126 – Ed Carr: How To Rise Above Bullying Through Martial Arts And Live An Empowered Life

Edward Carr shares how he’s built 2 thriving clubs through word of mouth, while helping his community combat cyberbullying and live an empowered life.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How to harness the power of word of mouth
  • Tips to boost martial arts community engagement 
  • How to encourage bullied children to share their experiences
  • Edward’s book against bullying, Lift Them Up: How to Rise Above Bullying and Live an Empowered Life
  • Effective ways to build a strong online presence
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: Hey, George Fourie here. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. So today, I have a special guest with me: Edward Carr from New Hampshire in the United States. And so, Edward owns two locations, Tokyo Joe Studios and Team Link MMA, both at the same actual location, in the same facility, on two separate floors.

So, we chat a bit about that divide, and also how he's built a thriving business. 320-330 plus students, mostly on word of mouth. And, look, always when someone says word of mouth, I'm always curious, because it always means there's a strong program, a strong product, and much more to it, right?

And so we chat a lot about things that they've done in the community, their community promotions, also his book against anti-bullying, that positions him as an authority. And all this, how it helped them thrive through the pandemic, and almost not losing any students after being locked down for a full year. So, we're going to jump into that.

If you are new to the podcast, do check out on this page martialartsmedia.com/126, depending where you're listening or watching, and be sure to download our ebook, ‘The Ultimate Facebook™ Guide for Martial Arts Schools', that will help you create your next winning ad campaign. And of course, wherever you're listening or watching, make sure you hit that subscribe button, so that you get notified when we release our next episode.

Alright, let's get into it. So, Edward, over the last couple of months, or just in general, what's been the top marketing strategy and lead generator for you?

EDWARD: It would be a lot of word of mouth, a lot of word of mouth and online. You know, some online advertising definitely helped out, but the word of mouth has been incredible-  with all the students promoting, you know, the school and, you know, me being involved in the schools a lot, also has helped out quite a bit, you know.

Just like I said, just promoting and having fun, and, you know, going from there. And just letting the kids know, you know, letting everyone know, you know, what we're doing, what we're about, promoting safety, you know. Letting them know, like, even though the pandemic, you know, people are still nervous, you know, having all the safety stations everywhere, and all that.

Just making everyone feel comfortable, and then having them go out and telling all their friends, “This is a place to go to exercise and have fun”, and, you know, how do kids learn.

GEORGE: So, if you've got great word of mouth, it's always a sign that you've got a great product, right, and great training and good program. But other than that, how do you feel you kind of orchestrate a lot of word of mouth? And what do you think? What do you think escalates it?

EDWARD: Every time someone competes or does something. Well, we've had a few big name fighters, you know, fight for us. That always brings in a lot of students, people see it, they watch it on UFC Fight Pass, you know, they go from there. We've had a lot of kids… Muay Thai tournaments, grappling tournaments, and karate tournaments – they're starting to do them again and that's always been great.

You know, kids want a medal, a trophy, they're all happy, they tell their friends, you know, and that's the type of word of mouth stuff that's happening. I wrote a book, and it was on bullying, and I got that involved in the schools. So, you know, they're, you know, me being involved in the schools and helping out and talking to the children, you know, about bullying and this and that, it's also been huge.

So, it's a good word of mouth, you know, think, you know, for me, you know, to do all that. Like I said, there's been a little bit of online, you know, stuff, I've done some, you know, contests here and there, you know, for everything, get the students involved, you know, and just try to work it, make it a grind.

GEORGE: What's the book called?

EDWARD: Lift Them Up.

GEORGE: And it's available on Amazon?

EDWARD: Yeah, it's available on Amazon. Yeah, Amazon, the book is called Lift Them Up: How to Rise Above Bullying and Live an Empowered Life. You know, just as in deal with this typical boy who deals with cyber bullying, you know, it goes through the whole… You know, everyone thinks bullying, you just, you know, pick on someone.

But, you know, a lot of people don't realize there's a whole cyber bullying, internet bullying, texting bullying and all this. There's so much out there that people don't understand or realize. So, you know, I mean, it's done well. I've sold like 400, 500 books, I can't complain.

GEORGE: That's perfect. Well, I hope you sell 4000, 5000 more after we do this podcast, right?

EDWARD: Absolutely!

GEORGE: If you don't mind sharing a little bit of insight, because I mean, it's a whole different planet, just like you saying, you know, it used to be bullying, face to face. But, you know, if I look at kids today, I think they're dealing with this whole – a whole different form of bullying, that's, it's pretty intense. And I don't know, I sometimes wonder how kids have actually got to deal with that, right?

If there's, especially if there's a group of people that are bullying you, or doing cyber attacks and just being nasty kids, what's your advice to kids on how to deal with that?

EDWARD: Communication. A lot of kids tend to hide things, you know, and I have a lot of kids that feel very comfortable coming to talk to me, and not even their own parents, or teachers, because they're afraid or scared. And it's just communication, I'm trying to, you know, when I talk to them, I want them to feel comfortable.

I want them to realize it's okay to talk to the teachers, it's okay to talk to your, especially your parents. Let them know what's going on. Too many kids out there just bottle it up, and unfortunately, you know, bad things do happen. And you know, a lot of times they'll bottle that up and hold that negative energy inside, and they explode, and something negative can happen off of that, you know.

And that's all, the key, you know, is communication. Letting them know, you know, that people are out there that, you know, these people in these positions care for them and want the best for them – and want to help them out.

GEORGE: And so, is that something you do on the mats, like mat chats and things like that?

EDWARD: Yeah, we talk a lot about that, you know, on the mats. At the end of every class, I usually have, like, a little, you know, 2 – 3 minute mat chat with them. And we're always talking about bullying, you know, certain situations, you know, just how to train, you know, how to deal with it, you know, how to use your words first, you know.

Everyone thinks, a lot of kids think too, you know, how to deal with things they don't understand either, gotta make them aware. Like, they think, “Okay, I know karate and martial arts, I'm just gonna go beat the bully up.” That's not what it's all about, you know, trying to get them to realize you go talk to them, try and make them – be their friends or walk away.

If there is a self defense situation there, then of course, you know, deal with it in the proper way. But definitely learn how to use your words first, and your brain. I always tell them to use your brain first, speech smart.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Cool. So, talking about online, moving through the pandemic, and you mentioned earlier that you managed to maintain almost a full student base, how long were you locked down for? Just curious.

EDWARD: About a year. It was about a good year, you know, and, you know, you weren't allowed to have any, I could do one-on-one classes. I had a couple people, you know, that would, I would make sure at 12 o'clock, they could come in, it was just them, no one else could be around.

I'd have to give a half hour's worth of time in between, so I could clean and sanitize and then could have another private – but that was it. No group classes. I could do family classes, but I'd have to do them outside. So, thank goodness, a lot of this was during the summer. So, it worked out pretty good.

GEORGE: Yeah. 

Martial Arts

EDWARD: And so I'd do a lot of group classes, you know, with families outside in the parking lot, which, another way in which pretty good advertising too, because then people driving by, seeing us working out and exercising and doing something, so it was good advertising in that way. So, you know, it was rough. But it was a learning experience for me, because trying to develop a system that keeps everyone happy on Zoom.

You know, I've never taught, I mean, I've done a lot of seminars and this and that, but I've never taught on Zoom, you know, pretty much eight hours a day, standing in front of a camera, trying to teach forms. You know, trying to teach, you know, a kickboxing combination and make sure they got proper footwork. It was a learning experience for me too.

But it worked and kept everyone happy. And, you know, like I said, we just always have a contest, I always had something going on just to keep them, you know, feeling good about themselves.

GEORGE: What do you think you've taken from that?

EDWARD: It's made me definitely a better instructor off of that. You know, it definitely opened up my eyes a little bit. I definitely became better – just made me practice a little… You know, we kind of get into, I don't want to say a rut in a bad way, but we get in a rut and a daily routine of coming into the school, four o'clock class, five o'clock class, six o'clock class.

And what it made me do is step out of the box a little bit – I hadn't done that for a while, because I got a successful school. I'm happy, I'm always wanting to grow, do what it takes, but I was, you know, doing well. So, I was like, okay… But this made me step out of the box a little bit, made me realize, you know, “Okay, start training, you got to start training, you've got to start using your mind, come up with these ideas, you know.”

You know, make these kids happy. Let these kids know you care, let the parents know you care. You know, BJJ, MMA make them happy, make sure, you know, and be a coach. And so it made me step out of the box and become a better person for sure.

GEORGE: Were there any, like, specific obstacles that you faced with the kids having to show up online and getting involved and engaging?

EDWARD: Yeah, it was interesting because I'd have to mute a lot of stuff. Like, they could hear me, but I couldn't hear them, because, you know, we'd have 30, 40 people online. Sometimes you can't have everyone, you know, they're still at home. So, they still have their home life.

So, you have dogs in the background or brothers and sisters poking their brothers online. So, at times it was a horror show. It was like, “Whoah, what's going on?!” But, I mean, that was the biggest obstacle, the biggest thing was just like, you know, trying to overcome all that at first, but once, you know, after a week or so, it smoothed out pretty well.

And it wasn't really that bad. You know, just trying to engage them, to let them know that they could do martial arts on the computer and not just play video games was rough, because I would have some students that would blank the screen, but forget to mute it, and I could hear them playing video games in the background.

So, then the parents would ask me how they're doing. I'm like, I don't know, you need to ask him, he's been playing video games. So, you know, stuff like that would happen on and off. But overall, it was, you know, it was definitely tough keeping them engaged – because just staring at a computer screen, even my own daughter would do karate in her bedroom. And, you know, I'd have to tell her to stop jumping on the bed, like, “Listen, you're in class, stop jumping on the bed.” Trying to keep them engaged was definitely a learning experience.

GEORGE: So, what did you do to have that constant state change? You know, because I mean, you can't let them do one thing too long to get in – yeah, boredom kicks in.

EDWARD: I just constantly kept them moving as much as I could. You know, sometimes in a normal class, you know, you take your time, you go over form more, there's more of a pause, more of a… So, you couldn't do that online.

I almost taught it like a cardio kickboxing class, you know, where I just kept moving and moving and moving and moving and moving. Class is only 30 minutes long, but it was, like, just keep them moving. Don't give them that time to stop. You know, don't give them that time to think.

We would do a form to warm up and right from that form we'd go right into some kicking, some punching, and then we'd go into some, you know, self defense techniques, and I'd make it a game and just keep them moving. So, they didn't have that time to go look around to see who's playing outside or stuff like that.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And then jiu jitsu – and how did you handle the BJJ side, and the adults, and so forth?

EDWARD: That was the tough part. Like teaching Thai kickboxing or MMA wasn't so bad, because you could teach them some combinations. So, sprawls, double legs, you can teach transitions, and stuff, that was okay.

But the BJJ was tough, you know, like I had, when – Everyone would make their own dummy, grappling dummy, or they could buy one from me, you know, but, and, you know, whoever made the best dummy won a free gift, you know, stuff like that. So, we had, like, 15 people make their own grappling dummies. So, that's part of getting them involved and engaged, a few people bought some off for me.

And then basically, it was just teaching them transitions and moves and talking to them about, you know, the connecting points, you know, always have points of control and hip pressure and where your hips should be, where your shoulders should be, where your grip should be. And it was more of a, you know, just teaching the technical side of things, you know.

There were some drills out there – you could do, you know, switching back and forth, knee on belly, switch and go into mount, going into, you know, back to knee on belly, to arm bars, north south, all that you could do all that stuff too. But that was, actually trying to teach them actual moves was, you know, definitely interesting.

GEORGE: It's something that is – obviously working with school owners, we've got a group we call Partners, and we've got gi school owners from around the world, but different styles.

And so, it's always conversations that have come up, obviously, with the pandemic. And interesting as well, because everyone was always at a different stage of; we're going into lockdown, we're coming out, what do we do, but it was a good opportunity to cross pollinate ideas, but…

EDWARD: Yeah.

GEORGE: We had one of our members, Carl just talk about, they were just in a two month lockdown in New Zealand, and – 100% jiu jitsu school – and managed to keep all his students going, but the main focus was just movement.

EDWARD: Yeah, 100%.

GEORGE: Movement, and keeping the community going. So, you know, a big thing that we've spoken about was the community, the content and then the coaching. So, how do you do those things? How do you create the community going?

I mean, that's the big thing, and how do you keep the coaching going? And we came up with some creative ideas, right? So, he bought the John Danaher set, and then we just, he would just go through a video, or they would post, you know, a clip from an instruction from someone else, and then they would study it, and they would analyze it, so the whole… Use even someone else's content, but then create the conversation around it to keep the community…

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EDWARD: Yeah, we did the same thing. We actually, one day, myself, would do a jiu jitsu video with my student, he's, I've known him forever, and it was him and I. We'd do a jiu jitsu video, then the next day would use a video of something from someone else.

We used a lot of John Danaher, Gordon Ryan, stuff like that. And then the next day, I would do, like, a karate video for everyone, and then the next day, my student would do a kickboxing MMA video for them.

So, everyday we'll put out a video for the students, also to give them some content to study. And so, not only could you do classes, I would send these videos and post them to everyone, and they could go at home and practice those same combinations, three or four combi- you know, five different ways on how to do an overhand right, you know. How to do two pins in the proper way, you know, a form, you know, and so that worked out pretty well, too.

GEORGE: Sounds good. So, give us a bit of a background about your school and your location. And I know you've got a massive facility, and you've got two floors, and just give us a bit of an overview on the infrastructure and how things operate.

EDWARD: I've been here since 1999. I pretty much have always done martial arts since I was 14. And I just turned 50, so I've been doing it for a while. I just woke up one day and decided I didn't want to do my job anymore, and so then I'm gonna open up a school. Let's try it.

GEORGE: How long have you been… 

EDWARD: So, 1999. Yeah. And so I found this, I found a location. And at first it was only, we only had about 2000 square feet, but I liked this location because it always had an opportunity to grow.

So, I started off with traditional karate, I always studied grappling and wrestling on my own on the side, and had already had a couple fights on the side, but I didn't really promote that too much.

Yeah. And then as we grew, we grew fast. For six months, we grew pretty quick. So, I got to open up another 1400 square feet or so in the back, and we used that room for a while. And then what I did is, I always had the basement downstairs, and it's a giant, like, two big garage, you know, basement. 

And one day my landlord's, “Like, you know, if you want the space, I'll charge you this much for it. And, you know, just take it over and do what you want, you do the work. I'll give it to you cheap, and it's cheap.” And I was like, “Alright!” So, I did all the work, and then like I said, we got two open floors upstairs, bathrooms, office, all that stuff. 

Downstairs is a couple different ways you can go in, it's got showers, a couple of locker rooms downstairs, a bag room, it's got a ring, a cage, and probably about a 1800 square foot, like, weight room too. So, I did the weight room originally for the parents, a lot of parents don't have time to go to the gym. So, I allow the parents for free at first to, while the kids are in class, go downstairs and run on the treadmill, lift some weights to do something.

That way they won't have to worry about their kids, they know they're doing class. But that took off, and you know, that was taking off pretty good. So, now I hired a personal trainer, you know, so he comes in – he does personal classes, you know, for the parents and you know, it's a little bit extra income off of that.

And stuff like that, you know, they scheduled privates for the kids, a lot of them they'll come down here and work with them during the kids class and get in shape.

So, you know, we got a little bit of everything. You know, kids are martial – all the kids' classes are fresh. We got kids BJJ, kids Muay Thai, kids kempo karate, and then usually at night time, it's a, you know, depending on the day, gi, the adult Muay Thai, adult MMA, adult BJJ, gi or no gi on the day, and then cardio kickboxing too.

And then we do stuff on the weekend – Saturday is a full day of classes, Sunday is kind of my day, I invite either the black belts in and we do like a black belt workout or I'll just invite some fighters in and we'll just train, so it's like a training day on Sundays for us. So, you know, it's a full time job. Like I said, it's like 8000 square feet, full time job, I have about – maybe now 330 students.

And yeah, you know, it has its moments. But, you know, I've been blessed throughout this whole pandemic, so I can't complain.

GEORGE: That's cool. So, you've got two names, right? Tokyo Joe's? 

EDWARD: Yes.

GEORGE: Tokyo Joe's Studios and TeamLink MMA.

EDWARD: Yeah.

GEORGE: Curious on two names, but also Tokyo Joe's?

EDWARD: Well, my instructor, who was 14, was playing football, and he was in karate, and he's from East Boston, and he was doing some karate, was a football practice. And they just named him Tokyo Joe, you know, that was his nickname.

So, as he progressed and opened up his own school – he met me at – that was always his nickname. He called it Tokyo Joe's Studios. He named the downstairs his nickname.

And then I was at the Canadian Open as a karate tournament. And he had met me, he said, “Hey, you fought really well, why don't you come train with me?” And he goes, you know, “I'm like, alright.” And he was close by, so I started training with him, and, you know, competed under him, you know, in all these karate tournaments all over the place.

Also, I got a chance to train with like Johnny Tension, and Reggie Perry, who were part of the team, Paul Mitchell, who, you know, are World Champions too. So, it opened up some doors and ideas. And then one day, he's like, “You know, you should think about opening up a school, you're a great instructor, a great motivator, you're a good leader,” and I didn't really put much thought into it.

And then he kept bugging me and bugging me, and then one day, I'm out doing my job – construction – I was doing construction, driving some equipment. I'm like, “You know, yeah, it's time. I don't feel like doing this.” So, I went into the office and gave my notice and went back to him and said, “I guess we'll open up a school. Let's try it.”

So, that was the karate side of things.

GEORGE: Right. 

EDWARD: I'd always done MMA on the side, I was part of Miletich Fighting Systems with Pat Miletich. And when I trained there with them, it was, you know, they had three out of the five UFC champions, it was one of the best gyms around, we did a lot of fighting and training there. But as they all got older and branched off, opened up their own gyms, and everything kind of disbanded. 

I was just left with, like, no direction in my life; my BJJ program was only a purple belt at the time. And really know, you know, didn't know how to, you know, what to do. So, like I said, Michael Alvin, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Alexander Marino all came to me one day, because I trained with them, helped them out with fights and worked with them. 

And they're like, “Why don't you just join us, you know, it'd be a great marketing thing for your BJJ program.” It's a little confusing for some people, but once they get in here, they realize, I kind of keep it separate, and I like keeping them separate, because I like the younger kids… 

I think, you know, even though we do BJJ, we still teach a little bit of focus and concentration in that class, like a karate thing. I like them to learn about the focus and concentration side of things, you don't need to necessarily see all the hard work and training that goes into MMA.

Plus, parents, you know, sometimes they get the wrong opinion, they see the fights on TV, and they think that's what it's all about, and I don't want to give the parents that impression. So, that's why I have an upstairs and downstairs and stuff.

But it's actually become a great tool, because parents realize all the hard work and all the dedication that goes into that, that's their martial art, you know, that's their form, you know, while the kids are learning this stuff, they see the adults or the teenagers doing this, and they realize it's a lot of hard work if it's taught the right way. 

So now, you know, like, whenever we have someone fight, you know, a tough fight passes, I gotta open up the school, we'll have a school full of people watching it on the TV, you know what I mean? Becomes a school party sort of, brings them all together, you know. Like you said, you try to try to create a good, you know, good atmosphere, you know, for everyone – good environment – and it brings them all together, the watch, the fights, and stuff like that.

So, it's kind of cool.

GEORGE: Because that would be my next question – how do you balance the two cultures? Do you find that they are divided or they sort of come together?

EDWARD: It's actually come together- at first, it was pretty divided. You know, when it first – the sport was starting to grow, it was pretty divided. 

You know, people thought, you know, brutality, this, that and you know, and you can definitely understand that. But over the years, as time has gone on, people see it, you know, they've seen the fights, you know, parents have asked, you know, we've, like I said, they've, you know, they got, you know, a lot of kids would do karate competitions, you know.

So then, you know, now they have kids Muay Thai, very controlled, but kids Muay Thai and then, you know, they get kids BJJ. So, because of all these classes that we have, you know, kids getting involved in all these other smaller competitions, the parents are wanting to see what the adults and teens are doing and how that's evolved. So, it's actually brought it all kind of together.

You know, and everyone's, you know, everyone's… it's pretty cool to see everyone, like, you know, support. Everyone gets together, supports everyone and have fun, too. You have a lot of parents that will just come down on Wednesday nights, our sparring night, they'll just come down and just watch, you know, they get to – they bring their, you know, 10 year old kid and you know, “Is there sparring on Wednesday?” “Yeah.” “Can we come watch?” “Yeah, come on in!”

You know, you have a whole group that will just sit on the side to just watch, you know. This is awesome, you know, because they get a chance to see, you know, kicks, punches and stuff and blocks and wrestling, they're into – actual, you know. You get a lot of kids that don't compete, we don't force them to compete. If you want to compete, we can get them ready.

But it gets to see them, you know, put it in practical use, kind of, you know. So, they like watching it.

GEORGE: Perfect. So, just to change gears a little bit – back to the marketing aspect. You got a successful school, 300+ students. You mentioned word of mouth is good. What else contributes to the growth?

EDWARD: Community involvement. Like I said, but everything's changing now. The whole world's changing. I mean, you know what I mean.

When I first opened up, you know, you had to advertise in the yellow pages, you know, big giant ads in the yellow pages, you know, that was a thing. You had to – who had the biggest ad, you know, the big best looking ad in the Yellow Pages, then as time went on…

GEORGE: And your name's gonna start with ‘A', right? So, that you, like, at the front of the book.

EDWARD: Yeah, exactly! Yeah.

Then as time went on, you know, the Internet became more, it was, like, you know, websites were huge. You know, websites are still very important, and they're still a useful tool. But, you know, that was important then, you know, now social media, you know, the whole advertising world has changed so much over the 20+ years, you know.

So now, I'm just trying to stay on top of things. I do a lot of social media, I do a lot of posts, and I do a lot of contests, you know, within the schools. I do a lot of, like I said, I'm involved in the community, the schools, you know, certain fairs, certainly, you know, town fairs, this and that. Those are all advertising avenues for me, you know, when they have town fairs.

I do a community fair myself every – well, I haven't done the last couple years, because of the pandemic – but I rent all kinds of bouncy houses, obstacle courses, this and that, dunk tanks, and at the end of every summer, I do, like, a community thing, you know, everyone's welcome. We'll do a little open house, some demonstrations, and have a huge cookout for everyone.

And you know, it's just, advertising like that is big. I'm always looking though, like, you know, I know right now, you know, I got, I'm looking to step up on the digital side of things, pick up the digital side of things on marketing, some online, make my online presence a little bit better, is my goal for this year.

GEORGE: Perfect. So, I love the aspect of community. I mean, that's, I think that's just gold, right?

Because being involved in the community, it makes you stand out. It also builds your authority, you know, way behind just the martial arts you offer, but you mention, things are changing; what are you noticing that's changing the most, especially with just the world and online that's impacting your marketing the most?

EDWARD: Really, it's just the online presence, you know, having a great online presence is very important now.

You know, before, it wasn't, but now, you know, a lot of you see a lot of the biggest school, you see ads all the time, you see this all the time, and, you know, these schools aren't spending that amount of money, if it's not working. You know, there's certain things out there, you know, and I know these school owners very well. 

And I know that they're not putting these ads out there if it's not working. And I just noticed a huge online presence and how important it's becoming, you know what I mean? And, you know, before you had a whole script on the phone, you know, very rarely do I get phone calls now.

Now it's all emails, or sometimes even text messages. “Oh, my friend gave me your number, my son's in…” You know, it's emails, it's text messages. It's all online. “We've been to your Whatsapp, we've been to your Facebook page, you know, what about this…” So, just the online presence is becoming very important.

And just making sure, you know, your name's out there, and making sure you know, you promote your product, or whatever it may be – your services out there. There's what I think is the best, you know, is what's changing the most.

Before, you know, you're right. Fortunately, I have a great word of mouth. And that's great. I mean, like you said, you got great service, you got great products, you got it. But, you know, you can always do better. So, I definitely want to do the online presence thing.

GEORGE: I think school owners like yourself, where you benefit is you built this whole foundation without that. Fine tune the product, the delivery, the programs, the community aspect. When you elevate your online presence, it's really just fuel on the fire, because you've got all the foundations right here.

I mean, we like to really, especially now, in the work that we do with school owners, we really just try to think of the simplicity of it. And like you were saying, people don't really call anymore. So, when you look at that it's not, you know, the message is still the same. It's just the medium of communication is …

EDWARD: Exactly.

GEORGE: So, people, you know, you’ve got to ask permission before you call.

EDWARD: Yeah, yeah.

GEORGE: The world's just gotten like that. I always text someone and say, “Hey, is it okay to call you?” “Yeah, we just picked up the phone.” Right? But yeah, exactly. Messenger and, you know, Messenger, I mean, we find ads to Messenger is still the best thing ever, because of course, you've got the process to sign people up and work through the process.

There's so many things that we are seeing changing and, and like you said, I mean, I'm a web developer, from you know, way back and my first advice was always just get the spanky awesome website, and get it up on Google and you're good. Now I don't give that advice anymore.

You know, I would say, right, let's get your offer, right? And let's get your ad up, you know, let's get your message out there and find a simple way to follow up. And if you can get those things right, websites are good to have for the people that will go Google and check you out. But you can build a big organization just without that.

EDWARD: Exactly.

GEORGE: The only thing that always scares me is the control factor of putting all your eggs into a basket like Facebook. And you know, that's the one thing that drives your business, and if it's not there, well, I mean, I think it's still going to be there for a long time, right? But especially when you see things shuffle, and people change the different platforms, it's good to be tabs and be a bit omnipresent in that way that you can do without.

EDWARD: Exactly, I mean, it's definitely been interesting noticing the changes, that's for sure. Like you said, you know, everything.

I always tell everyone this, you know, I've helped a few people open up schools, and I just, you know, that's what I – get your online presence going, you know, well, what about this ad? No, you don't need that ad. It's not like the old days, you know, you don't need yellow pages, you don't need this, you don't need that.

Get your online presence up and going. You need a website, of course, you know, people still visit it and go on, you know, make sure you have this in your website. And like you said, the right content on the website that's going to attract the people that go to it. The right ads, the right deals and stuff like that. 

Online presence is, you know, definitely one point for sure.

GEORGE: So, what's next for you, Edward? Like where are you guys going? Are you opening up more locations?

EDWARD: I don't know. Honestly, what's next for me is I've been really, I've been doing this for a long time. Just really been toying with the idea of doing another smaller location.

I don't know if I, you know, but before I've done that, I've been really trying to develop a good strong, solid staff here. I'm one of the few instructors, like, I enjoy teaching. And like some instructors enjoy running this school, you know, and then they have instructors teach for them.

I like still being on the floor, you know, with the kids and teaching, and I still like teaching them on the mat. I still teach BJJ, and people think I'm crazy, but I still teach up to 40+ classes a week. And, and I love it, but I'm also 50 now, so now I'm developing the staff, and the know-how, you know, really developing, like, I got some really good fighters that still have a few years left in them, but know that, you know, the end's coming… but unbelievable instructors.

So, I'm getting them involved, you know, developing a really solid foundation in the BJJ group of instructors, working on getting them, I got some unbelievable teens, getting them involved in them karate side of things and showing them and teaching them, you know, so that way, when that second location opportunity does come, I know that I'll be able to leave for the day and leave this place in good hands.

You know, staff training, and you know, picking the right people to find out. I want to be part of the team and make sure we share the same vision, you know what I mean? 

And so that second location, within, you know, I got a goal – I set goals, but within a couple of years, I want to definitely have something up, the second one up and going, you know, like, you know, this school is all set. So, that's, that's really what I've been working on now.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And I guess lastly, what are you most excited about? For the next couple of years?

EDWARD: Just growing. You know, I love it. There's, like, you know, we had, you know, already since January. It's, you know, what's today? The seventh. We've had, you know, it's always the New Year rush, but we had 14 new people sign up. So, it's been great.

I love getting the new people going, you know, I just love teaching. I just love growing and, you know, and just helping people out. You know, I can't complain. I got a – I have a great job – and so I mean, what's next is just to keep growing, keep having fun, and keep sharing what I love to do.

And, you know, hopefully the second location will come in a few years and go from there.

GEORGE: Sounds good. Hey, Ed, thanks so much for jumping on. Been great to chat, and just the title of your book again?

EDWARD: Lift Them Up.

GEORGE: Lift Them Up.

EDWARD: Yeah, definitely on Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles, it's also on Barnes and Nobles website too. So, if they want to check it out, please check it out. It's a great book on bullying. You know, all the different types of bullying that are out in the world today. So, definitely check it out.

GEORGE: Perfect. We'll link it up in the show notes. So, wherever you're watching or listening, it will be https://martialartsmedia.com/126, numbers one-two-six. That'll take you there. And just lastly, any shout-outs you want to give or any way that people can connect with you, if you're open to that?

EDWARD: Yeah, you can always, you know, we just talked about it, you could always hit me up, you know, of course, my email is at tokyojoeshooksit@comcast.net.

You can always hit me up on Facebook, under Ed Carr, or you can visit the school webpage, Tokyo Joe's Studios, Instagram, I'm on Instagram – @tokyojoesstudios – and on Twitter. So, those are the best ways, like I said, we're talking about social media and stuff. You know, that's what people use.

The best way to hit me up, send me a message. Ask me any questions. You know, you can call the school, 603-641-3444, if you want. Ask me any questions you want. I'm always here and always willing to help.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Ed, thanks so much. I'll chat to you soon.

EDWARD: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.

GEORGE: You're welcome.

 

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125 – Ross Cameron: The Evolution Of The Ultimate Martial Arts Gym

Ross Cameron from Fightcross MMA has built the ultimate, world-class martial arts gym and lifestyle center. We do a deep dive on the planning, contracts, insurances and marketing that have made this a success.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • What sets this world-class martial arts gym in its own league?
  • Ross’s unconventional ways of building a thriving community
  • Details often overlooked when opening up a new location
  • Timing and changing the frame with martial arts campaigns
  • How branding helps the business of martial arts
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

I'm a big believer in doing this anyhow, it is to learn every job. I don't need to do it, but I need to understand how every job works. Then if someone's not doing their job, I can point it out and I can just tell them how I want it done or, but I've got to know every job.

GEORGE: Hey, George Fourie here! Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. Today's special guest is Ross Cameron from Fightcross MMA in Brisbane, Australia. Now, Ross and I go way back, we've been working together for quite some time, and I've been fortunate enough to witness his business explode from the sidelines.

Just recently, he's opened up his new location, and let me tell you what, it's not just any location. We were on one of our Partners Power Hour calls, our coaching calls, and Ross took us on a virtual tour through the location – we're going to include a virtual tour on this page as well. But he took us through the whole location, and just the multiple floors, the different aspects, the bar, the coffee shop, and of course, the world class gym.

So, we break down just the whole process of the two to three years that it took to put this together, the obstacles that he faced, with obviously things like COVID, things that weren't expected. And we do a deep dive into the technicalities of how to set up your contracts, how to structure your staffing, and a lot of the details that often go missed when opening up a new location. And then we do a bit of a deep dive on marketing and how he's gone about marketing this new location and the plan on filling it up to 500 to 1000 members over the next 12 months. Jump in, this is a good one.

Also, if you – head over to martialartsmedia.com/125 – where this podcast episode is hosted. So, no matter where you're listening or watching, you can check out the full transcript of the show. And you can also grab a download of our new ebook, Ultimate Facebook™ Ad Formula for Martial Arts Schools.

So, check that out, and make sure you subscribe to the show wherever you're listening, just to make sure that you get notified when our next show comes up. All right, let's jump in. Ross, what's been the top marketing strategy or campaign that you've run lately? What's been the highest performance?

ROSS: So, the best one we've had recently, because we've been moving into a new gym, has been our foundation membership drive, with Facebook and video and all the rest of it. And based around that, was a box that we gave away that had different items inside it. We had samples from some of our suppliers, we had a towel from the gym, we had a water bottle, we had a mouth guard, all the little bits and pieces to make them feel comfortable and give them some added value to signing on.

GEORGE: Great! So, what was the offer for the foundational membership?

ROSS: So, they got a discounted rate on the membership for 12 months. They got a – foundation sign-on fee was $99, and in that, they got this box that had a t-shirt, a mouth guard, a water bottle, a towel, samples, a card that actually had a link to some extra video content we'd done on how to tie a belt, welcome to the gym, how to do a mobility flow, all sorts of bits and pieces.

GEORGE: Perfect. So, I guess we can now give some full context, why the foundational membership, so, just a shorter intro. Ross Cameron from Fightcross in Brisbane, Australia. If you've been following the podcast, Ross has also been on the podcast before, we spoke about lockdown, which is their event… What do you call it? Modified jiu jitsu?

ROSS: It's submission grappling. Yeah. MMA in the cage without the strikes.

GEORGE: That's the tagline I've been looking for! So, you can – want to backtrack on that, which was episode 37.

So, Ross, you know, we chat every week, every so often when you're not busy evolving this new… What do we call it? It's like the evolution of the martial art school, is almost the way I look at it. You gave us a bit of a video tour and showed us what you've got going there, but why don't you give us a bit of a background, the vision and how this all came about?

ROSS: So, when I first started teaching martial arts here in Australia, I'd moved from having three clubs in New Zealand, with coaches and school halls and all the rest of it, to moving over to Australia.

And then I started teaching in my garage, and then quickly from that I went to a tin shed, and over a period of about 20 years, we've gone from the tin shed to what we have now, as I see it a very professional, high-end martial arts academy.

We've put in Fuji mats, we've put in a cage, we've got top-level cardio equipment, we've got top-level weights equipment, recovery center – so, ice pods, infrared sauna, massage therapists, physiotherapists, fitness rooms, the private PT studios, the lot. It's not just a martial arts school in the school hall, it's taking it to the next level of professionalism.

And in doing that, we've had to look at staff contracts, insurances, all the different things that you don't actually take into account when you're in a school hall. And sure, you have to have insurances and things in place, but do you need this type of insurance or this type of insurance?

Do you need to have 20 million public liability insurance or 10 million public liability insurance? Do you have to have product insurance? Do you have to have insurance to cover your income? Do you have to have insurance to cover fidelity? All sorts of bits and pieces. Do you cover your staff for all sorts of weird and wonderful things? So, it's taken a lot of time to go through and get to that point… But we're there now.

GEORGE: You there? Yeah, I remember we started having this conversation… Jeez, how long ago? It's been a few years, right?

ROSS: Yep. Yeah.

GEORGE: So, how many years in the making? I mean, not the planning – the physical actually putting it together?

ROSS: Ah, well, it's probably two to three years of actually putting it all together. It's not a quick process.

GEORGE: I'd love to dive into all the technicalities and details of, like, if you're a school owner, and you're looking at taking your business to the next level and elevating your brand, and upgrading your facilities, and being this premier school, and the process you've taken, like, the technicalities that often get overlooked. Just take us again through the facility because you left out one big part. What's in the gym, right?

ROSS: Right. So, we have a building that’s ours. Our gym is about 650 square meters. Below that is a high-end bar. Behind us is a five-star French restaurant, we have a coffee roaster, a brewer, a French patisserie kitchen, coffee shop, all in the facility.

GEORGE: Right. So, now that brings up a lot of questions. First up is – how many students arrive to class and never get up to the gym, because they are stuck in the bar?

ROSS: None, thank God.

GEORGE: Great!

ROSS: Although, they do go to the bar after.

GEORGE: Right. Their special punishment, if you're late, if you don't make it… begs the question, right? Why a bar? Why a coffee shop? What's the whole idea behind all the add-ons?

ROSS: It's trying to build a community, alright? And it's trying to have things that link into what will connect people to what we do. So, the bar is the social aspect. The coffee shop provides high-end coffee, cold brew, things that are really good for pre-workout and things like that.

And again, it's providing us a social atmosphere, where we can take the guys downstairs and have a coffee, have something to eat. People come in and spend the whole day around the gym, without actually having to go out anywhere.

GEORGE: Right. So, can you give us insight on a bit of the vision, and I think what we'll do, if it's okay with you, Ross; if you can do a bit of a video walkthrough after sometime and we'll add it onto this page where the podcast is hosted.

So, you could go to martialartsmedia.com/125 and catch the video there, because that will give you a… We were on one of our Partners coaching calls and Ross was there and he took us through the whole gym. Took up most of the coaching call, but everyone was really wowed, just by its… I mean, there's nothing I can compare to, which is just what makes it so fascinating.

So, what was the whole vision behind it? You mentioned community and it brings the whole community together, but what's the whole vision behind the new Fightcross?

ROSS: Well, martial arts as a way of life? So, the whole vision is actually that whole encompassing community. So, that's why we have a recovery center, as well as why we have the physios and the message therapists. That's why we have the PTs.

People can come in the door and do a workout, they can recover, they can eat good food, and it's all organic. It's not rubbish food, like the average pub food. It's all organic food. We've got the microbrewery on site that actually brews here with, again, organic, that whole encompassing vision is where we've gone.

GEORGE: Gotcha. What are you doing differently now, with the new – the whole new environment than you used to do just with running classes and so forth?

ROSS: Well, I'm trying to get out of doing all the work – hiring staff and doing those things. So, we have multiple styles in the gym. So, we have boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Japanese jiu jitsu, judo, taekwondo, karate we have, and then MMA, and everyone's got to fit in, we have like 72 classes a week, including pilates and yoga and so.

We've got a lot more of a community pull, because we have all these other add-on sessions.

GEORGE: Is there something you do differently to build the community when you've got all these various styles, and you attract a different caliber or type of person that resonates to these different styles?
 

ROSS: Yeah, you have to be more on the ball with the community building, as in… I spend a lot of my time now actually, just talking to people, that connection between them and me, it has to be really good because if I'm not taking all the classes, they lose contact with who you are and what you do, and all that sort of stuff.

So, you've got to spend the time around the facility, meeting with people, talking with people, building the community by organizing, like we're doing David Goggins' 4x4x48 as part of a team, we'll have a barbecue the whole weekend, we'll do all those things. And just constantly doing that sort of stuff, rather than just here I'm at the class, here's the grading barbecue and away we go.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And that's where a bar just works well as well, right? Because it brings the community together.

ROSS: Yep, yep, yep. So, even some of our little social club meetings, a Friday night sparring session, Friday nights, lots of the guys just go downstairs have a beer and a burger and then toddle off on home.

GEORGE: Love it. Alright, so, let's get into the nuts and bolts, right? I mean, what goes into this? So, first up, you have this, you have this vision, and now you have to get work, and turn the vision into reality, right? So, what sort of, what are some of the first few steps and how do you go about all this?

ROSS: Besides all the planning, dreaming and sketching, and all that sort of stuff, you get a building or you lease a building or whatever. The first thing you should do; we were finding the zoning, and making sure you have council zoning to be able to run a sport and rec facility. Step one. If you don't have sport and rec, you can be closed down by the council at any moment. Any moment.

GEORGE: Before you continue, I think, and you pointed at it, right? After the planning? So, I think we shouldn't just brush over that part, right? You've got this vision, what goes into the planning? And you've got a bit of experience in this type of thing as well.

ROSS: Yep, I'm an engineer by trade. So, planning is the key to everything. So, planning out how your building's going to look, the layout of your building, your color schemes, which mats you're going to have, what cage you're going to have, what staff you're going to require, what classes you're going to have, how you're going to get the stuff into the building, when you have to get the stuff into the building…

When you have to have your insurances in place, when your staff has to come on board, what contracts you need for your staff, whether or not you've got enough insurance to cover your product in your pro shop, and the equipment on the floor – whether or not you've got enough to handle the – if it all goes bad. Having a game plan B, C, and D. Yeah, there's lots to go into it – many moving parts.

GEORGE: Right, now there – plan B, C, and D played a big role, right? Because…

ROSS: Oh, yeah!

GEORGE: We were expecting the big old COVID to come around.

ROSS: Yep. So, we had an eight-month delay in actually getting into the building, due to building issues, due to COVID. So, in that time, we've had to, to go to game plan B, C, and D. We were doing things like running out of one of my franchises, we were running out of the coffee shop next door taking classes.

So, we had a local community, we were doing stuff in the park, we were doing bootcamp type stuff. All these bits come into play, so that we could keep community involvement here in the natural area where the gym is.

GEORGE: Alright, let's continue the journey, we’ve done the planning, we're getting all the infrastructure set up. Where do we go from here?

ROSS: So, I still think the first thing you should make sure is your building has got, one; before you sign the lease, or before you buy the building, check the zoning! Make sure that you have the correct zoning, because if the council comes along and shuts you down? You're shut down. Happened to one of my franchises, that the zoning got changed once, and they had to go and get an environmental impact study done on the traffic coming to the gym, to prove that they could stay. And it cost him about $25,000 just to do that.

So, I would make sure that that's a big tip to start with. Once you've got that, then you can start the nitty gritty into, like, what classes do you want to run, because that'll tell you what equipment you require. What sort of a gym you want to be – if you want to have weights, and you want to have, we want to be a CrossFit, box, and a martial arts gym – or if you want to be a health and fitness center, and a martial arts studio.

And then you can start planning out your equipment. Once you've got your equipment, then you can start planning out what sorts of insurances you need, what classes you're going to need, the staffing you're going to require for those.

And then you start going into if you need new staffing – are they casual? Are they permanent? How are they… are you going to pay PAYG? Are you going to have to pay supers? Are you going to have to do all those things? Are you going to… and your contracts that you require for those? Each one takes time, takes energy and takes effort. Even if you have good lawyers, and I've got good lawyers, you still have to make sure that you check all your T's and dot all your I's. So…

GEORGE: What issues did you run into that were completely unexpected, and that you particularly hadn't planned for? Or planned for?

ROSS: COVID?

GEORGE: Right. We didn't see that one coming, right?

ROSS: Yeah. And the effect COVID had on delays meant that the staff that I had organized, a lot of them were not here, not available when we actually got to moving into the gym. So, I've had that reshuffle of staffing and organizing things that has taken me longer, because of the fact that the delay was there.

Council approvals took longer than expected, building compliance took longer than expected. All those things that you think, “Oh, yeah, we'll just get it ticked off and it's… Oh no, these Braille signs are not in the right place. This fire exit needs another sign. That door swings the wrong way.” All those little bits and pieces just take time and take energy.

GEORGE: How do you go about your employment contracts and accounting and so forth? And I mean, if we can talk about budgeting as well, how did you go about all that?

ROSS: Accountants are great. If you have a good accountant, they'll make your business. We did a whole financial modeling. So, we sat down and we went through and we worked out, you know, our cash flow, our spending, funding the equipment, not funding the equipment, funding staff, how long that's going to take to ramp up the numbers to get to where we want to be…

So, we did a 2 to 5-year cash flow, then we could sit down and go, “Right. What other issues do we have here? As an accountant, what do you see?” And they always go, “You know, the next level is your staffing is going to cost you.” You got to make sure that you get your contracts right, you got to make sure that you are planning to hire slow, fire fast.

Make sure that you're looking after your people, but make sure that they're not costing you money. And contracts for your staff – again, it's that – are they casual? Are they permanent? Getting the technicalities of your employment contracts correct. I'm lucky, I've got – not only do I have good lawyers, I actually have an employment contract lawyer as a member in the gym, so I was able to go, “Tell me what I need to look at. Now go to my lawyers and say, ‘now write this'.”

And it's interesting to see all the little intricacies that you've got to have in there. And then you've got to worry about your contractors. So, if you have a guy who takes two BJJ classes a week, and if he's a contractor, you need to have a contract with him. It's not just, “Hey, mate, I know you're a BJJ black belt, can you take a couple of classes for me?” “Ah, yeah, it's 50 bucks a class.” “No worries.” It's not that easy these days, because if you do it wrong, it bites you on the ass.

GEORGE: And what could go wrong with that, because I think a lot of people do that, right? They just, you've got the top guy at the school and you're like, “Alright, we'll give you a couple of bucks to run the classes.” What's the downside?

ROSS: Well, number one, he could open a gym down the road, even though that's technically a breach of what's called fiduciary duties. So, they're not allowed to do that, but they do.

GEORGE: … because that's never happened before, has it?

ROSS: Never happened at all! That, if you have your contracts in place, that's going to cover your bum for that sort of thing. You can't stop them from opening a martial arts school, but you can stop them opening a martial arts school within a certain area to compete with you. So, there's the, sort of the fine line of understanding what they're allowed to do and what they're not allowed to do. And you only know that through experience or lawyers.

GEORGE: Very important, yeah.

ROSS: And as the contractors, you know, do they have their insurance? Do they have their first aid certificate, do they have…? And by signing the contract, you get them to agree that they have all these things in place. And then when there's verbal involved, it never lasts. If it's written, you can go back to that writing. Contracts, contracts, contracts!

GEORGE: Right.

ROSS: Like an engineer does it.

GEORGE: Now, how did you decide between… because you've got this massive organization that runs, I mean, morning, you said from 6am to?

ROSS: 5:30am to 9pm.

GEORGE: 5:30 to 9. Alright, and there's lots happening, so, you've got permanent staff, you've got casual staff, contractors. How did you decide on who you need? And did you work on a ratio, or like the ratio of students? How do you determine what staff you really need?

ROSS: What I worked on is actually the skill bases that I require to cover the multiple disciplines. So, my boxing coach that I have as a contractor, he's a boxing coach, he's a CrossFit coach. He used to fence for Australia at an Olympic level. He's done Muay Thai and karate. So, he covers multiple bases. The same with my BJJ coach. The BJJ coach, I haven't, he's, not only is he a BJJ black belt, he's also a karate black belt.

My PTs that I have, they tend to have boxing or kickboxing backgrounds, as well as being PTs. So, we've got even down to some of the reception sort of staff. I have one receptionist, a remedial massage therapist, so he can cover multiple angles for me. Sit down, work out the skill bases, then try and find the people that will fit those skill bases.

GEORGE: And then what about culture?

ROSS: That's a huge thing. Culture is a huge thing – and culture comes from the top. So, you have to drive the culture and what you want and how you want people to act and behave and talk – even down to talking. So, all the boys have their locker talk and things like that – if I catch them having locker talk anywhere in the gym, I shut that down straight away. You know, I want a large percentage of my clients to be female.

So, I'm not letting the locker talk go on in the gym and things like that. So, I set the rules, and I'm told I'm pretty hard on people. But I think it will be hard to see the culture that you want from the beginning. Tell people how you expect to be treated, and then expect them to come up to that standard.

GEORGE: And what's your strategy with that? Are you just, I mean, you just, I know you're pretty straightforward with a smile on your face, right? But is that just your approach? You just go out and tell people, “That's not cool,” pull them aside?

ROSS: That's it. I like the military principle. I don't tell people off in front of other people. I'll pull them aside and have a word with them. But I pick when I do it as well, and try not to do it so it's too obvious, or if they're making a fool of themselves, when they shouldn't be and something's dangerous? I'll say something then.

GEORGE: Alright, are you going to open a big center like this again? Another one?

ROSS: Oh, yes.

GEORGE: Oh, yes. Right, cool. Great. What would you do differently this time, if anything?

ROSS: Avoid COVID. Probably more planning, more control over certain parts that I just let other people do. One of the big things that I've learned out of this, and I'm a big believer in doing this anyhow, is to learn every job. I don't need to do it, but I need to understand how every job works.

Then if someone's not doing their job, I can point it out and I can just tell them how I want it done or, but I've got to know every job. Handy being an engineer, because that means I look at all those things and get most of it. So, yeah, but that would be more planning and more understanding of every bit that goes into it, before I get the person to look after it.

GEORGE: That means marketing too, right?

ROSS: Absolutely. Yep. Marketing is one of the things that I've had other people do before. And I'm a believer in that I should show you your job, tell you your job, let you do it. And if you don't come up to the tee, I'm going to crack across the knuckles.

I've had a few guys that have done that for me, where they've come up and then just disappeared, or they've gone and hidden from me, because they know that the knuckle breaks are coming. You've got to be able to hand over the job to somebody at some point. Otherwise you spend 24 hours a day doing every job. You still need to understand every job, you just don't need to do every job.

GEORGE: Yeah, and so, I mean, that's something that I deal with a lot, just with marketing. And I think it's, obviously if you're a school owner and you've got all this on your plate, and now you've got to handle marketing…

I mean, it's just easier to hand it off to someone and say, “Can you do it?” That's great. The problem is, if you don't know the strategy, you've actually just handed over the drive and the growth of your business to a person or foreign entity. And if they don't perform, as they do, your business is crippled right there.

And this is, I guess, my big pet peeve with, sometimes with agencies, because they can start out, you know, or the go-to guy that is doing all these great things, decides to do your marketing for you, and he does well…

But then he realizes, “Alright, well, I'm going to make a business out of this. I'm a good marketer. Maybe I'm not a good business owner.” And most agency owners would know when you get about 10, 20 clients – you better have your systems in place. So, the person that was your go-to guy becomes your not so go-to guy. And again, you're looking for the new one.

ROSS: Yep. Yeah. And exactly it with agencies – it's exactly the same as if you have – and every martial arts school works the same sort of way. They all work on their community. So, Joe Bloggs knows how to do this stuff, “Can you give it a crack for me?” And then later down the track, it doesn't work.

So, you've got to know how to do the job and then have some KPIs in place that you can check and all the rest of it and have control over it all. You don't want to hand that control over to somebody, so you get an agency doing it, and they're doing everything for you. You've got no control over it at all. Suddenly, you've got no data, you've got no information that you require to keep your systems moving.

GEORGE: Yeah, and I think there's a special place in hell for agency owners that set up your accounts on their business – their own Google accounts, their own Facebook business managers, and they run your ads or keep your data and your accounts hostage. And so, you walk away with nothing. And that's a real thing. I couldn't believe that was a real thing, but that's actually a real thing.

ROSS: Yeah, I've seen it on multiple levels, and the same sort of thing. Not just Facebook marketing, but in other areas of marketing, where they just keep everything and keep it hostage until either you pay them what they want to get paid, or they just take it and go.

GEORGE: Crazy stuff, right? So, Ross, I mean, it's, I feel it's always the lame question, right? But it's such a topic that, you know, you've got such an extensive knowledge on all this, and I just want to make sure I get all the information from you. Is there something I should be asking you that I haven't asked yet?

ROSS: No, I think sort of the next thing for us will be our ongoing marketing campaigns and planning out our year. Month by month by month, week by week by week by week, when we have to have our marketing running by, when we're having our campaigns and how we're planning those little bits. Sounds funny, but the artwork and the copy, once you've got it right, it's easy.

The planning and execution of when you need to execute it at the right time, because you can always put out an ad, and whether that ad is actually beneficial for the timing is the issue. So, if you run it, run your Christmas special in August, it's not going to work. But if you run your Christmas Special, four weeks, six weeks out from Christmas, you've got a bit of lead time up and you've got the groundswell hit just before Christmas, it's perfect timing.

Same with your February fitness or your New Year's resolution stuff. If you're trying to do that, July, it doesn't work, you know, everyone's hunkering down for the winter and they're not thinking about getting out and moving and doing all those bits and pieces.

So, timing is the important part for your marketing, understanding your market, understanding when you have to hit the go button. And then having a process from that, that says, I need my artwork ready by this date. I need my wording by this date, I need to have my flyers printed on this day. I need them distributed by hand by here to be able to get the result I want on this date.

So, all that sounds, and it sounds very easy. But you've got to have the systems in place to make it happen, because if you don't have the systems in place, you just won't do it.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. I want to ask you, just because you touched on design, how important do you feel is the design from top-level through to your social media? And how do you combine it?

ROSS: So, design's really important. So, I go down to, and this is a bit old, I don't have business cards anymore, but it used to go down to how the business card felt in your hand – the paper, the weight, the gloss, if it was embossed or not. So, your design and everything being the same image, the same look, the same feel is so important.

Because if you haven't got an even playing field when it comes to that, and you drop the ball on an ad that doesn't look anything like what you actually do? And I see it quite a bit in, well, the classic is you see ads out there that don't have their phone number, or their email address, or… there was a fight show here in Queensland that wrapped up a whole bus with just their name and all the rest of it, and didn't have a website, didn't have a phone number, didn't have when the event was, no details on the bus.

The bus drove around for about eight weeks before the fight show with no real marketing material on. So, it's that, little things. I'm quite lucky I have a graphic designer that I use in Japan. He's been a student of mine for many years, and he always looks at the little things and goes, “Oh, you've missed out your phone number here,” or, “You can't notice where your address is,” or… And everything you do, say, leaving off your website on a flyer.

GEORGE: Yeah, we were just chatting about this on the coaching call, Partners coaching call yesterday. But I think what, just to add to that, things that are so important, we were talking about timing, you know, your frame. We always say change the frame, you know, don't necessarily have to change your offer, just change the frame – that your frame is relevant.

You know, what is the talk? What are people talking about right now? Is it Mother’s Day, Easter, etc.? And then one of the mistakes we always see on any ad or any promotion is no call-to-action. It's like, here's the ad, but like, what the hell do I do to get this thing?

And then, just lastly, the wrong call-to-action on the wrong platform, because if you've got this super spanky flyer, that's really great when you hold it in your hand, and it's got a phone number. But when you see it on social media, you look at the phone number. If I'm on my phone, I can't click it. I can't type. I can't write it down. There's nothing I can do. So, it goes into the “I'll check it out later” basket, which means there goes your lead.

ROSS: Yep, exactly. On social media, you've got to have your links on your email address, on your email campaigns, have your links to things. Big mistake, I see it all the time, and not just martial arts businesses, you see it by some big businesses doing, making huge mistakes.

GEORGE: And so, just what Ross was mentioning on branding, I think what's important here – just to add on that aspect – if you're running campaigns back to back, and you have a brand identity and people can see, can you see this… I always look at Apple, you know. You don't have to know, you don't have to see an Apple logo to know it's Apple. It's just got this; the colors and the design speak for itself.

If people are seeing your ads all the time, you know, and they might not respond to this month's campaign, next month, the third month. But if you've got a design and a concept that people resonate with, and they see – when they're ready, whenever that is and they see your ad, there's a bit of a trust factor that's been built, just because they're familiar, the familiarity of your brand. So yeah, definitely important to keep that congruent from top down.

ROSS: Yeah, the classic with that is Coca Cola. You know, they don't have to change a lot, but they still have to market. So, yeah, you know what, you know what's a Coca Cola brand. You know, what's – the colors, the look, the flow. But, yeah.

GEORGE: So, Ross, what's next? 

ROSS: What's next? 

GEORGE: What's next for Ross and Fightcross? 

ROSS: So, for the next 12 months, it's consolidation. We're aiming to have somewhere between 500 and 1000 members of the facility here. And then I'm looking to purchase some more buildings and expand. So, that's the plan. 

GEORGE: Now, if you don't mind sharing, wrapping some numbers around this, what budget do you set aside? I mean, what budget did you set aside for your current location and when people see the video, they'll get a good aspect of what it's about, and how would you be budgeting for the next round? 

ROSS: So, I've spent, and fitout-wise, I've spent about $250,000 in fitout. So, it's not a cheap fitout. 

GEORGE: So, everyone will see why. Yep, yeah.

ROSS: Yeah. And it's what you're trying to achieve with your building and your fitout, like I say, even down to choosing the mats. I chose the Firmimats, and I chose the traditional Tammy Green matte finish, and all the rest of it, for the right look. So, I've spent extra dollars to make sure I got the right look and the right feel, because it's so important. 

GEORGE: Epic! Well, Ross, great catching up again, and would love to catch up again when, yeah, maybe not in the next location, but just in between and just chat about your experience with running the business and how things are going. Any last words? How can people find out more about you? We haven't even spoken about the events and things that you run. But where can people find out more about you?

ROSS: I'm all over social media so ‘Ross Cameron MMA' on Instagram, ‘Fightcross Ross Cameron' on Facebook, Aftershock, lockdown, hammer fight nights. They're there. They're all over social media. So, at one stage I did a lot of social media work. 

GEORGE: That's cool. Awesome. Great. Thanks so much. I'll speak to you soon. 

ROSS: No worries, yes!

 

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122 – From UFC Fight Pass To Dana White’s Contender Series ( With Ben Vickers )

Ben Vickers shares his UFC journey, from Eternal MMA’s 14 fight shows on UFC Fight Pass, to Scrappy MMA’s Jack Della Maddalena winning his fight on The Dana White’s Contender Series.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How the UFC ‘Walks the Talk’ and raises the bar in the industry 
  • Molding fighters through collaborative coaching style
  • Australian champion Jack Della Maddalena’s martial arts success story
  • Creating a pathway into the UFC for Australian fighters 
  • How to navigate flights and borders during restrictions
  • The journey to Dana White’s Contender series
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

I actually think the key and the secret is they're so close as a team that they all want to lift each other up. I never have issues on the mats with ego. Everyone's just there to get better. And it's really proving the results now.

The guys are self-motivated. I don't need to beg them to come into the gym. They're there. They want to be there, and they want to be the best. And they're prepared to put the work in, and it's showing. There is no secret. It's hard work, it's good quality coaching, and it's teamwork.

GEORGE: Hey, George here. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. So, I've got a repeat guest today. Ben Vickers from Eternal MMA and Scrappy MMA. How are you doing today, Ben?

BEN: Yeah, I'm good. I'm good. I'm enjoying the sunshine in the backyard, so happy day.

GEORGE: Well, last time we spoke, we were grabbing a coffee, but last time we spoke on the podcast, podcast 87, we spoke about Eternal MMA. You just got a deal with the UFC, UFC Fight Pass to have all your shows and everything featured. And I was at… Actually, I just bought a ticket yesterday to Eternal MMA.

Yeah. So Ben and the team run an epic show, Eternal MMA. Real top quality production, great fighters. Kind of see now how you've got to deal with the UFC, but wanted to bring you on to chat about the new development that's happened.

And I guess I could just leave it to you before I maybe go down the wrong path with it. So how have things evolved with the UFC from the last time we spoke?

BEN: It's like anything in business really, I'm learning. I'm a self-investing accidental businessman. I had a passion for martial arts. I competed, and then just by natural progression, I ended up owning an academy, coaching fighters, and then running an MMA event.

So I kind of happened upon this business world, but as I am noticing now, it takes time to establish these business relationships and stuff. So I guess for the last… Since 2019, when we did the October Melbourne event, Eternal 48 debuted on Fight Pass, we've done 14 shows with the UFC. We have regular communications with them. We have a monthly call with them where they fill us in on what they need from us, what they want from us, how we are doing.

And we're doing very well. We're one of the strongest events on the platform. We get great viewership all across the world, which is a testament to the matchmaking because we show in a very bad time zone for the U.S.

Our shows go live sort of 4:00 and 7:00 AM East and West Coast. Sorry, that was the wrong way around. So it's normally 4:00 on the West Coast and 7:00 AM in the East. So it's not a great viewership time for the U.S. market, but we seem to be attracting attention there, which must state that we are doing something right, and people enjoy the entertainment that Eternal's providing.

We've got a big viewership in Europe now. We're the second highest performing platform on show outside of the UFC in Europe, sort of a non-European show, should I say. So everything's going really well, and we're really happy with our partnership.

We've got another deal locked in for next year, and we're in the process of signing another TV deal with another massive sports company. One of the… Probably the foremost sports platform in the world. So things are looking good for Eternal.

GEORGE: Great. Well, congrats I'd say, first and foremost. Does it conflict with the… So you mentioned you got moving… Well, you signed the additional deal. How does that work with the UFC? Do the contracts conflict in any way, or-

BEN: They do.

GEORGE: Do they complement each other?

dana white's contender series

BEN: They definitely complement each other. The company that we are going to work with works closely with the UFC as well. That's how we've been able to do the deal, so the deal's not signed yet, so I won't say too much about it, but it's in the latter stages of getting signed.

But yeah, there is synergy there, and what's been really nice for our partnership with the UFC is they've actually gone outside of scope a couple of times and sort of waved the exclusivity clause on a couple of things for us, which is kind of unheard of in the market, especially with the UFC being such a juggernaut. They don't normally do that, so they genuinely believe in the term partnership.

In business, partnership, teamwork, gets thrown around all the time by people that want things, I feel, but the UFC sort of really seem to be living up to that, which is great to see. I think in business these days, a lot of people promise you a lot of things, and from my experience, people very rarely deliver, and that's at the core of my business values is delivering on what I say I'm going to deliver on, and I expect the same thing from people that I'm going to work with and partner with.

So it's really nice to see that such a big company has the same respect for us, and it's a two way street, which is probably the first time in my experience that that's ever happened.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's great to hear. They definitely walk the talk. I mean, if you look at all the reporters and all the media, the negative press they get from obviously people trying to chip at the biggest player and critiquing how they pay for their fighters, you see a lot of negativity come around and it's good to hear from someone that's actually in the trenches, working with them on how the partnership is complementing your business and the direction where you guys go.

BEN: Yeah, I don't think you can be as successful as they are without being good at what you do, and you're going to moan about fighter pay and stuff like this, but if you look at what the UFC has done for the sport, I'm probably not sat here if they haven't made the sport as big as what it is because there's that flow down effect, and they're putting in front of everybody's eyes which is filling my gym, which is inspiring people to want to take up martial arts, which is inspiring people to want to come and watch local MMA and see.

And now we've created this pathway. We've had a couple of fighters go from Eternal champion into the UFC, so now we're creating a pathway where people go, “Well, hang on. If I fight in Eternal and I become the champ, there's a chance I can go and fulfill my dreams, and the UFC might pick me up.” So it's nice to have created that pathway for Australia, for Australian martial artists, and hopefully we can start hammering a few more people into the UFC and really get Australian MMA…

Although it's pretty well on the map, I think we can… I think the standard of martial arts and MMA in particular is super high in this country right now, and there's a lot of talent out there, so hopefully we can get that to the big show.

GEORGE: Yeah, so let's talk about that and your most recent trip. I mean, one thing I noticed at Eternal MMA, which is what I didn't know, is you have a bench of really strong fighters. I mean, all the guys from Scrappy MMA that were part of the event were just really, really good to watch.

So you've definitely developed a great team of fighters yourself. So what do you account that for? Is it just experience or is it also painting this pathway, and your team being able to see more of what is actually possible in the sport?

BEN: For me, I believe that… See, I don't think I'm necessarily a great coach. I think I know what I know, and I know how to put that across. I have a collaborative coaching style. I have a lot of very experienced, very talented fighters. We work together.

So their input is taken on board by me. We'll often sit and talk about positions or things that happen in fights and brainstorm it with all the brains that are around, come to the best solution, practice that, make that part of the game, and then move on to the next position that we want to discuss.

So that's a big part of the collaborative coaching effort. It's not a dictatorship. The guys don't turn up and go, “Right, you're doing this, this and this and this.”

We sort of get our minds together. There's many years of experience on my mats now. I have a hugely experienced team of high level guys, so I tap into their knowledge base as much as possible.

BEN: But what I actually think is the key and the secret is they're so close as a team that they all want to lift each other up. I never have issues on the mats with ego. Everyone's just there to get better, and it's really proving the results now. The guys are self-motivated.

I don't need to beg them to come into the gym. They're there. They want to be there, and they want to be the best. And they're prepared to put the work in, and it's showing.

There's no secret. It's hard work. It's good quality coaching, and it's teamwork.

GEORGE: Yeah. Awesome.

BEN: So that's my key.

GEORGE: Love it. So I don't know how much you could talk about your recent trip to the States?

Jack Della

BEN: That's all… So we… Jack Della who… If any of you don't know who Jack Della Maddalena is, he's been Australian champion on Eternal since 2016. He's got a really interesting story.

He started his career 0-2, losing his first two fights. And then we had a conversation after that, and I basically said, you're too good to be 0-2. Let's set the goal that we're going to get 10 straight wins.

We're going to move to 10-2, and we're going to laugh about this period in a few years’ time. So Jack went 9-2. I don't know if you were there for that one where he knocked out Aldin Bates in spectacular fashion at the HBF Stadium in 72 seconds avenging his first pro MMA loss, and that was his last fight regionally.

And since then, Dana White's Contender Series and the UFC came in and gave Jack a match on week three of this season's Dana White Contender Series, so if you go on UFC Fight Pass, Dana White Contender Series, season five, week three, Jack's on there. He fought an incredibly talented fighter out of Sanford MMA, which is home to Gilbert Burns and Michael Chandler. Kamaru Usman used to train there.

A bunch of high level guys down there, and we went from little old Perth, and we cut the head off the juggernaut, and Jack sort of demolished this guy. It was a three round fight, and the guy hung in there, but he got his ass kicked for pretty much 90% of the fight.

Jack had Dana on his feet at the end of the fight and a round of applause. Basically Dana White Contender Series is a trial, so if you win your fight and he's impressed with you, he's going to sign you to the UFC. So Jack was awarded the contract that night, and we now have a matchup for early Jan in the UFC for Jack to make his UFC debut.

So it's been an epic, epic few weeks. I've done two weeks in the States which was great, and then I've subsequently completed a month. Well, almost completed. Today is my last day of my month quarantine back here in Perth Australia.

GEORGE: Great, so I mean, congrats to both of you and for really putting, I guess, Perth on the map officially as having a fighter in the UFC as well. So, how does that go from here for you? The fights, the travels, the whole agreement?

BEN: Yeah, so Jack signed a four fight deal with the UFC. Those deals are very one sided so that if Jack had one fight and the UFC decided they didn't want him anymore, they would cut him, but he is tied in for the four. So it's very biased towards the company; however, we know that. You know that when you get involved.

GEORGE: It's your foot in the door.

BEN: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, foot through the door, and if Jack goes out and does what he's capable of doing, then his contract will improve quickly, and for us, it's never been about cash. It's always been about being the best in the world, and I firmly believe that Jack Della Maddalena is going to win the welterweight championship in the UFC. So that is the goal now. That is the new goal is to hit the rankings first, get top 15, and then push towards the title.

With the travel and stuff, I mean, most of the fights are going to be stateside at least for the foreseeable future, so I guess it just depends on what happens in the world and where we're at come January as to how much of an ordeal it's going to be, or whether it's going to be…

It would be really nice to just fly out there, do what we need to do, and then come home and just slot back into normal life, but I understand that's probably not going to be the case. Jan, maybe later on in the year, but as long as we can get out there, we can have the fight, we'll worry about the rest of the stuff.

GEORGE: So, I have to ask for anyone in the world listening that's not familiar with how Australia works, but you know, in Perth we're pretty stuck in our state, but we can't actually leave. You can't come in and you can't leave. So big the question, how the hell did you get out?

BEN: Getting out was actually easy. We got the sporting exemption. The UFC is obviously a very powerful entity, so they have lawyers, and they can make these things happen. Seems very strange to me that sports and celebrities get the free will to travel where there's people that have domestic problems, and it doesn't sit very well with me, but I wasn't going to turn it down out of principle.

At the end of the day, we were granted the exemptions to leave, so we left. The problems were when we came back to Australia. Getting out was fairly easy. Once we touched back down on Australian shores, it was a bit more complicated.

GEORGE: In which way?

BEN: No one knows what's going on. No one knows what the rules are. And this is entirely not the people on the ground's fault.

It's obvious there's a lack of direction from the top level feeding down to the employees who are enforcing this stuff. So you get told 10 different things about the same question from five different people. Everyone's a bit confused as to what the rules are, what the rules aren't.

So we did the two weeks hotel quarantine, which was expected. We kind of knew that that was on the cards. They lock you in a twin bedroom with an on suite for two weeks with no opening windows, and it's a little bit inhumane to me, like why you can't have a window and no fresh air for two weeks.

And the room we were in, unfortunately, got no sunlight because it was on a curve. The building was curved, and the sun never hit our side of the curve. So no sunlight, fresh air for two weeks was interesting, but we kind of prepared ourselves for that.

And then getting back to Perth, that's another problem all in itself. New South Wales, especially, is viewed as Chernobyl in this country at the moment, but we managed to get our passes signed off to come back home to Perth, which was great.

It's kind of a weird conversation to be having with someone, to ask if you can come home, but we were eventually allowed home, and I'm just completing my two weeks home quarantine. So it'll be a six week trip for a 15 minute flight, which is a lot of effort.

GEORGE: Yeah, so that begs the question, right? Because if that's going to be the norm, how do you do that? Do you relocate? Does Jack relocate? How do you…

BEN: No, I think… I could be being overly optimistic, but I think that this is about to come to an end in some way shape or form. The vaccine numbers are creeping up towards where the government wants them to be. International travel is about to start again. They're talking about home isolation as opposed to hotel isolation. So I think it is going to improve, but I'm very committed to Jack and the sport and Jack.

If I didn't believe so strongly in Jack, it might be a different story, but I firmly believe that he's going to be a world champ, and I'm prepared to do whatever I have to do to help him make that happen. And he's the same way, so if we have to sit for a month in quarantine, after every fight for the foreseeable future, if it gets us to the goal, then that's what we'll do.

I'm lucky that I've got such a good team at the gym, and I've got a business partner in Eternal that they can… Everything I can't do remotely they can look after, so I don't stress about the businesses and stuff while I'm away. And I just get the freedom to focus a hundred percent on what we're doing.

GEORGE: That's epic. How do you feel about this whole situation now that you've traveled? Like the way we are handling the COVID situation versus internationally? And there's two sides to this, right?

Because for most Australians, we feel like… I think in Perth, people feel pretty cool about everything because we just got freedom until you try and leave, right?

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: And then Queensland pretty much the same, but for most of us, we don't want to be in New South Wales and Victoria right now.

BEN: I think vaccinated, New South Wales isn't a bad place to be. I think they've just let all the clean people out and the dirty unvaccinated people must stay indoors for another couple of months, which is crazy as well. Yeah, I'm… Look, it's probably not the best conversation for me to have. I have pretty strong views on it, and they might not fit everyone else's. I'm not an anti this or anti that, I'm a pro doing what you feel is right for you.

So if vaccine's your method and your coping mechanism, I support you a hundred percent. If it isn't, I also support you a hundred percent. Just do what you feel is right for you. I'm blown away having been to America, which was supposed to be like this hotbed of COVID, and people are just cracking on and living a normal life over there.

I feel like it's been badly handled, if I'm honest. We had the jump on everybody else. We had hindsight, we had time to look at what was happening in the rest of the world. We used our geographical position as a safety net without any real thoughts of strategy or long term strategy.

We were just gloating to the rest of the world how good we had it over here in Australia, and now we are the worst in the world. So to me, that's poor leadership.

I feel like forcing people to do things they don't want to do medically is a very slippery slope, but I have no choice in the matter really at the end of the day. Comply or live a second rate life. Your options have become very limited, so it's a bit unfortunate this happened, and two years ago, we'd be sitting there having this conversation, and if we started bringing into to the conversation, you must have a vaccine or you won't be allowed to do this that and the other, well, we'd have thought we were both gone completely mad two years ago.

So it's funny how quickly it's changed. And essentially in two years, 50% of the world is now vaccinated against this, which is… It's crazy, but that's where we're at. So we just got to make the most of it, and do the best we can, navigate our way through this mind field and try and get out of it the other side as safely and healthily as possible.

GEORGE: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. What's next on the cards for you guys, just with everything that's going on? Is there a different structure in the team and how you are doing it, especially with the focus, having a fighter at that level?

Does the team adjust with training schedules to support, or is it just business as usual?

BEN: It's business as usual? Like Jack's part of the team, and when it's his turn to fight, we'll focus on him for the six weeks prior to his fight, exclusively, probably. He's on a slightly different time schedule to the rest of the boys, but I've got boys fighting in two weeks.

While I was in the States, Jack Becker went away and won the Australian title on the Gold Coast. He went on his own, and that's the confidence he had in his own skills. He didn't need his coach.

He was happy to go over there and beat an undefeated dude. Knock him out in the first round and take his title. So I've got him fighting November, which will probably be the last fighter I have out this year.

And then all the focus will be on Jack's training camp. He's got a UFC fight in Jan. So, no, we crack on as normal. And I'm hoping that Jack Becker defends his title.

He might follow Jack Della's footsteps next year into the international scene. He's definitely ready to go. And I've got a bunch of boys just chomping at the bit to get out there. So we'll all train together.

The team mentality stays. Jack's not a big time guy. He's humble. He'll be in the gym as normal, like nothing's changed. No, we just crack on. As far as Eternal's concerned, again, it's just business as usual.

It's been challenging these last two years. I'd say now trying to get at these shows across the line, and it's cost a lot of money to travel people around for no reason, and there's been umpteen challenges, but Eternal has grown and gone from strength to strength as well during the pandemic, so all these challenges just help you get better at doing what you do.

We think on our feet now, so when something comes up, we've always got contingency plans in place. We know so-and-so might not get here, so who's going to fill in, and have we got the people on the back burner and sometimes we might give you a little retainer to stay ready for just in case, and we're sort of trying to future proof the business as best as possible and get as many good fights on as we can and, and keep doing what we're doing.

GEORGE: You're definitely doing that. On the contingency type plans, I was curious, what is the plan when you have the show scheduled for X date and government decides, hang on, we got a case and we're shutting the city down, which happens-

BEN: It happens, yeah.

GEORGE: What is the plan? Is it just shift to the next weekend? Or how do the venues compensate and work with you in that situation?

BEN: The venues don't really compensate. Everyone's sort of covering their own ass, if you like, at the moment. So what we'll do is we'll pencil dates in the distance.

So say that Perth was an example around February, our February show. Perth went into lockdown, and it came out of lockdown the day the show was supposed to take place, so I moved the show 16 hours, and I did it on Sunday. So it's just little things like that.

Once it gets canceled that late, boys are already cutting weight and stuff like that, so we want to try and keep it as close to the original date as possible so as not to mess around with the guy's health too much. So that's always my main concern is making these fights happen as close to the original date as possible.

But the last Gold Coast show was postponed numerous times. I think it went on the third date that we planned it for.

GEORGE: Wow.

BEN: It's just having the dates in the diary, speaking with venues, and venues understand the scenario, so they let you multiple pencils, and if people are canceling their events and you can slot in then we'll do that, and it's just being reactive really. I mean, it's a very tricky space at the moment. Imagine I've got a show on October the 30th, but if we have a lockdown on October the 29th, there's not much I can do about that.

Everything's in motion, everything's paid for everything. That's a tough one, but that's where insurance comes. And there are grants available from the government. They're hard to get, and they take a while, but if you qualify, which we haven't managed to receive one yet, then they'll compensate you for canceled events and stuff like that.

GEORGE: Got it.

BEN: You've just got to keep working. It's like anything. You want the result you want at the end, you just got to put your nose to the grindstone and make it happen.

That's all it is, is the extreme desire to make these events happen. It'd be easy to go, “Fuck it. I'm not doing anything for three months until this shit calms”, but you could be waiting three years.

GEORGE: Exactly.

Jack Della

BEN: You might as well just try and make… And we haven't… We fulfill our contracts every year with our broadcast contracts, the main COVID year, and then this year as well, we will fulfill our broadcast contracts, which is what… Like I said, at the start we promised we would deliver that, and it's important to us to…

I'm sure the UFC would understand if we didn't, given the circumstances, but it's never really been an option for me.

GEORGE: Yeah. I love that attitude. It's like survival of the fittest has taken on a new meaning. Like you just get it done. And I speak to a lot of school owners, and it's always frustrating when people have chosen…

I don't want to pick on anyone, but chose the backseat, chosen to… It's okay to not follow through and not succeed because X, Y, and Z.

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: Yeah, so it's not easy. It's complicated. It's definitely not easy. It's definitely not simple.

If you can navigate through this and manage to put all these different contingency plans in place with everything that you do, I think when everything's over and done and a bit more normal, whatever that is, you'll just operate at a whole another level.

BEN: Absolutely.

GEORGE: Yeah.

BEN: I always said to Cam, who's my Eternal business partner, I always said, “If we position ourselves right, and we play this right, we'll be in a very strong position at the end of this pandemic, and it's just literally a can-do mentality. Like whatever it takes to get the job done, and then having the support of commissions and people and years building up these relationships, they come to fruition when you need something from people, and you've been consistent in your behaviors and your delivery over the years, people are much more willing to help you out.

GEORGE: Yeah.

BEN: It's been a big collaborative effort from everyone involved, and I appreciate that. It is easy to go out, you know, “Let's just leave it. That's too difficult. Put it in the too hard basket, and move on.” But that's not how I operate. I like working under difficult circumstances. I like pressure. That's where I want to be.

GEORGE: Do you feel it kind of fires you up in a way?

BEN: I just like being in the thick of it. I don't like… Like for me, quarantine is the worst thing that could ever happen to me because I like being amongst it. I like shit to be happening all the time. That's just how I like to do it.

GEORGE: Love it.

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: Hey Ben, it's great catching up. For anyone listening, it's kind of… And I did chat about it in the last podcast episode, but it's actually funny how we met because our daughters go to the same daycare.

BEN: Yeah. They're all grown up now.

GEORGE: Yeah, growing up. Growing up and… Oh sorry, you've got a son as well that's growing up that's now in the same daycare. And I was just wearing the UFC shirt the one day Ben came in and it was like, “Hey, UFC”. And I could just… I looked at Ben, and it was like, yeah, he trains and-

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: That was the conversation.

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: And so I bump into Ben every so often just at the daycare, we have a bit of a rant or bump to his wife or at the local coffee shop which is Alex Junior.

Alex Junior Coffee

BEN: Alex Junior Coffee has the finest coffee in Perth.

GEORGE: There we go. Yeah. What is the full story behind the Dadbury? So, and for anyone listening, that's obviously… We're using terms here that are pretty not… Yeah, if you're not in Perth, sounds strange, but Padbury is a suburb. Go for it.

BEN: Padbury is where we live. It was the idea of one of the local dads that we should have a community of people, and what Dadbury does is get the dads together for one, but they've actually now got government grants and government funding. And what they do is they help people out in the suburbs. 

So say you might be a single mom and your garden's got away from you. The boys will come around on a Saturday, they'll dig your garden out. They've got a Bobcat and they'll… Or your roof's falling you in, and you can't afford…

So they're helping the local community, raising money for kids that are sick, cleaning the school grounds up, all kinds of stuff. It's just like a community, and anyone can sort of message the page who lives in Padbury or even I'm assuming, sort of the runnings of… But if you were the next suburb over, but you've been from it… It's just a community of dads that have different skill sets that…

My only skill set is I can rock up sometimes and lift some stuff and move some stuff around, and be a bit of a morale, making people laugh by falling over and being clumsy. But it's just a great group of people.

And I kind of have a little routine. The coffee shop, they built a coffee shop here, and it's become like the hub of the community. So after I drop the kids off in the morning to go to school, before I head down on the freeway to work, I'll drop in. I'll get my coffee.

I spend 10 minutes talking to the lads, whoever's around. It's a really nice suburb to live in. Like everyone sort of knows everyone's out for everyone, and being from London, I never really had that.

Everyone's too busy. Everyone's doing their own thing. No, one's really interested in what their neigh-… I didn't know the name of my neighbors, and they lived above me and beside me directly.

So it's really nice to walk around the suburb with the kids, and the kids play with other people's kids. You can sit and have a coffee, and it's a nice thing.

Community is very important to me and my gym is a community that I have, and now I have another community where I live, so I'm in a pretty good position for support. In quarantine, the lads come and drop coffee off at the doorstep for me.

GEORGE: Wow.

BEN: It's been amazing. They made sure to, when they saw Nat while I was away, make sure they didn't need anything. It's just nice to know that someone's got your back while you're away.

Obviously with traveling, it's going to become a bit more frequent for me now. It's nice to know that we live in a nice place where people are looking out. And I think if there could be more of that in society, then I think we'd all be in a much better spot.

GEORGE: Yeah, definitely. And I, I've got to admit it's… And I'm kind of sad I discovered that part before I moved, and I'm 10, 15 minutes away, but whenever we drop our daughter off, that's the first spot I go for coffee, and it's just got a great vibe to it, and it is kind of rare.

It's the first little hub that I've found in Perth that is very, very close and very… It's just got a different vibe to it. And that is rare in most places.

BEN: First time in my life I found it… Obviously, I was a soldier, so I was very transient, so I never really had a home base, and I never really had friends, loads of friends or a group or a community where I lived. It was more like at work.

And then when I went home on leave, I'd meet up with the other soldiers and you wouldn't really fraternize with your local community. So it's really nice for me, and it's probably the first time ever that I've had this sort of community vibe as an adult, and I think it's a great way to live because if you're…

Sometimes you feel shit, and there's a bloke down there you can just talk to. He doesn't really know that much about you, so it's quite an open sort of… Don't really… Yeah, so it's nice just to be able to get things off your chest, chat, and just have a laugh and some banter and push through the day.

But everyone knows that there's someone there if they need a shoulder to cry or they have some issues, then there's plenty of lads there to have a chat.

So I think it's important for men. Men don't talk enough, and I've had some mental health struggles in the last 18 months, and the support of those communities I have around me has been instrumental in getting through that, coming out the other side in a good spot. So find a community, whatever it is. Join a club.

I think men are terrible for just bottling everything up and drinking their way out of problems, and before you know it, bang, there's an explosion there.

GEORGE: Yeah, very, very true. I can vouch for that, and I think coming from a culture, South Africa culture which can be perceived as very stubborn and very hard in mindset just because of the circumstances of where you're from. But it's a lot of pride that goes into opening up and you always got to show up, be cool, be a hundred percent. Can't…

BEN: I mean, I think it's been great that Tyson Fury has come forward so heavily. For me, he's the greatest boxer of my generation. Definitely the greatest heavyweight of my generation, and what a human being.

I've never really met anyone that doesn't like him. He's been to the bottom. He's the baddest man on the planet, and he wanted to top himself, and here he is a week removed from one of the most amazing boxing fights you'll ever see, and he's flying, but he's a good advocate for… He's the baddest man on the planet, but he's able to stand there and go, “Yeah, I have mental issues, and I need to deal with it.”

So to have more advocates like that is fantastic, and it doesn't make you weak. There's this stupid stigma that us men have that we are weak if we have a problem. I was the worst for it.

I wouldn't tell anyone anything, but there's a reality check coming at some point in your life and you won't… It might… It chooses the right to time to come for you to work through it. So it happened to me at 40. It might happen at 50. It might happen at 60, but at some point, if you don't start getting rid of some of these demons or some of these problems or some of these issues, they're going to compound, and there's going to be an explosion, and there might be some collateral damage, so sooner or later, get it off your chest.

Find someone that you can confide in, and I think it's really important to do that.

GEORGE: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Hey Ben, next time I'll hit you up for some coffee, and next time we chat on the show, I think we'll start talking about bull champions. How about that?

BEN: Yeah, sounds good.

GEORGE: Or earlier.

BEN: Give me a few years. When was the last one? Couple years ago?

GEORGE: I was looking this morning, so it's episode number 87 for anyone who wants to listen. 2019.

BEN: Yeah, so a couple of years.

GEORGE: Yep.

BEN: Yeah, I reckon if we circle back in a couple of years, we'll be knocking on the door.

GEORGE: All right. We'll call this the Ben and George Show, episode two of 20.

BEN: Yeah, there we go.

GEORGE: It'll be slow. It'll be slow paced. We'll do it once a year, once every couple years, but yeah, we'll just document the journey.

BEN: I'll get Jack to jump on and the next one.

GEORGE: Yeah. Sounds good. Would love to chat to him as well.

BEN: Perfect.

GEORGE: All right, mate.

BEN: Thanks for the time.

GEORGE: Good to catch up, and all the best for the last few days of quarantine. Enjoy the sun, and you'll be back on it next week.

BEN: Cheers, mate.

GEORGE: Speak soon. Cheers.

 

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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

117 – [Case Study] How Lindsay Guy 3x’d His Martial Arts Business Coming Out Of Covid

Lindsay Guy is impacting many families while growing his karate business. The most important family being his own.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Why risk takers are the actual winners
  • Why asking for help is good for you and your martial arts business
  • The power of surrounding yourself with like-minded people
  • Why repetition (of what works) in marketing is a good thing
  • The elements of an effective Facebook ad campaign
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

It's important that you surround yourself with positive people, people who are all wanting to head in the same direction that you're heading. Regardless of what level of school you've got, you've got guys that come on now who have got quite large schools, that are up to capacity, that are not really interested in expanding their school, but just maintaining it. Keeping up to the levels they've got and of course, they're sharing their knowledge with some of the guys who have got smaller schools. 

GEORGE: Hey everyone, George here, and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. I'm speaking to a guest where, I am speaking to actually for the second time today, because we were just on one of our Partners coaching calls. Lindsay was on that and we’re just jumping over to find out more about Lindsay Guy. How are you doing today, Lindsay? 

LINDSAY: Top of the world today, George. I feel great actually! 

GEORGE: Top of the world, thanks to our conversations, right? 

LINDSAY: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. You wouldn't believe how I felt prior to coming on with you. Thanks, George. 

GEORGE: Exactly. This is the type of banter, this might set the tone for the conversation, a little bit of tongue-in-cheek, a little bit of self-praise where it's not relevant, but anyway. From my side! 

Anyway, so chatting today to Lindsay Guy, and wanted to bring him on to just chat about his journey in martial arts and a whole bunch of other things that we'll reveal during the interview, but I'll give a quick roundup and then I'll hand it over to you to see if you can give us, you can fill the gaps, and tell us more about you and your background in martial arts. 

But Lindsay Guy, 6th Dan, founder of Guy's Karate School, 6th Dan Sho Da Kan karate, 2nd Dan Taekwondo, Level 5 ISKA referee and international referee, and a whole bunch of other things. So, officially, welcome to the call, Lindsay. 

So, give us a bit of a roundup – just how you got started in the business, the martial arts and how things have evolved up to now. 

LINDSAY: Well, I guess like a lot of people, I was a bullied child. I didn't enjoy my younger years, my school days, I was a bit of a, what you call a nerd. Back in the days when guys had long hair, I was a kid with short hair and glasses and big ears sticking out. So, wasn't really what you'd call a trendsetter at the time. Or maybe I was a trendsetter at the time, I just didn't know about it. 

But I remember I was sitting in my house, I was about 20 years old, sitting in my house and I came across an article in a newspaper about some guys who are going to a tournament with one of the local karate schools, and I thought I wouldn't mind trying that. So, at the end of the ad, of course, it had the details on how to contact the instructor if you're interested in studying karate. 

So, I gave this guy a call and went down to start to train with him. I remember on the first night he said, “Look, these guys are going to a tournament. So, we actually might use you as a bit of a partner, so put these gloves on. You can be a bit of a training partner for these guys.” Now, I've never punched anybody in my life. And yet, here's this guy, got those gloves on.

And I continued to go back until about, I guess it was about two months later, when he came to me and he said, “Look”, he was a Swiss German, so he had this very strong accent and everything that he said, he still says, just sounds cranky all the time. And he said to me, “Look, you're never going to learn karate. You're stupid.” He said, “You just go home. Don't come back. Don't waste my time.” And I went, “Really?” And he went, “Yeah, yeah, yeah – you're just stupid, go away.”

So, then the next night I came back and he said to me, “I told you not to come back”, and I went, “Yeah, I know, but I'm coming back.” So, years later I said to Sensei Celso, who was my instructor, I said, “Do you remember years ago when you said to me, I'm stupid, don't come back?” He said, “Yeah, I remember that.” And I said, “So, why would you say that?” He said, “I recognized some potential in you, and I just wanted to see whether you really wanted to learn karate.

So, if you came back, you proved to me that you're genuine, you wanted to learn, and if you didn't come back,” he said, “Well, you just proved that you really weren't that keen on it.” So, that's how we started off. 

GEORGE: Now that's interesting in two ways. Number one, that your actual entry point was looking at an ad for a tournament. Well, for me, at least, that's the first time I've ever heard of someone starting based on a tournament and kind of wanting to jump into the deep end. Was that a strange thing for you to just rock up and think, “Well, hey, there's a tournament happening. I want to be in a tournament, and I want to learn this thing to be in the tournament?” At 20, as well. 

LINDSAY: Well, I didn't consider it strange. And now you've just made me feel a little odd about that now, George. Up until that point, I'd never felt strange about it. But maybe there's a little lack of sleep tonight, because of that, thinking about it.

But no, I just always wanted to learn karate, because I grew up through the Bruce Lee, the, you know, the Kung Fu with David Carradine days, martial arts movies were all the go back then. You know, with guys like Richard Norton, Chuck Norris, all those guys.

And I'd always looked at that, and being a bullied child, I thought maybe this is something I can do. Maybe I can slowly, you know, get into something and finally start learning to defend myself. That's why I showed up. And of course, maybe I was stupid at the time, because I just kept coming back, you know, out of all of those students that Sensei Celso trained over those years, I'm still the only one that's still doing karate. 

GEORGE: Now, the second question on that, what do you think of that type of reverse psychology approach? And how relevant do you think that still is – to challenge someone in that way? 

LINDSAY: I don't think it's relevant at all. I would never say that to any of my students. I think it's a, you know, a stupid thing to say. Because at that time, you know, I didn't know anything about karate, I was still a little fragile. I could have just walked out of that center and went, “Ok, I won't do it then.” And of course, he could have lost the student, martial arts could have not gained a great instructor. 

GEORGE: Exactly. 

LINDSAY: Yep. 

GEORGE: Yeah, I always wonder about that type of approach, and I think there's, it works for a set personality, that you respond to that challenge, like, “You won't tell me, I'll show up.” But then, I think, for the majority, 75%, you might miss the chance of someone just kind of crumbling, especially if you have been bullied and you have been stamped on a few times… it could go the other way, right?

Karate Business

LINDSAY: Well, absolutely, it could see, we came through the old fashioned Sho Da Kan, traditional style of training, it was hard training. And yeah, lots and lots of people used to leave, our retention rate was dreadful, you know, you do a big ad, you'd have 30 people and within two weeks, there'd be only six left. It was a hard road, it wasn't a black belt in three years, and it was a black belt in 7 – 8 years. It was training without gloves, it was training without any protection, it was on old wooden floors, and you're regularly getting hit and thrown to the floor. 

So, I understand now why people didn't last, but the people that did last and go through the system, turned out to be quite good martial artists and are, you know, quite tough in themselves. It was a very mental feat, because they used to, you know, just push you quite hard.

GEORGE: And do you think a lot of that is lacking at the moment? I mean, because what I just referenced, you know, it's probably easy to say, and there will probably be someone that says, “Yeah, don't be a snowflake, kind of get over it, grow a pair”, you know, everything else that goes with it. Which, yeah, it's a fair point, and it is relevant, but I think sometimes you can completely separate someone from actually making that decision to move forward and do the thing by not approaching them properly. 

But on that, I mean, what do you feel? How much of that do you feel is missing? And if you look at students today, how do you feel that they progress? And do you feel that they achieve that same kind of grit and hard attitude from training and perseverance? 

LINDSAY: A lot depends on the personality of the student, really. You know, during our training and all instructors will tell you the same thing, they can pick the ones that they can push a bit harder. They can pick the ones that they tend to slap around a little bit more.

You know, I've got a 21 year old who's a 2nd Dan with us, and I made sure that he came out tough. I made sure that, you know, he could defend himself, and the first time they got into a situation, he perhaps wasn't, he wasn't going to panic or the first time he got hit, he wasn't going to break down and cry. He's also a big boy.

But there are those students that have come through that I've pushed a little harder and that were treated a little rougher, and I think they've come out at the other end much better martial artists. There's a difference between being a great martial artist and being someone who's tough enough to stand up for themselves. Like, I can teach lots and lots of people to do great technique, but at the end of the day, are they tough enough to be able to stand up in a self defence scenario? 

GEORGE: Perfect. So, moving on from that – so, your 20s and you know, your training. How did your journey evolve from there? 

LINDSAY: I must admit, we went to a lot of tournaments back then. It seemed to be every weekend we were at some form of tournament we're at. You know, back then there weren't a great deal of tournament circuits like there is now to participate in and back then there were only two events. It was just Kumite, it was just sparring, and then there were kata patterns, and when you went, those were the two things that you competed in, wasn't anything else.

So, when we look at today with events and tournaments, you know, there's so much for kids to do today, there's cuddling, I'm sorry, wrestling. 

GEORGE: Ooh – you've just lost half of my audience. 

LINDSAY: There's sword combat, you know, there's sumo, there's high kicks, there's extreme weapons, there's all of those sorts of things that kids can be involved in competing today. But you know, back in the old style tournament, two things: you went in your one Kumite event, your one kata event, and however you performed from there, that was all there was. 

So, I did a lot of tournament work back then, I was involved in the New South Wales Karate Federation, I was involved in the, in what we called WUKO back then, was the world organization, you know, karate union, there was KY karate union in Australia, there was a lot of those traditional associations out there that we belonged to. We competed regularly in, you know, your AKF in New South Wales Karate Federation tournaments, and that sort of thing. There were lots of state titles and Australian titles that we competed in, and then, of course, from there, even international events that we competed in overseas. 

So, over that time, I've probably done, I don't know, thousands and thousands of tournaments. But I must admit that that's been part of the reason that's kept me in and I guess over that time is the fun that I've been able to have, and the people that I've been able to meet through those tournaments. Because if I just stayed in my little town of Maitland and practiced in a little local hall, honestly I don't think I'd still be in karate. It was those tournaments, those people I met, was the excitement I had, the travel that I did, that's kept me in it, I guess. 

GEORGE: Is that due to just the motivation of, it's inspiration from other martial artists, and also just the way your training progressed in a different form? 

LINDSAY: No, I always go to tournaments, and I think I found something I was good at. You know, when you find something you're good at, and you're doing well at it, it makes you happy, it keeps you well, and it keeps you interested. So, I always thought, I had this idea that why would I stop doing something that I like doing and I'm good at to go and try and find something else that I'm good at and I like doing, when, you know, I'm already doing, you know what I liked doing and what I'm good at? 

So, I just stayed there, that was why I did it. And I still compete! You know, I competed a couple of weeks ago in Sydney at the ISKA Sydney Open, so I'm still competing in the old people's events. The ones where we come out with the walkers, you know. 

GEORGE: That's cool. I'm actually on the part of your website that I, well, the part of your bio that I did leave out – achievements. Just scanning through here. 1985, commenced training with Ken-Sei-Kan in Maitland with Celso Bauer. 1987, won North Coast Open (Kumite) at Coffs Harbor. 1988, first place over 80 kg in New South Wales for the Federation. Alright, pretty impressive. 

LINDSAY: Thank you. There's so much that could be listed there. It could be pages and pages and pages of it, but at the end of it all who really cares? Nobody, except me. 

GEORGE: Do your students care? 

LINDSAY: Most of them not. Yeah, some of them do. You know, I still compete and some of them when they see me compete there, and they were, “Wow, that's, Shihan's actually probably pretty good there, I can see that he is.” However, the people that walk in through my door, they really don't care how many stripes I've got on my belt and how many trophies I've got up on my wall. They're more concerned is, what I'm going to give to their children or themselves. 

But you know, what are we going to get out of it? Not what your achievements are. And I think too many people worry about how many certificates they got on their wall and how many trophies they got up on the shelf and how many stripes they've got on their belt. Think that's going to give them students – it doesn't work that way. 

GEORGE: And how did you come to that realization? Was it, was there a time that that was your focus, and you leaned towards that in your marketing, that is your strength, what you provide? 

LINDSAY: Absolutely. You know, I thought the more stripes I had on my belt, the more students I was going to get. You know, when I was in my 30s, I was a cocky, young bloke, and, you know, promoting trophies and self-promotion, I thought was the way that we did things.

Realistically, at the end of it all, the only person that really cared about it was me, you know, I can look back through old paper clippings and stuff now that I've got in some scrapbooks. They're great to look at, they're great for memories, but I could put it out at the dojo, and people just have a quick flick through it.

No one really cares about any of that stuff. I think that when you're looking at promoting your business, you know, whether it be online or more verbally, I think people just really need to know what they're going to get out of it. What can you do for them? 

GEORGE: Yeah, and so I think it's important for you and your confidence in the way you portray yourself, and the fact that you can back up what you say and what you provide. And I think that's probably the missing key, you know, if you can use that as a credibility statement, of positioning it in a way that's actually relevant to the students. Like, what's the benefit in it for them? 

LINDSAY: Well, it's on my website, I've put my bio on the website, Shihan Lindsay, and it's there for those people who want to go and have a look. I don't promote it, I don't tell people to go on and have a look at what I've done. But there are people out there that say, “We want to check this guy out. We want to check his credentials, we want to see what he's done.”

And some people go on there and they go, “Oh, wow, he must be a pretty good instructor because it says he's won lots of stuff”, which really doesn't mean anything, because I might not be a good instructor. I might be a self-centered Wally, who, you know, is just full of self-promotion, I might not be a good instructor at all. 

GEORGE: So, you did something slip, and you were talking about cuddling. Where did this reference come from? 

LINDSAY: Well, actually, George, I think it may come from you, to be honest with you. I think it was more or less something we started just to have a bit of banter with you, because I know you do a bit of BJJ, and I know you're quite attached to it. And any poke that we can have at, you know, other martial artists in jest, I think is, is pretty healthy. 

GEORGE: That's good! And I'm glad you mentioned that for the context, you know that we don't get hate messages for this podcast. That was all relevant banter, and… 

LINDSAY: I like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It's not that I don't like it or any form of Jiu Jitsu. I think that, you know, throughout our karate teaching, we do a lot of that. It's just a different art to what we do, that's all. And have I done it? Plenty of it. Have I been involved in seminars where they do it? Of course, many times. Have I enjoyed it? Yes. That's not what I think. 

GEORGE: That's good. I thought it almost would be good to say, you know, do you feel that that is where you would evolve to? 

LINDSAY: Quick answer, no. 

GEORGE: Okay. 

LINDSAY: Why? Because it's not my interest. It's not… 

GEORGE: I just wanted to throw that in there as an evolving statement. That was the only… People come to me, and they say, “But we'd like to do some Jiu Jitsu,” and I say, “Yeah, there's a great school just around the corner. Go see the guys down there, because they're fantastic at what they do.”

So, walk me through the success of your school and how things have evolved. 

LINDSAY: Yeah, well, we did about 32 years in the school hall. And again, just the same, you know, you build up, you have 30 students and then what happens, is in a few weeks, later, you've got 15 left. It wasn't till about three years ago that I made the decision that it's probably about time that I started my own school.

See, for about a million years, I just looked around trying all these little business ideas. The same ones that lots and lots of people try, you know. I tried, you know, working on different little ideas that I came up with marketing and the way to do stuff.

And after 33 years, I realized that I already had it. It was sitting right there. That whole business that I've been looking for is that I've been playing with it for 30-odd years and did not even realize what I had. I'd liked teaching martial arts, I wasn't making any money, actually.

As most martial artists would tell you, if they got a little school in a school hall or a community hall, it probably costs you more money every year than what you actually make out of it. And it's just the way that is, and when I went through the stage then, I went, “Okay, there's a couple of things I'm looking at.

Retirement – do I want to continue to work in a job for a boss asking when I can have holidays and days off for the rest of my life?” No, I didn't want to do it. Did I want a school that I could, you know, build? That at some point in time, I could go and have holidays, the school could still continue to run and I could receive an income from that? Yes.

So, now there was only one option then, was to take the gamble, and start a school. So, the first thing was to look around for a building, get a building, I still had a full time job at this stage, and it wasn't til just before COVID, that I didn't have a full time job.

So, I quit my job on the 19th of March 2020, and then on the 21st of March 2020, the government closed us down. It was a great time to actually quit my job, I went back to the boss and he said, “Sorry, Lindsay, but I've already replaced you, we've already got a guy now doing your job, and we don't need you any longer.” Then we went through the next six months, of course, without any income, which was great. We were still doing Zoom lessons during that time, but I still made that commitment that I didn't want to go back to a job. 

So, what had happened prior to that, though, is that, you know, I'd gone to all of these martial arts marketing companies, every time I opened up my Facebook, there was somebody else promoting how good they were and what they could do for me. Admittedly, I paid quite a lot of money to a lot of those people, and really achieved no success out of it. What a lot of them do is say to you, “We'll do this for you, we'll have regular meetings, you know, we'll help you boost your school, we'll look at it.” 

And at the end of it all, once you've signed up, paid your money, you really don't hear from a lot of them ever again. You send them emails, they don't respond to them. They give you this package, it's a bunch of videos that you can watch, and if you watch all the videos, and do as we say, well, you'll do okay at it. But what I wanted was something different to that, George. 

What I wanted was someone who can hold me accountable, or someone that I could regularly speak to, and was involved in some form of group where I could speak to other martial artists that were going through the same problems as I was going through, or had already been through the problems and come out the other side with some solutions. 

So, when I saw this ad come up for this George Fourie guy, I thought, another one, another one. But exactly the same as the other guys, I contacted you exactly the same as I contacted all the other guys, because George Fourie could have been the one. He could have been the one or he might have been just another line of wasted money.

And what I did was, is that after contacting you, I felt comfortable, because I could speak to you, we could go on Zoom, we could have a chat together and you at that time said to me, “These are some other people that I'm working with, if you want to have a chat with them, feel free to contact them.” And you made me a guarantee that if I did what you asked me to do, and it didn't work, you'd refund every single cent that I was ever going to pay to you, which was to me a no loss situation.

Instead of with the other guys, it was a no win situation. So, you know, we struggled, we really didn't know where we were going or how to get there. We've made lots of mistakes, we've had a lot of students come through. We've had a lot of students that had quit, because we weren't doing things correctly, because we had no experience. And what we were trying to do is go from a 20 student school to a 200 student school with absolutely no idea how to do it, and that's when you came. 

GEORGE: That's awesome! 

LINDSAY: Yeah. 

GEORGE: That's great to hear, and I think I'll just add to that. You mentioned another one of these guys. I sometimes feel, you know, I'm sitting on Facebook and I'm like, I kind of say the same thing, right?

Because I know where the information comes from, I mean, I'm late. I have never seen so many martial arts marketing people, which I find interesting and look, everybody is obviously free to run a business and do their thing.

What I do have a gripe with is ethics. Ethics is a big, big thing for me. And when I started working in the martial arts space, Facebook wasn't even such a big thing.

I mean, my story of how I started was completely different. And I sort of worked my way into it, but it was a lot of trial and error and learning. There's a big trend in the online space, where you buy a course, you're not an expert, the expert tells you this is how you become an expert, and you model our system that works on how we sell the course.

Now, this expert becomes an expert, because they bought the course, and they go sell you their system on how that system works, and they give advice. And unfortunately, people end up spending a lot of money, and they spend money on the wrong things, or things are over promised. And I think for anybody that's listening to this in that field, you know, go out there and get some results before you over promise and lead people down the wrong path. 

LINDSAY: When I made that commitment, I made the commitment to go to a full time school with 20 students. Was a big commitment, but the belief in myself that I could do it was really high. I was encouraged by some other school owners that I knew. Yeah, just go for it.

We, I guess, paid out a lot of money out of our pocket for rent, you know, and outgoings and stuff before we built up, and quite quickly, we built up to about 70 – 80 students, which of course in that 70 – 80 students, we're still just paying rent.

So, I still wasn't making any cash out of it. Hence the reason I took my full time job. But what I found was it was extremely hard to build the business up, while I was concentrating on working all day, every day for a boss. What I'd do from there is I'd leave my place of employment, I'd go straight to the dojo, I'd teach, I'd shut up at night, I'd go home and have dinner and go to bed, and then start the next day exactly the same with my full time boss. 

So, how was I ever going to, you know, build up my business and work on increasing my student numbers if I was focusing more on somebody else's business than my own? You know, my wife was driving an old car, the guy I worked for, his wife was driving a new car. He was having great holidays, whenever he felt like it. I was having holidays whenever he told me I could. So, I decided that that wasn't for me. I wanted to be him. I wanted to be like him. 

So, that was when I made that decision to quit my job. Was it an easy decision to make? For me, it was. It was just straight down the line. I'm leaving. I'm not going to do this any longer. Where did the money come from? At that time? Well, it came from our housing mortgage.

You know, we had the withdrawal back out of the housing mortgage, and I used that money then to pay expenses, to pay bills. Were we living quite meekly? Yeah, we were. We weren't having great holidays. We weren't going out for dinner, you know, once a week. We weren't buying new cars.

What I was doing was, I was investing back into my business, because I could still see even though I had no idea where I was going, I still firmly believed in myself that we were going to make this business work. How? No idea. But it was that blind faith that kept driving me to keep doing stuff to keep looking at people, you know, like George Fourie, to keep making those telephone calls, or those, you know, internet introductions to them, because I was looking for that one person who was going to help me. 

Now, we came back from COVID, we had about 90 students when we came back from COVID. Currently, today we're pushing towards the 300 students. I promised my wife when we hit 300 students that we would buy her a new car. We're pretty close to that now, we've already ordered the new car, and it’s coming in about six weeks. 

I set a goal, and that's what we're pushing to now. So, you know, it's just those little rewards. You might think a car's not a little reward. It is a little reward. It's not a big reward. Yeah. So, you know, we've managed to do some things now and we're actually starting to live a little now.

We have a long time where we weren't living, we were surviving. But by putting all of that other lifestyle aside just for a short time, it's allowed us to build the business up to a level now where we're more comfortable financially.

We can have some holidays, we can go out, we can buy a new vehicle, and we can maybe get some new clothes and all of those things that we missed out on for so long. We can now do those simply because we missed out on them for so long. So, I've made that decision to put my business first, us second, and it was a gamble. All I had to do was do it correctly and do as some of your business advisors advised me to do, and it was going to work. 

There was no point asking successful people for help, and then once they've given me advice, not doing it. It was just pointless. And there's so many people out there, though, come to me now and people I know, have little schools, and they say, “So, you're doing pretty well, how did you manage to do it?” And I tell them, and they go, “Oh, well, we would never do that.” Okay, that's fine, because you'll never have what I have if you're not prepared to do it. It's pretty simple.

GEORGE: Awesome! 

Yeah, I love that. Firstly, well done. I actually wasn't aware of COVID until now, it's 90 to almost 300 students. That's magnificent! 

LINDSAY: Just over a year, now, George. 

GEORGE: Just over a year, triple the business, that's marvelous. You mentioned the car is a small thing – I love the fact that you could buy a car because every time you walk out and you look at the car, it cements the fact that you achieved that because of your success. So, it's actually one of the best rewards, you know, something that you can see, touch and feel every day. 

That's, like, the best reminder out there. And the other thing you mentioned, was just doing the work. Obviously, having belief in yourself, you know that you could do it – it all starts from that, like, really knowing that you can do this, and then having the guts to burn the bridges. And, really just, this is what I'm doing. I'm going to burn the bridges, create this business, it's going to provide for us, and go all in. 

LINDSAY: It's important not to lose focus, it's important not to lose focus of your goal. And you'll know – have there been times when I felt down about the business? Of course. Has there been times when I've really felt like, you know, I'm empty, and I don't know what to do next and what to fill it with? And at that period of time, I know that I've got a huge network of people that I can simply get on the phone or get on the internet to and speak to.

Now this week, for example, I had a couple of issues that I wanted some advice on or just someone to throw me some ideas. I contacted Cheyne McMahon and Brett Fenton this week, and had a chat with both of those two guys, because both of those guys are in a position that I want to be in. They've done the hard yards, they've made the mistakes. 

So, I thought what better opportunity than these two guys that I respect, that I know are in a position where I'm in too, and you know, ask them how they handled these situations? Or how would they handle these situations? And they gave me some advice, and I've made some decisions from that, which I feel is going to take us to the next step in our business.

So, it's important to get the right advice from the right people. There's plenty of people out there that are going to tell you can't do it. There's plenty of people out there who are going to tell you that, you know, we don't think it'll work. Are you sure you should be taking that risk? I think you're mad. And all those people out there. 

GEORGE: Those are the easy ones to find. You know, and that's why I think family can be the worst people to ask advice for, because they care for you and so they feel that they want to protect you. And so they give you advice to protect you, not move you forward.

But you know, on that, asking others for advice. That's what I really love about our weekly calls that we have, our Partners Power Hour sessions, because it's a session where, it's kind of a roundtable session that we have once a week, and a bunch of school owners, like today we had guys from New Zealand, Canada, and Australia on board. All different circumstances, a bit of a roundtable discussion of what's working, what's not, who's got ideas for different things, and, everyone gets to share and bounce ideas.

And the great thing about a mastermind type of event like that is everyone's actually got a valid point, no matter what level they're at, because you just need that one person to see things from a different angle, and that's what's going to move you forward. But it's kind of a place where we sort of congregate once a week and people get to ask questions, get unstuck, and you've got ideas and advice flowing freely. I always learn from it, I always get great ideas from that.

That's how we go create our next training session, because something came up in the session and we know that we can go and create a training from that, and sometimes will be someone like you, Cheyne, or Brett or one of the guys that jump on board and share what it is that they've got to share as well. 

LINDSAY: I think it's important that you surround yourself with positive people, people who are all wanting to head in the same direction that you're heading. And regardless of what level of school you've got, you've got guys that come on now who have got quite large schools, that are up to capacity, that are not really interested in expanding their school, but just maintaining it. You know, keeping up to the levels they've got and of course, they're sharing their knowledge with some of the guys who have got smaller schools. 

So, it's a fantastic environment to be around when we're involved in those conversations, because there's really no negative activity going on inside of our group chats, and that's why I join in. If there was negative activity, I'd simply go. I don't really want to dial in every Wednesday.

And you know, I think since I've been on board, which is I guess it's been just over a year now, I haven't missed one of those Wednesday sessions in a year. Why? Because I've just made it so important in my schedule that I can't miss out on those, because they're my motivators. But the amount of information, the amount of ideas I get out of those group sessions is incredible.

I get so much out of them that I take, you probably see me occasionally, I'll look across, I'll have a pen and a bit of paper, and I'll just take a quick note on something or write something down or I'll type something.  Because it's just the little things sometimes that can make a massive difference in your business.

Now, we're still doing things wrong. Yep. Of course we are. Are we trying to work on those things we're doing wrong? Yes, we are. How am I doing that? Well, I'm seeking advice from people that, you know, maybe again, in that position that we want to be into. Is our business evolving and changing? Yes, of course it is. So, as our student base grows, the programs that we put in change, the methodology that we do stuff changes, the staff, you know, management changes, the more staff that we have increases.

So, what we actually do is, we evolve with the business. If we don't evolve with the business, what happens is that at some point of time, we're not going to stagnate, we're actually going to go backwards in numbers, because we're not changing, evolving with our businesses. I think that's why some of those guys with large schools still continue to join in on our regular Wednesday meetings, because they're evolving with their business as well and have to. Even the smallest guy with a smaller school down the road could still have a great idea. You think to yourself, “Why didn't I think of that?” 

GEORGE: What you mentioned, it's a good reminder to have a check in also on the things that, you know, you came into the group with one situation. It's normally you know, people come to us normally for marketing help, but then marketing is taken care of, and then it's a whole new set of problems. And it's just remembering how to evolve with your business, and also let go of the things that you were doing that, you know, as you evolve as a school owner and the business, you've got to let go of the things that got you there to go to the next stage. 

LINDSAY: I guess that, do I want to pay, you know, money to the George Fouries of the world? No, of course I don't. 

Do I need to spend money with the George Fouries of the world? Yes, I do. Why? Because that's where I'm going to get the information to grow my business, I have to find information somewhere, and generally information isn't free. And I, you know, I've got to be prepared to invest in my business and myself. And I guess the biggest thing that you've got to look at is yourself, is that you have to grow within yourself. As, you know, older men we get to the stage where depression can set in and if we're not careful, it sneaks up on you, and have we been through that scenario? 

Well, I've been through that scenario a couple of times in my life. And it's just something that creeps up on you, and I think that the great thing that we've got at the moment is that you know I've got people outside of your group. I've got some great martial artists that I've known for a long time that I can just simply get on the phone to and call if I'm not feeling all that well today. Some of them you call and some of them go, “What's wrong mate? You don't seem your usual happy self today?” “Yeah, well, maybe I'm not.” 

But of course, at the end of, generally at the end of those conversations you come away feeling, yeah, the world isn't so bad really after all. Now, I go to my business and people think it all looks rosy. You start work at three o'clock in the afternoon or 3:30 in the afternoon, and then what happens is that you go home by eight, you've got a great job.

I can tell you if you're looking at starting a full time dojo or building a full time, you know, dojo center, martial arts center, whatever it is that you want to run. It doesn't start at 3:30 in the afternoon and finish at eight o'clock at night. It generally starts from the moment you get up in the morning, to the moment you go to bed that night. That's your business, you're working on it, until you get to a stage where you've got other people that are helping you work inside your business and doing a lot of those chores, until you get to that stage, you've got to do it yourself.

You've got to be prepared to go to bed tired, you've got to be prepared that, you know, you have to devote some of that time that you might have been spending on playing golf or surfing, and I've now just got back to the stage where I'm surfing again. I'd stopped surfing for quite an amount of time, because I really was just working on the business. Now I've got two mornings a week I can devote to surfing, which is great for me, because it also then, you know something for me that works on my mental health. I can forget about the dojo for those couple of hours. I think it's important that we all have that. 

GEORGE: What do you mean? There's nothing like time in the ocean, to forget about everything else. 

LINDSAY: Or whatever for you. It might be golf, it might be lawn bowls, it might be playing the guitar or the piano or something, and it could be anything. It's whatever it is, you have to find what does it for you, because I guarantee if you don't, you're just going to get worn out, you're going to get burnt out and then eventually going to collapse. The only thing that's going to suffer then is your family and of course, your business as well. You can't let that happen. 

GEORGE: I want to say thanks for sharing all the stuff about working together as well. I thought I'd just ask a few questions on top of that, if it's okay with you. 

LINDSAY: Absolutely. 

GEORGE: You mentioned you were looking online. Was there something that was holding you back to maybe not get in touch? 

LINDSAY: Past experience! 

GEORGE: Past experience?

Karate Business

LINDSAY: Past experience, because I jumped in, you know, boots and all with the first couple. They made some really great promises. One of the guys was on the Gold Coast, and I paid the money into his account, and I never even heard back from him. Then I made a few contacts with him that he never responded to.

Then I finally got a telephone number that I rang directly. He said, “Well, some of my guys were supposed to be handling that. You tell me they haven't?” And I said, “No, they haven't.” I was completely disillusioned. He said he'd refund my money back, which took forever to come back to me, and I still see his ads coming up all the time now. You go – how do you do that? How do you sit there and claim you've got such a great service when your track record isn't all that good. Or particularly with me.

And then I found some guys who are in the same business as what I'm in that I joined up through their advertising. And then I went to a seminar that they had on, lined up. And of course, the information came through in the forms of lots of videos, and if you watch lots and lots of our videos, you'll probably see soon. But we didn't have any regular movies, there wasn't any contact, there wasn't any, you know, somebody holding me accountable. 

Now, the thing that I like about the group that we're involved in, is that everybody makes you accountable. Everybody there, you know, replies to a Facebook message that comes out three times a week. What are you going to do? How are you going with it? And why haven't you done it at the end of the week? I'm just one of those people who need to be held accountable.

I'm not very good with time management, and I'm not very good with management in general. I'm a pretty good martial arts instructor, but as for running a business, not particularly all that good at it. Lot of martial artists out there are the same.

So, what I've done is surrounded myself inside my business. My dad ran a business for a long time, and he always said to me, “Mate, there's always a plan here. The things that you're not good at, go and just pay someone else to do them.” So, I'm doing that.

So, the things I'm not good at, I'm paying somebody else to do them, because I know if it's left up to me, it just won't get done. So, what made me hesitant with you was the fact that I'd had a bad track record with these other guys, there were more than two, and I'd paid out money. And I guess, was it wasted money? No, it wasn't wasted money, because I learned a lot of things about not spending money with people like that.

So, let's get more research. And what you did to me, George, was allow me to come on board, involved in a program without paying any money to start with. You had a program going at the time, which I think was your Digitize Your Dojo program, and you said, “I'm not going to charge you any for it, you guys all come on board, and we'll start to work on it.”

And then somewhere down the track, you offered me the opportunity to become part of the Partners group, which you remember, I didn't jump on straightaway. I still wanted to know about George Fourie a little more.  Until eventually I got to the stage where I agreed that, you know, I would come on board with your program, and I have not regretted it.

I remember that one day, getting in contact with you, and I asked you about some Facebook ads. You gave me all the guts of the Facebook ad, this is what you need to do, and you sent me some photographs on what it needs to look like. I then, about two weeks later, I think I contacted you and went, “George, it's not working, mate. It's just not working for me,” and you went, “Send me your ad, send me all your visuals, and I'll have a look at it.”

And of course, I totally changed everything you told me to do, and you came back to me – you went, “But it's not what I told you to do.” You said to me, and I think that I remember you saying something like to me, “Look, I'll tell you what, give it a go the way that I'm suggesting to start with, and if it doesn't work, then we'll go back and give your way a bit.” So, what I did was I changed my ads to virtually copy exactly the same as what you sent me, and all of a sudden, the messages started coming in. And I went, “Oh that works.” So, then I did it again and again and again, and the leads just started coming in. 

And you know from that first ad, I'm still running virtually exactly the same ad. I might change the image on it occasionally just to freshen it, but I'm just doing the same thing over and over, and over and over, and the leads are still coming in. I've signed up 10 in the last week just from running the same ad as I was running a year ago, offering the same special and it works. Until it is broken, don't change it. If it isn’t broken, don't fix it. 

GEORGE: Yeah, I think it just takes time to get to that, because if you've got the right formula, because… The first thing everybody tries and does is, “I'll just copy someone else's ad.” It could work, but what you're missing is the structure and the setup behind that. What got to that image, why is it that image, why did we get to that wording, and what is the link between the right offer and the right pricing, and the flow of going from that. That's where the tweaking, that's where it's really got to happen. 

LINDSAY: I see some of the ads that come up on my feed now from the other local guys, and I've never seen them before, perhaps I didn't look at them, or perhaps because they're seeing my ads, they're doing stuff. But I'm really glad that they're advertising, because what they're doing is they're thinking they can do it better than me.

So, they're filling their images up with text, they're, you know, making them way too busy, their ad's saying way too much. And I'm thinking, “That's great, guys, keep doing that, because you ain't getting the call.” I know you're not, because I tried it that way and the phone just doesn't ring.

So, they're going to eventually get to the stage where they go, “Oh, this is useless. I'm not continuing to pay money for this.” And then they'll stop advertising, which is fantastic for me. I see, oh, there's one that came up yesterday. And I went, “Oh my gosh”, – okay, the text is so small and there's so much on it, I can't even read it. Not even going to bother clicking. But I did, I clicked and sent him a message, said, “Yeah, man. Keep it up. Good work.” 

GEORGE: Last couple of things are, well, two things. Your favorite part about working with us? 

LINDSAY: My favorite part is the Wednesday meetings, is the group. Because I get more out of that, you know, one hour on a Wednesday, I think than any other thing that I do. The amount of questions I can ask the guys and get answered, I might get three different answers, but I can at least pick one of the things that might work for our dojo. That's the best thing, that one hour of power session that we do, because it's fabulous. Everybody's so open, nobody minds sharing anything. 

And as I said to you, two guys from that session, you know, I've already spoken to them this week about a couple of decisions that I was trying to make. They've both given me great advice, which I've taken and I'm much more settled now in myself, thinking, “I'm glad I rang them.” And without that group, I wouldn't have known who they were, I wouldn't have known who to ring, and I might have made the wrong decision. 

GEORGE: Awesome. The last one – who would you recommend the Partners group to, and why? 

LINDSAY: I would recommend the Partners group to anybody who's wanting to run a, whether it be a small part-time studio or a large martial art studio, or even go from a small part-time to a large martial art studio. Why? It's just the motivational side, it's the questions and answers that we get through the group.

And I think, you know, if I hadn't come on board with you, George, I'm not sure where I would be. I'm not sure at what level our business is, we might have still been hitting that 90 mark, and building it up, letting it fall down again, and building it up and then falling down again.

I am so fortunate to have met, you know, you guys through this group, but you can hear it. I'm at a loss for words, which normally, I'm not lost for words at all. Yeah, it's just fabulous. It totally changed our whole family's life. And I can say that with all honesty, you know, I just want to check that bank account, George, if you put that check in… 

GEORGE: Later, later. 

LINDSAY: You know, for the people out there who are looking, perhaps to come on board with George, who have been, you know, dipping their toes in the water, make a commitment to your business and yourself. Just get out there, because George said to me, and he'll remember the offer that he had, that if I don't return you your money in the first 90 days, I'll give it all back to you. I don't have to give anything back to George, I don't have to give him back any of the information he's given me, because I've already stolen it all from him. 

But at the end of that 90 days, George had made me every cent that I'd paid to him, it didn't even take 90 days, I think it was 30 days that he made that money that I paid him. So, whatever he's asking, you know, in there, jump on board and pay it. It's certainly worth it.

I'm not doing a commercial for George, I'm promoting George, because in my heart I genuinely know what he's done for us, and I think that he could do the same for other people. So, I guess it's a promotion for all those dojo owners out there who want to grow their business. So, I'm speaking about George more for your benefit than George's benefit. 

GEORGE: Love it. Lindsay, thanks so much. It means a lot. Great chatting to you. There's another story I want to chat to you about, and I'm going to hit you up about that in the near future. And for anyone that wants to connect with you, guyskarateschool.com.au, can have a look at Lindsay's website. 

If you want to get in touch with us and have a listen to what it is that we do and work out if or how we can help you, the best way to do that is just go to martialartsmedia.com/scale, and there's a little questionnaire. Tell us a bit about you, what you're stuck with. Let us know and we'll have a low key chat and work out if or how we can help you. Cool. Lindsay, any last words from you? 

LINDSAY: I could go on for hours, George, but no, look, to be really honest with you, it's later on in the afternoon. I've got to go and open up the karate school and start doing what we do best. 

GEORGE: Awesome. 

LINDSAY: Okay. 

GEORGE: Bye, Lindsay. Thanks so much, speak soon. 

LINDSAY: Thank you. 

GEORGE: Cheers!

 

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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

110 – Zulfi Ahmed – How To Become A Master Martial Arts Instructor

Zulfi Ahmed shares insights about his book, The Science and Secrets of Becoming a Master Martial Arts Instructor, and why it's time for the industry to level up.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • What motivated Grandmaster Zulfi Ahmed to write the book, The Science and Secrets of Becoming a Master Martial Arts Instructor
  • The difference between a Master and Master Instructor
  • Why the martial arts industry is stuck
  • The importance of stepping up to a mastery level
  • The universal philosophy of a great Master Instructor
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

How do I get them to the next level? What do I teach them? They're doing exactly, they're mimicking me, the way I talk, walk, the way I have fun. They're doing the same thing. What separates me from them, and what separates them from the new upcoming young people? So, there has to be in our industry a body of knowledge, which elevates our industry. But to elevate the industry, we have to elevate the leader, the instructor.

GEORGE: Good day, everyone! And welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast episode – and a very special guest that I have with me today and a return guest. If you recall Episode 57, I had Grandmaster Zulfi Ahmed, join us. And that was actually right before The Main Event in San Diego – that's going back – April 2018. And we've spoken a little bit, not the purpose of this chat, because we've got something really important to chat about today.

But one thing I really remember, Zulfi, was when I was at The Main Event, Kyoshi Fred DePalma's The Main Event in San Diego. And after the event, we were both waiting on our flights, you obviously back to Texas, and me to Australia.

So, we both got on, we sat down at the breakfast table. And we just had a long chat, and Kyoshi Fred DePalma held an awesome event, but that was the highlight of the event – actually having a conversation with you and just learning from you and your wisdom from the industry. And so, I'm really excited to be speaking with you again today. And I think, just a quick bit of context.

So, Master Zulfi has been in the industry for 49 years, founder of Bushi Ban International, nine locations in Texas, three in Connecticut, and multiple in Pakistan as well. And Master Zulfi's earned over 300 martial arts awards. Countless, countless credentials. But again, not why we are here today. We are here today, because Master Zulfi has put together a masterful book that I just received the other day, and I've just, halfway through it. It's called ‘The Science and Secrets of Becoming a Master Martial Arts Instructor'.

We'll leave details and links where you can actually get this, but I think just to kick things off, Master Zulfi, why did you write this book?

ZULFI: George, first of all, thank you so much for having me on your show, and I really appreciate it. And thank you for your kind words. It was a pleasure. And I remember our conversation at breakfast time, waiting for the van to take us to the airport. And it was delightful. And thank you for having the time to spend with me. I've cherished our relationship – distant relationship. And one day I want to go to Australia and share with you more.

Yeah, The Main Event was a great, great event. And, Kyoshi, she's a good friend of mine. And if you've not been to that event, you must go to the event.

Back to the book. You know, this is, one of my friends asked me, ‘how long did it take you to write this book?' And I said a lifetime. I've been in martial arts. You know, I will be almost 60 years old in March. And I started formal training at age nine, informal training at five. You know, in Pakistan, wrestling is a predominant sport.

So anyway, going into that, so, I asked, you know, he asked me how long it did take – I told him about a lifetime. But actually, this project – writing this book, ‘The Science and Secrets of Becoming a Master Martial Arts Instructor‘, started about seven years ago.

It arose out of a personal need. I was wanting one of my new directors to run a school, and he was not even a black belt at the time, he was a red belt. And we wanted to compile a body of information, instructor training, body of information that is befitting for an individual to spearhead a school – not just the teaching a class for kids, but a whole school. So, how do you develop that mindset, with confidence and authority? And the way they act, speak, maturity of a high level martial artist.

So, that is when the project started. And what I did was I did my research first, and I have my own experience, lifetime of martial arts training, learning, and traveling the world. So, I did my research, and I called some of the best organizations, top leaders, and I said, ‘Do you have any content, any information, a guide, a workbook, a resource, where you really are teaching an instructor to become the next level, to become a master instructor? Is there a differentiation?'

Now, in our industry, we have some fantastic, phenomenal material, which develops instructors, instructor training galore, you know, everybody now, all schools are at the level where they can develop, you know, instructors, no problem. There's great information out there, seminars are conducted, and workshops are conducted. And we all know that, and we have all learned that. And so my thought was, ‘Okay, that's great, you know, but what is the next level? Where is the industry going? How do we develop the next level instructor who turns into the master instructor?'

So when I did my research, I found out that there's really, truly nothing out there. It's all experiential, that you become a black belt, you train for X number of years after that, and you have X number of teaching hours, and then you become a master. So, now there's a differentiation between a master and a master instructor.

And in this book, I have outlined the difference between master and master instructor. So mastering the martial arts, you can become a master in the martial arts and different styles of that criteria, X number of forums, training hours, even teaching hours, and then you know, at fourth dan, fifth dan, sixth dan, and depending on the style and the system, they recognize you as a master and master martial artist. And there, there are wonderful, phenomenal master martial artists out there.

You keep training, that's a personal end of a personal pursuit. But to become a master instructor, what do we have to do? Just like we know, in our industry, that being a black belt does not qualify you to be an instructor.

You know, you have to have instructor training, you can't just put on black belt, a new black belt and start having them teach. They don't have the mindset. They don't have the communication skills. They don't have the principles, the philosophies, the practices of an instructor, so we develop instructor training.

Same thing, when you become a master level and you were an instructor already, and now you become a master in your style and system – does that automatically make you a master instructor? So, I don't think so.

So, what it does is, that my master instructor and my instructor, the differentiation between them is only the time they've spent there. But the body of knowledge, the epistemology is the same. The master instructor what I'm calling now  did the instructor's course now he's been in it for X number of years, and he's calling himself a master instructor, but the body of knowledge, the technique, the principle philosophies, thought process, the practices, the communication level has not transformed. It's the same. He's also giving the high five, the three time rules, praise, correct praise, all that standard instructor teaching techniques.

So, when I go and when a parent is sitting, and the parents see this person is a school owner. He's a AKA, you know, Grandmaster, Master instructor, and then we have a 17 year old full of energy, and vigor and animation, he or she is doing the same type of teaching protocol that the master instructor is doing. They're giving high fives. He's giving high fives, they go three times through praise. Correct. Great.

So, what differentiates? Yes, they are older in age. Yes, they have four more stripes on the belt. But the teaching methodologies, the style, the communication, the terminology, the verbology, the words, all are the same.

So, how do we separate the maturity level of a master instructor and an instructor? So, I started doing the research, I talked to some of the top, there's some of the best minds, professional minds and martial artists, legends, are in this book. And I called them, I said, ‘I want you to contribute to this project'. And they were very open-minded. I've got legends, you know, the name, the list, galore. And I also interviewed them and I, you know, said, ‘Tell me the differentiation.' And they have their own personal philosophies, but there was not a standard body of information to elevate the industry.

Because another reason was that I feel our industry is stuck. We have a problem. We're not moving. The way we were teaching 20 years ago, we're still teaching the same way. When I was 15, what I learned as instructor training, now I'm almost 60, I'm teaching now. So how do I evolve myself? What is a structure, methodology and guiding principles, philosophies and practices? Not experiential, not because I'm older, not because I have five more days, I can do more katas. But I know, by design, that I am a more evolved instructor.

So, when I spoke to people, they say, ‘Yeah, man, just take experience. You stay in it for 30 years, you become a master instructor.' Okay. Yes, you are a brilliant martial artist, you are exceptional. But what about the 20 other black belts who've been training with me for 20 years and have done the instructor course over and over again? How do I get them to the next level? What do I teach them? They're doing exactly, they're mimicking me, the way I talk, walk, the way I have fun. They're doing the same thing.

What separates me from them, and what separates them from the new upcoming young people? So, there has to be in our industry a body of knowledge, which elevates our industry. But to elevate the industry, we have to elevate the leader, the instructor, and they have to start thinking at a different level, more uniquely, more maturely.

So, what I did with research, with personal experience, with interviews, all over the world, this is not limited to the United States, you know. I have friends all over the world, and high level master, Grandmaster, which you already know, they're in it, my teacher and my other teachers, you know, tell me, ‘What is the separation? How do we evolve?' And then I started putting this about seven, eight years ago, and started putting this body of knowledge together.

And I contemplated on, and researched it, observed the master instructors. When I go to these events, I'm observing the master instructor, allegedly, or the instructor and I want to see the behavioral differences, the pattern differences, the communication style differences. And this is what this book is about. It gives you an outline, guiding principles, some philosophies, a lot of practices, which an instructor or even the master instructor thinks their masters can adapt and make themselves even better. We have amazing, phenomenal teachers, masters, instructors out there.

What this book will do is this will make them clearly understand their role and take them even to a greater level, they already at a high level, how we take them to the next level. So that's what I want to bring to the body of knowledge, the pedagogy, the epistemology in this book, that it elevates our industry. So, when our industry, when a leader is elevated, what happens is, it raises our standards, you know, throughout the industry, and when the industry standard is raised, then we have more people wanting to come into our industry, because now, we are teaching at a maturity level.

So, in my opinion, and just my opinion, the martial arts industry is teaching at a college level right now. Our teaching methodologies, principles, practices, procedures, processes are at a college level standard, and we have not evolved to a university standard. And my goal and objective for our industry is to have a contribution. I want to contribute to evolving our standards to get from a college or high school level to a university level. Now, when we have that level, it automatically elevates us. We are the same brotherhood, we have, and we are out for the same thing. And when we elevate the industry, we have more people coming into our industry.

So, that brings success to our profession, into our business. And that also helps us become better instructors, so we can go out and really, truly, beyond the physical, beyond the kick and punch, make the true transformational change in the lives of our students. Because how are we shaping the lives for success for higher growth, higher thinking, by real martial arts. We are not in a temple, we're not in a, you know, facility where they're spending their life learning to be a monk, or you know. We have commercial schools where people come in. 

Now, the reason they will stay is the quality and standard and the maturity of our teaching. Not just the physical, but the philosophies. The communication style. And this is not based on personality. We might there's only one Bill Superfoot Wallace. You know, there's only one Benny the Jet, there's only one, Dr. Mung G, there's only one, you know, Fred Dagobert, there's only one Buzz Durkin, but how do we reproduce those giants and bring our industry to their level of thinking, maturity and communication. So, my objective with this book is to elevate the standard of teaching. So, I hope that helps a little bit.

GEORGE: I love that. I love that you've captured all this knowledge, you know, before it gets lost, so to speak, you know, and you've captured it, and you've given a pathway. I want to go back to the college versus university style of teaching. But, I want to ask, how would you communicate to an instructor the importance of actually stepping up to a mastery level? You know, for a lot of instructors that might be, ‘Well, I'm just sitting, you know, I'm an instructor'.

And now, you know, they pick up a book like this and realize, ‘Okay, well, hang on, there's a level that I actually need to progress to'. How do you communicate the importance to an instructor to invest in themselves to become a master instructor? 

ZULFI: Great question. So, it's a process I created about 10 years ago in our organization, the Master's University, and I have a workbook which goes with this. So my instructors first read this book, and we have meetings and then they go to the, you know, 16 hour workshop, where each chapter and we dig deep into it and go through a workbook. So, that's the process. But the first thing we have to do is to turn their mindset on – say, ‘Hey, you are a great instructor, just like striving for becoming a black belt striving to become a master black belt, they need to first, they need to know that there is something more for them. 

There is a Master College or Masters University. There's a masters curriculum, masters course, that they can learn and there has to be differentiation that yes, wow, this is how I used to think of this, who I am, and when I become the master instructor my thinking evolves. I can see in ink, that this is the process, this is what I will become. And I can't wait to become that. 

So the first thing is we have to have the body of knowledge, the criteria, the syllabus, and then we have to let them know that there is the next level. You just don't stay in for 20 years and then now you become a master instructor. There is training, there is a process, there is information that you will need to learn. And then you will be certified and qualified and recognized, accredited to be a master instructor on an academic level, not an experiential level. 

So yes, so we have a workbook, and my goal is when this pandemic deal goes, then I will open up workshops whoever like to, we're doing it internally for my organization, because that's where the need arose. And now I'm, you know, having open workshops and I would like to create, you know, the masters university to the next level where instructors, even master instructors come in and get the knowledge, get the information, and at least know that, ‘Wow, wow, there's a difference'. There's a difference in thinking, there's a difference in teaching.

And unless they, if you don't know, we don't know, you know. If the instructor doesn't know, there's something out there, how will they want to pursue it? So, now there is something out there, and now they can pursue it, they can look forward to it. And there is a solid piece of information, education out there. 

GEORGE: I love this. So, I want to just quickly go back to the college versus university style of teaching. And it reminded me of, you know, a conversation we have in our Partners coaching group, where we have a bunch of school owners that we get together on a, on a weekly basis.

And when the whole pandemic happened, you know, a big thing that we were discussing was value-based pricing. What I mean by that is, you know, when the whole pandemic happened, the vehicle of martial arts disappeared, you know, the physical thing that we love, and everything moved online, but what I felt was missing online, was the focus still on the thing that was missing? 

Whereas the focus needs to be a higher level, meaning, what is the actual outcome that martial arts delivers? Because if the physical form is gone, how do you still deliver the actual outcome, the community, everything else that martial arts provides? And that got me thinking, when you mentioned university level and college level, how would you feel if all instructors had to step up to a university level? How do you feel the outcome would be different to the teaching and what students actually get from their martial arts training? 

ZULFI: Excellent. When a student goes to college, they get the fundamentals; high school, they get the start. It's like a beginner, intermediate, advanced level. So, if you put it in a comparison, you know, beginner level in martial arts, up to black belt is high school, you know, black belt to second, third dan is college. And then above that is university from the technical, physical, technical aspect, you know, up to like those, you know, high school, second, third dan is college, third, fourth, fifth dan is, you know, university.

So, that's the physicality. The maturity level, it is difficult, it'll be hard for me to express in such a short time. That begins with the leadership, that begins with the leaders, the owners, thinking processes – how do they think, how do they act? How do they communicate, and what kind of substance and content they provide and produce – shallow or deep, wide, broad, wide, long, tall. So, the wisdom-based experience shows wisdom, not learned information. So, college is information, university is knowledge and experience. 

So, the information we take from high school and build the next level of body of information, the university takes that information, converts it into knowledge and wisdom, with the culture that they have, and the type of teaching, the academia, the type of body of knowledge that they produce. It converts that information, tactical to practical, to philosophical. 

Now, when the instructor and the institution matures, I'm not talking about kick and punch, I'm talking about philosophy. I'm talking about life changing content. I'm talking about deeper meaning, let's say, let's say from a school who was reciting the student creed, if they have a student creed, taking the student creed to the highest level, in how they interject the student creed into their daily life. What other teaching philosophies, what other mental, spiritual guidance we can give to our students based on the martial arts field, that it elevates them beyond learning another kata, beyond learning another choke. 

Now, the thinking when we have a CEO or an executive comes into our, you know, facilities, yes, they are coming for the physical training. They're learning to defend themselves. But when they find, wow, there's a whole body of knowledge. My instructor is a wise sage, not just an instructor drill sergeant, this person is a wise sage, a guru, he or she is guiding me through my life by way of martial arts, not just by me memorizing the student creed, but he or she can really dig deep into the life development, my philosophy, my life philosophy, life mastery through the martial arts.

So, when we say life mastery through the martial arts, my instructor, my master instructor, really, truly has the wisdom to communicate with me what this life mastery through the martial art really is. Is it another kata which you learn? Or the principles of Boon Kai application? Or there's a deeper, much deeper – how is it changing my life? My thinking, my spiritual growth. Not making religion, but spiritually. There are some who do that, and there are few who, who connect to that, but the majority is not really receiving that.

The reason why is because the majority of instructors don't even know the existence of such a body of knowledge. So, when we elevate our thinking, when we elevate our understanding of who we are, then we can give more. So, my whole objective is to elevate our thinking. 

And everything starts with your thoughts. Then when the thoughts are elevated, as a more evolved, high level human being or instructor in the words which come out of our, you know, symbols, or the word which comes out of our mouth, those symbols connect to the student at a different frequency. There's a different vibration, with those words, beyond the kicking, punching, the choking and throwing arm bar. Okay, beyond the thrashing and bashing. 

So, that's why yoga is so far ahead of the martial arts. If you take a comparison, there are millions of people around the world, mature people, studying yoga, because yoga provides a higher level of philosophical mindset, as well as physical movement. Does the martial arts provide that? Martial arts provides it, but at a shallow level, in my opinion. I'm sure there are some great, you know, philosophical approaches in different systems, but I feel that we still need to evolve.

But that's, so, for you, if you have ever understood the yoga instructor teaching, you know, the guru teaching process, they elevate the yoga instructors' thinking, and they can sit and talk to you about life, from a strategic and from historic point of view, not from a personal point of view. 

And because they're thinking, they've trained their thinking, and they have history, you know, yoga can go back thousands of years, martial arts can go back thousands of years, but what you find in martial arts is killing. You know, it was a battle art. So, how do we evolve ourselves? How do we have the people see us more than kick butt machines? You know, we can kick your butt. “Oh, boy, karate guy, Chapo, I'm scared of you, you know, I want to stay away from it.” Isn't that normal? Isn't the normal response? “Oh, Who? Your karate guy? Oh, I'm scared of you. I'm not going to mess with you.” 

That's a standard reply from somebody who meets a martial artist. But instead of, I want them to say in a while, I would love to learn from them, but that only comes when we are evolved ourselves. And this is the first step. I don't know at all. I'm learning myself. This is the first time in my opinion, you know, this is just my opinion. And so we need to grow our thinking and separate it from the instructor to the master instructor. I hope this clarifies. I don't want to go into a different tangent. But I hope this answers the question. 

GEORGE: Yes, I love it. It's like, what you're really showing here is a way of self-mastery on such a high level, but now how an instructor could actually apply that and share that. I want to ask you, because you talk about in the book, this whole subject, elevating your thinking, elevating your wisdom and taking it to the next level. And you give great credit, a lot of credit to great Grandmaster U Maung Gyi, head of the American Bando Association, for helping you step up to that next level. If I could ask, in which way was Dr. Maung Gyi an inspiration to you? 

ZULFI: So, he is my adopted father, he's adopted me as his son. So, we had a formal ceremony many, many, many years ago, 1992 or 1994, when my father came to America, so this is cultural tradition. And Dr. Gyi is my mentor, and he's a father figure to me. And actually he has adopted me as his son through my father's approval. So, we had, my father formally asked Dr. Gyi to adopt me as a son in America, because my father was overseas. And Dr. Gyi, took that role very, very, to heart, and he has guided me with the highest level of integrity that anybody you know, he kept his word to my father, he said, “Don't worry, Mr. Ahmed, he's my son from now on, and I will take care of him”.

And his objective for me was to, you know, I was young at the time, much younger, to shape me and elevate my thinking. And the way he did that over the course of time and taught me martial arts, some of the best martial arts training I've ever gotten is from Dr. Gyi, the physical aspect, American Bando, the Bando system is very vast and very deep, and very, very, you know, full of enriching history and training.

But Dr. Gyi is not just a great Grandmaster in the Banda system, he is a multiple PhD, he was a, you know, invited professor at Harvard University. I mean, this man is just on a different level. A whole other level. He's not human, he's superhuman. I'm not saying that because my teacher, my mentor, but that's the truth. If you meet him, you will, you will realize what I'm talking about. And there are very few people out there like that. 

So, I'm very fortunate that I have had this genius of a man, this wise monk of a man, Sayadaw, the monk mind, is taking me under his wing to guide me and, you know, teach me. So, I've learned so much, and not only the physical, but the thinking. And I've learned by observing him, by observation, his mannerism. And we've had conversations, you know, I will give you an example, he came, he was writing a book on me, it's called ‘Panther from Pakistan'. He wrote a book, he stayed 22 days in my home. 

And this is how our daily routine would be: he would be up at 6am with his, you know, pipe and typing on my computer. And when I wake up, and my wife, you know, we make him breakfast. And then all day he would be going and we'd be training. And there would be times, George, and this is no exaggeration. It'll be 2AM, 3AM, and he's teaching me, choking me, stabbing me, showing me the tiger form and all, and we’re talking about history, philosophy. And I'll say, “Doc, it's 2AM, it's 3AM. We need to go to sleep”. And he's, “Oh, yeah, already?” “Okay,” I say, “Doc, go to sleep”, you know, and put him to bed like a child. And then he would be up at 7AM. And I'm dragging. 

So, it was an experience living with the legend. I mean, I learned the true definition of dedication and work ethics, just by being around him, not let alone the physical technique. But that's why he's a genius, multiple PhDs, linguistic, you know, he's military, decorated veteran, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I'm sorry, I got off the tangent, because when I talk about Dr. Gyi, I just get totally excited, because he's, you know, we need mentors in our life. And I'm so fortunate that he and other people mentored me. So, one way of elevating yourself is to find the right mentor. And mentorship is so important. And let the mentor you. 

Those are the lucky ones who get mentors in their life and they let them guide them and grow their thinking first before they grow their, you know, physical anything. And a mentor is not a person who is a, you know, feel-good coach – ‘Hey, good job'. A mentor tells you the way it is, you know, good, bad, he or she will let you know, you know their opinion. Then it's up to you. They don't influence you in doing something. They just educate you and guide you. So, I hope that helps. Also, I did. I forgot the question. 

GEORGE: No, that was great, I guess, one or two more questions for you. And I think for anyone listening, they can feel your passion, the wisdom and everything coming through, and definitely worth picking up the book. I do have one more question about the book because, you know, other than yourself sharing all this great wisdom, you've got so many people that have contributed as well.

I'm probably not going to name all the names, but yeah, we've got Great Master Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace, Grand Master Ridvan Manav. Yeah, actually long standing clients. Yes, I speak to Hakan Manav quite often. Kyoshi Fred DePalma, and we got Hanshi Dave Kovar. 

A lot of knowledge is packed in this book from a lot of super talented martial artists. And we were discussing earlier, you were talking, you mentioned you had interviewed all these people. And I don't know if this is even possible to answer, but with so much diverse knowledge being shared with you, what's the one or two things that really stood out, that was a universal philosophy of a great master instructor? 

ZULFI: The great thing was that everybody had their own unique approach. And there were some people who just did one liners. And some people wrote, like Bill Clark, wrote a whole, you know, some chapters in there. So, one thing was that everybody had their own essence; what this book has is the essence of their personal idea of what a master instructor should be or is. So, they just extracted the essence and put it in, in this book. 

One thing was that what I took away – that open to learning, a master instructor, which is universal, is open to learning. Next point, I think I'll go to three points, which stand out. They're learners, open-minded to learn and grow. Second, they are in service for the students, they have evolved beyond themselves, they are not pursuing it for prize, profit, or fame. They are doing this, because it is them, they have become the essence. They've evolved beyond the price, the money, the fame. 

Now, it's part of the DNA. So, they teach out of love of teaching, not out of need of teaching. And the third thing, which stands out is they all want, they're all on a path of transformation, transforming their students to a higher level of human being.

To them, martial arts is more than kick and punch. To them, martial arts is truly empowerment in transforming a student into becoming a better human being. So, these are the key essence, in how they do it, is in the book and how they see it is in the book. And I'm so grateful to all these great minds and great leaders and great legends that they contributed, because my objective was, and still is, to put that info, so it should not be lost. 

When I ask them the question, what is a master instructor to you? I wanted to put their, you know, essence in the book. So, this is not lost for the upcoming generation. So, this becomes a text which is standardizing our industry for master instructors. I'm already working on the next book – it's called, ‘Beyond the Master Instructor'. So, now I'm talking about the grandmaster level, you know, at the next level, so I've already completed about 12 chapters. So, my goal is to publish that in 2022, probably. 

But now, what is after this, because I want to leave behind a body of knowledge that continually shapes our industry. That is my contribution to our industry, which has been so wonderful to me. You know, martial arts has changed my life and martial arts has given me and made me, you know, who I am today.

Of course, the teaching of my parents, and my faith, and my teachers, but it's all martial arts, where I'm today, what the reason I'm speaking to you is because of the martial arts, and I want to help shape those other lives. Because I know it's given me a lot, I want to give back to the martial arts and I see it in a way of, you know, a book or a course or, you know, a training. So, I want to leave that behind and continue to ever agree to give back. That's my contribution that I want to leave. 

GEORGE: Love it. Grandmaster Zulfi, thanks so much for making the time to chat with me and for anyone listening, so, ‘The Science and Secrets of Becoming a Master Martial Arts Instructor‘. I even said it the American way, I even said Master, not Master. All the links to where you can purchase the book is in the show notes. Master Zulfi, anything you'd like to add, before we wrap up? 

ZULFI: Thank you so much. I truly appreciate your time. And, you know, thinking of me and helping promote the book, because I feel this will help everybody and you don't have to be an instructor. I've got students in my academy, purchasing these. They just want to learn, they just want to know what we think about. So, this is not just for an instructor or a master instructor. 

Anybody can, when they read this, if your students read this, you are already planting that seed way early. You know, if a green belt, adult green belt, reads this, you've already planted the seed, and you’re already building an instructor, master instructor, in your school already. It elevates your instructors. It elevates all of us. 

So, the lady who edited this book, she's a PhD. And she's a retired professor of education. She used to write manuals for instructors in college. So, she told me, she said, “Master Zulfi, I learned so much from this book”. I mean, she's an educator, she writes manuals, I've learned so much, and she edited it. “I've learned so much from this book. Why don't you write this book for teachers, not martial artists, for teachers? All you've got to do is change the master instructor to teacher. 

And this will be a very big addition to the academic industry.” I was not thinking of it like that. And this person who's outside of industry, who did the editing, she's who I look up to. And I said, “I hope, I'm telling you, I hope this is good enough”. She said, “I've learned from this myself. And you can bring this body of knowledge into academia, academic work and help, it will help the teachers”. 

So, what a great testimony, what a great encouragement that she gave me and made me think in a different way now. So, I highly recommend it, and I'm not worried about selling it or not, I've already achieved what I wanted from this book. But whoever gets this book, first, I want you to give me your feedback, what you take away, so I can improve myself. And I can grow and also learn from it. And it's not only for instructors, it's not only for master, granted, it's for everybody. Your students can read it and when they read it, they will see the martial arts instructor at a different level. And you know, I just wish everybody the best of luck. 

Hang in there, guys. Good times are on the way. You know, when this pandemic is done, people are cooped up, they just want to get out what a great thing we do, what a great service we provide. I guarantee you give it time your schools will be packed. Just hang in there, be true to your profession, keep bringing the best of yourself, continue to grow yourself, and your school will be jam-packed again, that mark my words, it's about to happen. Not happen maybe in the next six months, the one who's relevant, and who's present, will reap the benefits.

GEORGE: Totally. I just want to add to that for, you know, especially for anyone listening from elsewhere, I can definitely vouch for that. You know, one thing that we really assess working with school owners in multiple countries, is watching countries ahead of the curve, get over the pandemic, sort of deal with things, open up and come out of lockdown. And I know here in Australia, schools are booming. And we see how that is trickling through. So yeah, if, you know, if things aren't great now, just be ready, because it's coming. 

ZULFI: For several reasons. Number one, cabin fever. Number two, there's some great movies coming out. Number three, if we have been active and relevant, people appreciate and notice and support that, you know. So, your success is not what you do for them, your success is how they see what you do. The community will support you, because you've been around supporting them, and it's very important to stay present and relevant. The community will recognize you.

GEORGE: Love it. Great opportunity to lead.

ZULFI: Thank you so much for your time. 

GEORGE: Thank you, Master Zulfi.

 

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media™ Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

107 – Being The Voice Of Reason For Your Team and Students

If you’re moving in and out of lockdowns, it can be tough to keep a positive attitude. Here’s a few reminders to sidestep negativity and help you lead from the front.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How to be the voice of reason in negative situations 
  • Practicing good leadership skills 
  • How to shift your energy and focus to achieve what you desire
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

It's good to be the voice of reason and challenge people on their thoughts, especially if they're training martial arts with you. What is martial arts really about? What are we really doing here? Punching, kicking, grappling, these are all the stuff that we do, but what is it really? What do you become when you do martial arts?

Hey, it's George Fourie, hope you're well. So, I wanted to shoot this video as a bit of an inspiration/reminder, depending on where you're at. Now, fortunately for me, I'm super blessed. You know, we've got no restrictions in anything. 

But I was chatting to one of our Partner members a couple of nights ago, and they are on lockdown, at number three. And surprisingly, he was not pretty down about it or anything. But he did mention that he's facing a lot of the same cancellations and a team that has been with him a long time just saying, “Great, we'll see you when you reopen”. 

So, no motivation to train online and so forth. And look, I get it, some people are okay with it, some people aren't. Either way, no judgment as to what is right or wrong. But, at the end of the day, what I do want to chat about is just being the voice of reason. 

So, let's face it, there's so much negativity around – finding a negative conversation or a whinging conversation, or complaining, it's easy to find, right? It's really easy to tap into a negative hemisphere and just latch on to the complaining, or the next complaint, or the next thing to whinge about, really. And, as a reminder, it's good to just be the voice of reason. 

It's good to be the voice of reason and challenge people on their thoughts, especially if they're training martial arts with you. What is martial arts really about? What are we really doing here? Punching, kicking, grappling, these are all the stuff that we do, but what is it really? What do you become when you do martial arts?

I think it's a good reminder for people that get it, to kind of call them on their attitude if people are wanting to quit, want to slow down or, you know, “yeah, we'll do nothing and come back later”. Challenge them on it. 

Really, is that how you're going to handle all problems in life, is just when something comes along, you're just going to sit back and wait till it blows over, you know, and wash your hands, or you're going to face it head on, and work within the constraints in what you have.

Let's face it, if you're under lockdown, number three, there could be a number four, there could be a number five, that could never change, you can't change that. But, you can change how you handle the situation and what you do in the situation. 

And this is where your students obviously look up to your leadership, right? And look at, well, what are you doing? Are you leading from the front? Or are you burying your head in the sand with everyone else? 

And I think that could just be a reminder for everyone, because it's easy to get stuck in misery. It's easy to get stuck in how bad a situation is, versus taking the leadership role and just saying, “well, yeah, it's not great. But here's the plan. This is what we're going to do, this is how are we going to navigate through this”. 

So we're going to get through this, and before you know it, we're back on track, and everybody that was sitting on their butts watching Netflix, etc., are going to be way behind you guys who jumped in and kept on training and kept on doing the thing. 

Anyway, I hope that hit home, I hope that makes sense. Look, wherever you are – things have obviously changed a lot. You know, and depending on where you're based, maybe you face restrictions now and restrictions later. Nothing you can control, but you can control on how you lead from the front and the example you set for your students. 

Anyway, I hope that helps. Depending on when you're listening to this, have a great 2021, have a great year. Speak to you soon. Cheers. 

 

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media™ Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media™ Partners

105 – Passing Kidney Stones & Getting Your Mojo Back With The 75 Hard Challenge

If your energy took a dive in the last few months, here’s a quick way to get your mojo back (passing kidney stones not essential!).

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • What is the 75 Hard Challenge
  • How to revive your energy and get your mojo back
  • Do this and it will help grow your martial arts business 
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

As a martial artist, for me, it was always I train a lot and I'm doing what I can so I'm doing okay, but reality is, I was not, and I really needed to do a couple of things to uplift my energy and get back on track and feel alive. 

Hey, it's George Fourie, hope you're well. So, if you've been feeling a little sluggish, or your energy's down, just the last couple of months of craziness has really gotten down to you, then hopefully, this episode will help. 

So, a slightly different podcast episode, we normally talk about marketing, business, or interview people. This one is about health and being at your optimal state. And I know, as a martial artist, for me, it was always I trained a lot. And I'm doing what I can. So, I'm doing okay, but reality is, I was not. And I really needed to do a couple of things to uplift my energy and get back on track and feel alive. 

So, I've done just that. In the last couple of weeks I've been part of this challenge. It's called the 75 Hard Challenge, you can look it up at 75hard.com. In fact, I'll link to a podcast in this episode, which gives all the details. You can access that at martialartsmedia.com/105

So, I'll give you a bit of a background about how the challenge works. Now, it's not a weight loss challenge. It's a mental toughness challenge. And I'm not normally one to jump on board challenges. And, let's be honest, if I had to be honest with myself, every time I've jumped into a challenge as well, I probably didn't follow through the way I should have. 

So, a bunch of people in a coaching group that I belong to jumped into this. And I thought, I'm gonna do this, and I'm just gonna give it a go. And I'll tell you what, it's been pretty amazing. It's been tough. I expected it to be tougher, but it's been pretty amazing. And a couple of crazy things that happened, which I'm going to be sharing in this episode. 

So, I'll quickly pull it up on the app, actually, and just show you the details. So, it's basically an app that keeps track of your progress. Now, every day, you've got to do two 45-minute workouts. I believe they've got to be two hours apart. One must be outside. 

Follow a diet, that can be any type of diet, obviously not Krispy Kremes, or something crazy, but an actual diet. No alcohol and cheat meals. That catches a lot of people. Right? That one is a killer for most people, especially the time of year when I'm recording this now, leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Drink a gallon of water. So, a gallon of water is about 3.7 liters. Read 10 pages of a non-fiction book and take a progress pic. That's basically it. Well, it's not basically it, right, because it's quite a bit to do. 

So, for me, I just decided well, okay, let me see if I can shuffle my routine, I need to do two 45-minute workouts. I'm just going to up my jujitsu game. And, so, I've done that, and out of the 17 days, I've trained 14 days. I've been on the mats, I train at lunchtime, so it's super easy for me. 

So, I've been on the mats, 14 days out of the 17. And I must admit the three that I did, were probably the hardest because I had to find exercises to do that weren't in my routine. My other exercise would be, I'll do yoga, or I've got a rebounder where I do some jumping. Or I'll just actually, just, fast brisk walk at the beach with the family and that will add to the exercise time. 

The drinking water, now, I'll actually see what's happened because of the drinking the water. That's actually been pretty simple. As long as I get two of these in before 10 AM. That's 1.2 liters, it's 40 ounces. That makes it a lot simpler. And no alcohol. Now, I know no alcohol can be a tough one. I stopped drinking a little over a year ago. Got pancreatitis, it was super painful. I was told to stop drinking for six months. And I just didn't start since. 

Now, I have nothing against drinking. It's always funny when I go out, or you know, to a barbecue or hang out with people and I say I'm not drinking and the only people that feel weird are the people that are drinking in front of me. And they're like, “oh, do we have to, do we have to stop drinking?” And I've just got to confirm, hey, totally cool with you drinking, I'm just not drinking, and I've had a good run. So, I'm okay with that.

So, yep. If you're gonna take something like this challenge, obviously consider, you know, the festivities coming along, which time of year you are doing it. Reading 10 pages a day has been great. As a habit, I do read a lot. I do listen to a lot of audiobooks. But this is actually got to be a physical book, right? You can't fake it. You got to actually pick up a real book and read it. That changed a lot, no cheat meals, so all these things are pretty okay for me. 

So, here's a couple of crazy things that have happened, well, call them crazy. Well, first up, weight loss: I've lost, I think about four kilograms, that's about eight pounds. I passed a kidney stone. Now, a little bit of background, I've struggled with kidney stones since my 20s. I've had past kidney stones every year, pretty much for the last 10 years. The last time was about two years ago. And it was the worst, the worst as in, I've always passed kidney stones. I know that sounds gross and painful, especially for guys, the thought of it. But, funny enough, passing a kidney stone is not hard. A kidney stone moving through your insides, all the way down, that is pain. 

So, two years ago, I had a stent in my kidney. And that was really uncomfortable, because I had a piece of wire in my kidney. I couldn't walk fast, I had a lot of internal bleeding, and couldn't train. The doctors just kept on feeding me painkillers. It was not a great time. And after all that, they operated, they couldn't get the kidney stone out. So, I know I've had a kidney stone up here for a while. And every time somebody knee rides me, I feel the pain for a couple of days. 

Anyway, I was doing yoga on day eight or nine, and as I got up, I was like, “whoa, that's really sore, here in my bladder area.” And my wife said, I should probably take it easy. She's been saying that through the whole challenge. Anyway, I passed a kidney stone, probably almost as big as a pea, like a green pea. Anyway, I know that sounds horrific, but, I was just celebrating because that's the least amount of pain I've ever experienced for a kidney stone and I passed it. That alone is feeling great. 

Anyway, my jiu jitsu has really improved. Just over the last couple of days, I did start feeling a bit sluggish. Feeling like, whoa, my body's starting to pain, it's getting a bit sore. But, the last few days on the mats have been great. Two days ago, I got sick. Well, at night, I started getting cold shivers and felt a bit weird. But in the morning, I slept 10 hours, that's probably just what my body needed. Slept 10 hours, woke up, I was 100 percent. 

And yesterday on the mats, I spent an hour, I went flat out. Although I was tired, and it's pretty hot here in Perth, where we are. It was really strange. I felt tired, but I didn't feel exhausted. Like, I felt like I had a workout, but I just had so much more left in the tank. It's been great. It's been great in the sense of I feel clear, I've been thinking clearly. 

And here's, if I had to tie this back into business, we started this discussion in our Partners group. Well, okay, if that's what you would do in a challenge, are there things that you can do in your business as day-to-day activities that would grow your business faster? 

That's one thing I've got from just logging into an app, because routinely, the longer I do the challenge, the more I'm addicted to the habit of not doing it, and the higher the stake is of letting it go right? Because, I'm looking at this, and I can see, well I've done 17 days, and the stakes of dropping it and starting again, is just too much. So, I forced myself to do it. Now, there's been some awkward days. My wife was at a work conference over the weekend. And so, my last workout was at about quarter to 10. 

The funny thing is, I've set my day end on the app at 10 PM and I log my results at quarter to 11. And, I've got this disaster, you know, big guy, and he was standing there and saying, “hey, you know, did you miss it?” And I thought, “oh, hang on, I don't have a chance to recuperate.” And it says, it gave you the option to continue if you, honestly, of course, finished your day's activities. Yeah, so I'm back on track. 

But anyway, one of the things that you could do, if you had to set yourself high stakes and be in a group, like we do in our Partners group, be together and have somebody be accountable for you, that you can just go that extra mile. 

I noticed this in the last couple of weeks, we ran a six week challenge, we called it the ‘Relaunch and Restore Challenge' for our Partners group. And, a bunch of the guys jumped in, they started running the numbers, right? So, the goal was, the person who grows, increases their revenue and student base, by the biggest margin over six weeks, will get a title belt. Let me see if I can pull it up. Here we go, a slight cheesy picture of me holding the title belt. 

So, we created a title belt called ‘Partners Challenge Champion'. And so the person, Phil Cassidy, won this. Two of the top guys increased their revenue by 213%. Obviously, they had to be motivated. And obviously, they're to do.

But doing that, it just showed me the power of a challenge, when you have a set deadline that you've got to achieve a certain thing, and you've got group accountability, and you've got a few people that are really pushing you, it kind of makes a difference of picking up that one extra phone call or sending that one extra follow up inquiry, or running that extra ad campaign, or just pushing that much harder to get the result that you want. 

That's something we've been really focusing on in our Partners group. And really, how do we push people further? I hope this was helpful. I just wanted to share this. And I know, for someone, it could be good. 

Now, if 75 days just sounds too crazy, and you're looking at it, and you know, Christmas and Thanksgiving and all the festivities, New Year is around the corner, have a look at it, download the app, check it out, and see what you can get from it. 

And when you really give it a shot, it will transform your life. Well, hey, I'm only on day 17. So, I'll record another podcast when I hit some solid numbers, as in, complete the challenge. Alright, hope you're well, hope you're doing great. I'll speak to you soon. Cheers. 

 

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media™ Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media™ Partners

101 – Costa Prasoulas – Applying Philosophy And Martial Arts To The Fight Of Life

Martial arts school owner Costa Prasoulas shares how philosophy influences his life of acting and martial arts.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Costa’s ancient ancestral history of martial arts 
  • The philosophy that Costa upholds in his martial arts academy
  • How Costa’s career in martial arts movies began
  • Observing martial arts fight scenes from a different perspective 
  • The self defense approach to Covid-19
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

I think of philosophy and its beautiful relation to martial arts is the fact not that it gives you answers, but it creates questions. It creates an open channel of thinking. In relation to martial arts, there's not one answer. There's many ways from a technical avenue, from a stylistic perspective and many answers, there's not one thing, right? That's why there's so many variations and so many possibilities.

GEORGE: Good day, this is George and welcome to another Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. So today I'm joined with a special guest all the way from Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales. We were going to, actually like a lot of things, do this interview a couple of months back, but at the time of recording this, as we all know, the world changed and so things got delayed. So welcome to the call Costa Prasoulas. How are you today Costa?

COSTA: Yeah good thank you George, I'm very well thank you. It’s nice to be with you.

GEORGE: Cool. Costa has an interesting background and who better to tell us – look, if somebody has a Wikipedia page, it deserves mentioning, right?

So who better to tell us a bit of an intro and then Costa can take over, but… Costa Prasoulas is an Australian actor and martial artist trained in Muay Thai, Hapkido, Taekwondo, Pankration and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, having won the Australian Open Martial Arts Championship in 1992, Intercontinental Kickboxing Champion and won a silver medal at the 2009 World Games. His acting credits include Cop's Enemy and Z-End.

How cool is that? My work was done for me and a really good intro.

COSTA: It's quite interesting, you know, I didn't even know that I had a Wikipedia page until about last year when my daughter came up and she is like, “Dad, guess what?” I said “What?” She goes “Oh, we were looking at you at school with some friends of mine. My daughter is in year 12 mind you. And she goes, “You’re on Wikipedia!”

I said, “Really?” I had no idea. And so it only came to my attention that I was actually on Wikipedia like maybe over the last sort of what, 18 months. So it's quite interesting. But it's cool that you said that, I didn't even know myself.

GEORGE: That actually makes it a lot better, you know. If it was instigated from the marketing standpoint and, you know, it's still good that you can get it. But the fact that it was up there without you knowing…

COSTA: Yeah, I had no idea. I had absolutely no idea, no idea.

GEORGE: That can lead to the next question, like: how did it come to that? I mean, you've obviously done some cool things within the martial arts space and then movies. So give us a bit of a background, how this all got started for you and where you came from?

COSTA: Sure. Primarily, from a very young age, I was about five and a half or six years of age when I started really sort of getting involved with martial arts. And the primary reason was my father. My father was actually, he dabbled in amateur Greco-Roman wrestling in Greece.

When my parents sort of settled then in Australia, in Sydney and I was, you know, my dad was always sort of in the combative arts anyways, so I had that primarily from a cultural background, that Hellenic combative ideal of you know, mind, body and spirit. My ancient ancestors you know. And so that was kind of like, I never really sort of, I kind of grew up with that sort of mentality. To me that was normal because of the way that my life as a young kid sort of was involved in that.

So I kind of like progressed with some other martial arts as well. With Hapkido, Taekwondo, I moved on to Muay Thai, I spent quite a number of years competing in kickboxing, sort of Muay Thai and stuff like that. I spent a lot of time in Europe, because we have quite a bit of family in Greece, so I kind of lived over in Europe for quite a few years. I competed quite a bit in Europe, spent a bit of time in Holland, sort of Muay Thai kickboxing style is more dutch or European K1 style, which was quite sort of not very popular back then, especially in the 90s.

It was sort of very new to the sort of Australia South Pacific region. I spent a bit of time in Thailand, travelled to South Korea, traveled quite a bit. Over the course of those years, I was involved in quite a few sort of choreography and martial arts sort of scenes. You know, doing bits and pieces for commercials and stuff like that.

Then finally I had one of my friends, and she's sort of like to me, well, why don't you get an agent and do this professionally? And it kind of sort of led to that, there was a production that was happening maybe about 10 years ago, 11 years ago and I was kind of involved behind the scenes for choreography. I think it was half an Australian-Indonesian production and we’ve got a lot of Asian cinema mates. You know, there's always combat and there's lava death and revenge, there's always something happening, so it's pretty cool, you know, it's our style, right?

And there was this fight scene that I needed to create between the main actor and three villains. And these guys were all fantastic actors, but their martial arts skills left a lot to be desired. And they were wonderful actors, great guys, but they needed a lot of training.

And I primarily turned to the director, I said, “Listen,” I said, “I need to work with these guys,” because when you do stuff like this on screen as opposed to competitive or real sort of situational combat, it's very different. It's very, very, very, very different. You know, you extend your kicks, you need to do your thrust. And you always take use of your environment.

So if we're say for example doing a scene, I don’t know, I’m just going to pick say in a coffee shop or something, right? We're utilizing tables, chairs, stuff that could be used as weapons and you take all this into consideration. Then you know, the number one priority is safety. And usually with action things, I think that it's hardcore action movies especially martial artists don't get enough credit as much as they deserve, simply because it's not just dialogue where if you make a mistake, or there's a slip-up or some kind of retake needs to happen, it can be done.

Whereas with fight scenes, especially when you're dealing with weapons, the tables and chairs and you’re looking all of a sudden like Jackie Chan, what these guys do, they’ll spend easily eight to nine hours to pull up a two to three minutes scene. It's just massive, because you're doing a number of different takes and angles and there's mistakes and then you’ve got injuries and you’ve got… So there's a lot at play, there's a lot more to handle.

Anyway, I said to him, you know, we need to do this, we need to spend X amount of time. So we kind of sort of started to progress down that avenue. And then he was sort of running out of time, so it was going over budget, it was going over time so there's all these little factors to take into consideration. And he goes, “You know what mate?” He goes, “Stuff it, you do it.” Because it's an Asian movie, right?

So you've got to remember that the Europeans are usually the bad guys, you know, in a lot of the Asian movies. So you’ve got to understand the historical context of why that happens. So he goes, “You'd be perfect for it, so no problem.” So it kind of like took off from there, and it was a major movie, especially in… That movie was quite big in Indonesia.

It kind of like stems from there, it's been an interesting sort of… I really enjoyed it, especially because I don't really compete much now. Now I'm focusing on my Academy and my acting, I love my family as well, so I try to juggle my time quite effectively at work. It's pretty cool, it's pretty cool.

I've been getting a lot more drama serious roles, I kind of like being stigmatized, kind of like a mafia boss, you know, that kind of role. So the last couple of years my roles have been primarily more of a, like a godfather, you know, like a stand over guy, like that “Don't mess with me” kind of dude, you know, which is pretty cool, you know, it’s nice.

GEORGE: Yeah, I saw a few clips and you match that persona pretty good. Yeah, you’ve got the martial arts experience, you were with a bunch of actors, they’re actors, but they don’t know what they’re doing – how does that process work to actually get actors on par with a scene and how much of it is orchestrated and improvised? Is it 100% orchestrated and is that why the length of the time, or…?

COSTA: Mmm, that’s a good question. So you'll find that with straight out actors, it takes a long time to train them. So if they’re doing usually a big budget production, where you get big Hollywood actors, or you know, mainstream high end actors, they’ll spend the time to train them and they’ll, for example look at the film that we all love, like John Wick and yeah you can go look and see that Keanu Reeves was already trained, he had been training in martial arts for years.

But in this particular one, they wanted to change it, so they brought in Jean Jacques Machado, they brought in a lot of guys with another element and he was just training relentlessly for like 3 to 6 months. And this guy has been consistently active and they were able to pull off this scene. So there was a combination of choreography and sort of go with the flow, let's improvise. So with guys like him, you can.

If you take someone, let's say for example, that’s had no sort of athletic training and really hasn't been evolving in forms of martial arts or combat, it's really difficult. So that's why you'll find, depending on the region, depending on what they're doing is they'll use people that will have a background in it. Or you know, a lot of the extras, all the supporting actors, will be very highly trained martial artists to make the flow seem effective.

You know, when you think of Liam Neeson in “Taken”, where he’ll do… the camera angles are very close, so you know where you see he’s not doing much, and he’s very sort of like a one hit, one finish and done. That’s how they get around working with guys like that. So they don't have to overly train them, because they’re more drama based actors, they’re not fight actors.

Whereas, if we go back a bit, where you’ve got guys like Keanu Reeves and Van Damme, you know all these guys. Like Jason Statham, he’s a classic example, you know, these guys are all trained. It's much easier for them to flow, so they can work well. So if you and I both trained and you were in a supporting scene, we would improvise a lot and we would work off each other, so that would reduce that flow. And that's why you'll see scenes, have you ever seen the movie called “The Raid”?

GEORGE: No.

COSTA: Ok. watch “The Raid.” So… it's pretty cool. They did like a 15 minute high impact fight scene where they were just going with the flow. And this probably took them, whereas with a normal actor it would take him 3 days to shoot a 10 minute scene, they did it in a span of like 12 hours, just like that.

And some people are highly skilled, but they're terrible on camera. Like they’ve just got no reaction, because you've got to fake it. If you punch me here and I don't react to that, well it doesn't look very realistic on film, does it? You're trying to sell it.

GEORGE: That's interesting. I've always tried to look at movies just from the devil's advocate point of view of, hang on, was that really your hand and how was the angle and how did the punch land? Was it from you, was it from someone else, and was it a double? Yeah.

COSTA: Accidents do happen though. They do happen, a lot of people get injured, you know? There's many people who have had broken foot or broken ribs or mishaps and stuff like that. And it just depends on sometimes you just get caught up in the moment, or you could be on uneven terrain and you’re working off ladders or tables or chairs, accidents do happen. People do get hurt – it’s not intentional, but it can happen, especially when you’re dealing with weaponry in another sort of environment and stuff. And there's also, there's many things, there's also the continuity factor.

So for example, when you’re looking at a base movie, let’s say for example we're doing a scene, we’re doing a dialogue scene, we’re sitting, let's take the coffee shop like we did before – this is where you'll notice things like, they're having a conversation but we’re doing a number of retakes, so we’re there for an extensive amount of time, where you’re drinking say for example, I don't know, sparkling mineral water. But your glass is half full, you're wearing your Breitling watch on your left hand and your hair is styled this way and your shirt has got one button untucked. And then you'll see the same thing later on, but the glass is empty, your shirt looks a little bit differently. That's because they're doing a number of retakes, all this stuff comes into effect too.

So if you've caught a punch on your right side and you're kind of like tripled with bleeding, the makeup comes in and the director of photography to create continuity purposes, because it's very difficult. If you have to do for example a sidekick to the knee, and we’ve got a kick, you’re doing this, you might end up shooting like 50-60, a 100 sidekicks over and over and over again. Say, you start to sweat, all this stuff comes into it.

It's quite…it's a lot harder than what people think, it's not that simple. That's why I said to you in the beginning, I said, there's a much higher appreciation for those action sequences and what some of the big actors and the stunt guys actually go through to produce the final product, it's actually quite an intense process.

GEORGE: I think I'll be looking at 2-3 minute fight scenes with a new level of eyes.

COSTA: Yeah yeah, you tend to appreciate it a lot more, a lot more.

GEORGE: So you've got Zeus Academy?

COSTA: Yes I do.

GEORGE: And so with your background of acting, have any of your students followed that same path? Or have you directed them in that way when you spot some talent?

COSTA: Not necessarily. I have offered my students when there has been opening for extras roles, or you know, like background roles and they need people, I will offer it and some of them have been involved in a few short films, like for the Toronto film festival, Sydney film festival, you know the Cannes film festival, they're doing a lot of short films, productions and stuff like that. Nothing major, like not big budget productions or sort of mid budget productions.

I think it's not something that I push them to do, it's something that if any of them are interested in that avenue, at some point I'll probably look into it, but I have offered when there has been opportunities arisen and some have taken part, but I don't really push them down that avenue. As a professor, a martial instructor of the academy, people have different goals. Primarily all of our students that come don't come for that reason.

It wouldn't be for martial arts choreography or for that, you know, it will always be something. If something changes in the future, especially some of the guys that have been with me for 10-15 years and they enjoy this and they want to pursue this, definitely.

But I think it's a very oversaturated industry, to be honest with you. It's very little, like the way that the industry works now is very different to what it used to be. So most of the time now, you know, people will make a lot of short films, they’ll make a lot of black pilot productions with the goal to eventually get it on Netflix, or Stan, something like that and get picked up.

And if that’s a success, you get a percentile cut and you’re progressed to a seasonal production, whereas… and most of this is free work, you know, it's a very, very oversaturated industry. Especially, here in Australia it's very difficult, especially with action movies, very few productions get done here, they’re more in the hardy tardy kind of thing, they’re not into that kind of hardcore Asian, that John Wick sort of Transporter style movies. You’ve got a lot more Europeans and Americans and Asians that do that style, you know?

GEORGE: Fantastic. So behind you there's a nice display of different trophies and so forth. Give us a bit of background on what's going on there.

COSTA: Yeah. I just mixed up all of my intercontinental kickboxing title belt, a couple of trophies like some, a gold medal from the Sydney BJJ comp, I've just… it's bits and pieces. It's nice, this is some of the stuff that I have. I'm at home now, so I’m not in the office, this is a small one, my home stuff, there's a lot of stuff in the gym. I don't primarily like to make the Zeus Academy about me, I like to have the impression that it is about the academy, you know?

GEORGE: Lovely.

COSTA: That way it gives me a little bit more freedom to do my acting and do some other stuff that I do. So the way that I work with Zeus Academy, we’ve kind of got 5 branches. So we've got our standard martial arts training and different classes, where we offer Muay Thai, high level Muay Thai. High-level Brazilian jiu jitsu, Pankration, mixed martial arts, Hapkido and we have our kids’ taekwondo/kickboxing programs.

So we have those styles that we teach there. So then my second avenue is, I do quite a bit of work, I used to and I still do occasionally, but not as much as I did before, due to all the circumstances that have happened throughout the world and stuff. I do quite a bit of work with corrective services and security, sort of protection, sort of area. I do a lot of the training of the guards personally myself.

I also do my film work and we run quite a few anti-bullying programs for schools and we also have remedial massage, personal training, weight control and you know personal sort of little things that we work on with individualistic sort of people, depending on, you know, their personal issues that they're dealing with. And we've also got our manager in Zeus, she's pretty much our psychologist and does a few other things as well.

So I kind of run it with those five sort of little sub branches, but all under one academy. So there's many things that I kind of like to do with Zeus Academy in that respect, so it’s kind of like a little bit different from your average martial arts Academy. And it's not that I kind of like planned to take it to any of these specific avenues. I truly believe like if you work hard and you have faith and you believe in what you do, you're very passionate about what you’re doing and you know, you keep at it things fall into place, you know.

And that's kind of like, it’s kind of happened, with the competitive scene, I love competition. I'm not, I don't push it. We have a few very, very high-level competitors. Not a huge amount, but I do find that they take a lot more of my time and a lot of time that I would like to spend. And it’s great, I understand it because I did it myself, I used to compete quite a bit over here and in Europe as well and Asia.

But it's not something that I'm a big fan of going down that avenue. I will support it as much as I possibly can, but to go into that sort of fight lifestyle it's just a whole lot of time consuming with very little return, to be honest with you.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. So I'm curious just on your, on your academy, you mentioned your you know you've got five sort of different pillars.

COSTA: Mhm.

GEORGE: So different audiences. So when it comes to marketing, is it, do you focus on one primary target audience and then there's a bit of cross-promotion in between, or you sort of just have people coming in from all angles across all five pillars?

COSTA: So from a marketing perspective, I just market the academy, primarily I always market the Academy for its philosophy. The philosophy of the Academy, because I do a lot of, I actually studied philosophy quite extensively ever since I was young. So I studied a lot of Socrates, Aristotle and stuff like that. I think of philosophy and its beautiful relation to martial arts in the fact not that it gives you answers, but it creates questions. It creates an open channel of thinking.

In relation to martial arts, there's not one answer. There's many ways from a technical avenue, from a stylistic perspective and many answers, there's not one thing, right? That's why there's so many variations and so many possibilities. And I think that's what philosophy does.

So when I market Zeus Academy, it's more about the philosophy of the academy. We try to make the fist work as a whole in terms of, you know, mind, body and spirit. If one of the fingers are injured or damaged or is not functioning properly, then the whole unit is not going to be able to form at its maximum capacity of power. So we try emphasizing that balance.

I think people are in there, we look at sort of those various aspects of it, but in other terms of marketing, we work a lot with referrals. So we work a lot with referrals. And I also get a lot of clients through my acting. So there's a lot where I’ll be on set and they go “Wow man that's great! What do you do?” It's like, ok, yeah.

So I actually had a guy join us, he actually signed up last night. It was a fellow actor. “I've always wanted to do Muay Thai, I’ve always wanted to do BJJ, I always watch the UFC,” and it's like, that's great. You know, I didn't… I hate the UFC, yeah I'm not a big fan of the UFC. But I get that through my own individual thing.

So from terms of marketing from all the five different aspects, it'll be more by referral, sort of personal thing. But when we're doing general marketing, we just sort of market the academy. I keep it very simple, like it's very rare that I’ll, you know, “Come now and get this free,” I'm not a big believer in things like that.

I'm a big believer in “Less is more.” Like one of my marketing strategies that I sort of do on social media will always be related to something that I do to the philosophy of life. And I think as the leader of the Academy, I think you’ve got to lead by example.

When I think back to my ancestors, Alexander the Great, Leonidas, or Constantine the Great, which is where my name comes from, Constantine, they were always in the front line. They were the first one on the battlefield. They weren't sitting behind, directing, they were saying “This is what we're going to do and this is how we should do it.” So I’ve always kind of had that philosophy with myself and with my students, you know? So I try to do the same.

I try to lead, it's just been one of those things that I kind of do. And it's kind of worked for me and I'm also a big believer in, you know, knowledge is power, but I think yes and no. I think knowledge without action is okay, but you need to take action. So that kind of like means that’s philosophy too, well let's take action. If I can do it and I'm almost 50, you can do it too, you know?

GEORGE: I love that! I was going to ask you about, I was looking at your social media posts and the essence of the philosophy coming through that – it kind of reminds me that the day I started training martial arts and I don't know if you know my story, but I mean my martial arts lifespan is really short, I started when I was 36. But one thing, when you were mentioning the connection of mind, body and spirit, you know, that's what was the selling point for me.

It was all the personal development work and everything that I've done over the years and really trying to master myself and find myself, you know, finding martial arts was kind of the vehicle of the physical, you know. That was the body part which really connected for me. So if you look at the philosophy of Zeus Academy, what is that one core philosophy that sort of stems over all five different styles and avenues that you have?

COSTA: I would say one word. If I could sum up my Academy in one word, it would be family. Because family gives you a sense of security. It gives you a sense of protection, it gives you a sense of strength. It gives you a sense of knowing that there's going to be someone there, or anything there beside you to be there at your best points, but also at your worst points.
Because we all fight different battles and strength is not just a physical thing. It's like you just said before, it's all those three attributes, right? I think our family, not so much when I say the word family, I'm talking about encompassing all of those avenues and those attributes and those qualities that we all possess.

And it's one of those things and I think really you know what I'm talking about. But it's really hard to explain this to people that don't train. They don't want to get involved, especially when you real hardcore, tough like in close, like heavy, like kind of like grappling systems or really, really, really up close and personal hard style Muay Thai and stuff like that, you really develop a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood and family.

And that's what I mean by the term family, you know, you get that vibe and you get that sense of belongingness, again you know that you're part of something that is within you as well as external. I don't know how else to explain it, but that's what I meant.

GEORGE: It's 100% clear, what you’re saying is 100% clear. I love that perspective that you share, because I don't hear a lot of people talk that deep, you know, about this. For me it’s an ongoing learning cycle. I mean just everything, the mind and martial arts. The mind, the body and spirit as you mentioned.

COSTA: 100%. And I think we always start… I mean it doesn’t matter what you do, I don't think what age… it doesn't really matter what your mind frame is when you begin with. I think once you spend an extensive amount of time, we all link to that, right? And it doesn't matter what you're doing. Whether you're working on losing weight, you get that mental, emotional and internal satisfaction and understanding that you start to apply to your everyday life.

You know, whether you're a hardcore competitor, you know you start dealing with nerves and soft control and composure and feeling pressure. And no matter how many times I step into that ring, my heart is pounding! And I’ve got to channel that energy to my advantage and the more I do it, the more I'm able to channel that fear to a more positive approach. It doesn’t mean it goes away, it’s there and that’s where it’s always going to be.

And I don't care who you are, I don’t care how many fights you've had: every time you step in that ring your heart pumps and you feel that, right? But you just start to channel that energy to a more positive effect. It's like saying don't be happy, don't cry, don't laugh, and don’t feel fear. It's not going to happen, it's not going to happen at any point in time. It's just how you channel that, right? And I think the more you stay involved when you train you really start to learn these qualities about yourself a lot more.

And eventually, you might start young and you see in many aspects and I've seen this throughout a number of decades of their training. So now I'm a bit closer, this would be like my 40th year probably, like training from young life. And so when you're young you know, your parents are trying to develop that strength, confidence, that eye contact, all those qualities right.

And then you sort of get to your teens, when you start to be a little bit more mentally aware how your physical presence, your mates. And you may start to compete, even if you don't like, you know, you may be trained with people that do compete.

So it gives you that sharpness. And then you go through that whole sort of phase and if you learn to battle through those, you know, those points where, you know, you're going to get hit. You're going to get knocked down. You're going to get beaten up, you're going to get some shocking injuries.

I don't even want to start with my injuries, I'll be here for like ten minutes. Blown out knees, knee reconstructions, fascitis in the elbow, disc fusion, you know. Dislocated ribs, dislocated rib cartilage, you name it. It's like, it's just consistently it hasn’t stopped.  So you know, we don't play long balls for a living, do we?

But it teaches you to fight through life. And I think it was actually Sylvester Stallone that said the best thing in the Rocky movie, no one hits harder than life. So when you learn to overcome and channel these things, and the only way you’ll learn to overcome and channel through them, is by using what you said before, that is mental, any internal physical strength and attributes.

Because the external physical presence doesn't matter at this point. And you learn to overcome and become a fighter in life. And as you progress, irrespective of age, I think when you get to sort of our age and over, you’re kind of like, you are more appreciative of this. And it's a constant learning thing, isn’t it? Like, “Oh master Costa, master Costa!” Yeah for sure, it's a title man but it doesn't really mean anything, you know.

I mean at the end of the day, we're constantly learning. Constantly, constantly. There's always something to it. I think the day that we think that we know it all is this day we stop growing.

That's my philosophy as a whole thing through the Academy, from the top. And I try to sort of slowly, you know, nurture our instructors that have, you know, that work at our Academy, that teach for me. All my instructors have been with me for a minimum of six to seven years, if not more, that have been featured in our Academy. And the idea is, I want it like that, because I want this philosophy to talk to it. I don't want it to be because it's me; I want it to be because it’s the Academy.

As you keep getting older and older, you know, we’ve got some, you know, students that are in their sixties. Yeah, one guy's almost seventy. So it's really nice to see these people, you know, and they're pushing and challenging themselves and they're doing stuff that they never thought was possible.

So I never think it's too late to start, but I think we, all at some point after a level of training, at some point in time, especially within these systems, especially in the system that I teach at the Academy, we really appreciate this mind and body evolving and the connection to life.

When you see that, I think you also create a lot of longevity in your students. And it also gives them a sense of attachment. So for example, we'll go through little things. I was talking to one of my students yesterday and he asked me a question about Muay Thai. And, you know, how it's more of a sport and stuff like that.

Actually, I said this when we were at the convention together, when I did the Muay Thai as well. And you know, a lot of people don't know that Muay Thai is actually a very traditional martial art and it comes from pre-Thailand, before Thailand was actually called Thailand. It was Siam, right?

So it was the Siamese people, their military forces were trained to defend the people of this land.  And there were a lot of weapons involved in, there was archery and there was ground techniques and it was stone throwing techniques. And there was all of this stuff that was used in those times back then, you know. And in order to preserve this beautiful art, they were training it and they made it into more of a ring sport, which is what we have today.

But there's a lot of traditions, you know. The way that we bow, the Mongkon and what that symbolizes. And I don’t know if a lot of people know the Mongkon actually comes from the ancient times, which was embedded into the warriors back then. But before they would go on the battlefield, then it was either blessed by a holy man or a priest. And there's always some, you know, amulet or stone or something in Mong Kong and it would never be touched by the warrior.

So even to this day, when you see a Muay Thai fighter get out of the ring, and you will see the ropes, come around, you come to your instructor, your corner man, they will whisper a prayer or you know a blessing of some sort and then he will remove the Mong Kong, the warrior doesn't touch it. So it was to keep the evil spirits away, to keep the warrior and the fighter safe on the battlefield, or in the arena.

And you know, we talked about this thing and I hear people like training like seven, eight, nine years in Muay Thai, and they’re like, “Wow man! it's like, it's good stuff!”  And this is where the mental stuff comes in and you start to appreciate. And not only that: mentally, you make a connection to way back in history and thinking, “Wow man, I'm doing something that was done centuries ago,” you know?

And I'm carrying this tradition on.” And you feel that sense of connection. And I think if you're able to touch people like this, you create a very, very, very, long journey. A sense of, you know, lasting students. Yeah, I guess.

So this is the core approach I kind of like to use with all my systems. And I think it's important because I think that the past has a lot to teach us and a lot of stuff that we can take. You know. I'll learn something from you and you might have learned it from someone else. You know, it kind of like carries on.

It's not always something new, it's something that was always there, but we just adapt. And that's the secret, I think the adaptation of taking these things and adapting to how we see fit in our current circumstances. I think that's an important point, you know?

GEORGE: Yeah, exactly why I do these interviews, it's just, I learn so much. It’s a very selfish thing, you know, like I mean yeah, people saying “Yes, it's marketing,” and stuff, but the podcast interview is for me, it's selfish in the way that I like to learn. And that's why I can just talk and listen – well, I listen more than I talk, fortunately, in the podcast.

It's just exploring and you’ve got such a wealth of knowledge to share, just those things you just shared about Muay Thai. You know, it makes me think of, you know, I’ve never stepped, you know, in a ring like that, but I just love watching that ritual of fighters walking around the ring and blessing, walking along the rope and there’s just something magical to it.

COSTA: When you hear stuff like this and even if you… you get a much nicer appreciation. And I think if people had this appreciation stylistically as well, we all would understand that we're kind of like trying to get through the same journey through different paths. But in the end, we’re trying to meet the same kind of goal, you know? In that heightened level of spirit and awareness and achievement and you know, progression, success, learning and all of those things, you know.

GEORGE: I wanted to ask you just before we wrap things up but here we mentioned the things in the world have changed and so forth in a… I mean, I don't like to talk about it that much, but in the context of what we spoke about, I mean, let's be real right: people faced challenges in different lights, you know?

Some people saw this as an opportunity, some people were really struggling with it, you know. I think it was a… to me, I look at it as a real test on humanity just in general, you know. How do we cope with diversity and you know, how do we adapt when things don't go the way we had them or are used to living, for example.

With all this perspective that you have and the philosophy that you shared, how did you approach all this? And what are the things, when all this started to develop, what are the things that sort of really resonated with you from all the years of study that you've done of philosophy that you really put to practice to pull you through?

COSTA: It's a really good question. It was an interesting time. I viewed this as a form of self-defense. I mean, it wasn't a direct or physical – well, it was and it wasn't, but you know in a way it was a self-defense sort of like situation, or kind of like scenario that the world had faced. Like, we needed to protect ourselves in a different way of course, but nonetheless the overall sort of theoretical way is, “Okay, we need to protect ourselves. What do I need to do?”

You know, we all have good days, we all have bad days. We try to have more good days than bad days and I think once you accept, I think the key point here is accepting the fact that you're going to have bad days. You're going to fail, you're going to trip, you're going to stumble, and you’re going to be pissed off. You're not going to be your best. You accept the fact, but you know the next day is a new day and you know, it's a good thing to step up your game and get a little bit better and make amends and change things.

And you know, then we kind of like minimize the bad days as opposed to the good days. They’re going to be there and we need to accept that they're going to be there, but if it’s a 50/50 ratio, we try to make that you know, a 60/40 and then a 70/30 and 80/20. And you know hopefully we get to a 90/10 ratio and that's where we want to be, right? But it's going to be there.

It's going to be there. It's like one of those things that we said before, you can’t eliminate, and you can't get rid of fear. It's going to be there. It’s how you channel it and how you react to it.

So this is how I kind of viewed the whole situation. What did I do? I probably did a ton of things that I probably never would have done, you know? I started writing a book about what, six years ago. It's about internal strength, unleashing the warrior within kind of thing.

So it's got to do with a lot of the stuff that we've been discussing. So it’s got to do with some training, it’s got to do with some physical stuff, it’s got to do with some mental stuff, it's got to do with historical moments in history and the way that things had adapted, had changed to that particular individual who’s taking part and what the mind frame might have been like. Some of the stuff that's happened to me and I've encountered, I got a chance to actually work on my book, which was great.

GEORGE: Great.

COSTA: We really got our online platform working. Just something that I had the intention of doing, but never really got around to it. Got an app, online training done. Yeah, I hooked up a major partnership deal between Zeus Academy and Nike.

GEORGE: Oh yeah?

COSTA: Yeah. So I don't even think a lot of this stuff would have been done if that wasn't the case. Did I plan for, you know, to do these things? Not entirely, but I think the best way that I can explain it and this is why I use the term self-defense was, if I'm in a self-defense situation, I look at my options.

So the first thing that I would look at where we’re sitting now, yeah, I would look at what I have in my environment, right? I've got this chair right next to me, so it can be used as a defensive and an offensive tool. This is how I think, right? With my tools.

So this is the kind of way I thought about it. I'll write a book, the online training, will do this, I’ve got to look at maybe attaching the Academy  to something unique, prestigious and world class that people can associate with, and I have this ability to do because of my acting, you know? It's not something that’s simple and it's not something that I can solve, “I'm going to attach myself to it.” It kind of like fell into it, opportunities arose and I just took it.

What I do think though, I think that depending on people's circumstances, you know, some people have got it a lot harder than others, depending on where you are and what you have access to. I think that people that have been in the game for a lot longer, whatever game they're in, whatever industry they’re in, I think the ones that have been in there a lot longer are always far better, because they're able to ride the storm a little bit easier.

So with us, you know, teaching for how many years, over 20 years, I've had Zeus Academy for about 20 years, I've been teaching since 93. I could ride that with that wave a little bit longer. And also we had a lot more students that were loyal. I was kind of blessed from that perspective. I think it's tough for different people facing different situations. I mean, there was a guy who's only been open for a year or two and couldn’t sustain it, so he had to close. I think that's a key role as well.

I also think that people don't get into survival mode. So this is why I look at this as self-defense. So the first thing that happened was like, I was in survival mode. So my clear objective is to survive. I don't want to win, I don't want to gain, I don't want to get anything – I want to survive first.

Once I survive and I've gotten myself to a point where there's no threat to me now, I can then look at progressing. So I think from a philosophical mindset I portray that this is important. And I think people panic. Either they go too defensive, or they go too offensive. You’ve got to ride your time, you've got to be patient.

I think it's a classic example of… Like, if you have someone in side control. And they’re big and they’re strong and they’re battling you, it’s time to attack. The time to defend, you're on top, right? You’ve got to gas them,you got to ride them out, you’ve got to wait for the right moment until you attack the man, you go to attack the mount or you go for submission, or whatever the case may be, that's just from a technical perspective.

So when I take that approach and that's how I kind of handled that situation. That's how I think of it. Did I think of it intentionally? No, that's just the way I think, that’s just sort of my mentality, how I do things, you know? And on a positive note, it gave me a lot more time with my kids that I probably didn't get a chance to spend, you know what I mean? And I can't put a value on that.

I just truly hope that, just in terms of a humanity kind of thing, people become a little bit more compassionate and understanding with each other. And you know what, at the end of the day George, sometimes you need shit like this to happen that people can just come out of it and say, “Hang on: there are far more important things to life than just running around like a madman, becoming a slave to the system.”

Because a lot of us, and I'm sure you’re guilty of it, and I'm guilty of it and we're all guilty of it at some point in time, right? So it kind of makes you take a step back and, you know, analyze it. So that's how I work, I sort of thought about it and built a sort of approach.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Hey Costa, thanks so much, this was awesome. If people want to get in touch with you and know more about you, what should they do? Where should they go?

COSTA: Very simple. Our website is zeusacademy.com.au, but .com works as well. And email is info@zeusacademy.com.au. Instagram is, I'm quite active on Instagram, a lot more than Facebook. Instagram is my name, Costa Prasoulas and Facebook is the same as well. I'm usually quite active on my social media, I try to answer and talk to as many people as I can. I usually get through all of my emails and stuff like that, so if someone wants to get in contact, I'll be more than happy to, you know, touch base and say hello and answer questions people have and stuff like that. It’s great. I look forward to catching up with you too my man, soon!

GEORGE: Yes! When we can cross borders.

COSTA: Yeah, definitely, definitely, definitely, yeah.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Costa, thank you so much, thanks for doing this. Great speaking to you and I'll speak to you soon.

COSTA: Thank you for having me, it's been a pleasure.

GEORGE: Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group.

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

 

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3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

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98 – Brett Fenton – Evaluating Your Martial Arts Life & Transitioning To Virtual Gradings

Lifelong martial artist Brett Fenton talks about taking action fast, navigating through obstacles and transitioning to virtual gradings.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How Brett navigated his martial arts business through the pandemic
  • Evaluating if it’s your time to throw in the towel
  • The steps Brett took to pivot his business successfully
  • How Brett's agile leadership helped his team to adapt the right mindset
  • Brett's recovery plan
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

It is a great time to evaluate where you sat as far as life goes. So you can go, “Do I really love doing martial arts? Do I love teaching? Do I love turning up and doing all of this?” Here's the perfect opportunity for some people in the world to go, “You know what, I'm gonna actually jump out of this, because it's not actually something I enjoy doing anymore.”

But for me, it actually made me assess the other way and go. “I love this so much, I've got to keep this going. I will turn over every rock to find a way to make this keep happening.”

GEORGE: Hey everyone, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. So I have with me today something that I speak to quite regularly within our Partners program. Great martial artist, great school owner, Brett Fenton from Red Dragon Martial Arts. How are you doing today Brett?

BRETT: I'm awesome George, thanks for having me on your podcast.

GEORGE: Thank you. And so a little bit of an insight: this is round two, but round one.

BRETT: Correct.

GEORGE: So we actually did a podcast… Well, it would be a good six months ago?

BRETT: Yeah, absolutely.

GEORGE: Yeah. And I had my laptop stolen unfortunately and there were two files that did not upload into the cloud. And one of them was Brett’s podcast. So it's been a long time in the making. Lots of change in the world, but here we are.

BRETT: Absolutely, a bit of a different environment now.

GEORGE: Exactly. So we can chat a bit about that, but first up, just for anyone who doesn't know who you are, just give us a bit of a roundup: who you are, what you do and a bit of your background.

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Absolutely, thanks George. I’m a lifetime martial artist. I've been training since I was a kid, and jumped around different styles depending on which family member taught it to me, or friend. Didn't have a lot of money as a kid, so I latched on to anyone that looked that knew any martial arts and basically got it for free as a kid. Moved to Brisbane in the late 80s and basically started training with my still sifu Tom Lowe for the last 30 years.

I trained with him in Wing Chun, Jow Ga Kung Fu, Wu Style Tai Chi funnily enough, because he thought I was an angry young teenager that needed some calming down, so he taught me that. Later on, taught me crucial lion and dragon dancing, so I did all the whole Chinese culture, immersed myself in their culture for a very long time.

Lived over near Sunnybank for a long time as well, then obviously went down the route of when the UFC came out, MMA, Brazilian jiu-jitsu with John Will. Trained and traveled overseas a lot, started with the extreme martial arts in the mid to late 90s and 2000s and started bringing that out, probably late 2000s started teaching that, and Kali and Escrima with Ray Floro.

So just basically, just gone on this journey of trying to find the very best martial arts to suit me. And funnily enough along the way, a lot of other people that I've taught have gone, “That's cool, I want to learn it.”

And so now we have over 400 students. We run nearly 100 classes a week, full-time facility with multiple rooms. But we started in 97’ in a community hall, so we've done the usual kind of thing for most professional martial arts instructors. Community hall to full-time school over about 23 years. And that's pretty much my story, so that's all I keep doing today.

GEORGE: Perfect. So you were mentioning you were on this search for the perfect martial arts for you. Now, knowing, working with you from my perspective, you're a guy that sort of, you just jump in head-on into different directions and you're pretty quick to take action. But also get in front of, you know, what is going on with whatever you take on. So for you that you've done all these styles and all of these different things, what’s the sort of martial arts that resonates with you the most?

BRETT: Yeah, I get asked that question quite a lot, especially by my students here, which is my favorite. They always go, “Sifu. what's your favorite style?” I go, “It's like asking which is your favorite child; depends on the day and the time.” So depends on which one is upsetting you the most. I like… again, I still train, I love my kung-fu because I grew up in the Bruce Lee era, so for me it's still a big part of who I am.

But I also love the nuances and the complexities of the Brazilian  jiu-jitsu. I was only just watching UFC yesterday and just watching two high-level jiu-jitsu guys in a cage, throwing crazy control, like twisters and stuff in an octagon. And that was exciting. So I still find that exciting, I love hanging out with, chatting with my coaches like John Will, he's like, he's a wealth of knowledge that I love to just chat to all the time. And so just that kind of stuff is really exciting.

I love blades, I had my first knife when I was six years old and I've got a collection, probably not as good as Ray Flores’ collection, but I have a pretty good collection of knives that have been given to me over the years by students or family and friends. So I've always loved any kind of bladed weapon. So yeah, at the end of the day, I'm fully immersed in it. I gave up being a top-level sportsman in tennis, cricket, volleyball to just pursue martial arts and that was hard, as like a 20 to 22 year old, I could have gone down there.

Martial arts was just such a pull to me that I went… I preferred myself as far as the martial arts goes, preferred myself as a person when I was doing martial arts than I did as an athlete in other sports and stuff. So I went down that road fairly early on as a young adult male and it's paid off, because this is all I do for a living now.

GEORGE: Got it. So, a quick backstory on how you transitioned to where you’re at with your school and everything and then we can take on a bit more of a conversation just on current matters, the current climate and how you plan on getting through that. So what was the… You stepped into martial arts: what was the transition for you going into school owner? You mentioned, from the school hall, etc. Elaborate a bit more on that.

martial arts virtual gradingsBRETT: Yep. So I started with my sifu at the moment in 1989. Started doing Wing Chun and then later on, about a year or so later Jow Ga Kung Fu and then Tai Chi. Early on, he probably recognized that I had a passion for passing on knowledge. I probably did it just organically with my classmates. Like, when I saw someone having an issue with learning something, I would always go over and help them.

And so it was very early on that I found myself up the front doing the warmups, probably within a year or so and then after that running small group classes. And we actually had a very big martial art school for the time back in the early 90s, ten schools, like all satellite schools around Brisbane, running one or two nights a week in community halls with hundreds of students.

And so for me, I was like “Wow, this is amazing.” I would literally drive from one school, I'd finish teaching – this is probably like 1992, I would finish teach at our Indooroopilly headquarters at 7:30 or whatever and then I’d drive into the city, the YMCA in the city and teach a class there 8:30, finish at 9:30 and then probably head out to Jindalee All sports and do a white session.

And so for me, six – seven days a week of martial arts training and weight training and fitness training was not, I didn't think of it as anything special, I was just completely wrapped up in the whole thing. So that led me to running my own school in 94’. Like, one of his branches, was quite successful at that. Then I moved up towards the Sunshine Coast and I've made my school in 1997 and we've been running that one ever since. It obviously has evolved and grown since then.

GEORGE: Gotcha, okay. So quite the story. Now, I mean things have dramatically changed obviously, talking depending on when you listen to this podcast, but I think it's important to just address the current situation of where things are at. Because I think anyone in the world has never faced anything like now and some people have obviously, you know, really felt the pressure.

And also not, you know, kind of waited in freeze mode and didn't take any action. And others have really sort of embraced the change as much as possible, you know, to really get through this pandemic that we're facing right now. So walk me through just how's it been for you and what have you done to navigate through this?

BRETT: Absolutely, thanks George. One of the biggest things I think was that I noticed it is a great time to evaluate where you sat as far as life goes. You can go, “Do I really love doing martial arts? Do I love teaching? Do I love turning up and doing all of this?”

Here's the perfect opportunity for some people in the world to go, “You know what, I'm gonna actually jump out of this, because it's not actually something I enjoy doing anymore.” But for me, it actually made me assess the other way and go. “I love this so much, I've got to keep this going. I will turn over every rock to find a way to make this keep happening.”

We started on March 23rd, we were given information, which was a week ahead of what I thought the schedule was going to be and when we were going to be told to basically close down physical training. So I know that I was chatting with you, leading up to that, saying we're gonna set up Zoom classes and we already were thinking that way and overnight it happened.

And so within 24 hours, I had to go from being on this side of the camera, where I would sit and have conversations with you and the Partners and I was the person watching, I was being the viewer most of the time, to actually steering the ship on the other side of Zoom. And so 24 hours of educating myself from how Zoom worked, creating like breakout rooms and doing all that and we were up and running the very next night with our full Zoom classes, with everything still running, same timetable.

For me, I reveled in that excitement. I like being challenged, I like being out of my comfort zone. I sometimes get stressed out by doing it and I know that meditating is good for that and I do do that every day, but I get excited when there's… when it's kind of like ice skating. I found that very exciting and challenging. Stressful, but exciting. So for me, I was a lot for that I and I still am.

Like, I'm always thinking ahead a week or two ahead, going “Alright, this is what we're gonna do over the next couple of weeks.” and I'm already planning, it goes into my calendar, these are the things I need to do. And I know that you see on a Monday, when you ask every single Monday in Partners, “What's your plan?” So I already know what it is, so I just type it straight in. So I already know what my plan is for the week. And I go ahead and execute. And that's what I do.

GEORGE: Yeah. Personally, I think entrepreneurs were made for this. I mean, you know, that's what we do right? We solve problems. Interesting that you mentioned, you know, where a lot of people jump ship. Maybe it was just the easy way out. I think it also, it really… like you were saying, it really makes you think deeper.

Like, am I… Is this what I really want? And I think that's where, you know, if people have been following their niche or, you know, trying to make money in an industry or something. And you didn't have that gut check before you started it, you were just hoping to make financial gains, which is – hey, it's, obviously, that's okay as well, because that's what, you know, people do in business.

But it's a good time to reevaluate and really sit back and think, “Okay, well is this what I really want?” And then how to go from that. Now, how did you say to see this playing out? I guess, you know, at the time of recording this, where you're at in Queensland there's been some restrictions left. I know in Perth we can… there's already gyms or training outside, restriction of up to ten people, that's moving over I think next week. So what's the plan for you? Where do you see this evolving?

BRETT: Absolutely. One of the things that I've noticed like, we've got a week and then we go to having ten people in an outdoor space, so we can do I suppose boot camps, or outdoor classes. The biggest issue for us is that mostly our classes are at night and it's winter, so once we hit five o'clock, it's going to be too dark to do classes. So in fairness to everyone that trains in our school, we can't fit everyone into their classes. We'll get the three to six year olds done and then everyone else wouldn't be able to.

So we're going to continue to run our Zoom classes, but we're bringing our instructor team now into the school, because up until now we've only been allowed to have two people in the building. And when we run two floors, three instructors to a floor, it's a little bit hard to do that. But now we can do that, we have multiple cameras, multiple laptops going, multiple TVs going.

And that'll allow us to use our breakout rooms to break everyone into small classes. It'll actually be probably easier, because they'd actually be able to verbally tell each other when they need to move people from one breakout room to another. At the moment, we'd be messaging each other, “Can you move such and such over to me, I'm teaching them to do this,” and I have to sit there and pretty much just be a DJ, so it's… my job on Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes is, I'm DJing the whole Zoom classes and I'm shuffling people around. 

It's an interesting time and I saw in the U.S. just the other day, someone's… because they've lifted restrictions now a little bit there. And they said, we're not doing Zoom gradings now, we're not doing our virtual grading. We're gonna do them in person and there was actually quite a bit of backlash about that, because people aren't ready for such a quick change.

And so it's, we're gonna keep our gradings going this weekend. We've got Friday, Saturday, Sunday scheduled for 50-plus gratings. They're all private one-on-one gradings that I'm doing and because – again, we can't change people quickly.

Like, I know I can change quickly because obviously we've got that entrepreneurial kind of spirit thing going on, but for most people it's gonna take a leading of a month to see any kind of changes and we have to plan that for them and slowly bring them up to the boil. And so having them watch Zoom classes while we're teaching back in the school starts to build that familiarity with the students, to see the school again, they start getting excited about doing it.

We started booking in our Calendly bookings, started on Saturday. So straight away, as soon as that notice went through from our Premier, I created calendars for all of our classes to allow ten people to come in from June. So June 12th, we are allowed to have 20 people in the building and so that basically means ten people in each room.

And so we've done our booking for an entire timetable and I literally on Saturday night, watched my phone do two hundred and something emails while people booked in for their classes. So they're excited and it gives them a month to get themselves sorted out. We've got to set up all of our stations for sanitary stations, signage, all of that stuff. We've got to get our processes in place so that we are above and beyond the call of duty as far as what we implement when June 12 comes along. We want to make sure that we're one of the… I suppose the spearheads of that and we showcase how to do this the right way. So it's very important.

GEORGE: Yeah totally. I mean, there's so much that goes into it, right? I mean, if you ever thought your processes were in place, now your processes just change after every premiere announcement.

BRETT: Yeah.

GEORGE: It's new systems, it's new things. You know, interesting things that I see, I think where a lot of guys might find it challenging, where people just shut shop and thought that everything would go back to normal. Well, I know about you, but I sincerely doubt that… you were just mentioning that, I mean, there's been this whole behavior. People have adapted their behavior. You know, there was shock and there was fear, there's all this and… yep, things are gonna slowly return back to normal, but what is that? 

Does that mean 100% physical classes? Does that mean a bit of a hybrid and a balance of, there's online and there's physical. And how do you see this playing up? Another thing that I want to really ask you is how are you managing with your team throughout this? Because I know you've got a large team and how are you managing them and getting them to have this right mindset with all the changes? I know that's two questions, but…

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Yes, that's okay no worries. So again, it's one of those things, you've got to go slowly. I think that we're lucky, we've been reasonably lucky in Australia that they've given us plenty of lead-in time and they've planned this fairly well. There's no knee-jerk reactions, which is good because people don't react well to that. They don't like…

We saw when they released a little bit of the rope and allowed people to go shopping – it was literally Boxing Day sales every day for the last two weeks since they did that. So people have gone… They've been cooped up for so long now, they're exploding.

So we're trying to make sure that we're very, we're over communicating with all of our students to make sure that they understand that there is a limit of how many people can come in and if you do not book in, you'll still be doing the online classes. We're going to give them both and my idea is to keep doing that even beyond like, let's say six – twelve months to still be running that system.

Because we have students that have been on the spectrum ADD, DHD, Autism, doesn't matter, Asperger's, where they don't like being around people, but they love martial arts and they love the benefits of martial arts. And so they will be able to still do it from home with Zoom. The hardest part is to train the staff and the instructors to not just focus on the class, the physical class they’re teaching and the physical students they’re teaching, but also to focus on the ones that are up on the TV doing the Zoom class.

And so like, we've got massive TVs that are going up in each room, where they'll be able to look up and just see who's up there training. And it's just about teaching them to not forget about them. They've had to undergo a very big learning curve and most of them aren't entrepreneurial. Some of them are, they do their own little side gigs as well, but to most this is overwhelming most of the time to them.

So some of my team haven't been out to teach online classes, because they don't like looking at themselves on a camera, they don't like being in that environment and so basically, we've put them into hibernation. We keep contact with them, make sure they're okay, but I've already spoken to one and as soon as we can go back, we're gonna actually up, we're gonna start doing Sunday classes and we expect it to be quiet, so she's the perfect person for that because it'll introduce her back into normal classes and she'll just do the set there Sunday classes and give her a row back in the school without putting her under too much pressure.

And again, most of our instructors are old students. They've all gone through from white belt to black belt, they're homegrown and so we treat them still like they're our students as far as the way we kind of bring them into new situations like we were experiencing at the moment, but slowly doing it is I think the key.

GEORGE: Cool. So what's the situation that you actually navigated someone through that? Because that obviously brings up a lot of beliefs and you know… I guess block for people where they go, “Hang on, I just don't feel comfortable being in front of the camera.” You know, for some people that might just be that introverted personality and they’re just never gonna be that.

You know, we’re all different and that's all good but what's their situation, that you actually manage to navigate someone past that and just say, “Hey look, well…”It's kind of just like having a conversation, it's not a Hollywood show, you know? It's like you’re doing a normal class, but you've just got this screen in front of you. Did you manage to navigate past that? Was there anybody in your staff that they were struggling with that, but you managed to push them past that point?

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Well, we've had obviously with our team, they've gone through a gamut of emotions. For a lot of them, their first biggest worry was, I’m going to lose my job, so a lot of our instructors not just work for me, they work for other businesses. And on that day, the other ones shut them down and they went, “No, we can't keep going.” I kept going even though we were like, they were teaching from their living rooms, or their bedrooms, or their garages.

They kept going, I kept paying them for their classes and I tried to maintain as much normality for them and reassure them that we will get through this, looking to the future and saying that when we get through this, we're not going to change what we do now. This is just a different version of what we do.

And so 90% of our teams were teaching through this. And one actually seemed to prefer it, because the whole social distancing was doing her head in, trying to stop children from touching each other and just frustrated her. As soon as it went to the virtual environment, she didn’t have to worry about that, that was not a problem and an anxiety she had to experience anymore.

So that actually, it was like she was happy when it happened. So she's gonna have to prepare for the other side now as we come back in and whether that means that she still teaches from home via Zoom and she doesn't lose Zoom kids, that's fine. And we have that ability to have them teaching, if they're not happy to be in here and be around students because they're worried about it, they can still be able to teach because we'll still have students at home doing Zoom and so they'll be able to take care of the Zoom students.

And so again, I think it's about being flexible. It's about being able to like Evan, flow with the times and I think one of the things that I think everyone probably, particularly in the business world now will quantify, is that small businesses had an advantage because we've been known to like to chop and change directions quickly with the times, with whatever we were given.

We could change and adapt, whereas a lot of the big businesses fell over because they had certain systems and procedures. They ended up having to just kill their staff and here's why so many people are out of work. And it's from the big businesses, which I know like in Australia kind of mindset is, they're always considered safe. Like go work for a blue chip company, or a big business.

Who would want to work for Virgin at the moment? You wouldn't want to work for a lot of those big companies because they couldn't adapt. They’re just too big, they're like the Titanic. Whereas a lot of the small businesses, we can zig and zag and not feel that pain as much and also be able to connect with our staff and our team to make sure that they're feeling okay and navigate them through this minefield of emotions and turmoil that they could be experiencing.

But I think we've done really well, like I'm proud of my team. They've handled it really well and we're preparing now to go back into semi normal classes and then in another months’ time after that, so July, it should be mostly like we were before we went into lockdown. Hundred to a building, like this mostly social distancing, but I think this will play out till the end of the year. I think by Christmas we might be out actually to give a high five and hug some people.

GEORGE: Yeah, I mean, hats off to you, because I know you've just been on to it then, you know, everyday we checked. You've implemented this and you've jumped into a new direction, implemented new strategies and really taken it on. What are you excited about, coming in the next… I know, excitement for a lot of people when I ask that, they’re like…

BRETT: It’s fear.

GEORGE: What does that word mean? But I mean, if you really put the opportunity hat on and really look at it, “Okay, things have changed, things have shifted,” – what are you excited about in the next coming weeks?

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Well, again, I've tried to maintain, I actually turned one of my students who wanted to do an in-person grading and they don't want to do a Zoom one, it's not like a real grading. And I said, “Well you know, it's not the same as an in-person grading – it's different. It could actually potentially be better, because you're doing it one-on-one.” Now, it's gonna be a different feel, we may never get to do this again. This may be the only time in history where we do every single person in the school as a Zoom grading. 

So like, and that's the truth, it basically may never happen again. So for me that's exciting. I've pulled out all stops to make this grading the most spectacular grading that they'll ever experience virtually, because it may never happen again. So I'm excited to do that like, literally from this Thursday, it’s Monday today, so from Thursday, from 7AM until about 7PM, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I am grading every thirty minutes and I know how exhausting that’s going to be.

But I also find that exciting and I'm a big fan like, I'm a… what do you call it, I’m a podcast savant. I just like, I just go and listen to podcasts 24/7. It’s my favorite thing, I don’t listen to radio, but that's what I listen to. And it used to be tapes in my car, then it was CDs, now it's podcasts.

And so I’ve always been a big fan of Tony Robbins, lucky enough to have done some training with him, done UPW and a few other things with him. And one of the things that he always talks about is to the professionals, like the professional athlete, or a professional entrepreneur: when they see something that could be scary, feel fearful, they look at the same thing and they look at it as excitement, because your body goes through exactly the same chemicals, endorphins, okay, the adrenaline. It's exactly the same thing as fear.

Like, if you looked at it side by side, okay, anyone that's ever fought in the ring, or competed in a jiu-jitsu tournament, or done MMA, or just been up in front of someone to do a grading, you've got two options: fear, which is, “Oh, I'm going to stuff this up,” or “I'm gonna get hurt,” or “I'm no good at this,” to exciting “Oh, I can’t wait, this is so cool.” Exactly the same experience, it's the outcome that's different.

And so for most martial artists, I think most should have done pretty well through this, if they've got that kind of background. They would have gone, “Wow this is exciting. This is just like another competition, this is another chance to to show my skill, to really challenge myself,” because I think if any industry was really prepared for this, it'd be the martial arts industry, because that's what we do.

We live for the challenge, that's what makes us different. Most normal people can't understand martial artists, they look at them and go, “Do you enjoy touching each other and checking each other out and…” – really? Because that's not normal behavior.

And so that's kind of set us I think apart from everybody else in the world who's freaking out and putting their head under the duna as Scomo likes to say. So yeah, and I think we're well prepared for that and for me, I'm excited to do it, literally, I'll be doing a 65 hour- 70 hour week, this week and 60 of those hours are in four days. That's like, it's insane, but I'm up for that. I love that stuff.

GEORGE: Yeah cool. So if you don’t mind, before we finish up and I think this would be really valuable for other school owners, can you walk us through what you are actually doing with your virtual grading? How's the day going to plan out, what have you done prior and how's the whole process going to roll out?

BRETT: Yep. So similar set up to what we would normally do with a grading and here's another thing, that's the one of the things that I'm looking at as positive coming out of the COVID-19 thing is that, we now have some new systems that we never had before. So everyone that ever wanted to have their curriculums online and available to their students and we're struggling with like, getting like, whether it's IT departments of your website, website developers to actually pull the trigger and do it – they all jumped to it the night this happened. Within two days you had all of the ability to do this. 

And so that was a benefit, being able to schedule all of our gradings on Calendly. I know I can just look at my Calendly now and it is literally 200+ appointments long. It's just like this big list, but I know who's next and in all of my Zoom gradings, they all have their own unique code. All I have to do is click on there, then next I'll click and it brings me to the next Zoom invitation and I'm ready to grade them on my laptop right here, right where I am now, this is exactly where I'll be Thursday through to Sunday.

I will shift from one room to the other depending on the grading, and basically one of the other things I'm doing that's pretty cool is, we've over delivered, which I think is really important. So every student normally only gets a certificate and their belt; this time they’re getting a backpack with a certificate, their belt, a bumper sticker and a gift.

So there's probably $200 worth of value in there for a $50 grading. So they're gonna see that. We're also developing a virtual certificate that pops up on their screen saying “Congratulations, you've passed your virtual grading.” And that'll be branded, but it'll look really space-agey kinda like, very new looking, sparkly, I don't know.

Liam and the design team did that at our printers to do that, so he's designing that this week and everyone's coming in to pick up their backpacks. So every 15 minutes, they're picking up a backpack. We're videoing the whole process and we're going to do a video at the end where it basically just crunches it into a little, probably three-minute version, well they call those videos…

GEORGE: Time-lapse.

BRETT: Timelapse, that's it. Yeah, we're gonna do a time-lapse video from the four days to show it with a soundtrack behind it. So that's something cool. I'm also photographing myself this Wednesday in front of all the logos, so in front of the school like, we're all buzzy here with all the different uniforms that I wear for all the different styles.

So we’ve got seven different martial arts styles in the school, so I'm going to be basically getting changed, doing a new photo with a plain background, with this background sorry. And then every single student when they grade, there's going to be a list inside their backpack of all the things they have to do so they have to take a photo of themselves with their new belt on, their new certificate with a plain background.

So like, white, yellow, as long as it’s not dark, nice clear background, then send the photo to me. I'll then superimpose that into the photo next to me on the wall back and then post that onto our Facebook page. And so it will be like they were there. So we're just going to make this virtual, because again, it's a virtual grading, so we can use Photoshop and make it look cool in a virtual world.

Like, you know, everyone's been loving the Zoom backgrounds that create their own, I've got a few, I’ve used the matrix dojo in one of my classes one day. Everyone over the age of 30 thought that was cool; everyone else was going…

GEORGE: What’s that?

BRETT: Yeah, exactly, they had no idea what it was. And again, it's about building hype and excitement around something that they may never ever experience ever again. And one of the things I've been talking to the parents is, that a lot of people under the age of 25 have never, ever, ever experienced any kind of thing like this, like any kind of hardship. they've been pretty cruisy for the last 25 years as far as the world economy, the way the world's gone, no big wars, it's been really good, okay? Since 9/11, it's been pretty cruisy. So this is really something that's bonded the whole world together, an experience that everyone's going through. 

So let's make something out of it, let's come out of it and say “What did I get out of doing that? Did I get better about my relationships? Did I get better at learning new tools and skills? Or did I just watch Netflix for 12 hours a day?” So like what did you do with it? And so it'll be an interesting year, next year will be an interesting year to see what tools did people get and where did they take those tools.

Like for us, I want to go VR. I want to put VR goggles on students in the home environment, so they're part of this class that we run here. So if this leads us down the road to that, then I'm happy because I was already thinking about it two years ago as adding it to my already system. Because I’m a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk and I’ve spent some time with him and he's keen to get VR up and running so I'm like, “Cool, I'll look into that at some stage.”

GEORGE: Yeah, totally agree with you. and that's the thing: if anybody thinks this is a phase, nope, it's just the stepping stone, because it's brought this… it's funny you know, I've been doing these Zoom webinars about three to five a week for a long time. And inviting anyone to a Zoom meeting was always a weird thing. This Sunday my two-year-old daughter was having a Zoom party.

BRETT: Yep.

GEORGE: Because that's what you can do. But it's brought a lot of these technology things, it's just accelerated the normality of it. And people just really had to step into it, so it was that or nothing. And now that everybody's so accustomed to it, it's definitely not going away. This is leading to the next thing and if you think of, I had a chat with someone about virtual reality the other day and she was showing me what they were doing in the automated mining industry.

And when I saw that, I was like “Oh, okay, this makes sense.” You know? It's taking objects and putting it in the lounge and you can walk around it… it's like a whole new experience. Now, yep martial arts: it's never gonna go away, the physicality of it. But I think the learning experience is definitely going to enhance in ways that we can't even comprehend right now.

BRETT: Yeah.

GEORGE: Yep, for all those thinking that we're just going back to normal – I’d relook at that perspective and really think of “Okay, well how are things gonna be different from here on and how are we going to embrace this.”

So yeah, there's so much good that's come from it. Yep, there's been a lot of hardship, you know, there’s been a lot of industries that are wiped out. There’s a lot of things that, you know, by no means are okay. But then there are the things that are okay, you know? I see people are friendlier, you know? When people see each other, you know, a lot of people are more… just friendlier greetings.

My teenage son that used to just skate has spent a lot more time at home. It's been really good for us, he's been doing a lot of work around the house which has been interesting for a 13 year old boy to be repainting the door and doing things. I mean, those are little things, right? But I think there’s just so much benefit to what's happened and…

BRETT: Mmm.

GEORGE: It's good to just sit back and reflect and think, “Right how am I gonna play my part in this next chapter moving forward?”

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Absolutely, absolutely. I think that humans have always been like… aren't very good at adapting to situations and then thriving in it. And so I'm sure back when Henry Ford was designing the first motor vehicle, everyone was like, “Yeah, that'll never exist,” like planes didn't exist and it was just… computers! I think back to when I was a kid: when I was 6 years old, not only did a computer not exist; the thought of one didn't exist.

And how fast technology has come in a very short period, what's the next 10 to 20 years going to look like in this space? And I think yeah, you gotta be open-minded enough to go, “Okay, I'm going to adapt to whatever comes that way and I'll try it.” And I think that again, as martial artists, we're usually pretty good at failing forward so we’re adapted, like learning to fail and then get back up and go again.

And so the last 2 or 3 months, it's been all about failing and learning, failing and learning. I had to reschedule my entire Zoom calendar because I did a Zoom code for every single class and that meant I got messages and notifications every day for every single class that came up. So I just went. “No, we have one place where we all go and then we'll go into breakout rooms.” And that took me about a week to realize that that was not a great idea, So yeah, but you learn, that's what it's all about.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's it. A simple thing that I did was, I actually just purchased one domain name and had one meeting link. And because I just got sick of going back and forth.

BRETT: Yep.

GEORGE: What was the meeting number, what was the ID. So just create one link, one domain name, forward it automatically. If anybody wants to meet you, just give them the domain name and now you've just got back-to-back meetings.

BRETT: Yeah, exactly, yeah. I learnt that really quickly. And again, love learning, so it's been fun. Challenging, but fun.

GEORGE: Awesome, that's it. Hey Brett, thanks being on the second time, actually nailing it this time. Perfect, thanks so much for being on. Thanks,it's always good to chat to you, because you're always on top of what's happening and you're always quick to implement and do things. If anybody wants to connect with you, what's the best way to do that?

BRETT: I'm on Facebook, Instagram, our website reddragon.com.au. Just easy enough, a Facebook message is the easiest one these days I think so. Just look me up on Facebook, it’s pretty easy to find people these days.

And yeah, just give me a shout out if you need any information or any help in any direction. I do a lot of mentoring for school owners, the smaller schools that want to try and go full-time, or they're having troubles with staff and how to train up instructors, I do a lot of work on that. So I'm always available, just hit me up. And yeah, my only thing would be, George, make sure you upload this one to the cloud, right after we finish.

GEORGE: I was thinking that just when you were saying that, just when I was giving props about how cool this episode was, I was thinking, hey I'm gonna make sure this one uploads to Google Drive – now.

BRETT: Absolutely, absolutely, because we’ve spoken in the past, I don't do retakes. The next time we interview, it will be different again. You could redo this one straight after, it would be different again.

GEORGE: Yeah, that’s cool.

BRETT: I’m not good at sticking to scripts.

GEORGE: Perfect, thanks so much for being on Brett.

BRETT: My pleasure!

GEORGE: I'll speak to you soon.

BRETT:  All right, see you guys, bye.

GEORGE: Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

 

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96 – Rhonda Britten – Turning The Worst Day Of Your Life Into Fearless Living And Success

Rhonda Britten shares her story of overcoming a child's worst nightmare, to practical strategies that you can use to live a fearless, unstoppable life.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • The exercises that founded Rhonda Britten’s fearless living today
  • Helpful tips to work through your anxiety and fears
  • Gratitude vs. acknowledgment
  • How your ‘wheel of fear’ and ‘wheel of freedom’ work together
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

People that have a difficult time with gratitude blame the world. The world is at fault. They can't be grateful because they blame the world. People that have a difficult time with acknowledgment, blame themselves.

GEORGE: Hey, this is George Fourie and welcome to another episode of the Martial Arts Media business podcast. So today I'm joined with a special guest. Once again not chatting to a martial artist, but someone that can really, really help inspire this community. And I'm speaking today to Rhonda Britten. How are you today Rhonda?

RHONDA:  I'm very fine George and I'm so excited to be here.

GEORGE: Thank you so much for taking the time. So real quick, Rhonda is from fearlessliving.org. Rhonda has also been featured on Oprah I believe and had a TV show?

RHONDA: Yep, 600 episodes of television and I actually aired all over the world. I've done six hundred episodes of television, I've got an Emmy. Written four books, first life coach on TV, Oprah several times, Steve Harvey… And most importantly, just somebody who has devoted her life to helping people understand how fear really works.

Not from a theoretical perspective, but really from a practical application perspective. So yeah, so I've been around the block. I've been master coaching for 25 years, I was one of the first original life coaches and now here I am with you George.

GEORGE: Awesome. So what brings us here today obviously is a different climate out there of global pandemic and so forth. And there is a lot of fear in the air. People are experiencing a lot of fear, but people are also being pushed in a position of leadership, which can be kind of a contradiction, right? Because if you’re feeling fear yourself but you're in this position to step up and lead… Where do you find the instincts to actually do that?

RHONDA: Well, what you're talking about right, is knowing the why behind your, you know, like Simon Sinek says right, like the big why, right? But what I know to be true is that, you know, times of crisis actually define us and actually tell us who we really are. Because right now I think, you know, most people don't say they're afraid. Like, what people don’t come to me and go “I'm afraid, I'm scared,” right?

And when I meet people and I tell them I'm a fear expert, they're like “oh I don't have any fears, I'm not scared.” but right now with the global pandemic, you can't hide from your fear, right? It's all over the place.

And so right now, if you have a crack in your foundation, that crack is showing, right? That crack is showing. And as a leader, as somebody who has to, you know, stand up and lead, those cracks are opportunities for you to transform your tribe, transform your business, transform yourselves. So it's not about hiding the cracks; in fact right now, leaders need to be not only clear and focused, but they also need to be vulnerable.

So that's one of the things that I know to be true. So you have cracks in your foundation – OK, awesome. Now you get to look at your foundation with clear eyes, not pretend it's better than it has been and actually admit to yourself what isn't working for you and what is working for you.

And not only, you know, fill in the cracks, but actually think about creating a whole new foundation, so that not only can you build from where you are right here and right now, but that you can build no matter what the environment is, no matter what happens in the world.

GEORGE: Awesome, so you just mentioned, you were saying that in a moment of crisis you really sort of define. Now, you've got quite a fascinating story and I think people need to hear it if people aren't familiar with you. I would love for you to just share your story, to really give context of how you got to this knowledge and what you’re really referring to here.

RHONDA: Yeah, thank you, I really appreciate you asking me that George. And what you're referring to of course is the worst day of my life. And I'll tell the short version of the story. I was 14 years old and my parents were in the midst of a divorce and it happened to be father's day. My father was coming to take us out to brunch and, you know, my father walked in and went, “Come on, come on”, because that's what dads do. And my mom's putting on her blue eyeshadow, fluffing up her beehive hairdo.

And my sisters are fighting it out in the bathroom and me and my mom start, you know, walking out towards my dad to get to the car, to go out to the fancy sunday brunch. My sister's still fighting it out and as me and my mom and dad walk out, my dad mentioned that he wanted to get his coat from the car.

And as he lifted the boot as they say, lifted the trunk, I noticed he didn't grab a coat, but he in fact grabbed a gun and he started screaming at my mother “you made me do this! You made me do this!” – and he fires. Now I started screaming “Dad, what are you doing?! What are you doing dad?! Stop!” and he cocked the gun and he pointed it at me. And I absolutely 100% believed I was next.

And he looked at me, I looked at him. I blinked, he blinked. It seemed like eternity, but I'm sure it was only a few seconds. And then my mother, with already one bullet inside her, saw what's happening and screamed “No, don’t!” and so that bullet intended for me, my father took and shot my mother a second time. And that second bullet went through my mother's abdomen out her back and landed smack dab in the car horn. And the car horn just beeeeeeeeep.

Hey, I mean over 20 years, if I heard a car horn, I was right back there in the moment. And then my father cocked the gun again and fell to his knees, put the gun to his head and fired. So in a matter of two minutes, I am the sole witness of my father murdering my mother and committing suicide in front of me.

Now, I don't know how other people would respond to it, but I know what I did. I blamed myself, right? Because I was the only one out there that could have changed it. I didn't jump in front of my mother, I did nothing heroic. I didn't grab the gun, I didn't kick my father in the shins, right?

I did nothing heroic. I just… Dad's out there and I said, don't ,stop, don't. And the level of guilt and shame that I felt basically took happiness off the table for me. Like, you can't be happy and watch your mom die, sorry, not an option anymore for me.

So I basically split in two that day. The outside of me was fine. I'm fine, you know, I'm sure we've all played the fine game, right? Like, no, I'm fine, plenty of money in the bank, I'm good, yeah, fine. But inside, you're scared to bejeebers, right? And that's how I was.

Like, outside I pretended I was fine. Kept going to school, got straight A's, I'm fine. But inside, I was deathly afraid that there was something seriously wrong with me. I mean, one, my father's blood ran through my veins and I became afraid of feeling that there was something, like really damaged about me, like, really wrong with me.

And so I went away to college, which I thought, yay, nobody knows my story, I can hide from it. When in fact, me hiding it and me stuffing it down even further, had me start drinking. I discovered alcohol, became an alcoholic, got three DUIs. Decided, you know what, this isn't worth living for. So I tried to kill myself three times.

And it was that third suicide attempt George that I realized something. I realized I'm not good at killing myself. And yeah, I'm not dying George, I'm not dying. Because George, I got to tell you: that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to die. And here I am, very much alive after you try to kill yourself three times, they do put you in the psychiatric ward to evaluate you.

And so I was there, I don’t know, three or four days. They evaluated me, I'm not crazy, and left me to go home by myself. And I remember sitting in my little studio apartment and going, uh okay, I'm not dying. Okay, I better figure this out, because how I'm living isn't working for me. Like, this is miserable, right?

And now I want to preface this George by saying, you know, during this whole time, during these years, I was reading books and going to therapy and doing workshops. I mean, I read my first self-help book when I was 12. So, you know, I have been devoted to personal growth and self-development ever since I can remember, it's what I'm passionate about.

And so I was doing everything right that I thought I should do. And yet it wasn't relieving me of the burden of thinking there was something wrong with me. That there's something seriously like, wrong. And so it wasn't until that third suicide attempt when I'm sitting in my apartment all by myself and I say to myself, well, I guess I have to figure this out.

And I started out of desperation making up exercises for myself – and shockingly, they started working. Still today, I'm still shocked that they work and every time they work for people, which is all the time, I still get shocked when people send me a, you know, note saying “oh my gosh, changed my life.” I'm always like, “really?”, you know, because it's just, you know, it's just still so amazing to me that the work that changed my life changes so many others.

And so I started doing exercises, they started working. Made more exercises up, those worked. And then eventually, you know, it took me many years to start something called fearless living of course. But it was the exercises I started with in that studio apartment all by myself in Los Angeles are really the foundation of fearless living today.

GEORGE: Wow. That's quite a story. Now, I really want to backtrack because you mentioned that you had the self-worth issues.

RHONDA: Yeah!

GEORGE: That you took the blame on yourself.

RHONDA: Sure, of course.

GEORGE: And I really want to get to the exercises, because that really, I think, you know, people in general. I know I’ve had, you know, the self-talk moments.

RHONDA: Yeah, self attack. Like, who do you think you are, what's your problem, why don't you get it together, right? Yeah.

GEORGE: How did you get pass that? Like, obviously you've got to make the decision and have the awareness that it's actually a problem that you need to change it. But let's say you’re at that point and, you know, alright, well as you were after your third suicide, you know, alright, well, something's got to change.

RHONDA: Something's got to change.

GEORGE: How do you go pass that?

RHONDA: Well, one of the very first exercises I created actually addresses this very thing. And I remember sitting in my apartment, like I said, I don't know what to do. And I actually said to myself George, I gotta go back to kindergarten. I actually said that. Like, I've got to go back to kindergarten. And I said to myself what do they do in kindergarten? Well, they give you gold stars.

So I went out and bought a calendar and gold stars. And at this point you have to remember that I didn't feel worthy to be happy or worthy to be successful or worthy to be loved. Even though out in the world I was so good at faking, people that met me probably were like “Yeah, that Rhonda, she's great,” you know. But again, like, I didn't think that, I didn't agree with that one bit.

So, I got gold stars, got a calendar and I decided that for 30 days, I was going to keep track of anything that I did that was good. Because I felt so not worth living for and why did I exist that I wanted to find anything worth saving. Like, that’s what I was looking for. What we’re saving here? Am I worth saving?

So, I kept track for 30 days and gave myself a gold star for anything good and George, these were things like, got angry and didn’t break anything. Ok? Like, oh, you know, felt rejected, but didn’t run away, right? Like, I'm talking basic things, but back then, that was like a life saver for me.

Me getting angry and not destroying anything, or me feeling humiliated or upset and not walking away was a miracle, right? And so, after those 30 days, I had a calendar filled with gold stars. And that gave me hope that there is something worth saving.

Now, that exercise George has turned into what I call acknowledgments. And acknowledgments are something the high achievers are really bad at. And people that are attracted to fearless living and self help junkies, they’re also really bad at it, because they, you know, they kind of pride themselves on telling themselves the truth about how they’re screwing up so they can improve themselves. When in fact, acknowledgments are going to give you more bang for your buck and your acknowledgments are actually a way for you to have confidence, the way to actually create steady confidence.

So it’s something like this, you do it this way: today I acknowledge myself for and acknowledge yourself for any movement forward. And I'm talking about any movement forward. I have an exercise called “stretch, risk or die” that I teach my clients how like, their comfort zone is right in the middle and there's a structure on the “risk or die” zone and I say, even if you’re moving from your comfort zone to your stretch zone, you acknowledge yourself.

So George, I want to caveat this: because it’s not acknowledging yourself for being perfect. It's not acknowledging yourself for getting it done. It's not acknowledging yourself for how well you did it – it is literally, I had a new thought: acknowledge yourself. Right?

Oh, I made a phone call. Phone call went crappy, didn't go the way I wanted – doesn't matter, acknowledge yourself for making the phone call. So you're basically acknowledging without judging, without putting a oh good or bad on it. You're just acknowledging movement forward.

And when I started just simply giving myself credit for the movement I was making, not how well I did it, but just the movement, that changed everything. Because the confidence started to rise, self esteem started to rise. And when I work with clients and they’re like, I need more self confidence, I go, do this exercise and I guarantee in three days you'll feel better.

I've had parents do this with their kids: within 24 hours, 48 hours, they feel better. I mean, it's a confidence booster big time. Because we, as high achievers, well, we don't give ourselves those acknowledgments, we only see the next thing we have to do and how we can do it better, right? And how we should have done it better. And how it could have been faster. And all of that actually erodes our self confidence and self esteem. So that star exercise turned into acknowledgments.

GEORGE: And I love this exercise. So it's almost like practicing gratitude, but at the micro level. Like if you're struggling with gratitude it's like, well, I've got nothing to be grateful for, or this really peels back the layers. Right?

RHONDA: Well, I like to think of it this way. In the world of fearless living, gratitude and acknowledgments are for different reasons. So gratitude is about the world out there, right? So I'm grateful that today Los Angeles is like, the number one clean air city in the world, which never happens, right? So I'm really grateful that I'm breathing clean air and that this global pandemic has created.

I can see the stars and the moon better than I ever have before. I'm really grateful for this moment that I get to see the sky the way that I do, right? So gratitude is about out there. Acknowledgments are all about you. They're about you. So it's very different.

And usually George, people that have a difficult time with gratitude blame the world. The world is at fault. They can't be grateful because they blame the world. People that have a difficult time with acknowledgments, blame themselves.

And as most high achievers, most people that are making it on their own, businesses, want to do better, they have a tendency to blame themselves. And so acknowledgments for most of my clients are the hardest work sometimes that they do. Because just to give themselves credit takes an enormous amount of surrender, an enormous amount of willingness, enormous amount of perfectionism has to go away, you know? All that fear stuff.

So acknowledgments are all about you taking responsibility and claiming the movement that you made, again, whether it worked or not, whether it was good or not, whether how it looked or not – irrelevant. Did you have a new thought? Did you make a movement? Did you do something? Right? And then when you do that, you're going to start giving yourself credit and this is the reason that acknowledgments are so powerful, is that they become a diary of our effort.

I don't know about you George, but most of my life, if I made an effort and it didn't turn out the way I wanted, I forgot all about that effort. Right? I was like, well, that didn't work and I just threw it out the window, right? This becomes a diary and a reminder for you to go, oh wait, id o know how to do that. I did do that. Life is good, right? So it just changes.

GEORGE: Thanks so much for clarifying that, because that makes a lot of sense to me. Gratitude versus acknowledgments: gratitude out there, acknowledgments in here.

RHONDA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

GEORGE: How can we tie this into the topic of fear and how things are holding us back?

RHONDA: Ah! Well, you know, fear is insidious. So let me just say a little bit about neuroscience and I know you probably know all this already, but I'll just say it, just in case, you know, so we have a firm foundation. You know, the way the brain and our neurobiology works is that the brain doesn't know the difference between a physical fear and an emotional fear. Ok?

And I know the people who listen to you, physical fear is like their specialty, right? Like, they help people through their physical fears. But those physical fears and emotional fears again, we don't know the difference.

So a fear of rejection and a fear of height to the body and brain are the same thing. All right? The other thing about the way the brain works, the brain does not know the difference between something imagined and something real.

So we walk into a room and we don't think we belong there and, you know, we're going to make up a story about it and we live out that story then. Because we actually are, we're hanging on to the imagined story we've made up. So the brain doesn't know the difference. The other thing about the brain is they’re doing research now and they’re starting to prove that some of our fears are actually handed down through our DNA.

So, you know, some of the things that you may have a fear of failure, or a fear of rejection or a fear of success, or a fear of loss or a fear of identity, or you know, etc. Etc. Fear of speaking in public, right? Any fear. Perfectionist, procrastination etc. All of those things are ways, I'll just put it this way: fear’s number one job is to keep us safe.

And so, your fears are handed down through your DNA, you experience fear as you're growing up, you don't know it because it's just reality. You don't think of it as, I'm afraid of my mom or my dad or my fellow students unless they are hitting you. You just know that they're mean, or you know, you judge them and you put them aside.

So how fear works is that fear wants to keep you in a safe place. The challenge is George, safety means that it's the same. And they’ve been proving this in neuroscience now that the brain actually and the way we work, body and brain, is we’re energy machines. And in order to conserve energy, the brain automatically – it has a problem, it has a problem, global pandemic. Problem. And the brain automatically to save energy, looks in the past for the solution.

So it's looking for a template in the past, going through your books that you already own and going, I've got to have a book here about global pandemic. I'm sure I've cured this before, I'm sure I did this before. And there is no template! Right? So then what happens? Our body and brain gets panicked, because now we don't know what to do, because again, the way that the body and brain find information is looking in the past. Well, the past template does not solve the current problem. And rarely does, right?

So we’re actually unconsciously, not knowing we’re doing it, looking in the past, super fast, auto responder, right? To solve a problem that we’re experiencing in the present, that past template, we’ve outgrown, it doesn't work for us anymore.

Which then, we’re trying to use a past template in the present to create a new future and you and I both know that doesn't work. So I want you to imagine for a minute that you're trying to, you know, create a new business, or make more money or find some steady ground in this pandemic. In order to do that, automatically, your brain is going to look in the past – it's not there. So now you’re in the unknown.

So I like to say that freedom, freedom equals your capacity to live in the unknown.  Freedom equals your capacity to live in the unknown. But our body and brain are completely petrified of the unknown, they don't wanna live there. They’re concerned about security and safety. And remember one of our number one core needs is safety. And when we don't feel safe, we retreat. And instead, we want to move forward, right? Does that make sense?

GEORGE: Yeah, terribly.

RHONDA: I feel like I'm missing a little piece there. I feel like I'm missing something, so I hope you're going to ask me about it, I just know there's something I didn't connect.

GEORGE: Well, let's take a step forward, right? How do we navigate then into the sphere of the unknown? How do we go there?

RHONDA: Yeah. So let me talk you through the “stretch, risk or die” exercise, because I think that's going to be the best illustration. So think of your comfort zone. I mean, we all know what a comfort zone is. Our comfort zone is what we do, you know, I like to tell people, think of your comfort zone as your life right now.

So married, not married, kids, no kids, you know, worried about your bank account, not worried about your bank account. Whatever is happening today, in this moment, let's make it your comfort zone, even though it's not very comfortable.

So think about it as a bullseye, a bullseye on a dart board. The second ring around that comfort zone is called the stretch zone. And now, the stretch zone is the things George, that you now you can do, you just haven’t done.

Like, think about all the things, I can think about a whole bunch of things that I know I can do and I haven’t done. You know, how much vegetables should I be eating? I know I should be going to sleep – oh, I know I should be making that extra thousand steps on my pedometer, right? I know these things; why aren't I doing it? This is the tricky part George because the stretch zone is the simplest zone, because you know you can do it. But in fact, it's where we beat ourselves up the most because we know we can do it and we’re not doing it! Ok?

GEORGE: Right.

RHONDA: So we’re ruthless with ourselves! We're so mean to ourselves! Now, the circle around the stretch zone is called the risk zone. And the risk zone is the things you don't know if you could succeed or not. You're not sure you could do it. The die zone is outside of that, the die zone is like, I don't know if I can do that, – I don't even know if I want to do it, right?

So I think about when I trained for a marathon. A marathon was definitely a die for me, I haven't run since high school, right? So a stretch for me was, sure I would walk 5 miles, no problem. I should my comfort zone was walking 5 miles; a stretch would have been, you know, maybe walking 7 or 8 miles, right? Like I probably can do it, you know. A risk was running a mile, or running 3 miles – I didn't know if I could actually run a mile. I haven't run since high school. So I don't know, I don't know if I could succeed or not.

And then like I said, the die was running the marathon. So I want you to imagine that in between the comfort zone, the stretch zone, the risk zone, the die zone, is a band of fear. And for you to move from your comfort zone to your stretch zone, you must move through what I call the wheel of fear. And in order to move from the stretch zone to the risk zone, you must move through that band of fear.

So we blow it, we go, “I have to add more vegetables” and then we don't add the vegetables and then we beat ourselves up for it. That actually has made our neural pathways stronger in the fact of beating ourselves up, putting ourselves down and proving that we are unworthy. Proving that you're lazy, proving that you're stupid, proving that you don't have it to be successful, right?

So every time that we want to make a change in our life, we actually are rubbing up against the wheel of fear, what I call the wheel of fear. And most of us don't know how that works. Most of us don't have a relationship with our fear. And so they just blame themselves, put themselves down, think it's their fault. But it's actually not, it's how we're wired. And once you know how you're wired, you can make a different choice and move from that wheel of fear to the wheel of freedom.

GEORGE: I love that.

RHONDA: Does that make sense?

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. So I've got this visual picture of the wheels of how…

RHONDA: Yeah

GEORGE: …you know, the band of fear really sits. So it's really never a question of feeling comfortable at what, reaching a level of comfort in our comfort zone thinking, okay, I'm now comfortable where I'm at – it's time to take the next step. It's always taking that leap into that stretch of fear and knowing, well, hang on: I've gotta embrace the fear because fear means I'm going in the right direction.

RHONDA: Yeah, I mean it's like, think of it this way. You know, fear is really subtle, so let me just step back with this. Most people like you and I George don't say I'm afraid or I'm scared. I mean, I am shocked that I'm a fear expert because I never, even when I was going through with my parents and after, you know, those nightmares every night for 14 years of becoming an alcoholic, I never would have said I'm afraid or scared. I never would have said that. But what people don't see and what I didn't see is that fear doesn't show up as, you know, like a big giant monster.

Fear shows up in our behaviors and our problems. So how do we know that we have fear, that fear’s on patrol? If we procrastinate, there's a fear under that.

If we get overwhelmed, there's a fear under that. If we're a perfectionist, there's a fear under that. If we get anxious, there's a fear under that. If we judge, there's a fear under that. If we're comparing, there's a fear under that. If we complain, there’s a fear under that, right? So all the things that we think, “God I wish I would quit people-pleasing. God, I wish I wouldn’t be a perfectionist. God, I've gotta quit procrastinating.” all those things we’re like, I wish I could quit doing.

All of those are just fear responses. Those are not the fear itself; that is just the response that we're having to the fear that keeps us then stuck, stuck and small and convinces us, because we're not doing those things that we then don't have a right, or we don't have what it takes to actually go for the dream we want, or actually make the changes that we really want to make, right?

So in order to really see fear for what it is, we have to really start with our fear responses. And actually no, you're not a procrastinator because you're stupid or, you know, lazy: you’re a procrastinator because you're afraid of something underneath that. And that's where the wheel of fear comes in.

Because I believe wholeheartedly, based on the work that I've done and the research I've done, is that the only way that you can truly change your life is by changing your filtering system. And the best way to change your filtering system is to have a mental model that really sets you free. So I created a mental model called the “wheel of fear.” And the wheel of fear basically explains to you, shows you how you operate when you get triggered, right? And so like, I have two pairs of glasses here wait, what – yep, I do have two pairs of glasses.

So let's just imagine that for a minute George, that these are my wheel of fear glasses that I have on right now. So I'm looking at the global pandemic through my wheel of fear glasses. What am I going to look at? There's not enough opportunity. The government isn't coming faster. How am I going to get toilet paper? Where's my water? Oh my god, I'm going to… right? Like, those are the fear glasses. If you put on what we call the “wheel of freedom” glasses, you actually change the complete filtering system. And you see something, just a different world.

And you see opportunity and possibility and hope and goodness and clean air, and you see something completely different. So that's what I'm dedicated to, is helping people understand how their wheel of fear works and what their wheel of fear is, so that they can choose every day to move from their wheel of fear to their wheel of freedom.

So, you know, the wheel of fear has four parts and again, I could go into that but, you know, I believe that everybody has a core fear that they have that really runs them. And my core fear is, I don't want to be seen as a loser. Now, if you say to me oh Rhonda, I know my core fear: I don't want to be seen as lazy. It's like, trust me, you're wrong. You're wrong, you're dead wrong.

I have only met two people in my 25 years that actually knew what their wheel of fear was, because you will think that your wheel of fear is your fear response. That’s not your core fear, right? So, all your procrastination, your perfectionism, your anxiety, you’re overwhelmed, you're beating yourself up, you're putting yourself down – all those are just fear responses and there's something else driving those behaviors.

And for me, on my wheel of fear, that for me is the fear of being seen as a loser. The fear of being thought of as a loser, that anybody could see it, think it, smell it around me, right? And I'm automatically, my automatic system will go into overdrive the minute I think even for a second that you're thinking that, right?

And that's how we do, we're always operating unless for consciousness we're awake unless we're aware, we're operating to try to preserve ourselves, rather than to shed ourselves, right? To release ourselves. So that's, you know, that's our basic opportunity here, is who's going to win the wheel of fear or a wheel of freedom.

GEORGE: All right, so let's make this practical and let's choose someone out of the audience to be a guinea pig.

RHONDA: Oooooh, ok!

GEORGE: So I really relate to that, right? Again, I think I relate to that, but I could be wrong. Where you mention, all right well, you don't want to be a loser.

So here's something I know that comes up for me: I know that when I get into creative mode, I need to create content. I have this war of art moment. I procrastinate, or I find things to do. I actually, I was talking to Kylie Ryan about this, I mentioned, you know, I was just about to create a new program for our Partners group. And before I knew it, I was down at the store buying a new monitor. It was important, right?

And I’ve noticed, if I set aside a day and according to my Kolbe I should, you know, multitask and do things at the last minute, which is detrimental to me, but I do that. But either way if I know my day is set out that, this is my creation day and I've got to create things – I know that I'm going to find things to do throughout the day and put things, put obstacles in my way and I catch myself doing it. So let's, it's like that is an example.

RHONDA: Yeah, I love that. So that's basically the writer’s, you know, that's a writer's dilemma. As a writer, you know, every, every writer says they love to write, but they hate to sit down, right? Like the hardest thing is to sit down, right?

Every writer would tell you their house was spotless before they'll ever sit down and write a word, right? And on one level, just to talk about it from an ethereal level, is that on one level your brain is switching modes, right? Like creative, incubating and creating is very different than executing, ok? So, you know, you probably are in execution mode most of the time and now you're switching to creative mode. Well, that's a different way to be.

And part of creating is actually dabbling, you know, kind of scat, like kind of just hanging out, cleaning the house, you know, like that actually helps your whole body and brain release. It's kind of like when you want a good idea, where do we all go? We go to the shower, right? We go to the shower, because we're not thinking anymore, we're just in the shower and all of a sudden, an idea pops.

Well, it's that same theory when we're trying to create. Creativity is a, well there's a muse to creativity and you have to court the muse and so it's like, I think you're trying to… On one hand, I want you to be able to create from 9:00 to 5:00, or whatever you want.

I mean when I'm on a deadline for a book, I can write 3 o'clock in the morning – 4 o'clock in the afternoon, because I've got a deadline, right? I'm on purpose. I have zero procrastination. But if I'm not clear about what I'm doing or if I've been in execution mode, there has to be a space for me to change my energy and to prepare the space for me to be creative. So that's one part of it.

The other thing is that there are costs and benefits for you to be creative. So let's just talk about those: what do you think are some costs of you being creative? You came up with this new program. What are some costs? Let's just make them up.

GEORGE: Yeah well, costs are, is it going to be good enough?

RHONDA: Yeah, going to be good enough, yeah. Is anybody going to like it? Are people going to quit? They’re going to be like, oh he's gone downhill I'm leaving, right? Right?

GEORGE: That's, that's a cost, yeah.

RHONDA: Yeah, yeah. So all these, these are costs. So the benefits, what would the benefits be?

GEORGE: Benefits would be that my members get value and they get something that they can action that's going to move them forward.

RHONDA: Right, right. So there's good benefits and you're devoted. So this is what I know about you George: I know that even though you procrastinate because the costs are very high actually, I know that you as a human being are so devoted to your tribe that you actually will create that course.

It won't be when you say it is, it will be based on when it needs to be, because you’re a last-minute person – by the way, so am I. So, you know, I'm the person creating a course, like I'm teaching a class tomorrow and I haven't even thought about it yet.

Like, it's not even a thought in my head. Like, irrelevant to me, because it's tomorrow. After you and I get off the phone I'll be like, oh, tomorrow, yeah I need to think about that. And then I'll start and I'll jot down some notes.

But I, just like you, work at the last minute. So if I'm trying to force myself to go out of my own system, that in itself doesn't work. But I want you to hear that you rationally know the right answer – oh, I'm going to sit down and do this program. But fear comes in and goes, but we don't know how. And we don't have a guaranteed result. And who do you think you are? Come on, you know, you've been doing this for a long time right now.

Yeah, you say you know what you're doing, but what if they don't like it? You know, okay what if this loses your business? What if everybody knows you’re a fraud? What if, what if, what if, what if, right?

And again, you may not be thinking those thoughts. It may not be in your head, right? But they're inside of what I call the wheel of fear. They're the ways that the wheel of fear is, because you're saying to the wheel of fear, “Well I'm going to grow now. I'm going to change. I'm going to add, I'm going to create.” And the wheel of fear is like, “Ah not a good idea thank you very much! This is going to be bad.”

And so it tries to get you to be distracted and get you to go by that monitor and have you, you know, stamped in the middle of the night and then start working at 2:00 in the morning, right?

GEORGE: Totally. Okay, so I catch myself doing this. And I acknowledge my fear. What's my next step?

RHONDA: Well I don't know: are you going to sit down and write or are you just acknowledging your fear?

GEORGE: Right.

RHONDA: So there's a couple things. So like I said, we have something called the wheel of fear and a wheel of freedom, but to bypass that right now, to give you a really quick, quick way to start dealing with this, is actually start having a dialogue with fear. So the first thing you do is you never fight with fear. Never. It always wins. 

Fear is as smart as you are, as educated as you are, as spiritual as you are, it knows everything you know, and it's way smarter than you. So we never argue with fear. So a fear says, this is going to be bad. This is what you'd say to fear: you're right, it's going to be bad and I'm going to do it anyway.

Oh well, this is, you know, I know you think this is going to bring value and you're going to suck it up and get it done but, you know, what if George doesn't like it? What if Harry doesn't like it? Well, they might not like it, that's right, they may not like it and I'm going to do it anyway. Okay, well you're making a fatal mistake. I might be making a fatal mistake, thank you so much – I'm going to do it anyway. Okay, well don't come crying to me. Okay. Right?

So one of the ways that we bypass is not fighting and not arguing. This is one of the tools inside the wheel of freedom, what I call the wheel freedom. One of the things that I teach my clients is how do you talk to fear and how do you move beyond fear. And what do you focus on instead? And what we focus on on the wheel of fear and wheel of freedom is, there's something called the essential nature.

Remember how I told you, like I don't want to be seen as a loser? Well, on my wheel of freedom what I focus on instead is being authentic. So if I'm afraid to be a loser or I think loser around my job is Rhonda Britten is – if I was being authentic right now, what would I do? Oh – I would say this, I would do this.

So you need to, you know, to have another shift of a mental model. It can't be just you and the project because it's bigger than the project. It's got to be like who you are and what really works for you. So whether it's, you know, being authentic, like, well if I was being authentic, would I be doing this project? Or it could be, if I was being compassionate with myself, or if I was being comfortable to myself, right?

But there's another frame that you have to decide to step into and take action from that new frame. So me being authentic is, you know, if you're afraid to be a loser, you're afraid if you're authentic that you're going to be a loser. And I have to know that that's not true. Like right, that's not true. If I was being authentic, who would I be? Oh. I would sit down and I might tell my group that it's going to be done next week and not be done now, right?

Or oh, I'm going to tell myself that maybe I don't know as much as I think I do and I have to do some research. Or maybe I do need somebody to help me be accountable to, right? Tell yourself the truth. But never, never, never, argue with fear/

GEORGE: I love that. Rhonda, so good. Before we wrap things up, I just want to bring it back to my audience. And looking at, you know, we’ve got martial arts school others that we work with, people are faced in various directions. You know, some people have had their income shot down 100%.

RHONDA: Yeah.

GEORGE: Many of them are Partners within our group of martial artists made the pivot online and are venturing in that new arena.

RHONDA: New world, yeah.

GEORGE: Yeah and I don't want to shift the topic too much and, you know, go down a whole new angle. But I just want to talk about the topic of money, because this has come up a lot of times where, I think especially in the martial arts space, there's been so much emphasis placed on the value that they deliver physically. And if they switch to the online, the detachment of what they deliver physically and they are doing online…

RHONDA: Yes

GEORGE: …They feel that it's just not right to charge money, or that they've got to do it for goodwill.

RHONDA: Yes.

GEORGE: what would be your take on that and the relationship of money and feeling comfortable making that shift?

RHONDA: So I'm going to say two things: one is, I have an exercise that we can do in just a minute, but um… The thing is that, you know, I have a client of mine who's a martial artist. He's a… what kind of trainer is that, you know, in the cage, the cage trainers, right? Um…

GEORGE: Mixed martial arts.

RHONDA: Yeah, and he's… Yeah, right, mixed martial arts. So he is, you know, he said the same thing to me. He's like, you know, but I have to touch them and I have to move them. I'm saying, yeah, but right now what do you think everybody needs that are your clients?

I don't know about you, but I think they need a mindset. I think they need maybe critiques on… Like, you could put matches on line and you could critique them. You could help them understand their body better. Like, there are so many refinements, right? Like if you talk to a boxer, a martial artist: the work is not done in the ring, right? The work is done outside the ring, right? So using that attitude of like, okay, I'm not in the ring right now, I'm not with them physically: so what can I do? How can I support them?

That's going to give them a competitive edge and even better when we get back in the ring? And I think that's the mindset that you have to think of that you're doing like the heavy lifting, the deep, rooted work, right? The deep rooted work, without the physical body being there.

So I think that mindset work, getting people to understand that they can use their body, taking care of themselves, making sure they're staying in shape etc etc, doing the fine muscles, etc etc – I mean, this is important and valuable work that people will pay for. They will be happy to pay because they want to belong somewhere.

Because everybody, most people out there are feeling very, very alone, even though they have five people living in their house and they're stuck with them. They feel very alone and they want somebody that understands them, that knows them like this. That knows them in their power like this. They want to be seen, they want to be remembered, they want to be heard – and they want focus.

And you're the one to give them that, because you're their trainer. You're there whether there's a gym owner, a trainer, you know, you're their master. So help them during this time, it's your responsibility. I don't know that's a…

GEORGE: Yes, that is spot-on and very in alignment with what I've been telling our clients iIs really think of the outcome. There's an outcome that people actually get from the martial arts and if you can provide that through a different medium, that's going to keep them together until, you know, the new normal.

RHONDA: That's right. But again, you and I both know martial arts is a lot of mindset stuff. So if your mind is caught in the cracks in your foundation as I said earlier, then you get to do your mindset work alongside your clients. And you get to lead them through that. And that's your opportunity and that is one of the greatest gifts you can give to them. And I promise you this they will remember you forever, leading them through this. They will remember you forever.

You know, I mean I think about the people that I've been talking to and I will never forget them, because they're helping, they're supporting, they’re being with, you know, like we're doing this together, right? So you're not just becoming, you know, who they've trained with; you're really becoming their mentor at a whole new level. So I invite you to take it. Yeah. And do you want me to throw this last exercise out? Because I promised I would, but again, I don't need to. I mean, are you complete, what do you think?

GEORGE: If you have the time Rhonda, I would love it.

RHONDA: I’ll just throw it out, because I actually said I would share it, so I want to give it. Another exercise to actually take about, whether it’s abundance or mindset whatever it is, you know, we're focused on the things like, “oh I've got to give everything away.” and again, goodwill is nice but what can you give for goodwill and what will you charge for you? You have to really start to understand that like, I'm doing a lot of Facebook lives right now for goodwill.

But I'm also charging my clients and I'm also charging for my courses, ok? I'm giving people a longer time to pay and some people I've been talking to are reducing fees 50% for one month or two months and then that's it so that their clients stay with them. But again, you don't have to do that to pay on what you provide, right?

So this exercise that I'm going to tell you and I'll end with this is control versus no control. So grab a piece of paper, put a line down the middle and on the left hand side write “control” and on the right hand side write “no control.” and I want you to write down all the things you are in control of and all the things you're not in control of.

Now, I'm sure you've probably done something like this already with your folks George, is like what do they control, what don't they control. But this is the kicker, this is what I do is my clients. I take it to the next level is, all the things they can control, I want them to grade themselves. I want them to rate themselves from one to ten. Ten is, I'm not going to have a problem with my sleep, I'm the greatest sleeper in the whole world. Water? I'm a ninja! I'm a nine! Right? Or is it, I'm two with my sleep and I'm three with my vegetables and I'm four in connection, right?

So write all the things you're in control of and give yourself a scorecard, rate yourself. Because what I know to be true is, when you're focused on the things you can't control, when you're getting worried about the things you can't control, I guarantee you you're not controlling the things you can. You're not taking care of business where you can.

So I invite you to just do the control – no control. Have the control there, rate yourself, give yourself a scorecard. Focus there, because then when you do that, you'll get your power back. You feel empowered again and then the things you can’t control kind of recede in the background, right?

GEORGE: Simple. What a great…

RHONDA: Simple, but not easy to do, right?

GEORGE: Exactly, exactly. But that's gold and I'm going to do it right now.

RHONDA: It's an amazing exercise, I can't tell you how many clients I have worked with, I've been doing that exercise with clients for over 20 years and I cannot tell you how it changes their life. Because it's not just a list, oh I can do this, I can do this. But it's like, no – rate yourself. That rating gives you like, oh crap, I’ve  got to focus on this, it gives you a focus now.

GEORGE: Right.

RHONDA: Do you mind if I give a gift to your listeners?

GEORGE: Please do!

RHONDA: Ok, so I actually feel compelled to… I don't normally give two gifts, but I did talk about “stretch, risk or die”, so I do want to give them all the worksheets for that, so they can really understand it at a deeper level.

So go to fearlessliving.org/risk, and yes, you're going to have to put your name and email in because it's inside a member center. If you don't want to get emails or whatever, of course you can just unsubscribe right away. But again, you're going to need to do that in order to become a member to get the course.

But the other thing that I realized I had just the other day which is so funny. I'd already talked to like six groups and forgot I had this: I actually have created a course called “How To Overcome Fear Of The Unknown”. Hellooo! Helloo! Duh! And when I realized that, I was like wait a minute I have a course called “How To Overcome Fear Of The Unknown”.

So if you'd like that course as well, go ahead and grab that and that's at fearlessliving.org/gift. So fearlessliving.org/risk for stretch, risk or die and fearlessliving.org/gift for the gifts. And again, sign up, put your email in, you'll get access to the course. Unsubscribe if you don't want to hear from me ever again.

GEORGE: That's gold Rhonda, thank you so much for being so generous with your time. Thank you for the great gifts. I know I got, you know, my secret finish about doing this podcast is like I get to speak to awesome guests like you and  just learn. And I know everybody listening to this is going to get so much value. So Rhonda, thank you so much, really appreciate your time.

RHONDA: You’re welcome – be fearless.

GEORGE: Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

 

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

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General Website Terms and Conditions of Use

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

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

THANKS AGAIN FOR VISITING!

Restrictions on Use of Our Online Materials

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

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

Submitting Your Online Material to Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links to Other Site

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

Termination of This Agreement

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

Jurisdiction and Other Points to Consider

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

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

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

Any other disputes will be resolved as follows:

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

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

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

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

Privacy Policy

Your privacy is very important to us. Accordingly, we have developed this policy in order for you to understand how we collect, use, communicate and make use of personal information. The following outlines our privacy policy. When accessing the https://martialartsmedia.com website, will learn certain information about you during your visit. Similar to other commercial websites, our website utilizes a standard technology called “cookies” (see explanation below) and server logs to collect information about how our site is used. Information gathered through cookies and server logs may include the date and time of visits, the pages viewed, time spent at our site, and the websites visited just before and just after our own, as well as your IP address.

Use of Cookies

A cookie is a very small text document, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier. When you visit a website, that site”s computer asks your computer for permission to store this file in a part of your hard drive specifically designated for cookies. Each website can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser”s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a website to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

IP Addresses

IP addresses are used by your computer every time you are connected to the Internet. Your IP address is a number that is used by computers on the network to identify your computer. IP addresses are automatically collected by our web server as part of demographic and profile data known as “traffic data” so that data (such as the Web pages you request) can be sent to you.

Email Information

If you choose to correspond with us through email, we may retain the content of your email messages together with your email address and our responses. We provide the same protections for these electronic communications that we employ in the maintenance of information received online, mail and telephone. This also applies when you register for our website, sign up through any of our forms using your email address or make a purchase on this site. For further information see the email policies below.

How Do We Use the Information That You Provide to Us?

Broadly speaking, we use personal information for purposes of administering our business activities, providing customer service and making available other items and services to our customers and prospective customers.

will not obtain personally-identifying information about you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide such information to us, nor will such information be sold or otherwise transferred to unaffiliated third parties without the approval of the user at the time of collection.

We may disclose information when legally compelled to do so, in other words, when we, in good faith, believe that the law requires it or for the protection of our legal rights.

Email Policies

We are committed to keeping your e-mail address confidential. We do not sell, rent, or lease our subscription lists to third parties, and we will not provide your personal information to any third party individual, government agency, or company at any time unless strictly compelled to do so by law.

We will use your e-mail address solely to provide timely information about .

We will maintain the information you send via e-mail in accordance with applicable federal law.

CAN-SPAM Compliance

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime.

Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Choice/Opt-Out

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime. Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Use of External Links

All copyrights, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property rights in and on our website and all content and software located on the site shall remain the sole property of or its licensors. The use of our trademarks, content and intellectual property is forbidden without the express written consent from .

You must not:

Acceptable Use

You agree to use our website only for lawful purposes, and in a way that does not infringe the rights of, restrict or inhibit anyone else”s use and enjoyment of the website. Prohibited behavior includes harassing or causing distress or inconvenience to any other user, transmitting obscene or offensive content or disrupting the normal flow of dialogue within our website.

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

Restricted Access

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

Use of Testimonials

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

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

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

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

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

How Do We Protect Your Information and Secure Information Transmissions?

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

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

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

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

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

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

Policy Changes

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

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

Contact

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

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

Email: team (at) martialartsmedia dot com

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