127 – [Case Study] How A Traditional Karate School Generated $30,000+ In 72 Hours With This Simple Campaign

Richard Fall shares how they generated $30,000+ in 72 hours for his karate school with The 72 Hour ‘Cash Boost’ Sale. 


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How Richard and Kim generated $30,000 in just 72 hours
  • How asking for help leads to faster martial arts business growth
  • Why action takers are the money makers
  • The power of surrounding yourself with like-minded people
  • How to get over the fear of charging what you're worth
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. Today, I have two special guests with me, and in fact, this is my favorite type of episode to create. Look, we have great interviews on our show, but these ones are a bit more special for me, because this is a case study interview. And so, a case study interview is me interviewing some of our top clients and documenting the journey that they've gone through working with us, and celebrating the great result that they have achieved. 

And so today, I have Richard Fall, and Kim Comeau, from London Karate Club in Ontario, Canada. And we actually met via this podcast – I was chatting to Kim on Instagram, she was, “Hey, we actually listen to you every day!” And we got chatting, and we started working together, and it's been really such a great pleasure working with Richard and Kim, and seeing what great results they have achieved. And we're going to chat about that, because just recently, Richard and Kim went through a process that we call the '72 Hour Cash Boost Sale', which is exactly what it is. And they managed to generate $30,000 in just 72 hours. 

Now, that's the highlight, right? And hey, we got to talk about the highlights first. But it wasn't that easy to get to that point! Yep. The cash was collected in just 72 hours, but there was a lot that had to happen. Mindset, just belief in the process, belief that it can happen, and just being comfortable in creating a promotion like that without feeling like they're being sellout or cheap, or, you know, just being weird about how they operate their martial arts school. 

So, we're going to jump into the details, just how they worked through it, what they went through, the change of mindset, and really how any school owner could achieve results like that on a continuous basis, if they committed to the process. So, we'll jump into the details, and just for a bit of context, the strategy, it's something that we do in our Partners program.

Our Partners program is our flagship program that you've heard me speak about before if you've listened to us before. It's a group of school owners that we work with around the globe, we get together weekly and, you know, work through different strategies on how to attract the right students, increase signups, and retain more members. And so, the 72 Hour Cash Boost Sale is a process that you can run about four times per year, and it's just a great way to boost your cash flow. 

We'll dive into the details and I'll tell you how. So, jump right in. If you – depending on where you're listening or watching this episode, you can get the show notes on martialartsmedia.com/127. That's the numbers one-two-seven.

And you can also download our eBook, ‘The Ultimate Facebook Ad Formula for Martial Art Schools'. And that's it, jump into the episode, I'm sure you're gonna enjoy it. And wherever you're listening or watching make sure that you subscribe, that you get notified when we have a new episode. Enjoy.  

So, Richard and Kim, what's been the most profitable and most successful marketing campaign and ad campaign that you've done recently, or up to date? 

RICHARD: Most important one that I've done and the most profitable one I've done was the 72 Hour Sale that you set out for us. Like, I've had goals in the past that I've made, but I've never surpassed what you had mapped out for us in the 72 Hour Sale. I think moving forward, the most important, yeah, that was the most important one that stood out in my whole running of the dojo career. 

GEORGE: That's awesome. And what was the outcome? What was the result? 

RICHARD: The outcome was around almost $31,000, which is what we did. Like, we had a goal to sell 20 memberships, and we were okay at only selling 12. Twelve was our minimum, 20 was our goal; and we did 20, right on the nose. So, we did 20 memberships right on the nose.

GEORGE: That is pretty cool, right? 31,000 in between the COVID madness and things like that. How did that impact the business? 

RICHARD: The impact on the business? We… It was to the point where COVID was kind of taking away from my business what I had made up to that point and it actually fueled the dojo to be, or the school to actually be able to carry forward into this year. So, I had no worries carrying forward into this year. 

So, it actually helped me out quite a bit, with just the money part of it. Just the money part and the worries of being able to pay the bills, being able to pay employees, and, you know, taking care of business itself. So, it took a lot off my shoulders stress-wise that way, and really gave me a good kickstart for 2022. 

GEORGE: Love it. Alright, so, before we get into all the other good stuff, welcome to the show and thanks for jumping on! So, a bit of context. I've been working with Richard and Kim for, I don't know, maybe about almost a year, maybe? 

RICHARD: Almost a year, yeah. 

GEORGE: Before we jump into everything else, firstly, you're sitting behind an awesome wall. But I've got Richard Fall and Kim Comeau from London Karate Club in Ontario, Canada. Just give us a bit of a round up. What do you do? What do you teach? And yeah, just a bit of a background; a quick, brief background about the business.

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RICHARD: I'm the owner of the London Karate Club and my teacher is Master Meitatsu Yagi out of Okinawa, Japan, and I've been training with him since 1985. And I've been training myself in karate for about 42 years. And yeah, so, we teach Meibukan Goju-Ryu, and we just teach karate, we don't teach anything else but karate. 

And, you know, we leave all the other stuff, jiu jitsu and that stuff, to the professionals that handle that stuff, and that's what we do. I follow the family religiously, and I travel to Okinawa when I can. Just over the last few years, I couldn't travel and see my teacher, but it's  – we're moving forward. We're moving forward towards seeing each other again. 

GEORGE: Awesome. And the important right-hand lady sitting next to you… Kim! 

KIM: Yeah, so, I've been training for about 20 years now, and I joined the London Karate Club about six years ago. So, I've been training under Sensei Richard Fall for six years. And I've also traveled to Okinawa and have credentials internationally, or black belt gradings and stuff. I came on board to help with the backend of the business. So, a lot of the advertising and Facebook and social media stuff.

RICHARD: She was also the first Canadian woman to win a tournament in Okinawa. 

GEORGE: Wow… and you just left that out, right?! 

KIM: And that… 

GEORGE: Of course, yeah. Any other credentials that are hidden from us, Richard, that we need to, we need to bring to light? 

RICHARD: Ranks don't really matter, but I'm a 9th Degree Black Belt. Hanshi under Dyson, say, Meitatsu Yagi in Okinawa, which makes me the highest rank in my style in Canada. So… 

GEORGE: Amazing. 

RICHARD: Allows me to do international gradings myself, and on behalf of my teacher, and we're hopefully going to soon connect Zoom classes with them, so that we can reach out to the entire world, right, with him and try to see if we can get some movement for him, you know, as well. 

GEORGE: That's cool. So, now I know you're very passionate about your karate and you're a purist at heart and can see it in the display behind you there. Do you want to just give us a quick round up – what are we looking at in the background there?

martial arts business case study

RICHARD: So, the three people behind me, the black and white picture above my head is Master Meitoku Yagi, the founder of Meibukan Goju-Ryu, who I have a third degree under, and fortunate to meet in 1990. To over Sensei Kim's head is my master, Master Dai Sensei Meitatsu Yagi, and then the guy that's just below is Ippei Sensie, his son. The kanji behind me means great well, so it means to move forward and the opportunity to make great wealth. 

GEORGE: And what else have we got?

RICHARD: Well, we got, we have the rope above my head, on the shrine there, that's from the tug of war in Okinawa. 2013, I went over and we did the festival of rope. The festival of rope is the longest tug of war in the world. They do it every October, it's kind of like an Oktoberfest, but it's to usher in good crops. They used to be to usher in good crops, and then what all would do, all the territories around the area would come together, and they would do kata in the Kokusai-dori, which is the main strip in Okinawa, and I had the fortune to be able to demonstrate my karate in with the Okinawans as well.

GEORGE: That's cool. So, you treasure that, and the history and the heritage, how do you bring that into the school and into the teaching?

RICHARD: When our students move forward, they have to actually learn history. So, as they move forward, they have to know who the master of the style is, who the creator of the style is, and what our history is. So, we go all the way from Chojun Miyagi to Meitoku Yagi. So, the founder of Goju-Ryu, Goju-Ryu is one of the major styles that make up all of karate in the world. So, Chojun Miyagi passed on, his family passed on the style to Meitoku Yagi Dai Sensei, and then passed the style onto his son. So, our lineage is a pure straight line. 

So, right straight from Chojun Miyagi, all the way to me is a straight line, there's no fragments in between at all. So, the culture is carried forward, because bringing my teacher here, he's very big on history. And I know history has a part of understanding where you come from, but it's not the end-all be-all, right? So, you can't, with me being part of, understanding history, I've always found that I'm humble. 

So, being too humble sometimes can shoot you in the foot, because you don't feel like you should charge as much for what you're doing. Because it's more spiritual to you, right? It's more inside that you feel gratification, through teaching, right? So, as I was growing up, going through, growing up as a child, I wasn't a very good teenager. I was actually getting into a lot of trouble and causing problems. And then that's when I first got introduced at around 15 and a half to karate, and karate actually saved my life. Two people that I hung around with actually committed murder and it could have easily been me. 

So, I owe karate my life. So, I kind of took that for… I've been in business for probably about 32 years now, and never really made a huge success. I'm still doing a part-time school, and still working a job during the day. I know, George, that makes you cringe. But I'm trying to get past that guy who is still afraid to step out of what he does as a job and get into something that he does for a passion.

GEORGE: Alright, so, you mentioned and I want to get back to Kim on just what part of that attracted you to training under Sensei Richard Fall. So, but on that, because you bring up a point, and this is a point that comes up a lot. I think the connection between the spiritual aspect and what martial arts mean to you personally, and then there's the business side, that's what's got to happen. 

Somehow, in most humans' brains, we make this connection, or there's past programming, that money is evil, or money's bad. Or there's somebody that's a real, you know, I don't even like the term dojo, but there's, you know, people that are just teaching real watered down, poor martial arts, and they're charging an arm and a leg and they're ripping people off. We didn't, I don't really see much of that in Australia, but you know, if you watch McDojoLife, you'll probably see, you can probably see it all, right? But I think there's a lot of danger there, right? Because you don't want to be that guy, and so now you link old programming to you know, money, how money is bad. 

And if I'm going to make money with my spiritual thing, that means so much to me and has impacted my life in such a positive way, and now I start focusing on the money, I'm going to be perceived as that guy… and I think that's a big thing that a lot of martial artists get stuck with. How do you feel you've overcome that? Because I think you, you might not be giving yourself as much credit is due, right, because you've moved a few mountains. How's your perspective changed over the last six months or so?

martial arts business case study

RICHARD: Well, I think when working with you and with Martial Arts Media and Partners, I think talking to everybody in the community kind of helped me to realize, “Hey, there's a lot of good martial artists out there that are charging what they're worth.” And like I said to you before, I have a hard time relating to people that have 400 students, 350 students. 

I used to have 250 students, and I did it all by myself and I realized that I can't do it by myself. That failure, that I went backwards, actually taught me a lot, that if I can get there, once I get there again. I just have to get it in my mind and the tools to be able to do it, right? And I think by joining the group and the Partners has kind of helped me, kind of start that machine and get those wheels moving, that see that, “Hey, you know what, it's not bad to make money at doing what you're doing, right?” And it's not bad at – teaching your craft and getting something for it, right? 

I put a lot of time and effort, and since Kim puts a lot of time and effort into making things happen, and the Facebook ads, all that stuff is something that you taught us, and like I said before, is that we're very thankful for that. And, you know, there's a point in time where money is tight. And I said, “Well, what did I do? Like I stepped into this thing, this commitment. And maybe it's the wrong thing to do at this time.” And the only thing I could cut is things that are new, and I'm grateful that I kept on going with Partners, because it's really teaching me a lot how to move forward, and how to move past that barrier of, you know, is it okay to make money? 

GEORGE: Cool. I remember there was a, I mean, we've had many conversations after but I remember, in our, the game plan call that we have as onboarding when school owners join our Partners Group… I remember this, it had an impact on me as well, because I remember talking to you, and I remember seeing something go off in your mind, that you realized, “Oh, hang on, like, I can charge what I'm worth. I'm, you know, I'm more valuable than the way that we are going.” Can you recall that moment? I recall it, it really stuck with me.

RICHARD: That was when we had a private, kind of a private, call. And you sat down and showed me the map of what I could do, and I think that moment, I realized that, “Hey, you know, I'm actually a part of this game, too.” And like I said, I did it by myself before, I can't do it by myself. 

I'm thankful for the person sitting beside me, because she does a lot, and she does a lot of stuff that I can't do, right? And not that I can't do it, I can probably learn it. It's just, it's difficult being, you know, I'm 58 years old, it's kind of hard to teach an old dog new tricks, as they say, right? That's not a Canadian term, either. That's actually a real term. 

GEORGE: I've actually heard that one before. 

RICHARD: But it's showed me, that showed me that I can make more, and since you showed me that, we are making more. Like, we got more people coming into the dojo, more than ever, with our Facebook ad. We're averaging about nine to… Well, I send it to you every week, right? Nine, and we just went up from nine, and went up from there; and, you know, we never had that traffic before. 

Growing pains is a good thing. It's scary, but it's a good thing. And we just, we're floating our boat in a little bit rocky water that we don't know, but we're navigating through it, right? And we have you to help us along the way, to navigate through that. So yeah, that moment, I do remember that moment, that moment that you had showed us the way to do it. Yes. 

GEORGE: That's cool. So, Kim, we want to hear a bit more from you there. No pressure. But I guess first, just as a quick side intro, right, what of the history and what of that attracted you to starting with Sensei Richard Fall?

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KIM: I just moved to the city, and I was looking for a place that was… I was doing Goju-Ryu and I wanted to keep with that. It was actually a friend from way up north that told me about the London Karate Club. So, I did a class here. And I was kind of hooked, because I was doing it, I was training for about 15 years before, and it was a little different. I liked the lineage, how pure it was. It wasn't, like, branched off to different people. It was very direct. And I really liked that I could do the same style that I was doing for, like, 15 years, I can continue that, so… yeah, and then I just was hooked. I was like training every day here, and I continue to do that still to this day. So, yeah.

GEORGE: That's cool. Now, you also implement a lot of the marketing and so forth. So, how does your role work within the club? 

KIM: Okay, yeah, so I started with being more social media, like, with getting stuff out there for our club and just putting it out there on Instagram and social media. And then I was just making positive progress with it, and it just turned into a manager role here. So, I've done sales for 15 years. So, I know a lot about that, and I have a lot of stuff that I can offer and I'm able to do for Richard. I also went to school last year, when I was let go of my job, and I did coding and website design. So, that's when I started getting into redoing the whole website, and it's going really, really well. And yes, so, I'm just continuing to keep going forward. 

GEORGE: And keeping the marketing engine rotating… 

KIM: Just going, which is a consistent thing that you do like every single day. So, yeah. 

GEORGE: Love it. Ok, so, a quick couple of questions just on, I really wanted to bring the two of you on as my favorite Canadians, first and foremost. Getting a better understanding as well from just everything that you do, just the history and so forth. I want to take this opportunity as well, and just ask a couple of questions just about, you know, us working together, like what's helped you most. Although you have revealed a lot of that, just going into a couple of things, right? So, first up, like, when we started working together, you mentioned a bit about the money thing and the value in the belief, but what were the biggest problems that you were facing at that time? 

RICHARD: The biggest problems that we were facing is that, in my mindset, I didn't want to be the lowest guy, I didn't want to be the highest guy, I wanted to be the middle guy. And being the middle guy, I gave away a lot of free two-week classes, which are two-week courses, which kind of shot me in the foot, because it's, uh, they're tire kickers, right? They don't really want to pay a big amount of money. 

So, we would get maybe one, maybe one or two, one or two people from that, right? And it didn't really pan out, right? It didn't really pan out for us. So, I was kind of trying to feel my way through it, and then it really, the success I had, like I said, I've been doing this for 32 years on a part time basis. There were five Meibukan schools in London, and I'm the only one left. So, I'm very, I'm a very dug-in person. I'm a very perseverant person, right? 

So, I think, by the mindset of giving stuff away, I always gave it away, instead of selling it, right? So, moving on to meeting you, Kim and I used to listen to podcasts all the time. They kind of got me hooked. I said, “Well, let's…” I let her listen to you, and we listened to you. I even used to listen to you all the way when I went to work or home. I found it very interesting. I'm going, like, you know, I wonder if this guy is really true blue, real guy, right? 

So, I think Sensei Kim, I think Kim reached out to you. I'm going, “Holy crap, he actually listened and he actually, you know, got back to us, right?” So, that's kind of what got that ball rolling, was actually Kim calling you or sending a message to you, and yeah, then it went from there, right?

GEORGE: And what was the big goal? I mean, at that time, what was the big aim? The big goal that you wanted to achieve? 

RICHARD: I wanted 300 students, that was all. 

GEORGE: 300 students, why did you want 300 students?

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RICHARD: Because I think moving forward, I want to have a living doing this. I want to get away from my day job and do this as a living. Like, I want to have what Lindsay Guy has, I want to have what Cheyne McMahon has, I want to have what Ross has, right? I want to have that and not because of… No, good for them, I just want to have that for me. As at the end of, when it's all said and done, I can say, “I built that.” I made that happen, right? And it was always – I came close but never really made an achievement. 

So, I guess it's seeing my baby, which is the dojo here, the school, to become what I want it to be. You know, this gem that I want it to be and I want those students just, not to blow my horn, I teach a really good martial art and I want those students to move forward and them to become teachers. I want them to become senseis of their own dojo, right? And that is why I want to get to the point of becoming bigger, right? 

GEORGE: So, out of that, while working together, I mean, what's had the biggest impact? And what's helped you the most? 

RICHARD: Of growing now? I think the social media part. I think Facebook – Kim can answer that as well.

KIM: Yeah, for sure. Definitely the Facebook ads, and learning about them, and how to advertise and catch people's eyes for the ads. That's been a huge impact for us, like, I received messages, like, 30 messages a day. So, that's had a huge impact on us for sure. 100%. Like, we've had to actually make classes built around beginner classes. So, that really pushed us forward too and it started us thinking about how we can gradually bring them into our family of London Karate Club. So… 

RICHARD: So, when you had that challenge, that 72 Hour Sale, I remember saying to Kim, “There's no way we win this, there's no way.” We've got Brad who has 400 students, you got Cheyne who has 350 students… This little dojo of 100 students, there's no way we're going to be able to beat these guys, right?
So, we did give it our best. We gave it our best and hoped for the best. And I just had one more day, I had one more encore day in my pocket, and we sold four memberships on that one encore day, right? That moment showed me that I can move a mountain, right? I can make it happen, right? And it's refreshing that something can make you and bring you up and lift you up like that, right? 

And, you know, why did this little dojo, this little school, beat these guys with all these students? Right, perseverance, right? It's perseverance. It's like the Rocky movie, right? You know, the guy who doesn't think he's going to win, and all of a sudden, he's there, right? You know, now I know moving forward. And like I said, the other night, I'm looking forward to moving forward with you, and I'm excited for what's coming, right? 

GEORGE: So, just a bit more on the 72 Hour Sale, I think just for context for anyone listening. I know a lot of people run like a Black Friday sale or Christmas sale. We've got this method in the Partners group called the 72 Hour Sale, because it was created before we created anything for Black Friday sale, but it can be used as a Black Friday sale or Christmas sale or any valid reason that you really give it. 

So, you can run it four times a year, twice a year, you know, whatever. Whatever mountains you're trying to move. In our Partners Group, we put together these challenges every so often. So, we run on six week cycles, and we put together a challenge, and we just see who gets the most numbers. Who would have thought martial artists are competitive? 

Everybody tends to rally up and get stuck in, right? And, so, we ran the six-week challenge. You could tell us more, right? But like Richard, as you were saying, you thought it was not possible, because you've never done something like this, and then you ended up with the number?

RICHARD: Right. I never thought you could do that in 72 hours. I never thought in my life. I've never done – that was the best sale – and that was the best month I've ever done. Like, ever, ever! And it was, like, it opened my eyes. If you really put your mind to it and really put everything aside and just focus on that number – focus on that number – 20, 20, 20. 

And that's what I was focused on, I was focused on 20, but in the back of my mind, I would have settled for 15, right? But that last day I said to Sensei Kim, “We're not settling for 15. We're not settling for 16. We're going to get 20.” And we got 20! And well, the way we did it was that we took – it's not just selling individual memberships, we started involving families, right? 

So, we had one lady who signed up for a family of three, right? So, we took the first number as the number, and then the other ones would kind of it's a little bit smaller, right? So, we actually sold family memberships and went there. So, we made that number just by being a little bit creative, right?

GEORGE: And that number, the dollar number, was 31? 

RICHARD: Just almost 31,000. Was 30,880 odd dollars. Yeah. 

GEORGE: That's nice. Bonus, right? 

RICHARD: It was…

GEORGE: Especially if you haven't done that! Now, I think what's more important from that, and you were sort of mentioning that as well, is how does that make you feel as in what you can achieve next? Like, I mean, it's nice to grab the cash and money's great, but what impact does it have on you? 

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RICHARD: It shows me that I – everyday sales – if I really ramp it up and really focus on what I need to focus on, and it shows me that I can make this as a living. It shows me that if I really had to spend all my time and effort at this, that I will never have to go through that door for someone else again… because really, when we go to work, and we're not working for ourselves, working for somebody else, that door becomes a dreadful, dreadful entrance, right? The shrine that's behind me, you see the gate of training there.

I have the gi of training at the door of my dojo, and every time I pass over that, the world stays behind. This is my world, right? So, I want that door. I want to walk through that door every day. I want that door to feed me every day. Feed me that positivity every day. And then, Kim and I, we work on positivity stuff all the time, right? We try to keep ourselves positive. I said, you know, through this 72 Hour Sale, we can't be negative, we got to be positive and we got to think positive, right? 

And it just shows me that I can make a living at this, right? I can make a living at this, right? And I gotta shake off those fears, right? Like fight full contact in Japan and shoot fighting – getting punched in the face sucks. It really sucks getting punched in the face sucks, right? I did a 20 man fight in Okinawa for my 8th Dan. It sucks, bare fist, fair enough, it sucks. But that stuff's easy compared to… To me, that stuff's easy compared to shaking off the fear of going into business for yourself. But it showed me, the 72 Hour Sale showed me that I can do that – I can shake off those fears. 

GEORGE: Yeah, and hats off to you because it's not, I mean, we provide the strategy and the formula… and it's great that we've got so many smart cats in our group that we can test different strategies, and we even refined things that last few days, and how can we change the offer to make it more valuable. 

But it should be said that none of this happens if you don't have a great product – and that means you deliver great classes, teach epic classes and deliver great martial arts classes. So, nothing happens without that. Last few questions, if you had to answer this: I almost didn't join, because…? 

RICHARD: I almost didn't join, because I didn't know if I could make the commitment to afford it. To be honest with you, George, what I did was – hoping my wife doesn't listen to this – during the first part of COVID, I, well, leveraged my house to keep this place open, because nobody was here – was just me, right?

And the first part, I didn't know how to do Zoom, we didn't know how to do Zoom, right? We didn't understand it, and then – we joined – it was the Partners that helped us with Zoom, right? We joined Zoom, we joined Partners, and we had to figure Zoom out. And so, what we did is we bought a year subscription for Zoom, and now we're teaching Zoom classes when we're locked out. 

And people are coming out – people don't like it so much – but the people are coming out, right? Because it's information. It's information. And I, like, I picked up a student through Sensei Kim in the UK, and he's training now and he's enjoying it, right? So, I mean, Zoom has its place, and you know, it taught us that we can touch and get involved with a lot of different people around the world. 

GEORGE: Love it. 

RICHARD: I was afraid I wouldn't be able to commit to you. That's my biggest fear. That was my biggest fear. 

GEORGE: Now can I ask, Kim, what did he really tell you?

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KIM: It was, that's what it was. It was, you know, can we keep putting money into this and you know, keep going and going forward at the same time? That's what it really was. And we just decided like, “Hey, let's just do it.” And like I said, the 72 Hour Sale, I think really opened us up to what we could do. It did for me too, because it – we were just a small dojo in, you know, in Canada, London, Canada, and we blew it out of the water really. For the short time and the work that you put into it, we got a lot out of it, and it just tells me that we can do a lot more.

RICHARD: Well, the other thing is though, when you sat down and went through the four-week sale with us, the four-week program? We used that four-week program, it brought a lot of students into us. So, that was the moment that you were talking about, when you saw the, “Hey, I can do this.” When I, when my wheel started changing, was that day and that's why I stayed. And also, just the feedback I get from all the people just sitting by – I don't talk a lot in the meetings – but I'm absorbing. 

I'm absorbing what they're saying and, you know, we're very much a paper and pen dojo. We haven't gotten on to a lot of apps and sign-in apps and stuff, and we're trying to figure it out now. Like, we're trying to figure it's got to be easier, right? So, we're getting a lot from the group and the Partners group and we're very thankful to be a part of it. Like it's, it's really helped us a lot, George. You guys have really helped us a lot. And I kind of like you a little. 

GEORGE: Ah, cool. So… 

RICHARD: Just a little bit, just a little bit. Take it easy. 

GEORGE: Okay, just a little, right. Good. I was glad to say that the, you know, the South African Aussie accent wasn't, you know, anything weird. 

RICHARD: Your Canadian accent is better than your Aussie accent. 

GEORGE: I do my best, hey! But one last thing, who'd you recommend us to, and why?

Martial Arts Schools

RICHARD: I would recommend you to anyone, anyone who's looking to make gains in their schools, and to just all around, make their schools a better place, financially wise, and even with the stuff that you guys help us with, with getting classes scheduled and figuring out timewise… I would recommend it to any martial artists out there that really, really are struggling and martial arts schools all struggle, we all struggle. 

And if you want to be able to move forward in your craft that you love so much, I would recommend it to anyone, any school. Any school out there can always use the martial arts Partners, Martial Arts Media, and… nothing but good things, nothing but good things will come from it. 

GEORGE: Thanks so much, Richard and Kim. Thank you. And if that's you, and you're listening to this, and you do need some help. Best way to do that probably if you go to martialartsmedia.com/scale. We've got a little questionnaire you can just add your details there, and we'll reach out and have a chat and see if it's the right fit for you. No Canadian Club whiskey or anything was sent over as a funded endorsement. Do you guys even drink Canadian Club or is that just a thing? 

RICHARD: No, no, that's, that's so… no, no. 

GEORGE: Right, because I discovered Fosters beer when I lived in the United States, which is this big one liter can of beer. I was like, “Oh, wow, this is really cool.” And then when I ended up living in Australia was like, “Where the hell is Fosters?” Like you cannot buy Fosters. It's not a local Australian beer and nobody drinks fosters here. So, it's just an American thing or a North American Canadian thing. I don't know if you guys get it in Canada, but I think the attraction was it was just this big one liter can of beer. Yeah, right. So, Canadian Club is not a? No? 

RICHARD: No. It's not really good whiskey.  

GEORGE: Cool. Hey, Richard, Kim, thanks so much for being on. I'll speak to you soon. See you on the next call. 

RICHARD: Great. Thank you for having us, George. We really appreciate it.

KIM: Thank you. 

RICHARD: Appreciate everything you've done. 

GEORGE: Thank you. 

RICHARD: Thank you.

 

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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

121 – Is The ‘Anti-McDojo Mindset’ Sabotaging Your Martial Arts Business’s Success?

Cheyne McMahon and George Fourie discuss overcoming a somewhat outdated, old-fashioned, traditional mindset that’s holding many martial arts businesses back.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Original, traditional karate charged at premium prices?
  • How to raise prices and still keep your students
  • Been called a McDojo?
  • Martial arts fees based on value vs time
  • Growing from 110 to 350 karate students
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

I think as instructors, maybe people try to be that person on the pedestal and be that person that they want to be, but they can't because it's not ingrained in them. But if people perceive them as that person, perceive them as, oh, my sensei does it for the love of karate. Well, yeah, we all do it for the love of karate or the love of the martial arts. If we didn't do it for the love of martial arts, we wouldn't do it. 

GEORGE: Hey, George here from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the Martial Arts Media business podcast. I've got a repeat guest and I think I just discovered the record breaker of repeat guests, record breaker, Cheyne McMahon, third time on the show, I believe. 

CHEYNE: Yeah, that's right. Thanks for having me, George. Again. 

GEORGE: Cool. Welcome back. We used to introduce Cheyne as Cheyne McMahon from Australian Karate Academy, but now we'll add to the introduction Cheyne McMahon from Australia Karate Academy and the Karate Over Coffee Podcast. Cool. 

CHEYNE: That's it.  

GEORGE: Cool. We're going to talk about that, but Cheyne and I were chatting a week ago, so I'm going to put some context to this conversation. This might turn into a bit of a rant, I don't know, possibly, but it's going to be something that you really want to listen to, if you are struggling with growing your business, your martial arts business.

We're going to focus on karate, but I see this overlap in martial arts school owners I've talked to that do jiu jitsu, Kung-Fu, Taekwondo. I don't know if it's a generational thing, but it's a problem. And we're going to take it head on.

And I hope you get a lot from this. And if you have felt anything similar in the circles that you hang around, in the martial arts community and I hope this helps because this is the one thing that I see holding school owners back the most.  

As you guys know, if you listen to this podcast, I work with a group of school owners, we call Partners. And we promptly help school owners attract the right students, increase signups and retain more members. A lot of people always reach out and say, “Hey, we want help with our marketing.”

The first… I think the one thing that almost 99% of school owners always come to me for is, “Hey, we need more students.” That's always where the conversation starts. But what I've really noticed of late is, it's almost never the problem.  

It's almost never the problem. It's not. Yes, it is the problem, you need more students, but it's not the root cause of the problem.

It's not the marketing. It's not the, we need the latest trick. All those things are relevant. The problem goes way deeper than that. And it's mindset and mindset around money. Mindset and mindset around money. And I think this is the biggest thing that's holding most school owners back, especially, we're going to talk about karate, traditional karate, and beliefs around money and how to overcome that.  

Cheyne, let's just talk about where you're at right now with your school and from where I sit. I think if we talk about traditional karate, I think that Cheyne lives and breathes karate, like someone I've never met in my life. It's seven, eight hours a day. It's karate, it's talking karate, it's teaching karate, it's learning karate.  

And then, when you look at his school, if anybody has a label, throw those… What's with those dodgy labels like McDojo or things like that? If anybody has to do that, they need a bit of a reality check. But not that anything that we're talking about is wrong, but if we talk about purists, Cheyne does karate. He doesn't add other classes, there's no Muay Thai, there's no kickboxing, it's karate. There's no birthday parties. It's karate.

Everything is just centered on this one, the core of what Cheyne lives and breathes. I'll hand it over to you, where's your business at right now? How does it look and so forth?

Martial Arts Business

CHEYNE: Yeah. Well, at the moment, student-wise, we're in the 340 to 350 mark in the one dojo. We have a dojo in Sydney as well and he's looking around the 150 mark. But karate-wise, I've never moved away from teaching the best quality karate that we can offer.  

Everything is based around our style of karate. We teach the little kids, the kinder ninjas, but we kept those numbers. We have kids and we have many adults as well.

We'd be close to 150 adults in our program and that's not teaching anything other than traditional karate, karate and Kobudo, the weapons. Everything is geared around learning, understanding traditional karate. The dojo has gone, we have to keep expanding the dojo to have everybody in there, which is a great problem to have, but it doesn't mean that we've watered down any of the karate.

In fact, our karate has gotten better and better over the years because I've been able to… Instead of working a nine to five job and then coming and teaching karate, I've been able to focus everything on understanding more about karate, because I've got, not free time, but I've got allocated time during the day, now, for example, to spend on understanding more about karate and reading books about karate, reading internet forums about karate, watching videos.

I can spend a couple of hours a day just doing that and incorporating that into the classes, instead of going nine till five at a job and then having to teach, two, three hours after, a couple of days a week. Everything is geared around karate and karate getting better. Learning more about the oldest style of karate, traditional karate. 

GEORGE: Perfect. When it comes to fees, would you say that you are the cheapest in the market or more sort of the most expensive, when it comes to fees?  

CHEYNE: Well, I'm the most expensive, yeah, in my area. If you look at the karate schools around me, I'm definitely the most expensive, but I have the most available times. I've got a big training area, I've got toilets, change rooms, air conditioning, and new flooring.  

I am the most expensive, but not only that, my family have been doing karate for a long time. I charge the most because I deliver the most and I consider my karate to be the best. That's why, if you walk into a Mercedes dealership, you know you're going to be paying Mercedes dealership price.

If you walk into a Kia dealership, then you're going to pay a Kia price. The Kia salesman may be wearing a tie or they could be wearing a polo, nothing wrong with that. But if you go into a Mercedes dealership, they're wearing cufflinks, they're wearing tailored shirts. The tiling on the floor is a hundred dollars a tile, the Kia dealership is $10 a tile, so you get what you pay for.  

GEORGE: 100%. I've framed the word expensive and fees and cheap and expensive, but really what it comes down to is, and you've answered that is, you are priced based on your value. You are priced based on your value and not on just the time or so forth.  

CHEYNE: Yeah. We also have… The mandatory time is twice a week. The minimum time for you to train is twice a week. If you're after a once a week class, then I'm not the dojo for you. I'm only looking for serious students who want to do serious karate.

If you're interested in just doing once a week at a community hall, no problem, I will send you there and I'll give you the instructor's name, but for me, and the way that I want my club to be, it's a serious karate club, where we teach serious karate.

GEORGE: All right. Let's talk about why you feel that traditional… Let's start with your background and, if you're listening in a different country, or you've got a jiu jitsu school, TaeKwonDo, it doesn't matter, but we're going to go from Cheyne's experience, draw from Cheyne's karate experience, talk about traditional karate.  

When you speak to other school owners, traditional karate and so forth, where do you see the problem with them getting to the level that you're at?  

CHEYNE: I think it's a mindset from their previous instructor. It can be a preconceived idea that if you teach martial arts, you shouldn't make any money. Whereas in reality, in karate, I'll give you just a quick background story.

When Japan came over and took over Okinawa, all of the martial arts that were taught were in the Royal, there were 39 families, I think, something like that. 39 families and that's where martial arts were created.  

When Japan came over and took over Okinawa, those families had to leave the palace or they were made redundant more or less. They had to go and teach or they had to go and make money. And these guys, the only things that they knew how to do was read and write. Some became writers and other people, all they knew was karate, for example.

They would go on and teach karate for money because that's how they survived. And that's when… For people to think that karate instructors shouldn't make any money, they were doing it 150 years ago, whereas people just don't understand that.  

GEORGE: Where did this belief then… How did it infiltrate the modern, in our times today? 

CHEYNE: George, I don't know, mate. Maybe it was the Karate Kid. I honestly have no idea, because if you look in the sixties, seventies, eighties, and I'm only just talking about karate because that's all I know. We were bringing Japanese instructors to Australia, paying them money for us to learn karate, and then we would turn around and not charge our students. 

It may be an ideology that we want to be the samurai who doesn't make any money. We go from village to village and you pay me in bread and you pay me in water. I honestly have no idea.

It's that whole humbleness or the humility in karate or martial arts in general that we try to… Not BS, but yeah, probably BS about what really karate or martial arts teachers are. I say this a bit…  

GEORGE: Say it.  

CHEYNE: But I don't know, if you're an asshole outside of karate, before you learn karate, then you're going to be an asshole learning karate.  

But I think as instructors, maybe people try to be that person on the pedestal, be that person that they want to be, but they can't because it's not ingrained in them. But if people perceive them as that person, perceive them as, oh, my sensei does it for the love of karate. Well, yeah, we all do it for the love of karate or the love of the martial art. If we didn't do it for the love of martial arts, we wouldn't do it.

And there's that whole idea that my sensei, or even instructor… My sensei doesn't make any money out of karate, he does it for the passion. Yeah, well, how is he paying for the rent? How is he paying for insurance? Of course, everybody charges money, but yeah, to answer your question, mate, I don't really know, but I would think that's where it would stem from.  

GEORGE: And does he show up 100% devoted to teaching your class or does he show up halfhearted, because he knows that when he walks out here, there's a whole bunch of other problems to deal with that's money-related? 

And so there's half a commitment. Intentions are pure and so we're not talking about intentions here, because I think the intentions are pure, but what baffles me is that money sometimes, this ingrained and maybe ancestral belief about money that's genetic, carries over and somehow when someone's more successful in martial arts, let's throw them under the bus.  

And it's spoken about a lot, the crab in a bucket philosophy. If you put a bunch of crabs in a bucket and you watch them try and get out, one, they never get out because one just pulls each other down. And I mean, I've lived in Australia a long time. I don't know but I've only experienced martial arts…

Well from the start, mostly in Australia, other than speaking internationally and speaking of other cultures and so forth. I don't know if it just stems mainly from Australia, but no, it doesn't, I'll correct myself.  

CHEYNE: Definitely not. Well, I see a lot of instructors who have 50 students and they always ask you, how do you get more instructors? How do you get more instructors?

But it's not getting… Sorry, how to get more students? How do you get more students? But it's not about getting more students, it's about, you've got to set the time aside to get more students. You have to have the times available for those new students. 

If you're only Monday and Wednesday for an hour, you're only going to get a small percentage of people who have those times available. Instead of thinking, if you want to grow your dojo to be something that is a full-time dojo, then you've got to be a full-time dojo. You can't expect to be a full-time dojo running two or three times a week. 

GEORGE: And juggling three other jobs to…  

Martial Arts Business

CHEYNE: Exactly, yeah. If you're really passionate about your martial art, then you can dedicate yourself to it. And that's what I like to consider, I've dedicated myself to karate and that's how I'm able to offer so many different classes.  

GEORGE: Cheyne, let's talk about a term that gets thrown around. We've touched on it. It gets thrown around a lot, McDojo, what comes to mind or what triggers you when you hear the term McDojo?  

CHEYNE: Yeah. Well, I think those who point those fingers, I know some people would think that I'm a McDojo, for sure. But generally they're the people who are teaching karate from the seventies who haven't evolved their own karate. They're still practicing and teaching the same karate as what they learnt and really they have no idea what karate really is and what karate isn't. They're not doing the research. They don't know what they're doing. They don't know why we're punching to the body, why we're blocking to the body.  

They're teaching stuff that they don't understand the biomechanics, where I've put in the time and the research and so has my father and they're teaching karate from the seventies and still charging five bucks a class, where the karate that they're teaching is really poor, is bad karate. And they're the ones who think they're doing traditional karate, where in fact, they're doing modern sports karate. 

Whereas guys like myself are teaching traditional karate because we understand where karate comes from. We understand the changes that karate has had. We understand what karate looked like before and what karate looks like now, and they're teaching karate from the seventies, eighties, and nineties, whereas they're really just teaching modern sports karate from Japan, instead of understanding what karate is.

And for them to accuse me of being a McDojo, Well, I've spent many, many hours and many, many dollars on understanding what karate is and what karate isn't.  

And these guys are at a local hall, on a dirty floor, teaching two hours a week, karate from 1975 and parading around like they're a Japanese sensei and, “Don't question authority,” all of these sorts of things, and really they are the McDojo because they are actually… If you're going to say a McDojo, it's an awful term, but they're not progressing their karate.

They're still doing karate from 30, 40, 50 years ago. Whereas the Japanese instructors, who taught that karate, didn't understand karate, didn't understand what they were teaching because their instructor didn't know what they were doing.  

Whereas now we can go back through and we're researching… I'm not going to say we, not me, I'm following the guys who are doing all the research, but these guys are understanding what karate is and what karate isn't and how karate has evolved in the last 30 years.

Whereas these guys are still doing the same poor karate that they were doing without understanding biomechanics, how the body moves, how the body doesn't move. They're still teaching sports karate, thinking they're teaching traditional karate, where it's not. My karate has evolved, their karate hasn't.  

GEORGE: It's a word that I hate and I don't understand because I see it begins and for me, it comes from a place of jealousy. It's this place of, well, would you value this person's karate or martial arts more just because if they were less successful than you? Okay, the karate is great and successful, oh, but now they make more money than me, now they're a McDojo and they're selling out. What a lot of crap, selling out. 

Or it angers me a bit because is that what we teach people in life? If martial arts is the vehicle to improve people and improve your wellbeing way beyond what you do on the mat then is this what we have to teach people? Well, here we talk about… Well, we don't talk about bullying, it's not accepted and we are anti-bullying and we do this, but between each other, between our peers, it's okay to bully each other.

It's a bit of this hypocrisy in a way, yeah, don't bully, we'll teach you how to physically not bully, but mentally we'll tear everybody else down around us and that's okay because they are McDojo.  

CHEYNE: I'll tell you where it stems from George, it's insecurity, insecurity about their own karate or their own chosen martial art. If you are secure in your karate or secure in your martial arts and if you understand what you're doing, then you don't even worry about what other people are doing. You just focus on what you're doing. But for those who rant and rave about this McDojo, this guy's making too much money, that guy's making too much money.

Obviously this is a crap dojo because you are so insecure about the karate that you teach, if you've got to pull everybody down and that's what a bully is, they're insecure.  

GEORGE: Bullying and martial arts, who would have thought?  

CHEYNE: Well, I was bullied by somebody not long ago, a very well-known person, because obviously they are insecure about something that I said and they're insecure about it. And I called the person on it and they didn't hear anything else, but it's just because people are insecure, they're jealous.  

GEORGE: Let's talk about different pricing and positioning. In our Partners program, we have a new section which we call Onramp, which it's basically the first 10, 11 steps that a school owner's got to walk through before sort of graduating into the real group, into the official Partners group.  

Until a few months back, everything was marketing and how do we get the marketing right? But right now, the first thing that we actually care about is mindset. Mindset and turning time-based pricing to value-based pricing. And what I mean by that is, a lot of school owners would come into the group and they feel like they're still charging per class. It's per class or it's for this time. And it's like, well, that's what the value is based on the time.  

And a big focus for us is to shift from that to value-based pricing, which is, well, it's not about the time, it's about what do they get in that time and what do they get in the time as in a full experience. And that is how you are able to raise your prices, because it's almost not what you teach, it's how you frame what you teach and realize that the outcome exceeds just the physical aspect of martial arts.  

Let's talk, just in current times, I don't know when you're listening to this or if you listen to this in current times, but with the state of the world going from lockdowns, in and out of lockdowns, and maybe you're not in lockdown right now, but who knows, there could be one coming or you've just come out of one. But with that happening, a lot of martial arts school owners are reverting to online classes.

And some are cool with that and some are not. And I find it fascinating that just speaking to some school owners, they lock in down for two months, they've got a 90% retention. Students are getting value.  

They still get value from being in the club. They're not physically in the club, but they get value from being in the club and being in the community. And that is a big step for realizing what your value is, because it proves that the outcome that you get from martial arts and being in the martial arts environment, exceeds way more from being on the mat and how you punch, how you kick, how you do chokes, how you do submissions, whatever type of style you do.  

Let's talk about your process. Let's break it down. You're a martial artist, maybe you're a traditionalist, and you've only got a few students and you want to take a step up, you've got to grow, you know you got to scale but you may be in that situation where you got one or two classes. You don't have the funds potentially to grow and scale and so you've got to make changes to your pricing.

How did you go about changing your pricing to a direct debit, more sort of a recurring basis and raising your prices? Because you were saying earlier that you're actually the most expensive in the market. What was the process that got you there?  

CHEYNE: I doubled the fees and those who stayed with me paid double the fees and those who didn't, left, but it was a very small percentage of people that left. I doubled the fees.  

GEORGE: What conversation did you have with yourself when you doubled the fees? How did you combat the little voice that was fighting you, saying that there's no way I can double my fees, that's unethical, I'll be labeled a McDojo, everybody's going to call me a scam artist? My peers are going to look down at me and call me a scam artist or whatever.  

CHEYNE: McDojo is such a bad term. People consider anybody who charges fees a McDojo. If you charge for a grading, you could be considered a McDojo. Lose that mindset of being a McDojo. Well, I suppose everybody is a McDojo, who charges money and everybody charges money.

There's not a martial art club in the world that I know of, that wouldn't charge money. If you're doing it at home, I can understand maybe not charging, but if you've got to pay rent, you've got to charge money.

It could be considered, everybody's a McDojo. The mindset I had was, well, I'm worth it. The 35 years I've been involved in karate. And when I say involved, it's not just once or twice a week for an hour or two. It's all day seven, eight hours, thinking about karate, reading about karate, writing about karate, talking about karate, doing podcasts about karate, doing videos, traveling, seminars, the amount of money that I've spent over the years, it is huge.  

I think that my time is worth this. And if you think it is too fantastic, you pay your money. If you don't, there's a local community dojo down the road, happy to send you there. The mindset was, I don't really care what other people think of me, I'm comfortable with what I really like, I'm happy with where I am.

I believe my karate is fantastic and I believe we offer a fantastic experience, quality karate, quality experience, and these things. And I charge what I think I'm worth, I stopped caring what people thought of me a while ago, mate.  

But honestly, it did take a while. It did take a while, if I'm going to be honest, it took a while for me to get over the fact that what people would think of me. Now, I don't care.  

GEORGE: It's interesting because I remember, it's a story I did tell a lot, but the first time we had a conversation was when you had 110 students and the dojo was flooded. What I found interesting from that story was that you listened to this podcast, it was episode number 44.

If you ever want to listen to it and you sent me a message straight after and said, “Hey, I did this thing that you said on the podcast, and I've got new students or inquiries.”  

I can't remember at the level the result was. And then we got talking and 110 students, you took a gamble on yourself and said, well, I'm going to do this thing. And we jumped in, we created some really good offers. Something we probably never spoke about was mindset, but we just put the right offers in place. And before you knew it, it was 200 students.

And then before we knew it, there were 300. And now you're sitting at a very sweet spot of 340, 50 students. And you've got a wait list. Am I correct?  

CHEYNE: Yep. 

GEORGE: Yep. 

CHEYNE: We have a waitlist, yep. For all programs, yep.  

GEORGE: How has your pricing changed from Cheyne that was at 110 students to 340, 50 students?  

CHEYNE: Well, I'm able to employ more people, more instructors, which makes it easier for me, which gives me the time to make the classes better, and make the karate better as well. Instead of taking every single class, I can spend more time with my family, whether they like it or not.

It allows me breathing space as well. Having more instructors gives me breathing space to make my karate better, so I can learn more stuff.  

We have a separate black belt class where I teach. I love that class, the black belt adult’s class, where all we do is the secrets of… No secrets, but all we focus on is all the stuff that I've learned, new stuff, more, Kobudo, more weapons, all the stuff that probably separates my karate from other people's karate, because I've put the time in. I've been everywhere, I've learnt from many people.  

That extra time allows me to make sure that the karate that I'm giving is the best quality traditional karate. Our karate is based on Okinawan karate and we have a Japanese sensei as well, who's 88. Time is limited, but it's based on karate that was done a hundred years ago. We include throws, joint locks, take downs, the pressure point strikes, as well as weapons, as well as [kakia], which is all different drills, two person drills, kumi kata, sticky hand drills, all of these things that I'm able to teach into my system.  

And I'm not bogged down by teaching kata, hundreds of kata. That's a total karate podcast, but these are things that I've already done. I did those things 20 years ago and now I'm able to teach the best karate that I can. But the biggest thing is, it's not like I'm making a million dollars. I wish I was, shit, who wouldn't? 

GEORGE: And you should, for the value that you provide.  

CHEYNE: Yeah. Well, it also allows me to employ people, instructors, and to give back to those as well. We have a group of maybe 10 instructors who teach and help out. And yeah, it allows me that as well. It's not like I'm making all the money, because again, if I did all of the classes and all of those sorts of things, then I would make all the money, but I couldn't develop my karate and I couldn't give back because I'd be out there for four hours, five hours a day teaching classes, instead of being able to understand more about karate.  

GEORGE: Yeah. You're building a legacy and you're transferring knowledge. Knowledge is not just ending with you, it's actually going through you and you're empowering the next generation.  

Martial Arts Business

CHEYNE: Yeah. Building the legacy. That's a huge thing that I'm trying to do. Build a legacy for my son as my father did for me. That's the biggest thing I want is to build a legacy where karate is the best possible. And hopefully my son takes up karate, whether he does it…

Whatever he does, that's cool. I'm not going to put any pressure on him. And my dad certainly didn't put any pressure on me either, but the karate that my son is going to continue, is hopefully better than mine, because I know mine is much better than my dad's, but don't tell him.  

GEORGE: I'll be sending this over to Bob. I'm sure he'll be listening anyway.  

CHEYNE: I wouldn't say it's better than my dad's, but we do more and more than my father did, because I've got another 30 years on top of him. In 30 years, when I'm his age, I will be 30 years further than he was.  

GEORGE: Got you. Yeah. I guess if we had to sort of start wrapping things up, if you're really stuck with your martial arts business and you're not moving forward, then maybe take this episode on board. If things triggered you that we spoke about and we were talking before this and we went deep into a lot of aspects, but if anything triggered you then have a look at your… I guess, have a look at your relationship with money.  

Two things from this podcast that have stuck with me, one was, first time I spoke to Kevin Blundell and Kevin runs a multi-billion dollar organization. I think there were 24 or 25 locations, I can't keep up. But one thing that he mentioned to me that really stuck out was the minute you charge a dollar, you're in business and you've got an obligation to fulfill and deliver value.  

If you're charging nothing, great, and that's great. If that's what you do, and a lot of people do that and this is not about discriminating or looking down, if that's a choice and that's something that you want to do and you provide value to your community in that way. But the minute you charge a dollar, you are in business. Now this is where you've got to decide, well, how much value you can deliver for a dollar versus a hundred versus a thousand versus whatever, however your fee structure works.  

And then the second thing was, Kylie Ryan, who is a mindset coach who I really respect. And we just spoke in the midst of the whole pandemic. And one thing that she pointed out was, when people pay, people pay attention. And when people are paying more for a service, there is a subconscious value to it, that you appreciate it more and that you are more committed to it because if you are showing up and it's just costing you five bucks, you might not be that committed to show up.  

But if it's 500 bucks or whatever the fee is, you might look at it a bit differently and you might value it differently. And that's probably the same from your parents, from parents with kids in martial arts as well.  

If you feel you are stuck, then have a look at your surroundings, who are you listening to? Who's influencing your thinking about money and maybe unfortunately, that is someone real close to you, within your family, or maybe that is someone higher up in martial arts that you aspire to and they are the best and sincere and authentic martial artists. But their relationship with money is crippled and you are forced to live under that same mindset and thinking, and if, unless you deal with that issue, you can have all the marketing solutions in the world and get all the students you want, they're going to be leaving and it's not going to result to success. 

CHEYNE: Yeah. I think there's a lot of jealousy. A lot of people don't understand what money is and how money works. And when somebody else has more money than them, people get jealous and point fingers and don't really understand what it takes. And it could also be that your sensei has a, as you said, bad relationship with money because their sensei had a bad relationship with money and didn't understand.  

GEORGE: Yeah. Perfect. Just to wrap things up. Two things, if you need any help with any of that, do reach out to us, martialartsmedia.com. You can contact us from there. And if you want to learn more about karate, Cheyne, since the last time we spoke, Karate Over Coffee podcasts, tell us about that.  

Cheyne McMahon Karate Business

CHEYNE: I love karate and I'm a big fan of coffee. It's a podcast where I talk about all my experiences in karate. Interview people, it's all karate based, everything is based on karate, obviously, that's why it's called Karate Over Coffee. And yeah, we talk about lots of things, dojo management sometimes as well. Talk about competitions. Talk about what kata and what karate is and what karate isn't. And yeah, I only really scratched the surface so far. We've got some sweet merchandise there.  

GEORGE: I can see, if you're watching this, Cheyne completely outdone me with my plain black shirt and, oh, that's it. We've got a mug and we got a shirt, all right, I'm going to need to up my game. That's for sure. Where can people tune in to Karate Over Coffee?

CHEYNE: Well, you can go straight to the website, karateovercoffee.com. I got all the episodes there, or you can follow us on iTunes or Spotify. However you listen to your podcasts, there's a YouTube channel as well, just type in Karate Over Coffee, yeah, we've got some shirts available karateovercoffeeshop.com. We're everywhere.  

GEORGE: It's everywhere. Perfect. Cheyne, thanks so much for being on again.  

CHEYNE: No worries.  

GEORGE: We might break another record and have you on for episode four of the…  

CHEYNE: Yeah. When I hit 500 students, for sure.  

GEORGE: When you hit your 500 students. Okay cool. The half… I almost called it the half century mark, the half… The 500 mark.  

CHEYNE: 500 mark, yeah.  

GEORGE: Cool. We'll call this part three of 20 of the Cheyne and George sub-division podcast overlaps over the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast versus Karate Over Coffee. And I think this is where we got to call it quits.  

CHEYNE: Thanks for having me, George. 

GEORGE: Thanks, Cheyne. Speak soon.  

CHEYNE: Cheers, mate. 

GEORGE: Cheers.

 

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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Exactly. 

LINDSAY: Yep. 

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

Karate Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Do your students care? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINDSAY: Quick answer, no. 

GEORGE: Okay. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: That's awesome! 

LINDSAY: Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Awesome! 

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

LINDSAY: Just over a year, now, George. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINDSAY: Absolutely. 

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

LINDSAY: Past experience! 

GEORGE: Past experience?

Karate Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Later, later. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Awesome. 

LINDSAY: Okay. 

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

LINDSAY: Thank you. 

GEORGE: Cheers!

 

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109 – Tripling Your Student Base In 2 Years With 100% Karate

Last time we spoke with Cheyne McMahon, he had just gone full time with 110 students when his dojo got flooded. Today, he has 340 students and is thriving as a Karate-only school.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How action takers work and think differently
  • The pay off of investing in your instructors
  • 100% Karate! Cheyne’s growth from 110 students to 340 students
  • Do this to motivate your white belts
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

As soon as I see the value in it, I'll do it straightaway, whether that's good or bad sometimes, but at the moment, everything I do is working out pretty well.

GEORGE: Hey, George Fourie here. Welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast episode. We're on episode 109 and chatting today to a good friend and a repeat guest, Cheyne McMahon. Good day, Cheyne.

CHEYNE: Hey, how are you? 

GEORGE: Good, good, good. So, been a while. Well, I'd say it's been a while since we spoke on the podcast, I was actually checking back and we spoke on episode number 74. Actually back in March 2019, so, depending when you're listening to this, close to the two year mark on doing this again. 

So, I wanted to chat again, really to document his journey, because it's been a long journey. We'll go a bit more into the details, but you can check out podcast number 74 for a bit more of the background – the first time we met, how we got started working together, and your dojo was flooded, wasn't it?

CHEYNE: Yeah, still remember that one like it was yesterday? Yeah.

GEORGE: Flooded dojo, we started working together, did a couple of cool things, and worked out well, you jumped up to 185 students. That was in December. Well, in February, so that was a couple of months later, shot to 200. I'll be prompting you to get that 300, you hit 300 students at the time of recording this. Well, last week, he said you were 325. This week you're at?

CHEYNE: Yeah, that's 348 students.

GEORGE: Just from the sidelines, and I'm going to hand it all over to Cheyne, but you know, one thing I admire about Cheyne is just relentless work ethic. You know, whenever we chat on a Zoom call or something, we chat about something, Cheyne goes quiet, and then he's like, “yep, it's done, it's sent”. 

And so, he's just a religious action taker, we can almost stop the podcast there if you want to get the value out of something and Cheyne's journey on how he progresses so fast, is just taking action all the time. It's probably a good place to start, right? Because what got you to that? What is it that prompts you to take action quickly? Is that something that came from, you know, from childhood? Or is it the discipline of karate? What's got you to that?

CHEYNE: Yeah, I think that that's just sort of my personality. I just want to, I just want to see the value in it, and I’ll just do it straightaway. Just like setting up Calendly. Last week, we were talking about it, as soon as I see the value in it, I'll do it straightaway. Whether that's good or bad sometimes, but at the moment, everything I do is working out pretty well. Some things don't work. But so far it's been it's been pretty good.

GEORGE: Yeah, I can't recall who shared this exactly. I think Elon Musk shared something similar, that the person who makes the most business decisions wins and in context, and I'm probably butchering this, but the overall story is, if you make 100 decisions a week or day, and 50 of them fail, then you still made 50 decisions in the right direction. The problem is when you overanalyze and you sit back, and you make 10 decisions, and still, 50% ratio, five of them fail. 

So, now you've made five steps in the right direction, versus 50. So either, you know, when we, when we think we are doing the wrong things, doing just many things all the time and making decisions rapidly, actually goes a bit further at the end of the day.

CHEYNE: You know, it's not like I'm making rash decisions on the spot that's going to impact my cash flow or my life in a massive way. But just little things that I see that are much better, I'll just change like that. But changing a timetable or a schedule, something like that? You need to sit down and figure that one out. There can't be just, you know, off the top.

GEORGE: Cool. So, look. So, I guess building on our conversation last time, yeah, you know, we chat every week, we get on our Partners group, we jump on calls and so forth. You know, your journey has been, it's gone from one thing to the other and improved, and then we had COVID, obviously, and that threw a curveball for everyone. But I mean, you've bounced right back, and things are moving. What's been working well for you? Let's just start with that.

CHEYNE: Yeah. Well, so, yeah, COVID hit. Like everybody we had to shut down and teach online classes. But, from that, we've actually incorporated a couple of things from the Zoom platform that we use. So, every class now is, is streamed live on our Zoom channel, or a Zoom link. So, that's been really great, because we've got people in, we've got another dojo. 

So, I'm in Brisbane, we have another dojo in Sydney, and so the instructors there can actually watch what we're doing. I've been recording some segments or sections of the class, and uploading them onto our YouTube channel, where the instructors can actually watch some of the drills that we've been doing, and then make sure, you know, we're all in sync on how we teach a particular technique, or kata, or whatever we're doing. So, that's been really good. When Zoom hit, we could, sorry, not Zoom. When COVID hit.

So, we could only have a certain amount of parents or people in the dojo when we could resume classes. So, we only let the juniors in, no parents. And since then, the behavior of the kids has been fantastic. So, there's no background noise, there's no distractions. It was purely instructors and kids. So, since then, we've taken away the waiting area and don't allow parents inside while the class is on. 

So, before and after, yep, but during the class, no. But if the parents want to watch, they can watch it on our Zoom link, which is always on, with the Zoom, we change the password every month, just for security. So, if we have someone who stops training, then they won't be able to watch the training from home. So, there are just a couple of things that have made us better since COVID.

GEORGE: Great, so now, you just don't let parents in, and parents, just become accustomed to, really took advantage of the fact that they can't sit around, and it's turned out for the better.

CHEYNE: Well, yeah, it's turned out better for the coffee shop next door to us too.

GEORGE: Right?

CHEYNE: Yeah, look. So, the parents know that they're not allowed, it's not that they're not allowed inside, just not during the class. So, they come in, drop their, especially when their kids are new. They bring their kids in, the kids sign themselves in and then the parents, either sit in their car or go for a walk. Some, if there's a partner, some will just go for a picnic. There's a pub across the road too, so, I'm sure a couple of sneaky people go there for a few quiet ones.

GEORGE: Cool. So, on that, I mean, we're talking about changes. So, you made that adjustment. That's been really good. What else do you do, I guess, do that's different? And maybe what things that you don't do, that normal schools might not be doing well?

CHEYNE: Something different that we do since I last spoke to you in the podcast. So, we've got a junior leader team and we also have an instructor's team, so, constantly developing instructors to assist in the class, as well as take their own class. Not so much the junior leaders, juniors are there to assist in the class – bow the kids in, show the kids what to do, where to go when they first start, and also set up any equipment. 

But as far as karate goes, what we do differently, I suppose is black belt is only just the beginning for us. We've got lots of second, third, fourth, fifth dans that train with us. There's something after black – you don't need to be an instructor. So, we've got, yeah, we also teach kobudo, which is weapons, to black belts and above. And karate, I suppose what we teach is Koshinkan Karate, which means old and new Karate, the school of the old and new. So we teach old style karate from Kinjo Hiroshi and Kazuya Mitani in Japan.

We also teach modern sports-style karate, for WKF style. So, we have different silvers for kids to adults. So with the kids, we teach modern sports, safe karate. For the adults, and why we have so many adults and why we keep so many adults, is we teach practical karate, practical self-defense, which has joint locks, throws, vital point strikes, weapons, grappling, all of those fun things that you can't teach the kids. 

That's what can make us different to most other karate buffs is that ability to be able to teach both. So, the same principles that we use in our sports karate, apply in our traditional, original karate. That's one of the things that make us a little bit different. And we're all about karate. So karate, karate, karate – we don't have to teach any kickboxing classes, any fitness kickboxing or fitness-cardio karate. 

We don't do birthday parties, we do social events, but it has nothing to do with karate, that's building a community. But yes, we don't have to supplement our classes in having another martial art here. We don't teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or kickboxing or Muay Thai in our space. It's only karate.

GEORGE: And why is that important to you? Because I know you really love karate. I know that, and obviously, you know, we all love our styles and know our styles can be a bit biased. But I know you've got such an in-depth history of it coming through the family, we could probably talk about that – your dad, Bob, had started out the business what, a good 30, 35 years ago?

CHEYNE: 31 years ago, yeah, the Australian Karate Academy, but he started teaching in 1972. So, he was one of the first to teach kids in Australia. This is before the craze of The Karate Kid. But that's a whole other story. Yeah, I just love karate. There are so many more things that we are starting to learn more about the history of karate, things like the Japanese influence into Okinawan martial arts, and the Chinese influence into Okinawan martial arts. 

Cheyne McMahon Karate Business

Those things are being discovered now through guys that live in Japan and live in Okinawa, or live in Germany or live in America. So yeah, there's still more and more and more things that we're learning about the development of karate, how it came about. So that keeps me, you know, really interested. There's a competition side, which, which I like as well, and I did compete for a long time. 

But now my focus is more on developing some of my athletes, and also developing our understanding of karate, getting back to the older style of karate, less kids karate, and more, you know, genuine, old style, real original, dento karate. I started when I was four and every job, everything I've ever done in my life, almost everything is key around karate. My holidays based on karate, where I go, the countries I visited have all been basically built around karate. 

GEORGE: I love that. Even though you're building a business, you're not deviating from your passion at all, you really just want to stay on the path. And so I want to play the opposite of that – is, do you see it, like, do you see it beneficial to have a different style for you? Or will it completely just sidetrack you from your passion and your focus of karate?

CHEYNE: Well, one of the things that we do is a two-week trial. So everybody, it doesn't matter if you've done karate before, everybody completes a two-week trial. If Little Johnny is a bad seed, then someone within the two weeks will ask him not to come back or if he's disrupting the class, if he's there to have fun and not learn karate, then we won't accept him into our club. 

Sometimes we stop enrollments, if the class is too full, we'll stop enrollments, and then we'll take enrollments for when there is space available in the class. So, that's one of the things that I do to ensure that what we're teaching is what I want to teach. You know, there are some karate or martial art schools that want as many as they can. 

Look, I want many too, you know, I want to teach quality karate to many people, but I'm not going to take people who aren't there to learn karate. Learning my karate, our style of karate, that's first and foremost, not 1500 students or a million dollars. It's karate first, business second. How can I say, but a business is a very close second sometimes.

GEORGE: Yeah, of course. I mean, it's the business that allows you to have the passion, and well, to live your passion, right? Because without that income supplying for it, then you don't want to be a struggling instructor as well, that, you know, you've got to go to work the day job and then put money in here, and then your life becomes complicated.

CHEYNE: Well, yeah, done that. So, now all my focus is karate, whereas before, maybe 30% karate, 70% work. So now, you know, I understand that some only want karate for the second or third or fourth part of their life, but for me, it is 100% part of my life. So, I can teach as many people as I can, the karate that I've, you know, spent 35 years developing and, yeah, the more the merrier in as long as their drive is also karate and not, you know, being silly.

And I think, you know, we've had to ask some people not to come back, you know, whether they're white belt or brown belt or black belt.

GEORGE: How do you approach that? And what are sort of your, what are your benchmark values that you stick by? And if somebody crosses that line, they're out the door? What is that line? How does that line look?

CHEYNE: Well, for kids, it's quite easy. You can, I can see, mostly the parents pull them out, because they can see, you know, little Johnny is there for the games, not, not the karate. So while we have fun in karate, karate is not itself fun. It's hard work. It's repetitive, it's tiring, it's not games. So, with the kids, the majority of the class, 80% of the class is karate, bang-bang-bang-punch-punch-punch-move-move-move. 20% is fun for the kids, because you still have, they're still kids, you still have to give the kids high fives and positive reinforcement. 

You're not just teaching karate, you're also impacting the person's life, on how they deal with individual sport. They're learning values there on hard work and reward, whereas team sport's different. So, the individual activity or school sport, you still need to give positive reinforcement, positive views, to especially kids, especially kids' high fives, man, we give so many high fives. So, what was the question?

GEORGE: I don't know. But I have another one. And the question is, how do you know you cross? Sorry, the question was, how do you know if you cross the line? My follow-up question was on that, if you don't classify karate as a sport, what do you classify it as that? 

But back to the first question on the values. So, what is sort of your values, a benchmark of the line? And you mentioned, if they cross the line on, you know, they're just there for fun and games, that's easy. What else? What else is sort of really important for like, go-to rules or values that have got to be abided by?

CHEYNE: If they're not a positive influence into the dojo, you know, if they're constantly talking or draining other people as well, distracting other people from their own learning, being a bad partner. That is a big one. Especially in our adult classes, 90% of an adult class is partner work. It's not up and down drills, it's partner work. 

Also, karate is practice at home by yourself, practice at the dojo with Partners. I think modern karate has it reversed – it's 90% of solo practice at the dojo, which should really be 90% partner work, but anyway. So, you need to be a good partner, a partner that your partner wants to train with. If they don't want to train with you, then I will have a word with you. Especially with the adults and the kids as well. If you are, you know, an annoying kid whose elbows go out, then you know, you will get a warning. There are things that we look for – genuinely nice people, people that you want to hang out with.

GEORGE: Yeah. So if you can invite them over to your home, that's a good sign. And if you cringe at that idea, it is probably a bad idea.

CHEYNE: Yeah, nobody comes to my house, though.

GEORGE: No, of course not. So, on clarifying karate, you mentioned that you don't clarify karate as a sport. What do you clarify karate as?

CHEYNE: Well, I think there's sporting elements in karate, for sure. Especially modern karate, anything from 1936 onwards, I would probably classify that as a sports karate, where the intention are the activities to build strength and muscle and speed in a competitive environment. 

So, I would consider karate to be a self-defense program, whether that's weapons, or empty hands for lack of a better word. I consider karate to be first a combat system, self-defense, for sure, rather than a sport. I don't like the idea of karate as a sport because it takes away the like, how lethal some of the techniques are, and the intention of the techniques, you know, piercing somebody's eyes, for example, groin ups. You can't do that in any sport, but you can do that in karate. So, in that light, karate is considered as a sport, I think it waters down the original intention of karate.

GEORGE: Gotcha. So, okay to be used as a sport, but when the sport becomes the focus, then everything starts to deteriorate.

CHEYNE: Yeah, yeah, I mean, there is sports karate, and that's fine. That's just not, not what I like, you know, I don't like I didn't like the emphasis just on the sporting events. Yeah, I mean, everybody's got their own tastes, and how they compete as well for a long time. And we have competitors, but 90% of the people that join my dojo or join a dojo is to learn self-defense, not to compete for Australia at the Olympics. I think a lot of dojo do a disservice by not teaching proper self-defense. 

You know, they teach modern Japanese karate where they move up and down the floors, doing 50 punches and upper walls and roundhouse kicks – they are absolutely of no use to do any, for any self-defense. So, if you're advertising for sports karate, then yeah, go for it, but they all advertise self-defense karate, and I think I think they're lying. 

GEORGE: Gotcha. Okay. Want to talk a bit more about that – that's cool. I'm having to go there. Like, I mean, if there's things that are completely against your point of view, and this is a podcast, right, we have open discussion. I've never put two martial artists together that actually agree on the same point. It's rare, of course, but hey, but that's what makes it beautiful, right?

There's diversity in opinion and its styles and everything else. But I like exploring what really pisses you off about it? You know? Maybe I've never asked that question what really pisses you off about, you know, in the industry or about different marketing or programs. It's time to let it out, Shane, it's your time to let it out right here.

CHEYNE: What annoys me is when I see people, yeah, advertising for self-defense, and all they are doing is what we call 3K karate. So, Katoki E-Kumite. It's karate that was developed for schoolchildren 100 years ago they're teaching as self-defense. That karate is originally for school kids – attacks to the eyes became punches to the body. Joint locks were taken out because they weren't safe for kids, of course, throws gone, all of the wrap on the close-in self-defense, or the self-preservation, the really dirty karate, the dirty side of, of combat was taken out to teach to children. 

And I appreciate that, and that's what we teach to kids. But people teaching that to adults, and calling it self-defense, or calling it traditional karate? It's not – it is modern, watered down children's karate, and that annoys me. What makes my dad different is in the 80s, he kept asking questions.

Why? Why are we punting to the body? What is it? What is the original ideal? Why? Why, why, why? So, he started researching and talking to people outside of Queensland, outside of Australia, started getting answers. Whereas people are still doing the same thing as their instructor did years ago, without questioning why.

You are just teaching ‘that's how my instructor taught us'. Well, your instructor learnt sports, modern sports, and children’s karate. And they're trying to adapt it to self-defense, and you can't, you can't unless you peel back the layers and understand the original intention of the technique. The original intention of why, why a block to the body became, should have really been a block to the face. You know, fingers to the eyes became punches to the body. Head butts, all of the really cool things that all of the Krav-Maga, self-defense experts are taught. 

But really, people aren't teaching that in karate. Not everybody – there are some, definitely. There's a deep growing list of people who are doing it. But we've been doing it for 30 years, and then people come here. Yeah. That grinds my gears.

GEORGE: That's great. Anything else that you need to do you need to share?

CHEYNE: Nah, I'm okay for now. 

GEORGE: Cool. All right, great. Perfect. Let's change gears just a little bit. Right? And get back to, get back to your business.

CHEYNE: So positive.

GEORGE: All right, yeah. We either gained a lot of listeners there, or lost a few. But that's, that's great, either way. So, just back on your business, right? So I mean, lots of change, two years. I mean, if you look at two years, right, two years, and going from 110 students to 340. 

So that's tripling your business in three years. I think it's important to always sometimes look at that, right? Because, you know, everybody wants, maybe some people want a bigger school, some people don't, some people want a good, thriving business, but want to stick to their core values of karate, or whatever your style might be. So, tripling your business in two years, man, well done. 

CHEYNE: Thank you!

GEORGE: Well done. What do you do differently now, than you did back when you were around 100 students?

Cheyne McMahon Karate Business

CHEYNE: How I schedule the classes are different, the layout of the classes. I want everybody at the end of the class to be sweating and smiling. Actually, I heard that of somebody, I can't remember if it was a couple, maybe a year and a half ago, and when it just clicked with me, sweating and smiling at the end, whether you're a four year-old, or an 84 year-old, you know that should be the emphasis when they're leaving the class. So, how we structure the classes are a little bit different. 

So, we do like, at the end, it's got to be not a hard workout, but something physical – back, punch, punching for the kids. Running, running, running, punching, punching, punching. In the middle of the class is the core basis of the lesson. Whether we're doing Kata or Qian for kids or e-Kumite or break falls or whatever that we're doing in the class, that's the cool part, the end of the class has got to be fun and fitness. So, that's one aspect. 

Another aspect that we do differently is how we schedule appointments with people. So, when somebody inquires, we book an appointment through an app, they come in, I run them through exactly how the classes run, the fees, how much the fees are, what's expected of them as members, how the gradings work, any extra money that they might have to pay for at some stage, the belt system, everything that they will need to know for the next 10 years of learning. There's different instructors, you know, more instructors, more instructors, you just cannot have enough instructors. 

If you think you have enough instructors, you need more, you need to be developing instructors. So, we've got a group of four or five middle grade adults that are just learning how to teach karate, not to, they're not out there teaching classes, but they're taking little five minute segments of a couple of people learning how to teach karate, so I identify them as future instructors. Everything organized like, man, I've never been so organized in my life. 

We have a 12-month calendar (that you helped me with) set up, so all the gradings are set. They know when the color gradings are, when the black belt gradings are on, you know, a competition tournament for them to be on, they know when we're running marketing, massively marketing, a budget and marketing windows at two weeks before school holidays, and then a week after school holidays. Everything is all set out. It's all ready to go. We've got a calendar that I'm constantly looking at and being organized. That's one of my buzzwords, organized. 

Yeah, so all of those things, we just have systems in place where I don't have to be at the dojo every day, or instructors that can take the classes, you know, come in and just do a couple of admin stuff. You know, just setting everything up. It took a while, but the dojo is running really smooth, really smooth at the moment. That's a big difference. Everything is organized. A Christmas party we had last year, I think by booking in August, so we already had everything organized. The Christmas party, all we had to do was just turn up, was all paid for, organized, food. We had a 180-something turnout for the Christmas party. And yeah, just those things – gradings, everybody logs on for the grading. 

So, we use an app where people pay for the grading as well. So, the two days before the grading, it stops. You can't book after the grading because I've got to organize belts. But people pay for the grading and they book themselves in for the grading. So, then I just have a look to see who's in the grading. So, having that just makes it a lot easier. Rather than constantly emailing Johnny – ‘Hey, Johnny, are you coming to the grading?' If Johnny's not registered, Johnny's not grading.

GEORGE: Great, yeah, I think, you know, one thing that I think could help anyone because it's sometimes when you go into growth mode, you're very ad-hoc, and you're very reactive, and you're doing whatever you can to just get to a point. But then when you start refining, one thing that's really helped me, is having that sort of marketing that you mentioned that we helped you with, is that marketing calendar. Thinking is hard, and it is, that's why most people just don't think, right? Because it's a hard thing to do. 

But if you know, you're going to have to plan this year, and you just you do the thinking once  and you map out what needs to be done, then now you're just getting on the train tracks and you're kind of, you know, on the treadmill, just running, just doing what you worked out what was the best plan. 

Obviously, things are going to come up and you're going to have to shuffle a few days here and there, but at least you got your core plan 80% done. And, you know, you know what needs to happen next. And that's how you get ahead of the game and you're not running, you know, two days before Mother's Day trying to figure out, ‘All right, well, what can I be doing? What? What's happening? What promotion's going out?'

CHEYNE: That's right. Yeah. And having a budget for those things as well, for the marketing plan, rather than having to scramble for a couple of 1000 bucks or ‘I can only spend 200 bucks', having that everything all mapped out Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, a show day or whatever you want to call it, Christmas, all those things all mapped out very easy. What worked well last year, and what didn't work well?

GEORGE: Cool. So, two last things I want to ask, you know, with your growth, you know, yep, marketing and so forth, but there's obviously a lot of retention, that's working. And so first up, quick chat just about what, what's keeping your students coming back?

CHEYNE: Well, one thing we brought in – is the after chat and the white belt grading. So, this has been really good. So, white belts after a certain amount of time, will get an email, maybe four weeks, or once they've done the trial, and it became a full member, and they'll get an email to come to a white belt only grading. So, it's a grading only for white belts. 

So, we did one on the weekend, we had five kids and three adults. So, it's only 20 minutes, half an hour. And I plan it on a Saturday after the normal classes, I'm already there. And it's just a little intro into how the gradings work. So, they go from white belt up to the first grade. Still, it's almost a half grade, semi-grade, to keep them motivated to come to the next grade. And that way, they're not going to be overawed when they come to the next grade and they already know what the process is. 

So, we talk a little bit about what to expect in the grading. So, that retention has been fantastic. So, bringing that in, for our adults, for the class, the first hour is all grades, and then the next half hour is 7th Kyu and above, which is about nine months of training. So, after about nine months to a year of training, you can come into the advanced class as well. So, those beginners can see the progression to artists, what I want to do, I want to start aspiring, I want to start learning with weapons. I want to start doing more Kata. 

So yeah, those retention tools have been really good for us. And also instructors, instructors, instructors, instructors. Just can't have enough, honestly, like, you can't do it all yourself. And that is why I failed at my you know, my last, not last day job, but so when I was like, 10 years ago, when I was teaching full time as well. I tried to do it all myself, you know, I was doing 30 classes, and it's killing yourself. So, you need other instructors, you need to train them and train them well. So, they're fantastic retention tools, because they are there talking to people. And they're another face of the dojo.

GEORGE: Yeah, and I guess I want to highlight this, because I recall a conversation where this was a big obstacle, because as we're talking about your passion for karate, that comes with a whole new expectation. And I recall, there was a time where it was really hard for you to let go of that, because it's very hard to match your standard, and pretty hard to match your standard means that instructors have a big role to fill, big shoes to go step into. And so, if anybody is struggling with that, what was sort of the point where you decided, well, I've got to let go?

CHEYNE: Well, it's the only way to grow the club, realistically. I took a step back and realized, ‘oh, I want to teach the instructors, I want to teach the teachers'. So, I would love dojo all around Australia, where I just teach the instructors. That would be my goal. So then, the more instructors you can teach, the more students they can teach and the more my karate style lineage, whatever you want to call it, is being learned. But yeah, you know, a big wake up was when I didn't want to go to teach. I realized I need other people to teach me. 

So all of our instructors are adult instructors, or instructors who are adults, not those who just teach adults, but we've got three instructors for our kids program. And I don't have to be there. I don't have to go to the dojo, I don't have to teach them, because they already know what to do. They're all black belts, all Queensland champions, or they've represented Queensland in sports karate.

And they're all uni students, the adult instructors, some family members, which is fantastic, but apart from them, we've got two nidan, two second dan, one fifth dan, third dan, and a couple of shodan, first of all black belts, who are assistant instructors. This Friday night we're doing instructors course, yeah. You just can't do it all yourself.

So, I didn't let go. I just made sure that what they're teaching is what I would teach. So, everything is structured, and there is some individuality into what you teach, because everybody is different. I'm different from my dad, same jokes, but, you know, my karate might be a little bit newer than my dad's karate. But that's just because of, you know, I'm around a different sort of group than my dad was.

So, there is individuality in the class and what and how they teach it, but the technique, the kind of, the principles, how we move, how we kick, every punch, you know, how we throw, how we put a joint lock on, they're all the same. They're all the same. Just how you deliver it might be a little bit different. Their jokes might not be as good as mine.

GEORGE: Of course not. How could they?

CHEYNE: The punchline, the timing. 

GEORGE: Exactly. So, on that, you touched on goals. And so, what is the big vision for Australian Karate Academy?

CHEYNE: Well, during the 90s, my dad had 30, that's 30 clubs around Australia. I would like to have 31.

GEORGE: Just because competitiveness, is that right?

CHEYNE: So, you know, a lot of people were drawn to my dad, because he started teaching different aspects of karate, throws, and cooler weapons. All of these things were unknown in the 80s, early 90s, and my dad had already started doing it and teaching. So, we had a lot of people join us from different clubs, they might have a little club, and they joined, they needed some direction on, one, how to teach karate. 

You know, what to pick in karate, how to get back to what you wanted to teach people. There were a lot of clubs that didn't really know what to do, they were just teaching what they did when they learnt. So, I'd like to do, to build, and to help build more clubs. Using this, using our karate and the same marketing approach, the same idea that helped us grow. But still teaching quality karate. You know, that is my number one, teaching quality karate. And so yeah, 31 clubs, 2000 members.

GEORGE: Love it. So, if anybody wants to jump on that journey with you, how would they reach out to you?

CHEYNE: Yeah, Facebook, there's only one Shane McMahon with the c, h, e, y, n, e, so you don't have to look anywhere else. Just type in Cheyne McMahon and on Facebook, or you can jump to our Facebook page, which is Australian Karate Academy. And yeah, or shoot me an email, australiankarateacademy@gmail.com, very easy to find.

GEORGE: Love it. Well, we won't link your email address on the podcast, just because I don't think you want to purchase more Gis and more things from foreign countries. So, we'll skip that, but right, so, easy to find, Cheyne McMahon on Facebook. Cheyne, always great chatting to you, love watching your journey from the sideline and I think we need to chat a little sooner than two years, again? 

CHEYNE: Yeah! 

GEORGE: I'd say, what's the next benchmark for you? You said at the beginning of the year, 400? But I think you wanted students, but I think you're almost going to be there real soon. What's the big benchmark?

CHEYNE: Second dojo, in Brisbane next year. I think we're going to get to a point in our current dojo where we can teach or where I want to teach, you know, I don't want 800 in a 101 class teaching shit karate. Or karate, you know, I don't want that. So I think at this, my current location, 400, 450 would be a good amount, a manageable amount. 

So whether I set up the timetable, we still have, we still have extra room for more classes, more classes. And we've actually expanded since I last spoke to you too – we've taken another 50 square meters and we're hopefully taking another 35 square meters, just to open up the verge a bit more. Yeah, so that's the second dojo in Brisbane, where I can actually, that rule, we need to open two extras. Then we have three dojo. Right? You're talking about, what, that rule, George?

GEORGE: Yes. That was Robert DePalma that said that.

CHEYNE: Yeah, so you need, so no, extra two dojo in Brisbane. So, we have a dojo in Sydney, we just opened a second dojo in Sydney as well.

GEORGE: Perfect. So depending on when you're listening to this, we'll chat in 10 months from now. And we'll have a look at how that's going. No pressure. Well, pressure has been good for you. So, pressure.

CHEYNE: I'll just do it.

GEORGE: Just do it. There we go.

Cool. Cheyne, thanks so much for showing up. I'll catch you on the next one.

 

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76 – Practical Tips On How To Grow Your Martial Arts School

Robbie Castellano from IMC Australia shares practical tips on how to grow your martial arts school.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How creating a 5-year plan grew Robbie Castellano’s school from 135 to 500 students
  • How local and international martial arts tournaments improve their student retention
  • The ultimate test for turning over your school
  • The importance of having an effective leadership program
  • How finding a strategic school location completes half of your marketing
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: G'day, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. I have today with me Robbie Castellano who is actually a returning guest. We won't get into the details why. He'll probably be a returning guest again, but this is the first actual official podcast we're doing together. So, welcome to the show Robbie.

ROBBIE: Thanks George. Glad to be here.

GEORGE: Awesome. So, just a bit of introduction. So, Robbie's based in Sydney. They run IMC Australia. And also looking at the website now, I'm seeing number one rated martial arts center in Australia as rated by ISKA. So, yeah, we're going to have a bit of a chat and hear what Robbie's up to. So, welcome to the show Robbie.

ROBBIE: Thank you George.

GEORGE: Cool. So, just give us a couple of minutes intro, just your background, what you've got going on, etc.

ROBBIE: Yeah. So, basically started as a kid. Went to a local karate school which is in Western Sydney. Started at the age of four, five. Trained up until I was a teenager and then started working part time for my instructor, teaching. Always loved teaching. So, it was always good to teach the kids and then eventually teaching adults. And then got to my twenties and decided I wanted to go and see the world, so I went traveling around the world for about seven years and I still came back home every now and then to teach a little bit, travel again before eventually settling and managing the school for my instructor and then eventually buying it out 100%.

GEORGE: Excellent. So, in the travels, were you actually instructing as well?

ROBBIE: Na, not really. I was always training, like I was in Thailand and Belarus and England and Colombia. I eventually stayed in Colombia for a few years where I eventually met my wife, but it was always just training, it's hard to teach in a different language.

GEORGE: Got you. I've always wondered if that's an opportunity for young kids if they are learning martial arts and they can instruct if there's an opportunity for them to actually travel abroad and just plug into different schools and instruct for a while.

ROBBIE: Yeah. I'm sure there would be, but I didn't do it, no.

GEORGE: Okay. So, from teaching to owning the school, how did that journey evolve?

ROBBIE: Yeah. So, basically I was in Thailand to do a bit of training with my wife and my instructor had a … he gave me a call saying that he's had a few problems with his current manager and basically asked me if I want to take the reins and manage the school for him. So, I did. I got on the first plane back and started managing the school. We sat down and had a chat, worked out a five year plan. So, I would manage it for five years and then eventually buying it out which I now own. Yeah. So, when we took over, it was up to about 135 students when I managed it and we built it up to about 500 mark now. So, it's going well.

GEORGE: Got you. So, how do you feel that helped, as in having that five year plan and having a good structure and sort of knowing, alright, this is where you're going and I guess, maybe easier to make the purchase as well, sort of.

ROBBIE: That's it. I'm pretty fortunate that I had an instructor, Paul Zadro, as a good mentor. He already did all the hard work of going to the conferences overseas and learning the dos and don'ts. So, we basically sat down and it was like an apprenticeship. The five year plan was to learn the ropes, how to run the floor, run the business side and yeah, to help me eventually to buy it out. So, without that five year plan, I probably wouldn't have been able to do it. So, we've designed that now in our whole IMC organization for the rest of the generation to come through and do the same thing.

GEORGE: Okay, fantastic. So, how does that look then? So, you've got the sort of five year structure where you know how to groom and educate and train people to take over location. How does that look? Do you … are you looking for that within instructors who can take that role or are you looking at that as more sort of an expansion type …

ROBBIE: Yeah. Look, a bit of both. We've got our leadership program and those youngsters that want to come through to eventually open up their own school, we tell them, this is what you have to do. They've got to go through all the reins of being an instructor and then floor manager, program director and then a school manager and then and then the system is to buy out, if they want. We pay our managers fairly highly. So, if they’re happy to just keep their wage and that's fine. If they want to go bigger and more responsibility, we've got a plan to buy it out as well, for them to buy it out.

GEORGE: Got you. How many instructors have taken up that role, taken that path?

ROBBIE: Yeah. At the moment, myself has done it. We've got another instructor Mitchel who runs the IMC Wetherill park school. He's doing it at the moment. He's on the five year journey. We're about to open up another school in the West of Sydney, a young girl and she's going to start the five year journey as well.

GEORGE: On the five year mark, so, does that take 100% ownership or do you still sort of run under a type of franchise model or?

ROBBIE: Yeah. Look, the deal that I had was, I'll take over 100%. Okay? That was always the plan. My instructor always wanted that for me. I've been with him since I was a kid. So, he helped me out. I would want the same for my juniors that have been with me forever too. So, yeah, I was to buy it out 100%. It was still under the IMC organization, but our schools are separately owned.

GEORGE: Got you. Okay. So, when it comes to … so, you have … you mentioned how many locations again?

ROBBIE: We now have four.

GEORGE: Four locations, all Sydney based?

ROBBIE: All Sydney based, yep.

GEORGE: All Sydney based. Okay. So, when it comes to things like marketing and the bigger picture, how do you guys go about that? Is that a team effort or do you still operate individually?

ROBBIE: Yeah definitely. Look, we're big on our organization with team effort. Be individually owned but we all work together. So, every Monday we'll come in, do a team meeting and we all throw out all our different ideas, marketing strategies, statistics, everything, and I think it's … it works in our favor because we've got a lot more heads together, create different ideas and to grow our schools all together. We swap and change instructors sometimes too. I'll send one of my junior instructors over to a different school for a week so they can pick up some new stuff and vice versa.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's super powerful. So, you almost have this whole mastermind group within your own organization and everybody can come from different angles and different perspectives.

ROBBIE: That's right. 100%. Yep. 100%.

GEORGE: So, how do you then take those … let's say, if we had to walk through it, you guys have your Monday meeting, somebody comes up with an idea, then what sort of a process of rolling it out within the schools? Would you trial something first at one school or would you just roll it out and run with it and access the results after?

ROBBIE: Yep. Look, every Monday we'll come through statistics, that's usually the first thing on the agenda, where we've lost, where we've gained and then we'll do our marketing for the month, what we're doing and then we always close the meeting with an idea. If someone's got an idea, we'll get that person to try it in their school, see how it goes and if it's successful, then we'll try it in the other schools. If it fails, then the other schools don't do it obviously.

GEORGE: Got you. So, can you say a bit more just about sort of that structure of that Monday meeting? So, you mentioned you've got statistics, you talk marketing, etc, is there anything else that you cover within moving the organization forward?

ROBBIE: So, we always talk about what we're doing that month. So, whether it's a life skill project or something like that, gradings or if we're doing seminars, how to organize that. But pretty basic standard meeting. Nothing too drastic. But it works. Everyone turns up and everyone is on the same page. That's important. If one ball drops, then the rest will crumble in the end. So, it's important to keep it all together.

GEORGE: Got you. Okay. So, let's talk a bit more about … so, you're based in Liverpool right?

ROBBIE: Yes. Western Sydney. Yep.

GEORGE: Western Sydney, got you. I believe that now that we're talking about it, Paul Zadro, I did see him on the news taking on the political role. Is that right?

ROBBIE: Yeah. I think he's got to that stage in his life where he needs another challenge. He's a very successful man, so I think he wanted that next challenge. So, he worked for the local Liverpool seat. Unfortunately he didn't win, but I'm sure he had a good experience. He made a lot of contacts as well. It was actually good for us to watch it so it all works.

GEORGE: Got you. Actually, I did another podcast interview yesterday with Jim Morrison in Canada and he was mentioning their 15th birthday this year and the mayor’s coming along. I was like, hang on, you can't let that story just rest. How do you get the mayor to attend your birthday?

He said, no, okay, they actually train together, but it was interesting that he mentioned how much community evolvement that creates, because of having the … obviously having the mayor and the kids train there, but just getting really involved with projects that they do with kids with autism and sort of being on the forefront. Would that open different avenues for you within the martial arts school with having Paul in that position?

ROBBIE: Oh yeah, for sure. Look, it's just another way to get your name out there. You know what I mean? We had the New South Wales Sports Minister come to our school with this campaign and he came to see what we do in school, how do kids train. We did a couple of demonstrations for him and that goes all over social media as well. So, it's just another avenue of marketing and getting your brand out there again. So, yeah, it definitely helps.

GEORGE: Got you. Okay. So, let's talk about Liverpool. So, we were just chatting about it earlier just … IMC Australia number one rated martial arts center as rated by ISKA. So, what's a big focus for you? Is it just … I guess let's start from the beginning. What styles do you teach?

ROBBIE: Yeah. So, basically we're a multi-style school. We teach karate, kickboxing, MMA, jiu jitsu. Our main clientele is kid's karate. Probably makes up 70% of our school. MMA, jiu jitsu is just sort of an extra thing for people to come and kickboxing program is pretty big as well, but our basic main focus is kid's karate.

GEORGE: Got you. And then the competition component with that is?

ROBBIE: Yeah. ISKA a good organization that has multi-styles, so you can do from kickboxing to middle ninjas, five year old kids competing. So, we always start on the ISKA circuit. It's probably the biggest in Australia as well, covering all the different states and we've always had a strong tournament team going into these martial arts tournaments and most of the years, we always rate number one. That helps our students with retention as well. Sometimes kids get bored in their normal training, so they want an extra bit of push, so they join the tournament team and they'll compete.

GEORGE: Got you. Okay. So, is that tournaments and things happening locally? Do you give students the opportunity to travel abroad?

ROBBIE: Yeah, pretty much. There's always a tournament nearly every month. Some are in Sydney, some are in the country. There's tournaments in Queensland, Melbourne, even in Perth where you are. I think Graham MacDonald runs the ISKA in WA. Every couple of years we take a team over to the US Open, compete over there. Last year we actually went to Jamaica for ISKA World Championships there which was awesome. I love traveling and when martial arts and traveling come together, I'm very happy with my life. Any opportunity to go overseas and take a team, we're onto it.

GEORGE: So, how did that help the team? When they go to a place like Jamaica. I spent a lot of time in Jamaica when I was in my young travel days when I was working on cruise ships. Crazy place, but it was always good fun. Just beautiful beaches and friendly people. So, when a team goes and they travel to a place like that, how does … what's the effect on just the culture and the team when they get back?

ROBBIE: Yeah. Well, you know yourself. If you're traveling and you go overseas, it's a whole new experience, you know what I mean? They get to see people from different countries, different styles, different ways of life. So, any type of traveling is good for anybody. You always come back a different person and I think it brings a team together as well. You spend a couple of weeks with somebody overseas on those tours, and it brings back a closer relationship too. So, it always works well. There's never a negative experience on these trips.

GEORGE: Got you. So, where are you guys headed as a … and you personally, you're part of the IMC group, what's the path forward for you?

ROBBIE: Yeah. So, look, we've designed our leadership program to keep growing. All that school was of course anyone's goal is to also keep growing. My personal goal is to open up another school which we're in the frame of doing hopefully this year and then, yeah, just keep going. Do as much as possible and the sky's the limit.

GEORGE: You mentioned your wife trains as well. So, is it just you in the business? Is it family business or?

ROBBIE: Yeah. It's just me and my wife. She mainly does all the admin for the school which I'm pretty lucky because that's what she studied in university. So, it all planned out and worked together. She stays at home, I pretty much run the school. I've got my manager of the school, so I don't have to always be there. I try to have at least a couple of days off in the week to spend with my family, but it's all about the system. You've got to design those systems, then you've got to stick to them and make sure they work. As soon as one of those systems kicks out, it all falls apart. So, I think it's so important that you have those right and stick to it.

GEORGE: I'd love to ask you about that. So, you're mentioning, obviously you're preparing to go for a second school, so yes, your systems have to be in place and you mentioned, okay, you've got your wife involved, but you mentioned she doesn't really come to the dojos, just working at home.

ROBBIE: Behind the scenes, yep. She's not behind the scenes.

GEORGE: You've got family, you've got kids, right?

ROBBIE: Yeah, I've got two little kids, five and two. My son who's five, he trains and he's one of those karate kids that pretty much lives at the school and he loves it. So, I'm very grateful for.

GEORGE: So, how do you manage this and moving forward? So, you mentioned you're really clear about your systems and then your family time. So, how do you create that balance and especially knowing that you've got the new location coming as well?

ROBBIE: Yeah. Well, it all comes down to the right person, right? If you can open up another school, you wouldn't do it unless you had someone that you believe in that could do it. So, that's where our leadership program comes into place. So, we have a person now that's ready to step up, she's pretty much been managing my school for the last couple of years. I sort of stood back a bit to see how she runs it all by herself and she's proven that she can do it easily. So, we sat her down and asked her if she wants to move forward and open up another school and run that one and she agreed. So, she's in the process now of training somebody to replace her which is awesome. All about the systems.

GEORGE: So, let's say you're starting the systems, what are the core systems that you have to have in place before you feel that you're ready to open that extra location?

ROBBIE: I think, well, my instructor always told me as a test, if you go on holidays for a month and your school grows by that person that you've left in charge, then they're capable of running the school on their own. If it fails and you lose students while you're away, then maybe that person isn't. So, that's one little test we do. We make sure everyone's trained up.

Okay. So, we've got our leadership program like I said and we have different levels in that leadership program and if someone isn't up to standard in a certain area, we make sure that they need more training. We do our staff training once every couple of months, a big staff training or we make sure everyone's up to speed because there's always new casuals and new leadership members. We just make sure our standard's high and up to date.

GEORGE: And sort of the core system? Like the system of systems that the … the one thing that kind of steers everything and puts everything in place, what would you say that is?

ROBBIE: Yeah. Look, it's pretty straight forward like every other school. You know what I mean? There's so much information out there now. You can go on Facebook and see a whole lot of stuff even for free. It's funny because, like I go to the ISKA tournaments and I speak to so many school owners that are trying to do martial arts full time and I tell them all the different stuff, they like to go to an EFC conference for example.

I tell them they should go if they want to grow. And then they don't do it. You know what I mean? It's simple stuff that you can follow and they just don't do it and then they wonder why they don't grow. You know what I mean? So, yeah, just all the basic normal stuff that's out there. Follow the system that everyone has created. There's plenty of information out there.

GEORGE: Okay, cool. So, Robbie, you're well established, you guys have got … you tick all the boxes, you've got the systems, you've done your ten thousand hours and beyond in business. So, if you had to break it down, what advice would you give to someone going from zero to a hundred, a hundred to two hundred, two hundred to three hundred students, etc?

ROBBIE: Yeah. Look, first of all, if I was … first thing I'd do is find the right location. All our schools and even our future schools, we open up on a main road. So, that's half of our marketing already done for us. You can try to beat the rent and get something a little bit cheaper in the back alleys, but you're going to pay more in marketing. So, all our schools must be on a main road. So, that's one thing I'd be looking at. The next thing is, is I'll be trying to find the first person that walks into my dojo with leadership skills and I'd be starting to train that person to help and eventually put them on staff. That would be my first things.

GEORGE: So, location, super important, and then really identifying that leader from the get go. Anything else from that point?

ROBBIE: From there, if I started to grow my school, the next thing I would a hundred percent put in would be a leadership program, whether it's kids or teenagers, because that's going to be your core of your school of who can run your school for you while you can concentrate on other things to grow. So, I'll be a hundred per cent be all for leadership programs straight away.

GEORGE: That's gold right there. Good location, half your marketing's done, find your right leader and start focusing on the team building.

ROBBIE: Straight away. Yep.

GEORGE: Anything else you would add to that?

ROBBIE: From there, the school would grow because you would've trained your staff to how you want it, to follow the systems, I'll probably sign up with, if I didn't have an organization like I do, I'd probably sign up with … I mean, there's plenty of companies out there that help you, I'd kind of like to stick with the Aussie groups. I'd be signing up for that straight away as well because that's going to help you grow your school. These guys have got it all in place for you.

That's what I keep saying to these guys that I was talking about. It's already done for them. They've just got to sign up and follow it. They don't do that. That's why they don't grow. So, if you're serious about going to school, find a good mentor that's done it before and follow the system. It's not rocket science.

GEORGE: Do the work, right? Okay, awesome. So, one or two more questions. You mentioned your location in Liverpool, right? So, you're on a main road. It's also probably, on a wild guess, reckon that Liverpool has the most martial arts schools per square meter in the whole of Australia. So, what's your take on that, on the competition?

ROBBIE: It's true, there's so many martial arts schools right where I am in … I remember telling my instructor about it when he offered me the job. I said, oh, but there's so many schools around here, how are we going to compete? He pretty much said if you do the things that I tell you to do, you'll be the biggest and you won't worry about them. That's what we did and now we are the biggest. I've got a school that's 200 meters down the road from me and he's still successful. He's got I think about 400 students and I've got 500 students. It doesn't matter.

Would I be bigger? Probably. I probably wouldn't be able to fit everyone in if he wasn't there, but it doesn't affect this really any way. As long as you keep your school professional and provide a good service, people always come. Know what I mean? So, it hasn't bothered us, no.

GEORGE: Thanks for being … I'm going to ask one question and I've been contemplating whether I should ask this question, but I think it's worth talking about it, because it's a … I've got my take on this word and question and a lot of people do. I'm going to keep my appointment back, my appointment, my opinion for now and I'm going to ask this question on a few podcasts and see how it goes. So, here it is. McDojo. The word McDojo. What does that mean to you?

ROBBIE: What is a McDojo? What even is a McDojo? I've heard the concept before. People say if you're big and you're charging quite high fees that you're a McDojo, I reckon it's all crap to be honest. Okay? Because, I mean our standard hasn't dropped and I challenge anyone who hasn't got a big score or has a smaller score and think that their standard is higher, then bring that student in, and see if they can keep some of our students. I'll bet you they can't.

So, just because we're large and we charge a higher fee, doesn't mean our standards drop. If anything, I think our standards rise because if we don't provide a good service and keep a higher standard, then they'll leave and they can go down to the road to the $10 a week school, that's fine. So, I think it's a load of crap to be honest.

GEORGE: Love it. Awesome. Robbie, it's been great having you on. Where can people go to connect with you or find more about you?

ROBBIE: Yeah, you can see our website, www.prestonskarate.com.au or you can add me on Facebook at Robbie Castellano. You should find me on friends of all the high profile martial arts in the country. So, yeah, add me, I'll be happy to help you if you have any questions.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Thanks a lot Robbie.

ROBBIE: Thanks George, really appreciate it mate. You're a legend and it's awesome what you're doing, I love it.

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top, smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group.

It's a private Facebook group and in there I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets. Things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Community and an easy way to access it is if you just go to the domain name martialartsmedia.group. So martialartsmedia.group. G-r-o-u-p. There's not dot or anything. Martialartsmedia.group. Then we'll take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks. I'll speak to you on the next episode. Cheers. 

 

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75 – Growing Your School With Video & Teaching Martial Arts For Special Needs (From A Wheelchair)

Jim Morrison talks about contributing to the community, creating content & teaching martial arts to kids with autism and special needs.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The surprising benefits of giving back to your community
  • How Jim Morrison teaches Taekwondo in a wheelchair to students with special needs
  • The importance of being genuine about your martial arts business
  • How to communicate effectively to your target ‘avatar’
  • Useful techniques in creating awesome martial arts videos
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

You know, just like martial arts, we all start as white belts, right. Every single one of us, the greatest martial artists to ever walk the Earth, started on their first day and they sucked. And you know, we have to really embrace the suck, right, that's what it is. We know how hard martial arts are, right, if you can't embrace the suck, then you're never going anywhere from there.

GEORGE: Good day, this is George Fourie, and welcome to another Martial Arts Media Business Podcast episode. So today I'm speaking with Jim Morrison, all the way from Barrie, Ontario. How are you doing, Jim?

JIM: Awesome, how are you?

GEORGE: Very good, very good. Great to speak with you. This is the first time we've just been chatting before the show, and Jim's been going for about 15 years in his martial arts school, Champs Academy. And yeah, we're just going to have a conversation and add some value for you as the school owner. So let's jump in.

JIM: Awesome.

GEORGE: First up, Jim, just to … just give us a couple of minutes, who you are, what type of styles you teach, all the rest.

JIM: Awesome. We're a martial arts academy that primarily focuses on Taekwondo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We've had our studio in place here in Barrie for about 15 years. Before that I was in the martial arts industry teaching for my instructor for many, many years. I think since I was 17, I was teaching. And then I started martial arts when I was about eight years old, so it's a long time ago.

And yeah, we've grown and grown. We started as a small school out of a community center that expanded to a small unit and then that unit grew, and now we're in a 10000 square foot space, yeah, and we're looking to open another two schools in the next two years, so yeah. We're programmed for growth.

GEORGE: Awesome, so 15 years, break that down a bit. So you got started with the same business that you've got now, 15 years ago?

JIM: Yes. So we've been, Champs Academy has been in business for 15 years, this is our 15 year anniversary, so we're actually going to have a big anniversary party this year, mayor's coming and everything so it should be really fun. But we started 15 years ago, it was a small school, we were just teaching out of a community center.

I always had aspirations to make this a full time career, at the time I was working construction during the day, and teaching at night. But you know it was always a big thing for me to be able to make the plunge, and make myself a career martial artist.

And it was just, I'm a growth minded person, and over the years the industry's changed a lot, but I've been able to try and stay on top of all the growth and all the changes over the years. And yeah, I think we've done a good job of staying on top of the pulse of our community, and it's helped us kind of grow.

GEORGE: Hang on, you're not going to let that off so quickly. You've got your 15th birthday party, but the mayor is coming. How did you do that?

JIM: So actually, the mayor is, his family's training with us now, too, but before that we'd also made contact because what we do in our community, we do a lot of outreach stuff in our community. I think that's really important, because if you want to be the go-to location in your area, you need to make sure that you're present in everything you can possibly be in your community.

So we do a lot of work in the schools, we offer free bully prevention courses that we go into schools and teach. We go in and do self defense courses, stranger danger courses, things like that. We do Cub Scout groups, anything like that we do big group areas.

We also work with a lot of special needs in our community. So the word of our club gets out in so many different avenues, even outside our own marketing. We're so well known in the community by now that when I approach the mayor, the mayor's office knows who we are, so it's easier for us to get our foot in the door and put our name on his schedule, right?

So that's something we've always tried to work at is that easy way to start our marketing, to start to open up to the community, and give back, and it's something that gives you back in return. So it's helped us a lot.

GEORGE: That's fantastic. So you got … so you used that a lot as in a … I mean you probably can't use it as in the front of your marketing that you're taking the mayor along, can you?

JIM: Of course, you have to be respectful of the fact that he's going to fit in a job, and you're not the only thing he's dealing with every day. But I think whether it's the mayor, or we've got in contact with our local politicians in many different levels, and the big thing we try to do is be respectful of them, but we also encourage them to be part of what we do.

Even on small ways, whether it's sometimes we teach an autism group. And for example, autism in Ontario right now is, there's an issue with funding and things like that. So there's an opportunity there for us to a part of that, a voice in that community, because we work with a lot of autism groups, and that means we're on the page of the news as well.

So it helps both ways, obviously we're genuine about getting back to our community and helping these different groups, but at the same time, I'd be lying if I say it didn't help us in some way, because it does give us a voice outside of our club.

GEORGE: Yeah, it's such an underrated marketing strategy to just actually care and give, and if you do that, you can actually be surprised what comes your way. Instead of just thinking about, how do we get? How do you give, and things start to shape up for you.

JIM: Yeah, I think the ethics of what we teach, we always know that giving back is a part of that. We've all been taught that since day one in martial arts, but somewhere along the way when we start a business, we kind of want to put those ethics on a shelf or those ideas on a shelf. And I think if we explore them a little more, I think really there's a lot of benefit for our own club from giving back to our community, and doing anything we can, because it spreads the word of what we do.

And if that's the message of what we do, well, people connect with that. That's a passion that people connect with. And in this day and age, when people are inundated with marketing, and advertising, and flyers and media and commercials on TV, they have choices that they never had before, and when they hear somebody who's genuine and passionate about what they teach, and they see that they're somebody that cares about their community, I think that speaks volumes for what the product we sell is, and that's helping people get that message, too, right.

So I think we want to always expand in that general direction. It keeps in touch with my family's ethics, but as well as what I teach in the martial arts club.

GEORGE: Yeah, for sure. I'd like to talk a little more on that. I mean I work with a group of martial arts school owners called Partners, and a bit of our focus with marketing is … a lot of what you're saying is, how do you become an authority in your space? How do you stand out? And a lot about standing out is not by leading with the marketing of the offer, and how do you join, and how do you get a member in?

But rather, how do you give? How do you go that layer up, and how do you create content that provides value that connects with people that maybe they're a good prospect for martial arts, but they don't know it yet, or they have their problems that you can solve, but they don't know it yet.

Like you speak about autism, and I think most parents that have kids that have autism aren't thinking that martial art is the solution. So there's so much in your marketing that you can do, that is not about the offer, but it's about speaking to people on a higher level. So if you don't mind sharing, how do you go about speaking to groups that are potential prospects for your school, and how do you work within the community to get them through the doors?

JIM: Yeah, well that's a great question, because it's not an easy thing, because a lot of times it's even hard to find these specialty groups, even if you have the best of intentions. I think if we all started, the first time I ever started teaching any specialty groups is I was teaching Taekwondo, and I was approached by a parent that I was teaching the one son Taekwondo, and the other son was in a wheelchair. And she said something along the lines of, and I'm paraphrasing, “It's too bad there's nothing he can do like this, because it's helped my other son so much.”

 

And I said, “Well, if I had a group of kids like this, I'd be happy to do that,” and she said, “Well watch what you say, because I'm going to help you do that.” And the next thing I know, I'm in a rented wheelchair, teaching Taekwondo classes from a wheelchair, I don't actually have to use a wheelchair, thank god, but I'm teaching classes from a wheelchair to a group full of kids in wheelchairs. And it was such a great experience for me that I wanted to make sure that we continued to spread that message.

So then, when I had students that had autism, or I had a student that was in a wheelchair or something like that, we would highlight them. And what I mean by that is, any chance we got, not an advertisement, just to put something in the local newspaper, put on our website, put on our Facebook page, we're so proud of this student, and how far they've come. They are a leader in our school, and we're so proud of them, and to see how far they've come in their training.

And what we found was, a lot of people responded to that because just seeing that, hey, you know what, this is not something that is elitist just to the athletic kid from school. This is not just a … you know, martial arts, we have a horrible reputation. We have the worst … outside of our clubs, the marketing is horrendous. Most people think we, as people, are thugs, and we're tough guys, and we're all those other things, when the reality is we're almost the exact opposite of those things. Because the ethics of what we grew up with taught us to be so much more than that.

So I think it's up to us to break that wall down, and show people that everybody can do it. And that was kind of where we went with it, and right now we have three or four different special needs groups that we teach, specialty classes only for each of them, on top of the kids that we teach in our regular program that are special needs as well. It's become a niche for us, not intentionally, just because we're trying to reach out to the community that we serve.

GEORGE: That's fantastic. So do you actually then teach in a wheelchair?

JIM: Yes. I actually sit in a wheelchair, and like I say, I don't use it, and if you want to be humbled … If you ever want to feel humble, try and teach kids that actually sit in a wheelchair all day how to do things from a wheelchair. And muscles in your arms that you're not aware of, and your shoulders, will start to hurt in a way that you have not had any experience with, because they're so much stronger than we are at using their arms in different ways that we haven't had to use them in. So it's actually very humbling experience, but it's also very … I don't know, I guess it's something that I love doing. Something passionate for me.

GEORGE: That's fantastic. So tell me a bit more about that. So how do you then adapt, adjust your whole class structure, and like, what kind of strains does it put on you, and how do you prepare for that? How do you go about teaching a class from a wheelchair?

JIM: Well, whether it's from a wheelchair or any other special needs group, the first thing we always do is we have a system that our instructors use, and it's basically, it's our own self-assessment more than it is theirs. And what we look at is, we say, okay, what is the highest functioning action we can expect from this group, and it's usually higher than they actually think they're capable of.

So what do we think that is, and we have to draw a picture of what that specifically looks like for whatever group we're looking at. And then we look at the lowest functioning factor, and we say, okay, we have to meet them here, but we want to get them there. So we have to start to look at the physicality, very often the communication is a big factor, because like I say, we have a Down's Syndrome group as well, you know, they're not going to pick up on the same gestures and movements that you and I would in a class. Even the specifics of how you're holding your hand, things can be different depending on the physicality and the mental capabilities of the group that you're teaching.

 

And that's not to diminish where they're going to be going; it's just to say where the starting point is. So we always have a little chart, we do that, and that way any of the instructors that are, if another instructor's going to teach that, they can look at that chart and decide where on that chart they're going to focus that day. And of course, it can vary day to day, too, 'cause as any instructor knows, teaching any group of kids, there's days they come in ready to learn, and then there are days they come in, and I don't know who gave sugar to all these kids before they walked in here, but they washed it down with coffee. So on those days you going to do what you going to do, right?

GEORGE: Yeah. Definitely. Okay, so now … And just to clarify, so this is teaching Taekwondo classes, or Jujitsu, from the wheelchair? Or both?

JIM: The wheelchair classes are all done for Taekwondo specifically, it just lends itself a little easier to the techniques we teach. We see that the kids get a quicker grasp of the movement, and therefore they're encouraged. Of course, most physical situations that a kid is facing if they're in a wheelchair, they're very aware that they're working from a deficit of some kind, so one of the first things we have to do for all these kids, and this is the same for any kid, is build their confidence.

So they need to see some progress. Just like any kid would, right, so we just have to look at it from that same standpoint we would be teaching any kid off the street, and just say, hey, we need to build their confidence, so they know they can do this journey.

And then from there you can lead them down the journey you want, but if they don't believe in it, they're going to give up pretty quickly, regardless of whether they're in a wheelchair or special needs, or they're fine, and they just need to get started in martial arts, right? So we need to build that confidence before we step anywhere.

JIM: Sorry, that's why we find some of the Taekwondo techniques lend themselves a little easier to that.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And that was actually my next question, and I think you've probably answered it, with how does the mind-set differ? The mind-set of someone that has the special needs versus a normal child, and do you have to change the process of how you get them to instil that confidence in themselves?

JIM: Very often, yes. Because like I say, they face more challenges. I mean that's … things that we don't even think about, you know. When you pull up to a building, you and I don't have to figure out what part of the curb we have to get to, to get in a building. Something that simple, and those kind of things weigh on a person, you know, just think about all the things that weigh on us when we hit traffic, and it's slow, or things like that. Well you know, they're facing that plus when they get to the plaza they're going to, they can get in the door because they don't have a dip in the curb big enough for the wheelchair.

So you have to take into consideration what you're facing, so I think a lot of times, for us that's the biggest piece. For kids that are facing any more challenges than the average kid, whatever it is, like I say, start with that confidence piece and build from there, because the more success they could feel, there's nothing like seeing a kid break a board, right, but if you see a kid break a board who didn't think he could possibly break a board, there's something that changes inside you as a person when you see that, right, you get to be a part of something special.

And that's something, I think, that they experience, but also you as an instructor experience. So there is a mind-set we have to get past, and I can't attitude that we have to get past, because they really can't do a lot of the things that everybody else takes for granted. So we've going to get past that and give them some confidence, and give them some successes.

GEORGE: Yeah. I mean think about that next time you're stuck in traffic, you know? How tough life is.

JIM: Yeah. You know, we think about that with all our students. We try to … One of the things, getting back to the point we were saying is teaching from a passionate place, I think we try and talk to our instructors, and our staff and we say, look, you can't fake this thing we do. We don't have the kind of job we can call in, whether we're teaching anybody, an adult, a kid, we don't know what these people face in their daily life, and we could be the best thing that happened to them today. So we can't bring half an effort. We have to bring the best effort, and I think if we do that, it translates.

And like I say, in this day and age, people have choices they never had before. I started in the 80s, and my parents put me in the martial arts club that was closest to my house. That was it. That was their precursor for hiring a martial arts instructor for me. And it worked out great, I was very happy with it, but it could have easily worked out horribly, 'cause now that I know the industry a little bit better I know there's good and bad in everything. And our industry's no different, right?

GEORGE: That's it. So Jim, what's been the biggest shift for you over the last 15 years, from where you started up to now?

JIM: Well I think the biggest thing is to go to the idea of marketing. I think marketing, when we first started, first of all, like I say, they didn't have … people didn't have as many choices. There was one or two martial arts clubs in town, and even if the martial arts were something that the parent couldn't pronounce, if it was the closest thing to what they thought it was going to be, they just signed the kids up.

Nowadays, with the internet, it's a great thing but it's a curse, and it's a great thing because people have more choice, they have more variety, they can test drive things before they do it, they can go and look inside your facility before they get there. But it's a hard thing, because if you don't quite know how to communicate that to people, I think that you're missing out on clientele that they should be in your facility, they should be training with you.

And I think that's probably the biggest change in marketing, is getting a hand on what happens on the internet, whether it's your website, or social media, or specifically Google Analytics, and all the details. Getting content out there so people can taste test what you're doing, and they have an awareness of what you do. And the more we can do those things; those things I think are the big change over the last 15 years.

It used to be me and my students with flyers going door to door, nowadays, if I get a flyer I do what everybody else does, and I put it right in the recycling bin, and that's about the end of that. But we get so many clicks per video we've put out, and so much interest off Facebook, and our website, Instagram … That's the wave of the future. If you can't … You really have to get professionals on your side as far as what kind of web presence you're having, and that'll make a huge difference.

GEORGE: Definitely so. So do you have a … I guess when I hear the things that you have going on, you've got this big pool of ideas just sitting there to create content from. Do you have a specific strategy that you follow? To create content for your school?

JIM: Yes, well first of all we look at … The biggest thing is, we communicate what we do. So again, it's about being honest. Stick to the virtues that we teach every day. If we want to be honest about what we do, and what we don't do, I don't create MMA fighters. There are great clubs for that and I think it's fantastic, I fought MMA for a few years, but I don't want my kids to do it, so I don't teach it in my school, 'cause my kids are a very big part of my school now.

So I want to communicate exactly what we teach, so what we teach I want to show people the quality of what I teach, I want to give them a taste of what the class looks like, or feels like. I want them to see whatever my strengths are, I want to make sure I magnify those, and I want to make sure that I'm reaching the people that are looking for me. So again, that's about knowing you’re … I don't know if you guys use the same term, but we call it an avatar, which is your ideal customer.

So we always keep the ideal customer in mind and try and keep our content specific to reaching them as well. So it's two sided, it's making sure we're honest about what we're putting out there, but we're also making sure that we're targeting our avatar, so we're not wasting energy and money pretending we're something we're not.

GEORGE: Gotcha. Now I know that for a lot of schools, I know it's a bit of a … people get stuck when they want to create video, and I think even though martial arts school owners and instructors are super confident and know how to run and teach a class, there's something that just, there's this barrier that gets stuck when it comes to creating video and getting confident with that process. What was it like for you getting started with video, and how did you venture through any obstacles to get it in motion?

JIM: Yeah, well that's a great question 'cause I really sucked at it at first, so that's a great question. When we first started doing content and things like that, I really didn't know what to videotape, and I would just take my phone and videotape part of a class, and post it. And do the kind of things like that.

And it got mixed reviews, sometimes I'd get people saying, “Oh, that's a great thing,” or sometimes I'd videotape a class, and didn't realize that it looked a little hectic, 'cause I was taking a video of the part where they were having some free time. And so somebody else, they're like, “Wow, that doesn't look formatted or structured at all,” and now they get a bad taste of what we do.

So I didn't really know what to do. So I have to give credit where credit's due, my son, I have a … So I have a big family, I'm the proud dad of seven little kids, so.

GEORGE: Awesome.

JIM: I have seven kids, yeah, and my oldest son is 19, and he's now running our head office, and he's of course a little more in touch with technology than I am at 44. So he started getting really involved in what we videotape, and he's really good at researching what works out there. He started following some industry leaders, which I always recommend. Look for people that you know, whether you teach Jiu Jitsu, or you teach Taekwondo, or whatever you teach. Look for people anywhere in the world that are, who's got the most views, and who's popular for other people to watch.

Go and watch your heroes, the people you see who win tournaments and things like that, why are they getting views? You know and sometimes, we as martial artists want to give it the quick answer, “Well that's easy for that guy, he's Chuck Norris's student,” or something silly like that. Or, “That's easy for that guy, he's a world famous Jiu Jitsu fighter, it's Kit Dale,” or somebody like that. But it's not just the big name, right, it's making sure what people are really watching Kit Dale's site for is going to be those great Jujitsu tutorials, or those little pieces where they get a taste of something they want to learn.

So if you can mimic what they greats do, you don't have to know how to do the great content, you're just going to find your own niche inside that. And then I think, really, like I said to go back to, is being honest about what you offer. If you're not a Jiu Jitsu program, you know, don't model yourself after one, model yourself after what you really are targeting. And then you can specify to your avatar a lot easier.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And I'll probably add to that, because that also, and what I see is creating an obstacle. Because sometimes you look at your peers, and you look at the guys that you aspire to, but they're already at such a high level, and now you're entering this video realm and your expectations are to be exactly like they already are. And I think that puts a bit of a big roadblock in, because you want to get started, and just be perfect at it, but you've going to run the reps, right?

JIM: You know, just like martial arts, we all start as white belts, right. Every single one of us, the greatest martial artists to ever walk the Earth, started on their first day and they sucked. And you know, we have to really embrace the suck, right, that's what it is. We know how hard martial arts are, right. If you can't embrace the suck, then you're never going anywhere from there. If you could ever take a video of what it looked like your first day of martial arts, how proud would you be looking at that based on your current knowledge of martial arts? Well, you'd be almost embarrassed instantly, right?

Well it's the same thing with your first video. It's going to suck, but that's where you start. That's your starting point, and if you're not willing to take those steps and make those efforts, and try something new, try this, because if you haven't done social media marketing, and you haven't done it well, then you're not going to be able to go anywhere. But in that same breath, there is market leaders that can direct people, there are professionals out there that are really great, making sure you have a good website. Go to people, they're specific to our market in martial arts, and they design great websites that already attract great Google traffic.

There are people that already know how to use Facebook, and they can give you guys, anybody tips out there on how to find those little niches that they can target. You know, there's a lot of different resources out there, but just like martial arts, if you're not willing to go out and try these things, if you're not willing to go out and learn from somebody that's maybe a little further ahead than you, then you're going to stay a white belt, right, just like you would in a martial art.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's so true. I love that saying, and I heard that the first time in High Performance Habits, from Brennan Bechard. Embrace the suck.

JIM: Yeah, I read the same book. That's another thing I think is very important too, is martial artists, we're designed for growth. We have to realize, as martial artists, you and I, we should be constantly reading and listening to podcasts, and if you're not growing, you're dying. We have to really start to look for more things out there that can inspire and encourage us to grow, and become better at what we do. ‘Cause that's what we're doing here, that's what we're selling, so it's a lie if you're not doing it yourself.

You don't want to stand up there and tell everybody, “Growth is important, prove yourself, do these things,” and then you're going home to watch the same TV program and fall asleep in bed doing the same thing you did for the last five days.

I try and do something each day, just to grow, I don't think it's too hard, I think you can find some podcasts, or watch some videos online, or whatever you need to do to feel like you're making steps forward. And that kind of thing too can give you a little bit of confidence to take another step too, 'cause you can find people that are doing those things out there that you want to follow.

GEORGE: I love that, and I'll just add, one thing I'm noticing about you is, you're just doing what … you're just being true to yourself. And it's a big component of the things that we teach in our Partners program, we always talk about how do you create content? Well, just do what you do. If you have yourself in check, and you are growing, and you are being true to yourself, and you've got integrity, and you've got all these attributes that martial arts teaches, talks about, and you are living that, then just live it. Just live it, be it, and let that become your marketing. Let that become the way you spread your message.

JIM: Yeah, and then it just comes down to communication. And then it's just finding the avenues for communicating what you do. And then being honest with that, and putting it out there, right, like we just … I just spend the entire afternoon with my son, we were videoing different content for social media, we should have enough now for the next six months off of today's. Tiring day.

GEORGE: Awesome.

JIM: But yeah, great stuff, and but the thing was, I make a point like, because we don't teach high end MMA, for example. I'm using that as an example, but if you do, I mean, great, that's what you should focus on, and you should make sure you're communicating that. So there's no judgment on it, I just say that that's not what I sell. So because I don't sell that, I try to make sure each thing that I put out there is directly representative of what you would see when you walked into my club. So that means that when you walk into my club, you're already qualified to yourself as a customer.

So by the time I'm reaching these fingers out into the community to bring in people into our club, people that walk through my door, people that call me, people that email me, people that send us Facebook messages, which happens all the time, daily, all that stuff is already qualified as genuine leads because they know what we do. I've already given them a sample of what I do, so, and it's easy to find if you search me up, you'll find me everywhere. Instagram, Facebook, all over YouTube, everything, and that's purposeful. Because it's not, I'm not bragging, it's not something that I'm better than the next person, it's a window.

It's not about how good I am, it's a window into my club. So when you see that window, you can look in, and if it's not for you, you can decide that too, but if it is, you've already qualified yourself as somebody that would be interested in what we do. So we're not selling cars here, we're selling martial arts. If somebody walks through the door, if they make the effort to do that part, and we've done the advertising right, you should have 80 to 90% sign up rate minimum.

I mean that's a given, because if you've done a great job of your marketing, they're coming in for that, what you're selling. So they're already almost buying. They've got their wallet in their hand, they want to buy your product, so it should be an easy conversion at that point.

GEORGE: Just don't stand in their way.

JIM: Yeah. And make sure you know when to shut up, and you know when to talk, and you know when to answer questions, and you know when to listen, right?

GEORGE: That's it. Love it. Hey, so Jim it's been great speaking to you, and it sounds like we could speak another couple of hours, but we might do that on another one. What I do want to ask you though is, what would you do different? Going back over the years, what you've done, what's the one thing that you would tweak or look at differently in a way, moving forward, if you had to start all over?

JIM: I think what was really intimidating for me was a lot of the stepping my marketing to different angles, doing things that I hadn't done before. Because just like you're saying, I was intimidated at first, and when I first stepped into it I knew I sucked. I could watch other people do a much better job, and I didn't really understand that. I think I would just be a little gutsier with the going for that stuff, especially social media stuff. It's almost free. It's so cheap compared to any other marketing.

So I think what I would do if I could go back is spend more focus on those kind of things, and just do that, get that message out there more. I think I was a little bit too silent for too long with that, and now that we've got that ball rolling, we see the results of it, and it's great.

GEORGE: Love it, yeah, it's just something you've going to nurture and be patient with, and I guess just stay clear of all the distractions. I mean there's marketers pulling you in so many directions, and so many ideas, but it always comes down to the … I always, and I can't recall who mentioned this to me, but one of my coaches mentioned to me, always look at what people do, versus what they say.

JIM: Yes.

GEORGE: Which, people might be telling you to do this, but they're doing something completely different.

JIM: Yes.

GEORGE: And I think it's just important to focus, do the hard work. The hard work is creating the content, fine tuning your message, and looking after yourself. And if you can get that through, and be patient with it, you're going to build a following and it's going to start … that's where you get the whole snowball running down the mountain, and it just catches momentum. And you've got leads coming in from everywhere, and after a while you can't track where, it's just happening.

JIM: Yes. And I think that's the trick. Just get started, just go for it, just start putting your word out there. And like I say, be genuine with what you're putting out there, watch people that you trust, and watch what they're doing. And again, like you say, don't listen to what they say, watch what they do. Go follow them. Go follow them on Instagram, go follow them on Facebook, and you know what, the thing is that this day and age you can find all that information so easily, so you just have to be willing to take that next step and go for it, and follow the right people, and even make mistakes along the way. Be a white belt, embrace the suck, do your thing and just go with it, right?

GEORGE: Love it. Jim, been awesome speaking to you. If anybody wants to know more about you, and what you do, where can they go to find out?

JIM: Anybody can contact me anytime, I love helping people in my community, I love helping people in the martial arts community, so my email is direct from our website, so www.champsacademy.ca, or info@champsacademy.ca is our email. You can email me through there, I'm on Facebook as well, you can look for, I'm Jim Morrison, I know everybody's going to remember that, and I'm on Facebook, I'm on Instagram, I'm everywhere, so look for me there, and I can even put you in contact with my son, who handles a lot of this stuff as well, and he'd be happy to help. That's part of our mission.

GEORGE: Awesome. Fantastic, Jim, look forward to speaking to you again in the future.

JIM: Yeah, anytime.

GEORGE: Awesome, cheers.

JIM: Cheers.

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top, smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group.

It's a private Facebook group and in there I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets. Things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Community and an easy way to access it is if you just go to the domain name martialartsmedia.group. So martialartsmedia.group. G-r-o-u-p. There's not dot or anything. Martialartsmedia.group. Then we'll take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks. I'll speak to you on the next episode. Cheers. 

 

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74 – How To Sell Your Martial Arts School Into Profit Despite A Flood Disaster

Cheyne McMahon's school got flooded moments after going full time! With some help and sales skills, he turned disaster into profit.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How Cheyne McMahon applied his experience in selling cars to selling martial arts memberships
  • How he was able to bounce back from a flooded dojo and an eight week hibernation to a full-time school
  • How he grew his 110 students in December to 185 students in February
  • Some valuable marketing hacks to attract potential students
  • The secrets to a profitable martial arts open day
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

As a teacher, if you don't think you're teaching the best quality chosen martial art that you're doing, then how can you convince other people that they should join you?

GEORGE: Good day, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media Business Podcast. Today I'm joined with someone who I've gained a lot of respect for in the industry, being fortunate enough to work with him the last couple of months in one of our programs, our Partners program. I want to introduce you to Cheyne McMahon from Australian Karate Academy in Brisbane. How are you doing today, Cheyne?

CHEYNE: Yeah, good mate. Thanks for having me on.

GEORGE: Awesome, so welcome to the show. I know you've mentioned you've listened to a few of my episodes as well, so this is going to be an interesting conversation. There's a lot of value, you're getting some great results in your school and you're going to be sharing a lot of details on what you are doing, how you're going about it. First, if you want to give us a bit of background, just a bit about you, the school and how you got started in the industry, etc.

CHEYNE: Yeah, no worries. I started karate when I was four. My father was, I suppose he still is, my teacher. He started karate in 1967. He opened his first club in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland in 1976, so I followed him around and wanted to do karate. For the first couple of weeks apparently was holding me as I was walking around and I was crying. 33 years later, I'm still in love with karate. The longest break I had was six months off when I moved overseas. My dad started the Australian Karate Academy in ‘89, so this is our 30th year as the Australian Karate Academy. He and my mom were the main teachers. He retired a couple of years ago and I've since taken it over. We're in our 30th year and still going strong.

GEORGE: Fantastic. You went through school, you've been training all your life. At what point did you gravitate towards the teaching side of things?

CHEYNE: I started teaching with my mom when I was probably 14 or 15. Actually, one of my students now, I was there on his first lesson when I was 14. He was a six year old training with us for 15 years, then went off and had a career and came back a few years ago. In a couple of weeks, he's about to go for his third dan. I clearly remember his first lesson when he turned up, him and his sister. I started straight after school, so in year 12.

I was never really an academic, all I really wanted to do was karate. It was just karate. Karate was my life. In year ‘12, towards the end of year ‘12, I went on a three month tour of Europe for karate. No thought about, it's going to affect my ability to get into university or TAFE training or anything like that, that's not what I wanted, so I went over there and competed for Australia and stuff like that.

After school, I was lucky enough to qualify for a grant from the Queensland government, so I was being paid to teach karate and to train in karate as an 18 year old, as an elite athlete. From there man, every part-time job I've ever had was all revolving around karate, fitting in karate times, training, teaching, training. I've loved karate ever since I was four.

GEORGE: Alright, awesome. That's pretty cool to get a grant from the government as a sportsperson.

CHEYNE: I had to do some TAFE courses to keep it, but everything was revolving around the training. Staying in condition, first aid, those sorts of things. I think it went for about two years. I got 250 bucks a week. Big money, huge money, but my parents were pretty happy because they didn't have to pay me.

GEORGE: Exactly.

CHEYNE: I don't think they do that anymore. There's a lot of issues around the government funding stuff like that for karate, because karate didn't get into the olympics and stuff like that, so a bit of politics. It might change now with karate being in the olympics.

GEORGE: Yeah, definitely so. Let's backtrack, because we met, it was December last year, depending on when you're listening to this, that's 2018. The first time we spoke, you were in a bit of a situation with the school. Do you mind sharing a bit what had happened?

CHEYNE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, no problem. In September of 2018, I decided I was going to quit work and just concentrate on karate, so very happy to do that. Four weeks later we got flooded. Where we are in this big building, they took the roof off because there were dramas with the roof. And of course, we had rain for two weeks so we lost all of our mats, we had to close the dojo, obviously. We lost all of our carpet tiles and bags and we went from having an increased number of students to suddenly no classes for six weeks. In between that, the landlord told us we have to move in that building as well.

We were probably shut for eight weeks. I quit work, I committed to do karate and I realized if I keep going the same way as I'm going, I'm not going to earn as much money as I was selling cars. That's when I figured I need to find somebody. And I found you.

GEORGE: I don't want to let the story off there, because that's quite a big thing, right? It's a big thing already, having to burn the bridges going from employment, secure income, you know that there's money every month, and you burn the bridges, and then you start your business. That alone is a risky thing for anyone to do. I think it's what holds a lot of people back from taking that leap forward. You made the leap and then you had the rug pulled under you and flooding. What's going through your mind at this time?

CHEYNE: All the money going out of my account and nothing coming in. I know that I'm going to be doing karate for the next 30, 40, 50 years, so making that decision for me was not so hard. When you have a wife and a young family it's a little bit scary, and throw into that people not coming in to karate so there's no money coming through. In fact, the money's going out because I'm still paying rent, and still trying to pay myself, and pay for this, and pay for that.

Our numbers were steadily growing, slowly, maybe ten a month or ten a term so we were slowly building. It was okay when I was selling cars, which was my job because I still had an income so it wasn't such a huge drama, but when there was no income, and there was no students, and money is going out it was a very, very, very scary time. I almost called my boss up, my old boss to say. ‘Hey, can I come back to work?' There was only one way. There really was only one way forward and that was to come back bigger, better, stronger, and bolder than we were before. With your help, we're almost there. We're almost there.

GEORGE: That's awesome. That's really cool, and I'm happy to play such a small part in you moving forward. Do you think that also plays a big part in it, the fact that you see what the road looks like when the business doesn't work, that you just come back with this unstoppable determination to, you're going to…

CHEYNE: Yeah.

GEORGE: The stakes are a lot higher, right? It's so easy if you've got a part-time, full-time job and the school's just ticking along, right? Then when things really almost hit rock bottom, and you can see what life could potentially slip down to, you feel that really changed your drive and determination?

CHEYNE: As funny as it sounds, I think the flooding, all the water, all the problems that we had with the building… We couldn't get into the carpark and half the building was knocked down, and I couldn't put my signs out, that all played a part. If it wasn't for that, there's no way that we would be as strong as we are now. That played a massive part. I got to the point where it's balls to the wall or nothing. If it wasn't for the flooding, I don't think I would've had as much drive and determination as I do now to build our numbers back up, bigger and stronger.

One of the funny things is, I was talking to you on messenger about it, when I was talking to you was, ‘Cheyne, let's have a flood sale. Let's do a flood campaign.' And we did, and it was like. ‘Save the dojo,' and people got on board, and they brought in their friends and family and it was great. So I think that that sort of galvanized our members. I think it brought us together a bit more and made us a bit stronger, and moving forward, our dojo is 10 times, 100 times better than it was in November last year. I've got aircon, first time ever.

GEORGE: Nice.

CHEYNE: In 30 years of full time karate dojo, my parents have had, this is the first time we've ever had aircon. I haven't got the bill yet, I'm a bit scared.

GEORGE: That's a pleasure to have in Brisbane. For anyone listening, especially not in Australia, Brisbane is hot, but it's very, very sticky hot, as in you'll have a shower in the morning, you'll go dry off, you'll walk outside and it feels like you just got out the shower, right?

CHEYNE: It's two or three showers a day, for sure.

GEORGE: I would like to talk about just that whole turnaround, right? Because you reached out to me on messenger and whenever something happens that feels out of your control, then you've got to look at it and say, ‘Well, how do I turn this into something good?'

CHEYNE: Yeah.

GEORGE: So there's a situation that's bad, what can we do to turn it into something good. The reverse side of that is, if something bad happens, there's always a lesson in it. You're going to hit the lesson two years from now, or a year from now, somewhere down the track. You're going to look back and say, ‘I'm so glad that happened.'

What's a good way to look at things is, ‘Okay, well,' and it's a hard thing to do, but if something bad happens can you sit back and say, ‘Alright, well there's a lesson in here. What if I had to learn that lesson now? And what can I do?' That's the thinking of how I looked at it, and you mentioned the flood and I was like, ‘That's perfect.' It's not perfect, but it's such a great opportunity for you to say, ‘Hey,' because people generally care and people generally want to help. If this is what happened and you're just open about it, it's like, ‘Hey well, this is what happened, how do we turn this into something good?'

CHEYNE: Yeah. Every day I'm taking photos of the water. it's not just water, it was all the dirt that came with it. Because it's a construction zone outside, it was just so much dirt and mud and the karate mats, or martial arts mats, they're pretty resilient, you just clean them. There was just so much dirt that was sitting there for days that we couldn't get in. They were just irreplaceable, so we've obviously had to replace them, so we lost a lot of money and we had nowhere to train them because we can't train them on concrete.

Every problem, there's a solution. We were taking photos and putting them up on Facebook, and friends in other karate clubs were messaging me and asking me, ‘Do I want to come and bring my students to their clubs?' and stuff like that, so it was great. Everybody wants to help, as you said. I really appreciate those who came in and helped me. A lot of students came down and cleaned, and helped, and moved stuff and just made us a bit stronger.

GEORGE: That's the ending, what's the result from the sale that you ran?

CHEYNE: We ran a two week sale, just a quick one to bring in friends. I think we had about 15 to 20 and because they are referrals, we know that they're like your members already, they're friends of your members. It was very easy to convert them because they already wanted to join. Then we ran the 72 hour sale as well, which we talked about and ran through. The email follow up of four days, and I think we sold just over 20 grand which paid for a lot of the stuff that we lost. During that period I had no money coming in because I had no students, then people were happy to pay for it, for your training, so it was great.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Let's just touch on a few other things, there's so much I haven't asked you yet. You've got a background in sales. How do you think this helps you with interaction and signing up more students, at the end of the day?

CHEYNE: I sold a lot of things but probably the one I did the longest was selling cars. I did it for about seven or eight years. I moved into selling cars, I went from having a full time karate dojo to… my dad wanted to come back to training, and my wife wanted to go to uni, so there was not enough income. It was okay for me, but not for three people. I went the other way, instead of working 20 hours a week to working 60 hours a week. It was nuts.

I started selling cars, and straight away I could see the correlation between talking to people, especially on the phone. We used to get a lot of phone calls and people wanting your best price. It happens now, the first question a lot of people ask is, ‘How much are the fees?' Maybe that's not what they really want to ask, but that's just ingrained in people. You learn a lot of strategies of how to get around the price. I'm not saying that we're lying or hiding the truth, but in a lot of cases it's not the reason that they want to buy the car, not the reason that they're wanting more information about your karate school.

You start talking about the car or you start talking about the karate school, and you point at all the great things about the car. The car has five star ANCAP rating, it's two and a half thousand dollars off, it comes in five different colors. Using the same skills, you start talking about how many instructors you have at your little karate school. You've got full time school or all of these extra things that you've got. Air conditioning, that's my big one. Those sorts of things.

Selling a car and selling a membership is very similar, especially over the phone but in person, selling a car is so much easier and selling your karate school is so much easier in person. Because a person has committed to come in, so they're almost there, they just need a bit of a shove. When they're selling cars they usually bring a friend along with them, and they're the uncle that nobody likes. We call them “Eddy the expert” so you've not only got to overcome that person, you've got to overcome the customer, and always the customer's wife. Customers love them. And the same in karate.

You're selling something and the wife might say or the mom might say, ‘Let me have a chat to my husband and I'll get back to you.' In that instance, it's hard to get them back, the same as a car. If they say, ‘Let me go talk to my husband,' and maybe they don't. Maybe they don't have a husband, but everybody uses that excuse. I've used it in buying a fridge or buying a TV, and I know that I'm lying. I know that I'm lying. Because I don't have to talk to my wife, because my wife has already given me approval for this. People use that as an excuse.

Selling cars, you've got to look through the BS to really see what the reason is, why they don't want to buy the car, but more importantly, why they want to buy the car. Why they want to have little Johnny come and do karate. You ask very similar questions to the customer, ‘Why does little Johnny want to do karate?' ‘Because he's being bullied at school.' Okay, so it's about building his confidence and concentration and these sorts of things.

The more questions you ask, it's like an onion, you just start peeling layers. The same as selling cars, the same as selling a membership. Why, why, why, why, and you get to the real answer. A lot of people struggle with asking for money. If you can't ask for money selling cars, then you will starve. And the same as a martial arts school. If you can't ask for money right then and there, then the chances of them buying off you are very slim. It's 40 bucks, 20 bucks, 100 bucks, whatever it is that you're asking for, compared to 20000 dollars. 100 bucks is nothing. People buy 49 dollars and never turn up. People will walk away from 200 dollars but they won't walk away from 500.

When you're selling a car, you ask for a deposit. You always ask for two grand. Two thousand dollars. They say commit to two thousand dollars, you've sold a car. And if people go look, I'll give you 200 dollars. No, because you won't come back. 200 bucks people walk away from, like, ‘Oh well, don't worry about it, 200 bucks.' So that's why you want to ask for two grand. They might come back and say, ‘a thousand dollars.' Done. So you always ask for double. That's selling cars. If you can't ask for 49 dollars, the person standing in front of you, you're going to struggle to get members.

GEORGE: You mentioned some really valuable stuff there, especially with the excuses. Now, we all want to believe that people are 100% honest, which they are. People are 100% honest, and it's not that people come into your school to intentionally lie. There's a fight or flight situation that happens, and if a person is in a situation where they don't have the right, they haven't been sold on the value. They're not convinced yet, but they also don't know what to ask you.

They're in this situation, that they don't want to feel stupid and they've got these unanswered questions. They don't know exactly what's missing, but something's missing so fight or flight kicks in and now I say something, ‘I just need to think about it,' or, ‘I've got to speak to my wife,' or, ‘Got to go walk the dog,' or, ‘I don't make on the spot decisions.' There's a million of these things that are just knee-jerk type responses.

CHEYNE: Yeah, and they're not trying to offend you. They know that they're lying, but it's not a lie that they're uncomfortable doing. In your karate school, your martial arts school, if they don't buy right then and there a two week trial, four week trial, even a term, or monthly, whatever it is, then you haven't asked the right questions or you haven't given them enough information. And if they go, ‘Look, let me go and have a chat to my husband,' that might 100% be the reason. I don't know how many marriages or partnerships, where the partner doesn't know what the other person is doing.

So we used to say, ‘That's fine, give your husband a call, I'll sit here and wait.' And just sort of sit back and maybe have a coffee. That person's like, ‘Oh, well they're at work at the moment,' so they can't talk to you. Those sorts of things, so you give them, ‘Oh, well why don't we just do a two week for 29 dollars now, just to secure Johnny into one of our programs, and then you can have a chat to your husband. I'm still happy to offer you the four weeks, 49, once you've spoken to your husband.'

The most important thing is securing a place right now for your little Johnny. So you've got to give them urgency. If I could do that right now for nine dollars. Would you be happy to, for nine dollars, If I could offer you that two weeks for nine bucks? For seven dollars? Five dollars? What if I give you 12 months at half price, would you be happy to buy the car now? That was just coming out, sorry. Would you be happy to sign up now for 12 months and we'll give you 50% off. Surely, customer, at 50% off, you'd buy that membership wouldn't you, 50% off? You've just got to keep asking, asking, asking, and if they go, ‘Look, at nine dollars, happy to pay for two weeks,' at least you've got something. I mean it's not nine dollars but you've got a commitment. They're committed.

GEORGE: I guess you've got to also be, I could see your passion in-

CHEYNE: Yeah, sorry. I'm a rambler.

GEORGE: …In the sale, but that's awesome. I've got to ask the question, right? It's the elephant in the room. How many times have you been labeled the term ‘used car salesman?' And what do you think about that?

CHEYNE: When I was teaching and working, I never told people what I did for a living. People ask what were you doing, ‘Oh, salesman.' And they go, ‘What do you sell?' ‘Oh, bits and bobs,' and I'd talk about karate. But after a while, I couldn't care what people think about used cars salesmen. They do have a really bad reputation from years ago. This place I did work at, this was before I started, but if I offered you a thousand dollars for your trade in and you wanted five thousand, they would get your keys and throw them on the roof, and say, ‘Well good luck getting your keys.' That's a bad reputation of used car salesmen. It's sort of changing now with the internet and everybody being pretty open about how they work.

If you were a lawyer, you'd be like, ‘How many lawyers does it take to chain down to the bottom of the sea?' Those sorts of things. As a used car salesman, people just used to find it funny, because I'm pretty open and honest guy. Even when I sold cars, I wouldn't lie. I just wouldn't tell the whole truth. You only have to tell somebody as much as they need to hear. I'd never lie about the history of the car, you know. It was owned by Grandma Edith who drove five kilometers down the road on Sunday.

Those sorts of things, I wouldn't do that. I'm not that sort of person. A lot of the people I've worked with aren't like that. But some are, and I've worked with those guys, and they generally don't stay in one job for a long time. They're six months here, and eight months there, and three months there. I was lucky enough to stay in my first place for two years, second place for four years, and my last place for two years so I wasn't jumping around.

I guess it comes back to, when you buy anything, whether it's a car, a TV, martial arts membership… if you like the person, if you trust the person, then you buy off them. You might pay them a bit more money because you have a connection, or you like that person. Have you ever bought a TV or a washing machine and you liked that person, and you go back to that person? It happens, and maybe you don't go check all the other prices because you did and you know what, I like Johnny, he's a nice fellow. I'm going to recommend one of my friends to him. Go and see Johnny because I bought my car off him and he was really good to me.

That comes back to, you're running martial arts school too. This used to be my tagline: You come for karate but you stay for the jokes. I say all bad jokes, all dad jokes and one liners through my teaching, every class and I'm saying jokes left, right, and center for the parents in the kids classes, so the parents are laughing. The kids are looking at me like, ‘I don't get it,' so they don't think I'm funny, but the parents think I'm funny. You're not buying and staying with somebody that you like, and that you have a connection with, and somebody that you feel comfortable with, especially over a long period.

We've got a couple of guys who have been training with us for over 20 years, and that's training with my dad and training with me, having my dad as a mentor for years. These guys are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, some of them, and trusting me in my 30s. So obviously they like me, they like my karate, they like my personality and stuff like that. They're happy just to continue training with me, so it comes down to the person. It always comes down to the person.

GEORGE: I'll add to that. In a sales environment you get taught a lot of technique. It's all about the intent. I don't think there's any negativity around a technique, I think the negativity around the intent, using the technique.

CHEYNE: Totally.

GEORGE: That's what you're saying there, right, is people… the old saying of “connect with people they know, like and trust,” so that's the connection. If you're using the technique in a positive way and respectful of boundaries, then there's no negativity in that. A mentor of mine, James Schramko always says, ‘Sales is the situation of taking someone from one situation to a better alternative.' And sometimes people need a bit of help because, I tell you what, I wish that someone sold my parents on me doing karate when I was a kid, and I only started martial arts when I was 35.

I would've loved if somebody, really knowing how to uncover my needs, and how martial arts would be a good fit for me, and gently being able to, with good intent, pushing them into the right… I wouldn't say pushing, but guiding them into the right way of saying, ‘Yeah you should be doing karate.' Because it's a life changing thing, right? I think as a martial arts school owner and an instructor, you've got to believe that. You've got to really believe down to your gut that you are changing lives. If that's what you're doing, and you are using a bit of technique to help the right person makes the decision to join, then you've got to do it.

CHEYNE: As a teacher, if you don't think you're teaching the best quality chosen martial art that you're doing, then how can you convince other people that they should join you? I think that comes down to loving what you do. I've sold cars to people who came in looking for one car, and I've sold them a totally different, because it doesn't suit their needs. They're looking for a small car and they've got four people in their family, for example, those sorts of things. I would steer people away from certain cars, especially if there's somebody that I have a really good connection with.

You can't be friends with everybody, and it's really naïve to think that you can sell a car to everybody or sell a membership to everybody. You can't be friends with everybody, everybody has a different personality. A friend of mine I helped a couple of weeks ago, he's a karate friend of mine, and he and his wife are having a baby and they're looking at a certain car. I tried to steer, because he was set on that car, and I was helping him have a look around for that car, but I slowly steered him into a better car, and buying the car that I recommended. I helped him buy it and stuff like that. It's a much, much, much better car than that thing that he was looking at buying, because… and it's the same as a membership.

So many times people come in, and really the parents want to train too. A lot of times, dads come in too, they're 35, 40, 45, and they want to sign up little Johnny. But you know, out of the corner of their eye they're sort of watching the class, and they're looking at… and you know that they want to train. So those things you pick up if you're good at selling. Then you start asking questions, ‘Johnny have you ever done karate?' ‘No.' And then you say, ‘Have you ever thought about doing karate?' ‘Oh yeah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,' then all of a sudden that's two memberships sold instead of one.

One technique I do, and I've done it for ages is, when I get a phone call and I say, ‘This is Cheyne from the Australian Karate Academy,' ‘Oh yeah, hey. I'm just calling up about your karate classes.' And I say, ‘Sure, our adult classes are on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wed-‘ ‘Oh no, I'm calling for my son.' ‘Oh okay, no worries.' Immediately, I always talk about adult karate, like they're coming to join our adult karate. And nine times out of 10 it's the kids, but I always put it in their mind, ‘Oh, maybe I should do karate too.'

GEORGE: That's great. That's genius. I like that because you've just planted the seed.

CHEYNE: You're just planting the seed. ‘Johnny's dad, have you ever thought about doing karate?' ‘Oh, yeah.' my dad ran this campaign years ago in late 80s, early 90s. At the time we had no money. My dad was working at a juice factory and my mom was cleaning houses. My dad's passion was karate, and he was at uni studying teaching, and we had a full time karate club.

My dad put all of his money into a Sunday newspaper. Remember when people used to read newspapers? Sunday ad, it was like a quarter of a page on a Sunday and it said, ‘You… a black belt in karate.' My dad started a 12 month black belt course. A lot of people were very negative about it at that time, and probably still are but what people didn't realize is those guys are training five days a week, twice a day. Two hours in the morning and two hours at night.

He put this ad in, ‘You… a black belt in karate,' and we used that for years, man, because that was a Sunday and they put all of their money in, everything that we had into that ad. The phone just rang and rang and rang. My dad, he signed up people, so many people. It was just a simple idea that he had about people wanting to be a black belt. I even thought about writing that as a Facebook ad, I'll talk to you about that afterwards.

If you ask that question… because the end goal for a lot of people is getting to black belt. They don't realize there are lots of levels after black belt, but we do ask that question, ‘Have you ever thought of being a black belt in karate?' In karate, it's a big difference, 3, 5 years. It’s not BJJ which is ten years, we'll say. If you don't ask that question, that person may never, ever join and ten years later they're thinking, ‘I should've started karate.' If you ask that question, it's either a yes or a no. That's what we say in sales, they're all going to say yes or they're going to say no. If they say no, no skin off your nose. They say yes, man, that's a couple of thousand dollars. That's a thousand dollar question right there.

GEORGE: Awesome, so a couple of questions for you. In regards to working together, you started out with us a couple of months ago. We're recording this now in February, so you started out in December, right? It was just right before the floods etc. We did talk about the 72 hour sale that generated 20,000 dollars, so that was a good plus, but what were your student numbers at the time when we got started together?

CHEYNE: I was on track but because of the flood, and I didn't really know what I was doing, to be honest, mate. I think I was falling over members. We got down to 110. 110 is great for a lot of people, sure, and it was great for me, but not as my sole income, not as income. It's not enough. So you're down to 110.

GEORGE: Alright, perfect. Where are you at today?

CHEYNE: As of today, I actually signed up two new kids today, so we're at 185. 185 members training. That's not including family members who train for free, I don't like that word “free”. My family members and instructors. Members all up, people who are paying money, and some are paying for once a week, and some are paying for unlimited classes, is 185. As of right now at 1pm. I haven't checked my email, but yeah.

GEORGE: That's amazing, so you're 35 students off to doubling your school from the time we started three months ago.

CHEYNE: Yep. And to be honest, man, my goal was 250 in December of this year. I really thought it'd be 200. But now I'm looking at 200 in March, which is nuts. The good thing is we had everything in place to cater for those students. We've got ten instructors. Some are family members. My sister teaches, her husband teaches, he's a third dan as well. They met through karate, and I've got genuine friends who help out and teach classes, and some uni students who assist in classes as well. They're all black belts through me and they've all been on Queensland teams before, so it's great. We're in a very good position at the moment. But again, that was all set up for December of this year, not March of this year.

GEORGE: That's cool, so what are the three parts of the Partners program. 1 to 2 to 3, whatever you feel is good. What's made the biggest impact for you over the last few months?

CHEYNE: Definitely our open day, everything leading up to our open day. Being able to talk to the members of the community, because Partners is so small, it's not like there's 1,000 people on it. The great thing is being able to chat to guys like Darryl, and I can see Stacy and those guys doing the same sort of thing. We all have the same passion. We all want to teach the best martial art that we can, and make an income, to do that, and being able to talk to those guys about what's worked and what hasn't worked. It's great. And being able to talk to you, man, just Facebook message. If you don't reply in half an hour, I know that you're sleeping or you're dead.

So just being able to talk back so quickly is phenomenal, but probably the biggest one is our open day, and setting everything up for that open day. It's not like we just magically made an open day. It was months leading into it, or the weeks leading into it, all the preparation. Even behind me, you might be able to see the list of open day stuff that we had. I've written out everything, everything printed off. Everything was pointing towards a big open day, and it's only because I had the time to talk to you and set everything up. Without your help and without the other Partners' help, we couldn't do it.

I did an open day last year, and it was good, but this one was so much better. So much more organized. Even though my sister broke her toe on that morning, and the carpark was locked. We had drama, after drama, after drama, but because we prepared so well for it, it was just easy. Then it had a flow in effect after the open day. Having a chat to you about organizing the Facebook ad campaign afterwards and the follow up, all those sorts of stuff. We signed up 34 people on the day, just on the day they gave me their money, they gave me trust for that. After that, the two kids I signed up today was from the open day campaign. I just let it keep running and kept following up, and following your suggested email trail, and it was great.

GEORGE: That's awesome. That's so good to hear. Who would you recommend the Partners program to? And why?

CHEYNE: I would recommend it to people who are just sort of treading water, doing the same thing and expecting a different result, and that was me. That was me. I thought I knew the answers. I ran my karate club before, previously, full time and I think we got to about 220 members in one location, but man it was a lot of work. I was doing all of the classes there, all of the marketing, and all of the cleaning, and I burned myself out and, very close to quitting karate.

I would recommend it to those who are floundering, just wondering, well they get to a point… ‘Where are the next students coming from?' Or, ‘How do I market the customers better, how do I make my systems easier?' And, ‘Who do I talk to?' and those sorts of things. So those who love their chosen martial art and they're ready to go full time. I'd say just wait a little bit, and have a chat to you.

Even guys who've been doing it for 10, 15, 20 years. We all get stale, and we may have exhausted our current market. To those who've been doing in the same club for 20 years, maybe they need a refresher. They need a different angle, a new angle. The video stuff that we do is phenomenal. I think those sorts of people, and I've recommended a couple of my friends who just need a little bit of an arm twist, and I think it'll be beneficial for them.

GEORGE: Awesome. I remember, just before you did this, the 72 hour sale, you said to me that you almost didn't join, and you thought that you'd just wasted a bunch of money, right?

CHEYNE: Yeah, yeah. It's the fear. It's the same as buying a car. That's why people get cold feet. It was a big commitment. It's funny, because I knew at that time, I had to do it. I had to do something different. I can't keep doing the same thing, thinking I knew it all. It's ridiculous. It's that ego, man, that ego inside you. Whether you do karate, or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or kung fu, or who-flung-dung, it's that ego inside you to go, ‘You know what? I'm a man, I can do it all myself.' You know?

I'm a black belt, I'm a fifth dan. I don't need anybody else's ideas or opinions. Once you sort of step back from yourself and really have a good look at yourself, you realize you can't. After I committed to you over the phone, I had a bit of a think and I went, ‘what have I done? Oh my god, it's a lot of money.' I thought, ‘It's just a total waste of money now. I'm just going to have to do something different.' Then I cooled down and had a think, and I had another chat to you and I realized this is definitely the way forward. It'll give you a change, you know. I am so happy that I found you, and I committed, and moved my ego to the side, and obviously we've made some money man, so it's been great.

GEORGE: That's awesome. So, for anyone listening that would like to know more about it, just go to martialartsmedia.com. Send us a message, and we can see if we can potentially help you and if our program is a good fit. Cheyne, it's been great speaking to you.

CHEYNE: Can I just say one thing? George, you asked me a lot of questions as well, about whether I would be a good fit for you. That made me feel really comfortable, instead of you not knowing anything about me, about my karate club. You asked me a lot of questions, maybe 20 to 30 questions. Just to make sure that you could help me, and I really appreciated that. Instead of just taking my money, you qualified me, and that's another thing that we do in sales. You've got to qualify, otherwise I'm just giving you money, you're just taking money. I really appreciate it and I could see that we were a good fit. A good personality, very similar to mine, very relaxed, but driven. Sorry, sorry I hijacked but I really, really appreciate it.

GEORGE: No, thank you. And thank you for acknowledging that. It takes a while in business to realize that… I guess you start putting your filters up, right? You realize that nobody just wants to make money, right? Especially in the martial arts industry. It's about passion. I'm not on the teaching side, I am on the service side of helping martial arts schools.

I'm in this industry because I've got a passion for martial arts, and I had many other opportunities where, believe me, I could make a lot more money if I ventured into that. But, as in life fulfillment as you sit there, you know that this is what drives you, this is what you want to do for your life. I sit in that same boat. Martial arts drives me, there's one thing that I want to propel forward and help and be a part of, is my club. It's martial arts and martial arts school owners.

Within that, there's also some reasoning that, and you mentioned this earlier, that everybody is not a good fit for everybody. I'd rather take the time discovering that, and making sure that if you are going to be a client, and we are going to work together, there's going to be a lot of energy from our part and there's going to be a lot of energy from your part. We've got to make sure that we can match those goals and say, ‘Alright, hey if you're going to come on board, we're going to be able to help you.'

Because if we can't, you're going to walk away unhappy, we're not going to feel good and be fulfilled. It's never really about, yeah of course there's money on the back end, but there's so much that has to happen before that. Before you can say, ‘Right, this is a school I can now really work with. I can help them move forward.' Let’s talk about taking that next step.

CHEYNE: Yeah, it's definitely got to be a two way street. Definitely got to be a two way street. It's been great, man, and being able to talk to you all the time is just fantastic. If anyone's out there thinking about it, just send him a message. Just pick up the phone, give him a call. Very easy.

GEORGE: Much appreciated there, Cheyne. Thank you for jumping on the call. If people want to know more about you, something that we didn't explore is, you have a program called Dirty Karate. Take two or three minutes and just tell us where can people find out more about you and what you've got going on.

CHEYNE: Yeah, look, Facebook is our big one, I suppose. We have an Australian Karate Academy Facebook page, or just friend me on Facebook. Our karate website is AKA, it's very easy – aka.com.au. Australian Karate Academy is the club name. It's a great name, really, really good name to have as a business because it's pretty easy to remember. But, yeah, Dirty Karate is on our Facebook page. That's being put to the side for a little bit, until I can secure an income teaching karate properly. That is a passion project of mine. We hardly spoke about karate, and I could talk about karate all day.

GEORGE: Perfect. And we can do that for round two.

CHEYNE: Sounds good.

GEORGE: Awesome. Awesome, Cheyne. Thanks for being on the show. I'll speak to you soon.

CHEYNE: Thanks man.

GEORGE: Cheers.

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top, smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group.

It's a private Facebook group and in there I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets. Things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Community and an easy way to access it is if you just go to the domain name martialartsmedia.group. So martialartsmedia.group. G-r-o-u-p. There's not dot or anything. Martialartsmedia.group. Then we'll take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks. I'll speak to you on the next episode. Cheers. 

 

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

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4. 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!

48 – How To Create Martial Arts Training Videos With Jack Leung

Jack Leung is capturing attention with his martial arts training videos. We discuss frameworks to create your own.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How video marketing can help boost your martial arts business.
  • Step by step framework for making engaging martial arts videos.
  • How to grab attention in the first 30 seconds.
  • Why Jack Leung ended his career in graphic design and pursued martial arts instructing.
  • How to overcome the one thing that stops martial arts school owners from creating videos.
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

George: Hi, this is George Fourie, and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. Today, I have another great guest with me, Sifu Jack Leung. And Sifu Jack Leung has, I'll guess I'll start off with the video side of things, has an awesome YouTube channel. You've got to see the videos to appreciate it, and we'll link to it in the show notes. And look, a video marketing, doing video in general, is something that, it's a big component. We're always talking about it in the Martial Arts Media Academy with our students, of really leveraging it. And Jack claims he's not an expert, but I'm sure you're going to disagree when you watch his videos. So, first and foremost, welcome to the show, Jack.

Jack: Thank you for having me, thank you.

George: Awesome. So, let's start just in the beginning, to give people a bit of an idea, who is Jack Leung?

Jack: Hi everyone, my name is Jack Leung, and I teach Wing Chun in Queensland. I currently run two full-time clubs, and four different small clubs at different locations, at school halls and community centres.

George: Alright, cool. So, going a bit further back, how did your whole martial arts journey evolve?

Jack: I started out training in Hong Kong, and I'm from Hong Kong. I started out training with Karate first in high school. And I went to, let's just say a rough high school, and we get to test a lot of things before there were videophones and that kind of stuff. So sometimes, a lot of instructors don't say … they only tell you the good stories. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you lose badly, and that's when I started looking into martial arts.

In the beginning, I like to tell people, and this is what I tell parents, I want to be stronger, to be able to protect myself, but that wasn't the case. I just wanted to be very good, to protect myself and beat up other kids. But that's very different 20 years later, that's very different 20 years later. So, that's how I started. And I started training Goju Karate first, for five or six years, and in between, I trained some different types of Kung Fu. Some Southern Praying Mantis, different lineages of Praying Mantis, and then I met my Sifu in 1996 when I walk past on the way to school. And then, I started, I just walk in and say, “Oh, what is Wing Chun?”. And that got me interested in training Wing Chun.

George: Awesome. So, how long have you actually been in Australia, then?

Jack: I've been here, I think, roughly 20 years now, I think 20 years. Yeah, let me think. Yeah, 20 years now.

George: So your whole family moved over to Australia?

Jack: No, I came over to study, first, and then I went back and forth. In the beginning, I didn't know if I liked this place, and then, so I came over, I studied, and I went back and forth. And, yeah, that's how I stayed behind.

George: So what made you really see Australia as a way to obviously further your life, and stay permanently?

Jack: I would like to say, I like Brisbane, I'm from Brisbane, and I love the weather here. It's the Sunshine State, I love the beach, and outdoor living, it's great. I'm not saying Hong Kong's not great, but it can be a crowded places, and just a lot of conflicts, a lot of people. Let me rephrase this, there's conflict everywhere, but it's easier when you have to travel every day, you go on train and there's lots of people in and out. A big city like that, I prefer Brisbane. And now I like Australia, that's why I'm here.

George: Awesome. Cool, so you started your journey in Hong Kong, and then you moved to Australia. So, how did this evolve to then actually going on the teaching journey?

Jack: So, I never thought I would teach Kung Fu, or any martial arts. Before I teach Kung Fu, I had a graphic design company and printing company. I was doing that for the past 10 years before that, and in terms of business-wise, it's not bad, it's not bad, but I just have to always work over-hours. Just imagine if you need business card, or flyers for your events, for your next event. People always come in and say, “I need it.” “When do you need it?” “I need it yesterday.” It's always a rushed job.

And when you're a boss, it's hard, because when other people, your employee, leave and finish work at 5:30 or 6:00, you're the boss, and you have a client, and they want it urgently, so who's going to stay behind? Your job. If they're willing to pay extra-loading, as in they pay extra $60 for extra time who's going to stay behind? You will have to stay behind. I will have to stay behind. Meaning, every night, lots of time, I stay until 9:00, and very late, yes, that's right.

George: Yes, I was at a business conference on Monday in Sydney, and it was a joke that came up: you're the business owner, then you've got the staff, and it was kind of like, It was said in a sarcastic way, “How can these bastards not want to work the hours that we want to work as the business owners?”. So, we always expect them to obviously give that output, but yes, I understand that pressure of, your clients … And you always feel your reputation is at stake, so even if it's the littlest thing if you love your job and your business, you always take it to, “I've got to stick to this deadline whether it's impossible or not.”

Jack: It is true. So that's how I decided, after 10 years of doing the same thing, I decided to just start something else. I first got into fitness training, I was doing that. And it was hard, it's never easy. To all martial arts business owners out there, for those who are interested in going full time, I'm telling you, it's not easy. But if you do what you like, you don't have to work a day in your life anymore, and that's my favourite quote.

George: I love that quote, that's fantastic. So, let's go into our topic that we're going to talk about, focus on a little more, and that's video marketing, and just doing videos. So for starters, why video, for you?

Jack: Why video for me? Because I come from a creative industry, print and graphic design, I like the visual aspect: what draws attention? And this is very different, and interesting, how this compare to 10 years ago. I remember when Facebook first started, it was a lot of posts, a lot of photos, pictures, and then became YouTube videos. There was no Facebook videos. And that's when people start sharing videos. And I think (a slight sidetrack), I think that's the best time to do it, to do YouTube videos.

But now, it's easier. The platform seems like it's easier to share videos. And the technology change, and now we all have smartphones, so it's very easy to just shoot something and spread your ideas, what you do, online, and showcase how you train, or training, any tips. And that's why I started doing videos.

George: Okay. I don't know the stats, I don't know how many. Yeah, I'll try and get the stats for the transcript, but there's, I don't know how many billions of videos that get, I think it's just uploaded, on a daily basis, and then watched. And internet connections are getting faster, it just becomes a lot easier for people to just watch videos. So, you mentioned a key thing there, about attention. So, that's really the key of video, because everybody always talks about, “Hey, we should do video,” and then they go shoot a live video of them fumbling around and procrastinating. And then, two minutes in, you've watched nothing. And that's obviously the wrong way of doing it. So, if you focus on the attention aspect, how would you go about that, to really capture people's attention?

martial arts training videos

Jack: So, from my experience, I'm not an expert, but I just try to learn from different people's videos. I watch a lot of YouTube videos and try to learn from them. And this is from my research, is that people just have very short attention span, unfortunately, and if you don't capture them within the first 30 minutes, some even say, hang on, I said 30 minutes, I mean 30 seconds. If you can't capture, Facebook videos, in 10 seconds, you can't really get them. So first of all, like you said, you have to really have a topic, and what the video is for. Is this to showcase your techniques, or is this to spread some self-defence, or even the culture of your school, marketing for your school? You really have to work out on a topic in order to showcase your video and make it better for your business.

George: Okay, cool. So, you start with the topic, and then really communicating that really clearly, that the person that's going to watch it, that they know immediately, “Alright, this is what's in it for me, I'm going to get this.” Then, how do you transition from that?

Jack: Sorry, I can't hear you again, sorry.

George: So, how would you transition from, so you've done opening, then what becomes the focus in the video from there?

Jack: It really depends on the individual topic. So, if this video is to showcase our school, and we put it on a website for marketing, then what sort of image would you want to display yourself? If you're a fight gym, and you have a lot of fighters, I would say you would put different types of fighting videos in there. And if you're a family-oriented gym, or school, then you would put different topics, how you could actually give confidence to the young children, young kids. And if you're focusing on self-defence, or if it's just a general awareness video, then you have different topic-specific videos.

So then, you go into … I see a lot of times that people just do a video and just randomly shoot, like what you said earlier, just shoot around. “This is my school, and this is what we're doing.” And there's no lighting, audio is really bad, and … I'm not saying my video's good, please don't get this wrong: I'm trying to learn, it's more than just an iPhone or a smartphone now, it's more about lighting, it's more about getting a good mic. If you're trying to explain your concept, you need good audio, you need good … It's all together in one package.

And sometimes, it's interesting too, some normal videos that people shot by their phone would go viral, too. It's the content, too, it's also the content. You have everything in the right place but you don't have the right content, it won't work.

George: Yes, because there's so many ways to go about that. One thing I always try to speak about to our members in the academy, is, to get over the initial.. There is a fear element to it. Which is almost strange for me with martial arts instructors, because it's nothing different to what you would do on a day-to-day basis, you are teaching. So, looking at the, just to break down the layers of, what are the obstacles to overcome to do video? And that being, do you really need the flash video camera, or can you just use the iPhone? Do you need the fancy lighting? So, you prefer the lighting. And you work with, what type of equipment do you use, then, when you go about your videos?

Jack: It depends on what sort of videos I do. So, sometimes I get a team in, a video-photographer in. And they're good at what they do, you have to respect those people, and that's what they study and that's what they, give credit to them. And they can produce some really high-quality video. But sometimes, for a technique workshop, so I'm going to introduce, so, what happens when people grab me, choke me, grab my neck, what do you do? Those kind of short videos, it's about the content.

So, you need a proper, you can't just shoot it with a really old VHS camera or video camera. It has to be HD, the light has to be good. And if you don't have good lights, you can always shoot under the sun, just not facing the sun, it's under the sun. And also, audio has to be good. The problem with the smartphone is, you don't have a good mic to it. What I'm saying is, when I'm shooting, for example, if I'm holding a camera here and the person's way is usually, you want to showcase the entire body, how they stand. So, it's actually at least four, five meters away. And when you're trying to explain things that far away with a smartphone, it's really hard.

George: Yes.

Jack: So I got a professional Røde mic, from the store, and so I can hook it up, and it gives better. But it's never going to be as good as a professional video-photographer. But, it really depends on what sort of video you're producing.

George: Yeah, and like you said, the content. My, and I can't reach it now, it's a little lav mic, so it's the little mic that, you can just clip it on your shirt, and then it just goes in the iPhone. But I've got this long lead, that if I need the distance.

Jack: That can be a little tricky because I used to have one of those, and it can be really tricky when you're demonstrating. For normal use, if you're presenting the idea, that's perfect, but if you're demonstrating a martial art move, just imagine a ground fighter with that, to explain. It's very hard, you tangle them all up. Okay, I'm joking about, I'm just saying. So I recently, I keep buying toys every week, if my wife is watching this she's not going to be happy. So, I bought a wireless mic, so I'm testing it out. So, I can wear it on me, I can put it in my iPad or my SLR, and then, the audio can go across. And hopefully, that will work for me.

George: Yeah. So, just on the, because you said you had a Røde mic, that's the premium brand with mics. So, you have it on a boom stand that it's just above you when you?

Jack: And or you can always do this at a lower cost. The Røde mic that I bought isn't too expensive, it's under $100, and when you were saying, the boom stand, I didn't get that, I just tangle it on a stick, on a training stick we have. It's the same idea, but someone will have to hold it, hold it up high. Or, you can somehow just attach it over the top, and that's a cheaper option for good video, audio if you do.

George: Alright, great. So one thing I really try and get across to martial arts school owners is to really embrace the idea of video because it's the one platform that you can leverage. You can create one video, you can transcribe the actual audio, you can turn it into a blog post, and you can email it to your prospects. Then, you can start your social media, and you can just place it everywhere. So, if you can look for a leverage point for your marketing, then video is really it because it's the one modality that you can just convert into all these multiple modalities.

So, what advice would you give for a martial arts instructor that's hesitating with the whole doing the video thing and just the real, core basics of what they should do to get started?

Jack: I would say, always give it a try. When I first started, it's the fear of facing a camera, looking at a camera. It's like you're talking to someone, but there's no one there. And you get nervous, and I think you have to start doing a little bit mini test videos, and work around it, the fear. I think the fear is the most important thing. Most martial artists, most martial art business owner knows their own stuff. If you don't know, then I would be worried about it. So, most people know their own stuff. But to present it in front of a camera, my advice is, you don't have to do it in front of your students, just set up a tripod, put a camera, or put your iPhone on, face yourself, and try to do some simply, try give it a shot. One minute video.

And have a look at it. If it's not too bad, you can always work on it. This is a very different day to before, we can always shoot and re-shoot. If it's not good, just delete, redo it again. If the audio's not good, I'm going to work on the mic. And lighting. You can do it outdoor, or just grab two lights that's facing from behind the camera, like you were saying earlier, and facing towards you, and that would work. You don't want to have it, I'm not expert, but you don't want to have it above you. Above you, the shadow's coming down, won't make you look too good. But if it's facing in front of you, have the audio on. Try to get a tripod, tripod is a good idea. You don't want to shake your video unless you're trying to do some action video. But I'll leave that to the video-photographer.

So there is all my advice. It's not too much about the technology itself. The mic itself is under $100, tripod, a cheap one is 30. It's about the fear of talking to a square-shaped object, and continue talking, and showing your technique, or displaying your school. That's the hard bit, I think.

George: Yes. You're so right. I think it's also the fear of being judged. Is it going to be good enough? What are my peers going to say? How are people going to perceive this? Am I going to get backlash? People love to hate on martial arts videos. Everybody always knows something better, or, “You could have done this.” That's just in the bigger scheme of things. But I think there's that fear element, of obviously getting over, “How am I going to be perceived by the community,” as such.

Jack: Yes. It's also the fear. But, remember one thing, it's just like everything else and including martial arts: the more you train, the better you get. You remember your first day when you walk into a dojo? You know nothing. And then, you get better at things, and then you're down the track, like for example you get your black belt: you realize you only know little. But that's how it is. So same with video, it's the fear. “I don't know how to set this up.” Try to learn. There's lots of videos online, you can educate yourself. Educating yourself. But not going in, and not willing to educate yourself, that is the big problem with a lot of martial artists, and general business people, and that's a big problem.

So, my tip is just give it a go, video yourself, lighting. If you're already videoing yourself, see how you can improve it. Can you work better on the lighting? What about audio? Have you got those, video and audio? What about your transitions between? Are you good at editing? If not, you can always find people who are good at editing online, places like fiverr.com. You can get someone to do your intro logos and things like that.

And also, another important thing is, I think, it's also not just one video. You've got to think, plan ahead. What is your goal? Is it a series of video? Are these videos trying to help you promote your school? What are you trying to showcase? Are you just trying to showcase a self-defence move, where there's 10,000 people showing it already on YouTube? What make your video better than the video next door, than the person next door? So that's what I think.

George:Definitely so and I think that's probably the most important part, is, what is the point? Why are you actually doing the video? Is it to speak to the prospects? Is it to speak to somebody in the community? Is it to speak to an existing student? And I know there are people that go as far as, write that, just like in marketing when we write sales copy, we try and create this avatar, this person. His name's Bob, 35-year-old, has two kids, and wanting to start training martial arts but he's not sure. He's got these injuries, he's never done anything, and he thinks he needs to be fit.

So, you have this mental image of this one person, and then base it on that. And I've heard a lot of people actually put a photo of someone behind the camera as well, just to take away that awkwardness, of their perfect prospect, whoever they're trying to talk to. And now it becomes more real because you're having a conversation with someone.

Jack: Yes, yes. When I first started doing the videos, and a lot of interviews, I actually need someone to sit behind the camera, so I can actually look at that person, and explain to that person. And that helps a lot, too. That helps a lot. And I was saying earlier that there's online website that can help you edit your videos. I forgot to say that there are a lot of apps these days, which you can actually put your videos in together, a few clicks, like iMovies on your iPhone, and different types of apps. Adobe apps and they can put your … If you're looking at putting a marketing video for your school, that will help, definitely help.

Obviously, getting a video-photographer is the best, it's the best. But sometimes, I put in a bigger production, and sometimes I do little production in between. What I tend to do is, I try to put out a video every week, so there's always a video. It can be a big production, it can be a small production, it can be talking about techniques, how I deal with things, or it can just be fun.

When you were saying earlier, I know this is a little bit different to how business-minded people, where they write out programs and what they do, I like fun. I enjoy being with my students, I enjoy videoing things, I do things sometimes I don't … It's not always about money for me, but there's no limit for me. Sometimes, I blow my video budget, I just go, “Oh, cool, add in the drone. How much is a drone? 500? Oh. Add in the drone, don't tell my wife.” And then it makes the video look cool.

And we went with a bunch of our student, we went to Glass Hill mountain, we shot at 5:00 AM in the morning with the drone going up, and it looks beautiful, I love this. And at the same time, does it help? I think it helps. It helps my potential, people who are interested in training. “Hey, this instructor seems fun, this school seems fun.” Maybe it's not a direct marketing or direct business mindset, I'm not trying to build this fun because I am fun, and we are fun. And this is what we're trying to showcase, rather than, “Come join with us, we are the fun school.” No, it's not like that. It's what we do, make us who we are.

George: That's excellent. So you're really using it as a way to express your personality. And I'd probably add to that, then, because I think that's when you're starting out, that's probably the biggest obstacle. Well, once you've actually started doing it, the biggest thing is to really just find your voice. That place where you're comfortable with the camera, and the way you portray yourself. For me, the rule I put in place with face-to-camera video, is just be comfortable messing up. Just be comfortable making mistakes.

If we're having a conversation, I do it in the podcasts all the time, I fumble on a word, or I say something and I'm like, “Oh, okay, I shouldn't have said that” but I just laugh it off. I just make peace with it. Because, if I was having a conversation with someone, that's my personality, that's the way I am, so I'm going to make these mistakes. Now it's just on video, there's nothing really different.

Jack: Yes, that's right. But there's one thing, I forgot to say, is when you put it out there, when you put yourself out there, there will, like everything else in the world, there will be people that like you, and there will be a lot of people that don't like you. And to present yourself out there, there will be people leaving not so friendly comment. And you just have to ignore them. And this is what you do, and then … So that might be something a martial arts business owner will have to think before they present themselves, put themselves out there.

George: Yes. And my filter for that is, when I get backlash, then I'm obviously doing something right. That's the justification I have for myself. But it's really true, because when you start speaking to a certain audience, and the right audience that connects with you, then this polarizing thing almost happens automatically. Because you're connecting with a certain profile, which means you are upsetting other profiles, or they just don't agree, or they have never done a video, and they're jealous, and they're not getting over their own fear, so their defense mechanism is to run you down, because they're just not doing it, so yeah. But definitely, get comfortable with the backlash that comes with any form of content marketing, as such.

Jack: That's right, yes.

George: So to wrap up, we can put together a bit of a framework. I really like production style video for the big things you're going to do. I see, you had an awesome promo video on your YouTube video for the events, with music, and it was really just, it had the suspense feel to it, which was really good, with the opening, just the music in the background. But then again, I'm a big fan of also, just videos on the fly. Because, if you're doing video as a method for content marketing, then it's good to not have barriers, that you get it done. And that would be, maybe it's the iPhone and the mic and the boom, and you've got light coming into your dojo on the mats, and now you can do something. Or hand the camera to a student to do the filming.

So, I guess if we had to look at a checklist, we've talked about finding your voice, having the lights pointed at you, try and get a good mic. If you don't have a mic, just start, because it could take you 10 takes of a video to actually feel that comfort of, okay, this is something that I actually want to put up. So you've got that. Make sure that you cover the topic, be very clear on the opening because we want to grab attention. And then start your content, what it is that you're going to do.

And then I'll add, for a little framework, something that we've … And public speakers have always spoken about this, that you tell them what you're going to tell them, then you tell them, and then you tell them what you just told them. And it does really add to the video framework. Because now you can just say, “Hey, this is me, this is what we're going to do, this is,” maybe, the situation, how it will happen. And then you do it, and then you do the recap, and then you can close off, obviously, with, “Check us out on YouTube,” or your website, wherever you want to go.

Jack: You're good at this, exactly what you just did. That's exactly what you just said, I think you went through all the point list, for which you said.

George: There you go. Awesome. Before we wrap up, just with, where people can find you, because you've got to … And we'll add a lot of videos to this episode, so you can just check the show notes for that. Is there anything that I should have asked you that I did not get to?

Jack: We didn't get to talk about the positive energy, which is another … I said, we are happy, we're a good club, we're fun club, but I also believe we're a positive energy, and that's the culture of the club. So I did say earlier, about people marketing their videos towards different point of view, and why they do their videos, but also, showcase your school, so people know who you are, what you do before they come in and see you. And that's very important, too.

George: Very good point. And with that, it would help that your videos don't, you don't have to be the hero. This is actually, I remember this now, I added this as a slide in one of our training module in the academy, but the whole thing was, don't be … You don't have to be the hero. If you want to showcase, as you say, why not get your students involved?

Jack: That's right, that's right. I'm not always the centre of the spotlight, and a lot of my videos are my students, and why they enjoy training here. And the events, we had events where we dress up in Star Wars costume, and we order lightsabers in, and we had some duelling. And then we did some training workshops, and all the donation money goes to children's hospital. Things like that, it showcase who you are, and what you do, and what you enjoy, and what you believe, and that’s the most important. That's what I think.

George: That's excellent. And we can tie that back to marketing as well, because, at the time of recording this, Halloween's coming up, and that's an ideal … How can you turn that into a fun event? Doesn't have to be marketing video, but you showcase the fun environment and the positive energy that happens at your school.

Jack: Yes.

George: Alright, awesome. Well, Jack Leung, it's been fantastic speaking to you. Now, for anybody that wants to check out Jack's website, it's practical-wingchun.com.au, did I get that right?

Jack: That's right, yes.

George: And your YouTube channel, if people want to find that. What is your YouTube channel called?

Jack: Practical Wing Chun Australia, and then you can find me on the YouTube channel.

George: Alright, awesome. Any other links that we need to mention, where people can find you?

Jack: Practical Wing Chun Australia on the Facebook link, and you can find me, yeah.

George: Alright, awesome. Jack, it's been great speaking to you, I will speak to you soon.

Jack: Thank you, I'll see you soon. Take care, buddy.

George: Awesome, cheers.

 

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