE: Well, yeah, it seems like really putting aside everything, your practice and your tradition of what you do, and really customizing it to what's going to be the obstacles with this child and really playing a real close ear on the ground.

DAMIEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: I mean, a close ear on the ground to really understand what their needs and what their obstacles are in how this tradition is going to affect them.

DAMIEN: Yeah. And it's not a matter of lowering your standards. It's a matter of lowering your time expectations and having more patience. But just because somebody processes information in a different way doesn't mean that they can't do a front kick the same way as everybody else. It just might take them a slightly different way to get to that point.

There's just so many variables. And we've built up somewhat of an unexpected expertise with autism. It wasn't our goal. And we've spoken to our parents on a number of occasions. Do they want separate classes for the kids on the spectrum? And the overwhelming answer is no because they need to learn to deal with regular people.

GEORGE: Definitely.

DAMIEN: So by segregating all the autistic kids into the one class, all they get to deal with is other autistic people. And to be quite honest, most autistic people don't want that.

GEORGE: Yeah. That's awesome. Damien, that can probably spark a whole new episode. And I'm happy to have you on again if anyone's got questions about that. I know, you know, for I always mention this in our Martial Arts Media Academy program. You've just got to be so careful where you get advice from. It's easier, you know, Facebook has made it easier for everybody to connect but some people should not have an opinion verbally.

It's just a fact. You know, I mean, and Joe Rogan actually says it the best. You know, if you get a million people, there's going to be a hundred thousand assholes that don't know what's going on. Out of every hundred thousand or thousand? And those are mostly the most vocal ones. So it's very easy to just take advice because every comment looks equal. But you don't know the background of that person, what they've done, their ethics, their education. So, yeah, you've got to be so careful.

DAMIEN: One of the ones that comes up regularly is the link between … No, actually I'm going to rephrase that because there is no link. But the purported link between autism and vaccinations. Now, the doctor, who's no longer a doctor because he lost his medical license, who did that study had a financial interest in another vaccination. He fabricated a report and a link to no evidence whatsoever so that he could sell his vaccination.

Now, he got caught and it was all redacted and the Lancet redacted the report and so on. But that myth, since then, since Wakefield's report, has perpetuated itself and the internet is making it worse and worse and worse and worse to the point where diseases like a polio and whooping cough and so on are making a comeback. They were all but eradicated. Because people don't want their children to catch autism. It's not something that you catch.

But there are some good organizations out there that are doing training. I'm doing a presentation, or my wife and I are doing a presentation, for the Titan's event in May on working with kids on the spectrum and would just like to get more information out there so that people are not traumatizing these kids with something that should be profoundly helpful.

GEORGE: Fascinating. Awesome stuff. For anybody, there's a … And, you know, just we'll close, probably close it off here, but there's a book, Trust Me, I'm Lying, by Ryan Holiday. If you ever want a true perspective of how media can get manipulated, he was a self-confessed media manipulator. His job was to plant rumors, spread them, create the media behind it. There would be rallies.

Until they saw the consequences of people dying because of fake news spreading in such a way that the consequences kick in. It's a brilliant read, just to get a perspective of don't get all your information from a Facebook post. Because that article was probably written with intent or paid by someone to write. And they did their own research with whatever they could find, and they wrote it and put it together. And it creates a perception where the intent was really just to disrupt. So, yeah, probably a good way to end that off.

DAMIEN: No problem.

GEORGE: Awesome. And Damien, thanks again for coming on. If anybody wants to get in touch with you and learn more about you, where should they go?

DAMIEN: The best point of contact would either be via our website, which you mentioned earlier, www.southerncrossmartialarts.com, or Facebook is probably the easiest way. I'm not good with telephones.

GEORGE: Skype video, it works.

DAMIEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: All right. Awesome. Thanks, Damien.

DAMIEN: No worries.

GEORGE: Thanks for being on. I'll speak to you soon. Cheers.

DAMIEN: Cheers. Bye.

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George Fourie

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

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