113 – Wired To Win: Game Plan And Strategies For Martial Arts Business

Turning the tables. Florence Sophia interviews me, George Fourie, about Martial Arts Business, training brazilian jiu jitsu, marketing, success and life.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • The three key strategies to pivot and grow your martial art business 
  • AIDA Model: What is it and how to use it in your marketing
  • The most important element that many school owners forget to add on their ad campaigns 
  • Why some martial arts businesses fail
  • How to stand out from the crowd with your martial arts business
  • How to create a sustainable game plan for your martial arts business
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

So, I'd like to talk about marketing, because how marketing applies to that. Because without the marketing, you really don't have the business and you're not able to teach, create the impact that you want to create through martial arts and live that lifestyle. So, it always comes down to the marketing side of it. Though you can be a great teacher, if nobody knows who you are, it's always going to be a struggle. And I mean, 99% of the school owners I speak to, it's always, “How do we get more students?” 

Hey, it's George, I hope you're well. So, a bit of a different podcast interview for you today. I just got off a podcast interview where I was the one being interviewed. So, it was a little different – me sitting on the other side of the fence, getting asked all the questions – it was a lot of fun. And so I decided to actually share the podcast interview with you here. Yeah, thought it was a good idea – we discussed a couple of cool things. 

First 20 minutes – more or less sort of life background stuff – but I think about 18 minutes in, we really got into some real good actionable marketing steps, things about business, life, and general. So, I had so much fun, it was great, and I thought it would be good to share the podcast with you today, simply because I'm always the guy asking all the questions. 

So, perhaps you'll learn a bit about me, if you're curious about that. If not, you've heard all that stuff, skip the first 18 minutes and get into the nuts and bolts because we really discussed a couple of real good concepts, actionable stuff for your martial arts business. So anyway, the podcast was with Florence Sophia from Toronto. You can check out her website at bjjyoga.com, and also her Instagram handle is @jiujitsuyoga, right, @jiujitsuyoga, and website bjjyoga.com. Anyway, here we go. Hope you enjoy the episode.

FLORENCE: We are alive. Hi, George. How are you doing?

GEORGE: Good! How are you, Florence? 

FLORENCE: Very well! It is 8pm in Toronto, Canada, and 8am in Australia. 

GEORGE: That's right. 

FLORENCE: In Perth. I can't believe we are speaking from such a distance away from each other. 

GEORGE: It's all good, the future looks good for you guys. 

FLORENCE: Right? The world seems smaller than what it is actually with technology. Amazing. So, let me start by introducing our guest. I am Florence Sophia, I am your host today. And we have an amazing podcast – ‘Wired to Win' is the title – Game Plan and Strategies for Martial Arts Business. I am so much looking forward to this conversation with you, and thank you for making the time to be with us today, George.

So, George is the founder of Martial Arts Media. And from a former computer programmer he turned into a successful online marketer. He found his passion for martial arts by following his son's journey, and fast forward eight years later, you're now a purple belt. Congrats on that, that's an amazing achievement. 

GEORGE: Took a while! 

FLORENCE: People don't get there. Yeah, yeah, a lot of tears and sweat, I bet. So, George works with a new group of school owners and community called Partners, and we'll get into it shortly, where the focus is generating more income, more impact, and leading the lifestyle that martial arts provides.

Your success comes from your expertise in online marketing, coupled with your ability to bring in tested principles from outside the industry and apply it to the gym and school owners. That's amazing. So, tell us, George, what are the things that are interesting to you that you are working on right now? And also why is it interesting to you personally and professionally? 

 

Martial Arts Business

GEORGE: Probably, if I had to go with the most recent, it would be just completing the 75 Hard Challenge. I don't know if you're familiar with that? 

FLORENCE: Yes, I did two days, I lasted two days. Yeah.

GEORGE: Where did you get stuck? 

FLORENCE: Going back to work. The weekend was fantastic. I had the time and then the Monday came, and yeah, it's just challenging when you have a busy work schedule. But, I do intend to get back to it and also with the weather being nicer, it's going to be easier for the… Right, so, one of the items for our audience who doesn't know about the 75 Hard is 45 minutes of workout outside, which sometimes, yeah, with the snow might be challenging, which I'm sure you don't have the challenge in Australia. 

GEORGE: Yes, so we probably, the outside workout is probably a lot easier in Australia. And now, when you move on to phase one, you've got to add cold showers to the mix as well, which, in summer, yeah, it was easy to do. But the 75 Hard Challenge, yeah. So, if you don't know, it's a challenge that you do for 75 consecutive days, doing five things – two workouts, 45 minute workouts a day, one outside, read 10 pages of non-fiction, follow a diet, no cheat meals or alcohol. And I'm missing one… Water! How could I miss that? A gallon of water, so, that's four liters of water a day? Yeah, so it's a real simple thing. 

But it's, to be honest, and I've done a lot of personal development, you know, working on myself over the years. But that's probably hands down the best thing I've ever done, because just that reinforcement of daily habit, to really understand what habit and discipline is – that really ingrained it in me and it's not something you pick up in a book, not something you read, you just got to do it. And once you've done it, it really transforms your life in so many ways. Yeah. 

FLORENCE: I'm actually curious, you completed the 75 days, right? 

GEORGE: I did the 75, yeah. 

FLORENCE: How was that journey? How did you feel along the way to keep yourself motivated through it? Because I bet, you know, I know a lot of people who go halfway and then have to come back and like me, you know, lasted two days. But it takes a lot of discipline, like you're saying, to get to the 75 days. 

GEORGE: Yeah, a big part could be accountability. If you're in a group of, and you got to choose your group wisely, of course, but if you have a group of motivated people that are doing it, it's a lot harder to fall back on what you're doing. And yeah, and just obviously wanting to do it, the thing is when you follow it on the app, but the further you get into it, the stakes just become higher. And you know, if you're 20 days or 30 days in, and it's 11 o'clock at night, and you haven't done that second workout, you suck it up, and you do it, because you don't want that little meter to go down to zero. 

And I've never been one for challenges and doing this type of thing. I always thought it was what, “Yeah, I don't know.” It didn't catch me until I did it. But how was the journey? So, what I decided to do was, I figured, well, I've got a daily routine of training jiu jitsu at 12:00. So, I figured, well, I'm going to not change the rules, but I'm going to, I'm just going to do it a bit differently in the sense of I will have jujitsu every day, which is kind of an hour to 90 minute workout. 

But then I'll do my second workout, which might just be like an evening walk, like a brisk walk outside, and could do that for 45 minutes. So, that was my plan, right? I'll just do jujitsu every day. And which is always a great plan, until injuries start to creep up. So, which they did, because I got a shoulder injury, and I'm now sitting with tennis elbow, which is, anyway, we're not going to talk about injuries, right? Because we talk jujitsu and injuries could go, they could, yeah. 

Yeah, so, my shoulder injury came back up and I just decided to work around it, like really work around it. And I know it needed rest, but uh, I just carried on training and really, it just paid off. And two, three weeks in, my shoulder was better, routine got back on track.

The hardest part was traveling. Because we had a holiday booked. And so we've got on the plane, this is the first time I've gotten the plane after this whole, you know, pandemic thing, hit. And I felt sick, really sick. I remember being on a coaching call with my clients and I couldn't talk. I really couldn't talk. I just, no words came out and so that week was probably the hardest part of it, because I had to really… 

FLORENCE: Push to stick to it and not give up. 

GEORGE: Again, just having to start over again. And I had the deadline of, my deadline was – the 75th day was Christmas. So, I wanted to have a good meal on Christmas Day. 

FLORENCE: That's a good deadline. 

GEORGE: So, I knew stopping and restarting, then, you know, going over. Anyway, but um, yeah, that's kind of what got me through it. So, if you are going to do something like, just make sure your deadline, make sure that you've planned out, you know, obstacles in between of what dates can come up that might throw you off course, travel, birthdays, celebrations, etc. And have a good group of people that are cheering you on. 

FLORENCE: Yeah, that's wonderful. So, talk to me about your journey from the computer programming industry to being, you know, the successful online marketer that you are today for martial arts businesses. 

Martial Arts Business

GEORGE: Okay, so, that's a, whoa. What's that about, a 26 year journey compressed into a little bit? But it's something that really fell from one thing, and I'll skip a lot of gaps, because I don't want to go into, bore you with too much detail. But I mean, I started computer programming after school, I'd never done martial arts, martial arts was never, as a kid, the right thing, it was surfing, playing drums. That was really my passion. And after taking some time off after school, I was like, “Alright, I've got to go do something.” And I've got to go study marketing. Like, that's what, that's what it feels like, for me. You know, this feels like a calling. 

And I remember, you know, people giving me advice, as people that care about you always do, telling me that, “No, you shouldn't do marketing, everybody does the marketing!” And so somehow I stumbled on “I'm going to do computer programming.” And so I started computer programming, which was actually quite funny, because when I walked into the class, the first day, I recall sitting around all these kids that have obviously been programming for life, right? And they just tapped away, and here's me trying to figure out where do I actually put the computer on? That's how amateur I was with technology.

And so, yes, I started computer programming, which was really interesting in the sense of problem solving, and learning, but halfway through, I started selling computers to my classmates. And so that just got me into business.

So, I kind of just fell back into what felt natural – was marketing. And so yeah, after studying, I had two paths. One is I go follow the corporate lifestyle, or number two is I become an entrepreneur. And so I thought I would give this entrepreneur thing a go, and that's the early 20s, you know, where things really began, you know, we started knocking on doors and trying to figure out how we're going to get clients. And I think we got our first client out of pity more than anything, you know, two young guys knocking on business doors. 

FLORENCE: Faith. 

GEORGE: Yeah. Yeah. And so that became a thing. And we became super successful, you know, like the talk of the small town. And we did well, and about two years in and now this is going back in time, if you know, the year 2000, where all computers were going to die. Well, obviously, that didn't happen, right?

But we couldn't navigate our business through that and we crashed in more ways than one, you know, financially, egos… Yeah, so I lost a lot of money and that was it. I parted ways with computers for a good ten years. And then I've got into sales and marketing, more like a default profession, not chosen. I'm from South Africa. So, in South Africa, sometimes employment opportunities are not great. 

FLORENCE: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Yeah. So, I just started in sales and marketing. And that was, you know, when I started in sales and marketing, I really understood why my business failed. It's the lack of understanding, marketing, and sales. And it's probably the best education I've had in life, is just going through that sales process, because when you have sales managers that are really drilling you and really putting the pressure on you to understand yourself and what you are projecting to the world and how that is affecting your business. Yeah, that was life changing. 

FLORENCE: It wasn't a failure. It was a lesson. 

GEORGE: Yeah, everything is disguised as a lesson, right? But yeah, fast forward the life story. I moved to Aus. I broke my neck actually in a car accident. That was probably the biggest wake up call of all, broke my neck, and I look back on it and you know I think what sort of really struck a nerve is, I was in hospital and yeah, I had a big neck brace on, I had a hemorrhage – I've still, if you can see, I've got a cut. 

FLORENCE: Yeah. Yeah. 

GEORGE: I'm lying in hospital and a doctor's looking at me and he laughs! And I'm like, “Why are you laughing?” “Yeah,” he says, “Guys like you, we normally just don't operate.” And I say “Why?” And he says, “Ha! Because you're dead in 2 weeks,” and he walks out. I snickered, but it hit me so hard.

You know, like, it was just, you know, the kind of the thing that hit you between the eyes and was like, “Whoah, okay, well, what if that was it?” What if that was my life? I was 27, 28 at the time. And then I planned my exit strategy, like, how am I going to leave South Africa? How am I going to live life?

And yeah, I got a job on a cruise ship in the States, moved to the States, around Los Angeles, New Orleans. We cruised through Alaska, did all that. And then I, yeah, I landed up in Australia. It was going to be a holiday, turned into life. And then yeah, here I am in Australia.

Where are we at in the life story? Yeah! So, I got back into sales and marketing and somewhere along the line, I picked up a computer and looked, actually, in reality I landed up in Australia, and I didn't have a valid working visa. I'm legal now, any authorities listening. 

FLORENCE: Congrats! That's a big milestone. 

GEORGE: Yes. I mean, well, I was expecting a son, and I was in Australia, I couldn't leave to go and apply for a visa, and my son was going to arrive. Like, it was a bit of a juggle. And in that time, I had a lot of time on my hands, and I bought a computer and I got back on to marketing.

And that became a blend for me, right, because now I had computer programming knowledge, but I also had a lot of sales and marketing. And I started looking at business opportunities. And I spent my money on a lot of stuff, just trying home business opportunities, and network marketing and selling ecommerce products, and just a lot of trial and error. And that's why I just don't take for granted what we have now – because now we have Facebook groups and knowledge is just infinite, you know?

Back then, 2006-2007, there wasn't much around, right? There was Google, there was MySpace, and you know, you could search and you can find stuff. But it was really hard to, you know, if you just a newbie starting out, there's nobody to ask. I got into a book and this was probably the most foundational book that changed me into, you know, like, that really taught me about marketing was Perry Marshall's Definitive Guide to Google AdWords.

And that really taught me the foundations of how does marketing work? How do numbers work? And I still have that same type of conversation with school owners every week, because those foundations still don't change – understanding your lifetime, your lifetime customer value. How much can you spend to get a customer and understand those metrics? That's super powerful. 

FLORENCE: So, tell us what, what has jiu jitsu taught you, and what aspects of the digital mindset are you applying? You know, in times of uncertainty, like right now in the lockdown. 

Martial Arts Business

GEORGE: So yeah, so look, I guess just for some context, I started training martial arts just after that, wasn't jujitsu at first. I figured that I could only train jiu jitsu after getting punched in the head. And the doctor said, “That's not good.” 

FLORENCE: I don't think it was recommended. 

GEORGE: No. And so yeah, so I got into martial arts and, you know, so I have been doing jujitsu for the last six, seven years, I believe. Anyway, but just skip from that story. What has jiu jitsu taught me? Well, really resilience, problem solving. Being okay with obstacles and learning how to overcome them. You know, we're fortunately in a completely different situation, compared to I know, you guys in Canada for having a super tough, in the UK, and so forth. 

You know, for us, you know, we've moved past it. And so things are a lot different here, you know. We can walk freely and you know, no masks, etc. We continued with, you know, normal day-to-day life, but uh, yeah, for the most part, what it's taught me is just being in the moment, being able to navigate through problems. And there's always options, but there's always a second option. There's always options to go beyond the situation of what you're dealing with.

FLORENCE: I can definitely hear the resilience in you. I do relate to that aspect of jujitsu. But tell us, like, moving on to the main topic of the night – martial arts, businesses and end strategies – what would you say are the three key strategies to pivot and grow a martial art business? Especially, you know, when everything seems to be going wrong? 

GEORGE: Okay, so, so it's a big question, right? And I want to be conscious of, you know, your audience and where people are at, and especially if they, beyond the pandemic, or, you know, still navigating out of lockdowns and so forth. But for me, because I help school owners with marketing, you know, I'm not an instructor, a teacher or a school owner, marketing is where we help the lead generation. So, I always start there, because the same advice I could give a school owner that's trying to get to 100 students, we got school owners that have, you know, a client base that have multiple 1000 students, and they're still applying the same principles. 

So, I'd like to talk about marketing – how marketing applies to that, because without the marketing, you really don't have the business and you're not able to teach, create the impact that you want to create through martial arts and live that lifestyle. So, it always comes down to the marketing side of it. Though you can be a great teacher, if nobody knows who you are, it's always going to be a struggle. I mean, 99% of the school owners I speak to, it's always, “How do we get more students?”

FLORENCE: Yeah, one of the strategies I heard, actually today, is, you know, you are, you are successful, when actually you don't need to brag. It's the other people who do that for you. Which I, you know, for me, was like an aha! moment. 

GEORGE: Yeah, so, and in that sense, right? So, if you've got a great product, and you can get your students to talk about it, I mean, you know, that's magic, you're never going to be the power of a good referral. So, so first up! And this is why I always, what I've grown to learn is, you know, everybody asks the question, “How do we get more students?” But it's a loaded question, because it goes way deeper to that – “Well, are you keeping students? Or are you getting the leads in, but you're just not converting them? 

So, to go back on your question – how do we go about this – there's the three core things. And I'm happy to dive deeper into it, but the three core things start with one – irresistible offer. So, you've got to have a good offer that people can resonate with and that kind of gives a no-brainer effect. And I always start there, right?

Because if, you know, when people come to us and say, “Well, you know, been posting these Facebook ads, they're not working.” That's probably the first place we normally start, is how does the offer look? And just to clarify, the offer is the transaction that people have got to do to take the next step. So, is it a free trial? Is it a paid trial? What do they have to do? And how attractive is it?

And so there goes, a lot of science goes into creating that offer, because it's got to communicate value. And sometimes there's a disconnect, you know, as martial artists or a school owner, that, you know, you understand the value of martial arts, but the person looking to start, they've got no clue. And it's, you know, to tell someone, they're going to get confidence or fitness or self-defense. Yeah, but what does that really mean? So, some packaging the offer in a way that communicates value, and it's a no-brainer. And the risk is on you, the school owner, not the client, to take the first step. 

That's the most powerful thing that you've got to do. So, that's number one. Have a good offer. And then number two, how do you get the offer to market? So, look, there's always talk about this social network, but you know, for the most part, the easiest way always is for Facebook, Facebook ads. If you follow the right formula, and you know how to grab attention, pique interest with a good benefit, present your offer, and then number three.

FLORENCE: Sorry, what is the right formula? 

GEORGE: Yeah, so the formula we always use is, and people are super familiar with this, but if you go a few levels deeper, but the formula we stick to always is, it's called the AIDA principle. A-I-D-A, but I'll break it down for you. So it stands for, A's for Attention, I for Interest, D for Desire and A for Action. So, attention. Attention is you've got to stop people in their tracks.

So, if you think of a platform like Facebook, you know, people are mindlessly killing time, you know, nobody's really looking for something. And so, if you have to compare a platform like Google and Facebook, Google's got intent, because people are actively typing in the thing that they're looking for; where Facebook, they're not. People are just looking at cat videos or whatever they're doing.

But you could target, you can target so accurately with Facebook, that you can put the right offer in front of them. And that's why the offer is so important on Facebook. So, you've got to stop people in their tracks. So, how do you do that? Well, you can call them out, just say, Toronto parents. Yeah, that's simple, you call them out, but 70% of why people will stop, will be your media. So, your photos, and videos should be on point.

Now. People will say videos are better – they could be, if you're super good at video, but most people aren't. And even people that are good at video, miss the points of the true benefits. They might be a good video editor, but it's not resonating with people that they're actually going to stop. They can't see themselves in the picture. But a picture is easy, right? A picture is, “Can I see me or my kid there?” And so that covers attention, right? I've stopped.

So, now I'm paying attention, and so now you have got to grab my interest. And so there's two ways we go about interest – one is to ask a question; number two is a benefit-driven headline. I'm not such a fan of a question. And a big mistake I see people make is stacking the questions, so – do you want this? Do you want that? Do you want this? And you know, your prospect might be sitting there – yes, yes, yes, no. Right?

So, you've got to be, you've got to make sure that if you ask a question that it actually answers ‘yes', but you're probably still gonna have to follow up with a benefit-driven headline anyway. So, I just start with a benefit-driven headline. Yeah, so easy formula, the easiest formula still is this, I think, so many people claim to have made this popular, but I know it as how to benefit without pain.

So, how to get the thing that you want, without the thing that you're trying to avoid. So, you could look at your audience and think, “Okay, well, what is the thing that they get the most out of their training, jujitsu or martial arts?” And if you don't know, just interview 5, 10 of your students, you'll get a clear insight real quick. And then, what are they, what don't they want? Are they sick and tired of the gym? Are they sick and tired of people posing in the mirror at the gym? Are they, you know, what is it that they don't want? And so this is how you create this polarizing effect. 

Florence Sophia

FLORENCE: I like it. How do you get the thing you want, without doing the thing you don't want? 

GEORGE: Exactly. And that framework, it's probably the simplest place to start. So, going a bit deeper, the thing that you want is not a jujitsu class. That's the vehicle, right? The thing that you want is what the jiu jitsu is going to give you, or what the martial arts is going to give you. So, what is that outcome that's going to resonate with people? You know, is it confidence? Is it self-discipline? Is it self-defense? Is there, like, what is that higher level? I mean, you can go way deeper than that as well, because what do they get out of self-defense? 

But I mean, that probably comes up more in a conversation. But that's how you establish the value, right? So, you got to remove the value from just the vehicle. It's what does the vehicle give? And so this really helps people, I think, in the sense where people get hung up with their art, and sometimes people will tell me, “My art is so complicated. I don't know how to explain it.” Well, you don't, because you're the only one that at that point cares about it, right? A new prospect – they typically don't understand the difference between karate, jujitsu, muay thai, most of them just don't. 

FLORENCE: They're looking for a feeling, for an emotion. 

GEORGE: Yeah. So, most people just aren't, maybe there's a fraction of people that are educated, but they probably know where they want to go anyway. So, the general population that you're talking to don't. Alright, so that's where we are, right? Now, you've stopped them in their tracks, attention. You've gathered some interest, now some desire.

You know, desire, depending on the price point of your trial, you might need a few bullets, like short, little benefit-driven sentences, but typically if you and I, you know, what we do is we would have like a paid trial, like we work with this sheet that, you know, numbers that we've tested and price points that we've tested. So, it kind of takes the thinking a bit out of it. But if that offer is below $100, then you can typically just get away a desired section with a good offer. So, if you have a really good offer, and it's crystal clear, it's well communicated – that could be enough. 

FLORENCE: And what if it's higher than $100?

GEORGE: If it's higher than 100, you might want to have some bullet points to back it up. 

FLORENCE: And those would be the benefits? 

GEORGE: Yeah, those are just the extra benefits, what they get with this offer. So, kind of before the offer. And then action, like what do they need to do to get this thing? And so two big mistakes that school owners make here is, one not having it. Yeah, that is probably the biggest mistake is people just don't tell them. They do this perfect ad, but then they're like, what do I do to get this thing? So, telling people super clear what they got to do. 

Now, this is where you got to be, you've got to abide – we talk about abiding by the platform rules. A lot of times, I'll see people have like a flyer, and they put the flyer on Facebook. It was a great flyer, but now it's on Facebook. So, it's great in print, but it's not a great ad. And on the flyer, there'll be a ‘Call Us’, phone number or email. Now, I don't know about you, if you've ever tried to click on a phone number or email address on a phone – doesn't happen, right? So, imagine most of your people looking at an ad and looking at it and, “What's the number? They don't have a pin? I don't know, what do I do?” 

FLORENCE: And then they forget. 

GEORGE: “And then I'll do it later.” They've got all the intent to do it later, but they just won't, because you've lost them, right? So, what's the simplest way to have a call to action? Well, what we've learned over the years, and I guess, I'll say that – six years ago, when we released our first Martial Arts Media Academy course, which was, which is a marketing course, our advice was also different.

We would say, have a great landing page, and send people to a great website or landing page. Now, I never start there. Will having that be an added asset? Yeah. But now, we just want to sell the conversation. We just want to have more conversations, because if you have more conversations, we can have more conversions.

So, we just go for what is the best way for people to get in touch. Easiest is to send a message. Or you could do like a lead ad in Facebook, where you gather the names, emails, and so forth. But again, depending on the level that people are at, we just go for the messaging. So, those are the three things right?

You have to have a good offer, the formula to put in front of people, and then what is the call to action. And you can do those three things at scale. Because I see people do that with 10, 20 students a month, to hundreds. That means staying focused on it, getting better at the method, kind of like your martial arts, right? You don't just go practice once and do something new.

But I think as business owners, we get bored with our marketing before anybody else does. So, we want to try something new. But if you've refined that and you know your offer converts, then you can improve the offer by the messaging, and then you can improve the conversion by the way you actually follow up on the messages.

FLORENCE: Alright, so just to recap, we have an irresistible offer number one, number two was how to get the offer into advertisement, and that is AIDA. What is next? What comes out? 

GEORGE: Master your messaging. So, your follow-up process, and that's for the call to action. So, mastering the follow-up process of taking people from curious, to serious, to sign up. So yeah, we typically use Messenger for that. We've got what we call the Messenger Signup Method, which is just sort of a process where you go on, how do you build relationships fast and establish value and then take the orders.

Florence Sophia

FLORENCE: I like that. How do you follow up to have them from curious to serious? Generally speaking, why would you say martial arts businesses fail? Or how do they plan for risk management? 

GEORGE: Risk management. Wouldn't say that I'm the best person to answer that, but on failing, things that I have come across, a lot of it, well, everything in business starts with mindset. That's sort of the overarching theme. And with mindset comes beliefs about money, ethics on charging money for martial arts. And a big one that's probably never spoken about is the peer group, because if your great, great, great master teacher that you learn from, doesn't charge for martial arts, or, you know, maybe they've got different philosophies, and that's passed on to you, that creates a lot of conflict. 

Because if you want to try and grow a business, but your martial arts master who is truly a master at martial arts, is not a master at business, but is a master at martial arts is enforcing those beliefs and mindset onto you, you're going to face a crossroads, right? Because you're going to have to let go of that to move forward. So, a lot of it starts with mindset, and I was on a, we host this virtual event, it's called the Martial Arts Media Intensive.

We used to do it physical, but hey, digital is great, because I can run the events and go home. I can access the world, so it's always better. And I was going through this process, and somebody brought up, somebody was chatting about… We were talking about sales, and he mentioned, “I'm too honest a man to be good at sales.” I was like, “Whoa, whoa, we got to talk about that. Right?” Because for you listening, you know, maybe there's something else that you're attaching to it, right? Maybe you've got a different type of belief.

So, you can take this example and, you know, work it into your own scenario. But we really had to dive deep into that, because if you feel that you are too honest to be good at sales, how are you going to move your business forward? How are you going to present your martial arts to someone, if you feel that what you're doing is unethical? You will sabotage your own success, day in and day out. So, you've got to get clear on that.

And the easiest way to really get clear on that is just go look at your students, like if you're teaching martial arts, do you change lives? How many lives have you changed? Are people better off after training martial arts with you or not? If they're not, you probably shouldn't be in business, right? But I think for 99% of martial arts school owners, you change lives. And I know, you know, we skip that part of my story. But you know, it definitely changed my life when I got into martial arts.

And I wish I was a kid, you know, and I had a martial arts instructor convince my parents to get me started when I was a kid. I know the benefits now. I mean, I'm 44 now, but, you know, I started in my mid-30s. I see the benefits now and I see how that's helped my son. And that message needs to be enforced.

So, you have to be able to communicate your value, and understand the value that you provide, and the value that you provide is not on the mats. It's much higher. And this is what really helped us help school owners during the pandemic. Because what do you do in a pandemic, when the vehicle that you attach to, which is your martial arts training on the mats, camaraderie, friends, high fives, that community?

If that's missing, then how do you transfer that experience without the vehicle? And that's what you got to think about, right? Well, how do you do that? Well, how do you take your community? The missing element? How do you take that online? How do you continue being a coach? How do you continue being a coach and make sure that people move up? And what content? Can you provide the support? That challenges your thinking in big ways, because that's the vehicle. 

FLORENCE: And also, you value, you know, I would imagine the value you're bringing to the community has to speak from a place where you're understanding yourself as a business owner, what you and the gym is bringing to people's life. So, how do you translate that into your sentence? How do you translate that into a powerful value proposition? 

GEORGE: I don't know if it's much of a, how I can put it in a sentence, but it's more of a – give me a better scenario, like let's say, are you talking about a current circumstance?

FLORENCE: Let's say there's, around Toronto, there's like, I don't know, hundreds of jiu jitsu gyms? How do they create a message that is different from all the other gyms? And is not saying come to train with me, I'll build your confidence, I'll help your child not to be bullied, right? How do you separate yourself from everybody else who is offering the same, basically? 

GEORGE: Offering the same? But how do you go about presenting that message through to people? So, maybe this helps. Last week on our Partners Power Hour call, I was with one of our Partner members who is based in the UK. And I think the UK and Canada are still in, I mean, I know for the UK, they've been in lockdown for about a year, but now things are starting to look up. So, we looked at, alright, well, well, what's the plan? How do we navigate through this? 

So, for them, they're still doing their online classes, they're doing things online. I know jujitsu can be a bit trickier, because how do you do it online, but there's many successful models that you can look at of people doing that, like if you look at what the Gracies are doing, you can take things from that and apply that.

Now, some people might look at that and say, well, that's the Gracies, and that's them, and we can't be that. But, wrong, because you're the coach, and you've got your community and your community listens to you. And where would you want him to get the content – from someone else or from you? So, you totally got to be the leader, if you're trying to step up as a leader. 

FLORENCE: That's a powerful statement, is don't be afraid to kind of steal from somebody else and give yourself that permission. Yeah. 

GEORGE: So, just a bit more context on things that, you know, we really saw school owners struggle with, is when things are going up and down, you know, how do you stay positive? Right, it looks like the whole world is crumbling, you know, locked down, not locked down, we're open, we're not, break up, you know. And so you have to divide empathy and sympathy, and sympathy – what I mean by that is, when things go wrong, I see school owners jump straight to Facebook, and they take that emotion of sympathy with them of how life sucks. And it goes, that energy goes out in their posts, their communication. 

And it's kind of like saying, “Hey, all of us, we've all got our heads in the sand, and I understand because I've also got my head in the sand and let's all have our heads in the sand, and life sucks and we'll wait for better days. Or you can have empathy, and take it as an opportunity to lead – meaning, it sucks.

And then give yourself permission to go have a sulking moment of how life sucks for an hour or two hours, get it out of your system. And now I have to find your message. Okay, and this is the hardest thing, but like, okay, so what? What's the plan? Because if there's no plan, and this is, you know, when we saw all these cancellations, you know, when people run out of the future with you, they cancel.

So, you know, when things shut down, they're like, well, we'll cancel, because what's the plan? Yeah, so it's important to have the plan. And I'll get back to how we're doing this with one of our school owners in the UK, you've got to have the plan. And having empathy is understanding the situation, but then turning the wheels.

And so we did this with Don a few times where like, “Okay, we're locked down. Well, how are we going to handle this?” And the messaging was something like, to his members, right, “Okay, we're in a lockdown. It happened again. It's probably going to happen again, too. Right? But, what are we going to do? We're martial artists, are we going to let this get in our way? Or are we going to actually just commit and get the thing done and train and be better off when we open, because when we open, this is the plan that we're going to do X Y and Z. So, if that helps in one part.

So, what are we doing with our client in the UK? Well, they know that, I think by the end of this month, they can, I forgot the exact dates, but I think by the end of March they can do more outside training. April, they're looking at opening doors, and then they're moving into summer. Now, one thing that we noticed in Australia was schools boomed at times when they wouldn't normally boom, meaning like right before December or as people move out of the pandemic, people were just keen to get on with life and gyms are just booming, right? 

I spoke to someone yesterday, doubled his business from last year. So, things are really looking up, right? Martial arts school owners that have moved past it are thriving. And so for us looking at, in the UK, we were looking at all right, well, so we've got these four dates, we've got the end of the month, we've got something happening in April, we've got summer, etc., coming up. So, how do we plan the campaigns? Well, the secret to that is having your message to market match on point. So, the right message, at the right time, for the right person. And this has been the trickiest in the pandemic, because you've got, as much, whether you agree with governments or not, what they say, goes, right? 

So, you can hate it, love it, and fight it. Like, that's what is said. So, what can you do if you just ride the train, you can piggyback on what it is that they're saying, and you can draw the good news out of that. So, we're preparing the campaigns, and we're going, “Well, we've got these four dates.” And the minute the announcements get made, then it's good news. We're open, you know, it's sending the message out that we're ready. Let's go, right. So, you know, if things have been tough, and you're looking at the next few months, and like, what's going to happen? Well, be prepared, right? Because your time is coming, and the boom is coming, but make sure that your messaging is on point at that day, because the message one day before lockdown, and one day after, it's a completely different message. 

So, you've got to be prepared, that your message resonates where people are at mentally, at that time, and move past it. And just know that for every 50% of people that don't want to continue on with life and are paranoid and everything else. There's another 50% that are. 

FLORENCE: In terms of the messaging, would you say, for the messaging to be on point, is to say what's in the moment, or divulging a part of the plan? And where the gym is, like, what's the vision? 

GEORGE: Depends on where the marketing message is at. If it's for retention, it's definitely more about the plan. If it's for marketing, and attracting students, in ads, I would have been more in the moment of what it is. And, you know, if there's sort of a glimpse of the plan, that's ahead of opening dates etc., do that. But you know, something that could really work to your advantage in all this, is waitlists. You know, wait lists and scarcity is a really powerful thing. And if you're dealing with restrictions, and you can't have enough people on the mats, follow up or waitlist. People understand demand and supply is a scarce thing. And that can drive a lot of people to make sure that they get on the list for when you open or when you have a spot available as well.

Florence Sophia

FLORENCE: Nice. So, if someone had to start a business today, where do they start? And how do they create a sustainable game plan? 

GEORGE: Okay. 

FLORENCE: So, the question… 

GEORGE: It is, so look, I'll just give my perspective, right. And my perspective, I would say, simplify. And what I mean by that is, you want to, obviously want to have a good product, you want to be good at something, delivering something good. And be clear on what that is. And, and then again, going back to market, well, where is your market? Who are your ideal customers, and how are you going to get a message out to them?

And you can go back, actually, to my initial marketing advice, get a great offer, find a way to put it in front of people, follow up with them. And do that until you have a sustainable customer base, and then you can get all fancy and everything else. But I'd want to do that before I build websites, get a flashy logo, do all this stuff that feels like I'm an entrepreneur, but I'm not, because if you don't have a customer, then you got nothing.

So, I'd focus on like, what is the minimal viable way I can get started, deliver the thing? And perfection is a killer, right? So, just go, because you're going to learn when you go, be clear on what you're offering to people, what benefit they get, find a way to get that started, even if it's not running ads, and it's just in your sphere of influence. Friends, family, sometimes they're your first customers, right? A lot of people have had a mum as the first customer. But you know, just start somewhere and get that out and just refine that. And avoid, have horse flap blinkers on and just fill the customer base. 

FLORENCE: Great advice. What would you say are the biggest myths for online business marketing? What are the things that someone should avoid? And what are the absolutely must to implement?

GEORGE: Lists to avoid? So, I guess, be careful where you get your advice from. That's a tricky part, right? Because in today's world, you can buy the course on how to be the expert, and that's your intro into business. It means that someone hasn't applied any of what they learned in a real business, or maybe it works in another business, and they haven't adapted it into a model. So, just be super cautious who you get your advice from based on what you want to do. That's probably the biggest thing. People will always sell on their strength, right? So, people will always sell what they sell. 

So you know, people who are selling websites are going to tell you that you need the best website, if they selling course on AdWords, they're going to tell you AdWords is the way to go, if they're on YouTube, they're going to say YouTube is the best way to go. So, you know, people are always going to sell to their strengths. And that's why I, and I was that guy, you know, we used to do websites, and yeah, that was the go-to thing. But I realized it took a lot longer for people to get where they wanted to go. And so we stripped it all away, and boiled down to the three things that I shared earlier – the offer, get the message, right, get the follow-up. 

FLORENCE: And if you don't know to whom to go for advice, they should come to you, George, and before we close, I want to be mindful of our time. I know you have a call in in about eight minutes. If people want to follow you or just get in touch with you. Is there any, you mentioned there's a master class you're providing? Where can they find you? And how can they contact you? 

GEORGE: Yeah, the easiest way probably is martialartsmedia.com/scale. I don't know if I can help you, but that's what this little form is about. It's like a six step form. It just tells us who you are, what you're doing. It gives us just a bit of a gauge on what you need help with, and if we feel we can help you. We'll have a chat anyway. But yeah, if we feel we can help you we jump on a call and we will chat about the details. We only take on clients that we can help. 

So, I'm very transparent on that part. You know, don't want to try and help people if we can't help them. We typically only work with martial arts school owners, that's jujitsu, taekwondo, any martial arts of all sizes. So we've got different programs depending on where you're at. But that form is the best place to start – martialartsmedia.com/scale. Let me know exactly what it is that you're struggling with and we'll see if we're the right guys to help you with that. 

FLORENCE: I love it. Thank you. So, the website is… 

GEORGE: martialartsmedia.com/scale. 

FLORENCE: Awesome. And we'll put it into the show notes. Moving on in two minds. Sorry, go ahead. 

GEORGE: Yeah. And if you log on today, our new website is going live like three days ago, so if it's down, it's just because they are moving. Supposed to be done yesterday. 

FLORENCE: Exciting. All right, we will share the link in the show notes. If you could go back before you started your online business and give yourself that conversation knowing everything you know today, on top of the pandemic, you know, everything that happened? What would you say to yourself, you know, and what would you say to yourself the day before you started the process of preparing yourself for what is to come? 

GEORGE: Think less, do more. Just execute. Perfection is a killer. Perfection will kill progress. Think less, do more. Do get a result. Assess the result, improve on it. 

FLORENCE: I love it. I think let's do more. Let's move on to the fire, rapid fire questions – our favorite of our audience here. And so I'll just, you know, come up with a couple of rapid fire questions and you can just answer with whatever comes to mind, okay? What is true?

GEORGE: What is true is there's always an option. There's always a plus side, there's always an option. You always have options. 

FLORENCE: Love it. What is missing in your life right now? 

GEORGE: I wouldn't say it's injuries, because I've got those. Good waves. 

FLORENCE: Good what? 

GEORGE: Good waves, good waves in the ocean. Yeah. 

FLORENCE: Do you surf? 

GEORGE: I surf, yeah. 

FLORENCE: Yeah. Nice, amazing. What is the greatest fear moving forward that you will overcome next? So, you've done the 75 Hard. What's next? 

GEORGE: Well, I mean, my biggest fear is still jumping out of a plane. But I can't say I'm gonna address that one, but fear of just not living to my full potential, more than anything. 

FLORENCE: Beautiful. Life is a journey. So, you know, like you said, keep your jiu jitsu mindset and go for that fear, right? That's what makes us grow and stronger. What is your favorite, by the way? You have your own podcast, and is that weekly, monthly? 

GEORGE: It's weekly and sporadically. So, I interview martial arts school owners, that's how I got it started. I'm just wanting to learn from martial arts school owners. It's called the Martial Arts Media Business Podcast. And then I, you know, as I've gathered knowledge of marketing and things, I sporadically just share thoughts and ideas that are current in the moment, and then we feature the odd case study with our clients, and so forth, as well. 

FLORENCE: And then I've seen bits and pieces on your IG, @GeorgeFourie. So, I encourage anyone in our audience today to check that out, those are really great and inspiring. 

GEORGE: Thank you. 

FLORENCE: Virtually all the tips and techniques that you sharing, so good for you. What is your favorite podcast? Besides yours, of course, that you would recommend? 

GEORGE: The Martial Arts Media? I don't listen to too many I go in and out. I guess the longest podcast that I've listened to is one of my mentors, James Schramko. From superfastbusiness.com. That's probably the most value driven podcast there is. The others I sort of move in and out of. I'll listen to a bit of Joe Rogan, if I'm interested, a bit of Tim Ferriss. I like Franklin's podcasts, super short, marketing advice. Those are the ones that I typically dive into.

FLORENCE: Awesome. Imagine the world is coming to an end. And these three lessons that you can share with the world? When will they be? 

GEORGE: Wow. The world is coming to an end. Well, the lesson is, go out and live. Go make the best of it. 

FLORENCE: Beautiful. Thank you so much, George. I want to acknowledge you for the work you are putting. I want to congratulate you for allowing people to tap into their potential. And thank you so much for joining us today and spending this hour together, I can wait to share this podcast and have the world discover what you're doing. And I hope you know I definitely took so many golden nuggets from our conversation.

And I'm sure you know everybody listening today and who will be listening from the recording will get you know, maybe we will need to have a second follow up because I still have a lot of questions. So, thank you so much. I don't know if you have any closing words. 

GEORGE: No, not really. Firstly, thanks. Thanks so much for having me, it was really great to speak to you. It's always find it funny when I'm on this side of the chat, because I'm always the guy asking, asking all the questions. Yeah, I guess just for martial arts school owners, you know, if it's been a tough year, but sitting in an area, which I'm thankful for, and I don't really like to say it's so great here, because I'm conscious of how people are struggling and you know, we got clients in the USA, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, you know, it's all over. And, you know, we had to really draw the positives of what's good and what's, you know, what's good in the martial arts industry, which a lot of people haven't been talking about. 

Your time, if you are struggling, your time is coming but sympathy, empathy, get your, you know, get your mind right, whether you like it or not people look up to you as a leader. So it's, it's your opportunity to lead people through it at the misery out into the misery, so be careful what you say on social media. Be careful of getting rowed up into politics and having ranks, because it's never a winning conversation you know? So look after your own mind I know I know it can be tough but you know look after yourself first go do something like the 75 Hard Challenge or something like that if you're if you're really struggling to get momentum back and yeah, just be in the moment and make it happen, because life is good and there's good things coming.

FLORENCE: Just wire yourself to in, like the title of our podcast. I love it. 

GEORGE: Choice, by choice. 

FLORENCE: Thank you so much, George.

 

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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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

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

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

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESS: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Exactly how I quit!

JESS: Really? That's cool!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: You were happy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESS: Yeah.

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

JESS: Yeah.

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

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

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

GEORGE: Yeah.

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

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

JESS: Totally. Yeah.

GEORGE: Two opposite sides of the coin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESS: Yeah, of course.

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

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

GEORGE: You booked a whole island, all right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Yeah, cool.

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

GEORGE: I think it's awesome!

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

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

JESS: For sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESS: Yeah.

GEORGE: Maybe early next year.

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

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

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

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

JESS: Thank you!

GEORGE: Awesome, cheers!

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

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

 

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