19 – Fari Salievski: Having Your Martial Arts School As An Avenue For Investments

Should you rent your martial arts school premises or own it? Fari Salievski believes in the latter and funds his investments.

Fari Salievski

IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • What to do when nature takes it course and destroys your business
  • How the concept of recurring billing started within Australia
  • When you should consider owning your martial arts school premises
  • Why hype is not always the best way to go
  • When it's ok to drive your Ferrari
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Are you owning your own building? That nice car that you drive, do you actually own it? If your school is so successful, your school should become really an avenue to invest.

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another episode of Martial Arts Media Business Podcast, episode number 19. I have with me today Master Fari Salievski from KMA, a champion martial artist in Sydney, although they have several locations around Australia. An interesting martial arts business conversation, about ownership, owning your actual school and not renting, using your martial arts school as a vehicle to fund investments. We talk about 34 years in the business and how things have changed and brought things like recurring bullying and things that have obviously taken for granted today but getting that process started way back in the day.

Now, discussing the topic of ownership, I’d like your feedback. We talk about ownership, obviously the physical school, and that got me started on something that I haven't really spoken about, which is owning your digital assets, which is a very very important component when you build out your website and your Internet properties, but it’s one that is completely missed in most modern day training, so people don't really focus on it. But at the end of the day, if you’re building a business for longevity, you want to own digital assets, as you might want to own a building – or is it something that you do not agree with?

I know there could be a lot of contradicting opinions on that, whether you should own something or rent something. At the end of the day, is ownership really better? Yes, mostly, but some people say it’s not. So what's your take on that? Blow the show, and you can do that with every show basically and this one at martialartsmedia.com/19 – right below the transcript, you can leave your name and email address and fill in a comment and start a debate. If you have any questions, or something that you don't agree with or agree with, then raise that and let’s discuss and evaluate a few options.

I know for me in my marketing business, I don't own a physical location because I don't need to – I can work from home, which is awesome and that's the way I wanted to have it set up in the beginning, that I can work with remote staff and work with people from all over the world, which is what I do. I have only one person in Perth that I work with, everybody else is located in different parts of the country or different parts of the world. So that's from me, but when I talk about ownership, am I into digital ownership? Oh yes, I want to own every single property and put my primary content on a website that I own, and this is a topic that I’ll dig a bit deeper into and elaborate more on.

This episode, we’re getting right there, stuck into the business. You're going to get a lot of value from this, or it’s going to create contradicting opinions, who knows? If it does, whether it does or not, leave a comment below the show notes, martialartsmedia.com/19. That's it from me, please welcome to the show – Master Fari Salievski.

GEORGE: Good day everyone. Today I have with me Master Fari Salievski. Now, Master Fari Salievski has been in the industry a good 34 years, started the whole craze of fortnightly billing in Australia and a whole bunch of other things that we're probably going to touch on in this interview, so welcome to the call Fari.

FARI: Thank you, nice chatting with you.

Fari SalievskiGEORGE: Awesome. So I guess let's start right at the beginning – who is Fari Salievski?

FARI: Yeah, sometimes I ask myself that question as well. I'm still evolving, but I like to consider myself a martial artist, first and foremost. There are some people in the industry that know me as the guy that probably was the first to start marketing Hapkido and doing a whole lot of seminars in the early nineties. From 2000, people probably knew me as the guy that set up a whole lot of martial arts business seminars, but for me, it’s about being a martial artist first and foremost.

GEORGE: So let's go back to give everything some context. How did your martial arts career evolve, where did you start teaching?

FARI: I started teaching in 82. I started teaching for a man called Chang Wu Lee and that was in a city Redfern, and actually, I opened up my very own school in 1986, in New Town, a suburb of the city of Sydney.

GEORGE: And that was your first location?

FARI: Correct, yes. And eventually, that became a full-time school in 98 – if some Sydneysiders remember, there was a very big house storm that was the size of baseballs. The building that I was in was closed and I went from a full-time school to a part-time school. In fact, that school has now moved to Erskineville, the next suburb down.  Still a part-time school and at the time, I started to look for other locations. I had a part time Bankstown and a part time Liverpool school. in January 2000 I opened what still is and became my KMA headquarters.

GEORGE: Ok, great. Now, that's a long time ago. Working your way through and you've been doing this for 34 years, which is a lifetime for most people, how have things evolved? What were the first problems you encountered at that time and moving forward to now?

FARI: I have to say that in 2000 when I purchased, not leased, but purchased my premises, I made the big decision to change everything that I did. And I have to say that the building was a key part of that. In 98, with the hail storm, I learned in a very hard way, I learned to rely on loyalty, the martial arts teacher, relying on that just wasn't enough. The fact is, within a matter of two weeks of moving virtually across the road to a school gymnasium, I ended up with only 30% of my students. And in 2000, I decided to virtually go across America , I did a martial arts tour, looking at the very biggest schools. And I came back and I started billing. In other words, having students on direct debit.

GEORGE: Ok. Let's just go back quick – the hail storm, just to give it a bit more context for people who are not familiar with that. What was that about, what was the impact?

FARI: Well, if you look at the size of baseballs, basically destroyed the building. I was in the police citizen’s youth club – people will know that building for great famous boxers like Jeff Fenech, Kostya Tszyu, especially Jeff Fenech, who I still admire quite a bit, an Australian icon. They had the boxing room, I had the martial arts room. I was the guy that brought all the kids in especially, the PCYC movement is predominantly about kids. I had all the kids in that area and the fact is, at the time, the inner city was evolving and the PCYC headquarters in there wisdom believed there weren't many kids or weren't enough kids in there in the city.

I don't want to offend anyone, but they actually said the words to the effect of, gays do not have kids. And the money and real estate were pretty expensive even back then, the money that would generate by selling the building would open up a lot more centers in the areas where they believed there was a lot more kids. I was not the landlord and I found myself out on the street. I ended up across the road in the gymnasium, and that was a very tough lesson for me. Even though I was into property investing, I didn't own the commercial premises. And that was the big wake-up call for me. In hindsight, as typical as it was, that spurred me on to purchase and for me to become the landlord of commercial premises and guarantee my longevity in the martial arts.

GEORGE: Ok, and what did you base that decision on, because it sounds like you did that quite early, you decided you're going to purchase your actual premises.

FARI: We were out on the street about roughly August of 98. So I did not purchase until December of 99, it took me that long. I was operating out of part-time centers, we were ready to open in January of 2000 in premises I owned and I still own. There are quite a few different opinions on whether people should lease or people should buy, but I can tell you, that's why I'm a very good example of why people should buy – you're the landlord. Nobody can kick me out, and you know what? I've had two martial arts schools in that street competing against me, and the fact is, both of them are gone and I would doubt very much that anyone would be able to come in and establish themselves in the heart of Liverpool city. If they do, it’s going to be a very expensive bill for them to rent and compete with someone that's not paying rent.

GEORGE: Right. Would you see that as the biggest advantage, it’s a financial competitive edge? Because obviously, the purchase can be quite expensive initially.

FARI: The purchase, regardless of the price – the fact is that the first school that was across the road from me, what they were paying in a week was less than I was paying on my monthly repayments as a loan, that's the fact. And I remember the words to the effect of, my opposition school – you're an idiot. Well, you know, I would argue that I think you're the idiot for paying a hell of a lot of money when you could have bought it and you didn't realize there was an absolute bargain across the road. I bought it not to compete with anyone: I bought it because it was great real estate deal. And in the end, the person that said I was an idiot, ended up moving out in less than two years.

GEORGE: If you could give anybody advice on purchasing their premises, or premises where they would like to move in, is there any sort of pointers, some key point that you would look at before you take that move?

Fari SalievskiFARI: Obviously, you need to start at a part-time location. You need to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run – that's the goal. Back then, I didn't know really anyone that actually owned. Now I know lots of people that actually own their premises, and I sort of compare that very much to the four minute mile: nobody believes you can break the four-minute barrier and the fact is that once one guy did it, within a few months, there were a half a dozen guys that did it. But before that, nobody could do it. It's very much the same in owning your premises and that's why I find it quite fascinating, I’ll always get guys, especially some of the business advisors, business gurus, martial arts business gurus in America, they're quite openly bagging owning your building, and I don't understand why they would actually do that.

There are benefits in owning, there are benefits in leasing, they're not going to understand leasing and I can’t understand it's much easier, you can pick your location, but you know what? I picked my location and I bought. If you can buy and become the landlord, always buy. At the end of the day, if you look at what I bought it at and what it’s worth now, even if it was not a bargain then, even if I got ripped off back then, it’s still a bargain compared to today’s prices, that's a fact and that's real estate, especially in Sydney. You're always going to move forward, you're sitting on a financial nest egg and you happen to spend a bit more money on it. I've got air condition, to put value above the $35,000, I'm happy to spend it because I own the premises. And that's just one example.

GEORGE: Definitely. I look at it from the marketing side of course, but when you look at digital assets, which is something that's very neglected in the internet space, people might rent their website on a different platform, or invest all their assets in social networks that they don't own as such and I see it as a big problem in the longevity of your business. There were things like MySpace back in the day, where everybody ditched their websites and moved all their digital assets to MySpace and we all know what happened to that. And when you don't own your actual assets, whether digital or physical, you're always going to be at that risk where you don't have the control, you're playing on someone else’s field basically.

FARI: Well, that's why I find it amazing that there are people recommending from the outset, this is the only way, this is what you do. And the fact is, the reason they recommend leasing is because they're leasing. And I sort of question, is that the advice you're giving because it’s the actual best advice, or is that the advice you give to justify why you're leasing your premises?

GEORGE: Interesting. So let's jump pack to the billing side. It's something that's kind of taken for granted today because I guess it is the norm, but you did touch on earlier that you toured America and you had a look at bigger schools and then you took away that concept – can you elaborate a bit more on that?

FARI: Look, the focus that having a good mix and a focus that allows you to concentrate on teaching, even to this day, I say to potential new members, why we do billing or we do pay it in full. The reason we do that is because I do not want to spend time collecting fees – I want to do it right now and then I want to focus on you as a student. And it’s simple, and we ask them: would you like me to spend more time collecting fees, or would you like me to spend more time on teaching you, or teaching your child? And obviously, the answer is, I want you to focus on teaching. And for that reason alone, they're the only options we offer. We do some casual classes, if it's a workout class, for example, that's only on the workout classes that we have a casual option, and even then people are purchasing in groups of ten.

It's always what is best for the school, best for the business unashamedly, and in the end, it's best for the students, because let's face it: in our example, we own the premises. That's a huge commitment, we invested heavily in not only the premises but in the equipment. But by investing, we made a commitment. It’s not wrong to ask from members to make a commitment in order to start. We're in the martial arts business, were not playing ping pong, it’s not a seasonal sport. So for me to change habits, for me to make someone better than what they were before they came in, I need a commitment, and billing, or pay it in full, and I say both those things – pay it in full, it’s not wrong for me to ask people, OK, I don't want to do direct debit. What other option do I have? More than happy for you to pay in full. Why? Both of those things will give me my goal of a commitment. I have a minimum 12 months – if you want to train at our school, it’s 12 months commitment minimum.

GEORGE: So what's your take on the whole billing industry as such within the martial arts areas? What are the options and so forth?

FARI: I think there are advantages and disadvantages to everything out there. Ultimately, it’s what's best for you. I don't believe that you should be getting your business advice from your billing company for example, and that's just my opinion. If for example, a billing company would not want you to do a pay it in full, why is that? What would you think they would not want you to do a pay it in full?

GEORGE: They don't get the billing fees.

FARI: Correct, there’s no commission. There’s a whole lot of things that they want you to incorporate in the billing. To me, that's biased advice. And obviously, it's not in their interest. For me, each to their own, I just don't believe in giving a percentage of the business. There’s a lot of ways of collecting fees and paying a percentage, it's very much like a franchise and again, I think it’s good if you're smaller and you're not turning that much over but if you start turning over a decent amount of money, and that percentage can add up. And you might say, that percentage is tax deductible – fantastic! So is my new car that I can by every year. So are those trips, so is my next property. So where do you want to spend your money? Well, I have a very different view on where I want to spend my money.

GEORGE: For someone that wants to take on a billing company, is there anything else they should be assessing to evaluate their decision of who to go with?

FARI: For me, it's what's best for you. I prefer a transaction fee myself, a flat transaction fee. My student pays that, be it ¢0.50, be it a dollar, be it a $1.95 – on top of your fee, it's very transparent. If your fee is 60 a fortnight, for example, you get 60 dollars a fortnight on your account – simple. Anything above that is the fee – very simple to understand. A hundred students at 60, you just got 6000 – simple. The moment I start doing percentages, I really can’t justify paying a flat percentage unless it’s a franchise.

GEORGE: So Fari, how do you feel the industry has evolved – good or bad, from when you started?

FARI: Look, I think having opened the door for the business of martial arts, now I think people have gone a little bit too over the top. And it’s quite ironic because one of the pet hates of school owners is splintering. And what I mean by splintering is you build a student up and you take all that time to develop that student, he becomes a great black belt, he works for you, and then that loyal martial arts black belt that you built up to be a great instructor to help him build up great relationships in the school, then decides to become your competitor, not far away and take your student base.

And probably that's the pet hate of every school owner, is splintering. But you know what? I've done the same thing in the business of martial arts. So many want to be this representative, that representative, I'm going to bring this guy and that guy. There is already a wonderful base of people and organizations – why reinvent the wheel? At the end of the day, the people that have started to have actually done quite well. So what's happening is that the next generation of people, how they can make some noise, is a whole lot more hype. And unfortunately, there are some that are getting caught up with the hype.

Aussies, I think, in my view, we don't like the hype. I don't need to oversell to get more members. I don't need the hype. I just need a good product, all the essentials and we need to keep it simple, but they want to hype things up so much. I don't believe you should get a potential new student and lock yourself in the backroom not to be disturbed to sign them up. Really? What are we buying? Are we buying a house, are we buying a car, are we doing a deal that we don't want to be interrupted on? I’ll do it on the front counter. I want them to see where they're going to join. See that big crowd down on the floor? You're going to be a part of that big crowd. And you're not going to see that big crowd in the room out the back floor. All this hype, all this big sell, constantly looking to upsell in order to increase your sales for that month and turn your turnover.

Aussie schools and the fact is this: we now have a very good friend of mine, you've met him, and I won’t mention the name now because there’s obviously figures involved but we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in turnover and that's not just turnover, but that's in straight out membership fees that they collect. And I would challenge any school in America that can do that amount of turnover, strictly on student fees. I mean, that is phenomenal. There are people that will get maybe half that in a month, but that will include upgrades and testings and products and things like that. But you know what? We don't need to sell anything else, we've created a base of success on straight out membership fees. Of course, you can do all those other things, but our focus and emphasis are not in sales, it's being on membership. Because you're guaranteed that you're getting paid every two weeks, or every four weeks, whatever it may be, you're getting paid on student fees – guaranteed. And you know what, to me, that's real success. I don't get too excited and try and turn my staff into sales people if you can understand that.

GEORGE: Do you feel this hype comes exactly from this, because the majority of the leadership I guess, comes from America with different systems. And I know there’s a vast difference, I moved to the States for sales years ago and I couldn't sell for the life of me in America. And then I learned the American way and then I moved back to Australia and people frowned at me in Australia and I had to adapt again. And that to me was such a key thing, there’s such a different way of communication. And when people are creating websites and things like this, that same principle applies, because that's our virtual communication.


FARI: A 100%. Look, your website’s going to reflect your personality and what you do. We don't need to be blowing trumpets and whistles – Australians, they want to buy. People came to the school to buy, they called you because they want to buy – you don't have to oversell. We’re really in the information business, there are the right things to say, the right things to keep it simple, but I don't need the hype because again – you come back from that Anthony Robbins seminar and you're all hyped up, right? Someone does a big sell and you're all hyped up. But how long does that hype last? When someone joins, I want that hype to last for the next 20 years. I want martial arts for life, ideally. If I'm all based on hype, you're not going to have the student for life. And people might say, the average student only stays four or five years anyway – well, that's fine. Regardless, they're not going to be there for hype, they'll be there even less for hype.

GEORGE: Excellent.

FARI: Anyway, that's just my view. It’s not there to downgrade anyone, but this philosophy based on not to over-hype, and again, I would challenge anyone that is against that or doesn't agree with it, because the fact is, the biggest schools in the world are here in Australia. The most profitable schools are here in Australia. Pure success and I'm not talking, I have 1000 students, or 2000 students came through my premises this week – great. What did those 2000 students that came through this week, what did that cost you? Are you owning your own building? That nice car that you drive, do you actually own it? If your school is so successful, your school should become really an avenue to invest. What have you invested?

And they'll always be trying to do something to generate more funds, but I can tell you: if your school becomes an investment or buying properties, you know what?

That's investment because you'll be making money in your sleep. And I would ask, and my question in finding whether be a mentor or whatever, I don't care what your business is worth, I don't care what you're worth – what do you actually own? If you stop working tomorrow, how long will you survive? And that's a big question. And the biggest schools in this country, the most successful, and I can tell you, it’s not the current generations, it’s the generations before. They're very old school, I can tell you, if they stop working tomorrow, they stop teaching or whatever, I can tell you, they will do just fine.

GEORGE: Let’s talk about success and let’s talk about your success – you have 16 locations yourself: what do you acquaint to your success?

FARI: Keeping it simple, don't hype. Try and minimize your debt, minimize unnecessary expenses. The fact is, when I was driving around in my Ferrari, and I actually think that that was the worst thing that I could share in the martial arts industry, because there's a generation of people now thinking if they open up a martial arts school, they can own a Ferrari, that's the goal. For me, it’s not about owning a Ferrari, or owning a Lamborghini: it’s putting yourself in the position to have the choice. Because there will be some people to say, I would never waste that sort of money – it’s fine, it’s good that you say that, and it’s probably a good advice, but the person that said you should never waste that money – are you, or will you ever be in the position to buy that Lamborghini or Ferrari? Are you saying that because you're a smart, intelligent person, or are you just saying that because you'll never be able to afford one regardless?

And I'm not being cheeky, but that's just a fact – put yourself in the position where you can have that choice. And if you do buy it, don't go borrowing money. A car costs you money, it’s an expense. It’s extra money that you want to burn, be it for tax purposes or whatever. It plays money, but get yourself in the position where you have that play money, but only after you own some property, you've got some real assets, you've got a foundation for real success. The fact is, the rich person will buy and invest for example in a property, and a poor person will buy a car or home. Owning your own home is great, fantastic, but your own home is an expense. It's an asset – yes, you can use that to help you buy the things, but it's not producing an income. So my view of success is not what you see on face value. And I see people walking around, that have businesses valued at millions this and millions that – it might be values, it doesn't actually mean that you actually turn it over each and every day. I've now bought a Rolls Royce. Fantastic! Did you buy it in cash? Who knows, but the point is that Australians especially are a little bit more conservative.

Fari SalievskiThe goal is always to own your own home and have the stable income. But again, I think people are getting caught up too much with the hype and success has become different things. Ultimately, to me, it’s to be able to live a lifestyle teaching what you enjoy and not have the pressure, financial pressure to do that – to me, that's success, because you can’t beat peace of mind. I don't want to be looking at my next student as, how much money will I make. I need to get the extra student to pay my bills, or buy my next car. You know what? I want that person to join because I actually believe this will be the best thing for them. Absolutely, no doubt in the world. And if they join, I have the platform and experience of teaching that in all our centers that we share in the success. And to me, that is success. But you know, to have the pressure, the hype – I honestly find that quite, quite sickening.

GEORGE: Excellent. So, before we wrap it up, I’d like to ask you, what's your goal for the next five years? You've expanded to 16 locations; you've been in the industry for a long time – what's the next step for you?

FARI: We have several locations under review currently. There is a process of becoming a KMA school, so we are not obsessively looking to expand. My goal, if you wish, there’s a natural growth of becoming a KMA school. It’s not something that we necessarily plan, but I think it's important for school owners in particular to give their black belts that want to grow themselves, that want to follow in your path, you need to give them an opportunity to be able to grow just as you have done. That's an important note because it's not to help you grow: it's to help them grow. Having a model where it's very much a win and making people feel like an employee, that's essential. And my goal is to very much for them to be in a position like I am and not feel like they're my employees. They're not my employees: I want them to succeed and achieve more than I have ever done, and I mean that sincerely.

GEORGE: Awesome. Fari, thank you very much for your time. If people want to learn more about you and get a hold of you, where can they do that?

FARI: Ok, we've got martialartsprofessionals.com, martial arts professionals for MARA, martial arts professionals represents the martial arts industry association in America. We also have a good local relationship with the MAIA here, but being the business arm, I try and link with, and again, not reinventing the wheel, but they're obviously in the US, but we bring some things in here, we help digest and localize it and provide a world of resources with local support. And the biggest schools in Australia have been and you know what, still are members. And to me, that's a wonderful network. And the best guys, the most successful guys do not swap and change guys. They've built on it and in building on that foundation, regardless of how much they turnover and have become not just the biggest in Australia, but have become the biggest in the world, which I'm very proud of.

GEORGE: Thank you very much for your time Fari, I hope to connect with you soon.

FARI: Have a great day.

GEORGE: Thanks, cheers.

And there you have it – thank you for listening, thank you Master Fari Salievski for sharing knowledge. We are going to come back for a second show and elaborate on a few topics and ramp it up a little. What I’d like to know from you: what did you like, what didn't you like. What do you agree on, what did you not agree on? Do you agree with the ownership; do you prefer the renting strategy? How do you feel about the show? If you go to martialartsmedia.com/19, the number 19, right at the bottom you can leave a comment. Share your perspective, share your opinion, we’d love to hear from you, start a debate – obviously keep it friendly and let’s have a chat about the episodes and how you feel about the matters and what else we should be covering.

If you got good value out of this show and any other show for that matter, do help us out: head over to martialartsmedia.com/iTunes, and you'll see there a sort of a weird looking picture of me. Right below it is a blue button, “view on iTunes.” If you click on that, it takes you through to iTunes and you can leave us a review. Five-star reviews will help us ramp up the show and get more listeners and bring more great guests to the show, but an honest review would be much appreciated from you.

That's it – we’ll be back again next week with another great episode. I look forward to chatting with you then. If you have any business queries and you need any help with your business marketing, especially leaning into the new year, then get in touch with us. You can go to martialartsmedia.com and contact us there, or even better here, down on martial arts business plan for online media. That will help you get a bit of a perspective on the holistic view of marketing your business online and bringing in new members and reach out to us. Just reply to the emails that you receive, get in touch with us, we’re happy to have a chat and see how we can help you grow your martial arts business. Thanks and I’ll chat with you next week – cheers!

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18 – The Art Of Martial Arts Coaching With Paul Schreiner From Marcelo Garcia Academy

Paul Schreiner is not your average martial arts coach. Discover how he articulates the art of jiu-jitsu and shares working with Marcelo Garcia.

martial arts coaching

IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The deeper meaning of martial arts and jiu jitsu in particular
  • Having the discipline to drill, revise and optimise techniques
  • Why letting go of your ego is not as modest as it's made out to be
  • The core habit that Paul has adopted from working with Marcelo Garcia
  • B.J. Penn's powerful ‘marriage of jiu-jitsu' statement
  • What you can expect when training at Marcelo Garcia Academy
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Developing expert knowledge or expert ability is your own process of discovery and taking ownership for your learning.

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another episode of the Martial Arts Media Business podcast, episode number 18. I have with me today Paul Schreiner. Now, Paul Schreiner is a coach at Marcelo Garcia's Academy in New York, and if you recall episode 13 with Jess Fraser from the Australian Girls in GI, Jess was talking about Paul within all her traveling around the globe of training at different clubs and learning jiu-jitsu.

Paul Schreiner was the person that left the biggest impact, that stood out for her with his unique coaching abilities and being able to articulate his learning and making an impact on someone, getting his message across of, not just teaching different techniques, but also being able to explain the art and the transitioning of the different moves and so forth. So this is a very in-depth conversation, I enjoyed this. This is not so much about the business side of martial arts, although as a martial arts business owner, you will get a lot of value from this, just learning from about how they go about things and working with Marcelo Garcia and just the pure passion for martial arts. There's a lot of gold in this episode.

Now, of course, for more of the business stuff, you can head over to martialartsmedia.com/plan to be exact. We give away a free martial arts business plan for online media, which kind of defines how you can market your business, what you should focus on. It gives you a bit of a holistic view of how you can approach online marketing and covers a lot of the pitfalls that people are facing right now with marketing, doing one marketing strategy and it's not working, or it stops working and this gives you a bit of a holistic view and approach of how you can approach marketing your business and get your leads.

Now, as always, the show notes, transcriptions and all links mentioned in this episode can be found at martialartsmedia.com/18, that's the number 18. And I want to keep this short and jump straight into the interview, so please welcome to the show Paul Schreiner.

GEORGE: Good day everyone, today I have with me is Paul Schreiner. Now, if you recall on episode 13, I interviewed Jess Fraser and Jess was discussing, within her travels, training at Marcelo Garcia Academy and the one person that stood out for her as a coach was Paul Schreiner. So I wanted to get Paul for an interview and just have a chat about his involvement in jiu-jitsu, his coaching methods and so forth. So welcome to the call Paul.

PAUL: Thanks for having me.

GEORGE: Awesome. So I guess just to go right from the beginning – who is Paul Schreiner?

download-4PAUL: Let's see… I'm basically just a guy that does jiu-jitsu full-time. I'm 38, I started jiu-jitsu when I was 17, I think. I'm from California, so I grew up surfing about. I grew up in a pretty crazy family, progressive family. My dad was kind of a social activist and we lived out of a VW van a lot and drove to Central America every summer, so I got a lot of world exposure that way I guess. I grew up surfing and I wrestled my senior year in high school, actually my junior year in high school, and then I was looking to continue with a sport. I saw that there was jiu-jitsu in town. This was back in 96-97, and I started training jiu-jitsu and other than some injuries, I haven't really looked back. So teaching was just a logical progression for how to stay involved with the sport for me.

GEORGE: So from your training, did you evolve into tournaments and so forth?

PAUL: Yeah, in the beginning, I was just still mostly focused on surfing and traveling. Jiu-jitsu was a hobby for the first couple of years, and I injured my knee on a surf trip and I had to take a couple of years off of everything, I had to take about a year and a half- two years off. I got an infection in my knee, it required a bunch of surgeries to try to get it more or less functional again. And at the point, when I went back to jiu-jitsu, I actually just recently told this story, I haven't thought about it for a while, but I remember I was driving past the academy and it wasn't there and then I was driving closer to my house and then I saw it just had reopened, the school I started at had reopened at my neighbourhood, and my old coach, Garth Taylor's truck was out front, so I just pulled into the parking lot and walked in and Garth was training with B.J. Penn, and J.D. And they were getting ready for the world championship when they were both brown belts, and B.J. was just getting his black belt the following week to compete as a black belt in the world championship. So I walked in, I saw those guys training and I've been out of it for about a year or two, so I just hadn't been exposed to that babble of jiu-jitsu and I walked in, and I was like, this is what I want to do. So basically, ever since that day, I've been training full-time with the intention.

Back then, my intention was to compete in tournaments and I competed a lot for a bunch of years and pretty early on in my competition, I realized that it was valuable to compete, not just for me, but as a part of the school, and that it would be an invaluable experience to have if I wanted to coach and teach jiu-jitsu someday. So I always looked at competition through the lens of the personal challenge to win and as a way to experience jiu-jitsu on a deeper level and something that I'd be able to share with other people someday.

GEORGE: So what does that mean for you? The deeper side of jiu-jitsu?

PAUL: I guess it's just the idea of taking anything and getting better at it every day. The idea that you're working towards this perfection, this excellence – perfection that isn't attainable, but the excellence, the near perfection is something that we can experience and just try to sharpen ourselves. I feel like also I was a little directionless as a teenager and as a young adult and jiu-jitsu just gave me something that I can always, no matter what else I was doing in my life, I could always train and I felt like a better version of myself for it. And then, just the other lesson that jiu-jitsu teaches us is how to confront our ego, or how to get our ass kicked and get smashed and get held down and not be able to get out, but not give up either and learn how to find space and breathe and survive in any situation.

xThose are some of the deeper things, nothing too esoteric or spiritual, just the idea that it's something that we can make incremental progress at; we apply ourselves, we show up every day and we show up with respect and the requisite concentration and give it our best. I was in college, I took a lot of art classes and one of my painting and drawing teachers, Howard Ikemoto was, to this day, was probably the most influential teacher I've had in my life, just in terms of how he approached the process really.

For me, it was never so much about the result, it was always about the process and it still is. To this day, I make time a few hours a week to drill and work on new positions and go back to stuff I haven't done that I used to do ten years ago, I don't do anymore, and see if I can reconnect with those techniques and if it fits in with what I'm doing now, so I'm still trying to engage myself better as a martial artist. And then I try to pass along and communicate that passion for falling in love with the process and being respectful of the process and that's really what I'm trying to pass on to the students, rather than any particular idea of jiu-jitsu.

GEORGE: So you highlight the process of applying and you said that this teacher was your most influential teacher because of that – can you elaborate a bit more on the process and how you apply it?

PAUL: Yeah, not to be disappointing or not to disappoint, but I don't have a particular methodology really. That teacher, and also, I started to get involved with Zen Buddhism when I was in my early twenties and meditation, so the process for me it was just  trying, or giving my best or going and fighting. And then, afterward, the breaking down, the natural analytics of what you do after a match, breaking that down with my coach, my coaches, with myself, sometimes writing things down, just trying to search for, watching videos, studying afterward. And then the next day, trying to literally forget everything that I had studied and then go in as a blank slate again and practice whatever my coach said to practice that day, without asking questions and train and then have the questions come and then have the process to break it down again and restart the next day.

And just looking for sparks from inside for me, for whatever reason that's the way I respond as a learner of anything, I try to find a little insight to a particular situation and then try to see if I can expand that across the board in whatever I'm studying. I mentioned this recently in another interview, but for me now, my process that I'm understanding, my own learning process in jiu-jitsu, I've been trying to apply it to fly fishing, which is something I've taken up more seriously in the past three or four years. I did it as a kid and then I got out of it and I'm getting back into it and trying to understand and figure out how to get better at that too and enjoy the ride.

GEORGE: Awesome, it's not disappointing at all. It sounds like you're aware of what you do and then just being open minded about what you did, analyzing and breaking it down and just really improving it.

PAUL: And another thing I would say, it's a part of understanding yourself, especially for someone who's competitive – reasonably competitive, I'm not extremely competitive anymore I think, but it is how you relate to your ego and I think there's a little bit off, people bullshit around the idea of, that we were completely letting go of our ego and we step in the door and for me at least, it was more trying to understand how to harness my ego and my desire to beat whatever training partner that was beating me.

download-5Figure out and study what techniques and what timing I needed to equalize and maybe even pass them in trying and then, again, forget about that and then be able to be just present and aware and in the moment. You get smashed and you get held down by the same person every day and it starts to drive you crazy and without making a personal grudge you couldn't channel that ego into figuring out what you need to do to make yourself better and more complete in jiu-jitsu. I was always, and I still continue to be driven, not just by competition jiu-jitsu, but I'm still trying to understand what jiu-jitsu is. It's a big thing, it comes to self-defense and self-control and competition and Vale Tudo and everything else. I'`m still, as you can see, sorting it out.

GEORGE: You're miles ahead.

PAUL: Thank you.

GEORGE: So, how did working at the Marcelo Garcia Academy come about?

PAUL: Even before Marcelo came onto the scene in 2003, when most of us become aware of Marcelo and his break up from Abu Dhabi, a lot of people obviously knew who he was already: he won the world's at every belt level, from blue juvenile to purple adult, and brown adult. So it wasn't so much of a surprise that he was something special, I wasn't super aware of him. Except in Brazil, I heard people talking about this kid from Fabio's school that was amazing and then after 2003, I became a big fan of his. In 2004, I attended a seminar that he taught and we got to know each other.

Then, at the time, from about 2000 to 2007, 2008, I was spending about four to six months a year in Brazil, training and competing, so I would run into Marcelo in tournaments. We'd always talk, just say hi. I interviewed him one time for “On the Mat,” the website. And we just kind of stayed in touch and then I was with Dave Camarillo, who was one of my main training partners for a long time. At the Pan Ams in 2006 I think, or maybe 2007 Pan Ams, and I just competed and Marcelo was there and I introduced Dave to Marcelo. Then Marcelo invited us out to New York to help him train for Abu Dhabi. Dave Camarillo bought me a ticket and we came to New York for two weeks and trained with Marcelo, so that was how I got to know him better.

And then after that, every time, if he had a big event coming up or if I had something I was competing in, I would try to make the trip from California to New York and then later to Florida and then back to New York to help him train, or helping get myself ready. So that was kind of the genesis of me getting to know Marcelo and we always got along really good with him, he's kind of, what you see is what you get. I feel like a lot of us, I'm sure you feel like you know him already, he's the guy who always has a big smile and he never has to act or pretend like he's a tough guy and he's just an absolute beast when he steps on the mat.

We always got along, he has a great sense of humor. We became friends and at some point, I told him I'd be interested in moving out there just to train with him and I guess one thing led to another and he opened a school in New York and invited me to come be the instructor, the other instructor with him. So I moved here to New York in 2009 and I have been here ever since, teaching and training full-time. Now we have a number of other teachers at the school, we have Bernardo Faria, we have Marcos Tinoco, Mansher Khera, Matheus Diniz, Jonathan Satava, Joe Borges. We have some up and coming people, who are going to be great teachers, like Scott Caplan and Phil, so yeah, we're in good company here.

GEORGE: That's excellent. Something that you mentioned, you had a lot of depth within your club that there's just so many good trainers, but I do want to ask you, and I guess there's many, but what are sort of the core one or two things that you've learned from Marcelo?

PAUL: One is showing up – not that I was unaware of the importance of that before, but Marcelo doesn't, as a coach, he never asks you to do anything that he doesn't do himself, so there's nothing artificial about training, there's a culture of hard work that you guys are all in there together, making yourselves better, and it really helps you believe in yourself, or it helps you believe in the technique. I was told one time, a lot earlier in my jiu-jitsu journey, that the most import thing, above all else, is that you believe in the technique and that will substitute even for belief in yourself when things get really rough.

download-6If you believe in the technique and commit to it, there are some situations where things are so bad in a fight that if you're just thinking how could I do it, you could potentially give up, but if you have that faith in the technique, it's going to work. Marcelo has that absolute belief in the technique. If the technique is going to work, it's going to work against anyone. It's not like it's going to fall apart if this guy's bigger and stronger than you. So I think that the value of hard work and showing up every day and being there twice a day and cutting out the distractions from your life, the pressure, just staying ahead of your opponent and being aggressive, looking for the finish – that's what I respect about Marcelo's jiu-jitsu.

It's not overly strategic, it's about two people fighting until one person quits basically, which I think is the big idea behind jiu-jitsu, that's what made me fall in love with it in the first place. It wasn't because I can sweep and win a match by two points, which I'm happy to do. I'd rather win by two points or by an advantage than lose, but the idea is to step out there and fight until you make your opponent tap. And Marcelo really epitomizes that spirit, he would almost rather lose the match than hold anything back and not go for the kill.

GEORGE: That's powerful, right there. I want to step back to just your coaching methods – and I know you mentioned that you're not so focused on a particular process and so forth. But it's something that, when Jess Fraser spoke about this, she was really inspired by the way that you teach and explain jiu-jitsu as such. Can you elaborate a bit more on that, on your teaching method and how you handle different people and different learning abilities and different styles and so forth?

PAUL: Yeah, sure. As a governing principle, I'm always trying to strip down, rather than elaborate whatever I'm doing. A lot of times in the past I was given credit I didn't deserve as a good coach when looking back I don't think I was because I was a good explainer of moves. And I think that's almost one of the least important things about coaching now, being the teacher, being the explainer of moves. It's more about getting your student to be able to do it and understanding how the moves connect and the art of redirecting your opponent's attack against them.

download-7Your attacks and your jiu-jitsu are connecting together within your body and then relating in a binary way with what's coming at you. It's not a mess, it's not just you throwing techniques against the wall. Our jiu-jitsu is connected to what our opponent is doing. And then understanding the physics of it and the mechanics of jiu-jitsu in a very simple way that we can communicate, but also understanding the art, what's going on between the moves to our opponent, or to our students rather. I heard B.J. said this one time: jiu-jitsu is the marriage or the union of basically two things: the technique and the will to win.

And you can't just train one and not train the other. You can be the most technical guy but have no desire to win, no will that pulls you through the fight to survive and find the way to turn the fight and go for the kill. We can't only have that belief in ourselves or that desire to kill and not have the technique to back it up, it's really both. And again, it relates to, our belief in the technique helps to build our will, and it helps to build our will in the general sense and it helps to build our will within the fight. So it's getting our students to understand how they can access their own power. And I'm a blue belt at that, I'm a purple belt at that, you look at someone like Fabio Gurgel or Marcelo, a lot of the greats – they're black belts with that.

And another thing that I think, you definitely see them in the art world, in the creative world that I've always been adherent of is that you take what works. If I see Marcelo teach a great class, I steal it, you know? And I figure out how to make it maybe mine in a way that I can communicate it with my words. I see the way he puts things together so that it teaches to the level of where the students at, of what they're going to get out of it in the simplest way possible, so that you don't have to go off and elaborate on principles: the principles are included in the lesson in the simplest way, so that your student discovers it, rather than you delivering it and hand feeding it.

And so much of developing expert knowledge or expert ability is your own process of discovery and taking ownership for your learning. To the best of my ability, I try to see the way my student learns and I try to tailor in some sense what I'm teaching to that and teach just above that level so that they have to extend themselves and really dig to get that. And then there's just the physicality of it too, you kind of have to go through the fire a little bit, it can't be too easy. I'm always trying to balance accessibility and experience.

GEORGE: That's a good answer. I did want to ask you, what can people expect when training at Marcelo Garcia Academy?  Guess you've kind of answered that – is there anything else that there is to add to that?

PAUL: I like to think that the single most important thing is that we're welcoming, we're nice to people. Regardless of jiu-jitsu, if you treat other people well and with respect, it seems to come back around. That said, we have a culture of hard work, so you can expect to train hard, but if you don't want to, if it's not in your future to ever compete and you have no interest in it, you're not going to be forced into competition, or competition training. You can just come in and train, but the idea is, we built a culture and we built a room where people can train hard, train safe and shake hands and be friends before and after.

That's I think how we framed training and the culture and the environment of Marcelo's is the thing I'm most proud of and the biggest thing that hopefully you can count on when you come. That really comes from the top, that comes from Marcelo, that's the way he is and that's the culture he's created and that's the product of the people he's surrounded himself with at the gym. People who, if their ego is too big, it's too much about them, they usually don't end up fitting in in the long term. That's the thing I'm most proud of from the gym and I think that's hopefully what you can expect when you come to train at Marcelo's. Technical jiu-jitsu, hard training and a good vibe at the academy.

GEORGE: Paul, it's been great chatting with you. I've got two more questions for you: one would be, do you still get to surf in New York?

PAUL: Yeah, I do, I surf when I can. My timing is atrocious now, but there's the good surf, there are good waves here, there are really good waves. It's a little bit more fickle than what I'm used to in California, it's not like good point brakes, at least that I'm aware of. For the most part, it's a lot of beach breaks, and the sand moves around, you kind of have to be on it with the swell direction in the wind. I usually just call my friends that are better at that stuff than I am and they tell me where it's going to be good and I try to get out there. Yeah, I try to fish a lot too, which is my other option for getting out of the city, so I try to go upstate and fish the Delaware River and the Farmington River. I fly fish when I can as well.

GEORGE: Sounds good. Paul, it's been great chatting to you – if anybody wants to learn more about you and find out more about you, where can they reach out to you?

PAUL: You can always walk into the academy at Marcelo's. I'm there 6 days a week typically, for some Part of the day. I teach Monday through Friday and then I teach a class on Saturday every other week. I have a website, it’s www.paulschreinerjj.com, so you can get in touch with me through that, I'm also on Instagram. I have Facebook, but I'm not super on it about checking it. That's it – again, the easiest way is to just come by Marcelo's. I know it's a bit far for you guys, but you'd be surprised at how many Australians we have at the academy, any given day there's a number of Australian visitors there.

And I have to say, from what I see here in New York, the level of jiu-jitsu is getting really high around the world and Australia really seems to be closing the gap with a lot of really technical competitors. I think being so far away from the center and being so much in a periphery, people really have to take ownership of their training. Like what Jess does, you have to travel and we end up with people that are a lot more passionate about it and that's what it takes to be good. It's that passion.

GEORGE: That's it, awesome. Paul – thanks again for making the time and I hope to connect with you again soon.

PAUL: Anytime, thank you, George.

GEORGE: Thank you, cheers.

PAUL: Cheers.

GEORGE: And there you have it  – thanks for listening, hope you enjoyed that interview. I learnt a lot, especially as a jiu-jitsu student as well, it made a big impact on me, just how they break things down, especially the key thing that stood out for me – well, one of many, but the one thing that really stood out was mentioning how it's not just about the technique, but having the will and faith in the technique and trusting the technique that it's going to work and you can't have one without other, you can't just have the will and no technique, and you can't just have technique without the will. That really really stood out for me, amongst other things.

Thanks a lot for listening, I hope you enjoyed this how. Again, the show notes are at martialartsmedia.com/18, and if you enjoyed the show and you enjoyed all these shows, please head out to martialartsmedia.com/iTunes and there's a little picture there below, you'll see a link, or a blue button that says “View on iTunes,” and please head over there, just leave us a good review – a 5-star review helps us get our rankings up within the show. So if you are enjoying it, that is the one thing that we can ask in return, which would really really mean a lot to us.

That's it, thank you very much for tuning in. I'll be back again next week with another episode. Have a great week, I'll chat with you soon – cheers.

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16 – Justin Sidelle: The Lifestyle Of Running A Martial Arts Business In The Tropics

Sun, surf and martial arts? Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Justin Sidelle shares the laid back lifestyle running their martial arts business.

martial arts business

IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Justin’s martial arts journey that inspired him to travel the world
  • How a healthy environment motivates martial arts training and how it affects your performance
  • The importance of “word of mouth” and social media in boosting your martial arts school’s exposure
  • Having a martial arts holiday in Bali, Indonesia vs Thailand
  • Giving back to the community and making a difference
  • And more

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Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

And on top of that, being in such an environment that's that healthy and that welcoming, your training goes through the roof. You perform better, you learn better, you learn faster.

Hi, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the Martial Arts Media business podcast, episode number 16. Today, I cross international waters – again. Well, it's not really international for us so much, because it's just Bali, and Bali and Perth, that's about a three and half hour flight, but I'm speaking to Justin Sidelle. And Justin Sidelle is the head coach at Bali MMA, the head jiu-jitsu coach at Bali MMA. Now, if you recall episode 13, I had Jess Fraser on, from the Australian Girls in GI and she mentioned that Bali MMA is her home gym, although she jet-sets and travels around the world. So I wanted to get in touch with Justin and just have a chat with him about his lifestyle: living in Bali, being able to train jiu-jitsu, which he loves and living in the tropics and just living an awesome lifestyle and living a very laid back life and doing a lot of good things within the Bali community.

But first, just a quick update, more a notification, if you're not aware of it, depending of course on where you listen to this podcast, if you listen to it on your iPhone or through your Android type device like a Samsung or so forth, or on the website. If you listen to it on the website, you might have noticed it, but we give away a martial art business plan for online media for martial arts business owners and it's basically a plan for the online media side of things.

It's looking at the different components of digital marketing for your martial arts school, so what you need to basically cover all the elements. There's a lot of information out there, you've got to do this on Facebook, and you've got to do this on Google and you've got to have SEO, but this is kind of giving you a holistic view of all the components that you need to have a prosperous martial arts school, but not only that, to make sure that you're not single point sensitive.

Let's say Facebook fell off the map today: can your business still sustain and can you still market? Do you still have ways and means to actually get in touch with your people? So it's just looking at things from a holistic point of view and all the elements that you need to cover. It's on the website, you can download it on martialartsmedia.com, or if you go directly to the link, it's martialartsmedia.com/plan. Download it, check it out. That will put you on our email database and we'll also send out weekly updates from when we release this podcast and such.

That's just it from me. I want to get into the podcast now. I've got to tell you as well, this was always going to be a problem: talking to someone in Bali, I knew the internet wasn't going to be the best, we ended up talking on the phone and there was a bit of a delay, which kind of overlapped a few times. All in all, the interview is awesome, you're going to get a lot of value from this and it might even spark you, light a fire under you to go take a nice tropical holiday with some awesome martial arts training. So, without further ado, please welcome to the show – Justin Sidelle.

GEORGE: Alright, good day everyone. Today I have with me a guest from Indonesia, from Bali to be exact. Well, I guess rather saying, based in Indonesia, but actually an American gentleman. His name is Justin Sidelle and how I was introduced to Justin was through Jess Fraser from Australian girls in GI, who I had on the podcast episode 13 and she mentioned that Justin is her head coach and her home training grounds, if you want to call it that way is the Bali MMA. Welcome to the call Justin.

JUSTIN: Thanks George, thanks for having me.

GEORGE: Alright, awesome. So I guess we should start right at the beginning and we're going to ask of course how an American ended up in Bali, but  – who is Justin Sidelle?

JUSTIN: That's a good question, man. Who you are as a person never stops changing, right? So it's hard to answer that question I think for a lot of people. I was somebody who was out traveling. I was traveling through Asia and I got a good job opportunity thrown my way and I was first in Thailand, so I worked in Thailand for a while and then I met the Leone brothers and Donny and they wanted to come out to Bali and open a gym out here, so I kind of followed them out here and we opened Bali MMA.

GEORGE: Alright, cool. How long ago was that, how long did you start traveling that you went over to Thailand?

JUSTIN: I've been out of the States now for three years. So a year in Thailand and now two years in Bali.

GEORGE: What was the big motivation for going? I know there's a lot of motivation to set up in Bali, but what was the idea behind setting up Bali MMA?

JUSTIN: I think it was a passion for, I still look at the guys I came here with, I still look at Andrew and Anthony and Donny and a big passion for them was surfing. They all wanted to come out here and surf and that was something I was interested in getting involved with. Definitely, the Asian lifestyle, living in the tropics, is something that I think attracted all of us for wanting to come here.

15049824_10209156096792461_674409732_nJust that training lifestyle and the destination, that's just kind of so inspiring and makes you want more for yourself and more on where you're at in the world. It was just the perfect place to open a gym really, and there was nothing really out here like this already. We were the first really professional gym that set up. So it's kind of cool, we're working our way up towards being a world class destination gym and I think we've done that. Then you continue pushing forward to really keep up with our competition.

GEORGE: With not having the competition and you were the first there, what was your primary goal? Were you thinking, OK, we're going to set something up for Indonesians as such or Bali, being such a hot travel destination, was it more a goal of being a place where people can train on a holiday, or were you going for that expat market for people that are living in Bali and trying to accommodate for them?

JUSTIN: That's a good question. I think initially our goal was to be a destination gym. Because before we were in Phuket and Phuket was a much more transient place, we had a lot more tourists coming in and out. That much said, we don't have that here in Bali, we just find that there are more expats and locals here that are interested in training, which we didn't have as much in Thailand.

So I think what we figured out quickly was that we were going to be able to cater to both. So I have my core group of guys that are either part of our professional fight team or live here in Bali that train with me daily and then I also have handfuls of tourists coming through every week, if it's even just for a drop in class or just two months of a hard training camp, or maybe just 6 months to a year, just to give their life a new start. I get all of that, it's a great environment.

GEORGE: So the majority of people who train there, what styles are you coaching and is it mostly adults or do you have kids programs as well?

JUSTIN: Oh yeah, adults and kids both. We're really multifaceted, we have a professional MMA team that I coach for their jiu-jitsu, so my approach to them has to be a little different, right? My concern with them is not only them  having a pristine jiu-jitsu technique, but also that they're safe in a fight, so for them, I kind of structure their jiu-jitsu a little differently, so I know they're going to go in there, they're going to be safe in a fight, they can handle themselves well and they're looking to finish.

So I have  a different mindset for my pros than I do for my hobbyists. My hobbyists, depending on whether they're competing in jiu-jitsu, I need to give them tools so they're going to work in that style and that environment. My hobbyists, I tend to steer towards more self-defense. Again, kind of like that mixture between MMA and sports jiu-jitsu that has to be taught to them. So I really try to cater it to my students and who's there. Kid's programs, we have a couple.

We have our main kid's program here that's taught by Andrew Leone – fantastic kid's coach, he's really hands on, he's funny. He knows how to get the kids rolled up and having a good time, he does a great job with our kid's program here. I helped him, I established that with him, we built that together, it's a ton of fun. And then we do a program called Jalang, with a green school. Jalang it means “to wonder” in Indonesian. They come out once a semester for six weeks and we teach them jiu-jitsu and boxing and wrestling as well. We do it separately, so it's not straight MMA, but we teach all the components to them.

GEORGE: What a variation there! How do you cater for international clients, and people coming through on holiday? How do you get the word out and how do you get the marketing out in a place like Bali?

JUSTIN: A little bit of it is word of mouth, a lot of it is through social media. There tends to be, what we're finding is that there's a community of people that want to go on holiday and do something healthy for themselves. They just don't want to go partying the whole time, so a lot of people are choosing to do things, like go to an MMA camp, in a destination like Bali, so they can go and get the holiday they want, but train on the side, eat healthy, live a clean lifestyle while they're here and then go back to the real world.

So a lot of it is just networking, people who come through, they go home, they tell people from their gym, and then next time, they come and bring friends – it’s just people who like to travel already. And then a lot of it is people that have come back, that have trained with us before, so maybe they pass through. When we were training together in Thailand and in Bali, so now they're coming over here to check out what we're doing over here. And then, we just establish those relationships and people keep coming back.

GEORGE: I can see you have quite a few, I know Tiffany Van Soest, that's also the home training facility for her.

JUSTIN: She's my neighbor, she's right next door.

GEORGE: Oh, cool. So does that help a lot with marketing, having someone like that on board, and big names, how does that influence it?

15045612_10209156137353475_1634376610_nJUSTIN: Oh, absolutely! She's such a big influence on the team here, the energy she brings into the room. It says a lot about her skill set, she can walk into a room full of MMA fighters and they all just shut up and listen to whatever she has to say, so it’s a technical striker. All that input is really great and having high-level competitors like that in the gym pushes everyone else to raise the bar on themselves and train harder. Having world class athletes that we do, that come in regularly makes a big difference in the energy of the gym.

GEORGE: Going back, I want to know a bit more about you. Alright, you come from America, you started traveling and so forth – let's just actually take a step back from all this and let's start with your career, where did you start in martial arts?

15050023_10209156119793036_29076811_nJUSTIN: I started doing traditional martial arts as a kid and then when I got a little bit older, I got involved with Brazilian jiu-jitsu. So I in 2005 I started jiu-jitsu and I fell in love with it right away, I knew that's what I wanted to practice and that's what I wanted to do. So I just kept cutting the fat around things in my life that wouldn't let me train and it was actually after I did, in 2010, I was still training probably three or four days a week in jiu-jitsu and competing actively, I competed in IBJJF, really great jiu-jitsu tournaments. Jiu-jitsu just becomes such a Mecca in California, you could go to California and train, it’s just always tough competition, great guys to train with.

So anyway, in 2010, I went to Thailand for the first time and got the taste of training full time, I went to Tiger Muay Thai, and did like three weeks there and it blew my mind. On my way back, I ended up getting a job offer from the gym I was training at the time, with Dave Camarillo, so I ended up at that point in my life, switching from, I was working in restaurants and bars and grocery stores and stuff like that, to training jiu-jitsu full time. And so I trained and taught with Dave for the next four years, I've probably been a brown belt for maybe like a year and then I left to do some traveling in Thailand and south east Asia and I ended up doing work with Olavo Abreu. And so I took that and stayed there and got my black belt from Olavo Abreu and then came to Bali.

GEORGE: That's got to be the ultimate lifestyle for you, living in Bali, being able to train every day, quite a laid back lifestyle?

15044892_10209156097392476_288918132_oJUSTIN: Oh, for sure! It's great man, I wake up every day, go get breakfast on a beach, drive my motorbike around through rice paddies, all that good stuff, and you go to the gym and you train – I love my team, I love everyone there, the atmosphere of the gym  is so great. I thought about this a while ago: when you show up to work at least 30 minutes early every day, for no reason other than to be there, you like your job. You know what I mean? When you're getting out of bed early just to go to work, you really like your job. I'm just so happy to be at the gym and training with my team, it’s been great man, it’s a great lifestyle.

GEORGE: How big is the gym? How many students do you have coming in and out? Regulars, versus the people that just come by for holiday training and camps and so forth?

JUSTIN: It's hard to say, cause it’s kind of seasonal, but it’s unpredictable. When we have people coming in slow all day. So I'd say when it’s slow, I can just – jiu-jitsu is what I've got the best idea of, right? So when it’s slow, I have ten people in my class, when it’s busy I have close to thirty. So it kind of depends on the time of the year and how many people are coming in. I can get a really even mix and now, since I've been down here for a while, I have people who come and train with me for longer.

I'll use Jess as an example, she loves training with us, so she'll come up for months. And then I have Jess with me for four months, and that's great. And then, she feels like a local, she feels like family to me, she's been here so many times for long stints. But then, there's the tourists coming in and out and then the people living here. Whenever someone leaves, someone else comes in, you know what I mean? The door is never wholly shut, we've always got people in the gym.

GEORGE: So let's say, a place like Australia, if I look at Perth: Perth is probably, I wouldn't say it takes the majority of Bali, because Bali is a big place, but I know that it's the number one vacation destination, just because, I mean, it's a three and a half hour flight, it's cheap for us.

JUSTIN: Oh, it's so close to you guys.

GEORGE: Yeah, driving down south or getting on the plane to Bali is kind of the same thing for us, except Bali is a whole different country, so it’s very popular for multiple reasons. But also, there's so many people that come from here and then they go to Thailand, they go do things like Tiger Muay Thai and Sinbi and go train in those destinations. What would you say to people to consider Bali MMA as an option beyond the other alternatives, like there is in Thailand and so forth?

JUSTIN: Again, it’s something that you should just experience. I've been fortunate enough, I've trained at Tiger Muay Thai with a top team and I've trained at some of the smaller gyms in Phuket and then I've been here. it’s just such a different experience, it’s a different vibe. There's a lot of similarities too, they're all great gyms to train at, you've just got to shop around and see these other destinations. I think training at these gyms is a bonus to the place you're in too. I always wanted to go to Thailand, training at first was almost as a bonus, it was something to sweeten the deal.

15050297_10209156096952465_1302411700_nThe vibe in Bali is just so different, it's something you really have got to come in and experience and see just how warm and welcoming everyone is. One of the things people talk about are the dogs, we have all these gym dogs at the front of the gym and they're super friendly and nice. You walk up in this cafe area and you're greeted by these super friendly dogs. The people at the cafe are super friendly. They're all international so they're really welcoming and excited to meet new people. Then you go inside and everyone's very welcoming again – everyone's ready to lend a hand, answering the questions you have, super supportive people that just make you want to stay.

And I think that's the thing most of why people come, they get that overwhelming sensation of feeling so welcome that they should stay here and they feel at home. And they are the people that want to come back and keep training with us. I think that's something that's definitely worth experiencing, it's the camaraderie that we all carry here, it's very strong and we make people feel very welcome when they come here to train. And on top of that, being in such an environment that's that healthy and that welcoming, your training goes through the roof. You perform better, you learn better, you learn faster. So the level in the room is very high.  And because everyone's taking care of themselves and working so hard, people get a lot better here really quickly. Again, you've got to come try it.

GEORGE: From what you're saying, because I've been to Bali multiple times, That whole relaXed and laid back culture, it sounds like you've really embraced that and I can actually visualize how you would experience that within your gym and just have a really awesome holiday, but get all this great knowledge and value from all the expert coaches and trainers out here.

JUSTIN: Right. And it's a really good place for people to go who are traveling alone too. When I first started traveling in Asia, I didn't have many connections, but the connections I had were through martial arts. So the great way to go out and meet some people who are doing the same thing you are, if you're traveling and you train, definitely go stop by a gym, it's a  really good way of meeting some local people and it will give you a better experience of the place you're seeing and visiting. It's something I took on very early on in my traveling and it's something I do even when I'm still traveling, I always bring my GI with me, I'm always ready to go train at a gym. It's just a  great way to meet people.

GEORGE: Ok. You mentioned earlier, briefly, that you also have fight shows and tournaments and things within Bali. Can you elaborate a bit more on that?

JUSTIN: We have something called Canggu fight night. We just had one for Halloween that was really successful, we do kickboxing smokers, people then come out and watch, the boxing and kickboxing. We just put on a  really good show, a good time for them. If you follow us on Facebook, you can see there're some videos that we recently put up. And again, it's  that vibe that makes it so different. I've been to a lot of Muay Thai fights and MMA shows and stuff like that.  

The vibe really affects how good of a time the people watching are having. And everyone here is just so easygoing and laid back, it makes the fight truly fun and people are just genuinely having a good time and I think when the fighters are having a good time, so are the fans watching. It gets everyone to kind of open up, put on a good show and fight hard. Our next one's going to be, I think the second week of December, so if you guys are thinking about coming to Bali, definitely try to be here for Canggu fight night.

GEORGE: OK. And where about in Bali do you host that?

JUSTIN: We're based in Canggu.

GEORGE: OK, that's where all the awesome surf spots are. 

JUSTIN: Right, yeah. We've got some good surf spots here. Canggu is an interesting place, it's kind of where hipsters meet hippies, it's  very unique. Again, if you're looking for having a healthy holiday, it's a really great place for it, because there're so much health conscious restaurants close to the gym, and just again, the environment here is really great. There's a ton of rice fields everywhere  and we're close to three beaches with great waves. It's a good time.

GEORGE: Oh yeah, definitely. Alright, awesome. And then, one more thing I want to ask you before we start wrapping it up: you also mentioned your involvement with one of the orphanages there?

JUSTIN: Yeah, we've done some work for the orphanage called Jodie O'Shea. People usually go in and work with the kids a little bit and then a bunch of the other guys from the fight team come out too, pretty much all the fight teams and then Subba brothers come out quite a bit.  It's a good time, it's just kind of something we started doing because we wanted to give back. I've been trying to get a program up and running with them to be a continuous thing, but it's difficult, they're pretty far away from us and with the traffic and everything, it's a little difficult. We just try to do stuff where we can give back to the community. If it's doing free women's self-defense seminars, or working with kids locally here. I think it's something really good we can do to help share our passions.

GEORGE: Justin, it's been awesome chatting to you and I know I'll definitely make a trip to Bali to come and see you guys sometimes. For anybody that wants to come and visit you guys and make a trip to Bali, what should they be doing? What would be the process to get in touch with you guys?

JUSTIN: Either on Facebook or our website, balimma.com. Any questions you have, don't be shy to ask. You can message us directly, but it's better to go through the site. People will message me all the time, asking me questions about coming out to train – please, please don't be shy to do so. If you guys want to come out, train, see Bali, just explore, it's a great place to do it. So Bali MMA, check us out on Facebook or  our website.

GEORGE: Justin, it's been great chatting to you and I hope to see you  on the sunny side soon.

JUSTIN: Absolutely, thanks, George.

GEORGE: Cheers.

15126212_10209156097552480_676270323_oGEORGE: And there you have it. Thank you, Justin and I'm sure that might have sparked some ideas for you, to go and train. Awesome trainers in Bali and a great lifestyle. And if you've been to Bali or if you haven't been, Changu, where they are situated, is a really, really cool part of Bali and there are nice surf spots. What I like about it is, it’s because I don't surf that often as I used to, the surf spots are, it’s kind of from the beach, so there're not long extensive paddles, but it's reef breaks that are in easy access from the beach, and there's nice little restaurants and it’s sort of out of the main hustle and bustle from Bali. And of course, they've got an awesome gym in there, Bali MMA, so great place to have a holiday.

Thanks again for listening, thanks for tuning in. I do want to ask a  bit of a favor: if you could head over to iTunes and really help us, we're really trying to get the rankings up for the show. The more people vote on the show, the better we get listed in the iTunes library or directory if you want to call it that. So if you do want to do us a big favor, and if you've gotten value out of this show, please head over to iTunes. You can just go to martialartsmedia.com/iTunes, that will take you there and just leave us a review. Five-star reviews are what helps us get the good ranking, but an honest review would be much appreciated.

And that's it. Awesome guest on board again next week – I will chat to you soon, have a good week. Cheers!

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15 – Martial Arts Advertising Ideas: Google Adwords vs. Facebook Marketing

Looking for martial arts marketing ideas? Google Adwords and Facebook ads are the big players. George Fourie shares the core differences.

IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The key difference between Google Adwords and Facebook Ads
  • Why one click doesn't help you generate leads anymore
  • How to focus on multiple touch points to engage your leads
  • All martial arts marketing ideas are worthless without this (HINT: Remarketing)

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Good day everyone, it’s Facebook marketing, SEO: should you be doing all of this for your martial arts school, what should you be doing, what shouldn't you be doing, what is the differences, can they work together – let's discuss.

I'm George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com. In this video, I'm going to be talking about Google AdWords, should you be doing it, how does it compete with something on Facebook, what is SEO and all these fancy things. How do they work together and what strategies should you be looking out for where you implement this different marketing on these different platforms. So let's look at a comparison.

b-86Google and Facebook. Google: firstly, Google has a whole different way of advertising and marketing, because when you go to Google, you've got the intent. You've got intent to find a solution for a problem, you're looking for something. On Facebook, you're not looking for something. You're interacting, you're being social with your friends, you're looking at funny cat videos: you're doing something else than looking for something of martial arts or what it is that you're looking for. So Google has intent and Facebook is more like an interruption type of marketing. You've got to keep that in mind on how you're interacting with people, because if you think about it, it’s going to take someone 6 to 8 interactions with your brand before there's any form of conversion.

And that conversion is not necessarily joining up, that's a conversion of leaving an online inquiry, or picking up the phone and trying to engage with you as such. So the key thing to keep in mind: on Facebook, for example, if the first interaction is an ad, you have risked potential of turning that person off and not being able to take that relationship further, whereas, if you have relevant content for them, something that might interest them and from that lead to an ad afterwards, which is something that you can do, then you have more chance of converting that ad, that person into a lead, by following a different sequence.

Same as with Google of course. With Google, it’s a bit more direct, because somebody is searching for something, so an ad will show up, telling them, “This is what you've searched for,” and if your ad matches what they are looking for, that message-to-market match, then they're going to engage with your page and they are going to more than likely convert.

3With both these platforms, you've got to bear in mind that there are multiple touch points. It’s not just going to take that one click and that one view of the ad for somebody to actually convert. So you've got to be covering multiple platforms, and this is where you can have them both work together. This is how you're going to save money eventually on marketing. If you think there're 6 to 8 times that there needs to be an interaction before somebody's going to convert, how are you interacting with your prospect 6 to 8 times? How are you getting in front of them? Offer, offer, offer, offer, or content, value, content, content, offer? You've got to play around with how you are approaching your people so that you are starting by building a relationship and then slowly working towards the conversion.

Let's get back to this multiple touch points. A recent study – and thank you, Ezra Firestone, for this, mentioned that people start a search query on mobile and then they finish the transaction on a desktop. If you think about it, how many people are looking at your martial arts website and they click on the inquiry form and they just look at all this text and now they've got to sit and try ad work it on their phone with their thumbs and people just give up.

If somebody's found your website for the first time on the mobile website, they might not finish that inquiry on the mobile device, so you need a way to actually get them back to the website because chances are they're going to forget. How many times have you looked at a website on your mobile device, thinking that you'll get back to it and then you simply don't? I know I've probably got hundreds of saved things on my Facebook account that I don't even go back to that.

So it’s just something that you do and because of the way technology works, attention spans are just getting shorter and shorter and shorter and shorter. So you've got to keep interacting with people on these multiple platforms and this is why platforms can work together, because if somebody has found you on Google and they looked at your page but they haven't done anything to convert, you can now do something like marketing campaigns, by tracking them through what's called the Facebook Pixel and you can show them ads when they land up on Facebook, so here's you next interaction. So you need all these little elements to work together.

Same as with Google Remarketing: when somebody goes to Google ads and they go away, you can have ads appear on different websites to get them back to your website and make sure that they convert. So if you accompany that type of things with good content – content meaning instructional videos or information that your prospects might be interested in and a good follow up email sequence, then you're touching all these multiple touch points and that is how you're going to have a profitable business and make your ads work and make your ads convert.

That's it – if you've got any questions with this type of thing and you need an help with that, – get in touch with us on martialartsmedia.com – I'll see you in the next video. Cheers!

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14 – Hakan Manav: Martial Arts World Titles, Movies & A Thriving Business – The Ultimate Martial Arts Success

Hakan Manav, 5th degree Taekwondo black belt and world martial arts champion, shares his life journey of success and their thriving martial arts business.

hakan manav

IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How to deal with the constant pressure of being ‘The Master's Son'
  • The truth about martial arts skills that improve coordination in other sports
  • How business principles discovered in tertiary education lay the frameworks for a successful martial arts school
  • Getting everything you can from TV publicity (Australia's Got Talent)
  • Business growth hit the ceiling? Do these 2 things to breakthrough to the next level
  • The training schedule of an elite world class martial artist
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

It all started back in that day, we went overseas, we opened our eyes, we invested in ourselves, we sought knowledge outside of the martial arts industry, as well as within the industry, and then it was just one step at a time and consistent growth.

Hi, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the Martial Arts Media Business podcast, episode number 14. Today I have a very inspiring, very versatile, talented young man on board and this gentleman is truly, truly a gift of multiple talents, and what I mean by that is, first up, he's born into martial arts, he is an amazing martial artist, his skills are just beyond, it’s another level. If you follow any of his social media accounts, he spends most of his time in the air. His tricking ability is beyond this world, his skills are just phenomenal, you've got to see it to actually absorb what it is he is capable of.

And when it comes to the business side, their family own and operate one of the most successful martial arts schools in Australia, if not the most successful. And that, of course, depends on how you measure success, but what I can tell  you is that their main location has a total of 1450 students, they have another 5 set locations of 200 students each approximately and they have systems and a staffing in place that allows them to operate 7 days per week.

So whether or not that is your goal, look, there's value in what these guys have learned along the way. And the guest that I'm talking about of course, after much suspense, Hakan Manav. Hakan shares his journey from humble beginnings, having to live up to the expectations of his dad's reputation, Master Ridvan Manav, and just his journey going from where they started out with basically nothing and building up this organization and feeling that pressure from a young age and dealing with that.

We also touch on his moving career, how an Australian talent show opened multiple doors for him, so much to share in this conversation on multiple levels. As always, depending on where you're listening to this, you can find the show notes and everything else mentioned within this podcast, you can find at martialartsmedia.com/14, the number 14. And that's it for now, I want to get into this interview – enjoy, and welcome to the show Mr. Hakan Manav.

GEORGE: Good day everyone, today I have a guest with many talents with me today and that is Hakan Manav. Now, I'm really not sure how this conversation's going to go because we can talk about movies, we can talk about being featured on Australia's Got Talent, we can talk about his martial arts career in general, but we'll see where this goes. So welcome to the call Hakan.

HAKAN: A pleasure to be here George, thank you.

GEORGE: All right. So, for those that are not familiar with you, let's start right at the beginning: who is Hakan Manav?

HAKAN: Well, let's go back to when I was born. Basically, my father established the Australian Martial Arts Academy well over 30 years now, I think pushing on to 35 years soon, I think 34 years. I'm currently 28, going onto 29, so I was born into the family, born into the martial arts from a very young age and I grew up with it and I had many fantastic experiences, because of the martial arts. I've been very fortunate, there are photos of me in the nappies starting out in martial arts.

GEORGE: That's way back!

HAKAN: Yeah, many many years ago.

GEORGE: So what came first? You grew up in martial arts, how did things evolve? Was it just a given that you're going to become an instructor?10341619_10152080186176277_1515235339274962255_nHAKAN: Well, my dad was heavily involved, he was quite young at the time, he was active and I had that role model there from the very beginning. We were predominantly a Taekwondo  tournament based school back in the days, so that was the culture that I was brought up with. And back then, the academy was part-time, in that my father had a full-time job and he did this with a passion and all we wanted to do was fight, training to fight, make the Australian team, travel and everything that came along with that.

So my young journey started with that and I competed in many tournaments growing up. There were my fond memories as a young kid, traveling to all these destinations around the world, competing, camaraderie, having fun. And then I got to a point where I completely had enough, hated martial arts, sick of martial arts and didn't want anything to do with it. So that's when my friends started to play a bigger role in my life and we had this constant struggle in the family household. But I found my way back into it, found what I loved and the rest is history.

GEORGE: What do you acquaint that struggle to? Is it sort of having plateaued too quickly, or…?

HAKAN: I think it is a culmination of things. First of all,  it was the pressure, it was a pressure situation. I was always the master's son, the boss' son, so that came with a lot of pressure everywhere we went. So I always had this weight on my shoulders. So there was  that and there was my friends doing other sports and things like that and then you've got the business element to it, so everything that comes with the stress, trying to ensure the members.

As a young kid, I was exposed to all of this and it all just kind of played its toll, setting up at festivals, doing the extra work, doing the makeup classes and everything, when instructors couldn't show up – all this added stress was on my shoulders from a very young age. I do remember, I do embrace it, it was a fantastic learning experience, and it really set the platform for where we are today, but it was a culmination of things.

GEORGE: Ok. I can understand how that could happen, all the pressure and so forth. How did you actually get it back?

HAKAN: I've actually been training throughout my whole life, in martial arts. There were just periods where I would train more, 5-6 days a week and then there would be periods where I only would train a minimum of twice a week. So back when I was about 13-14, at that age, just started high school, friends were cool, hanging out was cool, all my friends back then were into rugby league and all the team sports, so they would talk about their games on the weekend – none of them really cared that I was the best Taekwondo athlete in my division, for my age group in Australia, none of them would really care about that, so that was really hard for me when I would come back to school, I'd just come from an overseas trip, I want to share all my experiences and it just would've gone nowhere.

That was the struggle that I faced, but then I tried some other sports. I did soccer, I did tennis, I did basketball, while still doing martial arts twice a week, but I would always also do this and then go on their games on the weekend. So I did that and then I had a lot of fun with it and I can definitely say when we do promote that martial arts does improve your coordination, does help with other sports, I can personally say that it does, because when I did do other sports, I picked it up very quickly because of that athletic background. I played soccer for a few years and I picked it up really well.

The footwork, the agility, the dribbling, all of that I did really well, but I soon realized that I wasn't as proficient at soccer as I was with martial arts. There are a lot of very good kids that were doing the team sports and I realized that I was good, but I wasn't in the top tier that I used to be in the Taekwondo. So I went through that period, I had my fun with it, but then I realized, I think my true passion lies in the martial arts. That's what I was essentially born to do, so I found my way back into it, back when I was about 16.

I had a few years where I didn't compete, just kind of had a bit of fun with it, but then I found my way. I'm extremely grateful my parent allowed me to do that. However, we have to share this funny story with you all. As a young kid, I was super flexible. I could do splits in my sleep and I played soccer for a couple of years and then I lost my split, I lost my flexibility. I came back and I remember going to my dad, “Dad, why did you let me play soccer, I lost my flexibility!” It was just this funny family feud that we had.

GEORGE: Yes, because I think I saw a picture of you floating around that puts Jean Claude van Damme to shame.

HAKAN: Yeah, he was definitely one of my role models. I actually met him at a young age. We had photos of him, my dad also was extremely flexible.

GEORGE: How's your career evolved? I see you've been in movies and I see you're doing all this tricking stuff, which is just phenomenal, and then you've got the instructor side of things going, so what sort of the predominant drive where you're taking your martial arts career?

HAKAN: Like I said, it all started back when I came back to martial arts. I was about 16, I made the Australian Taekwondo  team, our school was predominantly based Taekwondo school then. I went to Korea for the Junior World Championship and there I saw these demonstrations, they were called the Korean Tigers and they were fantastic. So I continued fighting, but I remembered the impact they had on me, the moves they were doing were fantastic, but what really drew me was the entertainment value they brought to martial arts, the wow factor.

It was something I had never seen before. So I came back home, and I continued training, and at that time I was just about finishing school and my family always stressed the importance of education. So not only did I want to be good at martial arts, I also wanted to ensure that my schoolwork was there, I wanted to get into a top university, I wanted to do a degree that I loved and during my final years of high school, I really put my head down, and I would do a minimum of three hours of study every night back in the day and also continue my training, so keep both of it up.

I received a really really good, I guess UAC, which is the HSC year 12 exam result. I went to the university of Sydney and I studied a Bachelor of Commerce, Major in Finance. I did that for four years when I was about ages 18 to 22. At that time, we applied a lot of the business principles to the academy to lay the foundations and frameworks to running a legitimate, professional business, ensuring that the marketing, the accounting, the human resource, the curriculum, the delivery – everything was laid there. All of that process happened during that time.

Around the same time, back in 2009, we saw this audition for Australia's Got Talent, so we thought we would give it a go. It was a great challenge, we entered it and it was a great challenge for me, because up until that time, I always had a great experience in the competitive aspect of martial arts, the sportsmanship, the traveling, the weight cutting and everything, the discipline, the satisfaction, the sacrifice that goes into training every single day.

So I wasn't really able to get my creative juices flowing at that point. This opportunity came along and I jumped at it. I said, let's see what we can do, let me see if I can make this as entertaining as possible. Now, throughout my whole life, I had this frustrating experience in that, anytime I told people that I would do martial arts for a living, or we run a martial arts school, it would really be looked down upon. And I think it’s because a lot of the times when people have had a martial arts experience, it’s often in the local church hall, or the local school hall, so people felt that, for me personally, people really looked down upon it, it didn't really have a positive stereotype back in the days.

So I thought, this is a fantastic experience for me if I could really get our school out there and hopefully shine a positive light on the sport. So rather than going out and doing a whole bunch of kicks and things like that, we thought, let's make it entertaining, let's make it appealing, let's add some comedy in there, let's add a bit of a storyline. So we did that and we got really far, we got to the finals and we didn't end up winning, a singer ended up winning, but we had a lot of fun with it.

And that opened up a lot of doors for me, that experience there. It just took off from there, we put our school on the map, the demonstrations increased dramatically, the demand increased dramatically for the performances, as well for the school. And then we just rode the wave. And for a few years, I did seminars, I did martial arts seminars, extreme kick seminars, just really adding this element to all martial arts schools around the country, just getting that wow factor in there. Just motivating, providing students with another element they can add to their curriculum. It proved to be successful at our school and many other schools as well.

GEORGE: Excellent. So when the Australia's Got Talent happened, you just saw the opportunity and that was it, you jumped on that?

HAKAN: I jumped in it, yeah. Look, I know there have been a lot of other martial arts schools that have also done it, but it was hard. It was hard, it was a challenge, it was definitely a challenge because there was no real benchmark and nor real precedent set that I could follow.

GEORGE: How have things evolved from that point? You guys have got a really really successful business, how's this all played a role in that?

HAKAN: Basically, also at that time, that happened about 2009, let's go back a few years, let's go back to 2005, 2006. We went overseas to the martial arts industry supershow, which is the martial arts convention that was held in Vegas. And again, that really opened up our eyes to everything that we could do  in the martial arts business, in the martial arts industry. So we created our Little Dragons program, we created the Dragons program, we created upgrade programs, and we really had an experience, that major culture shift within the academy.

So when I talk about being a fighter dominated school, we really transformed that. It took a bit of time, but we really focused on leadership and cultivating leaders, assistant instructors, junior instructors, really developing and instructor program. That happened about 10 years ago now, so we experienced that. I was just coming out of school and we had some fantastic instructors who are still with us today, who are open to change, who are open to  making things better, setting a professional platform, aiming for world class service in the industry.

It all started back in that day, when we went overseas, we opened our eyes, we invested in ourselves, we sought knowledge outside of the martial arts industry, as well as within the industry, and then it was just one step at a time and consistent growth. So I'm going to say back then, we would have had about 300 students at the one location.

GEORGE: OK, and you've expanded that to 1450?

HAKAN: Yeah, right now, we're actually just sitting on 1450 members in the one location.

GEORGE: What challenges does that bring, you obviously must have huge premises, but having 1450 students at one location, what challenges does that bring on a day-to-day basis?14886222_10153814456386277_1285758414_nHAKAN: There are a lot of challenges definitely, but when you develop a fantastic team of instructors and you develop that leadership culture, you keep everybody happy. Everyone's got their roles, it’s definitely manageable. We operate over 120 classes a week, our academy runs 7 days a week. Everybody's got their roles like I said, we have a tier instructor system, starting with my father as the master, we have 5 head instructors. We've got our instructors, our assistants, our volunteers and so on. And everybody plays a part and we just continually ensure that everyone is looked after and make sure that we're consistently improving.

So it is a challenge, but something that we can all handle, do well, we're all young, we're hungry and we want to make sure that we keep this thing going as best we can. Some of the challenges we do face include of course staffing, that's the number one. That's the number one challenge, that's where I spend a lot of attention, ensuring that we're developing, we're training, we're motivating, inspiring the instructors to run the 120 classes a week that we run.

GEORGE: Ok. So if we go back, and this might be tough to recall, but can you recall what were the first steps you guys took? When you were at 300 students, you got back from the USA; what were the key things that you thought, all right, this is what we've got to do first?

HAKAN: It was a big slap in the face. One of the first things we did is, we needed to know our market. Our market before was fighters, people who came in, I mean if ten people come in, one or two of them were the ones that really stuck it through and were able to represent us well in the competition scene. That was kind of our focus. We then said, OK, what we want to do is, we want to make martial arts applicable, we want to make it accessible to the masses.

So how we did that, one of the first steps we did was dividing our classes. We had two classes back in the day: we had a junior class, everyone under the age of 15, and we had a senior class, everyone above the age of 15. So we divided the brackets up into some really small classes. We first started with, we looked at our membership base and we said, OK, where are the majority of our members? The majority of our members were in the what we call our ninja age group, which is the 9-12 age group. So we set age brackets into classes.

What we then did was, we developed a curriculum. We had the depth, we developed the depth in each age group. So we had the 9-12, then we went to the 6-8, then we went to the 3-5-year-old age group and we just really stuck at that for a while. As the number grew, as we started improving our marketing and our culture started to change and the instructors started to develop, we started to add more classes, more days, more age groups and more upgrade programs. So we went with the demand and that all really started from dividing the ages up into specific brackets.

GEORGE: And so at this point, you were still just focused on Taekwondo, is that correct?

HAKAN: That's right, yeah. Our base was predominantly Taekwondo, but then when we went overseas, we really were open to investing in ourselves, both in terms of business and in terms of leadership and knowledge and in terms of I guess physical martial arts skills. That's where I started going out and started learning things that we can apply to our upgrade program.

So things included the extreme kicking, the martial arts tricking element, the weaponry – this complemented our martial arts training and proved to be a further challenge to our advanced members, which then improved our retention. So not only did I do that, my father did that, and so did our other head instructors. We went out, we followed our passion in whatever field it was, we did self-defense, we did kickboxing and then we got all this knowledge embedded into our curriculum and then went from there.

GEORGE: OK, I just want to highlight that, if I heard that right. So you said that by raising the bar and making it more sort of a complex challenge for the students, that increased the retention?14914540_10153814456376277_1602600503_nHAKAN: Definitely, definitely. You know, again, I'm going to give you some examples. There were some students quite a few years ago where they would get their black belt, they would shake your hand and say thank you, as in, they thought it was the end. They thought the black belt was the end. Again, this was another learning experience for us, that was partly our fault that we made them feel that way because maybe at that time there wasn't a challenge for them.

So we then figured, OK, we've got to make this curriculum deeper, we've got to consistently challenge these people and provide them avenues, be it on the extreme side, be it on the leadership side, be it through the self-defense, weaponry – we want to make sure that there's something for everybody and that includes giving further challenges but that's challenges that are manageable and broken down into small consistent goals, if that makes sense.

GEORGE: OK, so what would be that step for that black belt? Because I sometimes think I'm facing this with my son right now, because he's just achieved his black belt, and he's ten years old. He's put a good five, six years in to get it, but I need to get him to realize it's time to put that white belt back on again. Your achievement is only that for where you are at.

HAKAN: Of course, of course. And look, I think all this does come back down to the instructor, because if we keep investing in ourselves and improving our knowledge, then we can, like I said, increase the depth in our content, increase the depth in our curriculum. It's going to consistently create that “wow” factor – wow look at my instructor, he keeps improving, or she keeps improving. There're so many more things we can learn.

So firstly, I believe it has to be cultivated through the leaders and through the instructors in the academy, that's what needs to be done. At our school what we do is, once people get a black belt, they have this, as well as they're doing a physical test, they have to fill out this worksheet and one of the questions is, how has achieving my black belt changed my life, so it's a reflection on the way they've come.

And the second part of the question is, what are my goals, moving into, going into the future, now that I'm a black belt? So it gets them thinking about that from a very young age. But then, we also have a beyond black belt curriculum, which we give to the black belts and on that they still grade. I feel that in most styles and most systems when people do get a black belt, the grading period is a very long time between grading. So that could make the black belts lose motivation. Why is retention so good in the younger belts, is because gradings are often more frequent, so they get a goal to work towards.

So we created this beyond black belt curriculum for our black belts and every six months, they have a challenge. They get to improve a level or get closer to their next dan or their next level within that black belt curriculum. We test them on the weapon, we test them on knife defenses, we test them on traditional forms and we really lay out the part for them in the future. Once they've achieved their black belt and we really lay out their path and make it click for them that this is just the beginning. We use the analogy that getting your black belt is just like finishing high school and then once you get your black belt, you've graduated and now you're welcoming into the real world.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. Now let's go back to your instructors because you've got this massive organization that you're running and you've got a lot of staff and a lot of part-time and permanent staff?

HAKAN: Definitely. At the top of the ship, we have my father who is the great master. We have five  full-time staff, we have seven part-time instructors that run classes, that are responsible for curriculum and ensuring that their program that they're assigned to are run well. These instructors operate between 3-5 days a week and then we also have a bunch of part-time instructors that do abut 2-3 days a week and then we have assistants and then we have volunteers, or non-paid staff, which we groom from a very young age.

We've realized that it's a long-term process and it is a numbers game, so we invite people into our leadership instructors program, and then hopefully, we funnel them out and we train and we groom the right instructors and this process does take time, but this industry is a long term game. It's a marathon and we understand that.

GEORGE: And how do you sort of define a career path for you instructor?

HAKAN: Again, we lay out the path for them. So we have I guess, a module, an instructor-developed the module that's got all the T's clearly written out in it, in terms of their roles and responsibilities and what needs to be done. They have a log and they have to do a certain minimum of hours on the floor, then they have to get checked off by somebody on top of them, so by an instructor of that day or that class who checks off and provides them with their feedback and that's how we go about doing it through that. Then we have obviously consistent training that we do and so on.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. Alright, so last few in the business: you have 1450 students – what's the next level for you guys?

HAKAN: Yes, that's 1450 in the one location. We have 5 other part time locations as well throughout Sydney and they have about 2 staff and they have about 200 members in each location there. And we're also in about 3 schools that we teach as a school sports program, as part of the intra-sports curriculum as well. I guess the next step for us is to continually raise the platform, continually develop instructors, as well as raising the bar, keep learning, keep developing, keep going on, keep following the trends as we know, for example, technology is constantly changing, so being on top of all of that… My personal goal is to ensure that we provide well class service, provide best practice service in the martial arts industry.

GEORGE: OK, excellent. Hakan, how about you? I've seen a few movie reels from you and so forth: how's that side of your career evolving?

HAKAN: Yeah, definitely, let’s go back to that. Again, the Australia's Got Talent put my team, put myself on the map. That opened up a  lot of doors for me personally as well, so that opened up a lot of opportunities for short films, feature films, stunt work. So what I did do is, I didn't throw myself completely into that field, I didn't my burn my bridges and say moved to LA per se, because I enjoy the martial arts business side, I enjoy teaching and that was still my passion throughout that time.

So when these opportunities did arise, I had the flexibility to go out and do it. I did a 6-week show in Dubai, a live theater show, which was a massive production and a fantastic experience. So for me, it's all about enjoying it, enjoying what the martial arts offers, be it through the entertainment, be it on the business side, the teaching side, giving back. I'm living a fantastic lifestyle that martial arts do offer. So for me, it's always been about challenges, opportunities, experiences and just really enjoying the life that martial arts brings.

GEORGE: OK, great. And then, I have to know: you're training schedule and so forth, the type of things that you're able to do with all your spinning kicks and stuff that I'm not even going to try and pronounce yet. But how much time and work go into developing that level of skill set?

HAKAN: Yeah, look, again – I have to be thankful for the discipline and the consistency that martial arts training has offered me from a very young age. So for me it's no biggie, it's what I grew up doing, it's all I know really, so I train about 7 to 12 sessions a week. 7 to 12 sessions a week: that includes weights training, that includes bodywork, calisthenic type of training. That includes Taekwondo, boxing, Muay Thai, as well as the flipping and the tricking as well. So I like to really mix it up and keep it interesting for me because I feel that's the way to grow.

So I always try to find ways to be a little uncomfortable and this tricking side is like that, the flipping side is challenging because it's consistently overcoming fears. I remember when I learned my first backflip: the fear of going backward was very tough. So I try and keep my training consistent, no matter what we go through, no matter how busy we are, I always ensure that I get my sessions in, weekends, weekdays, late nights, early mornings – who cares, it doesn't matter for me, I've got to find the time to do it because it's who I am and it's what I love to do.

GEORGE: That's awesome, so embrace the discomfort.

HAKAN: Exactly, and that's what I look to do. I'm going, pushing onto 30 now, I feel great and I always try to keep in shape, work on my flexibility, work on my stretching and just keeping on I guess.

GEORGE: Awesome. Hakan, it's been really great to chat with you. Where can people find out more about you, because I know there's so much to what you offer for the martial industry – where can people find out more about what it is that you do and offer?

HAKAN: They can contact me directly through Facebook, Hakan Manav is my name, so they can contact me through there. I guess all my videos and the program that I offer in terms of seminars and things like that are on my website at www.hakanmanav.com. And for more information about our academy, it's basically www.australianmartialarts.com.au.

GEORGE: All right, excellent. Thank you very much for speaking to me this morning Hakan.

HAKAN: Not a problem, not a problem George, it's my pleasure, thank you for having me.

GEORGE: Thanks, we'll speak soon, cheers.

HAKAN: Thanks bye.

GEORGE: All right, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the interview – how good was that? So many things to learn and besides the business value, if you head over to his social media account, look for Hakan Manav on Facebook, on Instagram. I will have links to that in the show notes, martialartsmedia.com/14 and think back to the fact that Hakan mentioned that he was scared about doing a backflip at one stage! It just shows once you push those barriers or fear away, what is humanly possible.

Thank again for listening, we'll be back here next week. If you want to support the show, it's a little effort on your part, not much. All that we ask for is a good review with iTunes. This helps us rank within the iTunes directory system, whatever you want to call it. And it gets the word out. It gets the word out to martial arts school owners like yourself, and what I'm finding interesting is that a lot of people are listening to the show that aren't martial arts business owners, but they are finding value in just the transformational journeys of top martial arts business owners.

And for myself as well, the value that I'm getting is just tremendous, because the information shared where I initially started and thought it's all going to be business: it's not, it's the deeper things behind the business. It's the mindset, the transformations and the philosophies that come strong from martial arts that just makes the podcast valuable, and obviously, the information that is being shared. So if you want to help out the show, martialartsmedia.com/itunes and just leave us a review. Five-star reviews boost our rankings, but an honest review would be awesome.

That's it from me, we'll be back again next week with another show. Thanks again for listening, I'll speak to you soon – cheers.

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13 – A World Class Australian Jiu Jitsu Jetsetter’s Perspective On The Perfect Martial Arts Gym

She travels the globe, dominates tournaments and is the driving force behind Australian Girls in Gi. Here's BJJ Black Belt Jess Fraser's story.

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IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The necessity of female martial artists sticking together to overcome challenges
  • Cross training in other martial arts gyms: great for community or a retention killer?
  • How male martial artists can improve their teaching skills with the ladies
  • What injuries can teach you about training martial arts
  • What the meaning of a true martial arts family is
  • The one core skill set martial arts instructors need to drive transformation
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

You wouldn't believe: I walked in with this sling on and these guys, they remember you and they remember your whole name and they remember everything about you and they run across the room to hug you. It’s just the most incredible thing.

Hello, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the Martial Arts Media podcast, episode number, lucky  13. Today I have a different guest with me – different in the sense of, not a martial arts business owner, although she has a leading organization within the martial arts industry and she's also a martial arts expert, Jess Fraser. And once again, the attempt was to go one angel and the conversation really evolved into some deep elements and there's some real gold there for you as a martial arts business owner.

The reason why I want to do interview Jess is because she's quite the jet-setter. She travels all over the world, I've been following her on social media for a while and if she's not in New York, she is in Canada, she's around America, Las Vegas. She is in Bali, she's in Melbourne – so she's truly living the martial arts lifestyle of just being passionate about training and learning, and also, have a great organization, Australian girls in GI, which we're going to talk more about. 

So, first up, some news and what's been happening. You might have seen posts around, depending on when you're listening to this of course, about a survey that we've been running at martialartsmedia.com/survey and it's all about discovering what it is that you as a martial arts business owner need or struggling with, your pain points and what the obstacles are. Then we can find out where things are going wrong, what do you need help with: then we can interview better guests and of course, we can deliver better content and better solutions and the result of that is putting together a web class that is going to be invaluable by the way it’s going now.

And I'm not saying that to toot my own horn here: it’s shaping up to be a very valuable piece of information that I'm going to give away for free that most people would be charging a lot of money for. That's just from comparing to what the information that is floating around the internet at the moment and what people have been told to do with marketing their martial arts school, I can tell you that it could be a good game changer for you. And that's not me to hype up the training, it's truly a decade worth of experience and other people's experience that has gone into this.

So, I'm really looking forward to releasing that. Depending on when you're listening to this, we'll keep this survey going, because no matter when you're listening to this, we'll keep it running so that we can keep adjusting our approach and keep interviewing more guests and keep optimizing the delivery of our content, which is what you would probably have seen in the solo type shows coming up and the solo videos: it’s all based on the feedback that I'm getting through this survey. So thank you for that if you have completed it.

If you haven't, it’s at martialartsmedia.com/survey, it will take you about two minutes – much appreciated if you can do that for us. If you're enjoying this show and you would like to leave us a review, we would much appreciate it, it truly helps us in the rankings. You can go to martialartsmedia.com/itunes, I put the link there, so martialartsmedia.com/itunes and that will lead you to iTunes, just leave us a review. A five-star review would be magic, but an honest review would be appreciated. All right, so that's it from me, please welcome to the show Jess Fraser.

Good day everyone. Today I have with me a different guest. If you've been following the podcast for a while, we've been talking a bit to martial arts business owners, martial arts school owners and getting their perspective on how they run their business, how they do their marketing and all the rest. So today I wanted to turn the table and I wanted to bring in an expert martial artist, but not just anyone: someone who travels the globe, truly lives the martial arts lifestyle. I don't think she's ever in Australia – well, I did catch her in Australia now and I want to welcome you to the show, Jess Fraser – how are you doing today Jess?

JESS: Great George, thanks for having me.

GEORGE: All right, cool. So a bit of an intro, but first and foremost, from your side, who's Jess Fraser?

JESS: That's a big question, isn't it? I guess for the purposes of today, the easiest answer is: I am a black belt, I have recently received my black belt from my coach Justin Sidelle, who is based out of Bali MMA. He's an American guy, he's from San Fran and he's now based out there, so that sort of sums up what I'm like. I'm quite international and a bit of gypsy, which some people think is a bad thing and I think is a really great thing. But yeah, I travel the world training  Jiu Jitsu . I've been based out of Australia for a long time, but for the past 14 months, I've been traveling exclusively for  Jiu Jitsu  and plan to do so for the next year or so again.

I'm a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu , I'm also the head and founder of a huge organization called Australian Girls in Gi, which is Australia focused, but of course has female members from all over the world. And basically, we're a gym and affiliate neutral community organization that fosters the growth and development and retention predominantly of women in the sport of Jiu Jitsu . So that's kind of being my greatest achievement in life, both of those two things. And I'm living the life based on them.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. We're definitely going to expand on the girls in GI, but for now, just a bit more about your martial arts career. You do travel a lot, so I take it there's a lot of competition involved in tournaments?

JESS: Yes, well, there was. I started competing very early on, I think 10 months into my journey, I was doing the ADCC trials and came second in that. And then about a year later, I was later in Abu Dhabi representing Australia as a blue belt, so it's been a lot of competition for me, but mainly it was because I felt like to lead an organization like I wanted to, I really needed to be an authority in some way.

And because I didn't have the belt that I wanted to be the leader that I wanted, I felt like I had to prove myself through competition. And I guess over the years I realized that maybe don't mean as much as how you treat people and what you give to the community and how you are within the community, you know? Maybe it does, but you don't need to exclusively be a competitor to be a great leader.

At the time as a blue belt or a purple belt or a brown belt even, I felt like I needed to compete a lot, so my competing was prolific. I've been to Abu Dhabi three times, I won the trials three times, which is a pretty good run. I'm a NAGA champ and all that kind of stuff, I've done a bunch, like the advanced division of NAGA or whatever, I've been to the world's a bunch of times and I've won medals there. And I've won medals once I've gone over to Abu Dhabi, I've done all that kind of stuff. I've never taken the top spot, I would love to, but at the same time, I'm in the game, you know?

I'm running with the pack and I'm proud of that, and I've been at each belt level. Yeah, that's kind of being me as a competitor. I have a background of, I came from a background of teaching krav maga, I was an instructor in that for a long time and before that, I was a yoga instructor. So my life for the past 13 years has been quite physical and the last 10 years has been in self-defense and martial arts as a whole.

GEORGE: OK. I find it interesting that you say that you had this bigger vision all along and that you felt that doing all these achievements in martial arts was what's going to allow you to be recognized as that leader. Am I right in saying that you didn't really feel you could be the leader that you are with your organization based on your martial arts credentials?

JESS: Yeah, I felt like, maybe it was just a personal perception, but in Australia, I'm the 12th female to earn her black belt in Australia. We couldn't even fill a bus, you know? There's not many of us and there're not many brown belt women, so it's really quite new in Australia to have a female black belt at the table, as it were. There are so many male black belts here, the community is actually really strong and really large, but as far as females, not so much. I sort of felt a bit of a , who are you, but who do you think you are, to start this organization that was a bit challenging for some of the old school guys.

And I say guys, because I mean the guys, it wasn't the women who were stopping me from doing it. There was  a lot of pushback about creating an organization that was about breaking down the walls of cross training and really bringing women together to train. Now, I had to. It's not like Australian Girls in Gi was aimed to only be, oh, we're all about unity and all gyms should come together. The fact of the matter is there was just the only female at each gym, so if we wanted to train with other females, it was out of necessity.

That kind of cross training and all welcome policy, it's not that I was ever going to exclude anyone, but we desperately needed the coaches that were men to give us the green light on that, you know? It's only just now in the last year or so that female coaches are emerging in Australia of higher rank. I felt that as a lower rank, I didn't have the authority of the black belt or the 20 years in martial arts or whatever. I did have a lot of experience in yoga and krav maga, but we all know that that's not necessarily transferable, definitely not physically.

I felt like I had to do my time and earn the respect of the community, and whether that be proving myself out on the mats, or proving myself with my rank or the quality of my  Jiu Jitsu  or whatever, I just felt like I had to just not get anything wrong, you know? Not cause any dramas with anyone, try not to cause any politics, just really toe the line so I can let this thing happen. I also think that even if I was a competitor that was losing a lot that would be cool for the community too, at least they'd see me trying and failing and that in itself would lead other women that wanted a hero in that department as well, you know?

So either way, it would have been fine, I need to be trying, I needed to be perceived to be trying, so I could be really a part of the community. From the get go, from my very first competition, I competed, and then I was straight on one of the tables saying, hey, do you need some help and I was always volunteering and I was helping on events, from the get go, just trying to be as proactively involved in the community as possible, whether that be out on the mats or reffing or whatever – I just needed to be everywhere to try and make this thing happen for Australian girls in GI. And it worked, whether my process was right or wrong, it doesn't matter, we've ended up in a really great place.

GEORGE: Ok, it's got to be hard to avoid politics – I said we'll get to this later, but we're talking about it now, so we might just expand to it and then go back to the other stuff we want to discuss. I can see how there's got to be some politics and a feel of a business threat of a way, there's this organization under your own organization and what does it involve? How do you get this message across, to explaining to people what it is about and how it might benefit their organization with Australian girls in GI?

JESS: The thing is, the gyms that aren't open to cross training and aren't opening their doors either way, in or out, just aren't involved and that's totally fine. I'm not a missionary, I'm not trying to convert them. If that's what that style of gym requires, that's totally what they want to do and I'm not interested in pushing back on that, I'm not trying to make a change, I'm trying to foster help for those women out in the community that doesn't have another female to train with and their coach is like, you know what you need? You need to roll with another chick! I want to be able to solve that problem for her.

So the gyms that are really into it and feel safe and secure with open doors policy or a visitors policy or travelers policy, they're really involved. And what we can say absolutely is proven, is I can prove to you student retention. So if you're a coach and very often business owner, which is often the same person, I can prove to you that I can positively influence retention of your members. Now, we all now that that's just as difficult as sales, and just as important as sales, is to keep them. So if I can help you with that, I can help your income! Simple as that, the amount of women that's in the sport that tells me, look, Jess, you're the reason that I'm still here, is ridiculous!

They call me , they have me as a service where they can message me, they can contact me online and stuff, and when they're having a hard time or really feeling like they want to give up, they reach out either to me personally, or the AGIG community and we keep them! We save them.

GEORGE: OK, cool. Sorry to interrupt, but because we've gone down his track, now we've just got to take one step back:  how does it exactly work, what exactly is the organization about?

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JESS: So what it is, predominantly, like my day-to-day is an online forum that's very heavily moderated on Facebook, so we have a public page that people, like fans and mainly male teammates ad stuff and fans of female Jiu Jitsu and that kind of thing, they follow that and they can see our events coming up and see the photos and what we're getting done on the public page. And then, that sort of filters down as the second tier of the thing and it's the members. The members are all in a closed group, it's just one of those group forums on Facebook.

Each person that sends me a request gets a relatively large letter of terms and conditions as a response when they send that request, though. It's full of things, like terms or conditions of involvement. Now, there's no fees or anything to be involved in AGIG at all on that level, but we do ask, I do kind of list what I require out of members and that is like politics free, no bitching, no reporting to your coach that you roll with some girls and her arm bars are bad – there's none of that.

We're a unified group and try to lift each other up as a whole and then the group is used for discussion and not defamation, so the girls can use the group online to discuss problems they might be having, as a teammate or a technique or whatever it is. Kind of like the conversation that most guys would have on the mat after the training sessions or in the changing room after the training session – when you're the only chick on the mat, or the only chick in the changing room, you miss out on all of that conversation or perhaps you're not invited to the meal after training or whatever, so we provide that online.

We provide that communication and support and debriefing, very often there are positive things that the girls say after their training, like they finally got a sweep on some massive blue belt guy or whatever it is, and we all cheer for her, she's all happy, you know – that's what we do on day-to-day, that's the support on day-to-day. The group on Facebook is predominantly women, but there are male coaches in that group, like kind of invitational, like silent witnesses in the group so it is really important that the space is a space where women ask questions of women that answer and that females get the opportunity to see that in fact, like all the other women their peers do have a lot of authority in this field and are problem solvers and experienced and all that kind of stuff.

So it's really important that the male involvement in that membership online forum is quite silent, but those guys also really benefit from it, so they're getting to know they can go to understand things in Australia with this being so young. These guys are learning how to teach women as well, it's not an everyday thing for a lot of them, and a lot of these people are really remote. In Australia, the key places that you'd be doing BJJ would be probably the major cities, but there's heaps of Jiu Jitsu along the coast, you know?

And a lot of the coaches are purple belt guys and they don't have a lot of support, maybe they're one trip away to a black belt occasionally, they might have one female student and they've never taught a female before, they don't even know how to deal with her size or whatever, so we're supporting everybody in that way, the teams that want to be involved. So that's the online presence, but then my actual life, my real work, I create face-to-face events.

We do female-only competitions throughout Australia, but I try not to focus on the competitions to be honest, because I think that's not what everyone wants to be doing, but it is what a lot of people want to be doing, so I  try not to focus fully on that, but I do provide it as a service if they want it, mainly for the little girls. The under 12 are the most popular because mine's the only comp where they don't have to fight boys, which is like a Godsend for a lot of them. I do round robin style things, for ages 5 and up, so we do get a huge adults presence to that, but we also get predominantly little girls, they just want to have a wrestle with a girl, and it very often doesn't happen at the comps for them. So I do that.

I also do seminars all over the place, because I want to share my Jiu Jitsu with these girls, I got to black belt with the help of this group, so I want to share my black belt with them, that's really important to me. I also travel Australia, doing events so that every single woman gets to roll with a female black belt. I give my body to that, I really want them to know what they're gunning for, and to that end, I try to stay really good at this sport, so what they're gunning for is really high quality and it's really important to me that that's what they see, and that's setting the bar.

I spend a lot of time and money cruising Australia, trying to get that to happen and then I do also run camps and they're awesome. The camp in Melbourne, which is coming up in January, and I think we've got maybe 25 tickets left. That camp in January is huge, it's 4 days, I think it's 6 instructors, 5 assistant instructors, it's non-stop Jiu Jitsu and socializing and it's all accommodation included. it's all meals included, it's out in the bush setting and there are canoeing and pools and it's just the best thing ever, so that's the big thing that I spend most of my year working on.

And also, I do camps in Bali, so I've got one coming up on the 21st with Luanna Alzuguir – hall of fame, everybody knows Luanna, she won ADCC three times. I'm doing a camp with her, which is quite a different style camp, and that's coming up in Bali like I said, 21st of November till the 25th and that's a total DIY thing. You do your own accommodation, your own food, you just meet us at the gym each day. So that's what I do, I make it happen for the girls.

GEORGE: Awesome. I'm going to be getting back to this one more time, but I want to stop at Bali quickly because I've been following you on social media and I see you travel a lot.

JESS: A lot, yeah.

GEORGE: You pretty much live in Bali. I think I saw you in New York as well, around the States, I think there was a time you were in San Francisco or Canada, I can't remember which one.

JESS: Yeah, yeah.

GEORGE: So all over the place. Now, with all this traveling, what is the biggest benefit that you're getting, what is the biggest learning experience that you're getting from traveling and training in all these different locations?

JESS: The biggest thing that I learned this past year, what I did is, I was a brown belt when I left Australia and I really felt, again, that I had to prove myself a little through competition. The biggest lesson for me obviously is that I don't, but I went on a big journey, I kind of packed up my life and left my lovely boyfriend and left my job and my house and everything and sold everything to go on this big mission to do a lot of competition.

I had a lot of world's and Pan Ams and all the NAGAs and STRAGA open, and everything you can possibly think of. Abu Dhabi, everything, paid for, booked, everything, and I went on the journey, and I sort of started in Bali and really worked out that that was my team and that Justin and I really worked well together. And that we will continue to, whether it was remotely or not. He's a really great coach from a distance as well, he's such a great mentor to me, he's always challenging me and asking a lot of me technically and he's really expanded my Jiu Jitsu.

I started there and then I came back to run that camp at the beginning of the year in January and I jet-setted again and went to Hawaii and Hawaii was amazing. I was kind of unsure, not really knowing what I was doing. I was sort of being a bit like a Pokemon, finding them and fighting them, you know? I was just cruising around, trying to get to every gym possible in the world and just roll with everyone. I just wanted to feel what other people are doing and see how they're staying inspired and stuff because I was feeling a bit stagnant in Melbourne when I decided to leave everything behind. I was just on a mission at the time, I was preparing to compete.

I got to Vegas and I hurt myself pretty badly, pretty quickly. I ruptured my bicep, I did a pretty major tear on my left shoulder and ruptured the bicep on my left arm, so I was out of action for a long while and had to find a way to come to terms with that, that I packed up my whole life to travel for Jiu Jitsu and was sidelined for the first 2 weeks. And then, within four months, the bicep fully ruptured and it was the weird thing, it was kind of hanging on apparently by a thread, and on a Thursday I fully ruptured it choking someone. On Monday, because it was fully detached, I was rolling again, and I was at Marcelo Garcia‘s academy by that Monday.

I guess the big journey for me has been about finding a way to be in this sport without being a competitor, even though I want to be really good at it. Just discovering how other people are approaching that, big lessons about acceptance and friendship and support in the sport and what is truly important to me, because even in the four, four and a half months I had off, my life in Jiu Jitsu didn't change. In fact, my involvement in Jiu Jitsu didn't change at all, so it really taught me that the physical side of it is just sort of like the way to be involved in the community.

It became much more holistic for me and I am now sort of traveling more in Australia, now that I'm traveling Australia, I'm traveling more for the relationships than the sport. But I guess big lessons for me were about balance in life and maybe not putting all your eggs in one basket and even though I was injured, I was traveling and there's no way that you can wake up in the morning in Vegas as an Australian and think, oh God, it’s all bad – it’s all good! You're not at work, and you're traveling and you've got all these amazing people that you can go and see, and I just think that this community really can lift you up, even in some pretty bad times.

I traveled and I went and I saw my family, that's why I ended up in Canada and then I trained with a  bunch of teams in Montreal, even though I couldn't roll. There was a top team in Montreal, they took care of me. I couldn't roll, I couldn't do anything. I couldn't because I was in danger of making this arm worse that we thought it was going to get better. And they just let me come in and drill. These were complete strangers and they helped me get through a really really hard time in my life. They had a rack up at the back, so you come in for class with these guys and Fabio is an exceptional team leader.

He would let me come in, welcome me with open arms, he remembered me from an Abu Dhabi fight, I fought one of his girls in Abu Dhabi, a purple belt. And she was on the mat, preparing for camp and instead of automatically assuming, oh, you guys will be in the same division, which we would have been for world's, he was like, come on in, jump on the mats!

And they had a sports rack in the back of the gym, so I'd come in and we'd do drills that would not hurt me every day for an hour and then when the guys got to roll, I'd just do squats. So it was a really nice couple of months with those guys, they really supported me to get me back to the mats. And they did, I got to a point where I could roll light and then I fully ruptured the bicep and as soon as it was gone and I knew I could roll, I was on the plane straight to Garcia!

GEORGE: This is going to be maybe a tough one, but let's say you take Marcelo Garcia out of his gym: what is it that stands out with training there in comparison with other gyms?

JESS: Paul Schreiner is the short answer!

GEORGE: OK.

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JESS: For me, I love Marcelo and like everybody, I look up to him in a huge way. I think that his Jiu Jitsu is absolutely beautiful, I think that his attitude is absolutely beautiful. I see him manage a room of people that are all elite, there's some bad ass guys in that room, and girls, real good people. And he's managing all these egos so beautifully and he does it with such good grace. Him and his wife, they're just doing an incredible job with that gym. I don't know much of the back workings of that space, but I've always been really welcomed in there and I'd been out there, it's almost three years ago now, but at the time I was there, I'd been out there two years before for world's prep. And these are people that let me come in as a purple belt.

I paid my fees, which doesn't really allow me how I was behaving as a purple, but I paid my fees, turned up pre-worlds prep and was just trying to tear through everyone. I was like, I'm getting ready for world's, it's my time to bash people! It's like, you pay the fees to the gym, but there are these people there that train every day, it's their bodies you're using for that pre-camp. Maybe they didn't sign up for your pre-camp. Maybe your pre-camp doesn't mean as much to them as it does to you and I look back now and I think it was a really unfair way to behave.

So I went in there this year and was like, you wouldn't believe: I walked in with this sling on and these guys, they remember you and they remember your whole name and they remember everything about you and they run across the room to hug you. It’s just the most incredible thing and most incredible sport, they're kind of like my heroes that I follow on Instagram and stuff. From my first experience from feeling like that with Marcelo's, where it was so warmly welcoming, I wanted to go back there.

But the biggest thing for me, and I love Marcelo, I'm not saying it like I have favorites, but for me, the first time I was there, Paul Schreiner just blew me away as a coach. He is just exceptional and he's dedicated his life I believe to becoming an exceptional coach, he's continually upskilling as a coach. I'm sure as an athlete he just loves the sport so he just gets better by design, but this is a man that invests in the coaching aspect, which I find is really rare across the board.

GEORGE: How does that differ? What exactly do you mean, how does his coaching compared to another coaching?

JESS: I think that he is really well studied in communication and I asked him quite a bit about it because I went back there for him. I wanted to just sit myself in front of that guy and go – just teach a man, I just want to see you teach. I want to see your process and I want to see what you do. Of course, when I hurt myself at the beginning of the year, I had to make a decision on how I wanted to be involved in the sport and I couldn't be involved that year as a competitor and maybe never again, I don't know. I'm 37 and I'm broken, maybe this is why people quit competing.

That's something to come to terms with, but as far as my interest and what I learned was, I don't want to just be an exceptional athlete, I want to be an exceptional leader and a coach. And I don't think that just comes from being good at a sport. I trained for two years to become a teacher of yoga and we weren't just learning how to do the act of yoga, we were learning how to teach and how to communicate with different personality types. It was two years full-time study, and I just haven't seen really many of my coaches learn how to teach.

They might be really great at the sport, but I would like to see, and this is what I search for, exceptional coaches. And I don't think that that just happens accidentally by having a cool personality and being charming, I think that happens when people are really interested and they're upskilled in both departments. Not just physically as a Jiu Jitsu practitioner, they really are learning how to communicate. There're heaps of courses online that I've seen that are available that people just don't utilize, and they should. I can't just expect to use Facebook and think that I'm going to influence the world if I don't go find out how social media works. Get upskilled, whatever I'm going to do, learn about the thing!

For me, it’s very clear that Paul is investing in how to coach and I did ask him about it, he said that he studied a lot about how Iyengar yoga practice is done and how they approach teaching this thing. It’s very perfect, very detailed practice. I don't know much about the rest of his background, but it’s very clear that he's not just upskilling and not just focused on the sport, he's focused on how to communicate the sport to others, which is what a coach is. If you take Marcelo, long long long story short, if you take Marcelo out of that gym, oh man, there's layers under that. You take Marcelo out, you've got Paul, you take Paul out, you've got Bernardo. You take Bernardo out, you've got Marcus Dimarco, who is ridiculously good – all of these men are really fantastic like athletes and coaches, but for me, it's Paul Schreiner that just blows my mind.

GEORGE: So, it’s all in the communication, in the process, not as much the expertise, but the delivering of the expertise.

JESS: Absolutely, absolutely. For me, one of my first coaches, and he's still a coach, my coach Martin Gonzales at Vanguard in Melbourne, one of the things that he said to me years ago was that he sort of finds potential offensive, that potential is actually a waste if it’s not realized. It’s a waste, potential should be just the precourse to something great, you should be able to do something with it. And if you don't, that's on you. It’s not the greatest of things, I sort of see athletes that are really good at this sport are not necessarily the greatest of communicators.

They have the potential to be, they have all this information that they could hand over to you, but if they don't, it's value to them and them alone. And that's totally fine, that's the kind of athlete and person that you're going to be, but it’s not the side of sport or the community that I'm looking for. It sort of comes down to, again, with Australian girls in GI, there's two groups: the teams that really don't want to be involved in that sort of thing and the teams that do, and that's cool.

I'm all for the teams that do, the ones that want to cross train and get involved: they're my tribe, they're my people, let's do great things together. And I'm kind of leaning towards in having mentors and leaders that weren't necessarily the greatest of all time, even though, obviously, Marcelo is amazing, but I want them to be the greatest of all time at sharing. Sharing the information and what is truly beautiful in a coach is if they're the greatest in the world in sharing information, but they also have the greatest Jiu Jitsu behind them.

And I used to look at that sort of backward, I used to look for the best in the world, athletes, but the reality is, a lot of them that have got to that point have done so by having to be really self-focused. I wouldn't say narcissistic, but they had very self-focused lives. And to flick that switch just because they've retired might be quite hard for them. I don't know, it’s just stuff we haven't looked into and haven't unpacked yet. I don't think that just because you grew out of competition, whether it be through age or injury that makes you an exceptional coach, no.

GEORGE: Excellent, that's insightful. A few more questions on that now: the reverse of that – what's the worst practice that you see in your travels? Don't hold back.

JESS: The worst practice, how do you mean?

GEORGE: Why would you avoid training at a certain gym? Is it a commonality that you see around the world, whether it’s in New York or Bali or anywhere, that you feel it’s not acceptable, it’s not a place that you would train for that reason?

JESS: Ok, so somewhere where you wouldn't revisit?

GEORGE: Yes.

JESS: To be fair, everywhere I had on my list was great, and I had a massive list, and it changed from time to time. I really want to do a huge east coast of America tour, there're some people over there that are just off the hook. There's such a great run of people if you go all the way from New York down to the tip of Florida – man, it just never ends, but I just ran out of time and money and stuff. But everywhere I went was really great. I chose names definitely, even though I've just said I shouldn't do that, but I've had these dreams of meeting certain people for a long time and so I kind of had a list of names that I wanted to follow.

And I did ask a lot of questions, there were some people that I had the plan to go to, and a couple of people said, well, I don't know, maybe his online presence is great, but he's not very good of a teacher. So I listened to people, I listened to my peers for guidance, and  never really hit any roadblocks. I hit two problems in San Diego that I would say I wouldn't return for. One of them because of expense, there's a couple of gyms there that I just can't justify it – it’s Jiu Jitsu, you know? I've already spent $6000 to be there as an Australian and I can't justify $80 a day, I just can't do it, which is really disappointing. So I guess just out of necessity, there were a couple places I couldn't return to.

There're a couple of places that would require you to either remove your patches, which I am never going to do for anyone, no one's going to tell me to remove my patches. That's fine, if that's what they don't want in their gym, or a higher GI at an exorbitant price, I remember where they would be a brand, so you get stuck in this loop of getting sort of sold to, so you have to buy all their equipment so you can train with them. And that's fine if that's what they want to do. Like I said, if people want to be involved, they want to be involved with my thing and I guess that's what this business is doing as well, just setting the price at what they believe is the value of their academy and I agree with them, it’s absolutely worthy of that price – I just can't pay it.

That was me as a traveler – if I lived locally, yeah, I would probably train there, but I just can't afford the drop in prices, so that was a road block for me. Having said that, I'm happy to pay. I've paid my way around the world, I didn't expect to walk in and have any handouts anywhere.  I've definitely paid everywhere I went and I pride myself on that. I don't want to be in anyone's pocket, it's just, I know my limits with costs, you know?

So that was one thing. I also had a really nasty interaction with a very well regarded black belt at some point in my travels, where he really questioned me about being a nomad. We trained and he's been a hero of mine for a long time, so I was really hurt by it, but I understand what happened now. I came as a visitor and definitely they allow visitors at that gym and welcome them, but I believe that that is just because that's just the way that the sport has gone and they're sort of backed into a corner to not be closed doors anymore because of their fame.

But I don't believe that the head of that system likes it, I think he, in fact, resents it a great deal. He took me aside and kind of shamed me in front of a bunch of people for being a gypsy, for having more than one team patch on my back, for being on the road, a whole bunch of stuff. Said to me, look, I can tell in your Jiu Jitsu, I can tell by the way that you feel when you play Jiu Jitsu that you've either never had a master, or never let anyone be your master. Really kind of domineering, quite intimidating, very upsetting conversation, where he tried to question everything about me.

And that's fine, that's cool. I know self-defense, and I mean that on an emotional level, so I was just like, oh cool, that's really interesting, thanks for that and just left. That's fine, but that I found quite alarming and now that I've been through it I find that that was, you asked me earlier about the big lessons of the trip and I really thought on that one for a long time, cause I really loved him, I had all of his books, I really loved him and it was very evident that women on the mat were challenging to him and he called me a gypsy as if it was an insult and all that kind of stuff.

And then my beautiful coach in Bali, Justin, when we spoke – and I never mentioned who the person was but we spoke and I said I had a kind of a hard encounter and I spoke about a couple of things and he was like, yeah, but you're a gypsy, it’s the best thing! So I had these two men call me a gypsy: one thought it was beautiful and one thought it was horrifying, so it was quite interesting. But again, it comes back down to this thing: there're lots of academies and lots of humans that really respond well to kind of a dictatorship, they want to thrive in that environment.

These are guys that would probably thrive in the army too, but there're lots of humans that can't thrive in the army and can't thrive in that environment. So I see myself and people like me within the community that really liked cross train and travel and make this a lifestyle, not a membership. We really need that, say Studio 540, oh my god! That to me is the most progressive, amazing place, I love what they've done down there.

There's a whole bunch of coaches and they're all elite and there's Leticia Ribeiro there and Justin Flores is there, it’s so good. It's a melting pot of shared interest and shared the joy for this thing by the beach. That's everything to me that sums up why I love Bali MMA, you know? And why I love training up here in the Gold Coast and all over Byron, all this kind of stuff. It’s a lifestyle for me and being called out for it, saying it like I was doing the wrong thing by not having respectful lineage or loyalty, I was really taken aback by that with this.

He's a professor and he's somebody I looked up to for a long time, so the big lessons for me, I guess apart from acceptance of myself and my role in this community was I started to see the correlation between, everybody says, it’s my family, the team is my family, they talk about his family thing and there's all this push for respect and lineage and in fact, I kind of looked at that and I dissected it and looked at the idea of family and the fact that not all of us – and I'm not talking about my family because my family is wonderful, but not all of us are lucky enough to be born into the perfect family.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have two parents that stay together and are loving and are brave enough and are bold enough to get us through everything that we need to get through. Maybe there's fraction in the family or maybe the parents weren't even there or maybe there's a problem with your brother or whatever it is, but there's plenty of people that don't have the perfect family and don't have the luxury of it and to me, I've started to see family in that way. Lineage, definitely in the Jiu Jitsu community is a luxury, it’s actually a privilege.

These men that are so stern about it, you should have one master and one lineage and everything else or whatever they say, some kind of swear word or something, some kind of insult about changing teams. The thing is, if you were lucky enough to get all the way through with one coach and one master that your really like and you still like his Jiu Jitsu, that is a privilege like no other and you should be happy as hell. It’s amazing. And you know what? I'm jealous because some of my coaches have failed me. The reason I bounced was because my coaches failed me, one of my coaches had a complete mental breakdown. It’s hard to stay loyal to a guy that's no longer in the sport.

So having this, not grand master, but it’s pretty close, guy call me out for being a creonte essentially, OK I thought, well, you know, you're lucky enough to have a  nice, perfect family with two parents and a brother and a sister and a dog, but the rest of us, us orphans that have to band together, our bonds are just as real and they're just as important and they're just as worthy and in fact, if you've got someone like me that's not had the best upbringing as it were in Jiu Jitsu, and she's still in the sport and she's doing great things for the community, I think that should be commended not condemned.

And I guess that's a big reassurance for me with Australian girls in GI. The amount of women that I know that had a boyfriend at their gym and then when the breakup happens, the boyfriend gets the gym and the breakup – how could she be loyal to her coach? How is she able to stay perfectly near the sensei kind of stuff, if she's also got this real world problem for her that means that her whole life's been turned upside down. She loses her friends and her teammates in that exchange and it happens!

It happens to women in this sport, I'm sure it happens to guys too, but more often I see the girls that have to move gyms and I think that those kind of people that stay in the sport, that's real loyalty. They're loyal to the sport and just because something happened at the gym doesn't mean they're in the wrong. I think there needs to be an alternative way at looking at cross training because some of us need to, some of us need to, otherwise, we wouldn't thrive.

GEORGE: That's excellent. Well, I've got to tell you, I applaud you for your individuality and to do that, you know, it's funny, we're probably going to end it here, but you almost talk about this whole dictatorship of martial arts, and it’s funny, you're part of this family, until you do your thing. It’s all family, but as long as you do family our way, it's OK, but if you do family your way, it's wrong.

JESS: Yeah, that's right!

GEORGE: That's true gold right there. Thanks a lot for your time, it’s been great chatting to you, I feel like we really hit the mark here in these last 20 minutes with your learning and your experience and I think it will be great, because the majority of the people that listen to this podcast are men and are obviously martial arts school owners and it will be a great insight for them to get a  ladies perspective on how it is for you on your side and how things work. So with that, with the Australian girls in GI, how do people get involved with the program?

JESS: The easiest way I would say is to go to the website and then there's a bunch of ways to get actually involved with Facebook, but just so you don't have to remember all the different links or whatever, there are links on the website. The website is www.australiangirlsingi.com. That's the website, there's the get involved in Australia and you can become a member or a fan. The member takes you through to the forum, so that's the group. It would just be facebook.com/groups/australiangirlsingi, so if you sort of do Australian girls in GI in any formation on Facebook, you will find us.

But it's important to know that there is two different groups, different areas online in Facebook. There's the public page, and you will pretty clearly find that that's a public page, because there's no discussion going on, that's just where we put all of our updates so the world even knows that we exist, because otherwise if we're in this closed group forum, you guys don't get to see it.

The closed group forum is in that way for function, we're keeping the girls protected. You've got to understand that the first words, Australian girls, people searching for that group are not always desirable! I'm glad they're a fan of my work, but they're not the same kind of fans that we want, so I had to make it a secret group to protect the women in there. And there's a lot of women in there that write things that they don't want the public to see.

We're dealing with a lot of PTSD and anxiety and that kind of stuff, there's a lot of anonymous posts that people message me and they can post anonymously via me. So just jump on Facebook, just type in the words Australian girls in GI. You'll find us, there're heaps of events coming up, there's always events coming up in Australia and the only one that's quite international at the moment is Bali and that's in a couple of weeks. So that's the easiest way to find us, just send me straight a message, I'll always get back to people if they send it straight though the age and I can direct you.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. Jess, thank you very much for your time.

JESS: No worries.

GEORGE: And I hope to speak to you soon.

JESS: Yeah, great, thanks, George!

GEORGE: Thank you, cheers!

And there you have it, thanks for listening. If you'd like the transcripts of this show, you can go to martialartsmedia.com/13, that's the number 13. And I really enjoyed this chat, because it’s different to what we normally do, talking about the marketing side of things, and people's journeys and so forth, because this is a completely different journey and Jess is so well traveled and has got such a lot of experience dealing with different martial arts schools, so it’s great to get that perspective and most importantly of all, a ladies perspective, because in the industry that's mainly male dominated, for the most part, it’s great to hear the challenges that a lady has, trying to fit in with the whole martial arts arena and things that get in the way of politics and relationship and so forth.

There're a few things there that really take home with your marketing and especially the coaching side. The one thing that she mentioned was learning from all these experts, it’s not always about the expert, but it’s the delivery of the content, the delivery of the teaching. We all, as martial artists, we all want to learn and prove ourselves and we've got to do that in all areas in life: we've got to do that in our business, we've got to do that in our communication and everything else. So there we go – thank you very much for listening, we'll be back again, we've got a few more great interviews lined up, so watch out for those- looking forward to speaking to you soon – cheers!

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12 – Why Martial Arts School Owners Fail At Marketing “Tactics”

Struggling with marketing your martial arts school? Maybe it's not your fault, but rather the key elements that are missing.


IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Why being a ‘one trick martial artist’ leads to marketing failure
  • The missing elements that no one talks about
  • Why your newest offer is not always the answer
  • Do this one thing prior to your offer to improve your results
  • The 6 critical elements of marketing for business longevity
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Hey, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and in this video, I'm going to be talking about why most martial arts school owners fail at marketing “tactics”.

Ok, so why do most martial arts school owners fail with marketing tactics? Now, I put emphasis on tactics because it's kind of like being the one trick pony martial artist. There're a few viewpoints on this, but I hope this analogy sort of gets to where I'm going with this.

Imagine you're doing martial arts and all that you do is, you've got one punch – that's all you do. Or you've just got one kick and that's all you've ever learned, you've only learned that one punch or that one kick. What happens if you break that one arm or you break that one leg or something happens? Now your whole game plan, your whole everything that you can do in martial arts is pretty much nonexistent because your one trick has been eliminated. And I see this happening a lot in marketing.

I've been doing this survey, this two-minute survey on the website to gather what pain points people are having about different aspects of marketing and with their business. And something that's been coming up a lot is people saying, let's say Facebook for example: how they started doing Facebook advertising and they're running all these ads and it's awesome and they're getting all these leads and it just dries out – what happens? What happened, it's worked once and now it doesn't work again. Well, there's a lot of things that come into play with that and you can't just be that one trick pony that only does that one thing.

Now, this is something I'm going to hammer on all the time, but go to Facebook right now: have you ever been on Facebook ready to buy or ready to join something? Have you ever gone down that track, especially for someone you're seeing for the first time, a brand that you're not familiar with – have you ever looked at it and said, wow, I just want to buy this! I don't want to look at my friends anymore, I don't want to look at funny videos, cat videos, or whatever it is that you're doing. It takes a lot for you to break that element and switch off and go, ah, I actually want to buy something. Unless it's of course super targeted and super relevant to something that you want, but for the most part of it, you're really doing interruption marketing.

It's a social platform, people are there to connect with friends and watch funny stuff and do whatever they do. They don't really care about your brand, they don't care who you are. And a lot of people don't get this, they think that everybody's just going to stop and bow down to what it is that you offer. But it's just crap, it doesn't work that way. So you've got to match people, you've got to have that message-to-market match, you've got to match people in the frame of mind that they are at and what they're doing and the way you do that is through valuable content.

Now, if you are doing advertising on Facebook and it's working right now and it stopped working, I want you to ask yourself this: have people been turning off to your brand because all that they see from you is ads? I mean, think about it: your market in a certain radius from where your club, your school is positioned, there's only so many people. You're going to very very quickly exhaust that market if you target all those people and all that you do is go offer, offer, offer, and buy it, buy it, sell, sell, join this, this offer, $20, three lessons, four lessons, free offer – whatever it is, offer, offer, offer.

Now, this brings up a whole other can of worms, because if all that you're doing is an offer, offer, offer, offer, then all that you're doing is, you're training your people to only respond to offers. So the value has become in the offer and not actually in what you do, whereas the value should really be in what it is that you teach, the principles of martial arts and what people are getting out of it.

But if you are just offer-centric, then you're always going to be depending on new offers and every month be drained, because you've got to get this next big offer up, because people only respond to offers. So what I'm getting to with all this is, it comes with a good content marketing strategy. You've got to be giving people value and you've got to be covering all bases with all these elements.

Now, I've got a free martial arts business plan that I give away, I talk about 6 elements of marketing. And the reason why that's so important is because it's not just one thing, you can't just focus on this, you can't just focus on that – you need all the elements. You need the converting website, you need to have a form of lead generation, you need a follow-up system and then you need all the social platforms and everything.

And I understand that that's got to be painful for you as a martial arts school owner,  because you've got enough on your plate: you've got to run the classes, you've got to run the school, you've got to run the staff. There's so much happening and then, unfortunately, this is only more that I participated other than training martial arts, is this digital world of all these different elements of marketing. Somebody said in a meeting to me the other day, it used to be so easy, you could just put up an ad in the newspaper.

Well, now it's not that easy, but you have the benefit of the internet. It's a lot more to know, but you can just reach so much more people in a shorter amount of time and you're able to track and measure what's working in advertising or not, which is something nonexistent really in a paper type ad or flyer. Not always, but for the most part of it, it's a very hard process.

So to embrace this whole online platform and online marketing thing for your business, you've got to find a starting point, and implement that, but you've got to be able to adapt, because if the only thing that you're doing is putting the ads in front of people's faces, they're going to turn off from it. And now you have lost complete opportunity to connect with this person because you didn't establish the value first.

You started with an offer – offer, offer, offer, no value, where you reverse that process: start with the value, give content, give people education about what it is that you're doing in your marketing and from that point, make your offer. But it's the same thing if people walk through the doors and you say: offer, this is how much – there's no relationship, there's no connection. I mean, who's really going to jump to the offer? People want the relationship first, and then they make decisions afterward.

So I hope that helps – look, depending on the time you're watching this, I've put together a survey. It will take you about two minutes, it's for school owners like yourself, it's just to establish what the different pain points are that you are having in the marketplace. And I want to put together a web class which, depending on when you're watching this, could be live already right now.

If you're not, I would love for you to take this survey, martialartsmedia.com/survey. So that's martialartsmedia.com/survey. If you can, help me out with that, much appreciated. It will take you about two minutes, you can keep it anonymous if you want, but that's going to enable me to learn about what the problems are that you're having, like this video, which has inspired this video. And I could put together a complete web class and help you with the problems that you're facing day-to-day in your martial arts school.

I hope that it helps, thanks a lot – I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers!

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

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11 – How You The Martial Arts School Owner Can Help Us Help You

George Fourie takes a different twist on this episode with a 2-minute survey request for martial arts school owners that promises a big return.

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Hi guys, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and this week, we've got a bit of a different twist to the show.

Okay, so we've got 10 episodes down, we are at number 11, this is number 11. But this episode is going to be more a request from you than a give. So, there's been a lot of giving, we've done a few interviews with some great guests, we shared a few in between the tips and now I'm going to turn this on to you.

So, I want to know where to take this podcast, which direction I should be going. And I'm also preparing a web class, an online web class, where I'm going to be teaching all the different aspects of online marketing that we know work when building your business through the means of the internet.

So, the purpose of the web class would be to give you a good education on what you can be doing to get leads in through the door, how you can convert better by means of your website and when you speak to people, how you could automate these things on the back-end through follow up sequences and things we do with our services. And then also, how you can retain your students by doing these automated processes and having a way to provide value to your students over and above just from what you do in class.

So, in order to do this, I need to know from you and get a better understanding of what is the bottle mix in your business? What is it that you are struggling with as such? In your day-to-day operations, what are you struggling with specifically, and I mean specifically, not just, we struggle with lead generation, we struggle with retention – that gives us nothing to work with, so I need as much detail as possible.

I'm trying to figure out what is the biggest obstacle to keeping you where you are and not taking you where you want to be. And I want to see what we can do and how I can help you take that from the position where you are and take you to the next level through the means of online processes, online marketing and providing that link.

So, not to go off topic here and not to mumble on: basically, what I'm requiring from you is two minutes, two minutes to complete this survey, to tell me what it is that you are struggling with, the problems that you are having in your business, give me a better idea of where you are at now and the obstacles that you are facing. At that point what I can do is, I can look at everything that we provide and I can teach you. I can teach you means, what it is that we can do to help you if you want to do it yourself of course so that you can take this training.

And if you've got someone that does this stuff for you or you do this yourself, that you can do it, or that you are educated to make a right decision if you do want to hire someone to do all these services for you. But the only way to make those choices is to be educated, and I want to provide that education for you, but the only way that I can do that is to know exactly what it is that you are struggling with.

That brings me to this episode. My request to you is, take two minutes, please. If you go to martialartsmedia.com/survey, there is a short video. You can actually just skip through the link, take the survey and it's going to take you about two minutes. Fill it out as detailed as possible. You can keep this completely anonymous, so if you don't want to leave your name and if you don't want to leave your email address, that is fine.

But all that I really really want is some honest answers. On the flipside, though, if you have some pressing problems and you would like me to contact you personally, get on the phone or get on the Skype call, I'm more than willing to do that if I'm going to get a more clear understanding of the problems that you are having. I will commit the time and I'll chat with you as long as it takes, basically that I can get a clear understanding of how we can help you better.

So that's going to be for the web class and for this podcast of course. The more I understand about what it is that you want and what you need, the better I can interview people to deliver that information and prepare a very decent, intensive web class that we can go to all the details and some of those problems and take your business to the next level, take your business to where you want to go.

All right, so that's it for this show. Like I said, it's a bit of a twist, it's not tips and no value, but if you can help me with this part and you can give as much information as I need, then we can take this podcast from ten episodes to a hundred and we can make it really, really cool.

I can zone in and make sure that we have guests, whether they are from martial arts schools or coaches or external people, whoever they are, to solve these problems for you, we can do that by having the best understanding. So, please go to martialartsmedia.com/survey, please complete the survey for us and I will be back next week with another episode of the martial arts media business podcast. Thanks again, chat to you soon.

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

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10 – Should You Use A Facebook Profile Or Page (Or Both) For Marketing Your Martial Arts Gym?

Many Martial Arts Gym owners use a personal Facebook profile for their marketing. But what are the consequences of doing this?

IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Costly consequences of having a profile for your martial arts business
  • The awkward Facebook friend request
  • What is Edgerank and how it controls who sees your post
  • Why people don't see your Facebook status updates
  • Why you can't scale a Facebook profile
  • How to segment your friend lists for different posts
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: Hi, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com. In this video, I'm going to be talking about should you have a Facebook profile for your martial arts business, or should you have a Business Page and what's the difference: should you have both, what should you be doing in this scenario?

quotescover-jpg-95quotescover-jpg-95Ok, so should you have a Facebook Profile for your martial arts business, or should you have a Facebook Business Page for your business? I think that kind of answers it: of course you should have a Facebook Business Page, but let's explore the options why.

Now, first and foremost, if you have your business set up in the Facebook Profile section, which is actually just for a normal person, then that is actually against the terms of service for Facebook (see section 4), and they can actually shut your account down. If you're building authority on this account and you engage with people and your members most importantly, the last thing you want is your Facebook account shut down, so you do need a Business Page, instead of the Facebook Profile. Let's also look at the obstacles this is going to cause.

If you look at a Facebook Profile, it's a lot more personal. So for me to be able to connect with you, I need to add you as a friend. And it's a bit hard to be a friend with a business as such. You can be a quotescover-jpg-18friend with a person, but to be a friend with a business – it’s a bit awkward.

So what you've got to look at from that point: if I'm a prospect and I'm trying to find out more about your business, now I've got to engage with you on a personal level, which I don't want to do yet – I just want more information about your business. That is why a “like” is so much easier, because I can just like your business and I can follow your updates and find out more information about you, whereas, if I had to add you as a friend – which we are not friends, I'm just searching for information about you, it’s so much more personal. There's just a bit of an awkwardness of actually adding someone as a friend who's not your friend and you just want to find out if this is a business that you actually want to engage with and if you want to take up training.

quotescover-jpg-42So you definitely want the Business Page. Now, the Business Page has advantages and initially, it has some disadvantages because Facebook would prioritize your posts from a profile versus a Business Page. Now this gets a bit technical, but there's a thing called EdgeRank. And EdgeRank is basically Facebook's ranking mechanism, how they decide which posts show up in your news feed. So yes, it doesn't mean that if you post something on Facebook that it’s actually going to show up: it means that Facebook still has a look and prioritizes and sees, OK, well – what should be showing up in your custom news feed?

And of course, if you had a sister that just  had a baby, or there's a wedding anniversary or your friend has a birthday or something, these are things that are going to show up in your news feed, rather than a business promo special. And this is why it’s so important to have engaging content and be telling people stories. And this is where blogging and things like that come into play. So it’s not just about putting offers up and doing specials and so forth.

But that's going a bit off topic. So essentially, yes: you want to get onto the Business Page. Now, the Business Page is going to allow you to scale, which is something you're not going to be able to do with a Facebook Profile anyway because it maxes out at 5000 friends. As a martial arts business and if you're targeting your local area, you might never need that limit or reach that limit, but nevertheless – do you want a limit on your profile and your reach and do you want to have the risk of having your account shut down as such?

So you've got to get the Business Page setup. If you already have your whole business set up on the profile, you can convert that to a page, OK? That can be done. You are going to see a drop in your reach in the beginning, but hey – you're a business, so you should be extending that reach with paid ads, and that is something that you can do with a Facebook Page, which is something that you can't do with a Facebook Profile.

So that would be the first step for you to do, is to convert it, get it over to a Business Page and start providing value to your audience from that. If you're not getting reach and you've got a promotion, if  you've got something that you want your entire audience to see, then it’s very very easy to just hit the boost button and pay $5 or $10 and just make sure that your reach gets extended to people who like your page and their friends and so forth.

OK, so: should you use both? Why not? If you have your business and you are seen as an authority in your industry and people have already added you, then post on the page first, and then go to that page and share those posts onto your personal profile.

So now you're doing both and you're reaching both benefits. And yes, if there are people who are adding you on your personal profile and they're not friends as such, then it also becomes awkward, because you don't want to be rude and you don't want to not add them because you want to connect with them. But you can actually exclude posts from them.

So if you have people who are of a business nature that are adding you onto the personal profile, then add them to a list – there's a way that you can do this and you'll see this if you update on a status, there's a little drop down box that says public, friends, and this basically says who has access to the posts that you are posting.

So if you're only posting it to friends, only your friends will see it. If you want to post in public, it means anybody on Facebook can see it. And then, if you have a segmented list, martial arts students or whatever that are, martial arts prospects, you can have that as a list, and then when you do a status update, you can actually segment to that specific list and make sure that only that audience sees your posts.

All right, I hope that helps. Plenty more tips on how you can build your martial arts business . Go to martialartsmedia.com, I'll catch you in the next video – cheers!

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

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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.