We help passionate martial arts school owners who have been let down and frustrated by overpromising marketing agencies and inexperienced coaches.
We help them by empowering them with knowledge, proven lead generation strategies and time-saving tools with the support of a global community so that they can attract all the students they need to grow and scale their clubs.
The change we want to make is to help every school owner simplify their marketing and attract new students on demand so that they can focus on their training, teaching while freeing up time to take care of their families.
We will know we are successful when martial arts school owners from all cultures and countries around the world use our methods, strategies and platform to build their dream martial arts business and make a global impact around the world through the power of martial arts.
My life in martial arts started out very different to yours.
But my guess is we chose the martial arts life for similar reasons.
Here’s how it all evolved me.
Started a computer servicing and retail business from my friends garage in my home country, South Africa. After finishing my studies in computer programming and systems analysis, I decided that sitting in front of a screen all day was not for me. I loved the tech, but business excited me more. I took the plunge into the mighty world of entrepreneurship. We built it from nothing but devoted door knocking. 6 months later we hit momentum and became the talk of the town! We grew and succeeded, until…
Y2K! Remember when all computers around the world were going to die? Of cause nothing ended, although our business surely did. We blamed it on the Y2K, but truthfully, lack of salesmanship and marketing skills is what cost us our ‘baby’. I was crushed to say the least. Early 20’s, ego destroyed, and up to my eyeballs in debt. I grew to hate computers, to the point of not even touching another computer for almost a decade. With not many opportunities around in South Africa, life looked rather grim.
After many failed job applications, I defaulted into the one profession that I knew nothing about, sales! The one skill I lacked that was a major cause of my company’s failure. And by no means was this a chosen career. It was a question of survival. I dedicated my life to learning sales. It was confronting, intimidating, pushed every internal belief I had about ‘asking for money’. Little did I know that the values I was learning was going to shape me for years to come. Life was back on track. Learning how to sell transformed my life financially and emotionally. My confidence soared!
I hit a life defining roadblock. Out one night with friends, we were in a major car accident. I woke up in hospital, 2 days after. I’d broken my neck vertebrae’s C5 and C7, and suffered a severe hemorrhage. My moods shifted from calm to laughter, which snapped into extreme anger and rage. About 2 weeks in, a doctor came for a visit who unknowingly changed my life forever. Doing his routine check, he suddenly burst out laughing. I asked, “What’s so funny?” He said, “Anyone with your head injuries we typically don’t operate on.” “Why is that?” I asked. While dropping the clipboard onto the table he said, “Because they’re dead in 2 weeks!” My body went cold. It hit me that I’d escaped death. What if this was it? In that moment I changed. It was time to live life…
I decided to leave South Africa and experience the world. My ticket out was getting a sales executive role onboard a famous cruise line. Off to the U.S.A. I went! Working onboard a cruise line was my exposure to a whole new world. We had staff from 64 nationalities! And living aboard a cruise ship with 3,500 new guests every week, getting to meet so many Americans from almost all the states, some who are still friends today. For 2 years I traveled from Washington D.C, to New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Diego, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, and most of the Carribean Islands. It was a ‘work hard, play harder’ environment.
Midway through 2005 I got the news that I was going to be a dad for the first time. And that journey took me literally to the otherside of the world, Perth, Australia. What was supposed to be a holiday, turned into the process of permanent immigration. But with visa complications, I wasn’t able to work in Australia for a full year. My son was born, I was over the moon as a first time parent, and I committed my life to being a great dad. With a whole new life, my priorities started to shift, and almost exactly 10 years later, decided to buy a new laptop…
While working as a sales executive, I started searching online, looking for ways to make money and build an online business (way before the likes of Facebook). Almost everything I found was network marketing, or some kind of ‘complete surveys for cash’ and other home based business opportunities. Then I stumbled upon a book that changed the course of my life. It was Perry Marshall’s ‘Definitive Guide to Google Adwords’. It was about driving website traffic through pay per click marketing Google. Not having a coach or community I can bounce ideas off, I jumped into the deep end. I purchased a few business opportunities and became an affiliate for a few products which I could advertise on Google. I struggled for months, losing money every day. But I just kept going. I recall scraping together my last $300. When this was spent, I was done. No more of this online entrepreneurial trial and error. Enough is enough. But then…
I remember being down to $32. Then, I received the best email notification that I ever received. It was my first online sale, $37! That was the best $37 I have ever earned in my entire life. Me, sitting at home in Australia, got paid 37 US Dollars, from someone I had never met. Wow! Maybe this is not a big deal now with all the tools we have accessible, but back then, it was a BIG deal. The next day, another sale, $37! To me, this was the breakthrough that I needed. I had learned the power of internet arbitrage. The simple maths of spending $1 to make $4. I was now a part-time online marketing entrepreneur. Life would never be the same after this revelation of knowledge.
With my income not quite enough yet to provide for my family, I continue my career as a sales executive. Clients are happy, I’m making money, but I’m losing my passion, fast. I’m also starting to question the ethics of the industry I’m working for. What’s the line between manipulation and being ethical. The only thing that’s keeping me going at the office is the notification bell on my phone with yet another PayPal payment receipt stating, ‘notification of payment received’. As my home business starts to grow, I start planning my departure from my sales job.
I take the leap into full time entrepreneurship. I’m building and learning the online business, I’m obsessed. Money is rolling in, but it’s much slower than anticipated. I’m selling products, but I’m yet to find my passion. Something I can truly stand for and get behind. And I’m barely making ends meet. To subsidise my income, I take on a part-time job that I’d never admit to in public – delivering milk in office buildings during the night. I figured, I only need to give up half my sleep, then I can continue building my dream business during the day.
I enrolled my son into martial arts. I have never trained martial arts as a kid, but was always fascinated by it. Dedicating myself to be the best dad I can be, I figured this would be the best activity to set a 5 year old boy up with the right foundations of discipline and confidence for life. I have to admit, at first I was more excited about it than he was! We spent many hours at the dojo and never missed a class. I was so impressed by how well the instructors were educating my son, I thought I’d share a few marketing ideas with them. Tactics that worked well for me with Google, content, and selling online products, and thought it might work for a brick and mortar business as well. One thing led to another and I started helping them grow their physical business with online strategies.
While helping the school with online marketing, one of the instructors asked me, ‘Why don’t you train martial arts?’ Honestly, I just didn’t see myself doing it. Watching how active the kids were, I couldn’t see my old rugby body coping with it. I had every excuse in the book, ‘too old, not fit enough, no time, etc’. But then I decided to take a class. Without sounding like a cliche, first class I was hooked! For me, this was personal development in the physical form. My energy increased, and for this first time in a long time, I was inspired – mind, body and soul.
With what felt like a late start to my life in martial arts, I wanted to learn from as many sources as I could. I traveled to Thailand with my son to learn more about Muay Thai and train with the pro’s. Needless to say I was further humbled by how little I knew and how much I was going to learn on this martial arts journey.
Almost 3 years on, while the school was getting great, consistent results from the help of my marketing and coaching, and training martial arts was now almost a daily occurrence, martial arts had completely taken over my life. I had some life defining choices to make. Perhaps a similar situation that you faced, when you decided to open a martial arts school or start instructing? It was time to burn the bridges! This was the life I always wanted – a life lived with passion, meaning, and driven by purpose. If I could help more martial arts schools impact lives the way martial arts had impacted mine, that would be my small contribution to making a difference in this world. I started reaching out to more schools to see who else I could help.
After a conversation with my neurologist, checking up on my prior head injury, I was advised that being punched in the head was clearly NOT a good idea. As only a martial artist would know, this was not good news. I continued to train Karate and Muay Thai, although when it came to sparring, I let my sparring partners know to not punch me in the head. This became both weird and unmanageable very fast. It felt like a half-hearted effort. I decided to change styles and started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
4 Years into working with martial arts school owners, we become official. I bought the premium domain name, MartialArtsMedia.com, and Martial Arts Media™ was born.
I decided to step it up and participate in my first BJJ tournament. I remember driving to the venue, realizing this was actually going to happen. Had a quick trip down memory lane, acknowledging how far I’ve come, with some gratitude for being here. And feeling that pressure of nerves combined with uncertainty and excitement was a profound experience for me. In case you’re wondering, I came third… in a 3 man division! 🙂
Released our first free downloadable resource for martial arts school owners, The Martial Arts Marketing Plan. This challenged all conventional wisdom about how to go about attracting new students online. It’s still the foundational approach we take to ‘own your online assets’. I still today get emails requesting a copy of this PDF Infographic.
On my quest to learn as much as possible about martial arts business and helping school owners, I launched The Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. This is still one of my favorite things to do, having great conversations with great people, and learning while doing so. Besides the interviews, I also share my own insights from results we get for our clients.
Created version 1.0 of the Martial Arts Media™ Academy course. An 8 week program which was essentially a brain dump of everything I knew about digital marketing at the time. How to set up your website for better conversions, signing up students via email, how to create blogs and video content, how to run Facebook and Google ads, and more.
Spoke at my first industry event, Fred Depalma’s The MAIN Event in Sydney, Australia. Was great to my get ideas on stage, and meet (in the flesh for the first time) many of my clients and podcast listeners from around Australia.
November 26 I received my blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Perhaps a small victory for many, for me it felt like my first worthy achievement in martial arts. The journey continues…
Flew to the U.S.A. to speak at Fred De Palma's The MAIN Event in San Diego. Was great to be back and this time on new terms. Speaking to school owners from the U.S.A. was a great proof of concept how our marketing strategies and frameworks work no matter which part of the globe you are.
Created our now flagship program, called Partners, where we become ‘Partners in Purpose’. This is our global community of school owners where we help you generate more income, create more impact through martial arts, and live the lifestyle you choose. We help with attracting the right students, increasing sign ups, and retaining more members, all through the power of online media.
A busy mix of speaking and attending events, while creating dozens of tools and products to help our martial arts business Partner members get results faster.
Went on tour to host the first ever Martial Arts Media™ Intensive event in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. A huge success that all attendees got great value from. Great to meetup with old friends, meet some of our existing members face to face for the first time, and welcome new members to the group.
Spoke at the MPOWER Summit on the Gold Coast. Epic event with martial arts school owners and coaches from around the world.
When uncertainty struck the world and the martial arts industry faced lockdowns and restrictions, I cancelled other engagements and focused on releasing the Martial Arts Pivot Plan. Being an online business, I wanted to share the opportunity for school owners with a front to back tutorial on how to run your martial arts school online, while still strengthening the community, even without being present in a physical location. This course was well received and accessed by 1,000’s of school owners.
We did it! 100 Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast episodes. A huge milestone and contribution to the martial arts industry. More than 30 hours of interviews with martial arts experts, top school owners, coaches from around the globe and actionable marketing tips in between.
We aligned our mission of helping school owners around the globe with a goal of giving back and doing business for good: To Empower 10,000 martial arts schools owners to inspire 1m students through teaching martial arts, and help us impact 10 million more.
In the wake of the pandemic, we needed to shift the energy back into momentum and growth. We launched our first 6 week cycle and challenge for our Partner members, something that’s now becomes a bi-monthly occurrence. With our new integrated goal achievement members dashboard and friendly competition within the community, our top 3 participants had revenue increase from 43 – 68%!
Was honored to receive my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu purple belt. The martial arts journey continues.
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