145 – How Kyl Reber’s Martial Arts School Serves 370+ Members – All Through Referrals

Kyl Reber shares his secrets to 27 years of successful growth in his martial arts business, driven by the power of organic marketing through word-of-mouth referrals.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How Kyl grew his martial arts business through organic marketing, primarily via word-of-mouth referrals
  • The link between Imposter Syndrome and martial arts studio’s pricing strategies
  • Why martial arts school owners often undersell themselves and encounter growth challenges
  • Key areas to prioritize in your martial arts school beyond the curriculum
  • The history behind their martial arts school's empowering slogan, ‘Back Yourself’
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to another Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Today I am interviewing one of our great clients, one of our members of our Partners community, Kyl Reber. Kyl is from Brisbane. Chikara Martial Arts. You can look them up. 

And this interview is a bit of an extension from the Partners Intensive, which is an event that we hosted here on the Sunshine at the beginning of June. And Kyl was one of the featured speakers talking about the things that they are doing in the community. 

And what is mind-blowing for many other school owners is Kyl and his team, they're just pushing past the 370-member mark. And at this point, they've only focused on organic marketing strategies. 

It's all about community. It's all about giving back. It's all about the things that they do in their school and the impact that they make within their community. 

And so I wanted to get Kyl on and dig a bit deeper, talk a bit more about the strategies, what they do. 

And the great thing is I've been working with Kyl for a little more than six months, and I haven't really tapped into that backstory about how he got started on this journey when they opened their school, what got him into martial arts and so this was a great opportunity for that. 

So jump into the episode. All the show notes and resources are on our website, martialrtsmedia.com/145. 

That's the numbers one, four, five. Head over there and download the transcript and resources. That's it. Let's get started. Jump in. 

GEORGE: Mr. Kyl Reber, welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business podcast.

Martial arts school marketing Kyl Reber

KYL: Thanks, George. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure and an honor to be here.

GEORGE: Awesome. Long time coming.

KYL: Long time coming. Third time lucky.

GEORGE: Third time lucky. Hey, so thanks for jumping on. I'm really excited about this conversation and what I'm excited about is I've known you for a little while, we've been working together for a little while and I haven't really tapped into the back story of you and how everything came about.

So I'm really excited to chat about that and just witness a lot of the things that you're doing in your school and how you approach things differently. But first up, I always like to kick off this being … We always talk about marketing and attract, increase, and retain strategies.

If you have to share, what is the one thing, your go-to strategy that's helped you grow the school the most, generated the most students, strategy that you always lean on, that you always go back to and repeat over time?

KYL: I guess our biggest strategy or our biggest way of generating business is it always has been referral. But I guess if you were to put that into a strategy, a strategy is our image and our standing in the community.

Because if we have a good image standing in the community and members come to join, they're very quick to refer to other people that they know about what we do. You and I have had conversations in the past about Facebook marketing and all that sort of stuff.

Without sounding arrogant, that's still quite foreign to us. And I guess we've been very lucky that we're able to build the club to where it has gotten purely by just referral, word of mouth. We'll have whole families train. We have people very willingly wanting to involve themselves more in what we do externally.

So I think, referral has been always something that's been very good for us to lean on, and it's something that's very important to us. Our culture and community are the real backbone of what we do.

It's something that we've really strived to, I guess you'd say protect. As every club has, we've had people come in the past over the years that haven't been fit for that culture and community and we've had to have conversations about maybe this isn't the place for you because it's such a strong thing that works so well for us and it's continuing to work.

We essentially from an advertising point of view, it's only in the last 12 months that we are really starting to look at Facebook ads and formal advertising. Prior to that, it was just community.

GEORGE: I love that. I think it would help just for listeners, the context of where you're at in the business because for most guys to get to the level of growth that where you're at, it's taken some substantial advertising, investing in Facebook marketing, etc. So where are you currently at with student numbers?

KYL: Student numbers we're hovering around probably … I think we're probably, as of this week, we're sitting around that 360, 370 mark. We've had some really great growth this year.

But I think the thing for that is we've also had years where we've grown quite slowly. But our numbers are very good. We're really focusing this year on our community and our culture and it works for us.

But yeah. Look, the club itself has been open for … This is our 28th … No, this is our 27th year. So it very certainly has not happened overnight, but I think we're finally getting a rhythm.

GEORGE: The 27-year overnight success.

KYL: Something like that. And look, for 11 of those years I was working full-time in another field that was incredibly demanding and it was full-time/seven days a week. Our lowest point ever of members was six. We had six members. So I think it's that when you're trying to grow …

I say to my instructors when they're complaining it's a quiet night or whatever, or we've only got 20-something in this class, and I say to them, “Guys, that used to be our whole club.” So it's trying to just chip away. I said at a weekend at a seminar, just hurry up and be patient.

GEORGE: I want to loop back into this, but I think it's good to then just go back to your beginnings. Because 27 years … Now, you're doing well. And I want to come back to what is this momentum.

What is driving this? But how did it all start for you? And you mentioned you were working a full-time job. There were six students.

KYL: Yeah. I started martial arts when I was 15. I turn 48 next week so add that up. I grew up in a country town in country Queensland. The martial art I started was purely based on what was closest to our house. I could walk there.

I was never a team sports person. I raced BMX semi-professionally when I was young as well. So I liked relying on me, me, and me. So I got into martial arts there. I moved to Brisbane when I was about 18, 19. Picked up Zen Do Kai. Ironically, my instructor grew up in my hometown and raced speedway with my dad.

Both our moms knew each other so it was kind of this aligning. And he moved back to Brisbane … Back to Maryborough, sorry, to work in 1996. At the time that club … So it was Zen Do Kai that we were doing predominantly then. There was a little bit of the BJC Muay Thai that we'd started doing as well.

There wasn't push as such. It was just an obligation. I have to move back. There were probably about 15 people at the club, just two nights a week in a scout hall in Western Brisbane. And it was just are you all right to take it over. And I can't even remember the conversation. I was just, yep, okay. And it just went from there.

I was working full in security, which started as a weekend gig, but I ended up being the operations manager of that company and I was with them for nearly 20 years. So our niche and our stuff was a lot of concerts and festivals.

So it was good because I was getting to practice everything on the weekend and then come back to the club during the week and go, so this works, this doesn't work, this works, this doesn't work. Don't do that because that happens. I would always call it, I was fast-tracking my students. And that job was great. I saw a lot. I did a lot.

But it meant that from a time point of view … And again, this is in the late '90s, early 2000s. I think you could have counted on one hand how many full-time schools were in Brisbane. I always think we can be sometimes 10-plus years behind the likes of Melbourne and Sydney.

So I was doing that job. My wife and I had not long had our second child. I was working more than I was sleeping. And it just got to a point where I was like, well, maybe if I create a new job. So I had this weird concept about going full-time. It was the dream and my wife and I talked about it extensively.

We just randomly found a shed for rent when we were coming home from Bunnings one Sunday morning and went in. It was a month-to-month lease and we ended up being there for eight and a half years in that place. And for the first 12 months I was working my full-time job still and trying to get CMA or Chikara Martial Arts as it was called back then, I was trying to get that off the ground.

So I was essentially working two jobs. And the idea was if we got to 50 and then if we maybe got to 100 or if we could manage … When we started the shed, we thought, okay, we've got a little bit in the bank, we can do six months rent and if doesn't work in six months, that's it. We're out.

And we were covering rent plus more in six weeks. So it just exploded. Our first Open Day … And we've spoken about Open Days before. It was probably the most archaic/embarrassing Open Day advertising you would've ever seen. And we signed up nearly 40 members in one day.

And for me back then I'm like, oh my God, what have I created? So I had stars in my eyes at the start and then I made the big decision. Because I started with that company that I was working with as a teenager and now I'm in my mid-30s. I had the same boss the whole time so we were a bit like a family.

So leaving that was hard. So for the first 12 months of leaving, I was working in the shed and then I was just working in a bottle shop, just making up the gap. So the growth has been very progressive.

After that 12 months, I managed to go full-time, or as a lot of people were calling it at the time I was retiring. But I think it's just been the hardest … I'm working the hardest I think I ever have. But I think now we moved into a second center …

Well, we moved in there in 2019 and we were in there for I think four months before Covid hit and we had to shut down. But that progressive move I think has been what has kept us around for 27 years. It's not without its dramas, but there are just so many good movements.

I guess as far as advice, I see so many martial arts instructors wanting to go full-time and they just want to go completely in right from the start. The full-time place right away, the best mats, the best gear, everything, and they start essentially … And then this is just the way I see it. They start on the back foot straight away.

So they're already having to get business loans, they're already however many thousands of dollars on the back foot from the start. It certainly wasn't intentional, but we've been lucky enough to never really have a …

We've never had a business loan. We've just progressively chipped away, built and built and built. Because I think I see a trend now in the industry. From where we are, within a 5K radius of us I think there are eight full-time martial arts schools.

So they're just everywhere now. I think you have to be very methodical and make sure you are just chipping away and doing something every day to grow.

GEORGE: Very cool. So what beliefs did you have to overcome? If I look at martial arts school owners that I talk to, there's so much in the mind that you've got to conquer first. Belief about your martial arts, belief about your value, belief about yourself. And then I think the big question is, how badly do you really want this?

It's okay to not want it, but I think you've got to be honest with yourself. It's nice to think, hey, I can have this full-time school and I can have this, but there's a big gap there between, well, I'm here and maybe …

We've got a lot of people in our group that have got high-paying jobs, high careers, and the martial arts is just a side gig and it would be really hard to make that full-time switch.

And then there are others that that's the big aspiration. So if you were to go back to where you were, what are the things that you had to conquer just internally to get you to take those steps?

KYL: One major thing I had to conquer was that as much as you're … And I'm still trying to conquer it to be totally honest. As much as you're plugging this community side of things … And it's important to you. Plugging it makes it sound like it's not important. It's probably the most important thing.

BJJ marketing Kyl Reber

There are these guys at the club who have … My oldest daughter's 16, and my youngest one's nearly 13. They held them as babies and now they're teaching them as teenagers. Probably the biggest thing for me was switching from that. I always call ourselves a club, but at the end of the day, it is a business and your time is precious and your time is worth something.

I think for a lot of us, martial arts instructors, Imposter Syndrome is real. And I think if you're not dealing with that a little bit at some point, that could be something to do with maybe checking yourself in and having a look at your humility.

We are very good at what we do and if you put … I always say to some other smaller club owners that I mentor, if you were to write a resume of how much time and years that you've put into where you are, and then you equate that into another job, think about what you'd be getting paid.

So I had a conversation once a little while ago with an instructor in a suburban club, but very good. And I was sitting with one of my students who is a police officer. We were talking about time and money and how much your time is worth. And this guy had worked out that he'd been basically training and perfecting his craft for about 17 years.

So I said to the student of mine who was sitting there who was a police officer, I said, “So if we transferred that over to the police, what would that equate to financially and rank-wise?”

And she said, “Well, you'd be at least a senior constable and you'd probably be on the better part of 100 grand a year.” Yet this guy was having real trepidation with going from teaching 10 bucks a class to $15 a class.

So the big thing, I think, is underselling ourselves. And putting up our prices is just something that's still, for me … I know how much we're worth, but it's something that I still struggle with. I'm struggling with it less. But I think that, and you would see too, the amount of martial arts clubs and instructors that are just underselling themselves is ridiculous. That's probably a big one.

GEORGE: Why do you think that is?

KYL: I think because we doubt ourselves. And again, don't get me wrong, there are people out there that have this … And I envy them. I guess they're in touch with themselves more than they go, nope, I am worth this. This is good.

But I think we still have this … I don't know whether you'd call it a suburban mentality as opposed to, no, this is a business. I don't know. I think the community sometimes forgets that we are a business too.

In Australia especially. There have been full-time clubs in the States since the '50s and '60s, but in Australia, I think there is still that martial arts that you're just in that scout hall or community hall a couple of times a week. You just pay as you go. We've got bills to pay as well. I think we're breaking out of that.

In Queensland, we seem to be anyway. But I think the way I think makes it easier for us … And this is something that I'm always working on, and I'll admit I don't always get it right.

The more professional you are, the more when it comes to people paying for your services, they have less of an issue handing that over because I guess they're seeing what they get in return.

Like the suburban nights where the kids would show up for class and the instructor's not shown up or they're late from work or they're this and that.

So professionalism is a thing that's huge for me. I'm constantly trying to work on it because you have one slip up and you're like … But yeah. I think that's a big one for me. As I said, there are other instructors that I mentor, and that's the first thing that I'll say to them.

And it's flowing downhill from the conversations I've had with you about you could easily add X amount to this and no one would bat an eyelid. Because if people are training with you just for the price, then without sounding horrible, how much time are you spending on them for that amount price?

GEORGE: Yeah. 100%. I think for me because that's one of the first conversations I always have to have when we take on people into our Partners group, is charging. I always started with it's just the easy thing. Look, you've just got to up your prices.

But it's unpacking the beliefs that come with that. Sometimes it's just so ingrained in the culture. You've been told money doesn't grow on trees and then people flick around Mcdojo words that nobody even knows what it actually means. It's just a word that people can flick around.

Sometimes it's the Tall Poppy Syndrome, the crab in the bucket, other people are just dragging them down and it's like, you can charge more, just not more than me. I sometimes feel it's a comparison of what it is versus what it does.

If your pricing strategy is looking at what everybody else is pricing and what they do, then you're just one of everyone else. And so now you're comparing, well, I'm in a school hall and they're in a full-time center so I've got to charge less. But hang on, what if your value exceeds the club in the full-time location?

KYL: 100%.

GEORGE: What if the outcome that your martial arts deliver is more? This means if you can articulate that, you can charge more.

KYL: This is why I very rarely … I won't say I don't because sometimes I do. But I very rarely look at what other clubs are charging, look at what other clubs … Like their classes or that sort of thing. It's not to be arrogant. I'm not selling their product, I'm selling my own. So if I'm confident in what I'm doing and I'm confident in my instructors …

And I put a bit of pressure on them. I think if you focus on yourself and your growth and you focus on your professionalism, I know for a fact without getting into money too much, I know for a fact we are probably one of the higher-end fee schools in our area, and I don't lose any sleep over that. I think our product is strong. I think our community is strong. Our center is so clean I think it sometimes looks like a museum more than anything else.

It's air-conditioned. It's in a nice place. We have all these other things. Sure, there are things we always work on, but the number of people that walk into our place and go, “I didn't expect this place to be so clean, neat, tidy.” It's air-conditioned. We have a polite team at the desk. We have all this sort of stuff. That sells everything.

The parents that come in particular … Again, not to downplay them, but they're not there to check your -and check what you're teaching. You're doing this form at this rank. Why aren't you doing it at this rank? Are the instructors nice? Is the place clean and tidy? Do they come here and does their child feel safe? Tick, tick, tick. Okay, sign me up.

And I think that's one area that we miss. You see a lot of fight gyms or suburban clubs, for example … And God bless them. We were there once too. They focus so much on the training. The training is hard. Train this, train hard, hard, hard, hard.

But that's one reason maybe why your club's got only 10 students and you're training in someone's garage. It's not the fact that you're having to soften what you're doing in order to grow. You've just got to think more of the masses.

We do a lot of work … Well, I kind of fell into it. Do a lot of work with kids with autism, kids who have been bullied a lot at school, and mental health issues. And half the time, a lot of our stuff is we just chat with them. I do PTs with kids where I take them for a walk and they leave for the walk all angry, and then they come back and they're all rejuvenated and the parents go, “I'd pay three times what you charge for that.”

That's the sort of thing where you go, okay, we're doing something right across the board. You can have great martial arts and be awesome at what you do, but the backend stuff. And this is what I'm working on the most now in the business more than ever before.

The front end, I'm confident in. It's the backend stuff. That's a massive transition for people I think when they start going full-time that they have to actually get off the mat and sit in front of a computer more than they're willing to do.

GEORGE: 100%. So I want to loop back to the beginning of our conversation because you were talking about organic growth and where you got to without the advertising.

And I think a good transition for this, was when we hosted our Partners Intensive event, which we had for our mastermind group, and we had a few guests come along, we hosted it, Sunshine Coast. Grand Master Zulfi flew in from Houston, Texas.

It was amazing. And I had the whole lineup planned and ready to go. I recall you sending me a message and saying, “George, I love everything that you're doing. And I look at all the speakers and everything is driven for revenue and money and growth, which is fantastic.

But I think I can just add a different flavor to this because we've done all this growth without focusing on that stuff and just focusing on the things that we do.” And that led to you also having a great talk at the Partners Intensive and inspiring everybody with the things that you've done. So let's look back to that conversation.

Jiu jitsu marketing Kyl Reber

KYL: Firstly, thank you again for that opportunity because I deliberated over sending that message for well over a day. I didn't want to be that guy like this timetable's great, but where's my slot? I didn't want to think of it like that. I said to you, “Maybe if I just had 10 minutes just to explain this is what we do.”

And then you come back and go, “Oh no. What we'll do is we'll give you the 90-minute slot, you got to go this.” And I've just gone to my wife, “This escalated quickly.” I guess the thing that I noticed was … And as much as we've just spoken about, you've got to treat it like a business, you've got to make sure the money is right and everything there.

Because I know if you were to get in touch with my accountant, I think I'm in his top three. Top three people that he just literally sees my name pop up and doesn't want to deal with me. He goes, “God, you're lucky you can fight because this is not your forte.” And he's right. Because I focus on the other side of things.

But I think to answer your question, the thing I saw was how to do this and make a lot of money. How to do this and make a lot of money. How to do this and make a lot of money. The thing I thought was if you … Not that you're not wanting … It's hard to explain.

But not if you're not wanting to make a lot of money, but if you're focusing completely on something else that will make you a truckload of money. If that's the way you want to look at it. And I use this saying all the time. Let your passion pay the bills.

Because the last thing you want to be … If we think back to why we started martial arts, I think 1% of us started martial arts because we want to run a full-time school and be a millionaire. And if that's what you're doing, great, but I'm nowhere near that.

But the one thing I don't want to lose is I don't want to lose my passion for martial arts. And the more you get into the business, the more it goes up and down. Because yeah, I love doing martial arts and I want to train, but I got to have this meeting with the accountant. I got to do this. I got to do this. I got to do this.

So if you let your passion pay the bills, if you look at everything you're doing on the backend, people are literally … And it won't happen every single time, but for us, it happens a lot. People walk in, they see the way we treat each other. They see the way we treat them. They see the way we treat our staff. They see the way we treat everybody else. And they literally walk back after their trial lesson or whatever and go, “Sign me up. I want to be a part of this.”

We will rarely say to people join with us and we'll make you a world champion or this and that. Join us and we'll just make you a better person. So I think getting back to that community thing again, it was never a business strategy.

And to be honest, if you really want to go to the roots of it, the previous style I did, which was fine and great, you'd turn up on a Tuesday night and you'd train and I'd be, okay, see you Thursday. You turn up on a Thursday night, and you train. Okay, see you next Tuesday. And that was it.

As soon as I started Zen Do Kai, you weren't just training with these people. You were part of their lives. You'd become family, you'd become their friends. And it was this community that I really went to, I really like this. I want to be a part of this. And it was the major, major thing.

And going back to when I raced BMX. I raced BMX. I rode skateboards. I think the last time I played a team sport was under 11 soccer and that was it. I'm done. Because I hated the fact that if I let somebody down that the team suffered.

But I say to people now all the time, martial arts is a team sport and we have this community. It's so interesting to watch a kid come and do a trial and the parent walks in and then they realize there's another parent there that they know and they come over and they start chatting like, “I didn't know you came here.” “Yeah, I do. We love it. This is great.”

They just walk over. Or a random parent will come over and just start saying to this parent, “Oh yeah, this place is really good. We love it here.” They're selling it for us.

Those community pages where people go looking for recommendations for martial arts, they're advertising for us. Yeah, it always blows me away. And it's very humbling. As I said, like everything, there are times we stray away a bit and we drink the Kool-Aid, so to speak.

And the bigger we get, the bigger referral base we get. So yeah. We have whole school groups. Like a school, we go there, oh, these kids all train there. It's just interesting. And in a way, it's quite humbling. It wasn't ever the expectation.

GEORGE: I love that. And no amount of advertising can fix or inspire that.

KYL: And I think that's the thing for us. We put a digital flyer for example up on our socials. We might get … I don't know. Half a dozen likes or whatever. We put up a picture, this is such and such, they came to us, they were so timid, they wouldn't speak blah, blah, blah. Now they're one of our assistant instructors.

That gains so much more traction. And I think getting back to one of the reasons why you think sometimes school owners have issues growing. I think one reason is we have to find a line between being proud of what we do. I would say probably a little bit arrogant. You're not the best. There is no definition of the best.

But also you have all these momentous achievements. I just saw the other day, a kid I trained as a six-year-old, friends with him on Facebook. He just turned 30. And you just go, oh my God. But I ran into that same kid about two or three months ago just at a shopping center.

And he brought up, “I remember when I was a kid, you did this and this and this and you made me do these pushups. And I always look back on that.” And you laugh. Oh, yeah. I have no idea what you're talking about.

But just that one interaction you had with him, they remember that for the rest of their lives. And I think that's the thing that we need to celebrate and we also need to be proud of.

But again … And I talked about it before, that Imposter Syndrome. Oh, if I put that up, am I going to seem like I'm really up myself? Am I going to seem like I really rate myself? You're not. And that's the thing. We get it very confused with being proud of what we've done and basically broadcasting.

If you've got a student who when they came to you were that nervous and had that much anxiety that they didn't want to stand on the mat and now they're standing out in front of the class taking a warmup of adults, celebrate that. Because a parent will read that.

GEORGE: That's huge.

KYL: Yeah. A parent will read that. They will talk to their partner and they will go, “That's where we send our kid.” And do you know what? Not every kid that comes in … There are kids that have come in and for whatever reason it just doesn't click. There's a lot to do. So I think that's something you need to make sure you're celebrating as well.

GEORGE: So with this, right … And you're very articulated with your words, and I'll bring something up here in a minute. But I notice your slogan is Back yourself. How did that originate and how does this blend in with this community aspect?

Martial arts marketing Kyl Reber

KYL: Now I feel like I need to lay out on a leather couch. I'm feeling in that sort of position. All right. Look, to be totally honest and vulnerable, probably about six and a half years ago, probably about six years ago, the club and myself personally went through quite a rough time.

And there was a lot of doubt in me and what I had achieved and what I had done. And again, as I said, I keep coming back to that imposter syndrome because I think any humble instructor has it. And a long story short, we had a lot of instances where I was just going, I don't think this is working. I don't know if we can actually keep doing this. Where is the end?

A mentor of mine who I value deeply, just basically said to me in a conversation, she said, “I think the problem is you just need to back yourself. You just need to go, I can do this. This is me. This is what we do and you need to back yourself.”

I didn't click into marketing mode straight away. I told a couple of people about the conversation. And then we were redesigning our T-shirts because prior to that we'd had a couple of other slogans, which was great. And they were awesome.

And I just said to someone, “I think I'm going to use this saying, back yourself.” And they just went, “That's brilliant.” And I said, “I think it covers everything.” And this is, again, it's not about … 

Another piece of advice for martial arts school owners. It sounds so contradictory, but if you really want to market yourself and market your club, make sure that you market, that you're not just teaching martial arts, you're teaching kids how to be better at life and adults. But also market that you're not infallible, that you every day will stuff something up.

And I see that so much in higher-ranked martial artists and I think that's one thing we need to make sure we're doing. We need to back ourselves. I'm going to give this a go. It may not work, but we'll see what happens.

So yeah, the back yourself slogan. We did a new run. We rebranded a little bit about, I think nearly two years ago now. And I tossed up getting rid of the back yourself. And I even had all the proofs and everything done up for the new T-shirts and whatever. And then I just at the last minute went, “Nah, I'm going to keep it.”

So yeah, we've kept it. It's humbling now because we've probably got about half a dozen people that have got the CMA tattoos or the kanji and they've got that kanji logo and I don't. One of them has #BackYourself tattooed on him. And I just go, I guess it's a reminder. So yeah. It was just a conversation that just really struck home. I can't see us changing it anytime soon.

GEORGE: It's such two powerful words. And I never knew the depth of it. It's the kind of two words that are so simple, but then you've got to repeat it to yourself and ponder over it. Okay, back yourself. Well, there are so many layers to that.

KYL: There is. And I think that's the problem as coaches. If you really want to be a good coach, you need to show whoever it is you are coaching that you are not perfect either and you make mistakes. My students say from a jujitsu point of view, there are kids that are doing jujitsu with me, say 19-year-old, 20-year-old blue and purple belts.

So when they were born, I'd already been doing Jujitsu for two or three years. I've got a black belt in their early 40s, the same sort of thing. They're handfuls. So I could just stand in the background and just not roll with them. Or with my body …

And we've all got our share of issues when we get to this age. I still move around with them. They'll tap me out. My body will just go on a spot. But I'm showing them that I'm still willing to jump in and do what I can and still move.

Because one day those guys will be at an age where they're having to look at that and the vulnerability to be that sort of person that is training and moving no matter what.

Again, you've just got to back yourself. And you find your students will respect you more the more honest you are, not just with them, but the more honest you are with yourself. If your students can see that there are days where you don't want to go to training, there are days where the alarm goes off and you go, I don't want to do this.

I think that makes them respect you more because I think maybe sometimes we feel a need as coaches to put ourselves one or two rungs higher than our students. I feel the more that they can see that you're going through your own stuff and you're more upfront with it, I think that gives you a lot more respect.

GEORGE: Love that. 100%. So Kyl, last couple of things. Your social media.

KYL: Yes.

GEORGE: Anyone listening, if Kyl accepts your friend, of course, I highly recommend looking Kyl up. Kyl Reber on Facebook. Kyl's got this thing that he writes and he's really prolific about it. I'll give you a glimpse of it.

So every week Kyl does this thing, it's called things I've been reminded of this week. And so I'll give you a quick glimpse. This was two days ago here on the Sunshine Coast. And thanks again for inviting me over to your gathering.

KYL: My pleasure.

GEORGE: It was great to visit and be able to add a little bit of value on a Saturday night.

KYL: Yeah. It was great. Thank you.

GEORGE: Back to this. So this was two days ago. Things I've been reminded of this week. It was a massive week.

Number one, keep your faith larger than your fears. Two, the greats never get bored with the basics. Three, facta non verba, deeds, not words. Four, review your definition of discipline. It's not what you may think it is. Five, if you're everywhere you are nowhere. Very cool.

Six, a character is fate. Seven, there's always room for more dessert. Eight, just train. Nine, there's magic in a sunrise. 10, friendship over everything else. 11, a coffee and a comfy seat can always solve all the problems in the world. 12, how you do one thing is how you do everything. 13, always be in search of the truth. And then there's a really cool photo. That's at Alex Beach, right?

KYL: Yeah. There's that grass area just next to the surf club there. Yeah, that was at sunrise.

GEORGE: That's such a magical little area because every night everybody just sits on that lawn and it just … There's something pretty special about that.

KYL: It is.

GEORGE: But I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about these posts. Personally, I feel it needs to be a book.

KYL: That's on the list.

GEORGE: Because I know you've got the time. But where do these come from? During the week are you just keeping notes of things? Are you just jotting things down? Because you're prolific about it. Every week you do this and it's always so well-articulated and impactful.

KYL: It's funny. I was the guy in high school that if there was a book report due, I'd try and watch the movie of the same book or I'd literally pay off a couple of schoolmates to plagiarize their stuff. Sorry, Mrs. Claridge, my year 12 English teacher.

But I do love writing and these days I read. I read every day as much as I can. Sometimes it's 10 minutes, sometimes it's an hour. About that time of the back yourself thing … Incident. I don't know what you call it. Philosophy was something that I just fell into.

In particular stoicism. I love reading about these ancient people 2000 years ago, like Marcus Aurelius. How stuff that they went through and 2000 years ago they were going through the same stuff we were going through. They were going through all the same problems. And the words that they're writing 2000 years ago are still important now.

And there'll just be also just little interactions. So the facta non verba, I've heard that before. And I was at a school that we will be starting martial arts classes with, and I was looking up on the wall in reception and I saw their school motto, facta non verba. And I went deeds, not words. So important.

And there'll be just interactions and conversations. I'm a big person these days that as much as sometimes it's easier said than done, you have to sit back and reflect and think. We live in a society now where we move at four million miles an hour. We have something in our hand or in front of us literally every minute we're awake. We don't just sit and think and chill out.

I started that things I've been reminded of this week, I started that probably the better part of two years ago. I just wrote it for just something to do on a Sunday. I didn't intend for it to be an end-of-the-week thing. And it has just stuck.

And it is now, it's a weekly thing to the point where a friend of mine who runs a community radio station in Victoria, reads them every Monday morning on his breakfast slot. I have people messaging me if I haven't put them up by 7:00 at night going, “Where are they? Have you forgotten?”

So yeah. I think sometimes it's not that we overthink or we assess ourselves too much, but getting back to that vulnerability thing, I think if we really want to grow as people, as coaches, as martial artists, as business people, if you're not checking yourself in and learning something more about yourself or what's around you every day, what's the saying?

You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Maybe you can. You have a chat with someone who says … Someone will say, “That person is so set in their ways.” They're referring to older people, not younger people. So I think it's good to sit back and reflect. And I've had a lot of good feedback about it to the point where I wouldn't say I feel obligated, but I go, this is a thing.

And yeah, another mentor of mine is getting very pushy with me saying, “You need to put these into a book.” So I am mucking around with a format of that. But yeah, it's cool. It's just something that I just enjoy doing.

GEORGE: Love it. When is the release date?

KYL: Oh God. 2037 or something. On my 60th birthday. I don't know. Sooner rather than later I hope.

GEORGE: Hey Kyl, it's been awesome. Thanks so much. Always a pleasure talking to you. Always insightful. I know you also have a podcast. Do you mind sharing? If it's launched and up and running, where can people find it and where can people learn more about you if they want to connect with you?

KYL: Yeah, sure. So the podcast will be out probably a couple of weeks soon. And it'll just be the Kyl Reber Podcast. On the business side of things, if you want to follow us on Facebook, it's just CMA, Chikara Martial Arts. Our Instagram tag would you believe is @JustBackYourself. Weird. And mine is @KylReber. K-Y-L, no E, R-E-B-E-R.
GEORGE: Love it. Awesome.

KYL: Awesome.

GEORGE: Thanks so much, Kyl.

KYL: Yeah, George, thank you very much. Thank you very much for the opportunity.

GEORGE: You're welcome.

KYL: See you mate.

GEORGE: Epic. How was that? Did you enjoy the episode? Did you get some good value out of it? Most importantly, is there one thing, one thing from this interview that you can take and implement in your business and go make an impact within your community?

Now, please do me a favor. If you got something great from this interview, please share it. Share it with another instructor, another martial arts school owner, or somebody that you know within the martial arts community that would get great value from this. And be so kind as to tag me wherever you do it on social and I'll be forever thankful for you doing it.

Now, if you do need some help growing your martial arts school or you're just looking for some ideas to fast-track your success, we have a great group of school owners that we work with called Partners.

It's a community of martial arts school owners here in Australia, the United States, Canada, the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand. So from all over the world and we get together on a weekly basis, mastermind. We run events. A couple of cool things.

Now, if it sounds remotely intriguing and there are a few things that you need help with, reach out. Go to martialartsmedia.com/scale. There's a little form. Fill it out. Just tell me a little bit about your business, what's going on. The few things that you need help with.

And I'll reach out and have a chat and see if there's something that we can help you with. Anyway, thanks a lot for listening. Thanks for tuning in and I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.


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144 – Building A Strong Martial Arts Community: Insights From Professional Fighter And Gym Owner Damien Brown

Damien Brown, a UFC fighter-turned-gym owner, shares his journey of transitioning from the octagon to entrepreneurship. He reveals his secrets to success in both the fighting world and the martial arts business realm.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Base Training Centre’s most successful marketing strategy for generating students consistently
  • How short-term commitments, like training camps, work well for marketing jiu-jitsu
  • Damien Brown's journey from a UFC fighter and military man to a martial arts business owner
  • Opening new locations by gut instinct and finding the right partners and locations
  • How to ensure children between the ages of 4 to 13 love jiu-jitsu until they turn 16
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.

 

TRANSCRIPTION

My job is to make sure that any child between the age of four and 13 loves jiu-jitsu until they turn 16. If I'm too hard on them and they hate it and they don't like it, they leave. My job is to make sure that I teach them jiu-jitsu but I make sure they have enough fun that they want to stay in jiu-jitsu until they're 16.

When they're 16 they get graded as an adult, they start learning as an adult. It's a little bit different. They get to make their own choices. But if I can make them enjoy it that much that they stay from the age of four until 16, then I've now got a long-term member, I've got a kid that's done jiu-jitsu for 12 years that's now going to get a blue belt and go on to be a great adult addition to my gym.

GEORGE: Good day. George Fourie here. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Today I'm joined by a professional MMA fighter, UFC Fighter, and owner of Base Training Centre in Brisbane, Damien Brown. Welcome to the show.

DAMIEN: Hey, man. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

GEORGE: Good stuff. You've had a complete career between martial arts and your business. But before we get into the good stuff, a question I always like to ask upfront is, what's been your go-to marketing strategy, the thing that you guys do that generates the most students for you on a consistent basis? Consistently or that one thing that's the hook.

DAMIEN: Typically, the greatest marketing strategy we had was Facebook Ads. Social media is so big now. If you're not using it then you, you're either behind the times or you're just too stubborn to do it. Potentially, you don't know what you're doing so you outsource it. I'm a massive believer in outsourcing anything that's not your line of expertise. I just think that everyone should be advertising on social media.

GEORGE: Yes. Cool. Now, for you guys, when you do the ads, do you have specific offers that you run, like mini-courses or challenges, or just a straight free trial, or paid trial that works best?

Damien Brown

DAMIEN: We market training camp-type situations and people typically don't want to commit to longer, especially in martial arts because most people have a reasonable amount of anxiety with just starting, so the idea of doing it for 12 months is terrifying.

Any short-term commitment that is enough to help a person understand that they need to be accountable but also not long enough that it creates fear of being locked into something that's terrifying, I guess. You got to find a balance between that.

The thing with martial arts, particularly jiu-jitsu in our case, is that it takes you about three months to learn how to swim and that's without any knowledge. You just got to learn what's even going on.

Most people position-wise don't know what's going on, concept-wise don't know what's… Forget techniques. It takes you about 12 weeks to get your head around anything. I think that's a good timeframe to get people to commit to but even sometimes that can be too long.

I think from a business point of view, no lock-in contracts are ridiculous for adults. But from a martial arts point of view, 12-month contracts sometimes can be a big hump in the road to getting over. Somewhere in the middle, there is pretty good and we advertise it like training camps.

GEORGE: I love that, training camps. You guys focus on jiu-jitsu. I'll zoom back into a bit of the marketing chat and so forth, but give us a bit of a rundown. I've got a bit of an idea of your story, of where you started, but if you could give us a roundup. Where did it all begin and how did you get into the martial arts space?

DAMIEN: Martial arts for me was a non-negotiable from my dad when I was six, I think. I could play any sport I wanted as long as I did martial arts. I played football, and rugby league and did karate, particularly Zen Do Kai back then. I did that for about seven years. Early teens, we moved to somewhere where there was none so football it was for a few years.

Jiu-Jitsu

Then, I joined the army when I was 21 and I needed something to get my head straight and get back into fitness after some surgery in the military, so martial arts. I just turned to it again and I've been doing it ever since. In my early twenties, started kickboxing again and then went from kickboxing to jiu-jitsu, jiu-jitsu to MMA in a short period of time. And basically, that led me to 13 years later and two gyms.

GEORGE: Very cool. If you can go a bit deeper if we go back to just… You went from training then you started the MMA career. What pushed you to go to that level? And that was after the military, right?

DAMIEN: No, it was during the military time actually.

GEORGE: During the military.

DAMIEN: I didn't really know. When I did martial arts as a kid, I was very competitive. I competed every month in, as most people would know them, they're National All Styles Tournaments, they were around a long time ago. I don't know if they're still going but National All Styles was just basically a karate tournament and they ran everywhere.

And our karate school used to hire a minibus and we would drive at 3:00 AM down to Melbourne from Albury and compete all day and then drive back. It was the longest day ever at 3:00 in the morning, as a seven or eight-year-old, standing in the street waiting for the bus to pick us up. And then we'd get home sometimes at midnight on a Sunday night.

And that was my childhood. And I was super competitive. I played football, and everything was a competition for me, winning or losing. There was no such thing as anticipating and being rewarded for it, it was if you didn't win, you didn't win. I just had that in me.

When I turned back to martial arts for some fitness-based stuff and just to get my life a bit more sorted, then it only took about 10 months or something of kickboxing. And then, I started to feel like I wanted to have a fight. And then, I had one fight and won, and then I had another fight and won.

And then, the coach at the time, Ian Bone, talked me into doing jiu-jitsu. And then I was like, “I want to have an MMA fight.” We had an MMA fight, I lost that and then decided that I would never be submitted again, which actually turns out was bullshit because I did get submitted multiple times again.

But at the time in my head, being an infantry soldier, I was like 10-foot tall and bulletproof and I got humiliated, so to speak, or my pride was dented. I started doing jiu-jitsu six days a week, got right into it, and come back, 6-0 as a pro. And then, I made a lot of bad choices I guess, contract-wise and fight-wise, nothing that hurt me but just probably could have taken a better path in my career.

GEORGE: Can you give me an example?

Damien Brown

DAMIEN: Yes, just taking contracts in Europe where you fly yourself and stuff like that as opposed to… Typically, a fighter that fights outside of their hometown gets their flights and accommodation paid for. Sometimes you get a bit of food money and you get paid. And then, there are promotions across the world, they'll give you opportunities but you have to fly yourself and stuff like that. I did that sort of stuff.

I took a fight on two weeks' notice in Macau, on Legend FC just because I really wanted to fight internationally, and, rather than seeing the big picture and just hanging around for a bit and taking my time, I rushed into an overseas flight. I got injured within that two weeks and I still fought.

Fighting injured, real bad injuries like MCL tears and stuff, fighting through that stuff, I think when you're an up-and-comer and you're not already at the top, I don't think it's necessary. I think you can take your time. I feel like there are just some mistakes I made along the way that I could have had a much easier path. But I definitely wouldn't change my path. I've got a lot of lessons that I get to pass on to my members and staff now, so it's pretty good.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Coaching your students going through that journey, what are the guidelines that you put in place for them? What do you advise them on how to go about their path?

DAMIEN: I wouldn't so much say I advise them about how to go on their path. More like they just do what I tell them they do. I used to manage myself and stuff; I get all my own fights and stuff like that. Whereas, my guys fight who I put in front of them and, if I tell them they're not fighting, then they're not fighting.

And so, it's more just making sure that I don't leave them to their own advice. And allow them to make the mistakes that I made because they're not experienced. And instead, I make sure that I'm there for them, that I'm guiding their career, and that I'm helping them become better athletes or better martial artists in between fights. I think more for me is just making sure that I'm in charge so they don't make those inexperienced mistakes.

GEORGE: Cool. You got into the fighting, how did the UFC and all that come about? How did you progress further in your career?

Jiu-Jitsu

DAMIEN: I just started out 6-0 as a pro and it wasn't until I was 5-0 that I was like, “I could probably fight in the UFC one day.” But back then, it was difficult because when I was young it was more like trying to get into the UFC, you had to go overseas and train in America and be accessible, you had to have a visa.

And so, from that point of view, it was difficult for me because I had a job and my values were that I needed to support my family and my wife worked full-time but I still felt like I needed to be there for my family. Being the guy in my family that didn't earn any money, just didn't sit well with me.

I always had a full-time job. I didn't really think that quitting everything to move overseas was the right thing to do. Especially in a sport that's so young where you don't make enough money, you're fighting to support your family.

Maybe one year you make 100 grand, 150 grand with the bonuses or something, and the next year you'll make 10. And so, it just seems like a really unstable way of supporting your family. I never really looked at fighting as an income or a job but more as a side gig, which potentially is my issue.

Maybe I could have gone further quicker, who knows? But I don't regret it. I bought a house while I was fighting. I did everything that a normal everyday person should strive to do and I just committed a little bit extra of my time.

Instead of watching TV at night, I was at the gym and instead of going out on a piss on the weekend I was at the gym or I was asleep because I was too tired to go out anyway. I just did it as an extra on top of my job and that's just part of me. But getting in the UFC, once it became part of my mind and something that I thought was possible, then I didn't give up until I made it.

GEORGE: You made the right choices and you could have burnt all the bridges and just gone all in. But you decided to have the balance and it's obviously worked out really great for you. How did the schools then come about? How did you transition from all the focus on fighting to opening the schools? Let's talk about school number one.

DAMIEN: I always wanted to be in business. My dad's in business and other people in my family are in business. And I thought it was something in my future, it was going into business and I just didn't really have anything to do. If you drive a truck, you go into business, you typically buy trucks. And I was a baker, I was going to go into business when I was 21 and I pulled a pin on it, joined the army. You can't go into business with the army. It's like, “What can you do?”

It got to the end of my… Not the end of my fight career because I kept fighting but it got to the end of my UFC tenure and they released me and I thought to myself, spoke to my wife and said, “Now is my opportunity to either use what I've just done for the last nine or 10 years and teach it to the next generation and help people not make the same mistakes or I could throw it all out the window and work in my job at the jail for the next 32 years until I retire, and just job to maybe or stay there until I'm a bitter old, depressed prison guard and then try to retire happily but probably not because I got issues.”

I just thought I had two choices at that time and it was the perfect time in my life for me to go into business and to do something that I was not just qualified to do, but truly passionate about, which is teach martial arts. That was how it came about.

I just didn't want to do it while I was in the UFC but it had been on my mind, mainly because I didn't want to be tied down to coaching in the hours that I normally would train. I just come to a crossroads and pulled the trigger and that's how we opened the first one.

And then, we went from the first one, and in two years we opened the second one, which was just moving the first one to a building that was two and a half times the size. And we put massage and physio and everything in it. And we just got about three years in and I never really envisioned franchising or anything like that.

I thought it might be nice to have three or four schools but everything needed to make sense and I'm definitely a person that goes off my gut feeling and my gut feeling was telling me that it made sense to open another one.

Where we opened it, it wasn't where we were going to open it. We were going to go somewhere else, probably still will go there one day so I let the cat out of the bag. But just due to property options and whatnot in a pretty heavy market where there was only 5% of buildings that were available, trying to get something just seemed very difficult.

We opted for North Lakes. And my business partner up there, the second gym set up on a 50/50 type share situation and there's a management wage. And that's just how we set it up and it just made a lot of sense. I had the right person at the right time in the right location and we pulled the trigger on it. It's really good. I like it, it's taken off, and everything's working well.

GEORGE: But just give us a quick breakdown of the timeframe. One to 500 students, two locations, and that's over you said three years?

DAMIEN: Four.

GEORGE: Four years. Cool. How quickly did you grow the first one? And where's the first student-wise?

Martial Arts Marketing

DAMIEN: We grew it really slowly. Before we ever advertised anywhere, everything was organic and we grew to 100 members in a year. And then, we finally made a profit one month and I took that profit and I spent it on advertising and then we just kept growing from there. And we've got a few hundred members now in one location. It's pretty good.

GEORGE: Yes, cool. Congrats. From all the school owners I talked to, in four years to go to two locations and 500 odd students, that's remarkable. That's fantastic.

DAMIEN: Yes, it's definitely been an incredible experience. I think what's missing in a lot of martial arts schools is typically martial arts for most people is a second home. And actually, it's funny, I had a conversation this morning with someone about commercialization and trying to avoid commercializing martial arts to make sure that we maintain the original values and purpose of it, which are self-defense, respect, discipline, confidence, self-esteem, mental health, positive mental health and all of those values. You want to maintain those. But most of all, everyone gets into some martial arts for self-defense and confidence.

I feel like there's a balance between commercializing that and maintaining it. And martial arts gyms are typically a home away from home and, if you commercialize it too much, you lose that home away from home feel because everything becomes about money and not so much about the martial arts and the friendships and the relationships and stuff that are built there.

I just feel like we've been very fortunate that my values fall in line with… I'm teaching something that I love, but it's more about how many people I can help and how people feel when they walk through the door and how they feel when they walk out of it, as opposed to how much money they've paid me that week or whether they're going to pay me for grading and stuff like that. We don't charge for grading. I don't focus a lot on the money; I focus more on what I can give people. And I feel that has made a huge difference for us.

We're not just a gym; we've never just been a gym. That's not what it's been about. And you can read all the reviews and people feel like we're more than a gym, that's where it's at, that's where retention is built, that's where new members are built, they walk through, they can feel the vibe. That's where everything comes from. And so, I feel like that's been huge for us.

GEORGE: How do you feel you started creating that within the culture? Because obviously, it started out as you. But as the student base grows, people might be attracted to you and your experience, and so forth, but it becomes about the school, the vibe, and the culture. How do you replicate that?

Damien Brown

DAMIEN: It's like a tree. I was the seed and, as it grows, there are branches and, without the bottom branches, the next ones don't grow. I don't know what the average is, but there are probably 10 people that started in my gym that will get black belts out of the first 100. It's probably less than that, probably two out of the first 100 will get black belts because that's how many will stay.

But those two that stay, they form the foundation and then they pass it on to the next two out of the next 100 that stay. And all of a sudden, it's not just about me creating it. I got senior guys in this gym that, when I say senior, they've been here since the start, their kids are here, their wives train here, they train here.

And it's about on a Saturday; one will bring a car and a beer in and give one beer to everyone. And that's just who we are. “Do you want one? Do you want to hang out? Let's hang out after training and talk for half an hour.” And then, everyone goes their separate way. But no one has to go to the pub that night because everyone's just… We are our own family.

That goes, it starts at me, not that I'm promoting drinking or anything, but it's just an example, that's what one person could do. The other one would be like, “We haven't gone and done this for a while. We should organize that.” Or people said to me the other week, “We haven't had a barbecue for a while.” “You know what? You're right. We haven't. Been a few months, so let's have a barbecue.” It just starts with me and then it's others that recognize what I used to do and then we pass that on.

And I challenge my members at times, “This week, my challenge to you is to say hello to a person that you haven't spoken to or that you haven't seen or someone that you haven't talked to in the last three months.

Walk up to them, say, ‘Good day,' and ask them how they're going,” and that's going to change their day because you might be the guy on the other side of the room that they've seen for three months but never talked to.

And that happens when there are hundreds of members. Anyone that thinks a gym with 50 members in it is the same as a gym with 300 members in it or 500 members in it, it's kidding them.

It's just about when it's 50 members, it's me asking 50 people how they're going. When it's 100, it's me and 10 other people asking 100 people how they're going. If it was 1,000, I'd think that there are 50 members in that thousand that would've been with me long enough to go and ask the other 950 how they going.

And there's just a continuous flow from there. I feel like, as long as I started it with my values and my thoughts and what was close to me, which is giving more than you take, and then I'll attract people that do the same thing. And by doing that, it continuously gets passed along and that's how we maintain the culture.

GEORGE: That's amazing. Do you do things differently on the mat with that as well, within your classes and your teaching to really emphasize that, to put focus on building the culture?

DAMIEN: Yes, of course. I think any gym does, really. Sometimes I'll grab all the color belts and tell them they will roll with a white belt tonight. Sometimes I'll say, “Go with someone you haven't been with for three months.” Sometimes I'll get them in groups of three and make sure there's a white belt with every group.

And there are different ways that you can make people feel included. And at the end of the day, inclusivity is what everything's built on. If people feel excluded, then they'll go somewhere else. There are strategies that we put in place on the mat to make sure that those people who always go to one end of the mat, it's what happens with us, they all form up and then they go to one end of the mat. It's like all the white belts are down here and all the color belts are here.

I'll look around and sometimes we'll have 10 females in the room and typically females in the gym have a lot of anxiety about rolling with men and stuff like that. Particularly in jiu-jitsu rather than karate where there's a lot of contact. And jiu-jitsu really invades your personal space. Sometimes I'll particularly partner them up with people in the gym that I think are reasonably chill or super experienced and get them flowing because it's good for their confidence. And then, when their skillset matches their confidence, then they can hold their own and they'll roll with whoever they want. There are all different sorts of strategies for a coach.

I think one of the biggest assets you can have as a coach has been able to read your room. You've got to understand who is who, where they're at, what they're scared of, whether are they a threat, can they potentially hurt someone because they're dangerous with their skillset as in inexperienced with their skillset, they believe they're better than they are.

There are all sorts of things you got to be able to do to manage an environment like that. And my biggest job is trying to teach my coaches how to read the room. I feel like I do it reasonably well, but I've done a lot of instructing and military and stuff like that. And typically, you've got to always be able to read people. And I've worked in jobs where I've got to read people in confrontational-type situations as well.

Martial Arts Marketing

And I'm probably hyper-alert; it's probably the good thing my deployment did for me. I'm very hyper-alert, hypersensitive, so I'm always looking around, everything's going on. And so, one of the biggest things for me is probably trying to teach my coaches how to read the room and stuff like that. Most of us start out in a gym knowing the technique we're delivering and that's what gets us a coaching gig.

But coaching is more than that and everything comes over time. Probably trying to teach them is a big thing at the moment, and then get them to put strategies in place to be able to manage the room as well. Definitely, there's a lot to it, that's for sure.

GEORGE: Yes, I love the focus on the awareness and how you're in tune with who has got what fears, reading a room, breaking up the groups as they segregate into different parts.

Transferring your martial arts skills, that's one thing. But then, transferring skills that you picked up potentially in the military and you've got a different level of awareness of picking things up, do you find that really hard to transfer to your coaches?

DAMIEN: I think the hardest thing to transfer to other people or to teach other people is instincts. Anything that becomes common sense and instinctual is the hardest thing to pass on. Anything that's educational, there are ways to read a room, so to speak, or there are strategies, educational type stuff to read a room.

And then, there's just you can just see people and start to feel that people are… If you feel that someone's a problem or someone can go from zero to 3000 really quickly, there's no strategy to pick that up. You just got to be aware of your surroundings and be aware of who is on the mat and whatnot.

You can teach them how to put things in place to make sure that those people are controlled, but you can't teach them how to identify those people. That's just something they've got to have time in a coaching role to be able to do.

The more time they run classes, the more they're in charge of classes, and the more they'll pick up on certain people. But as far as the management of members and strategies for how to run a class, you can always teach them that stuff, and that's pretty easy.

GEORGE: Damien, great. I've got two more questions for you. You mentioned that your dad really enforced your martial arts journey. How have you adapted that with your kids? Is martial art a non-negotiable? And if it is, would there be a point where you maybe back off?

Martial Arts Business

DAMIEN: That's an interesting question because it horns a dilemma for me. Martial arts is a non-negotiable for my son, but it's not forced because this is my life and I want him to love it. He has to do jiu-jitsu no matter what, but I don't force him to do it 3, 4, or 5 times a week. We ask him if he wants to do it, every day there's a class on and, if he says no, we take him home and make him do his homework.

And if he says yes, we take him in and he does class. He had his first game when he was 22 months old and he used to just roll with me for a couple of years. And then, he asked to start classes so we put him in classes. And then, he went through a phase where he didn't want to do it so we took him out.

And I think my dad didn't have to force me but forced my sister. But he didn't have to force me because I loved it anyway. But it was a non-negotiable at the start like, “This is what you're doing.” I feel like the discipline, the respect, and everything that I got from doing martial arts, it's hard to put your finger on exactly what it was. But when people ask me how we teach them that, I feel like, particularly in this day and age, kids get the discipline, respect, and all that from listening to someone that's not their parent.

Teachers have no power. Anyone else in their life that's teaching them anything has no power. You put your kids in martial arts, you let them on the mat, you walk away, you sit upstairs, you sit outside, whatever it is, and you let that person teach your kids for the next 30 minutes in an environment where you basically sign off on allowing them to put them in lines, put them in ranks and pull them up for talking over people, pull them up for poking their friend on the mat or tripping a kid over.

That stuff needs to be chipped and there's just no one in this world that has any power to do it anymore. But even when we did, martial arts is just such a great teacher of all of those things because martial arts coaches typically don't just let kids get away with tripping kids over or talking over them.

Physical punishments, whatever it is you decide to do as in pushups, bear crawls around the mat, squats, something like that, it's all just more exercise and burning your kids out. But at the same time, they get that discipline and respect from that. By doing something fun to them, they're learning how to be respectful at the same time. And then, they get better and, with getting better, come confidence and higher self-esteem and stuff like that.

I think that just martial arts all around is amazing for kids. And so, my son has to do it, fully non-negotiable. But I can't force it because it's my life and I don't want him to grow up and hate it. I've definitely had multiple conversations with myself on what the best approach is and I just think just letting him do it when he wants to do it, if he hasn't done it for a while, we make him do it.

If he has a week off or he gets a week and a half in and he hasn't done a class, we just say, “Hey, mate. You haven't done a class for two weeks. If you go in tonight and you do class, you can stay for 20 minutes and play with your mates afterward.” And they come upstairs and play. And he gets to play with his mates. He's an only child so he loves playing with other kids and so he gets to play with his mates and does jiu-jitsu.

And he's good at it. He is done a comp already and got a couple of medals. We just don't force it. But he asked me a bunch of questions today, funny enough, on the way to school about jiu-jitsu and what he's got to do to get to the next belt and stuff like that.

He's starting to get interested in it. It's just taken time and he's not as good as some other kids at his age despite the fact that his dad's a black belt. And that's just because I feel like there's a fine line between balancing and forcing it onto your own child when it is your life. I don't want my son to hate coming to the gym with me.

GEORGE: Yes, the longevity of it. For myself. I'll probably force my son into Zen Do Kai from five to seven, and then Muay Thai, and then to the point that he turned around and said, “Dad, I don't want to do this anymore.” It's been a few years, but he's now 16, 17, and he's talking about Muay Thai again.

I'm confident it's going to loop back. My daughter, I forced her into jiu-jitsu and then we moved to the Sunshine Coast I took her to a place and she fell on her arms and she said, “No.” I was like, “Okay, it's time I back off just a little bit.”

Martial Arts Business

DAMIEN: Yes, it's just a funny one. And there was a lesson taught me by my mate Ian, was that our job as a coach is to make sure that kids between the age of whatever you start in your school, for us it's four to 13, the 14-year olds do our adults classes, but my job is to make sure that any child between the age of four and 13 loves jiu-jitsu until they turn 16.

If I'm too hard on them and they hate it and they don't like it, they leave. My job is to make sure that I teach them jiu-jitsu but I make sure they have enough fun that they want to stay in jiu-jitsu until they're 16.

When they're 16 they get graded as an adult, and they start learning as an adult. It's a little bit different. They get to make their own choices. But if I can make them enjoy it that much that they stay from the age of four until 16, then I've now got a long-term member, I've got a kid that's done jiu-jitsu for 12 years that's now going to get a blue belt and go on to be a great adult addition to my gym.

We focus on that, we want the kids to have fun, and we want them to learn jiu-jitsu, but we're not out here breaking their balls and making sure they do comps and being like, “You must be the best at jiu-jitsu.”

That's not why we're teaching kids jiu-jitsu, not why we're teaching kids martial arts. We're teaching kids martial arts so they can benefit from everything that martial arts offers. And to do that, they need to enjoy it long enough to do it. That's what we focus on.

GEORGE: That's so good. Damien, thanks so much for your time. Just one more question, what's next for you? Where are you headed with your journey in the martial arts and Base Training Centre?

DAMIEN: I don't know, man. I don't know.

GEORGE: Day by day?

Martial Arts Business

DAMIEN: I didn't start my first gym with a plan to open something bigger. I didn't start my second location with a plan of opening a second gym. I didn't start fighting so I could make it to the UFC. I just do something and then see where it takes me.

And we've got two now, maybe we have three, maybe we'll do Base Jiu-jitsu, maybe we'll do… I don't know. I don't know what's next really, to be honest with you. I just focus on the two I got, focus on the members I have and make sure that they enjoy martial arts.

And to be honest, I think every business in the country is probably feeling the pinch of the interest rates right now. My job right now is to make sure the members we have to stay and make sure that they enjoy the environment that we provide and the martial arts we provide. And then, go from there, see if we can ride it out.

GEORGE: Cool. I'll loop back into your journey down the line and we'll see where things are at.

DAMIEN: Sure, man. That'll be good.

GEORGE: Thanks, Damien. If anybody wants to reach out to you or get in touch with you, how would they do that? Your socials, etc.?

DAMIEN: People can reach out to me on all social media at beatdown155. But particularly, if you want to train in martial arts, you're in the North Brisbane area, so Brendale or North Lakes and surrounds, you can reach out to us at Base Training Centre on Instagram or Facebook, or check out our website base-training.com.au. We offer a free class for everyone to try out to make sure we're fit for you.

GEORGE: Love it. Cool. Thanks so much, Damien.

DAMIEN: No worries, man. Thanks a lot.

GEORGE: Speak to you soon. Cheers.

DAMIEN: Appreciate it. See you.


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143 – Increasing Your Martial Arts Lead Conversion From Trial To Member By 70% To 90% (With Zulfi Ahmed)

Zulfi Ahmed covers conversion-boosting strategies for your martial arts business and shares the content to be delivered at The Partners Intensive.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Creating a 100-day onboarding funnel to boost martial arts student retention
  • Master Zufli’s advice to martial arts school owners with over 100 students and pushing to 200
  • A powerful concept that can help increase martial arts lead conversions rate by 70% to 90%
  • Masterminding with your staff to create an amazing system for martial arts school success
  • How to set up an encouraging martial arts career path for your students
  • And more

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TRANSCRIPTION

I'm going to share with you a very powerful concept, only in the meeting, that will increase your lead to conversion, by up to 70% to 90%.

GEORGE: Master Zulfi, welcome back once again, back-to-back weeks to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast.

ZULFI: My pleasure. It's my pleasure.

GEORGE: Today I want to do, I guess just extend last week's Episode 142. We spoke about how to elevate your martial arts business to the next level. It was a bit of a teaser in the subject line, with Master Zulfi's Breakthrough Mindset Formula, and we didn't go that deep into it. 

So what I wanted to do today, was chat a bit about what that is, in a bit more detail, but also for anyone that's coming to The Partners Intensive on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, which will be the 2nd to the 4th of June. 

Master Zulfi is joining us all the way from Houston, Texas, about as far as you can travel, and he'll be spending the entire day today, going through a bunch of things that I want to learn about today, as well. 

I know it's going to be great. It's the challenge of, how we condense 50 years of knowledge into one day of impact, and that it's impactful for you as the school owner. So glad to have you back on.

Zulfi Ahmed

ZULFI: Thank you very much. It's my pleasure. And again, I'm super excited. Finally, get to go to Australia, meet my friends, make new friends, and share some of our successes and even failures. It's not all hunky dory, it's not all perfect.

I've experienced many failures and that itself is a part of the journey. What to do, what not to do, what to be cautious and mindful about? What to be careful of, and how to approach situations, which might be very challenging.

And George, all of us martial arts school owners, if you stay in the martial arts business for X number of years, there are certain things we are going to experience. Like in America, taxes, death, and health, it's inevitable in life. So same thing in the martial arts business timeframe, there will be challenges we know that we have experienced and we will experience.

So some of you folks out there, they might not have experienced these. So my job with my team and my group is, “Hey, be mindful, retention, instructor staff retention, instructor staff training. Sometimes deflection, people leave and go open a school down the street, some legal issues.

All things, which if you've been there for as long as I've been, you will experience, hopefully not negative, but if you are armed with the knowledge, information, and mentally aware, then you will deal with them at a much better rate.

Believe me, I've experienced a lot, good, bad, and even ugly and I've learned everything has been a lesson and everything has been a growth and it's just keeping us moving forward. So that is what I want to share.

As we were talking about, a little bit earlier, what am I going to do? So there are 2, or 3 different models where a presenter comes in and presents. So one is, with a big group, when we are in front of hundreds of people, you can go up on stage and do a PowerPoint and explain and share your information.

But with a smaller group, which I love, and I do that in the UK, Germany, Pakistan, I've got 30 to 40, 50 people that's more personalized, more intimate. And the way I like to share information and work and connect with them is number one, I will give a couple of presentations, which I feel will be very valuable and worth their time.

And then I like to open for a Q&A, we do a discussion, and we open communication, so I can understand everybody's position, phase, stage, age of business, wants, needs, fears, desires, hopes, strengths, weaknesses, challenges and we work as a team, as a think tank.

And then if somebody has a question or answer or concern or request of the set of information, whatever I can do, I will elaborate on that and then it works. It becomes a group interactive conversation with myself facilitating and leading in the area where I might be able to give more or different types of information.

So I love that and it really becomes extremely powerful and the takeaways and the breakthroughs and the moment of epiphanies become very powerful. So that's one of the models which we are going to use. Then we have that one-on-one or very small group, two people work with me. That's what I do when I go to an independent school owner.

So let's say I go to X, Y, or Z school, and in the morning or afternoon, we'll sit down for 2, 3 hours and we'll discuss. Because a lot of times there are things that you cannot or one does not like to discuss openly.

And no matter how close the group is, certain things are very private and we don't want others to know our challenges, but we don't mind sharing it one-on-one, with a person who we feel has the experience to first of all, communicate, get a second person point of view and maybe they can help you solve or resolve or overcome the challenge or the issue.

So that is very powerful on a one-on-one level. And believe me, when I go to these schools and when I do one-on-one, that powerful 2, or 3 hours is worth years of searching or trial and error or trying to figure it out themselves.

But when you have somebody who's done it, been there, seen it, and still growing, still learning, that hour or 2 hours, is worth years of searching challenges, and frustration. And when you can get that answer, that epiphany, that realization in a moment, it's well worth it.

And a lot of time people don't like to, even in small groups, unless it's one-on-one. So that's the second, third model, which I do and which I love because now I can work with you one-on-one and then we can be very open in the things we can talk about, we might not talk about them even a smaller group.

So that's another model which I will be available to do also. And then we have breakout sessions. Let's say when we do a breakout session, so we'll say we'll do a project, we might do a project, okay, let's build a funnel, just give an idea, onboarding. What are the steps that we need to do for the first 100-day onboarding, funnel, and process and nurturing? What do we need to do?

So we'll go to one group, one group, one group, two, three people in the group and we sit down and we work with the workbook or with an exercise and then we'll all come back together and say, “Okay, you give me your two points, you give me your two points, what did we come up with?” And together we all create an amazing system or process of procedure, based on solid principles and based on the input of the whole entire mastermind that we have over there.

And lo and behold, you'll see, within 45 minutes, we'll develop an amazing system, which anybody can take and incorporate. And we can help each other say, “Okay, now that didn't work. I tried it, but it didn't work, or I said this worked amazingly.” That's another format we can do. So I'll be there. I'm there for you guys.

GEORGE: I love that. It's funny you mentioned that. Yesterday in our Partners group, we did a similar thing called, the Instructor’s Roundtable. We just brought everybody in an online but roundtable setting and all instructors brought just questions, things that they struggle with, and used the power of the group to get answers and just everyone sharing the one attribute that really makes them stand out as an instructor.
But what I'm thinking we probably going to delay is, we are working on a 100-day Email Sequence for onboarding. And I think I might tell the group that we're going to wait a little bit because if we can have your hands-on input, that it'll make it so much more powerful.

Zulfi Ahmed

ZULFI: I would be happy to. So about nine years ago, I did a 52-week and a 104-week and I was working on the third tier of student onboarding, nurturing, from prospect to a member, to a blue belt, an email sequence. And as we speak right now, I'm creating a custom funnel, software for my organization, which will have to be automated.

So we've been using Constant Contact and Mailchimp, but hopefully, by the time I get to Australia, it will be finished and integrated software system with our Bushi Ban International website, where our curriculum is parked and it's a private website for only affiliates and licensed Bushi Ban schools. And this will have an onboarding and then member, 52-week nurturing process.

And just to give you an idea, it'll have emails, it'll have doodle videos, it'll have whiteboard videos, it'll have actual videos. So we've been working on that and right now we already do, I'm going to share with you a very powerful concept, only in the meeting, that will increase your lead to conversion by 70% to 90%.

And I'll bring you examples, just from lead to conversion because a lot of people get leads but they don't know what to do once they get the lead. They might do automated email. I'm going to share with you some powerful breakthrough ideas, what to do with the lead and you will see immediately, I guarantee you, that's my guarantee, otherwise I'll buy everybody lunch. All right? That it works, it works like a charm and immediately, they'll see a response. They'll see a response, a 90% response. So we'll share that, I'll share that with you guys. 

GEORGE: That's completely my language and so I'm loving that selfishly for me but obviously, for everyone that's going to be there, it's going to be awesome. I want to maybe just do an example. We were talking about the roundtable setting and working through school owners' problems.
And I'm also a big fan of this smaller type of event because this is where the transformations can happen. I feel it sometimes very impersonal, where you're at a big event and people are talking at you and the interaction feels a bit awkward and rushed.

So having that smaller type of setting, is really where you get the real breakthroughs because you get to dive deeper into what problems you're facing and what you're right about, the next thing is to take on.

So let's say, I'm going to start at the top this time and work our way down. But let's say, we took a scenario with two different school owners. Let's start with one at the top, let's say, they've got two to three locations and we're working with different situations. What is a common situation or problem that you will see faced, let's say, at about 2 to 3 locations, that you would typically work with?

ZULFI: So the first thing we do is, work on the structure of education. So I've got people who have 2, or 3 locations, how do they manage their calendar, their time, their staff training, and how do they interact with their staff with each location? What are the processes, procedures, events, training, and methodologies they have and how do they incorporate? I'm going to share my 10 points.

So every quarter we have our big staff meeting. So on May 17th, which is Wednesday, we will have about 40 to 50 people here at the headquarters and we start at 9:00 AM and we go through our staff training and these are not directors, these are instructors, managers, program directors, they'll all come together and we are going to share with them their duties and how can they be the key significant operator to help the business grow?

We give out actual tasks and responsibilities, how can they provide and produce for the business? So we have a clear outline and we share that with you and I'll give you that presentation that day. Please remind me, I'll give you 10 points, but when you have your key staff meeting, what is the mindset you want them to have?

Because they're all well-wishers, if they're working in your business, they want to be there. All right, so first we need to understand, they are not there to harm you, they're there to help you. But as a school owner, and as a business owner, what can we help them with so they know clearly, defined actions, methodologies, and systems that they can incorporate the next day and start making money and growing their business?

So I'll share those 10 points with you, so you can go and start teaching and I'll share how we do the staff meeting.

This is a big staff meeting, 40 to 50 people come in, different schools and we do the training staff and instructors, directors training, then we have lunch, we have some awards and prizes.

So I'll share that with you. So this will help the multi-school or even single-school owner, how to motivate, inspire, educate, and allocate tasks for each school or each staff member, so they can become a much more valuable component of your business success. They need to know, above and beyond their regular job description, what else can they do.

What do they need to see and understand to help you grow? That itself is extremely powerful. Once you understand that and your staff understands that, you will see an immediate change of culture, an immediate improvement in retention and new member acquisition, and upsells immediately. 

GEORGE: Very cool.

ZULFI: I hope that helps.

GEORGE: Yeah. Awesome. And so if we flip the script and say, the school owner was at just over 100 students, pushing to the next 200, what advice would you give and what obstacles are you typically dealing with, at that point?

ZULFI: So the advice is, start working on the systems now, which you will be needing six months, eight months, nine months. Understand what got you where you are, now what else do you need to add or delete from what you got to get you to the next level? Who are the key players to help you grow? Identify those players.

And what do you need to tease them, for them to help you grow to the next level? How do you help them go to the next level? That's what a staff meeting is. And what mindset and what systems you need to have or sometimes you need to eliminate.

See a lot of school owners don't realize, they might have, for example, a program or a class or a staff member, that might be hindering their forward progress. So how do you identify that and how do you either change that, or get rid of that?

So I'll give you a quick example. There are some schools, that would do the fitness kickboxing program and they've been doing it for years and years and years and they continue to truck along. I ask them, “How many people?” “I used to have 40 people, now I have about 5, 6 people.” “Well, why are you doing that?” “Well, we've been doing it for 20 years.” “Get rid of it. Well, what time is it?” “It's in prime time.” “And it's how many times a week?” “Four times a week.”

“I say, you are doing something which is no longer relevant in your business and it's no longer producing and providing you a forward, fast pace momentum, it's actually holding you back. You are availing your key time floor space, and your staff, to fulfill a dying program. If you just switch it around.”

So, a few schools did that and right away, boom, from five, they went to 25 people, just by switching that old method and realization of, “Hey, it's not working anymore or if it's working, it's not as productive as it used to be.” So being relevant, what is relevant now? What should the school do or look for and how do you tweak it, how do you change it? So sometimes, letting go is the biggest challenge. 

GEORGE: Right.

Zulfi Ahmed Martial Arts

ZULFI: Once we are used to something we've been doing for so many years, “No, I cannot do that.” “Well, yes you can.” You have to see the pros and cons, is this holding you back? Or maybe a staff member. That staff member no longer needs to be a staff member.

They need to either change their designation or tell them bye-bye. They're just hurting you, they're not helping you. Or a staff member that you need to utilize their maximum potential. They might be ready to be in a high-level producing leadership position and you're not giving them that opportunity or there's a program out there and you should add that program or a system, you've not done that.

Those are the things that we need to discuss and realize and find out and investigate, so we can identify and then see what we can do to implement. So those are the things that they need to be aware of.

And as a coach, a consultant, a mentor, a guide, and a facilitator, it becomes my responsibility, or anybody in my position, to find out the needs and the challenges. Not just come in, blah, what I think works for me but I need to know what needs to happen to you. See, what is working for me, might be totally alien to you.

So to grow your student, you must know your student. Don't grow them up thinking this is what is right for them but first find out. The same thing to the Mastermind, to help the Mastermind grow, I need to know the Mastermind, the key players, and what are their challenges, what are their needs, what are their desires, what are their fears, what are their weaknesses, what are their strengths. And once we can define and identify, then we can catapult the information to the next level.

GEORGE: I love it. I wanted to ask you one question before I wrap it up. And this is for my members yesterday because it's relevant to this and it's a question that came up. You've got all these locations and students that have evolved into instructors.

And I recall at the virtual intensive that you spoke at a few years ago, you spoke about creating the career path from day one, from day one, you start talking about the journey. How do you structure that? How do you create a career path for students, that they actually want to become instructors? And then how do you face the challenge that maybe they go to university and they go study and now all these other options are on the table and how do you make martial arts the priority for them?

ZULFI: That's a great question. There's no easy answer, but I'll share some of the things with you. So martial arts is a lifestyle. So Bushi Ban is a lifestyle, martial arts and that's what we start from day one. Bushi Ban, my system, is a lifestyle, martial arts. We have programs, and we have memberships, but our whole objective is to make that individual who comes in, to learn, fall in love, and pursue martial arts as a lifestyle and there are small steps we have to go through.

I'll share with you, just now, about 45 minutes ago, I had a grandfather, this is my third generation person, Mr. Vicary, he just came in, his son is my black belt but he's now 30 something years old. His grandson who's 16, he'll turn 16 soon, Caleb Garcia. So Caleb is right now is doing swimming and he has not been to class for the last nine months and grandfather wants him to be here, grandmother wants him, Mom and Dad, but he's got into water polo and swimming and he's got the varsity jacket.

So we are very proud of him and Caleb is my second-degree black belt, really good at martial arts. He started with me at four and a half years old. So he came, he had some boards, we do board breaking, Tameshiwari. So grandfather, Mr. Vicary, brought some board. He said, “They've been lying around, I just want to drop them by you.”

I said, “Hey, when am I going to see my boy Caleb?” He said, “Well, he's swimming and I want him to be there. I just bought this new Mercedes, come and take a look at it.” And I'm going and sitting in it and I told him, “Hey, I've got a three o'clock podcast, I need to talk to my friend in Australia. Hey, by the way, I'm leaving for my international trip. I'll be in Thailand and Australia.” And I shared with him, on May 21st I'll be back.

He said, he called me Zulfi, he's much older. “Zulfi, I want the same for Caleb. I've been telling him.” But I say, “Hey, he's only 15, 16 years old. He's on his path, let him do it. But he's been indoctrinated in the Bushi Ban system.” And he said, “I'm a multimillionaire.” I said, “I know you are.” He said, “I will put any money to help Caleb because I see your lifestyle.

I want this for my grandson and I will invest.” I said, “No problem, it's already in his DNA.” And he said, “I wanted this for Josh but Josh went a different route but I want this for Caleb.” And so to make a long story short, it's not to impress anybody but impress upon that, it's in the culture and lifestyle curriculum and lifestyle system, that students and their grandparents and their parents want to become part of this ongoing journey and become lifelong martial artist.

And once you identify, the school owner, that this person, it'll be good for them. So again, it's all about the student. What needs to help the student, will help you. Don't think of selfish gains, first give.

And I told him, “Caleb is extremely talented and I see him being a school owner and I will help whatever I can do, give him my brand, give him my detail, give him my systems, I'm there for you.” He said, “I want him to do it.” So because I know Caleb will be a great, great martial arts instructor, he's a great martial artist, young man, but he got a long way to go.

So is it part of your system? So for example, I'll show you. So this is a book, I've written several books, Wisdom of the Masters. So this is written by, it's part of a project for our Senior Masters, to share their wisdom with our young people. This next book is Reflection of the Grandmasters. These are life lessons that we teach our leadership team.

This is a book I wrote, I Quit, to overcome the challenges. And we give this out to a lot of our members and parents, so they understand that there'll be a time that a child might want to quit and how to overcome that. Then most of you have seen this, Signs and Secrets of Becoming a Master. So we plant the seed early. I want them to think like a master instructor early.

Zulfi Ahmed Bushi Ban

So what is the support material? How is it entrenched in your curriculum, lifestyle, and martial arts? How do you indoctrinate your students into thinking at one time to become instructors, first serious students, to black belts, to junior instructors, instructors, and school owners? What processes do you have, procedures do you have? What opportunities they can see and what examples are they seeing?

See, that's very important. Are they seeing examples, real-life examples of people converting from a black belt, into a master instructor, into a school owner? Are there examples that they can follow and what is their support system and how are you nurturing their mindset and the heart set and how are you showing them the benefits and the value? Not just being a black belt, but being a school owner and how sincerely and authentically, you are helping them find the path? So it is part of the culture, lifestyle, and martial arts. 

GEORGE: A good note to wrap it up. Zulfi, thanks so much. I look forward to seeing you in Australia. It's going to be great. It's going to be great to hear you.

ZULFI: I'm looking forward to it. God willing, I'll be there in one piece and I can't wait. I'm excited and I appreciate it, thank you so much for your kind invitation and hospitality. I'm really honored and I'm really, really inspired and I appreciate it and I'm grateful to you for even thinking that I can come and help out and I look forward to it. 

GEORGE: Of course.

ZULFI: And I can't wait. I'm excited to meet my old friends and to make new friends and to share and give whatever I can give and share, that's it, and enjoy Australia. 

GEORGE: 100%, there's lots to enjoy. That's great.

ZULFI: Thank you so much. 

GEORGE: Thank you Zulfi. So just a quick wrap-up. So 2 to 4, June, The Partners Intensive. It's formally a private mastermind, we offer guest tickets available. So if you would like to attend, just shoot me a message, at george@matialartsmedia.com or find me on Facebook.

Also, just want to give a shout-out to some of our members that will be talking on the first day and the last day. So Ross Cameron, Cheyne McMahon, Lindsay Guy, and also Kyl Reber will be on Sunday. So just a shout-out to our Australian members and love to hear from you. If you got any questions about the event, just reach out and Master Zulfi, have an excellent day and I'll speak to you soon.

ZULFI: Thank you. All the best.

GEORGE: Thank you.


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142 – Elevate Your Martial Arts Business To The Next Level With Zulfi Ahmed’s Breakthrough Mindset Formula

Zulfi Ahmed is coming to Australia to share his breakthrough mindset formula that’s responsible for his martial arts business empire.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • When is the perfect time to scale your martial arts school?
  • How is Purpose defined for martial arts school owners in Partners?
  • The teachings to anticipate from Master Zulfi Ahmed during the Partners Intensive in June 2023
  • Zulfi recounts his martial arts journey from childhood to a master instructor and successful school owner
  • Finding the right balance between your martial arts passion and business purpose
  • A breakthrough formula that will take your martial arts school to the next level
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.

 

TRANSCRIPTION

It's not just the idea. It's not just the clarity. It's the process, procedures, and steps that people need to take to get through to the next level. We might know that I want to get 400 students, but I want to get 600 students. Well, I need to advertise more. No, there's more than that, but I will give you that process.

GEORGE: Master Zulfi Ahmed, welcome back to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast.

ZULFI: My pleasure. Thank you for having me. Happy to be back.

GEORGE: Awesome, so I think it's good for us to just go back down in the history of the journey on the podcast and then we'll jump into the big reason we're chatting today. So, we spoke back, I was looking earlier, in February 2018. We spoke about The Real Secret To Success With Your Martial Arts Business. I believe this was just before Fred DePalma‘s event in San Diego where we met for the first time.

Then in episode 110, we spoke about How To Become A Master Martial Arts Instructor. Actually, just when your book came out, we had a chat about that. And today, we're back. We're back for episode 142 because you're coming to Australia. How good is that?

ZULFI: Yes, I'm excited. Thank you very much for the kind invitation and I'm super excited. I can't wait to get on the plane and go and meet you again and all the friends in Australia. I have some very good friends, and fellow martial artists in Australia. I would love to see them and make new friends. And I am excited, super excited.

GEORGE: I think it'd be good, even though this is the third time around on the podcast, it'd be good to go back to your story. But a story I want to share quickly, which was really, I think a pivotal point where we really connected is at Fred DePalma's event. You spoke at the event and I really loved your chat and your knowledge. 

And I remember you making a lot of Jay Abraham references, which I thought, “Oh, that's really good.” For those of you that don't know Jay Abraham, look him up. And in the morning when we were flying back, we were all waiting down in the lobby at breakfast. We were all waiting for our trip back. 

And we just got into a conversation. And it was one of the most valuable conversations I've had in martial arts and martial arts business, and you just openly shared things that I can do in my business, how I should approach it, and how I should approach the American market differently. Yeah, so I want to thank you for that because I took a lot away from that.

ZULFI: My pleasure.

GEORGE: And so, we've always kept in touch. And so, the conversation came up and I know we mentioned it, somewhere along the line we mentioned, maybe sometime you'll come to Australia. And so, we host this event for our members once a year. We call it The Partners Intensive. We did one in Brisbane last year. 

I just moved to the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Australia and I thought, “If I'm ever going to do a great event in Australia, it's got to be here because it's beautiful.” And we're planning one for the US later in the year. And lucky enough, our dates have aligned well, and I'm really excited that you're going to be joining us for the event.

Zulfi Ahmed Martial Arts

ZULFI: Me too. It's a pleasure. I can't wait to do this. I've been wanting to go to Australia for many, many years. Actually, in 1979, I'm originally from Pakistan, so we had a Pakistani Burmese kickboxing team. We were going to go to Australia for a tournament in 1979. 

And we had some visa problems at that time. So half the members of the team got the visa, half the members didn't get the visa. I was one of the people who could have gotten the visa, but I was very young, so my parents said, “No, we have to have the whole team go otherwise …”

So, lo and behold, the trip got canceled. And we came to find out that the promoter, an Australian promoter, unfortunately, went through a heart attack, so the whole event got canceled, and postponed. So since then, since 1979, I've been looking forward to going to Australia. 

And I have some friends who live in Perth and Sydney, and then you are there. And there are some great martial artists like Ridvan and Hakan who are good friends of mine. And we have Phil and Graham also. I think they're in Sydney.

GEORGE: They'd be both in Perth.

ZULFI: Perth. So, they came and visited Bushi Ban headquarters and I just connected with my Aussie friends. So yes. And again, thank you for this kind invitation and I look forward to that.

GEORGE: So on that, and thanks for the brief intro, but I think even though you've been on the podcast before, I know a lot of martial artists that I mentioned were really excited that you're coming to Australia for the first time. And then there are a few that aren't that familiar with you and what you do in the space. So I think it'd be good to just recap on that. Just give us a bit of a background, your history in martial arts, Bushi Ban International, and so forth.

ZULFI: Sure, happy to. So, I'm originally from Pakistan. Most of you know where Pakistan is. But at age 23, I migrated to the United States and I grew up in martial arts. My history in martial arts is wrestling, Indo-Pakistani wrestling. As a little kid, it's like soccer in America, baseball, and almost everybody is exposed to Indo-Pakistani wrestling.

Actually, my father was a patron, and a big fan of wrestling, and my grandfather was a patron and fan of wrestling. The Great Gama, one of the greatest wrestlers who ever lived, my grandfather's family sponsored him, and they had a special pit, the akhara, we call it akhara wrestling pit, in my grandfather's land, where Gama would come and do what we call ZOR, wrestling, wrestle away. And my grandfather's family sponsored him through some of his fights. So it goes back into my history, my ancestors. And one of my uncles was a wrestler.

Then as a young kid, my father would take me to Pakistan, the Bholu wrestling pit and we would go see the matches and they would take me as a five, six-year-old, go, just roll around in the pit and hang out with the wrestlers and learn a few tricks and take-downs and all this cool stuff. And then as you get older, you get into other sports, hockey, and cricket and all this stuff. 

Zulfi Ahmed

Then I started at a very early age judo. My brother was a military cadet and he would come and beat me up from the military college when he would come home and do judo and boxing. And then I got into neighborhood boxing and my brother's friend was a judo brown belt. So he would teach us judo and we would take comforters from the house. We didn't have mats, so we put them down in the backyard and they were my judo mats.

And we learned some basic judo from him. And then in 1975, a Burmese grand master, Grand Master Ma Tai, migrated from Burma to East Pakistan, which is Bangladesh now and into Pakistan, and he started teaching Burmese Bando, Burmese martial arts. Lethwei is bare-knuckle kickboxing. Naban is the Burmese wrestling, Bando, Banshay, Thaing. He's still around, he still teaches, and he's still my teacher. 

And so I enrolled in his school. That was the first official school that I enrolled in Eastern martial arts. My father didn't care much for boxing, so I would have a few boxing matches when he found out I was doing boxing, he didn't think it was good for me, too much trauma. Bando Lethwei was even worse. But we didn't know back home, it was new. Nobody knew, we said it's karate, we're doing Bando karate. So okay, karate is good, you go train.

So I started training at a very early age, actually nine years of age. And then I'm still his student to this day. Whenever I go back, I of course give my love and respect to him and learn and visit with him. I was very fortunate to be on the Pakistani team, the martial arts team the first time we ever went outside Pakistan, the national team. 

We went to Malaysia to compete in the Keijo Hanan International Karate Championship, in 37 countries. I was the youngest competitor ever, and I won a gold medal in kata and weapons. And I got disqualified from fighting because our style of fighting was different from traditional karate. We were more Bando contact people. 

So I broke somebody's nose, and I got disqualified. So 14 years, little bitty, stinky little kid. And so from that time when we went to Malaysia, I was exposed to other martial arts, Shotokan, Ken Shin Kai, Goju-Ryu, and Malay Silat, and we were there for two months, Singapore, Malaysia.

And we traveled. All we did was soaked in martial arts, the whole team was a five-member team. We would train in the morning at the Kung Fu Kwoon up on the rooftop. We would go to GT Mings Dojo, learn Goju-Ryu, we would go to the Ken Shin Kai dojo, we'd go to KBI, Karate Budokan International, which by the way I believe has a big following in Australia. 

KBI, Karate Budokan International. And the Grand Master was Chew Choo Soot. So I would go train at his dojo in Malaysia. We were ranked in Shotokan, Ken Shin Kai under his organization. We became black belts under his certification ranking.

Then, as a 14-year-old, traveling, and competing just opened my mind. And I just fell in love even more with martial arts. And thanks to my father's support, and my family's support, I started traveling all over the Southeast Asian countries, Philippines, Thailand, Burma, India, you name it, I've been to the Far East and competed, trained, learned, and sometimes taught also. 

So my journey started internationally at age 14. Then I moved, and I migrated to the United States, to Houston, Texas. In 1985, I came to New York and then from New York to Texas, went to school here, San Jacinto College, Texas Southern University. But I had been teaching professionally starting at age 14. I used to teach in my school, my junior high school as a young person and I had 60, 70 students.

So I would teach, of course with the blessing of my teacher, Grand Master Tai. Then in 1979, I got the youngest title of black belt in Burmese Bando. And then I got permission to travel more from my teacher. And then in 1980 – '81, I opened my own school and started my own system called Bushi Ban and started Zulfi's Academy of Martial Arts. 

It was a blend of different styles, which I'd learned throughout my years, traveling all over competing, but at the same time connected to my teacher with his blessing. He was very open-minded and even though very traditional, yet open-minded. He gave me his blessing. I opened my own style, Bushi Ban. The evolution of Bushi Ban started in '80 – '81. And I'm still learning. It's evolving, it's a live system. We always learn, incorporate, and improve.

I was also fortunate to fight on the undercard where in 1976 or 75, Antonio Inoki, the great god of wrestling from Japan, and the great Akram, Akram Pahalwan. They had a freestyle fight in the National Stadium in Karachi, and there were like 42,000 spectators live broadcast. 

You can still find that match on YouTube Inoki versus Akram. That was my first-time exposure to mixed martial arts. Mixed Martial Arts in that part of the world have been around, but it was not called MMA, it was called freestyle wrestling.

And it would be all strikes. And there's the first time in public, somebody got arm barred. So Inoki beat Akram and broke his shoulder with an arm bar. Okay, so now for that fight, the wrestlers came and trained in Burmese Bando with my teacher. So my teacher was the striking coach, but unfortunately, Inoki arm-barred Akram, because Inoki was really good at grappling. 

Zulfi Ahmed Martial Arts

So that's when we started doing judo. And our exposure to jiu-jitsu started in 1977. There's a family in India called the Barodawalla family, which has a very, very cool history. It's just like the Gracie family. 

Parallel to Gracie family, the same story because the Indian army, the Japanese came to India in the Second World War and created some spies and they taught jiu-jitsu to some of those Indian spies. So they also started teaching and recruiting martial artists. So Dr. Barodawalla was a judo master, so he was also taught jiu-jitsu.

So his sons came to Pakistan for a visit and we were introduced to jiu-jitsu close to the way it started in the Gracie tradition. And that was my first exposure to jiu-jitsu. And they were teaching in the police academy. Anyway, I was exposed to grappling, wrestling, and judo, at an early age. So I continued training. 

When I came to America, I was under the mentorship of the Great Grand Master, Dr. Maung Gyi. He is the head of the American Bando Association, a highly respected, worldwide authority in martial arts. He introduced kickboxing to the United States. He's a mentor, was a mentor to the great Joe Lewis, and worked with Ed Parker and Robert Trias. His history is amazing. 

So he's still alive, 94 – 95 years of age. I just saw him last October. He's still my teacher. He's my mentor. He's the one who awarded me a 10th-degree black belt in 2017 under the American Bando Association.

So currently my own system is called Bushi Ban. I hold a 10th-degree black belt under the American Bando Association flag. I train every day as much as I can. I  teach every day. I oversee about 40 plus, 50 martial arts schools. They're not mine, but I guide them, I mentor them, and I coach them all over the world, not only in the United States. 

We have 13 Bushi Ban schools in America. We have many affiliate schools in America. They use my curriculum methodology system, and they have their own unique brand, but they incorporate the Bushi Ban system. From the financial part of it, which is just a byproduct, I don't know if you know what EFC, Educational Funding Company, is part of our billing company. And my headquarters was number one in EFC collections, for over 10 years. Number one grossing school in the United States.

And then other schools come up with this wonderful evolution. We are still with EFC, and we're still a very high-grossing school, but now we don't share all our numbers with everybody. Each one of our schools is very profitable. We believe our system, our style, and our curriculum is very robust and very timely. 

We learn to adjust to what are the needs, wants, desires, and fears of our clients. And we cater to our philosophy, students first, martial arts second, and business third. So first there is always the student, their wants, needs, desires, and what we can do for the student by way of martial arts. And then because we have the business, the business of martial arts changes lives. So students are always first. 

I continue my journey. I've competed all over the world. I've competed in grappling tournaments. I'm no world champion in grappling or Muay Thai. I've been beaten more than I've won, but I've been to over 300 competitions, tournaments, matches, and fights from all different styles.

I've fought in Thailand. I've done grappling, jiu-jitsu tournaments, boxing tournaments, sports karate tournaments, kickboxing tournaments, kata, and weapons. I've had two world titles in weapons and kata and lightweight sparring. So I believe I'm a well-rounded martial artist, but I still continue to learn and grow. 

Zulfi Ahmed Martial Arts

And my system, the Bushi Ban system, is what we call a supra system. It's a mega system with many integrated concepts, principles, and philosophies. So it's an eclectic integrated system with a traditional value base. So we have the traditional values, we have the traditional structure, but the modern approach. 

Now I know a lot of schools nowadays are claiming the same thing, but I believe that we are one of the pioneers of this mindset and this structure, which we started many, many, many years ago. And if we've gone through a lot of trials and errors and where we are, I believe many schools are starting where we were 20 years ago.

And I help a lot of schools refine and define their brand and their presence and their methodologies because I feel there're many multi-program schools, but they are kind of confused about how to integrate, how to layer, how to structure, how to bring the chain of difference, so their schools are doing programs. There'll be a school doing Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and Krav Maga. 

Wonderful, but it's not system-based, it's program-based. We take pride in that we are a system-based organization where our system, and structure are eclectic and timely with traditional values. I don't know if that makes much sense. This is a tradition for modern times.

GEORGE: Yeah, I'd love to just dive a bit deeper into that. But first just congratulations on the journey.

ZULFI: Thank you very much. And still learning, still growing.

GEORGE: You say you're still learning, you're still evolving every day. So it's not like every day you reach a plateau, in a comfort zone where you're at. Just to dive a bit deeper into that, you were referring to a brand identity where schools can be confused. 

We got guys in our group that are one style and that's what they do and that's their focus. And then multiple styles, multiple demographics, and so forth. How do you feel about the difference between being able to brand yourself as a multi-style school? And do you feel that there's a point where you should kind of delay it before you add too many styles so that you create a culture and an identity for your brand first? Or how do you approach that generally?

Zulfi Ahmed Martial Arts Media

ZULFI: So there are actually two schools of thought. One is the linear school. That means that they have their brand, style, and system as one. For example, Taekwondo, they know what they know, they are good at it, they're experts at it and they are successful with that, more power to them. 

Then there's a school, which is a multi-dimensional school with different products. If you go to banking, they say different products. They have jiu-jitsu, they have Muay Thai, they have whatever they do, fitness. And which is another model, which one is better? 

I've seen mega success in model A and I've seen mega success in model B. So the key is what is the leadership mindset? How clear is the leadership on the journey on the route they're taking? If you are a linear school, that means one style with multiple functions.

So you can have Taekwondo, but you can have fitness Taekwondo, self-defense Taekwondo. But it all depends on the leader, their stage, and the phase of their life where they are. So if you are a mature school, in which you've grown up with a mature brand and you are successful, more power to you. 

Keep doing what you're doing if you're successful and if you're happy. People can be successful, but they might not be content. And people can be content, but they might not have the success of “hundreds of students and thousands of dollars.” 

So you find your bliss, you find where it makes you tranquil, where you feel harmony with your brand and your success and what you are comfortable with. What is your key lifestyle comfort zone? Or are you constantly ambitious, constantly wanting more, more, more?

So that is a very private personal in-depth question, which when I work with my students, like coach a lot of school owners, let's define that. Let's find out where you are, where you want to be, and how we are going to get there. So you need to know your inner self first before the external extrinsic, we need to define that. 

Okay, I need 500 students, I need to make a quarter million dollars. You might be doing that but might not be content. You might be in turmoil, stressed away all day, and can't sleep. Or you might have 100, or 200 students. You make good enough money, you have a beautiful family, and you are happy.

So we need to find it from the top. It's defined from the top. The school methodologies and the school structure is secondary. First, let's see what the leadership is looking for, searching for, and where they find it. Then we break down, okay, linear school or multidimensional school. And in that, there are some pros and cons in both of them also. 

So we decipher that. We find out, I know some people who are mega-successful with linear schools and I know people who are mega-successful with multidimensional schools, but it depends on the stage and age and phase of their life also. So this is a question that is customized to each individual. I cannot give you a general question, it has to be customized.

GEORGE: 100%. Interesting that when we take people through the audition process in our Partners group, we always start with a purpose. And the way I always mention to school owners the purpose can be vague, but everyone's purpose is different because you might want to have multiple schools, multiple styles, or you just want the lifestyle business. 

We break the purpose down into three levels, the income you desire, the impact you want to create through your martial arts, and the lifestyle you want to live. And it's different for everyone because you'll get some that say, “Look, well, I've had this job forever, this other business, I need the income to do this thing.”

And others are just, “Well, I really want the impact. I want to make a difference in my martial arts.” And then others want the lifestyle, someone to live, eat, breathe, and sleep on the mats and others want balance. So I love how you define that starting with the end in mind.

Zulfi Ahmed Martial Arts Media

ZULFI: The key is clarity. Are you clear about it? We all have a purpose. Our purpose might be to make a lot of money. Nothing wrong with that. I love to make a lot of money and make a big impact. I love to make a big impact. I love this lifestyle. 

But how clear are we with our framework? How clear are we with our vision? How clear is the vision? How clear is the mission? How clear are our values which align with the business? How clear are we where we are in the stage and phase of our development and our maturity, our capabilities, our abilities, our roadblocks, our challenges, and our ambitions? How hot is the fire? Where is the fire taking us?

So some people are super ambitious but have no clarity. Some people are very clear, but they don't have the fire and desire. They want this but they don't want to work hard. So we have to find that balance. And if the balance is not there, we have to create leverages to build that balance. 

So we need to find, okay, your passion is this, your purpose is this. Let's be clear there's your ambition and let's find out the mechanics of how we align that. So clarity is very important.

GEORGE: I love that. So Master Zulfi, twofold question, when did you get that clarity? Was it from day one, you knew that this was going to be where you wanted to go or did it evolve? And then once you knew where you wanted to go, and you already had that first location, how did you develop that to scale it from two all the way to 13 the way you did? That's probably a loaded question.

ZULFI: I was very clear at orange belt level, I was nine or 10 years old or 11, I was very clear that this is going to be my lifestyle because I was influenced and I was around people who inspired me, influenced me, motivated me, not by telling me that you'll become a martial arts master or grand master or school owner just by the way of life, the role model which I had, it inspired me and it gave me a living model of where I wanted to be, who I wanted to be, who would be my example of lifestyle. 

So I saw that at a very early age because Grand Master Tai's school had hundreds of students in one class. There was a class that had 800 students in one session. It's unheard of for 800 students. People might be saying this guy is lying. No, I have photographs of proof.

And this was 1975, 1976. I saw how successful a martial artist can be, but it was not the money. I was very young. It was the impact and it was the respect that person was receiving the love that person was receiving and the love he was giving back to his students by way of him being a mentor master, a grand master, and the way he taught students and changed lives. 

One of them is me, even though I come from a very educated, high-value, accomplished family, very academic, and very high-minded. I have doctors, engineers, and lawyers, but I chose martial arts because that man inspired me by being a role model.

So it was at a very early age. And then I pursued and as I grew older and as I traveled early at an early age, 14, 15, 16, 17, and I was exposed to martial arts in the early '70s, mid-'70s, late '70s, all over the southeast Asian continent, I just fell in love and I knew this is what I was going to do, even though I went to college, university, but this has been my passion. 

The clarity of my purpose has been there. The structure has come through learning as well as trial and error. A lot of it was trial and error, experimentation, creative thought process, and then aligning myself with the right mentors.

Great Grand Master Maung Gyi is extremely learned. He has a double Ph.D. He taught at Harvard University. He's an intellectual extreme. So his guidance, my parents' guidance, my other teacher's guidance. Who we are is a product of our surroundings and our influences plus what we do on our own journey of inquisitiveness, experimentation, learning, and discovery. 

Now 13, we've had more schools, some schools changed the brand and went to a different style, which is okay, and some schools closed down in COVID. So we have 13 locations right now in America and many, many in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India, we have affiliates in Thailand, also Canada, and we are all around and have a lot of affiliates.

So to answer, it's been a journey. It's been a constant evolution. Constant breakthrough. So when you get stuck with 200 students, you’ve got to learn what your next breakthrough point is. So you discovered it through experimentation, learning, and going to seminars. 

And then you found that breakthrough, then you go to 300 students, then there's another breakthrough, then you go to two schools, then you go to three schools. So each stage and phase, we must come through a breakthrough realization of processes, procedures, philosophies, mindsets, values, systems, and of course actions. That is what gets us to the next level. But first, we have to be clear about where we want to go.

GEORGE: Love it. So if we were to take that into a seminar and a workshop for those that'll be attending us in Australia on the Sunshine Coast, 2 to 4 June 2023, depending on when you're listening to this. What can people expect on the day?

Zulfi Ahmed Bushi Ban

ZULFI: I'm going to give you one big claim, all right? I don't like to give big claims. I'm going to share with your attendees a massive breakthrough mindset, which people might know but never have seen or heard of clearly. They might practice it, but without this structure which I'm going to give them. 

I'm going to break down how they can break through if they are stuck in one level or one stage. And I promise you that they will have an epiphany, a realization that they've never had before. And I'm going to give them a formula, an actual formula which they can go and start applying the next day into the business. 

And I can almost, I'm not going to give a written guarantee, assure you and guarantee that if we meet next year and if they apply what I'm giving them, the secrets, the breakthrough secrets, realizations, their school will be on a whole other level. Their whole culture will be at another level. I promise you that.

GEORGE: Love it.

ZULFI: I know it is because when I teach this to my schools, the people who've been in business 30 years, and when they hear this structure, this methodology, they say, “Oh my goodness, now I understand. I knew it, but now I see it clearly. Oh my goodness, I never thought of it like this. Wow, what a great realization. Why didn't I think of it before?” But it's not a thought, it's a process.

I will share step one, step two, and step three processes. We are going to roll up our sleeves, and we're going to do a workshop. It'll take about two hours to get the whole system down. And I promise you, by the time we are done with this system, the attendees, whoever the lucky person is attending, he or she will have epiphanies, and clarity they've never had before. It's a big claim and I'll stand behind that claim.

GEORGE: I love that. And just to back that up, I just want to illustrate that or put emphasis on that. It's a workshop environment. We are a small high-level group.

ZULFI: I love it.

GEORGE: Interactive. I know sometimes, maybe not in the martial arts space, but you go to these events and there's one guy standing at the top and telling you this big hero's journey story and then three little things that you can do and you never get the context. This is not that. In a workshop environment, it's interactive. It's going to be structured for you to get the breakthroughs and be able to ask questions and work on your business.

Zulfi Ahmed

ZULFI: And it's going not only on for martial arts, this system, which I've created and I've learned through my trial and errors, pains and hurts and successes, which when I share, people might have heard or seen it in some form of way, but not in this methodology, not in this way. And we'll do an actual exercise per each dimension of this system. And by the time we get to the final stage, they will realize, wow, I'm going to start doing this tomorrow. 

Some of them might be doing this in some way or form, but the way clarity's going to happen and it's going to become a system for them. And that system is a secret to the next level of breakthrough. It's not just the idea, it's not just the clarity. It's the process, procedures, and steps that people need to take to get through to the next level.

We might know that I want to get 400 students, I want to get 600 students, and I need to advertise more. No, there's more to it than that. But I will give you that process. And when you start applying that process, you will see a systematic rise in your numbers, improvement in your lifestyle, and satisfaction in your lifestyle. 

Your staff retention is going to grow by leaps and bounds. Your staff loyalty is going to grow by leaps and bounds. Your staff commitment is going to grow by leaps and bounds because staff retention, staff loyalty, and staff commitment are one of the biggest areas that martial arts schools are faced with. And I will give you the secret to how to deal with that. I have students, I have staff that has been with me 20 plus years. Happy staff. The guy who made their deal, he's been with me 20, 22, 23 years, I've got people with me 30 years, students will be with 40 plus years.

So there's a system. The first thing has to come from the heart. It cannot be artificial, it cannot be fake, and it has to be from the heart. And I'll share that with you. So I look forward to sharing this and much more. Many, many more breakthrough ideas, which I guarantee will take your schools to the next level. 

No matter where you are, no matter if you're making a quarter of a million dollars a month, you will increase that by 20 to 30%. No matter if you're making $20,000 a month. You'll increase there by 20 to 30%, but you have to apply the system. I have to give you the system that you have to apply.

GEORGE: I love that, Zulfi. I'm now more excited than I was when we first had the chat.

Zulfi Ahmed Bushi Ban

ZULFI: I'm coming all the way to Australia, I'm not going to come and waste your time or my time. My time is gold, and valuable. I want to share what has worked for me. I want to share what I've shared with a lot of top promoters, and top producers in the martial arts industry. 

I'm honored to help them, grow them, guide them, and it helps them every day. I'm excited. So they'll be my gift to my Australian fellow martial artists and friends. And for whatever it's worth, if you apply, I know because it's changed my life. 

These systems, these ideas, these principles, practices, and philosophies have changed my life and I'm happy to share because when I travel so far and when you invest so much in me, and when I invest so much in you, it has to be worth everybody's time. It has to be valuable, enriching, nurturing, productive, and transformational. Otherwise, it's a waste of everybody's time. And I value my time as much as I value your time and I want to give as much as I can.

So again, thank you for inviting me, and thank you for doing all that you do. And I really look forward to it. I know we have a few people who have asked for me to go and do private mentoring for them and coaching, and I'm really looking forward to some tough guys out there, some from Australia. 

I said, “Wow, man.” And I'm honored, the guys who you connected me with, and I'm honored and I can't wait to go and share whatever I can with them. And some very good martial artists out there, I'm just really looking forward to being part of your organization.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Zulfi, thanks so much for your time. And yes, so if you like what you've heard today and you want to join us, we started this event as an exclusive members-only event. We've opened it up to the public for only a few tickets available for that. 

So we are looking at 2 to 4 June, right on the beach, Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast. Beautiful location. Reach out to me, george@martialartsmedia.com, if you would like to host LF at your school for a private workshop. Anything from instructor training to parent workshops. Give us a quick snippet on that, Zulfi, just so that everyone's familiar.

Zulfi Ahmed

ZULFI: So the structure which I have, I do for my affiliate schools or people who invite me into their school. I have a day or day and a half schedule where I do one-on-one private mentoring with the owner only or the key owners or the key. It's a private, two-hour brainstorming mastermind session with them and we try to find out, investigate and then see how we can improve, tweak, and start to start with the leadership. 

Then I also do group instructor training from instructor to master level or from junior instructor depending on the maturity of the school. We also do martial arts training for their student body. It could be from weapons to self-defense to striking to the ground. You name it. We can work with them. We also do children's workshops with what we call combative games and it’s really, really fun. The kids love it.

We also do a parent workshop and that is one of the keys which I want to share with the school owners, how to conduct a powerful parents' workshop or parents' teacher meeting in social. That in itself is immensely valuable when the schools start doing structured, properly organized parent-teacher meetings, workshops, and social, and I'll share that with you. 

So I do that for some schools also where the parents come in and I motivate them and inspire them to get into the martial arts. I show them the values and benefits of keeping their kids, not that they don't know it, but when it comes from a third party, from another authority, or from outside your school, it just creates a bigger impact. It just creates a bigger story. And we get the parents to connect with the school.

So my job is to help you build your brand to even the next level, to even take it to the next level. I'm not there to sell me, I'm there to sell you even more to your student body. So they see you as the ultimate authority, the ultimate brand, the ultimate go-to source. 

So my job is to be your aid to grow your school and grow your student body and bring them closer to you, the parents and the students, and the staff so that you all can create a bigger, stronger brand.

GEORGE: Awesome. Zulfi, thanks so much for your time, and really looking forward to having you over. If anyone wants to host Zulfi at their school, just email me, george@martialartsmedia.com. Thanks so much. Really looking forward to seeing you and we'll chat soon.

ZULFI: Thank you, everyone. Thank you, George.

GEORGE: Thanks, Zulfi.

ZULFI: And stay in touch soon. All the best. OSS.


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119 – How To Run 70 Martial Arts Classes Per Week And Only Teach 6

Brett Fenton recently got married, went on 2 honeymoon vacations, and returned to his martial arts school with more students signed up. We discussed the ‘Instructor Team Blueprint’ that made this possible.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Creating a value-based culture in your martial arts school
  • How to build an instructor team that runs like clockwork without you
  • The method to spot and develop high-potential instructors
  • Why investing in instructor training helps ensure your school's success
  • Do this when instructors clash with your culture 
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

To create a team that can also be exciting and informative and follow your values and your culture onto that mat space is so important, because then you can be your best as well, not just on the floor but off the floor, where you can problem-solve for parents and students off the mat, because that's just as important as what they're learning on the mat. The moment I switched over to that way of thinking, it all started to change.

GEORGE: Good day. George here. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media Business Podcast. Today I've got a repeat guest with me. Really happy to have Brett Fenton back. Good day, Brett.

BRETT: Hey, George. Good to be back on the podcast again.

GEORGE: The last time we spoke, things were different, right? We were just lockdowns moving in and out, and we were talking about virtual gradings, a few epic things of what you're doing. If anybody wants to backtrack on that, Episode 98, but today I want to talk about something else. 

I chat to Brett every week in our Partners group, in our coaching calls, and Brett's always got a ton of value to share. One thing that's come up is Brett runs about 70 classes per week at Red Dragon Martial Arts, and is only teaching six.

I want to get down to the number one question school owners always ask me is, “How do we get more instructors? How do we go about that process?” I want to, on your behalf, pick Brett's brain today and just get all the insights on how that's going about. 

Brett, just a quick intro for those that haven't listened to the previous podcasts. Just give a quick roundup on your background, where you're based, what you guys do and so forth.

Brett Fenton

BRETT: Absolutely, George. I've been doing martial arts pretty much all my life, but I got really serious in my late teens. Got started doing Wing Chun Kung Fu, Jow Ga Kung Fu and some Tai Chi, and started teaching classes. As I think most of us do, it's just you're the standout student in the class and so you get thrown up at the front to run warm-ups, and then all of a sudden you're good at that, so then you start teaching classes.

I was doing that in the early '90s, had my first school in '94, and then I started Red Dragon Martial Arts in '97. We're about to hit 24 years of running classes. That's changed, obviously, from the small community hall where we had 20 students to now we're over 400 students. We only had two classes a week. Now we have 70 classes a week, and we have two training rooms, a gym, a full-time professional facility, and an instructor team of over 20.

Yeah, as you said, I only run six of those classes at best on any given week. I love running classes. I love teaching classes. I teach probably more private lessons than I teach classes. I'll probably do between 10 and 20 private lessons a week. That's where I try to add more value to our teaching staff, I suppose, in that element. I'm teaching the instructors or our elite athletes.

Yeah, it's about I was that instructor that basically taught classes for free, was pulled off the bench for no reason other than I was good, and I wanted to come up with a better way of doing it. I've been lucky enough over the last few years to hang out and pick the brains of some of the best people in the world, like Dave Kovar, Roland Osborne, those kinds of guys, and just learn as much as I can. Fred DePalma is another one.

They're my mentors, and this is my variation and version of that that works well in my school, so yeah. That's what we're going to probably chat about today.

GEORGE: Yeah, perfect. You've implemented that really well, just by your lifestyle. I mean, let's talk about that, right, because a couple of months ago you got married. Congratulations.

BRETT: Thank you.

GEORGE: You were able to completely switch off, completely switch off, and go on a honeymoon. I think you had two honeymoons, didn't you?

BRETT: Well, we'll get to that. Yes.

GEORGE: Right. For the purpose of this, you were able to take a break, leave things over to your team, go on a holiday, get back with a school that has grown and retained its students. How do you go about that? Where do you start going from, it's a one-man show, and obviously you grow a team, but you could actually have the confidence and faith in your team that you can take that complete step back?

BRETT: Absolutely. I still remember. It doesn't happen as much these days, but up until 10 years ago, I couldn't even leave the floor without the parents going, “Oh, the class doesn't run as well without you. You're the superstar instructor. We are paying for you.”

I think all instructors, particularly school owners, feel that pain, that they can't even have a day off. They come in sick, eyes hanging out of their head. They're exhausted.

My retort, I suppose, to customers and parents alike, would be to say to them, “If I teach less classes, when I'm on that floor, I'm fresh. I'm invigorated. I'm excited. I love being there.” If I'm on there for …

I was teaching 40 classes a week at one stage 10 years ago, just because I needed to be on the floor and I didn't have a team that was capable without me, but there were days where I wasn't a great instructor. I was cranky. I was exhausted. I was burnt out. They're not getting the best of you when you like that.

To create a team that can also be exciting and informative and follow your values and your culture onto that mat space is so important, because then you can be your best as well, not just on the floor but off the floor, where you can problem-solve for parents and students off the mat, because that's just as important as what they're learning on the mat. The moment I switched over to that way of thinking, it all started to change.

Yeah, as you said, I just got married about three months ago. We went to Tasmania, spent two weeks in isolation with no reception. Everything went smoothly, came back, was back for about two weeks, and then I took my wife away for her 50th birthday in the Whitsundays on our yacht, and we didn't have any reception there either for a week.

Loved the ability to do that, and know that my team is looking after their baby as much as it is my baby, because they love the place. They're invested in it. They've grown up there. It's really important to know who to pick when it comes to that, so that you have that peace of mind when you go away and have some days off, let alone if you're sick or unwell.

Because I see too many martial arts schools out there closing their doors for the day because the instructor's sick, and you just can't do that and be professional at the same time.

GEORGE: Yeah, cool. I liked what you said, that they take care of their baby as much as yours. Before we get into the biggest obstacles and how school owners have got to make this transition, I'd like to talk about culture. How did you install that culture? 

Before we get to that, we've got a really great download for you, for something that's going to really help you on choosing the right instructor, what ethics and characteristics you've really got to look out for. I'll mention how you can grab that, but let's chat about culture. How did you go about installing that culture within your team?

BRETT: No worries. A number of years back, we actually went through a bit of a slump with our culture. Had a few changes, a few instructors left, and it happened. In business for 25 years, there are going to be shifts in culture, particularly when I change direction and I see a way of changing. It's always going to happen, and we've had that happen probably five different times over 25 years.

It can be just as simple as we're adding a new program, or we decided we want to go from being a small-town community hall to having our own facility. There were people that didn't like that idea. They thought that, no, that's not martial arts. Then going from that to having multiple rooms with air conditioning, that's like, “Well, now that's not martial arts.” To some of your instructors, that's like you're turning into a gym.

We had a lot of obstacles to overcome, to keep growing and going in the direction that I thought that the school needed to go in, but also where I thought the majority of my students deserve to have their school go in. I'm always looking out for them to have the best facilities, the best instruction that they can have, but that doesn't come without its challenges.

Basically, we sat down with an expert that is an expert in culture, and I'm lucky enough that my wife's also a culture manager. She works in the culture industry in her business. She, along with one of my best friends, Matt … he lives in Canberra and he's big on culture there … they came together and we created these value systems for our school, that are unbreakable rules that we run our business by and run our school by.

Then they were up on the wall in massive posters, so things like we believe … and they're all belief statements. “We believe that everybody has the opportunity to become a black belt, not just the athletes,” so things like that. “We believe that nobody should blow another person's candle out.” 

We have all these belief systems, and they're everywhere throughout our school. That tells everyone, “This is what we believe in.” I'm also a massive Simon Sinek fan, and he's obviously worldwide. He gets brought into businesses to help with culture. I've listened to all of his podcasts, his interviews, his books, his TED Talks, you name it.

For me, culture is the number one thing as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't matter what you teach. It doesn't matter if you're doing martial arts, gymnastics, or dance. I don't care. If your culture is not right, you'll never grow and you'll never have harmony inside there, and you'll never have a day off because you'll be having to micromanage your team all the time.

I don't micromanage my team. I actually sit in this office, where I am now. I spend most of my time in this office, even when the classes are running, and I pop out, just have chats to the parents if I get a message on my watch or my phone.

I don't teach classes. I've got cameras right above me, where I am right now. There's 12 cameras. I can look up there and see how it's all going if I really want to, but at the end of the day, I trust my team.

They are well-trained. We do monthly training sessions where we go through any of the issues we had during the last month. We've noted it all, we fix it all and we move on.

We listen to our feedback from our students and our parents, so yeah, it's all important. It's an ongoing process that doesn't happen overnight, but yeah, it has to happen.

GEORGE: All right, perfect. You're installing the beliefs. That's very known amongst the culture within the students, so that helps. Now, how does this transition over when you start trying to spot the talent and seeing, all right, well, who's the next instructor? How does it go from being a student to transitioning someone and inviting them to become an instructor?

Martial Arts Instructor

BRETT: Very important, George, in the fact that I think we already do it the day we have people come in and do a trial class. We're very big on not just accepting everybody as a student. They have to have pretty much the same, I suppose, values that we have anyway. It doesn't matter.

If you come in and you go, “Oh, I'm a 10-time world champion,” and you've got a bad attitude, I'm probably not going to accept you as a student. I'll go, “Mate, just go down the road, or go to the AIS or wherever you need to go to feed that ego.”

I'm looking for people that are like-minded to us, have the same values or want the same values, and want to train hard. They want to enjoy their training. They want to be nice to everybody. They're not there for their own selfish reasons all the time. It's pretty much from the day they walk in for their trial. We're almost pre-editing the instructor team by that.

Then that leads us down the path to maybe a month or two in and we see people that are training really hard, everybody gravitates towards them, their personality is infectious, and that's a big thing. My instructor team, it's always on personality first, and then skill and talent is way, way down the track, because you can't teach personality. You literally can get someone who's very technical and very skilled and can put an entire class to sleep, because they get down that rabbit hole of technical stuff.

You get someone who's personable, who's what we like to call Disney, so they're very exciting. Everybody loves to be around them. They can teach people opening letters and that would be an exciting class. It doesn't matter what they're teaching, which makes it easy because you can get them when they're only six to twelve months down the track, teaching how to kick something or how to punch something, or how to hold a kick shield or how to do one technique, but the way they teach it will be amazing.

That's our number one, I suppose, way of wading through all of the student body to find the diamonds in the rough. We do that from personality first, and then we teach them the skills, not just the martial art skills but the teaching skills, which is so important, how to pass on your knowledge.

GEORGE: Why Disney?

BRETT: I think Disney has been doing it for nearly a hundred years, and they've always improved on what they've done. In the industry all over the world, managers and business owners from all over the world actually go to Disney's, their college, where they learn how to do staff management, how they get to present and perform at an elite level. I often say to our instructors that when we're out there teaching, we're not just passing on knowledge. Every parent and every kid that's watching us, we're performing at the same time. How we perform in front of them will keep them engaged.

I think back to when I was in school. The number-ones, the teachers that always got the information across to me best, were the ones that engaged me very well. We want our instructors to be very engaging, very likable and very knowledgeable, obviously.

We have to make sure that we start with them being likable, because nobody's going to listen to them if they're not. They're just going to switch off. It doesn't matter how skilled they are. Yeah, Disney does it best, I think, and they still do it to this day, running a course on that, so very, very useful to learn.

GEORGE: All right, perfect. We're about to go with this. I want to make this episode super practical. Now, full disclosure, Brett and I worked together on a course. It's called The Instructor Team Blueprint. I'll talk more about that, but really what I want to do in this episode is I want to extract some things from the course that were really useful, but I think that can make the most impact from the get-go.

I think the number one question that always comes up in our group is how do you go about finding the right instructors or inviting them, how does that process go. I want to dive a bit more into that.

Then as a gift with this episode, if you download the actual transcript, we'll include the Character Traits to Clarify, which is basically a list of what character traits you're looking for and how you go about finding that in the instructor that you want. To bring that back to here, let's talk about spotting the talent.

You mentioned you plant the seed from the get-go. How does it go from there? How do you get people on board your team and take it from there?

BRETT: No worries, George. First thing is obviously, spotting the talent, to go up to them and say, “You're really skilled at this skill. You'd make a really good instructor one day.” If you see them naturally just going over and helping other people, that's a very key indicator, but just by someone who's at the school, they don't miss classes. When they grade, they grade at a really high level. They're highly personable, so they're that Disney.

Once you start to see that, that's when you can approach them and say, “Listen, I think further down the track, you'd become a really good instructor. Have you ever thought about becoming one?”

If they say, “No, I hadn't, but that's pretty cool,” you go, “Well, we do instructor training once a month. You're more than welcome to come along and have a look at it and see if you enjoy it. If you do, you can come to that until such time as you feel that you're confident enough to start helping us out,” and then just giving them small roles as they go. It might be, “Do you want to come in once a week and help with our three-to-six-year-old class,” or our seven-to-12-year-old class or our adult class, whichever one they like.

Then from there, it just grows. It's, again, growing their ability to stand in front of an audience, their ability to have confidence in their knowledge. Because even though they may present really well in a grading, when they come to teach somebody else, they may find that they get too nervous, they can't talk.

We need to teach them the skills of doing that. We do mock classes when we do our instructor training to help people get through their anxiety when it comes to teaching, if they struggle. A lot of our instructors, funnily enough, have a lot of anxiety, and this is one of the best things for them, because they learn to cope with their anxiety.

They learn the tools to use, whether it's the breathing tools, mindset drills, things like that. It just makes them even better martial artists, because now they're not worried all the time. They can stand up in front of an audience, be in class, and present. They take that out into the real world as well, and it makes them better out there, whether they're working or just in their personal life.

GEORGE: All right. Just backtracking, you've invited them, they come to instructor training. How does it progress from that point?

BRETT: With our adults, they'll just basically go up into our advanced rank. When they get to an advanced rank, they can start assisting in classes if they've been doing the instructor training. Because we don't want anyone assisting until they've been through our instructor training, because they don't know the correct language to use. They don't know the correct way to correct. 

They might just go up to a kid and just go, “That's terrible, fix it.” That could be the day that that poor kid's come in and he's having a hard day as it is. Then you've had this assistant come in for his very first class, has no idea what your culture is on the floor when it comes to teaching, and that kid's now, “I don't want to train anymore,” and he leaves. You can lose students quickly that way.

We want to make sure that all of our assistant instructors know what to say, how to say it. They are empathetic as well as being personable. For our junior instructors, we have what we call Black Belt Club. They go into that after they get to an intermediate belt.

That means that they can come out and they can show other kids how to do things like push-ups, how they can hold pads and kick shields. They can direct them. They can help set up the floor, but again, they still come to our instructor training, because we don't want them, again, using the wrong terminology, using the wrong communication skills.

We can have 10-year-olds out there doing that. We have some really good 8-to-10-year-olds that will help. They'll be partners in our jiu jitsu program, where it's so hard for a three-to-six-year-old sometimes to partner up with another kid, because they just don't understand roleplaying and taking turns. We usually put them with one of our juniors and they do the techniques on them, and then that makes it a lot easier. You get through a class a lot faster and at a higher level.

Then once they've been doing that up to about the age of 14, we then put them into our junior instructor program. That will be, like say in our Kung Fu, it would be our SWAT team. In our Extreme, it's our X team. In our jiu jitsu, it's our Sub Club, so we have a variety of different levels.

Then that means that they can actually take a group on their own, so they have a group of kids. Usually when they first start, it will be the white belts, because they're easy to teach. They're keen for knowledge. They look up to these kids, and basically build their skills out on the floor while they're still doing their instructor training every month.

Once we get up to an adult, they can then go up to Senior Instructor level. Whether they're being paid or not, it's up to them. If they are being paid, though, we don't start them until they're 14 years of age. They must be volunteering first, to basically make sure that they are part of our culture on the floor as an instructor, not just there for the money.

GEORGE: Yeah, cool. Funny enough, we just spoke a bit about this on our Partners Power Hour call earlier, but let's talk about money and compensation, because that's another question that comes up. How do you compensate instructors? When do you start paying, when do you not pay, or is it different for everyone? How do you go about that? Obviously, taking into consideration we've got an international audience, so we'll leave the Australia terms out, but just in a general concept.

Martial Arts Instructor

BRETT: It depends on the student. It's, again, coming down to knowing what your student's goals are. Why are they teaching, at the end of the day? For some of our instructors, they've been teaching for 10 years. They don't want a dime. They actually find it insulting. It's an insult if they get paid, because we can't actually pay them what they're worth. If I've got a lawyer who wants to teach class, I can't pay him $200 an hour to teach my class. He's not going to give up his job. He just loves doing it, because it makes him feel valued.

There's a lot of value in contributing back into the school as an instructor. I did it for a good 15 years before even seeing a dime, but I love it. It was my apprenticeship, I always call it, in instructing. For some people, that's all they want, and they'll teach one class, maybe two classes a week. There's no expectation for them to teach, but they love it and they do it. Sometimes it's for decades.

Then you've got the instructors that go, “You know what, I'd rather do this than do a normal job. I don't want to do a normal job. I want to do this.” Whether they're coming out of high school, they're in their late teens, and they go, “I want to do this,” then we talk about them going down that pathway of becoming a qualified instructor, being paid. 

I've got one instructor that's been here for 10 years, and he's been paid more in the last 10 years than any of our other instructors, just because he is a superstar. He could ask me to go anywhere all over the world, back when we could fly places. I'd go, “Sure, just make sure you get back here in a couple of weeks.” He's that valuable.

Then I've got instructors that were six-year-olds that are now 20-year-olds and they don't want to have a normal job, so they're getting paid as well. It really depends on what their goals are and where they see their future. If they just want to teach one class a week or two classes a week, and they love teaching and they don't want to be remunerated, that's fine, we don't pay them, but we give them so many other bonuses. We give them stuff, like they get uniforms, they get gifts all the time. 

If I think they deserve something, I'll take them out to dinner, you name it. We just make sure that they feel special. It's one of those things. They need to feel valued, more so than the financial side of it. That's why a lot of people volunteer in the first place, it's that value that they feel for their contribution. We don't want to undermine that.

GEORGE: Perfect. Sometimes paid, sometimes not, just depends on the person. We were discussing, as you mentioned as well, it's important that you can't pay a lawyer $200 an hour, type of thing. You've got to have the balance. Obviously, if you've got to pay someone, that you pay them something that's valued, but also not an insult. For those people, it might be better for them to have the social norm of just being able to contribute and be valued in a different way.

BRETT: Absolutely. They may also get paid really well in their job, but where they are, they don't have that esteem. They're not put up on a pedestal. They might be like a mechanic, who earns 50 bucks an hour but nobody even talks to him. Then all of a sudden he's out on the floor and he's a black belt, and everybody is listening to every word that he says. You can't buy that. 

That's just pure pride that he loves, and you couldn't pay him for it. Think about it. Most of our instructors paid to be in that position. They paid fees to get to that position, like I did when I was training. Yeah, we just want to make sure that they feel valued and that we appreciate everything they do, and that they are held in esteem with their student base.

GEORGE: Just interesting, let's flip the tables quickly. What happens when it goes not to plan and you get the instructor that is not aligned with the beliefs, or they were aligned with the beliefs but the ego is growing with the position, or they're just getting off track or something happens in their life and it derails them, and they start to separate the alignment where you and the club are going versus on their journey? How do you deal with that type of conflict?

BRETT: Oh, there's obviously a number of ways that people do deal with it. Like a lot of school owners, I'm sure that I've had it happen to me so many times over the years. It just becomes part and parcel. Students leave, instructors leave. It's just what happens. There's a few ways you can deal with it. You can be obviously nasty about it and just kick them out. You can force them out by taking away their shifts or whatever, or you can just have someone come in and take over their class.

I like to do it from another way and go, “Okay, what do I need to do? Obviously I don't want you here, because you're not good for our culture.” I can either get them to come back on board with our culture, which is Plan A. Plan B is to then go, “How can I help you to go out and do your own thing?” 

Whether that's going and teaching for somebody else, because it usually is only around the instructor that has their own opinions on how it should happen. They're not in line with my opinions or the school owner's opinions. Then there's going to be that fraction happening inside the classes all the time.

That person probably needs to go and run their own school. Then you go down the pathway of, okay, “Well, which way would you like to do it? Would you like to do it with my support? Would you like to do it as our branding, without our branding, or do you just want to just go and do your own thing?” You give them some avenues to go down. 

We've had ones that have gone just down their own way and not wanted any help whatsoever. We've had some that have gone with help. Yeah, at the end of the day, you're looking at their future still, like you would any other instructor. If it doesn't align with the direction we're going in, that's okay, because we can't all go down the same path.

We want to try and make it as amiable as possible. I don't want to have them out there being competition, as they say. I'd like them to be on the same page as us and looking out for each other. I'm still great friends with all my instructors of 30-plus years. I had to do the same thing at some stage to them. I had to go out on my own, but I did it respectfully, because I saw a different pathway that I wanted to go down. I was respectful, and I'm still in contact with them and I still train with them, and I still get them to come in and guest-instruct and all that stuff happens.

Yeah, it's understanding where you've come from and then understanding where you want to go. I understand that from my perspective and their perspective. I think that takes a little bit of empathy, to understand it from the other person's perspective. It's not the wrong thing to do, they've just got a different direction they want to go in, and so we help them.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. Because that is a concern that a lot of school owners mention, if you don't want to get someone on board, you make them the star of the school, and they decide they're too entrepreneurial and they want to open up their own school. The intention was just to grab what they can, and they make a run for it. What you're saying is you're just approaching that with a bit more of an empathetic approach, and you want to make sure you instill those values and that there is an open path that people can leave.

Brett Fenton

BRETT: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, because I've been down the pathway. I've had instructors just leave and not tell me, and then go and open up in opposition. I think as long-term instructors, we've all had that happen. That's just because we didn't read the warning signs early enough. That's part of growing. 

We often talk about in the industry, if you get a black belt, it doesn't mean to say you're an instructor. Then after you've been instructing for say a good 10 years, you'd probably have been a black belt instructor if you'd been doing it properly. Then after you've owned your school probably for 20 years, maybe now you're a black belt school owner.

You try to look at it in that vein, that you've got to be improving your skills as an instructor, but then also as a school owner and then as a business owner. They're all skills that you need to be growing. Part of growing as a business owner is understanding that your staff will want to leave at some stage, like students want to leave, and that you've got to find an amicable way of making that happen, so that if they need to come back to you for help later on, there's a doorway for them to come through. 

Because if they leave under bad terms, then they don't feel like there is a doorway, or there usually isn't because it's not amicable. I've been down that path many times, and would have preferred it not to be that way, but these days I'm a lot better on that. That just comes from experience. The only true way of getting it is to go through it.

GEORGE: Exactly, yeah. I like Ross Cameron‘s philosophy. He calls it the bus, you know. Everyone's on the bus, they get on the bus, and sometimes they jump off the bus. You help them get from one place to the next. It's their time to hop off the bus and go do their own thing.

BRETT: Yep. You can't get upset about it. You helped them in their journey to where they got to. The fact that people will stay for 5, 10, 15, 20 years is crazy, that they want to stay that long. That means you've done something right.

Rather than looking at it from the point of what I did wrong for them to leave, you've got to look at it from the perspective of that you did something right for a very long period of time, and then learned from it. That's what we're always trying to do. I'm definitely trying to do that all the time. Perfect at it, not, but I'm always trying to improve the way I do it.

GEORGE: Awesome. We wanted to include a couple of things and resources you could use from this episode. If you go to the website, if you're listening to this, martialartsmedia.com/119. That's where all the resources for this episode are going to look.

As I mentioned earlier, Brett and I, we spent some time, and my job was to extract everything out of Brett's mind and help him put together a program that covers the Instructor Team Blueprint in six steps.

We've gone from the team skill plan, how to assess how many instructors you're going to need and fulfilling those positions, spotting the right talent, systemizing the training accordingly, running the instructor training boot camp, how to do that, rewards and recognition, payments and a whole bunch of other things. From what we just discussed … and, Brett, I'm about to put you on the spot here, forgive me.

BRETT: That's okay.

GEORGE: When you download the transcript of this podcast, we've included the Character Trait Clarifier. It's basically a list of what you're looking for as in work ethic, popularity, their passion, communication, leadership skills. Just going through a process of how to basically score people, score your students, and see if they've got the right attributes and right values and the right character traits to become an instructor.

Putting you on the spot, Brett, just talking, it reminded me of how people find it hard to get people to transition from student to instructor and how that process goes. You've got something called the Instructor Letter of Offer.

BRETT: Yep.

GEORGE: Do you mind telling us about that? Then I'm going to ask if you wouldn't mind including it.

BRETT: Okay. No worries. Absolutely. I can definitely include that. I'll send it through to you. It basically is a formal letter that we would send out to an instructor that's maybe even been doing the instructor training. They've come in, maybe done one session, and we've gone, “You know what? We think that they would be the right fit.”

It can be a teenager, it can be an adult, it doesn't matter. It can be even a kid, if you really want to start your junior instructor team that way.

Just the formal part of it just states everything that you expect of them, that you've found that they would be the right fit, that they have the necessary skills as far as their personality goes and they fit the culture. It's really important that they understand what they're in for, that it's an important role, that's it's not just being plucked off the floor and put up on the front of the class, which obviously, we still do that to this day. We have instructors, but we don't pick on anyone that doesn't do instructor training, but you have to start somewhere.

I remember getting plucked off and just put on the front of the stage and, “Here you go, run a warm-up.” There's a better way to do it. During class, walk around, find the right people. Find if they're interested, invite them to the first session. If after that they seem interested, they do a really good job, then you can send them the offer to join our instructor training squad and go from there. You can have levels of that.

You can write the letter for, “We'd like you to become a junior instructor,” or we'd like you to become an assistant instructor, a senior instructor. You can basically format it to suit whatever your needs are.

Just the sheer fact of getting something in the post that's formally saying that we want you in our team, that's a pretty proud moment for most people. Rather than just coming up and slapping them on the back and going, “Hey, you want to be an instructor?” It's a big difference in the mindset then. It just shows how much we think about these things. It's professional.

GEORGE: Perfect. All right. Thanks for that. We'll include that with the transcript, and as a bonus, what we'll extract is just, with the Character Trait Clarifier, there's a snippet in Module 2 of how we went about that and how you go about working with that. I'll get our video editor to just edit, give you that snippet so that you know how to work through the worksheet and you know how to go through the PDF.

Other than that, Brett, thanks so much. I mean, if you've got anything to add about the Instructor Team Blueprint.

Instructor team blueprint

Just for reference, if you want to grab the course, you can go to martialartsmedia.com/courses and just look for The Instructor Team Blueprint. It's up there. It's really a good value for the amount of knowledge and work that's gone into it. Yeah, it's a really good value. Brett, have you got anything to add on that, about the program?

BRETT: I think that I wish it would have been around 20-something years ago when I was first teaching classes, and I had to travel all over the world to do that and then bring instructors from overseas to here. It's just been one of those things, that I know all of us long-term school owners wish we had more information back when we did, but now we do.

It's just a combination of 25, 30 years of teaching and all the things that I did incorrectly and correctly, fined-tuned into a nice, easy-to-learn-and-use course that I think would suit anybody that's trying to grow their school and not want to be at their school 24/7, teaching every single class 'til they're 85.

I don't want to retire. This is my retirement. When I'm at my school, I like being here, but I would hate to think that I'd be like my instructor, who is in his seventies, and if he's not at the school, it's closed. I don't want to be that. I want to be able to take time off. I want to be able to be unwell and not have to get up and go to my class and teach. Thank God I didn't have to worry about COVID.

Even to the point where my team is so proficient that when we did lockdown last week, I taught no classes. They were so good. They teach it all. It was amazing. I just go here. There's Zoom, off you go.

They just report back to me how it went, so it's perfect. It allows you to have a life. It allows you to have your family. It allows you to do other things, and it allows you to really enjoy your martial arts again and enjoy your school, rather than being stressed out about it all the time. Yeah, it costs you a bit of money to pay a really good team, but it's worth it in the long run, for sure.

GEORGE: Awesome. Cool, Brett. Thanks so much. Great having you back on again, and we'll chat again next week.

BRETT: See you soon, absolutely.

 

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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Love it. Great opportunity to lead.

ZULFI: Thank you so much for your time. 

GEORGE: Thank you, Master Zulfi.

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

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Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media™ Partners

98 – Brett Fenton – Evaluating Your Martial Arts Life & Transitioning To Virtual Gradings

Lifelong martial artist Brett Fenton talks about taking action fast, navigating through obstacles and transitioning to virtual gradings.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How Brett navigated his martial arts business through the pandemic
  • Evaluating if it’s your time to throw in the towel
  • The steps Brett took to pivot his business successfully
  • How Brett's agile leadership helped his team to adapt the right mindset
  • Brett's recovery plan
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

It is a great time to evaluate where you sat as far as life goes. So you can go, “Do I really love doing martial arts? Do I love teaching? Do I love turning up and doing all of this?” Here's the perfect opportunity for some people in the world to go, “You know what, I'm gonna actually jump out of this, because it's not actually something I enjoy doing anymore.”

But for me, it actually made me assess the other way and go. “I love this so much, I've got to keep this going. I will turn over every rock to find a way to make this keep happening.”

GEORGE: Hey everyone, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. So I have with me today something that I speak to quite regularly within our Partners program. Great martial artist, great school owner, Brett Fenton from Red Dragon Martial Arts. How are you doing today Brett?

BRETT: I'm awesome George, thanks for having me on your podcast.

GEORGE: Thank you. And so a little bit of an insight: this is round two, but round one.

BRETT: Correct.

GEORGE: So we actually did a podcast… Well, it would be a good six months ago?

BRETT: Yeah, absolutely.

GEORGE: Yeah. And I had my laptop stolen unfortunately and there were two files that did not upload into the cloud. And one of them was Brett’s podcast. So it's been a long time in the making. Lots of change in the world, but here we are.

BRETT: Absolutely, a bit of a different environment now.

GEORGE: Exactly. So we can chat a bit about that, but first up, just for anyone who doesn't know who you are, just give us a bit of a roundup: who you are, what you do and a bit of your background.

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Absolutely, thanks George. I’m a lifetime martial artist. I've been training since I was a kid, and jumped around different styles depending on which family member taught it to me, or friend. Didn't have a lot of money as a kid, so I latched on to anyone that looked that knew any martial arts and basically got it for free as a kid. Moved to Brisbane in the late 80s and basically started training with my still sifu Tom Lowe for the last 30 years.

I trained with him in Wing Chun, Jow Ga Kung Fu, Wu Style Tai Chi funnily enough, because he thought I was an angry young teenager that needed some calming down, so he taught me that. Later on, taught me crucial lion and dragon dancing, so I did all the whole Chinese culture, immersed myself in their culture for a very long time.

Lived over near Sunnybank for a long time as well, then obviously went down the route of when the UFC came out, MMA, Brazilian jiu-jitsu with John Will. Trained and traveled overseas a lot, started with the extreme martial arts in the mid to late 90s and 2000s and started bringing that out, probably late 2000s started teaching that, and Kali and Escrima with Ray Floro.

So just basically, just gone on this journey of trying to find the very best martial arts to suit me. And funnily enough along the way, a lot of other people that I've taught have gone, “That's cool, I want to learn it.”

And so now we have over 400 students. We run nearly 100 classes a week, full-time facility with multiple rooms. But we started in 97’ in a community hall, so we've done the usual kind of thing for most professional martial arts instructors. Community hall to full-time school over about 23 years. And that's pretty much my story, so that's all I keep doing today.

GEORGE: Perfect. So you were mentioning you were on this search for the perfect martial arts for you. Now, knowing, working with you from my perspective, you're a guy that sort of, you just jump in head-on into different directions and you're pretty quick to take action. But also get in front of, you know, what is going on with whatever you take on. So for you that you've done all these styles and all of these different things, what’s the sort of martial arts that resonates with you the most?

BRETT: Yeah, I get asked that question quite a lot, especially by my students here, which is my favorite. They always go, “Sifu. what's your favorite style?” I go, “It's like asking which is your favorite child; depends on the day and the time.” So depends on which one is upsetting you the most. I like… again, I still train, I love my kung-fu because I grew up in the Bruce Lee era, so for me it's still a big part of who I am.

But I also love the nuances and the complexities of the Brazilian  jiu-jitsu. I was only just watching UFC yesterday and just watching two high-level jiu-jitsu guys in a cage, throwing crazy control, like twisters and stuff in an octagon. And that was exciting. So I still find that exciting, I love hanging out with, chatting with my coaches like John Will, he's like, he's a wealth of knowledge that I love to just chat to all the time. And so just that kind of stuff is really exciting.

I love blades, I had my first knife when I was six years old and I've got a collection, probably not as good as Ray Flores’ collection, but I have a pretty good collection of knives that have been given to me over the years by students or family and friends. So I've always loved any kind of bladed weapon. So yeah, at the end of the day, I'm fully immersed in it. I gave up being a top-level sportsman in tennis, cricket, volleyball to just pursue martial arts and that was hard, as like a 20 to 22 year old, I could have gone down there.

Martial arts was just such a pull to me that I went… I preferred myself as far as the martial arts goes, preferred myself as a person when I was doing martial arts than I did as an athlete in other sports and stuff. So I went down that road fairly early on as a young adult male and it's paid off, because this is all I do for a living now.

GEORGE: Got it. So, a quick backstory on how you transitioned to where you’re at with your school and everything and then we can take on a bit more of a conversation just on current matters, the current climate and how you plan on getting through that. So what was the… You stepped into martial arts: what was the transition for you going into school owner? You mentioned, from the school hall, etc. Elaborate a bit more on that.

martial arts virtual gradingsBRETT: Yep. So I started with my sifu at the moment in 1989. Started doing Wing Chun and then later on, about a year or so later Jow Ga Kung Fu and then Tai Chi. Early on, he probably recognized that I had a passion for passing on knowledge. I probably did it just organically with my classmates. Like, when I saw someone having an issue with learning something, I would always go over and help them.

And so it was very early on that I found myself up the front doing the warmups, probably within a year or so and then after that running small group classes. And we actually had a very big martial art school for the time back in the early 90s, ten schools, like all satellite schools around Brisbane, running one or two nights a week in community halls with hundreds of students.

And so for me, I was like “Wow, this is amazing.” I would literally drive from one school, I'd finish teaching – this is probably like 1992, I would finish teach at our Indooroopilly headquarters at 7:30 or whatever and then I’d drive into the city, the YMCA in the city and teach a class there 8:30, finish at 9:30 and then probably head out to Jindalee All sports and do a white session.

And so for me, six – seven days a week of martial arts training and weight training and fitness training was not, I didn't think of it as anything special, I was just completely wrapped up in the whole thing. So that led me to running my own school in 94’. Like, one of his branches, was quite successful at that. Then I moved up towards the Sunshine Coast and I've made my school in 1997 and we've been running that one ever since. It obviously has evolved and grown since then.

GEORGE: Gotcha, okay. So quite the story. Now, I mean things have dramatically changed obviously, talking depending on when you listen to this podcast, but I think it's important to just address the current situation of where things are at. Because I think anyone in the world has never faced anything like now and some people have obviously, you know, really felt the pressure.

And also not, you know, kind of waited in freeze mode and didn't take any action. And others have really sort of embraced the change as much as possible, you know, to really get through this pandemic that we're facing right now. So walk me through just how's it been for you and what have you done to navigate through this?

BRETT: Absolutely, thanks George. One of the biggest things I think was that I noticed it is a great time to evaluate where you sat as far as life goes. You can go, “Do I really love doing martial arts? Do I love teaching? Do I love turning up and doing all of this?”

Here's the perfect opportunity for some people in the world to go, “You know what, I'm gonna actually jump out of this, because it's not actually something I enjoy doing anymore.” But for me, it actually made me assess the other way and go. “I love this so much, I've got to keep this going. I will turn over every rock to find a way to make this keep happening.”

We started on March 23rd, we were given information, which was a week ahead of what I thought the schedule was going to be and when we were going to be told to basically close down physical training. So I know that I was chatting with you, leading up to that, saying we're gonna set up Zoom classes and we already were thinking that way and overnight it happened.

And so within 24 hours, I had to go from being on this side of the camera, where I would sit and have conversations with you and the Partners and I was the person watching, I was being the viewer most of the time, to actually steering the ship on the other side of Zoom. And so 24 hours of educating myself from how Zoom worked, creating like breakout rooms and doing all that and we were up and running the very next night with our full Zoom classes, with everything still running, same timetable.

For me, I reveled in that excitement. I like being challenged, I like being out of my comfort zone. I sometimes get stressed out by doing it and I know that meditating is good for that and I do do that every day, but I get excited when there's… when it's kind of like ice skating. I found that very exciting and challenging. Stressful, but exciting. So for me, I was a lot for that I and I still am.

Like, I'm always thinking ahead a week or two ahead, going “Alright, this is what we're gonna do over the next couple of weeks.” and I'm already planning, it goes into my calendar, these are the things I need to do. And I know that you see on a Monday, when you ask every single Monday in Partners, “What's your plan?” So I already know what it is, so I just type it straight in. So I already know what my plan is for the week. And I go ahead and execute. And that's what I do.

GEORGE: Yeah. Personally, I think entrepreneurs were made for this. I mean, you know, that's what we do right? We solve problems. Interesting that you mentioned, you know, where a lot of people jump ship. Maybe it was just the easy way out. I think it also, it really… like you were saying, it really makes you think deeper.

Like, am I… Is this what I really want? And I think that's where, you know, if people have been following their niche or, you know, trying to make money in an industry or something. And you didn't have that gut check before you started it, you were just hoping to make financial gains, which is – hey, it's, obviously, that's okay as well, because that's what, you know, people do in business.

But it's a good time to reevaluate and really sit back and think, “Okay, well is this what I really want?” And then how to go from that. Now, how did you say to see this playing out? I guess, you know, at the time of recording this, where you're at in Queensland there's been some restrictions left. I know in Perth we can… there's already gyms or training outside, restriction of up to ten people, that's moving over I think next week. So what's the plan for you? Where do you see this evolving?

BRETT: Absolutely. One of the things that I've noticed like, we've got a week and then we go to having ten people in an outdoor space, so we can do I suppose boot camps, or outdoor classes. The biggest issue for us is that mostly our classes are at night and it's winter, so once we hit five o'clock, it's going to be too dark to do classes. So in fairness to everyone that trains in our school, we can't fit everyone into their classes. We'll get the three to six year olds done and then everyone else wouldn't be able to.

So we're going to continue to run our Zoom classes, but we're bringing our instructor team now into the school, because up until now we've only been allowed to have two people in the building. And when we run two floors, three instructors to a floor, it's a little bit hard to do that. But now we can do that, we have multiple cameras, multiple laptops going, multiple TVs going.

And that'll allow us to use our breakout rooms to break everyone into small classes. It'll actually be probably easier, because they'd actually be able to verbally tell each other when they need to move people from one breakout room to another. At the moment, we'd be messaging each other, “Can you move such and such over to me, I'm teaching them to do this,” and I have to sit there and pretty much just be a DJ, so it's… my job on Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes is, I'm DJing the whole Zoom classes and I'm shuffling people around. 

It's an interesting time and I saw in the U.S. just the other day, someone's… because they've lifted restrictions now a little bit there. And they said, we're not doing Zoom gradings now, we're not doing our virtual grading. We're gonna do them in person and there was actually quite a bit of backlash about that, because people aren't ready for such a quick change.

And so it's, we're gonna keep our gradings going this weekend. We've got Friday, Saturday, Sunday scheduled for 50-plus gratings. They're all private one-on-one gradings that I'm doing and because – again, we can't change people quickly.

Like, I know I can change quickly because obviously we've got that entrepreneurial kind of spirit thing going on, but for most people it's gonna take a leading of a month to see any kind of changes and we have to plan that for them and slowly bring them up to the boil. And so having them watch Zoom classes while we're teaching back in the school starts to build that familiarity with the students, to see the school again, they start getting excited about doing it.

We started booking in our Calendly bookings, started on Saturday. So straight away, as soon as that notice went through from our Premier, I created calendars for all of our classes to allow ten people to come in from June. So June 12th, we are allowed to have 20 people in the building and so that basically means ten people in each room.

And so we've done our booking for an entire timetable and I literally on Saturday night, watched my phone do two hundred and something emails while people booked in for their classes. So they're excited and it gives them a month to get themselves sorted out. We've got to set up all of our stations for sanitary stations, signage, all of that stuff. We've got to get our processes in place so that we are above and beyond the call of duty as far as what we implement when June 12 comes along. We want to make sure that we're one of the… I suppose the spearheads of that and we showcase how to do this the right way. So it's very important.

GEORGE: Yeah totally. I mean, there's so much that goes into it, right? I mean, if you ever thought your processes were in place, now your processes just change after every premiere announcement.

BRETT: Yeah.

GEORGE: It's new systems, it's new things. You know, interesting things that I see, I think where a lot of guys might find it challenging, where people just shut shop and thought that everything would go back to normal. Well, I know about you, but I sincerely doubt that… you were just mentioning that, I mean, there's been this whole behavior. People have adapted their behavior. You know, there was shock and there was fear, there's all this and… yep, things are gonna slowly return back to normal, but what is that? 

Does that mean 100% physical classes? Does that mean a bit of a hybrid and a balance of, there's online and there's physical. And how do you see this playing up? Another thing that I want to really ask you is how are you managing with your team throughout this? Because I know you've got a large team and how are you managing them and getting them to have this right mindset with all the changes? I know that's two questions, but…

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Yes, that's okay no worries. So again, it's one of those things, you've got to go slowly. I think that we're lucky, we've been reasonably lucky in Australia that they've given us plenty of lead-in time and they've planned this fairly well. There's no knee-jerk reactions, which is good because people don't react well to that. They don't like…

We saw when they released a little bit of the rope and allowed people to go shopping – it was literally Boxing Day sales every day for the last two weeks since they did that. So people have gone… They've been cooped up for so long now, they're exploding.

So we're trying to make sure that we're very, we're over communicating with all of our students to make sure that they understand that there is a limit of how many people can come in and if you do not book in, you'll still be doing the online classes. We're going to give them both and my idea is to keep doing that even beyond like, let's say six – twelve months to still be running that system.

Because we have students that have been on the spectrum ADD, DHD, Autism, doesn't matter, Asperger's, where they don't like being around people, but they love martial arts and they love the benefits of martial arts. And so they will be able to still do it from home with Zoom. The hardest part is to train the staff and the instructors to not just focus on the class, the physical class they’re teaching and the physical students they’re teaching, but also to focus on the ones that are up on the TV doing the Zoom class.

And so like, we've got massive TVs that are going up in each room, where they'll be able to look up and just see who's up there training. And it's just about teaching them to not forget about them. They've had to undergo a very big learning curve and most of them aren't entrepreneurial. Some of them are, they do their own little side gigs as well, but to most this is overwhelming most of the time to them.

So some of my team haven't been out to teach online classes, because they don't like looking at themselves on a camera, they don't like being in that environment and so basically, we've put them into hibernation. We keep contact with them, make sure they're okay, but I've already spoken to one and as soon as we can go back, we're gonna actually up, we're gonna start doing Sunday classes and we expect it to be quiet, so she's the perfect person for that because it'll introduce her back into normal classes and she'll just do the set there Sunday classes and give her a row back in the school without putting her under too much pressure.

And again, most of our instructors are old students. They've all gone through from white belt to black belt, they're homegrown and so we treat them still like they're our students as far as the way we kind of bring them into new situations like we were experiencing at the moment, but slowly doing it is I think the key.

GEORGE: Cool. So what's the situation that you actually navigated someone through that? Because that obviously brings up a lot of beliefs and you know… I guess block for people where they go, “Hang on, I just don't feel comfortable being in front of the camera.” You know, for some people that might just be that introverted personality and they’re just never gonna be that.

You know, we’re all different and that's all good but what's their situation, that you actually manage to navigate someone past that and just say, “Hey look, well…”It's kind of just like having a conversation, it's not a Hollywood show, you know? It's like you’re doing a normal class, but you've just got this screen in front of you. Did you manage to navigate past that? Was there anybody in your staff that they were struggling with that, but you managed to push them past that point?

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Well, we've had obviously with our team, they've gone through a gamut of emotions. For a lot of them, their first biggest worry was, I’m going to lose my job, so a lot of our instructors not just work for me, they work for other businesses. And on that day, the other ones shut them down and they went, “No, we can't keep going.” I kept going even though we were like, they were teaching from their living rooms, or their bedrooms, or their garages.

They kept going, I kept paying them for their classes and I tried to maintain as much normality for them and reassure them that we will get through this, looking to the future and saying that when we get through this, we're not going to change what we do now. This is just a different version of what we do.

And so 90% of our teams were teaching through this. And one actually seemed to prefer it, because the whole social distancing was doing her head in, trying to stop children from touching each other and just frustrated her. As soon as it went to the virtual environment, she didn’t have to worry about that, that was not a problem and an anxiety she had to experience anymore.

So that actually, it was like she was happy when it happened. So she's gonna have to prepare for the other side now as we come back in and whether that means that she still teaches from home via Zoom and she doesn't lose Zoom kids, that's fine. And we have that ability to have them teaching, if they're not happy to be in here and be around students because they're worried about it, they can still be able to teach because we'll still have students at home doing Zoom and so they'll be able to take care of the Zoom students.

And so again, I think it's about being flexible. It's about being able to like Evan, flow with the times and I think one of the things that I think everyone probably, particularly in the business world now will quantify, is that small businesses had an advantage because we've been known to like to chop and change directions quickly with the times, with whatever we were given.

We could change and adapt, whereas a lot of the big businesses fell over because they had certain systems and procedures. They ended up having to just kill their staff and here's why so many people are out of work. And it's from the big businesses, which I know like in Australia kind of mindset is, they're always considered safe. Like go work for a blue chip company, or a big business.

Who would want to work for Virgin at the moment? You wouldn't want to work for a lot of those big companies because they couldn't adapt. They’re just too big, they're like the Titanic. Whereas a lot of the small businesses, we can zig and zag and not feel that pain as much and also be able to connect with our staff and our team to make sure that they're feeling okay and navigate them through this minefield of emotions and turmoil that they could be experiencing.

But I think we've done really well, like I'm proud of my team. They've handled it really well and we're preparing now to go back into semi normal classes and then in another months’ time after that, so July, it should be mostly like we were before we went into lockdown. Hundred to a building, like this mostly social distancing, but I think this will play out till the end of the year. I think by Christmas we might be out actually to give a high five and hug some people.

GEORGE: Yeah, I mean, hats off to you, because I know you've just been on to it then, you know, everyday we checked. You've implemented this and you've jumped into a new direction, implemented new strategies and really taken it on. What are you excited about, coming in the next… I know, excitement for a lot of people when I ask that, they’re like…

BRETT: It’s fear.

GEORGE: What does that word mean? But I mean, if you really put the opportunity hat on and really look at it, “Okay, things have changed, things have shifted,” – what are you excited about in the next coming weeks?

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Well, again, I've tried to maintain, I actually turned one of my students who wanted to do an in-person grading and they don't want to do a Zoom one, it's not like a real grading. And I said, “Well you know, it's not the same as an in-person grading – it's different. It could actually potentially be better, because you're doing it one-on-one.” Now, it's gonna be a different feel, we may never get to do this again. This may be the only time in history where we do every single person in the school as a Zoom grading. 

So like, and that's the truth, it basically may never happen again. So for me that's exciting. I've pulled out all stops to make this grading the most spectacular grading that they'll ever experience virtually, because it may never happen again. So I'm excited to do that like, literally from this Thursday, it’s Monday today, so from Thursday, from 7AM until about 7PM, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I am grading every thirty minutes and I know how exhausting that’s going to be.

But I also find that exciting and I'm a big fan like, I'm a… what do you call it, I’m a podcast savant. I just like, I just go and listen to podcasts 24/7. It’s my favorite thing, I don’t listen to radio, but that's what I listen to. And it used to be tapes in my car, then it was CDs, now it's podcasts.

And so I’ve always been a big fan of Tony Robbins, lucky enough to have done some training with him, done UPW and a few other things with him. And one of the things that he always talks about is to the professionals, like the professional athlete, or a professional entrepreneur: when they see something that could be scary, feel fearful, they look at the same thing and they look at it as excitement, because your body goes through exactly the same chemicals, endorphins, okay, the adrenaline. It's exactly the same thing as fear.

Like, if you looked at it side by side, okay, anyone that's ever fought in the ring, or competed in a jiu-jitsu tournament, or done MMA, or just been up in front of someone to do a grading, you've got two options: fear, which is, “Oh, I'm going to stuff this up,” or “I'm gonna get hurt,” or “I'm no good at this,” to exciting “Oh, I can’t wait, this is so cool.” Exactly the same experience, it's the outcome that's different.

And so for most martial artists, I think most should have done pretty well through this, if they've got that kind of background. They would have gone, “Wow this is exciting. This is just like another competition, this is another chance to to show my skill, to really challenge myself,” because I think if any industry was really prepared for this, it'd be the martial arts industry, because that's what we do.

We live for the challenge, that's what makes us different. Most normal people can't understand martial artists, they look at them and go, “Do you enjoy touching each other and checking each other out and…” – really? Because that's not normal behavior.

And so that's kind of set us I think apart from everybody else in the world who's freaking out and putting their head under the duna as Scomo likes to say. So yeah, and I think we're well prepared for that and for me, I'm excited to do it, literally, I'll be doing a 65 hour- 70 hour week, this week and 60 of those hours are in four days. That's like, it's insane, but I'm up for that. I love that stuff.

GEORGE: Yeah cool. So if you don’t mind, before we finish up and I think this would be really valuable for other school owners, can you walk us through what you are actually doing with your virtual grading? How's the day going to plan out, what have you done prior and how's the whole process going to roll out?

BRETT: Yep. So similar set up to what we would normally do with a grading and here's another thing, that's the one of the things that I'm looking at as positive coming out of the COVID-19 thing is that, we now have some new systems that we never had before. So everyone that ever wanted to have their curriculums online and available to their students and we're struggling with like, getting like, whether it's IT departments of your website, website developers to actually pull the trigger and do it – they all jumped to it the night this happened. Within two days you had all of the ability to do this. 

And so that was a benefit, being able to schedule all of our gradings on Calendly. I know I can just look at my Calendly now and it is literally 200+ appointments long. It's just like this big list, but I know who's next and in all of my Zoom gradings, they all have their own unique code. All I have to do is click on there, then next I'll click and it brings me to the next Zoom invitation and I'm ready to grade them on my laptop right here, right where I am now, this is exactly where I'll be Thursday through to Sunday.

I will shift from one room to the other depending on the grading, and basically one of the other things I'm doing that's pretty cool is, we've over delivered, which I think is really important. So every student normally only gets a certificate and their belt; this time they’re getting a backpack with a certificate, their belt, a bumper sticker and a gift.

So there's probably $200 worth of value in there for a $50 grading. So they're gonna see that. We're also developing a virtual certificate that pops up on their screen saying “Congratulations, you've passed your virtual grading.” And that'll be branded, but it'll look really space-agey kinda like, very new looking, sparkly, I don't know.

Liam and the design team did that at our printers to do that, so he's designing that this week and everyone's coming in to pick up their backpacks. So every 15 minutes, they're picking up a backpack. We're videoing the whole process and we're going to do a video at the end where it basically just crunches it into a little, probably three-minute version, well they call those videos…

GEORGE: Time-lapse.

BRETT: Timelapse, that's it. Yeah, we're gonna do a time-lapse video from the four days to show it with a soundtrack behind it. So that's something cool. I'm also photographing myself this Wednesday in front of all the logos, so in front of the school like, we're all buzzy here with all the different uniforms that I wear for all the different styles.

So we’ve got seven different martial arts styles in the school, so I'm going to be basically getting changed, doing a new photo with a plain background, with this background sorry. And then every single student when they grade, there's going to be a list inside their backpack of all the things they have to do so they have to take a photo of themselves with their new belt on, their new certificate with a plain background.

So like, white, yellow, as long as it’s not dark, nice clear background, then send the photo to me. I'll then superimpose that into the photo next to me on the wall back and then post that onto our Facebook page. And so it will be like they were there. So we're just going to make this virtual, because again, it's a virtual grading, so we can use Photoshop and make it look cool in a virtual world.

Like, you know, everyone's been loving the Zoom backgrounds that create their own, I've got a few, I’ve used the matrix dojo in one of my classes one day. Everyone over the age of 30 thought that was cool; everyone else was going…

GEORGE: What’s that?

BRETT: Yeah, exactly, they had no idea what it was. And again, it's about building hype and excitement around something that they may never ever experience ever again. And one of the things I've been talking to the parents is, that a lot of people under the age of 25 have never, ever, ever experienced any kind of thing like this, like any kind of hardship. they've been pretty cruisy for the last 25 years as far as the world economy, the way the world's gone, no big wars, it's been really good, okay? Since 9/11, it's been pretty cruisy. So this is really something that's bonded the whole world together, an experience that everyone's going through. 

So let's make something out of it, let's come out of it and say “What did I get out of doing that? Did I get better about my relationships? Did I get better at learning new tools and skills? Or did I just watch Netflix for 12 hours a day?” So like what did you do with it? And so it'll be an interesting year, next year will be an interesting year to see what tools did people get and where did they take those tools.

Like for us, I want to go VR. I want to put VR goggles on students in the home environment, so they're part of this class that we run here. So if this leads us down the road to that, then I'm happy because I was already thinking about it two years ago as adding it to my already system. Because I’m a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk and I’ve spent some time with him and he's keen to get VR up and running so I'm like, “Cool, I'll look into that at some stage.”

GEORGE: Yeah, totally agree with you. and that's the thing: if anybody thinks this is a phase, nope, it's just the stepping stone, because it's brought this… it's funny you know, I've been doing these Zoom webinars about three to five a week for a long time. And inviting anyone to a Zoom meeting was always a weird thing. This Sunday my two-year-old daughter was having a Zoom party.

BRETT: Yep.

GEORGE: Because that's what you can do. But it's brought a lot of these technology things, it's just accelerated the normality of it. And people just really had to step into it, so it was that or nothing. And now that everybody's so accustomed to it, it's definitely not going away. This is leading to the next thing and if you think of, I had a chat with someone about virtual reality the other day and she was showing me what they were doing in the automated mining industry.

And when I saw that, I was like “Oh, okay, this makes sense.” You know? It's taking objects and putting it in the lounge and you can walk around it… it's like a whole new experience. Now, yep martial arts: it's never gonna go away, the physicality of it. But I think the learning experience is definitely going to enhance in ways that we can't even comprehend right now.

BRETT: Yeah.

GEORGE: Yep, for all those thinking that we're just going back to normal – I’d relook at that perspective and really think of “Okay, well how are things gonna be different from here on and how are we going to embrace this.”

So yeah, there's so much good that's come from it. Yep, there's been a lot of hardship, you know, there’s been a lot of industries that are wiped out. There’s a lot of things that, you know, by no means are okay. But then there are the things that are okay, you know? I see people are friendlier, you know? When people see each other, you know, a lot of people are more… just friendlier greetings.

My teenage son that used to just skate has spent a lot more time at home. It's been really good for us, he's been doing a lot of work around the house which has been interesting for a 13 year old boy to be repainting the door and doing things. I mean, those are little things, right? But I think there’s just so much benefit to what's happened and…

BRETT: Mmm.

GEORGE: It's good to just sit back and reflect and think, “Right how am I gonna play my part in this next chapter moving forward?”

martial arts virtual gradings

BRETT: Absolutely, absolutely. I think that humans have always been like… aren't very good at adapting to situations and then thriving in it. And so I'm sure back when Henry Ford was designing the first motor vehicle, everyone was like, “Yeah, that'll never exist,” like planes didn't exist and it was just… computers! I think back to when I was a kid: when I was 6 years old, not only did a computer not exist; the thought of one didn't exist.

And how fast technology has come in a very short period, what's the next 10 to 20 years going to look like in this space? And I think yeah, you gotta be open-minded enough to go, “Okay, I'm going to adapt to whatever comes that way and I'll try it.” And I think that again, as martial artists, we're usually pretty good at failing forward so we’re adapted, like learning to fail and then get back up and go again.

And so the last 2 or 3 months, it's been all about failing and learning, failing and learning. I had to reschedule my entire Zoom calendar because I did a Zoom code for every single class and that meant I got messages and notifications every day for every single class that came up. So I just went. “No, we have one place where we all go and then we'll go into breakout rooms.” And that took me about a week to realize that that was not a great idea, So yeah, but you learn, that's what it's all about.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's it. A simple thing that I did was, I actually just purchased one domain name and had one meeting link. And because I just got sick of going back and forth.

BRETT: Yep.

GEORGE: What was the meeting number, what was the ID. So just create one link, one domain name, forward it automatically. If anybody wants to meet you, just give them the domain name and now you've just got back-to-back meetings.

BRETT: Yeah, exactly, yeah. I learnt that really quickly. And again, love learning, so it's been fun. Challenging, but fun.

GEORGE: Awesome, that's it. Hey Brett, thanks being on the second time, actually nailing it this time. Perfect, thanks so much for being on. Thanks,it's always good to chat to you, because you're always on top of what's happening and you're always quick to implement and do things. If anybody wants to connect with you, what's the best way to do that?

BRETT: I'm on Facebook, Instagram, our website reddragon.com.au. Just easy enough, a Facebook message is the easiest one these days I think so. Just look me up on Facebook, it’s pretty easy to find people these days.

And yeah, just give me a shout out if you need any information or any help in any direction. I do a lot of mentoring for school owners, the smaller schools that want to try and go full-time, or they're having troubles with staff and how to train up instructors, I do a lot of work on that. So I'm always available, just hit me up. And yeah, my only thing would be, George, make sure you upload this one to the cloud, right after we finish.

GEORGE: I was thinking that just when you were saying that, just when I was giving props about how cool this episode was, I was thinking, hey I'm gonna make sure this one uploads to Google Drive – now.

BRETT: Absolutely, absolutely, because we’ve spoken in the past, I don't do retakes. The next time we interview, it will be different again. You could redo this one straight after, it would be different again.

GEORGE: Yeah, that’s cool.

BRETT: I’m not good at sticking to scripts.

GEORGE: Perfect, thanks so much for being on Brett.

BRETT: My pleasure!

GEORGE: I'll speak to you soon.

BRETT:  All right, see you guys, bye.

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

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

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

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96 – Rhonda Britten – Turning The Worst Day Of Your Life Into Fearless Living And Success

Rhonda Britten shares her story of overcoming a child's worst nightmare, to practical strategies that you can use to live a fearless, unstoppable life.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • The exercises that founded Rhonda Britten’s fearless living today
  • Helpful tips to work through your anxiety and fears
  • Gratitude vs. acknowledgment
  • How your ‘wheel of fear’ and ‘wheel of freedom’ work together
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

People that have a difficult time with gratitude blame the world. The world is at fault. They can't be grateful because they blame the world. People that have a difficult time with acknowledgment, blame themselves.

GEORGE: Hey, this is George Fourie and welcome to another episode of the Martial Arts Media business podcast. So today I'm joined with a special guest. Once again not chatting to a martial artist, but someone that can really, really help inspire this community. And I'm speaking today to Rhonda Britten. How are you today Rhonda?

RHONDA:  I'm very fine George and I'm so excited to be here.

GEORGE: Thank you so much for taking the time. So real quick, Rhonda is from fearlessliving.org. Rhonda has also been featured on Oprah I believe and had a TV show?

RHONDA: Yep, 600 episodes of television and I actually aired all over the world. I've done six hundred episodes of television, I've got an Emmy. Written four books, first life coach on TV, Oprah several times, Steve Harvey… And most importantly, just somebody who has devoted her life to helping people understand how fear really works.

Not from a theoretical perspective, but really from a practical application perspective. So yeah, so I've been around the block. I've been master coaching for 25 years, I was one of the first original life coaches and now here I am with you George.

GEORGE: Awesome. So what brings us here today obviously is a different climate out there of global pandemic and so forth. And there is a lot of fear in the air. People are experiencing a lot of fear, but people are also being pushed in a position of leadership, which can be kind of a contradiction, right? Because if you’re feeling fear yourself but you're in this position to step up and lead… Where do you find the instincts to actually do that?

RHONDA: Well, what you're talking about right, is knowing the why behind your, you know, like Simon Sinek says right, like the big why, right? But what I know to be true is that, you know, times of crisis actually define us and actually tell us who we really are. Because right now I think, you know, most people don't say they're afraid. Like, what people don’t come to me and go “I'm afraid, I'm scared,” right?

And when I meet people and I tell them I'm a fear expert, they're like “oh I don't have any fears, I'm not scared.” but right now with the global pandemic, you can't hide from your fear, right? It's all over the place.

And so right now, if you have a crack in your foundation, that crack is showing, right? That crack is showing. And as a leader, as somebody who has to, you know, stand up and lead, those cracks are opportunities for you to transform your tribe, transform your business, transform yourselves. So it's not about hiding the cracks; in fact right now, leaders need to be not only clear and focused, but they also need to be vulnerable.

So that's one of the things that I know to be true. So you have cracks in your foundation – OK, awesome. Now you get to look at your foundation with clear eyes, not pretend it's better than it has been and actually admit to yourself what isn't working for you and what is working for you.

And not only, you know, fill in the cracks, but actually think about creating a whole new foundation, so that not only can you build from where you are right here and right now, but that you can build no matter what the environment is, no matter what happens in the world.

GEORGE: Awesome, so you just mentioned, you were saying that in a moment of crisis you really sort of define. Now, you've got quite a fascinating story and I think people need to hear it if people aren't familiar with you. I would love for you to just share your story, to really give context of how you got to this knowledge and what you’re really referring to here.

RHONDA: Yeah, thank you, I really appreciate you asking me that George. And what you're referring to of course is the worst day of my life. And I'll tell the short version of the story. I was 14 years old and my parents were in the midst of a divorce and it happened to be father's day. My father was coming to take us out to brunch and, you know, my father walked in and went, “Come on, come on”, because that's what dads do. And my mom's putting on her blue eyeshadow, fluffing up her beehive hairdo.

And my sisters are fighting it out in the bathroom and me and my mom start, you know, walking out towards my dad to get to the car, to go out to the fancy sunday brunch. My sister's still fighting it out and as me and my mom and dad walk out, my dad mentioned that he wanted to get his coat from the car.

And as he lifted the boot as they say, lifted the trunk, I noticed he didn't grab a coat, but he in fact grabbed a gun and he started screaming at my mother “you made me do this! You made me do this!” – and he fires. Now I started screaming “Dad, what are you doing?! What are you doing dad?! Stop!” and he cocked the gun and he pointed it at me. And I absolutely 100% believed I was next.

And he looked at me, I looked at him. I blinked, he blinked. It seemed like eternity, but I'm sure it was only a few seconds. And then my mother, with already one bullet inside her, saw what's happening and screamed “No, don’t!” and so that bullet intended for me, my father took and shot my mother a second time. And that second bullet went through my mother's abdomen out her back and landed smack dab in the car horn. And the car horn just beeeeeeeeep.

Hey, I mean over 20 years, if I heard a car horn, I was right back there in the moment. And then my father cocked the gun again and fell to his knees, put the gun to his head and fired. So in a matter of two minutes, I am the sole witness of my father murdering my mother and committing suicide in front of me.

Now, I don't know how other people would respond to it, but I know what I did. I blamed myself, right? Because I was the only one out there that could have changed it. I didn't jump in front of my mother, I did nothing heroic. I didn't grab the gun, I didn't kick my father in the shins, right?

I did nothing heroic. I just… Dad's out there and I said, don't ,stop, don't. And the level of guilt and shame that I felt basically took happiness off the table for me. Like, you can't be happy and watch your mom die, sorry, not an option anymore for me.

So I basically split in two that day. The outside of me was fine. I'm fine, you know, I'm sure we've all played the fine game, right? Like, no, I'm fine, plenty of money in the bank, I'm good, yeah, fine. But inside, you're scared to bejeebers, right? And that's how I was.

Like, outside I pretended I was fine. Kept going to school, got straight A's, I'm fine. But inside, I was deathly afraid that there was something seriously wrong with me. I mean, one, my father's blood ran through my veins and I became afraid of feeling that there was something, like really damaged about me, like, really wrong with me.

And so I went away to college, which I thought, yay, nobody knows my story, I can hide from it. When in fact, me hiding it and me stuffing it down even further, had me start drinking. I discovered alcohol, became an alcoholic, got three DUIs. Decided, you know what, this isn't worth living for. So I tried to kill myself three times.

And it was that third suicide attempt George that I realized something. I realized I'm not good at killing myself. And yeah, I'm not dying George, I'm not dying. Because George, I got to tell you: that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to die. And here I am, very much alive after you try to kill yourself three times, they do put you in the psychiatric ward to evaluate you.

And so I was there, I don’t know, three or four days. They evaluated me, I'm not crazy, and left me to go home by myself. And I remember sitting in my little studio apartment and going, uh okay, I'm not dying. Okay, I better figure this out, because how I'm living isn't working for me. Like, this is miserable, right?

And now I want to preface this George by saying, you know, during this whole time, during these years, I was reading books and going to therapy and doing workshops. I mean, I read my first self-help book when I was 12. So, you know, I have been devoted to personal growth and self-development ever since I can remember, it's what I'm passionate about.

And so I was doing everything right that I thought I should do. And yet it wasn't relieving me of the burden of thinking there was something wrong with me. That there's something seriously like, wrong. And so it wasn't until that third suicide attempt when I'm sitting in my apartment all by myself and I say to myself, well, I guess I have to figure this out.

And I started out of desperation making up exercises for myself – and shockingly, they started working. Still today, I'm still shocked that they work and every time they work for people, which is all the time, I still get shocked when people send me a, you know, note saying “oh my gosh, changed my life.” I'm always like, “really?”, you know, because it's just, you know, it's just still so amazing to me that the work that changed my life changes so many others.

And so I started doing exercises, they started working. Made more exercises up, those worked. And then eventually, you know, it took me many years to start something called fearless living of course. But it was the exercises I started with in that studio apartment all by myself in Los Angeles are really the foundation of fearless living today.

GEORGE: Wow. That's quite a story. Now, I really want to backtrack because you mentioned that you had the self-worth issues.

RHONDA: Yeah!

GEORGE: That you took the blame on yourself.

RHONDA: Sure, of course.

GEORGE: And I really want to get to the exercises, because that really, I think, you know, people in general. I know I’ve had, you know, the self-talk moments.

RHONDA: Yeah, self attack. Like, who do you think you are, what's your problem, why don't you get it together, right? Yeah.

GEORGE: How did you get pass that? Like, obviously you've got to make the decision and have the awareness that it's actually a problem that you need to change it. But let's say you’re at that point and, you know, alright, well as you were after your third suicide, you know, alright, well, something's got to change.

RHONDA: Something's got to change.

GEORGE: How do you go pass that?

RHONDA: Well, one of the very first exercises I created actually addresses this very thing. And I remember sitting in my apartment, like I said, I don't know what to do. And I actually said to myself George, I gotta go back to kindergarten. I actually said that. Like, I've got to go back to kindergarten. And I said to myself what do they do in kindergarten? Well, they give you gold stars.

So I went out and bought a calendar and gold stars. And at this point you have to remember that I didn't feel worthy to be happy or worthy to be successful or worthy to be loved. Even though out in the world I was so good at faking, people that met me probably were like “Yeah, that Rhonda, she's great,” you know. But again, like, I didn't think that, I didn't agree with that one bit.

So, I got gold stars, got a calendar and I decided that for 30 days, I was going to keep track of anything that I did that was good. Because I felt so not worth living for and why did I exist that I wanted to find anything worth saving. Like, that’s what I was looking for. What we’re saving here? Am I worth saving?

So, I kept track for 30 days and gave myself a gold star for anything good and George, these were things like, got angry and didn’t break anything. Ok? Like, oh, you know, felt rejected, but didn’t run away, right? Like, I'm talking basic things, but back then, that was like a life saver for me.

Me getting angry and not destroying anything, or me feeling humiliated or upset and not walking away was a miracle, right? And so, after those 30 days, I had a calendar filled with gold stars. And that gave me hope that there is something worth saving.

Now, that exercise George has turned into what I call acknowledgments. And acknowledgments are something the high achievers are really bad at. And people that are attracted to fearless living and self help junkies, they’re also really bad at it, because they, you know, they kind of pride themselves on telling themselves the truth about how they’re screwing up so they can improve themselves. When in fact, acknowledgments are going to give you more bang for your buck and your acknowledgments are actually a way for you to have confidence, the way to actually create steady confidence.

So it’s something like this, you do it this way: today I acknowledge myself for and acknowledge yourself for any movement forward. And I'm talking about any movement forward. I have an exercise called “stretch, risk or die” that I teach my clients how like, their comfort zone is right in the middle and there's a structure on the “risk or die” zone and I say, even if you’re moving from your comfort zone to your stretch zone, you acknowledge yourself.

So George, I want to caveat this: because it’s not acknowledging yourself for being perfect. It's not acknowledging yourself for getting it done. It's not acknowledging yourself for how well you did it – it is literally, I had a new thought: acknowledge yourself. Right?

Oh, I made a phone call. Phone call went crappy, didn't go the way I wanted – doesn't matter, acknowledge yourself for making the phone call. So you're basically acknowledging without judging, without putting a oh good or bad on it. You're just acknowledging movement forward.

And when I started just simply giving myself credit for the movement I was making, not how well I did it, but just the movement, that changed everything. Because the confidence started to rise, self esteem started to rise. And when I work with clients and they’re like, I need more self confidence, I go, do this exercise and I guarantee in three days you'll feel better.

I've had parents do this with their kids: within 24 hours, 48 hours, they feel better. I mean, it's a confidence booster big time. Because we, as high achievers, well, we don't give ourselves those acknowledgments, we only see the next thing we have to do and how we can do it better, right? And how we should have done it better. And how it could have been faster. And all of that actually erodes our self confidence and self esteem. So that star exercise turned into acknowledgments.

GEORGE: And I love this exercise. So it's almost like practicing gratitude, but at the micro level. Like if you're struggling with gratitude it's like, well, I've got nothing to be grateful for, or this really peels back the layers. Right?

RHONDA: Well, I like to think of it this way. In the world of fearless living, gratitude and acknowledgments are for different reasons. So gratitude is about the world out there, right? So I'm grateful that today Los Angeles is like, the number one clean air city in the world, which never happens, right? So I'm really grateful that I'm breathing clean air and that this global pandemic has created.

I can see the stars and the moon better than I ever have before. I'm really grateful for this moment that I get to see the sky the way that I do, right? So gratitude is about out there. Acknowledgments are all about you. They're about you. So it's very different.

And usually George, people that have a difficult time with gratitude blame the world. The world is at fault. They can't be grateful because they blame the world. People that have a difficult time with acknowledgments, blame themselves.

And as most high achievers, most people that are making it on their own, businesses, want to do better, they have a tendency to blame themselves. And so acknowledgments for most of my clients are the hardest work sometimes that they do. Because just to give themselves credit takes an enormous amount of surrender, an enormous amount of willingness, enormous amount of perfectionism has to go away, you know? All that fear stuff.

So acknowledgments are all about you taking responsibility and claiming the movement that you made, again, whether it worked or not, whether it was good or not, whether how it looked or not – irrelevant. Did you have a new thought? Did you make a movement? Did you do something? Right? And then when you do that, you're going to start giving yourself credit and this is the reason that acknowledgments are so powerful, is that they become a diary of our effort.

I don't know about you George, but most of my life, if I made an effort and it didn't turn out the way I wanted, I forgot all about that effort. Right? I was like, well, that didn't work and I just threw it out the window, right? This becomes a diary and a reminder for you to go, oh wait, id o know how to do that. I did do that. Life is good, right? So it just changes.

GEORGE: Thanks so much for clarifying that, because that makes a lot of sense to me. Gratitude versus acknowledgments: gratitude out there, acknowledgments in here.

RHONDA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

GEORGE: How can we tie this into the topic of fear and how things are holding us back?

RHONDA: Ah! Well, you know, fear is insidious. So let me just say a little bit about neuroscience and I know you probably know all this already, but I'll just say it, just in case, you know, so we have a firm foundation. You know, the way the brain and our neurobiology works is that the brain doesn't know the difference between a physical fear and an emotional fear. Ok?

And I know the people who listen to you, physical fear is like their specialty, right? Like, they help people through their physical fears. But those physical fears and emotional fears again, we don't know the difference.

So a fear of rejection and a fear of height to the body and brain are the same thing. All right? The other thing about the way the brain works, the brain does not know the difference between something imagined and something real.

So we walk into a room and we don't think we belong there and, you know, we're going to make up a story about it and we live out that story then. Because we actually are, we're hanging on to the imagined story we've made up. So the brain doesn't know the difference. The other thing about the brain is they’re doing research now and they’re starting to prove that some of our fears are actually handed down through our DNA.

So, you know, some of the things that you may have a fear of failure, or a fear of rejection or a fear of success, or a fear of loss or a fear of identity, or you know, etc. Etc. Fear of speaking in public, right? Any fear. Perfectionist, procrastination etc. All of those things are ways, I'll just put it this way: fear’s number one job is to keep us safe.

And so, your fears are handed down through your DNA, you experience fear as you're growing up, you don't know it because it's just reality. You don't think of it as, I'm afraid of my mom or my dad or my fellow students unless they are hitting you. You just know that they're mean, or you know, you judge them and you put them aside.

So how fear works is that fear wants to keep you in a safe place. The challenge is George, safety means that it's the same. And they’ve been proving this in neuroscience now that the brain actually and the way we work, body and brain, is we’re energy machines. And in order to conserve energy, the brain automatically – it has a problem, it has a problem, global pandemic. Problem. And the brain automatically to save energy, looks in the past for the solution.

So it's looking for a template in the past, going through your books that you already own and going, I've got to have a book here about global pandemic. I'm sure I've cured this before, I'm sure I did this before. And there is no template! Right? So then what happens? Our body and brain gets panicked, because now we don't know what to do, because again, the way that the body and brain find information is looking in the past. Well, the past template does not solve the current problem. And rarely does, right?

So we’re actually unconsciously, not knowing we’re doing it, looking in the past, super fast, auto responder, right? To solve a problem that we’re experiencing in the present, that past template, we’ve outgrown, it doesn't work for us anymore.

Which then, we’re trying to use a past template in the present to create a new future and you and I both know that doesn't work. So I want you to imagine for a minute that you're trying to, you know, create a new business, or make more money or find some steady ground in this pandemic. In order to do that, automatically, your brain is going to look in the past – it's not there. So now you’re in the unknown.

So I like to say that freedom, freedom equals your capacity to live in the unknown.  Freedom equals your capacity to live in the unknown. But our body and brain are completely petrified of the unknown, they don't wanna live there. They’re concerned about security and safety. And remember one of our number one core needs is safety. And when we don't feel safe, we retreat. And instead, we want to move forward, right? Does that make sense?

GEORGE: Yeah, terribly.

RHONDA: I feel like I'm missing a little piece there. I feel like I'm missing something, so I hope you're going to ask me about it, I just know there's something I didn't connect.

GEORGE: Well, let's take a step forward, right? How do we navigate then into the sphere of the unknown? How do we go there?

RHONDA: Yeah. So let me talk you through the “stretch, risk or die” exercise, because I think that's going to be the best illustration. So think of your comfort zone. I mean, we all know what a comfort zone is. Our comfort zone is what we do, you know, I like to tell people, think of your comfort zone as your life right now.

So married, not married, kids, no kids, you know, worried about your bank account, not worried about your bank account. Whatever is happening today, in this moment, let's make it your comfort zone, even though it's not very comfortable.

So think about it as a bullseye, a bullseye on a dart board. The second ring around that comfort zone is called the stretch zone. And now, the stretch zone is the things George, that you now you can do, you just haven’t done.

Like, think about all the things, I can think about a whole bunch of things that I know I can do and I haven’t done. You know, how much vegetables should I be eating? I know I should be going to sleep – oh, I know I should be making that extra thousand steps on my pedometer, right? I know these things; why aren't I doing it? This is the tricky part George because the stretch zone is the simplest zone, because you know you can do it. But in fact, it's where we beat ourselves up the most because we know we can do it and we’re not doing it! Ok?

GEORGE: Right.

RHONDA: So we’re ruthless with ourselves! We're so mean to ourselves! Now, the circle around the stretch zone is called the risk zone. And the risk zone is the things you don't know if you could succeed or not. You're not sure you could do it. The die zone is outside of that, the die zone is like, I don't know if I can do that, – I don't even know if I want to do it, right?

So I think about when I trained for a marathon. A marathon was definitely a die for me, I haven't run since high school, right? So a stretch for me was, sure I would walk 5 miles, no problem. I should my comfort zone was walking 5 miles; a stretch would have been, you know, maybe walking 7 or 8 miles, right? Like I probably can do it, you know. A risk was running a mile, or running 3 miles – I didn't know if I could actually run a mile. I haven't run since high school. So I don't know, I don't know if I could succeed or not.

And then like I said, the die was running the marathon. So I want you to imagine that in between the comfort zone, the stretch zone, the risk zone, the die zone, is a band of fear. And for you to move from your comfort zone to your stretch zone, you must move through what I call the wheel of fear. And in order to move from the stretch zone to the risk zone, you must move through that band of fear.

So we blow it, we go, “I have to add more vegetables” and then we don't add the vegetables and then we beat ourselves up for it. That actually has made our neural pathways stronger in the fact of beating ourselves up, putting ourselves down and proving that we are unworthy. Proving that you're lazy, proving that you're stupid, proving that you don't have it to be successful, right?

So every time that we want to make a change in our life, we actually are rubbing up against the wheel of fear, what I call the wheel of fear. And most of us don't know how that works. Most of us don't have a relationship with our fear. And so they just blame themselves, put themselves down, think it's their fault. But it's actually not, it's how we're wired. And once you know how you're wired, you can make a different choice and move from that wheel of fear to the wheel of freedom.

GEORGE: I love that.

RHONDA: Does that make sense?

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. So I've got this visual picture of the wheels of how…

RHONDA: Yeah

GEORGE: …you know, the band of fear really sits. So it's really never a question of feeling comfortable at what, reaching a level of comfort in our comfort zone thinking, okay, I'm now comfortable where I'm at – it's time to take the next step. It's always taking that leap into that stretch of fear and knowing, well, hang on: I've gotta embrace the fear because fear means I'm going in the right direction.

RHONDA: Yeah, I mean it's like, think of it this way. You know, fear is really subtle, so let me just step back with this. Most people like you and I George don't say I'm afraid or I'm scared. I mean, I am shocked that I'm a fear expert because I never, even when I was going through with my parents and after, you know, those nightmares every night for 14 years of becoming an alcoholic, I never would have said I'm afraid or scared. I never would have said that. But what people don't see and what I didn't see is that fear doesn't show up as, you know, like a big giant monster.

Fear shows up in our behaviors and our problems. So how do we know that we have fear, that fear’s on patrol? If we procrastinate, there's a fear under that.

If we get overwhelmed, there's a fear under that. If we're a perfectionist, there's a fear under that. If we get anxious, there's a fear under that. If we judge, there's a fear under that. If we're comparing, there's a fear under that. If we complain, there’s a fear under that, right? So all the things that we think, “God I wish I would quit people-pleasing. God, I wish I wouldn’t be a perfectionist. God, I've gotta quit procrastinating.” all those things we’re like, I wish I could quit doing.

All of those are just fear responses. Those are not the fear itself; that is just the response that we're having to the fear that keeps us then stuck, stuck and small and convinces us, because we're not doing those things that we then don't have a right, or we don't have what it takes to actually go for the dream we want, or actually make the changes that we really want to make, right?

So in order to really see fear for what it is, we have to really start with our fear responses. And actually no, you're not a procrastinator because you're stupid or, you know, lazy: you’re a procrastinator because you're afraid of something underneath that. And that's where the wheel of fear comes in.

Because I believe wholeheartedly, based on the work that I've done and the research I've done, is that the only way that you can truly change your life is by changing your filtering system. And the best way to change your filtering system is to have a mental model that really sets you free. So I created a mental model called the “wheel of fear.” And the wheel of fear basically explains to you, shows you how you operate when you get triggered, right? And so like, I have two pairs of glasses here wait, what – yep, I do have two pairs of glasses.

So let's just imagine that for a minute George, that these are my wheel of fear glasses that I have on right now. So I'm looking at the global pandemic through my wheel of fear glasses. What am I going to look at? There's not enough opportunity. The government isn't coming faster. How am I going to get toilet paper? Where's my water? Oh my god, I'm going to… right? Like, those are the fear glasses. If you put on what we call the “wheel of freedom” glasses, you actually change the complete filtering system. And you see something, just a different world.

And you see opportunity and possibility and hope and goodness and clean air, and you see something completely different. So that's what I'm dedicated to, is helping people understand how their wheel of fear works and what their wheel of fear is, so that they can choose every day to move from their wheel of fear to their wheel of freedom.

So, you know, the wheel of fear has four parts and again, I could go into that but, you know, I believe that everybody has a core fear that they have that really runs them. And my core fear is, I don't want to be seen as a loser. Now, if you say to me oh Rhonda, I know my core fear: I don't want to be seen as lazy. It's like, trust me, you're wrong. You're wrong, you're dead wrong.

I have only met two people in my 25 years that actually knew what their wheel of fear was, because you will think that your wheel of fear is your fear response. That’s not your core fear, right? So, all your procrastination, your perfectionism, your anxiety, you’re overwhelmed, you're beating yourself up, you're putting yourself down – all those are just fear responses and there's something else driving those behaviors.

And for me, on my wheel of fear, that for me is the fear of being seen as a loser. The fear of being thought of as a loser, that anybody could see it, think it, smell it around me, right? And I'm automatically, my automatic system will go into overdrive the minute I think even for a second that you're thinking that, right?

And that's how we do, we're always operating unless for consciousness we're awake unless we're aware, we're operating to try to preserve ourselves, rather than to shed ourselves, right? To release ourselves. So that's, you know, that's our basic opportunity here, is who's going to win the wheel of fear or a wheel of freedom.

GEORGE: All right, so let's make this practical and let's choose someone out of the audience to be a guinea pig.

RHONDA: Oooooh, ok!

GEORGE: So I really relate to that, right? Again, I think I relate to that, but I could be wrong. Where you mention, all right well, you don't want to be a loser.

So here's something I know that comes up for me: I know that when I get into creative mode, I need to create content. I have this war of art moment. I procrastinate, or I find things to do. I actually, I was talking to Kylie Ryan about this, I mentioned, you know, I was just about to create a new program for our Partners group. And before I knew it, I was down at the store buying a new monitor. It was important, right?

And I’ve noticed, if I set aside a day and according to my Kolbe I should, you know, multitask and do things at the last minute, which is detrimental to me, but I do that. But either way if I know my day is set out that, this is my creation day and I've got to create things – I know that I'm going to find things to do throughout the day and put things, put obstacles in my way and I catch myself doing it. So let's, it's like that is an example.

RHONDA: Yeah, I love that. So that's basically the writer’s, you know, that's a writer's dilemma. As a writer, you know, every, every writer says they love to write, but they hate to sit down, right? Like the hardest thing is to sit down, right?

Every writer would tell you their house was spotless before they'll ever sit down and write a word, right? And on one level, just to talk about it from an ethereal level, is that on one level your brain is switching modes, right? Like creative, incubating and creating is very different than executing, ok? So, you know, you probably are in execution mode most of the time and now you're switching to creative mode. Well, that's a different way to be.

And part of creating is actually dabbling, you know, kind of scat, like kind of just hanging out, cleaning the house, you know, like that actually helps your whole body and brain release. It's kind of like when you want a good idea, where do we all go? We go to the shower, right? We go to the shower, because we're not thinking anymore, we're just in the shower and all of a sudden, an idea pops.

Well, it's that same theory when we're trying to create. Creativity is a, well there's a muse to creativity and you have to court the muse and so it's like, I think you're trying to… On one hand, I want you to be able to create from 9:00 to 5:00, or whatever you want.

I mean when I'm on a deadline for a book, I can write 3 o'clock in the morning – 4 o'clock in the afternoon, because I've got a deadline, right? I'm on purpose. I have zero procrastination. But if I'm not clear about what I'm doing or if I've been in execution mode, there has to be a space for me to change my energy and to prepare the space for me to be creative. So that's one part of it.

The other thing is that there are costs and benefits for you to be creative. So let's just talk about those: what do you think are some costs of you being creative? You came up with this new program. What are some costs? Let's just make them up.

GEORGE: Yeah well, costs are, is it going to be good enough?

RHONDA: Yeah, going to be good enough, yeah. Is anybody going to like it? Are people going to quit? They’re going to be like, oh he's gone downhill I'm leaving, right? Right?

GEORGE: That's, that's a cost, yeah.

RHONDA: Yeah, yeah. So all these, these are costs. So the benefits, what would the benefits be?

GEORGE: Benefits would be that my members get value and they get something that they can action that's going to move them forward.

RHONDA: Right, right. So there's good benefits and you're devoted. So this is what I know about you George: I know that even though you procrastinate because the costs are very high actually, I know that you as a human being are so devoted to your tribe that you actually will create that course.

It won't be when you say it is, it will be based on when it needs to be, because you’re a last-minute person – by the way, so am I. So, you know, I'm the person creating a course, like I'm teaching a class tomorrow and I haven't even thought about it yet.

Like, it's not even a thought in my head. Like, irrelevant to me, because it's tomorrow. After you and I get off the phone I'll be like, oh, tomorrow, yeah I need to think about that. And then I'll start and I'll jot down some notes.

But I, just like you, work at the last minute. So if I'm trying to force myself to go out of my own system, that in itself doesn't work. But I want you to hear that you rationally know the right answer – oh, I'm going to sit down and do this program. But fear comes in and goes, but we don't know how. And we don't have a guaranteed result. And who do you think you are? Come on, you know, you've been doing this for a long time right now.

Yeah, you say you know what you're doing, but what if they don't like it? You know, okay what if this loses your business? What if everybody knows you’re a fraud? What if, what if, what if, what if, right?

And again, you may not be thinking those thoughts. It may not be in your head, right? But they're inside of what I call the wheel of fear. They're the ways that the wheel of fear is, because you're saying to the wheel of fear, “Well I'm going to grow now. I'm going to change. I'm going to add, I'm going to create.” And the wheel of fear is like, “Ah not a good idea thank you very much! This is going to be bad.”

And so it tries to get you to be distracted and get you to go by that monitor and have you, you know, stamped in the middle of the night and then start working at 2:00 in the morning, right?

GEORGE: Totally. Okay, so I catch myself doing this. And I acknowledge my fear. What's my next step?

RHONDA: Well I don't know: are you going to sit down and write or are you just acknowledging your fear?

GEORGE: Right.

RHONDA: So there's a couple things. So like I said, we have something called the wheel of fear and a wheel of freedom, but to bypass that right now, to give you a really quick, quick way to start dealing with this, is actually start having a dialogue with fear. So the first thing you do is you never fight with fear. Never. It always wins. 

Fear is as smart as you are, as educated as you are, as spiritual as you are, it knows everything you know, and it's way smarter than you. So we never argue with fear. So a fear says, this is going to be bad. This is what you'd say to fear: you're right, it's going to be bad and I'm going to do it anyway.

Oh well, this is, you know, I know you think this is going to bring value and you're going to suck it up and get it done but, you know, what if George doesn't like it? What if Harry doesn't like it? Well, they might not like it, that's right, they may not like it and I'm going to do it anyway. Okay, well you're making a fatal mistake. I might be making a fatal mistake, thank you so much – I'm going to do it anyway. Okay, well don't come crying to me. Okay. Right?

So one of the ways that we bypass is not fighting and not arguing. This is one of the tools inside the wheel of freedom, what I call the wheel freedom. One of the things that I teach my clients is how do you talk to fear and how do you move beyond fear. And what do you focus on instead? And what we focus on on the wheel of fear and wheel of freedom is, there's something called the essential nature.

Remember how I told you, like I don't want to be seen as a loser? Well, on my wheel of freedom what I focus on instead is being authentic. So if I'm afraid to be a loser or I think loser around my job is Rhonda Britten is – if I was being authentic right now, what would I do? Oh – I would say this, I would do this.

So you need to, you know, to have another shift of a mental model. It can't be just you and the project because it's bigger than the project. It's got to be like who you are and what really works for you. So whether it's, you know, being authentic, like, well if I was being authentic, would I be doing this project? Or it could be, if I was being compassionate with myself, or if I was being comfortable to myself, right?

But there's another frame that you have to decide to step into and take action from that new frame. So me being authentic is, you know, if you're afraid to be a loser, you're afraid if you're authentic that you're going to be a loser. And I have to know that that's not true. Like right, that's not true. If I was being authentic, who would I be? Oh. I would sit down and I might tell my group that it's going to be done next week and not be done now, right?

Or oh, I'm going to tell myself that maybe I don't know as much as I think I do and I have to do some research. Or maybe I do need somebody to help me be accountable to, right? Tell yourself the truth. But never, never, never, argue with fear/

GEORGE: I love that. Rhonda, so good. Before we wrap things up, I just want to bring it back to my audience. And looking at, you know, we’ve got martial arts school others that we work with, people are faced in various directions. You know, some people have had their income shot down 100%.

RHONDA: Yeah.

GEORGE: Many of them are Partners within our group of martial artists made the pivot online and are venturing in that new arena.

RHONDA: New world, yeah.

GEORGE: Yeah and I don't want to shift the topic too much and, you know, go down a whole new angle. But I just want to talk about the topic of money, because this has come up a lot of times where, I think especially in the martial arts space, there's been so much emphasis placed on the value that they deliver physically. And if they switch to the online, the detachment of what they deliver physically and they are doing online…

RHONDA: Yes

GEORGE: …They feel that it's just not right to charge money, or that they've got to do it for goodwill.

RHONDA: Yes.

GEORGE: what would be your take on that and the relationship of money and feeling comfortable making that shift?

RHONDA: So I'm going to say two things: one is, I have an exercise that we can do in just a minute, but um… The thing is that, you know, I have a client of mine who's a martial artist. He's a… what kind of trainer is that, you know, in the cage, the cage trainers, right? Um…

GEORGE: Mixed martial arts.

RHONDA: Yeah, and he's… Yeah, right, mixed martial arts. So he is, you know, he said the same thing to me. He's like, you know, but I have to touch them and I have to move them. I'm saying, yeah, but right now what do you think everybody needs that are your clients?

I don't know about you, but I think they need a mindset. I think they need maybe critiques on… Like, you could put matches on line and you could critique them. You could help them understand their body better. Like, there are so many refinements, right? Like if you talk to a boxer, a martial artist: the work is not done in the ring, right? The work is done outside the ring, right? So using that attitude of like, okay, I'm not in the ring right now, I'm not with them physically: so what can I do? How can I support them?

That's going to give them a competitive edge and even better when we get back in the ring? And I think that's the mindset that you have to think of that you're doing like the heavy lifting, the deep, rooted work, right? The deep rooted work, without the physical body being there.

So I think that mindset work, getting people to understand that they can use their body, taking care of themselves, making sure they're staying in shape etc etc, doing the fine muscles, etc etc – I mean, this is important and valuable work that people will pay for. They will be happy to pay because they want to belong somewhere.

Because everybody, most people out there are feeling very, very alone, even though they have five people living in their house and they're stuck with them. They feel very alone and they want somebody that understands them, that knows them like this. That knows them in their power like this. They want to be seen, they want to be remembered, they want to be heard – and they want focus.

And you're the one to give them that, because you're their trainer. You're there whether there's a gym owner, a trainer, you know, you're their master. So help them during this time, it's your responsibility. I don't know that's a…

GEORGE: Yes, that is spot-on and very in alignment with what I've been telling our clients iIs really think of the outcome. There's an outcome that people actually get from the martial arts and if you can provide that through a different medium, that's going to keep them together until, you know, the new normal.

RHONDA: That's right. But again, you and I both know martial arts is a lot of mindset stuff. So if your mind is caught in the cracks in your foundation as I said earlier, then you get to do your mindset work alongside your clients. And you get to lead them through that. And that's your opportunity and that is one of the greatest gifts you can give to them. And I promise you this they will remember you forever, leading them through this. They will remember you forever.

You know, I mean I think about the people that I've been talking to and I will never forget them, because they're helping, they're supporting, they’re being with, you know, like we're doing this together, right? So you're not just becoming, you know, who they've trained with; you're really becoming their mentor at a whole new level. So I invite you to take it. Yeah. And do you want me to throw this last exercise out? Because I promised I would, but again, I don't need to. I mean, are you complete, what do you think?

GEORGE: If you have the time Rhonda, I would love it.

RHONDA: I’ll just throw it out, because I actually said I would share it, so I want to give it. Another exercise to actually take about, whether it’s abundance or mindset whatever it is, you know, we're focused on the things like, “oh I've got to give everything away.” and again, goodwill is nice but what can you give for goodwill and what will you charge for you? You have to really start to understand that like, I'm doing a lot of Facebook lives right now for goodwill.

But I'm also charging my clients and I'm also charging for my courses, ok? I'm giving people a longer time to pay and some people I've been talking to are reducing fees 50% for one month or two months and then that's it so that their clients stay with them. But again, you don't have to do that to pay on what you provide, right?

So this exercise that I'm going to tell you and I'll end with this is control versus no control. So grab a piece of paper, put a line down the middle and on the left hand side write “control” and on the right hand side write “no control.” and I want you to write down all the things you are in control of and all the things you're not in control of.

Now, I'm sure you've probably done something like this already with your folks George, is like what do they control, what don't they control. But this is the kicker, this is what I do is my clients. I take it to the next level is, all the things they can control, I want them to grade themselves. I want them to rate themselves from one to ten. Ten is, I'm not going to have a problem with my sleep, I'm the greatest sleeper in the whole world. Water? I'm a ninja! I'm a nine! Right? Or is it, I'm two with my sleep and I'm three with my vegetables and I'm four in connection, right?

So write all the things you're in control of and give yourself a scorecard, rate yourself. Because what I know to be true is, when you're focused on the things you can't control, when you're getting worried about the things you can't control, I guarantee you you're not controlling the things you can. You're not taking care of business where you can.

So I invite you to just do the control – no control. Have the control there, rate yourself, give yourself a scorecard. Focus there, because then when you do that, you'll get your power back. You feel empowered again and then the things you can’t control kind of recede in the background, right?

GEORGE: Simple. What a great…

RHONDA: Simple, but not easy to do, right?

GEORGE: Exactly, exactly. But that's gold and I'm going to do it right now.

RHONDA: It's an amazing exercise, I can't tell you how many clients I have worked with, I've been doing that exercise with clients for over 20 years and I cannot tell you how it changes their life. Because it's not just a list, oh I can do this, I can do this. But it's like, no – rate yourself. That rating gives you like, oh crap, I’ve  got to focus on this, it gives you a focus now.

GEORGE: Right.

RHONDA: Do you mind if I give a gift to your listeners?

GEORGE: Please do!

RHONDA: Ok, so I actually feel compelled to… I don't normally give two gifts, but I did talk about “stretch, risk or die”, so I do want to give them all the worksheets for that, so they can really understand it at a deeper level.

So go to fearlessliving.org/risk, and yes, you're going to have to put your name and email in because it's inside a member center. If you don't want to get emails or whatever, of course you can just unsubscribe right away. But again, you're going to need to do that in order to become a member to get the course.

But the other thing that I realized I had just the other day which is so funny. I'd already talked to like six groups and forgot I had this: I actually have created a course called “How To Overcome Fear Of The Unknown”. Hellooo! Helloo! Duh! And when I realized that, I was like wait a minute I have a course called “How To Overcome Fear Of The Unknown”.

So if you'd like that course as well, go ahead and grab that and that's at fearlessliving.org/gift. So fearlessliving.org/risk for stretch, risk or die and fearlessliving.org/gift for the gifts. And again, sign up, put your email in, you'll get access to the course. Unsubscribe if you don't want to hear from me ever again.

GEORGE: That's gold Rhonda, thank you so much for being so generous with your time. Thank you for the great gifts. I know I got, you know, my secret finish about doing this podcast is like I get to speak to awesome guests like you and  just learn. And I know everybody listening to this is going to get so much value. So Rhonda, thank you so much, really appreciate your time.

RHONDA: You’re welcome – be fearless.

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

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

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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95 – Peter Graham – Applying The Winning Martial Arts Mindset In Uncertain Times

Peter Graham, top martial arts school owner, Bellator Champion and Multiple World Title Holder, shares how to apply the fighter’s winning mindset to daily life.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • How to stay motivated in a period of downturn
  • How to make decisions under uncertainty
  • Helpful tips for successful goal setting
  • How to think and perform like a ‘true’ martial arts fighter
  • And more

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


TRANSCRIPTION

We're scared, we're worried. It's not just for ourselves, you know, we have families and the people we work with and train with, you know, we know them really well. But now is the time for us to dig deep and say, “I have this feeling – it's okay. But what can I do to fight another day?” And that's a real martial artist’s or a fighter's attitude.

GEORGE: Hey this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. So I'm joined today with a special guest, Peter Graham. And Peter Graham, we were having a chat the other day, so just recently, we just started working together in our Partners group and we’ve been having a few calls and we had a few chats about…

Obviously right now, depending on when you’re listening to this, but the current pandemic and the situation. And we were having real interesting conversations about us being martial artists. Now. Peter's experience or credentials go two miles further than mine do, but the real conversation got going about the martial arts mindset.

Now, Peter is a real successful martial arts school owner and I'm going to get in to share a bit of his credentials right now because I couldn't keep track of all of them. And we're going to chat about just dealing with the now, how our martial arts mindset could benefit us in this current situation and wherever this conversation goes. So welcome to the call, Peter.

PETER: Thanks George. Hey, you know, this is where they say who I am. I am a martial artist, so I come from a karate background, kyokushin background. I was an uchi-deshi, so I lived in Japan doing karate. And that moved on from one thing to another, to another.

Basically the whole budo experience. You know, I just wanted to fight all the time and the best people I could fight. So not unlike a lot of karate or taekwondo guys and girls, you know, they always go to lots and lots of tournaments and, you know, if you keep winning, I guess you try to find ones that are even more up the pay scale so to speak.

So I also have a black belt in kenpo karate, BJJ experience for ten years or eleven. Last couple of years I haven't really been focused on it. I was pro MMA, so I made it to the finals of the Bellator. Lost to Cheick Kongo in the finals, but that's okay. He's a good guy, yeah, I can deal with losing to him. 

Made the K1 Grand Prix, which is top-paid. Oceania champion. Six kickboxing world titles, Thai boxing world title, boxing world title. But really, that was just part of being a martial artist, part of me trying to be the best I could be. And it was the whole, I guess a word that people use all the time at the moment is mindset.

Martial Arts MindsetSo along my path to where I thought I wanted to go, or where I thought I needed to be, there were blocks depending on, you know, which, you know, which country rose in or what was happening in the political climate. The economic downturn in 2008, you know, really killed K1.

And, you know, there's always something. But instead of throwing my hands up in the air and saying, ah – always look for something else to do. As a fighter, there's different organizations in different countries so I just always kept on looking for that next opportunity.

And I guess that really brings us to where we are now. I mean, with the current situation, you know, all schools are closed down and, you know, I see a lot of people really panicking and stressed out and I understand that, you know, the complete lack of finances is stressful.

But in this time, you know, it will really show the people who take the mindset of a martial artist. Anyone who has a black belt, whether it took them two years or twenty years to get it, has that ability to see into the future knowing that the hard work they put in now can repay later on.

The success of earning a black belt is a huge thing for a lot of people and of course young martial artists, you know, some of them, it's more than half their life as a young child. And sometimes people who have been a black belt for so long or been a champ for so long, or been successful so long, you know, we get a bit soft.

We’re used to the good paychecks, we’re used to the high-fives and the successful meetings and the, you know, all the good things and tracking that come along with that. And then we forgot how difficult it was when we first started, you know, we got some really, really great… It's my five-year-old, showing me her cut out of a car.

Now, we've got some really, really great athletes and my gym. And I tell them, I say, hey guys: you see that that new person down there, the chubby guy down there who's turning purple in the face and his lips have gone all white and he's just about to roll his eyes? I said, he's the one who's working the hardest today. Don't forget that.

You've got to outwork him every time if you want to get to be… If you want to be the champ. And at the moment, I think that is a massive point for successful people at the moment, you know, specifically in our line of martial arts and combat sports is that we have to say, “hey what was it like when I first opened the dojo? What was it like, you know, the first time you got that big rent bill and went, how am I going to pay for that?”

Or, you know, you started to pay stuff or insurance or whatever it was and you went no, no. And, you know, fight that urge to run away or throw my hands up or lie or cheat or steal and do the right thing and stick to my personal principles and continue on.

I remember George, when I first opened my dojo. I was sitting on the steps inside the building. This class of boys come in and there's some steps right in the front. And I was sitting there with my wife, we’d been there a month. We had all of, it was 12 or 14 students.

And I said, hey honey, do you think we could just kind of close the doors and run away and go to Brazil? I said, you know, we can hide out there, no one will know me there I'm sure. She looked at me and she said, you know that's not going to happen. That's not you.

But we all had those urges and it's a, you know, it's like Cus d'Amato said to Mike Tyson: ”the hero and the cow both feel the same. But it's what the hero does that makes him the hero and what the cow doesn't do that makes him the cow.” And I think in these situations there's a lot of us who feel similar feelings.

You know, we're scared, we're worried. It's not just for ourselves, you know, we have families and the people we work with and train with, we know them really well. But now is the time for us to dig deep and say, “I have this feeling – it's okay. But what can I do to fight another day?” And that's a real martial artist’s or a fighter's attitude.

Because you hit the canvas in a boxing fight and anything after round six, let me tell you – after round six, life gets very different. You really start to get those goals, become very polarized. But you hit the canvas off to round six and you ask yourself, “Why in the hell am I doing this? Am I going to get up and fight another day? Do I need to?” Because if you're going home in a new Mercedes Benz to your silk sheets, you know, with your beautiful wife and fantastic kids, that motivation may have gone.

But if you don’t get up to win the fight, your kids are going to miss a meal, or you're going to get kicked out of your, you know, shitty apartment somewhere. Let me tell you, your motivations are different. Different people obviously have different motivations, but that's the mindset that I take.

Now, things are good. My life is great. I'd like to continue that and, you know, all of us can jump up and down and complain and be grumpy at the current situation saying, well why did I do this or do that. And some of us may have prepared better than others, some of them, you know. We might have had our worst month ever, but you had your best month ever. But the fight’s on.

And now we're really going to see the cream rise to the top. But there’s awesome things as well, you know, if this is, you know. If you're just starting out only a few months into it or even a few years, yeah, you could.. Because everything is…

GEORGE: Equal.

PETER: Yeah. Everyone's scrambling to open online dojos, everyone's trying all these things. What works, what doesn't work, should I use zoom, should I use Skype, you know, “Can I do it on Facebook, can I monetize it? How do I monetize it? You know, can I stop the payments? Should I keep them?”

Okay, all these things we're all asking yourselves. And that's something that a real champion and a winner does. We all ask ourselves questions, right? You wake up in the morning, roll out of bed, “Should I drink the whiskey or should I have a cup of coffee?”

Hopefully that's not the question you ask yourself, but just saying, if you wake up in the morning and say, “What am I going to do? Am I going to get down on it? Are we going to hustle? You know, push myself to the 10th degree, or am I going to go hmm. I'll watch TV or, you know, see what’s on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and, you know, cause a problem with someone because I don't like them or I'm bored, or not motivated.” 

But motivation is simple, right? It's very, very, very simple in my mind. There’s the horrible part and there's a good part. The horrible part is, if I stay where I am, it's going to be horrible. And the good part is, if I do what's needed to be done, this will be awesome.

You know, you want a drink of water, you're walking through the desert. If I don't get a drink of water, I'm going to die. If I get a drink of water, I'll be fine. It's very polarizing, you know. But if you're doing well in a dojo and you’re doing well in your business, you're doing well in whatever and you say well, you know, if I keep on doing what I'm doing now, I'll do okay. And if I don't go too hard, I'll still be okay.

There's nothing, you know, you're 50-50…. But now it's very polarizing. Everyone’s going, oh man, if this keeps going, I'm going to go under. So we start asking ourselves those questions, but then you ask yourself how important is it?

GEORGE: I've been having real interesting conversations about this and partly why I want to do… Speaking to you is kind of bringing it home. So when this pandemic happened, I decided to reach out to other coaches and just other business owners in general with different perspectives, facing different scenarios.

First I spoke to Jason Everett, who is a high-performance salon coach. And the energy he brought to the podcast was amazing and he's… Well, there's no virtual haircuts happening. Look how lucky you guys are. You can just put it and run online. And then I spoke to Kylie Ryan. And Kylie Ryan was all about mindset.

So I wanted to talk about decision making and, you know, where should you be when you make the decisions. Because if you’ve got your head in the sand, versus you are striving and you’re leadership focused, there's going to be two different decisions that you make. And the language that you can express is going to be completely different.

And so the thing that came up with Kylie was to really just find that place of, you know, just take a step back, breathe and make your decision from that point. Because if you’re consumed in this media here and your mind is there and you're trying to make the decision, it's not going to be the right decision.

So now listening to you and the way you've applied a lot of things with martial arts, which is really bringing it full circle for me in… Who knows where the next conversation is going to take. But this is really, I think this is great for all martial arts school owners listening here.

Now, taking this fighter’s mindset and really applying it and the conversation I guess I want to get to is, how do you trigger yourself into that “it's on.” like, what do you do as a martial artist to go, “all right. Well, here's a situation, it's difficult. I'm going to show up.” how am I going to show up, what do I do? What is the inner self talk that you have with yourself and you said, “all right, it's game on.”

PETER: You know, that's a really good question. You know what, I'll tell you exactly what I do is, I start to ask myself questions. How important is this to me? How important is it that I get up this morning and start chipping away at those things?

And then I ask myself more questions. What do I need to do? How much money do I need? How much money have I got? How many bills were coming? How many people do I need? How many people need me? So the more questions I ask, then the more answers I'm going to get. But there's also another little trick to it I say is, you want to ask yourself the right questions.

If I ask myself why coronavirus is destroying my business and life, I'll probably come up with an answer if I give it enough energy. Most smart people will. And then at the end of that question, the answer will be whatever it might be, but it'll be negative and I'll be in the same spot.

But then I ask myself a similar question structured in a different way: how can I make sure this coronavirus is a positive thing to my business, for my family? Probably going to come up with an answer if you put the same amount of energy into it, you’ll still come up with an answer. So asking yourself those questions is important that you're asking yourself the right questions.

And what I mean by that if you didn't understand it from that first explanation George, is asking in a way that in the end you come up with an answer that's going to develop something and you're going to have forward momentum from it.

So why is everything so bad? No no: how can I get something good out of this bad situation? You know, how come we've got no money? I’ve got no money because I've got all these bills and I've got no money coming in.

Okay, that's correct you're going to answer the question, but it hasn't helped you any. How can I generate more income? Well, I heard that guy George, he's got this thing he's doing online and these people zoom. Well, what’s zoom? You find out what zoom is – ah! Man, would really work for me but how come it doesn't…

You know, I've never been good with technology stuff. How come it always has to be technology stuff? Well, that's not going to work either, right? You place the right question: how can I learn more about zoom? I'll talk to my mate George, he will help. I'll talk to my mate Peter, I'll ask the guy down the road.

Martial Arts Mindset

So I'm always asking myself the right questions, always trying to catch myself say, am I asking myself a question that is going to get me to go forward and have that forward momentum, or am I going to ask the wrong question that’s just going to keep me where I am. And the other thing is, I don't expect it to be easy. I don't expect anyone to do anything for me, I don't expect anything from anyone else and I'm not bitter about it.

It's not like, you know, your whole bunch of bosses, I don't care. It is what it is. There's no self entitlement. No one owes me anything and I'm fine with that.

However, these are lots of good people who all come out of the woodwork and help each other, which is great. And I see that, but knowing that it puts it on you, that emphasis on you and I guess from being a fighter for so long, you know, you can blame the coach or, you know, you have to fly economy halfway across the planet or, you know the airline was shitty or the hotel room was horrible or you only had a week’s notice – you're going to have all these things, and you'll still lose the fight. That's the reason why I lost.

Well, you come up with the solution but you know, I'm just going to be super super careful in that fight, I'm going to make sure that I stretch it out beforehand. Like I'm a big guy, I'm six-three, so flying economy halfway across the world, it's a tough gig. But I want to win the fight. So that's the thing: I desperately want to win that fight. And there's a lot of other people who desperately want to win this fight.

I know that I want to win it. So that way, by asking those questions, you come up with the solution that is what we need to do. And I say this all the time: to me, there's only two types of people. And people hear me say this again and again. But I mean there really are winners and losers. Winners make solutions. Full stop, period. Losers make excuses. There is a subcategory now, I call it smart losers – they make reasons.

GEORGE: Ah!

PETER: The reason this isn't happening yet – I can see your brain thinking now George, you’re thinking, I’ve met lots of people like that. Oh, but George the reason that happened was, I'm a smart guy. Here’s these reasons why I can't succeed. Well, congratulations: you're successful at being a loser. And if you want to do that, that's fine. Some people will fight tooth and nail. No, no, no, there’s a… Okay, stay where you are, it's okay.

But the people who truly want to be successful and get through whatever it is, not just business: life, relationships, money, you know, they're the people who ask themselves the right questions and come up with the solution.

And if the first solution doesn't work, they go for another one and then another one and then another one. And it goes back to what we were saying before: it depends how important that goal is. Or how important it is that you don't stay where you are.

Sometimes – just getting, just out of it, is important to. Say you’re in jail and you want to break out. You’re not thinking, well, I don't want to be here. I want to be in a mansion in the Bahamas. You think, I just want out. We’ll reassess everything and as soon as they get out of these bars go away and I'm out of jail. It's a terrible analogy, sorry, but I think people will get what I'm saying, right?

GEORGE: Totally. I mean, and I really love that because I discovered this really, I mean really that it hit home for me was, a couple of years ago, I think it was my wife that asked me a question that I just wasn't contemplating. I was actually working part time, trying to build up this business.

You know, I've never shared this story and it's a crazy thing. Because I was really embarrassed to actually talk about it, because it was embarrassing, right? I've been this sort of a, you know, business mind and computer programming guide for so long and then you know, I moved to Australia and I was working in the sales job, it was going well.

And then I wanted to start this online business. And I wanted to do this online business but it was just… This pivot in school owner’s experience, right: you’ve got full-time income, you're trying to be a business owner – something's gotta give. Something’s got to tip and I couldn't make this tip.

My next-door neighbor walks up to me and says, we just bought a lot of delivery business. I said, okay and so they asked me to be the driver and I was like, no way in hell will I do that. I won't do that and it's ego talking. Look,  just from context: there's nothing against, honestly doing that proper job. It was just… I just didn't feel that was where I should spend my time.

PETER: Absolutely

GEORGE: And so I got a few bills and it didn't look good and uh…

Peter: The delivery driver looked good.

GEORGE: And I think okay, so I just got to give up to sleep two nights a week and I'm going to get about an extra four-five hundred dollars a week and I'm not… That's really going to take the edge off. That's going to make me build this business. So I reluctantly said yes.

And so I started doing this before long but then I got accustomed to it, no sleeping and operating that way. Before I knew it, bills got really bad and then I was working five nights a week, my life was deliver milk in buildings from 10pm to 6am, sleep for four hours, train martial arts, have a nap, get to work on the business, take my son to martial arts, have a nap – and this was my life for three-four years.

Anyway, long story short, but I was really stuck. I couldn't move forward because of my mental capacity… I was a walking zombie. And it was until my wife just started throwing a question at me about what if… What if I did it this way, what if I did it that way. And I was so stuck in this rut for so many years and I went, huh. 

And that wasn't the first time she threw a question at me that definitely made me think. And it's since then that I really just take a step back. Because sometimes, especially now, you know: schools are closed, it's terrible. But what if it's not?

Okay, my business is closed. Okay, so where’s the opportunity here? Well, I could do something online. Okay, I don't want to do something online. Well, okay, I've got a choice. I could either be out of business, or an online business. Okay, so I'll be in an online business. So what's the opportunity here? Well, I can add this extra component to my school, which I never had time to do. I don't have time because I'm…

PETER: George, can you stop just there for one second. Exactly what you did is what needed to be done. You know, you weren't really thinking about becoming, you know, your dream job wasn't becoming a milk delivery guy. But the pain of staying where you were was too much, so you had to do something. And something came up, but then you should thank your wife. She started asking the right questions.

Also thank yourself for asking yourself what can I do? Well hold on. And the reason, I'm going to guess, you came up with the right answer because the pain of not sleeping…

GEORGE: It sucks.

Peter: Yeah, it sucks. It's so annoying, you know, and it drove you to what you're doing now. So that's awesome. You know, you've got that and it's funny, you'll see very quickly which category people sit in when you just ask them a few questions. As you were, keep going.

GEORGE: No, perfect and I mean it's just to add context to this conversation, right? Because I think right now people are really being put to the test. And I kind of look at this industry, you know, what drew me to this industry was the first things I saw on the wall. Respect, integrity, confidence, resilience, all these things.

And if there was ever a test to display what you've been teaching, this is it. Like, how are you showing up to this. You can either bury your head in the sand – then what have you been teaching? Or you can say, well hey.

PETER: Exactly.

GEORGE: This is the battle. This is the battle we’ve been training for. Are you with me or are you leaving?

PETER: Yeah, no, this is exactly true. You know, and it's really easy for me to achieve big goals. Because I find this is a big goal. Get to the end of this and open my doors and have everything go back on as per norm.

But to begin with, I'm like, I have no idea. I don't know what to do. And that's exactly like a white belt. But now we're all white belts, we’re all sitting in that same place, all going, what do we do? And what happens? You either get a tip or you go for that first grading and you're scared and you're annoyed and it's frustrating.

Or, you know, you don't know what to do because you didnt train hard enough. Or you get there and you do really well. And what happens, when do people drop out? They hit the first belt and they quit. So there's going to be a whole lot of quitters at that first grading. They're going to come into that first challenge, whatever that may be and they’re going to quit. We know that because we see it.

Training is like the world you know into… it gives me all the answers I need. And then it's going to be a few more gradings and some will do really well. In the beginning, there's going to be some who are going to be really talented. We're going to go, ah, these people are awesome! Look at their online business.

But some of them will quit and some will keep going. And some will be successful and some will be really successful and some will fade away. Some will get a black belt and realize that’s just the beginning. Others will give up before their first grading and lots of them will come up with excuses and reasons. And that's all it is.

I mean, you know, people are looking for a big, complicated answer – it's not. The amount of effort that's required to get to where we're going, especially in these uncertain times. We’re not even sure where it is we're going, specifically. That effort might be a lot more, just like you and your milk job. You know, 10 o'clock to 7 o'clock in the morning or something, ridiculous.

GEORGE: Yeah, it was crazy, yeah.

PETER: Get the cows to give milk at milk at different times. But the pain of going home to your family and saying, sorry, we're just having lunch and dinner from now on. And we're moving into my mate's caravan. This is painful, I'd hate to have to tell that to my wife. I love my house, I love my home, I love my family.

And that's, again, going back to those, you know, those principles. And principles of martial artists, you know is, stick to the program. You know, that intestinal fortitude, that inner strength. You know, should I go next door and rip off the guys lawnmower and then I can sell it. That goes against my principles.

To some people that's fun. I know that, cuz I'm home all the time. I know when they're home and when they're not home, everybody goes steal the whipper snipper as well and I'll be like, if that's where your principles lay.

People will do that, but that's, you know, it's not me, it's not you. It's not martial artists as a whole mostly. But we all have to keep on continuing to go back on what we know already as a martial artist and stick to the program. And realize that we're probably going to fail a few times.

You're going to stumble a few times, there's a few times we're going to walk out of the dojo, we’ll walk out of a meeting going I just got my ass kicked. I was talking to, before we jumped online, that I just got a letter from my accountant saying, Pete, looks like you've missed one of those bass payments.

It's a body punch. Zero income – hey, the tax department wants a really big check from you Pete. I have to pay for it or you know, lie down and go ahh. But I'll come up with a solution, because the idea of doing anything else, not because I'm particularly…

What's the word, particularly fond of the Australian taxation department. It's, I'll pay the bill and I'll get it done, because I'm fond of where I'm at. And the other option is certainly not going to happen. And once you have that mindset that, I'll either win or I'll be dead, you'd be surprised what you can achieve.

Most people don't want to have that commitment to anything, right? Most people are like, huh pretty good. You know, if I get this job, you know I put in the effort there and I'll do this and it'll be alright. They’re scared to take that risk – I understand that. Don’t want to mess up what they already have. Why do you think so many great fighters come from shitty areas and shitty homes and you know, not even, street kids.

It's because you’ve got nothing to lose. No one’s saying to you, George if you fuck this up mate, you're going to end up with nothing, you know.

So, well Pete I’ve got nothing already so, sky's the limit. But when you’ve already got a whole bunch of nice things, it can be harder. You know, you can be paralyzed with fear. Say, I don't wanna lose any of this. If I bet too much, I could lose. I don't want to lose, so I'm just going to keep on that small track. But now, we're all being forced to bet everything. You’re either all in or you’re all out.

GEORGE: So on that Peter, where does your drive come from? What made you a successful fighter? What was that thing that lit a fire under you that you really wanted that success. And still want a continuous, moving forward in business in life.

Martial Arts MindsetPETER: You know what, when I was a kid, I moved around a lot. I went to lots of different schools and I was a nobody to everybody. And I didn't like that. I wasn't good at making friends, because I was always the new kid. And I'm talkative and I get lots of energy and I get really excited.

So when you’re the new kid who's really talkative and excited about things, you think, this guy's clearly crazy. You know, every three to four months since I was about 12 or 13, I had to move. I lived in the youth refugees. And then I used to lie all the time. Yeah I've got this and I've got that, my dad's this, my mom's that.

Clearly my mom wasn't this and my dad wasn't that and I didn't have anything. Didn't have friends because that would mean you have to be somewhere for a long period of time. I didn't have family, certainly didn't have any money and I had no education at all. And for a while when I was young it was like, well you know, you just carry on.

Then after a while, you get sick of it. Now unfortunately, most kids who grew up like refugees and street kids and you know, what they call harmless refugees and stuff, even in awesome places like Australia, they end up alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals and their lives are horrible. And that was all around me and I certainly didn't want that.

I remember one day, this is a story that really shows where I just said, this has got to change. This particular time, I was living in a big stormwater train, a place called Eastful. A couple of suburbs outside of Sydney. The reason I was living there and not in the city where most street kids live or in the train yards and stuff like that is because I was scared. Because when I was a kid, a really young kid, I actually came from a nice area.

And we won't go into the back story of how everything went horribly wrong, so I wasn't you know, everyone I ever met who was a street kid, you know, they’re all, my dad's are criminal and my mom is this. And you know everyone could fight me, everyone was tough and I wasn't that guy. And it was my little sister's birthday, so I said, you know, what I'm going to do is a big graffiti piece.

Now, I was too scared to do it on a train or on a public walk, but inside this big stormwater train, if I could do it there, yeah, probably not going to get into a lot of trouble. To show you the type of kid I was, I saved up and bought the paint. No respect, I know.

Anyway, so you know, I sprayed on the wall and it looked absolutely terrible. This is ridiculous and it was possibly one of the lowest points of my life. It's basically at that time. No friends, no family, I wasn't going to school, no money. I said, you know what, I am going to become a criminal.

Now, down the road there was a big sports store with a big plate glass window. And I went, what if I go up there, because I've always been a pretty big kid, I'll pick up this big terracotta pot and I'll throw it through the window, take all the sports athletic gear and I'll walk around, I'll look real cool.

So I went over there and stashed my stuff in my stormwater train, just outside there were a bunch of trees. So I put it under there, under bushes. And it was, you know, two o'clock in the morning, no one around. And I pick up this, you know, this big terracotta pot and I throw it in this place plate glass window and it bounces off, shatters into a million pieces, you know, and then all the alarms and bells and whistles, everything just went off.

And I was like, what? And I run off  and I run back and I jump over the fence and then go down into where the big stormwater train is. And I remember sitting there, I was going, this is ridiculous. I can't even be a criminal.

Now, what does everyone say, they say, you keep going like that George, you're going to end up a crim. I couldn't, I didn't even have the ability to end up as a criminal. I was shattered, it was like I am good at absolutely nothing and no one gives a shit.

And I remember sitting there just contemplating my life and how crap it was. And I said, it's got to be something. Something's got to be there. And I said to the universe, I said, make me good at something. Anything, I'll take anything. At this point, I'll take anything.

Now, if you're a religious person then you ask God or whatever and at that point then, absolutely nothing happened. I didn't have a moment of clarity, I didn't have some deep insight – absolutely nothing happened. Nothing happened at all whatsoever for another four years. But what did happen was, I started searching. I’ve got to be good at something, I’ve got to be good at something.

And for me, I could hear it ticking in my head. You're going to run out of time Pete, you’re going to run out of time. You're going to end up like everybody else. You'd better hurry up, you better find your thing.

You know, I didn't have much self-confidence, you know, for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I kept failing everything. Because I’d go to school for a couple of months and then the next school would have the same thing or then they'd have something completely different.

And then after a while, you just give up. And on top of that, I’ve got add, attention deficit disorder which means concentrating on anything for more than a split second it's normally kind of tough.

Martial Arts Mindset

But what I do have and I had it in a bucket list, I had a desire. I said, wherever I am now is so shit. I didn't have any guidance, no one’s saying what you should do Pete, you should do this and see that person, or be that person. You could talk to  George – none of that.

You know, I'd like to say that, you know, there was some great insight from other people along the road, but there wasn't. It was just that same shitty feeling of feeling like I was invisible. I’d go to school and it didn’t matter if I’d turn up or didn't turn up, you know. Whether I was lalateid or wasn't late – it didn't matter.

And I wanted to matter. I wanted to be famous, I said, I want to be famous. I want to have something, anything. And that desire just kept burning into me.

And then the day happened. I had a fight with this guy, I was in a refuge at this time. And I'd made my lunch, it was the last of my food and I was walking back into the common room to watch the tv. I wasn’t allowed to watch the tv with my food, you know, there's no food in there.

And this guy Brad said, as I was holding my plate of four sandwiches, he goes, you're not allowed to eat in the common room. I went boom! And all my food went everywhere and I just lost my mind. Yeah, let's just say Brad and I didn't stay friends for much longer and I got kicked out.

I was so angry too, because I was like, it wasn't me, I didn't do it, it was this guy. And what was I doing? I was blaming. I was so mad and I didn't want to move, because I was living in this great house in North Sydney in Sydney, which is a great affluent area and thought it made people think that I had money.

So it was really cool. They said no, you’ve got to go. And they took me and they said, we've got this other place, because I was about 17. They said, you can go there and it's kind of, you know, it's not a halfway house. It's like moving from being what they call young homeless to being young and unemployed. They really kind of set you up there.

But anyway, but every day, they moved me there and it was great, this was cool. But I used to go down to the bottle-o. because you know, me and my friends would go get drunk and hang out. I still smoked cigarettes at that stage when I was a kid. I used to go past this karate dojo and I went, that's what I'll do. I'll do that.

I think I wanted to do taekwondo, because I thought the flag was better. Japanese flag, just the red dot. The Korean flag with cool little words and the yin yang, that was a bit cool. I said, this'll do.

I walked into the dojo and there's a guy behind the counter called Johnny and I walk in, and I said, hey what do I need to do to be a karate champ? And he told me after, yes Pete, I just rolled my eyes when I went back and said, man there’s this crazy kid out here, you know, who’s so big. There’s this crazy big kid out here, he wants to become a karate champ, you know. They were kind of laughing at me. Just turn up at 6 o'clock.

So I turned up at 6 o'clock and something happened. I started doing those punches and I thought this is it, this is pretty simple. All I've got to do is work harder than everyone else. And I got it. And I thought, ok all I need to do is turn up and at that time it started, I had a job so I had a bit of money and I had a stable place, because I was just about to turn 18.

And once you turn 18, you know, you can stay in one place for a longer time, unless you're, you know, there's a few other rules and regulations and stuff. That your parents clear the papers and let you stay somewhere, but mine didn't. And that was it.

I was 17 and I thought, if I don't do this now I'm going to miss the boat. I started karate and punched and kicked and screamed all the way to the K1 Grand Prix. And it was a desire to be better than what I was. And I would do anything, I’d go on every tournament, I would take anything.

I used to go through the magazines, look for tournaments going to them. But it was that desire to be better than what I was. I find out now, she's my lovely wife, that what, you know, being famous is great, but having a family is a million times better.

But it's exciting, because that same way, that drive and that, you know, that perseverance that was needed to get to where I was, happened for two reasons. One is, I really didn't want to be there, and two, I really wanted to get somewhere else. Turns out, the final goal was a little different, which was fun. But it set me up. And it's awesome, it's a wonderful feeling to know that I have that part of my life figured out completely, how to be a success in whatever it is I choose to do. And it works for everyone if they want to be honest to themselves. Some people don't.

GEORGE: First up, I mean, I love your story. That's inspiring stuff. How would you, what would you say to martial artists in general now? You've got, I mean, you've got really extensive knowledge experience in, you know, in the fighting arena. And I know a lot of martial artists do, but maybe some people have forgotten where they were at. Maybe they've gotten a bit complacent: what advice would you give to martial artists, martial arts school owners now in this climate and navigating through the obstacles?

PETER: Super simple: treat yourself as a white belt. You’ve just walked I,n first day on a mamat. What was that thing that said, this is for me? Learn, learn, learn, learn, learn and know that you're going to make mistakes. All the things that we tell a white belt, all the people who walk in that have never done anything before, you know. That open-mindedness that you tell them to have, we have to have now.

Learn and beat despair. Don't be afraid to ask questions. It's okay, we're all in the same boat, ask questions. Hey, how did you do this, how did you do that? Can you help me with this? I'll help you, if I find out, I'll help you.

So, you know, ask yourself the right questions, you’ll get the right answer. And nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing beats hard work. What's hard work? Just do it.

Write down a list of things you could possibly do, a list of things, a list of people you could talk to. But things that are going to make things better. Ask yourself the right questions. That's it, hard work, discipline, sticking to the program.

Although the final goal might change a little bit, you've got to start with something. You know, I want to be here at the end of this coronavirus. I want to have a dojo and I want to be able to open the doors the day that we're allowed to. That's my goal. And I'd like to have a little bit of money.

GEORGE: Love it.

PETER: If we get there and it says, I'm going to have a lot of money and a great online business and everyone rushes back into my dojo because they’re super pumped to come back, even better. Preparation meets opportunity. That's good luck.

The lack of preparation, well, the opportunity comes, you’ll get popped. The fight, it's, you know, straight away. In business it can be, you know, a three month lag. So work hard now and in three months, you have a better chance of being there. I can’t guarantee it, no one guarantees your business is going to be here, nor mine or anyone else's. But you're going to give yourself a better chance if you train, or work as hard as you can.

GEORGE: Awesome. Hey, Peter thanks so much for taking the time to hang out. Look forward to having a few more cool conversations with you. If anybody wants to reach out to you and connect with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

PETER: Just jump on my Facebook, Peter Graham. There's a picture of me. By all means, shoot me through some messages and I'll try  to get back to as many people as possible. Thanks George, I really appreciate talking to you. And thank you for all the help you've given me as well, you're doing a great job.

GEORGE: You're welcome. Perfect, awesome.

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

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

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

 

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  • COMPUTER VIRUS OR LINE FAILURE
  • PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, INCLUDING:
    • DAMAGES INTENDED TO COMPENSATE SOMEONE DIRECTLY FOR A LOSS OR INJURY
    • DAMAGES REASONABLY EXPECTED TO RESULT FROM A LOSS OR INJURY (KNOWN IN LEGAL TERMS AS “CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES.”)
    • OTHER MISCELLANEOUS DAMAGES AND EXPENSES RESULTING DIRECTLY FROM A LOSS OR INJURY (KNOWN IN LEGAL TERMS AS “INCIDENTIAL DAMAGES.”)

WE ARE NOT LIABLE EVEN IF WE’VE BEEN NEGLIGENT OR IF OUR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR BOTH.

EXCEPTION: CERTAIN STATE LAWS MAY NOT ALLOW US TO LIMIT OR EXCLUDE LIABILITY FOR THESE “INCIDENTAL” OR “CONSEQUENTIAL” DAMAGES. IF YOU LIVE IN ONE OF THOSE STATES, THE ABOVE LIMITATION OBVIOUSLY WOULD NOT APPLY WHICH WOULD MEAN THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE THE RIGHT TO RECOVER THESE TYPES OF DAMAGES.

HOWEVER, IN ANY EVENT, OUR LIABILITY TO YOU FOR ALL LOSSES, DAMAGES, INJURIES, AND CLAIMS OF ANY AND EVERY KIND (WHETHER THE DAMAGES ARE CLAIMED UNDER THE TERMS OF A CONTRACT, OR CLAIMED TO BE CAUSED BY NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER WRONGFUL CONDUCT, OR THEY’RE CLAIMED UNDER ANY OTHER LEGAL THEORY) WILL NOT BE GREATER THAN THE AMOUNT YOU PAID IF ANYTHING TO ACCESS OUR SITE.

Links to Other Site

We sometimes provide referrals to and links to other World Wide Web sites from our site. Such a link should not be seen as an endorsement, approval or agreement with any information or resources offered at sites you can access through our site. If in doubt, always check the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address provided in your WWW browser to see if you are still in a MartialArtsMedia.com-operated site or have moved to another site. MartialArtsMedia.com is not responsible for the content or practices of third party sites that may be linked to our site. When MartialArtsMedia.com provides links or references to other Web sites, no inference or assumption should be made and no representation should be inferred that MartialArtsMedia.com is connected with, operates or controls these Web sites. Any approved link must not represent in any way, either explicitly or by implication, that you have received the endorsement, sponsorship or support of any MartialArtsMedia.com site or endorsement, sponsorship or support of MartialArtsMedia.com, including its respective employees, agents or directors.

Termination of This Agreement

This agreement is effective until terminated by either party. You may terminate this agreement at any time, by destroying all materials obtained from all MartialArtsMedia.com Web site, along with all related documentation and all copies and installations. MartialArtsMedia.com may terminate this agreement at any time and without notice to you, if, in its sole judgment, you breach any term or condition of this agreement. Upon termination, you must destroy all materials. In addition, by providing material on our Web site, we do not in any way promise that the materials will remain available to you. And MartialArtsMedia.com is entitled to terminate all or any part of any of its Web site without notice to you.

Jurisdiction and Other Points to Consider

If you use our site from locations outside of Australia, you are responsible for compliance with any applicable local laws.

These Terms of Use shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the the State of Western Australia, Australia as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such jurisdiction.

To the extent you have in any manner violated or threatened to violate MartialArtsMedia.com and/or its affiliates’ intellectual property rights, MartialArtsMedia.com and/or its affiliates may seek injunctive or other appropriate relief in any state or federal court in the State of Western Australia, Australia, and you consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in such courts.

Any other disputes will be resolved as follows:

If a dispute arises under this agreement, we agree to first try to resolve it with the help of a mutually agreed-upon mediator in the following location: Perth. Any costs and fees other than attorney fees associated with the mediation will be shared equally by each of us.

If it proves impossible to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution through mediation, we agree to submit the dispute to binding arbitration at the following location: Perth . Judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitration may be entered in any court with jurisdiction to do so.

MartialArtsMedia.com may modify these Terms of Use, and the agreement they create, at any time, simply by updating this posting and without notice to you. This is the ENTIRE agreement regarding all the matters that have been discussed.

The application of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, as amended, is expressly excluded.

Privacy Policy

Your privacy is very important to us. Accordingly, we have developed this policy in order for you to understand how we collect, use, communicate and make use of personal information. The following outlines our privacy policy. When accessing the https://martialartsmedia.com website, will learn certain information about you during your visit. Similar to other commercial websites, our website utilizes a standard technology called “cookies” (see explanation below) and server logs to collect information about how our site is used. Information gathered through cookies and server logs may include the date and time of visits, the pages viewed, time spent at our site, and the websites visited just before and just after our own, as well as your IP address.

Use of Cookies

A cookie is a very small text document, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier. When you visit a website, that site”s computer asks your computer for permission to store this file in a part of your hard drive specifically designated for cookies. Each website can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser”s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a website to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

IP Addresses

IP addresses are used by your computer every time you are connected to the Internet. Your IP address is a number that is used by computers on the network to identify your computer. IP addresses are automatically collected by our web server as part of demographic and profile data known as “traffic data” so that data (such as the Web pages you request) can be sent to you.

Email Information

If you choose to correspond with us through email, we may retain the content of your email messages together with your email address and our responses. We provide the same protections for these electronic communications that we employ in the maintenance of information received online, mail and telephone. This also applies when you register for our website, sign up through any of our forms using your email address or make a purchase on this site. For further information see the email policies below.

How Do We Use the Information That You Provide to Us?

Broadly speaking, we use personal information for purposes of administering our business activities, providing customer service and making available other items and services to our customers and prospective customers.

will not obtain personally-identifying information about you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide such information to us, nor will such information be sold or otherwise transferred to unaffiliated third parties without the approval of the user at the time of collection.

We may disclose information when legally compelled to do so, in other words, when we, in good faith, believe that the law requires it or for the protection of our legal rights.

Email Policies

We are committed to keeping your e-mail address confidential. We do not sell, rent, or lease our subscription lists to third parties, and we will not provide your personal information to any third party individual, government agency, or company at any time unless strictly compelled to do so by law.

We will use your e-mail address solely to provide timely information about .

We will maintain the information you send via e-mail in accordance with applicable federal law.

CAN-SPAM Compliance

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime.

Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Choice/Opt-Out

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime. Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Use of External Links

All copyrights, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property rights in and on our website and all content and software located on the site shall remain the sole property of or its licensors. The use of our trademarks, content and intellectual property is forbidden without the express written consent from .

You must not:

Acceptable Use

You agree to use our website only for lawful purposes, and in a way that does not infringe the rights of, restrict or inhibit anyone else”s use and enjoyment of the website. Prohibited behavior includes harassing or causing distress or inconvenience to any other user, transmitting obscene or offensive content or disrupting the normal flow of dialogue within our website.

You must not use our website to send unsolicited commercial communications. You must not use the content on our website for any marketing related purpose without our express written consent.

Restricted Access

We may in the future need to restrict access to parts (or all) of our website and reserve full rights to do so. If, at any point, we provide you with a username and password for you to access restricted areas of our website, you must ensure that both your username and password are kept confidential.

Use of Testimonials

In accordance to with the FTC guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, please be aware of the following:

Testimonials that appear on this site are actually received via text, audio or video submission. They are individual experiences, reflecting real life experiences of those who have used our products and/or services in some way. They are individual results and results do vary. We do not claim that they are typical results. The testimonials are not necessarily representative of all of those who will use our products and/or services.

The testimonials displayed in any form on this site (text, audio, video or other) are reproduced verbatim, except for correction of grammatical or typing errors. Some may have been shortened. In other words, not the whole message received by the testimonial writer is displayed when it seems too lengthy or not the whole statement seems relevant for the general public.

is not responsible for any of the opinions or comments posted on https://martialartsmedia.com. is not a forum for testimonials, however provides testimonials as a means for customers to share their experiences with one another. To protect against abuse, all testimonials appear after they have been reviewed by management of . doe not share the opinions, views or commentary of any testimonials on https://martialartsmedia.com – the opinions are strictly the views of the testimonial source.

The testimonials are never intended to make claims that our products and/or services can be used to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. Any such claims, implicit or explicit, in any shape or form, have not been clinically tested or evaluated.

How Do We Protect Your Information and Secure Information Transmissions?

Email is not recognized as a secure medium of communication. For this reason, we request that you do not send private information to us by email. However, doing so is allowed, but at your own risk. Some of the information you may enter on our website may be transmitted securely via a secure medium known as Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. Credit Card information and other sensitive information is never transmitted via email.

may use software programs to create summary statistics, which are used for such purposes as assessing the number of visitors to the different sections of our site, what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications, and identifying system performance or problem areas.

For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, uses software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy, currency or completeness of the content contain on this website or any sites linked to this site.

All the materials on this site are provided “as is” without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of merchantability, noninfringement of intellectual property or fitness for any particular purpose. In no event shall or its agents or associates be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of profits, business interruption, loss of information, injury or death) arising out of the use of or inability to use the materials, even if has been advised of the possibility of such loss or damages.

Policy Changes

We reserve the right to amend this privacy policy at any time with or without notice. However, please be assured that if the privacy policy changes in the future, we will not use the personal information you have submitted to us under this privacy policy in a manner that is materially inconsistent with this privacy policy, without your prior consent.

We are committed to conducting our business in accordance with these principles in order to ensure that the confidentiality of personal information is protected and maintained.

Contact

If you have any questions regarding this policy, or your dealings with our website, please contact us here:

Martial Arts Media™
Suite 218
5/115 Grand Boulevard
Joondalup WA
6027
Australia

Email: team (at) martialartsmedia dot com

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