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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Good! How are you, Florence? 

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

GEORGE: That's right. 

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Took a while! 

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

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

 

Martial Arts Business

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

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

GEORGE: Where did you get stuck? 

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: I did the 75, yeah. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FLORENCE: That's a good deadline. 

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

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

Martial Arts Business

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

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

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

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

FLORENCE: Faith. 

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

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

FLORENCE: Yeah. 

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

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

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

FLORENCE: Yeah. Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

FLORENCE: Congrats! That's a big milestone. 

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

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

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

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

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

Martial Arts Business

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

FLORENCE: I don't think it was recommended. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FLORENCE: Sorry, what is the right formula? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Florence Sophia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FLORENCE: And those would be the benefits? 

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

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

FLORENCE: And then they forget. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Florence Sophia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Florence Sophia

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

GEORGE: Okay. 

FLORENCE: So, the question… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: martialartsmedia.com/scale. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FLORENCE: Good what? 

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

FLORENCE: Do you surf? 

GEORGE: I surf, yeah. 

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Thank you. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Choice, by choice. 

FLORENCE: Thank you so much, George.

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

112 – Should You Have A Martial Arts Marketing Budget?

If your martial arts marketing budget is stalling your growth, it might be time to reevaluate your strategy.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How much should you really spend on marketing your martial arts business
  • Trading $1,000 for $48,000
  • When should you turn off your Facebook ads
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Should you have a marketing budget for your school? When should you stop running ads? When should you continue? When should you stop marketing or give it a little break? 

Should you have a marketing budget for your school? When should you stop running ads? When should you continue? When should you stop marketing or give a little break? Important topics. So, let's jump in. 

Hey, George here, hope you're doing fantastic. So, I just got off a coaching call with our group, our Partners Power Hour session that we run a couple of times every week, and we had discussed two very separate scenarios. 

One, when you should stop running your ads, and when you should continue? And when you should have a marketing budget, when should you stick to it and when not?

Alright, so this is super important. And I really want to bring this up because I see this come up so often. And so, let's talk about the first scenario. So, one of our members, doing really, really well with their ads, with their campaign and leads are coming in. And it's really working well, right? 

So, the ads are working well, the campaigns are coming in. And we fine-tuned the conversion process of making sure that the leads that are coming in are being signed up and followed up properly, and all being signed up through our Messenger Signup Method, through messenger, through chat. And so, all that is working well. 

And so we got on the call, and our member mentioned that, you know, they brought down the budget. So, we started looking at the numbers and said, ‘Well, you know, leads aren't really coming in as they should.' So, digging into the numbers, it kind of all revealed itself, right? 

So, what it comes down to, and this is for most, is when you are attaching a budget to your marketing, then you are trading pennies for dollars, right? You're trying to save pennies and sacrificing big dollars. 

In this case, we were calculating that, you know, the next 90 days that we want to grow by at least 30 to 40 students. And so, those 30 to 40 students would calculate $48,000 worth of revenue over the year. So, that's a substantial amount and the ad spend to get there based on the conversions were well in the range of just about $1,000. 

So, the question came up – how often would you trade $1,000 for $48,000? All day long, right? You could trade $1,000 for $48,000. You'll do it all day long. But, when you don't have that big picture in front of you, and the plan is clear, it's easy to try and think that, ‘Hang on, I just need to save the dollars on my marketing.' 

But here's the thing with marketing, it's never going to run as smooth as you think. And you know, at the time of us recording this right now, you know, ads are running great. But you know, if you've done marketing for a while, you know, that's not always the case. Things happen in marketing, and sometimes marketing is not as great. 

So, when your ads are converting and you've run the numbers, and you know they're doing well, then, in my opinion, you got to milk it for what it's worth. 

As in, you know, generate the leads and signing students up until things start to break and what I mean by break, is break through to the next level, because with any growth and going from one level, you know, going from 50 students to a 100, to 200, as you know, every phase of growth, something else is going to break. 

So, and that causes some discomfort in itself. So, run the ad until something breaks, and then you know, then you can maybe look at slowing down or, you know, throttling down your growth. But, you know, we really do deep dives on that, because sometimes it's just getting in our own way of our own success. And we stop before we really need to, right? 

And, you know, all growth in any business creates discomfort, you know, you get comfortable with something, and now you got to grow and that creates discomfort and for you, you know, now you got to get more instructors, or, you know, your class is at capacity. And so, now you have a whole different scenario, a whole new proper set of problems to deal with, right? 

So, look, if your marketing campaigns are working, they might not be working tomorrow. So, go all in and, you know, fill up those classes, unless you reach to a point where like, you know, one of the other members were discussing – well, they are now at full capacity, and so they're trimming down all their classes, but they are running a wait list, which is super powerful as well. And, you know, so we have a whole different story and a whole other strategy with that. 

But, hey, if you are trimming down your growth, because you have a marketing budget, and you know how to run and your numbers are looking good, then take away that budget and start growing. That's a, look, if you need help with getting clear on those numbers, and knowing when you should be growing and you should be slowing down, reach out, maybe watch this video, send us a message. Maybe we can help. Anyway, have a good week. I'll speak to you soon. 

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

111 – What Are You Keeping From COVID That’s Improved Your Martial Arts Business?

Let’s put the negatives to rest and discuss what you’re doing better now in your martial arts business moving past COVID.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How most martial arts schools are booming
  • What can you take away to improve your martial arts business?
  • What we’ve been up to behind the scenes
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

I thought I'd check in with you. What have you done in this time? What have you created? And how have you changed the business that's really going to benefit you down the line? 

Hey, George here, hope you're well. So, what good has come from COVID for you, and what have you created, that's going to benefit your business down the line in more ways than you thought? So, I want to be conscious of – you might be in a part of the world where things are still tough and you're struggling, but I'm happy to say that most school owners that I'm getting in touch with are actually doing great. They are doing well, things are on the up. 

Now, I don't know if that is ‘on the up' in comparison to what they were, you know, the last, you know, during this whole pandemic thing, or if they are doing better. And I mean, I speak to a lot of school owners that are doing way better now than what they did prior to COVID. 

So, I thought I'd check in with you. What have you done in this time? What have you created? And how have you changed the business that's really going to benefit you down the line? I know for me, I took it as a bit of a time to reflect a bit and think a bit deeper into like, why do I really do this business? Now, I mean for you, you make an impact through your martial arts, through teaching martial arts, and helping the students. 

For us, we help you as a martial art school owner do that. And do that at scale and make more impact with your students. So, for me it was really reflecting on, ‘Well, why do I really do this?' Well, I know I do it because I love martial arts, and I kind of fell into it, because I was helping the school, you know, I was training and it just consumed my life. It wasn't the buy-a-course, buy-a-course to become a coach, and pick the niche, and then work in the industry. So, it happened on purpose, and it sort of consumed my life. 

But I just wanted to refine things to what is the bigger purpose of actually doing this. So, I spent a lot of time on that. And it's, it's forced me to, well, wouldn't say force, but it's lit a fire under me to create something for the industry. It's been a big vision for a long time. But the workload was probably holding me back, you know, before COVID, things were ticking along fine and I was happy doing things the way we were doing it, how we were helping our clients grow. But somewhere along the line there, you know, with COVID, I really reflected and thought, ‘Well, you know, what is the big picture here? And what do I really want to build?' 

So, the last few months, I've been knee deep into website development and app development. A big reason being that I'm doing it is there's a certain way that I want it done, and having experience with that, I'm very hands-on in the process. Now, there's a lot I haven't done with the website design and so forth. But the way things should play together has been a lot ‘me', and working with an app to work with that's going to be epic for martial arts school owners – that's been a big focus. 

So, it's taken a lot of time, and I'm happy I've gone down that route. But it's been also interesting having to, like, you've also had to shift focus, you know, one side on doing the product creation and development work, and then the other side is helping my clients and creating content for our Partners coaching group. So, that's been me, but I'd love to hear from you, wherever you're watching this video.

If it's on YouTube, Facebook, if you listen to it on Apple Podcast, just leave a comment where it's at and just let me know what have you created that propels your business forward. 

And if you're listening to the podcast, you can just head to martialartsmedia.com and just click on the little chat button at the bottom right, and leave me a message. We'd love to know, maybe we can bounce a few ideas, I can have a few ideas for you, and you can have a few ideas for me. 

Anyway, a couple of interviews lined up, so a couple of cool things are coming along. We'll let you know when they live. Please subscribe to the podcast because we got some good things happening. You can check us out on Spotify, on Apple podcasts, YouTube, and a couple of others. So anyway, we'd love to hear from you. Have a great week, I'll speak to you soon.

 

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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.

 

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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

CHEYNE: Hey, how are you? 

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

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

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

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

CHEYNE: Yeah, that's 348 students.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheyne McMahon Karate Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHEYNE: Nah, I'm okay for now. 

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

CHEYNE: So positive.

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

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

CHEYNE: Thank you!

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

Cheyne McMahon Karate Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Of course not. How could they?

CHEYNE: The punchline, the timing. 

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

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

GEORGE: Just because competitiveness, is that right?

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

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

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

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

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

CHEYNE: Yeah! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHEYNE: I'll just do it.

GEORGE: Just do it. There we go.

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

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media™ Partners

108 – 4 Steps To Moving Your Martial Arts Business Into Momentum

As entrepreneurs we can be our own enemy and sometimes sabotage our own progress. Here’s how to get out of your own way and make progress in your martial arts business.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How to get a clear game plan for your martial arts business
  • Hitting your marketing goals faster
  • Pushing through comfort zones
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

If it's uncomfortable, there's got to be something behind that, right? And how do we go about fixing that? Does that mean it's something that I've got to fix internally? Or do I need to get advice or help from someone that knows how to navigate through that?

Hey, George here, hope you're well. So, do you often get in your own way trying to get to where you want to go? Let me get some context. First up, whenever we want to go into a new direction or we set some big goals, maybe you hire a coach, or you try and get help. 

So you set this big goal and you want to achieve this thing. More often, we are the ones that sort of get into our own way and resist to go into the new direction. 

So, what got me thinking of this, we've got what we call a Game Plan session. Every time we start working with new school owners, we do a Game Plan session, and it’s all about how do we set the big vision, not just the, “yep, I want those extra students, you know, that's going to get me to X”. 

But, what is the big vision that you actually had when you thought of starting this business? So, big vision, 12 month goals, and then projects and what you got to get done next week. So, it's a great session, and almost everyone that we work with, refer to this session as sort of a pivotal point – as it gives them clarity and knowing the path that they need to go to get to where they want to go. 

But, that's all good – now the session is done. And that's where the problems come up, because you've done the session, but now you actually got to do the things that are going to get you to where you want to go. 

And that means that you're going into a new territory – and new territory brings up anxiety. If you look at four stages of getting to where you want to go – first up, is acknowledging that there's a problem that needs fixing, that's the easy part. 

Well, it can and can't be – you got to obviously reflect and look at what is the actual problem. And sometimes, you know, and sometimes you don't, you know, you might just have a problem, well, “hey, we need to get more students”, you know, that's the big overall problem. 

But deeper inside, there could be other things going on – your belief system about selling, or how you feel about selling, or maybe you're getting tons of leads, but you're just struggling on the conversion part. So, there's always going to be layers to where the problem lies, and that's where coaching can really help. 

First up, there's a problem, you acknowledge that you got a problem. Now, the second part, and the third, and the fourth is not so much spoken about? Well, the second part mostly, and that is the anxiety that comes up of having to do a new thing. 

The anxiety of, “alright, well, I've acknowledged I've got a problem, but now I'm going to actually do something about it”. And so that means you got to break habits, and you got to look at things differently. And, number three, you've got to accept a new solution, a new way of doing things. And that's where a lot of discomfort comes, because, as human creatures, we want to stay in our comfort zone, we don't really as a race want to venture into the discomfort – you know, naturally we're looking for comfort. 

So, moving from anxiety to new solutions – that pushes us out of our comfort zone. And this is where I see a lot of obstacles come up, right, because you fight like hell to stay in your comfort zone. 

And now, you've got the plan, you've got the solution, but it's bringing so much anxiety that you're not showing up to the calls or you're avoiding the contact or not replying to messages, because you're busy, but you're busy on stuff that's not helping your business grow forward. You're kind of just spinning your wheels. 

And then number four is the most important. Well, you know, once you've actually accepted this new way of doing things that's going to get you to where you want to go. Now, you got to actually make it a habit, and you got to actually enforce the habit to get it going. 

So, what can you get out from that? Well, I guess we can all reflect – where are we uncomfortable? Where are we uncomfortable in our business, and what are we doing about it? 

For me, I really try and well, if it's uncomfortable, there's got to be something behind that, right? And how do we go about fixing that? Does that mean it's something that I've got to fix internally? Or do I need to get advice or help from someone that knows how to navigate through that? 

Anyway, hope that's helpful. I'll see you in the next video. Cheers.

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media™ Partners

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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media™ Partners

106 – Growing Your Martial Arts Business Faster

If growing and scaling your martial arts business is taking longer than you’d like, this simple shift might help. 

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • One simple shift to get results faster 
  • Why martial arts business owners struggle asking for help
  • Do this ‘hack’ to boost your marketing results
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Do you struggle asking someone to help you? Is there some sort of pride? Because, let's face it, sometimes asking for help is kind of a vulnerable thing, right? You expose a weakness in a way.

Hey, George here, hope you're well. Want to quickly chat about moving faster, getting things done faster, and struggling less.  

So, a quick backstory: when I got started online marketing – it was a bit of a different world. We didn't have access to social media and this two-way conversation on the internet that we really take for granted – this way to communicate flawlessly and send messages back and forth, and video chat, and so forth. It was a bit more old school, it was quite difficult to get information.  

To get information, you would really have to read, you know, the coaching movement wasn't that big either. You would have to buy – well, in my circle, at least, you know, it wasn't, probably was, it just wasn't in my sphere of what I was exposed to. 

So, you know, I just started out with books and really, really struggled to get things done and learn things. And you know, when I look back on it, it's not a way I'd recommend to get started with anything. Take martial arts, for example, and imagine buying a book and trying to learn martial arts – you're going to struggle, right, because you don't have a coach, you don't have someone that's actually helping you and showing you, and directing you, and correcting your moves, and putting you in the right direction. 

When I got started, it was a big struggle. I started out direct response marketing with Google Ads and I saw that as the only viable way to get people to buy things online. It's all there was, right? I mean, there was maybe Yahoo and a couple of other things. No Facebook, no social networks, unless you could advertise on MySpace. It was a big struggle – it was a really big struggle, I lost so much money. 

And now, if I look at it, it wasn't actually a lot of money. It was nothing compared to what I'd lose now in a campaign to figure things out. But, when you've never made money, and it just feels like you are pouring money into this hole, and there's never a return, other than seeing somebody might have clicked on it. You just don't know why, and you don't know who to ask. It's kind of a dark road. 

I think I've shared this story before, but I mean, I poured money into Google, day in and day out. I reached my last 300 bucks, it was my last 300 bucks that I was ever going to spend on this business thing. And I was really about to throw in the towel, because it was just too difficult. I got to about $32 left, and I made a sale for $37. 

The best 37 US dollars I've made in my entire life, because I got a conversion. I've got somebody in a country different than mine to buy a product from me without ever seeing me. That was the most exciting moment of my life, because that was opportunity – and grew from there, one sale came after the other. The reward of that was just phenomenal.  

But, would I recommend anybody struggle like that to get it done? No. It's too hard. That comes down to really what I'm trying to get across in this podcast is – do you struggle asking someone to help you? 

Is there some sort of a pride, you know? Because, let's face it, sometimes asking for help is kind of a vulnerable thing, right? You expose a weakness in a way. 

And I know for a lot of guys, it's a hard thing to do. Sometimes, I think there's even some, there could be like an ego attached to it, right? Something that, “I've got to figure this thing out myself and get it done myself”, almost like a pride of, you know, “I figured it out, I struggled through this”. It could go even deeper. 

Like, maybe there's a deep-rooted belief about money, where you feel that money doesn't come easy. It's hard to make money. And because it's hard to make money, you kind of got to struggle to make your money, and that gives you some sort of significance. I don't know, I often see that – it can be hard to ask for help.  

So, how would I recommend doing things now, is just get a coach, just speak to people who have done the things that you're trying to do. In our case, it's helping martial arts school owners with lead generation, marketing, and where I don't have the knowledge, I ask other martial arts school owners for help. And we co-create different projects, and we create information that can help other school owners as well. 

But at the end of the day, you need to have a coach, and a coach is just someone that can look at it from the outside looking in, and can see where you're potentially making the same mistakes, and the same pitfalls that the coach had, and can help you correct the course. 

No matter what business you're looking at, you know, martial arts is a very unique business, but business in general, there's always these limiting things that come up with the entrepreneur and obstacles and bottlenecks, which, you know, fall into a set amount of categories of lead generation, marketing, scaling, teambuilding, leadership, etc.  

Anyway, so, how would I've done it? You know, if I knew what I knew now, back then, and thought I wanted to start Google Ads, you know, I would have instead of just read Mike Rhodes, and actually it was Perry Marshall's book back then.

I would have probably scraped together all the money I had and knocked on, virtually knocked on, Perry Marshall's door and asked him, “Hey, can you coach me? Can you show me how to do this?” And, it would have saved me a couple of years, a lot of struggles, a lot of frustrations, and got the job done instantly. 

And, that's a big thing that I think a lot of people don't look at, is, look at coaching and see, well hang on, “that's really expensive, it's too much money”. But, what is time worth? What is time worth, because you might spend the next year figuring out how to do something that is a year of your time, a time that you could spend with your family, or doing something else in your business. And, over and above the time, you've got the opportunity cost as well, the opportunity cost of time just going by. 

So, if you want help with something, whatever that is, marketing, you know, whether that's us or someone else, just get help, ask for help. You might feel a bit vulnerable in the moment, but kind of just get over it and just ask for help. 

Get someone to help you, show you the shortcuts. It's a lot less painful than just struggling and plowing through, and not getting where you want to go. Anyway, I hope that's helpful. 

If you do need help with marketing, and lead generation, and scaling your school and that way, then reach out, shoot me a message wherever you see this video, or reach us at martialartsmedia.com. Anyway, hope you're well, speak soon. Cheers. 

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media™ Partners

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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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104 – John Smallios – Aligning Your Jiu Jitsu School With A Higher Mission & Purpose

Every student at Higher Jiu Jitsu knows their mission statement. John Smallios shares how a clear purpose simplifies their message.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The mission statement that John upholds in his Jiu Jitsu academy
  • The critical factors that influenced the close-knit culture in Higher Jiu Jitsu
  • The one thing that John avoided which now guides his students on the same path to learning
  • Aristotle’s philosophy of learning
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

With regards to the mission, hopefully if you ask any Higher Jiu Jitsu student, they will tell you that our mission at Higher Jiu Jitsu is we help everyday people build quality of life with Gracie Jiu Jitsu. And that's in my mind all the time.

GEORGE: Good day, George here, and welcome to another Martial Arts Media Business Podcast, episode number 104. So today I've got an old friend with me, someone I haven't spoken to in a while, and we got chatting again on Facebook and thought we'd catch up, talk a bit about Jiu Jitsu business and things past the whole pandemic. So I'm with John Smallios.

JOHN: How is it going, man?

GEORGE: Good. How are you?

JOHN: I'm doing well. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me on.

GEORGE: Your school's name is Higher Jiu Jitsu, right?

JOHN: Yep. That's the one.

GEORGE: I've always wanted to ask you, where did you get the name Higher Jiu Jitsu? What was the thinking behind it?

JOHN: It's pretty cool, right? Well, basically, I had a nutrition coaching and personal training venture that I was into at the beginning, and the name of that was Higher Health, because I was always interested in getting better and improving on health in many different ways. And there's always ways to improve in that realm. And then I was running the BJJ Commune.

I think there might have been a time maybe when you came to Higher potentially. I think it was still the commune at that time. And the commune was that because it was an open map pretty much. Everyone was more than welcome to come. There was no affiliation at the time. And then things developed and changed. And then I was faced with a little bit of a spot where it was very hard running two businesses at the same time.

And I was kind of doing a similar thing, because I was looking at helping people, whether it was during nutrition or movement, or in this case Jiu Jitsu. So I thought, you know what? It's time to amalgamate the two and make it one, and Higher Jiu Jitsu was born. And I like it. It's got a nice ring to it. And I just love the idea now that it's endless refinement and you can always do better on the Jiu Jitsu mats and off the Jiu Jitsu mats, of course. But Higher Jiu Jitsu it is.

GEORGE: There we go. Actually, you just from minded me now of the first conversation we had, because you worked with us way back, version one of our Academy Program, which is a coaching program for school owners with marketing and emails and contents and so forth. I recall being on a call with you and you had this divided attention of how are you going to make this thing a thing?

Because you had the health of the business working with Jiu Jitsu. But when I stopped by in Sydney at your location and you had me joining for the open mat session there, I recall that step was already refined and you were already on your way with this whole amalgamated venture, as you say.

JOHN: Yeah. It was actually really tough at the time because I'm just so passionate about all of those realms. It was hard to make… I think I put more pressure on myself than I had to at the time and I wanted everything to just be seamless and perfect, in a way. Things aren't always perfect. But I guess changes had to be made and it was within me. I'm sure you weren't the only person I was chatting to that about.

It was just a constant dilemma in my head like, how can I make this work better? Because I wanted to represent one particular movement, one particular philosophy, and I didn't like being split through the middle. At least that was in my own perception. Maybe other people didn't take it like that or see it like that. But in my case, I wanted to have one sole purpose. That's how it worked out.

And it was much better off because now all my heart and soul is going into the one avenue and I can improve all different aspects of that one particular direction, which is awesome. And so now I have a health program within my Jiu Jitsu school. I don't do too much personal training with regards to movement coaching anymore. But in saying that, when I'm doing private class with my students, I'm definitely teaching them how to move and I'm definitely teaching them how to build awareness throughout their body and throughout their own movements.

So in a way, the first dream still lives on. It's a different brand, I guess. I did marketing at uni. So I was studying branding or studying all different aspects of marketing. So perhaps in my head I guess I was a bit more choosy and just wanted it to be on point. But now I feel good. Now I feel like Higher Jiu Jitsu is my one and only professional kind of endeavor. And day in and out, I'm looking at improving on it in all aspects of it. So it's worked out well.

GEORGE: Yeah. Perfect. I think sometimes as entrepreneurs we can get stuck in how the vehicle has got to run. And so now you're divided. We sort of just jumped in on the story that we know together, but I think we should just probably give some more context for you on what this was on how you were going on the health side and how you were going on the Jiu Jitsu side.

But as I was referencing, I think you get so stuck in the vehicle that you forget actually the higher outcome that you're trying to serve. And so removing yourself from the vehicle, which is health and which is Jiu Jitsu, and thinking, all right, well, what is it that I actually want people to get? What is that outcome? And then something that I've been really working on is how do I incorporate that in my actual mission statement?

And not a mission statement of the, hey, here's the thing that you put in the wall or shove under the desk and never look at, but just something that is congruent with the outcome that you want to serve within your business for you personally, but also an outcome obviously that you want for, in your case, your students or your clients as such.

JOHN: Okay. So in that case, I thought about this long and hard, and whether I was working with my client with regards to movement, or if they came up to me and said, “John, I want to lose weight. I need a nutrition program,” or if they said, “John, I want to learn Jiu Jitsu,” my goal, and it is the same thing to this day, is to help the client, the student build quality of life.

And quality of life for me is something more than health. It's on the mat. It's off the mat. It's your physical being. It's your mental being. It's your emotional side. It's everything in one. And it's your ability to flourish in life. And I was thinking, even though there's different avenues and different roads that I thought I was on, it was all within the one highway, I guess, within the one direction of building quality of life.

So with regards to the mission, hopefully if you ask any Higher Jiu Jitsu student, they will tell you that our mission at Higher Jiu Jitsu is we help everyday people build quality of life with Gracie Jiu Jitsu. And that's in my mind all the time. So it means that, again, the purpose is quality of life. And who do I serve? I serve the everyday person.

And the everyday person is of different age groups and different professions and might have different interests, but is not like an athlete who's looking to be a world leader. That's not the student that I think will flourish at Higher Jiu Jitsu. I think it's the everyday person that's going to really, really thrive at our school. And how do we do that? We do that with Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

And of course, Gracie Jiu Jitsu can encompass anything and everything. So Gracie Jiu Jitsu is your diet. It is your health. It is your movement in Jiu Jitsu. It is self-defense. It is all of these aspects. So that's the mission statement right there: we help everyday people build quality of life with Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

GEORGE: I like that. I was not aware that we were going to have this type of conversation. It's really cool. And I like it because it's something that I'm spending a lot of time with now. I'm not going to reveal my mission statement just yet on this call because it is a work in progress. You said you were struggling to get this refined. I know that refining that takes a lot of work.

But in doing that, it brings a lot of clarity, because there's a lot of things that you just eliminate. And I guess I'd put that to you. How does that change the way you go about attracting students or talking to people? Because now I guess you're more aligned, right? You're more in center of, well, this is what I'm trying to achieve and this is who it's for. So how do you find that adapts your message? And I'm curious to know because it's very important to you, because as you mentioned, all your students should actually know what the mission statement is as well.

JOHN: That's my job there. So in all of our communications, the things that I do and say publicly and just every day in the gym ought to reflect that if I'm going to be true to it. And I think I found a nice touch, just the touching point there. Okay. So how does it affect my communication when I'm talking to people on a YouTube video or on a call with a potential student who wants to be a part of the school?

For that, and I'm not afraid anymore to acknowledge that our school is not for everybody. And there are some people who I much prefer go into a highly competitive school. And there are a lot of highly competitive schools around the area that just love and would live and breathe competition all the time. And look, we have students that compete. I competed a whole bunch as much as I could earlier on in my Jiu Jitsu journey.

And so I'm not against competition in the slightest. But it's nice that we have a lens with which we can discern between student A and student B; the student who wants the hard, super tough training, and then the student who's more than happy to be a little bit more patient. And more than anything, I think the student who's looking to enjoy the art.

The art is a bit different, because we're not really… Well, I'm not overly interested in practicing the sport of Jiu Jitsu. So rarely, very, very rarely, unless there's a comp coming up or something or I talk about the points, I'm talking about positions, I'm talking about safety whilst we're training Jiu Jitsu. I'm talking about your ability to manage distance to prevent strikes, let's say, even though that's not in the sporting realm.

All of that is reflected in my communications online. And hopefully that's what people get. I talk a lot about movement and how the body works with regards to techniques and talking about how to gain leverage. Because when you're looking for leverage in Jiu Jitsu, you're doing that through your own body and through the grounds and through your opponent.

So definitely there's a lot of things that I can focus on more than others and it makes my life so much better. And it makes everyone's lives better and easier, I guess. Because if you don't like kind of the tone of what we do and say, then just tune out. That's fine. And then I've found that you can't please everybody. I'm sure you know that. Over the years when I first started the school, I wanted to please everybody. And I don't think that has the effect…

GEORGE: And you pleased no one.

JOHN: Yeah. In a way, it was like a school, where you didn't know if we're here or there. Whereas over the years, I've kind of really… I wouldn't say I've been stubborn about it at all. I'm still trying to be open-minded, for sure. Some students will come in and I'll say, “Hey, man, maybe this isn't the spot for you.

Maybe go to the school up the road and try them out as well. Find the school that's most important for you.” So, yeah, definitely it helps. Knowing who you are, I'd say, knowing your values as a school and as a person can most definitely help you attract the people that are going to get the most utility out of what you're offering.

GEORGE: I like that. It comes down to a couple of things, right? I think maturity, just maturing in your business and getting in tune with, what is the type of business that you want? What is the type of business that you want to build? I mean, if you are the guy that wants to build multiple schools and take a step back and not be that involved, maybe you'd take a bit of a different approach.

But if you want to stay close to the business, close to the purpose, close to the mission and be really in tune with what your customers want and build a business that you actually love and not despise, I think that's a big thing. Because it's very easy to get caught up in this fake want of growth and want this moving thing. But it's very easy in business to build this thing that you despise as well.

You build this business that you look at and you're like, “Oh, what have I built? I've built a monster that I don't want.” And that's when you're going to have to talk with a mirror and reflect and think, all right, well, I don't want to take this thing. What is it that I want to build? Anything to add on that, John, before we move on?

JOHN: Most definitely I do, because I think that's just really important. So when I got into Jiu Jitsu, George, it was love at first sight. I was watching the UFC and then I went and did a class on Jiu Jitsu. And I'd always wanted an athletic endeavor. I just hadn't found that yet. I wasn't good at soccer. I never got picked into the rep teams, unfortunately, at the time.

Now, I tried boxing and my parents didn't want me to do that. I tried to do rugby league. My parents didn't let me do that. And then I was like 18 and I found Jiu Jitsu. And I was like, wow, this is something that I can really hone in on. And I can really take it and enjoy it and do something with it. And so I started off at SPMA, as it was known in the day, as Anthony Perosh and Elvis Sinosic school.

And that was a beautiful experience right there. And they did things a certain way. And then as a white belt, I flew off to Brazil to get stuck into it, into the Mecca of Jiu Jitsu or what I thought was the Mecca at the time. And I got to go to many different schools. I was traveling and I was using Jiu Jitsu as the vehicle to travel, really. So I'd go all the way up to the North of Brazil, to the South of Brazil, and all along the way I just stopped at different schools and trained and learned. And that was awesome.

I went to America and I went to the East Coast, West Coast, training and learning all there. And Europe, I've spent some time in Greece and Italy training there as well. And I think that experience really helped me just see how schools run and see what aspects of schools I liked and what I didn't really like. And I think Elvis and Anthony's school at the time, they were very successful. They're great businessmen.

And they built that school up to something that was a monster academy. I think it had definitely over 500, 600 students, I think at the time, within two venues. And I guess being a student there, you could see the nature of that, how it reflects in life, and I guess all the challenges that they faced. And at the time, I think I was a little bit critical, but I'm not critical anymore at all because I understand that because now I'm a school owner myself.

So I understand the dilemmas that we face. And so with Higher Jiu Jitsu, I'm just happy that I've managed to incorporate all the things that I love about our school. So as a super passionate, enthusiastic white and blue and purple belt, I came in and I've managed to create the school. There's still a few things that we can improve on. But right now, I'm very, very satisfied that we have the school that has all the beautiful things that I love about a Jiu Jitsu school.

Most definitely the culture. You go to different schools and within minutes you can feel the vibes. You can sense the moods of students and teachers and the Jiu Jitsu. And I love coming into Higher Jiu Jitsu and many students tell me that as well. I had a student come in last week that was like, “Man, your school, it's an electric vibe.” And that makes me really happy. And that's something that I really want to focus on.

Post-class when we're shaking hands after the class, well, now we get fist bumps due to the nature of the times right now. But with every fist bump, I'll call out my student's name. And I know every student's name at Higher Jiu Jitsu. And I hardly forget them, which I'm very proud of, but that's important. There's a lot of teachers that don't know their students because they have so many students that it just becomes impossible to really remember names, for example.

But I make sure that I know every student's name and every other student knows each other's names. And we've got a very, very nice tight-knit community. So I think just the fact that the experience of seeing different schools and now seeing the likes and dislikes has helped me create something that I thoroughly adore right now. That's Higher Jiu Jitsu. So anyone can come in. Everyone can feel it for themselves. Some people might not like it. So be it. And the people that like our school tend to absolutely love our school.

GEORGE: You seem very attentive to the feel, the culture. And I was actually going to ask you, how do you feel the mission statement plays a big role in the actual culture? But then you also mentioned that you know everyone by their first name and you call their names as you address them. I think we all do some form of a handshake and a fist bump. Attention to detail is what I'm hearing. But what else do you feel contributes to a great culture in your school?

JOHN: There's a lot to do with that, a lot of aspects of that. Here's one really big one: having everybody on the same page, going in the same direction. In 2016, we affiliated with Pedro Sauer Association. And prior to that, we didn't really… Well, I had a syllabus, but I had made that up myself. And there were a few holes in there and we weren't super certain about implementing it with every class.

Whereas now we have a syllabus and it means that every student is on the same path of learning. And of course, students can go to different seminars and students jump on YouTube and BJJ fanatics and try these different DVDs and different techniques. Of course. And that's not a problem. But the syllabus is the thing that guides everybody in that same direction.

So when you come into class, like the higher belts would help the lower belts. Because the higher belts know the techniques that we're practicing, they get to help them. And I think the knowledge has to go from the top down, as in I'm coming to class and I'm teaching and I'm sharing the technique of the day and the details that work for me and that are required for the technique to be on point.

But then you've got the higher belts taking over, and we'll call out the newbie, the beginners, and say, “Hey, come with me for this class. I'll help you out.” And then the newbie, they feel like they're well looked after. They feel like they're welcome. They don't feel like a burden to the rest of the class because they don't know anything. And before you know it, they're a part of the school, too.

And with that being said, the higher belts, they also get to learn and they also get to learn by teaching. So I think the fact that everybody's on the same page really, really helps. Whereas previously, we had, as you know, the Jiu Jitsu commune. I was actually promoting the fact that we don't have an affiliation. There'll be students coming in from different schools, different systems, different trains of thought, different philosophies, and it wouldn't create a cohesive kind of a group.

Everyone had their own ideas and it was a little bit just like, “This is what I do. Okay. This is what I do. This is what I do.” And you couldn't go deeper. I think the syllabus is just such a big help. There's a lot of other things that we do at Higher Jiu Jitsu, too. So when a member comes in and signs up, I tell them, “You're not just paying for Jiu Jitsu tuition, you're paying to be part of a community.”

So on the first Friday of every month, we have the hangout. And that's just when we go out for dinner and drinks. And I remember when I was like a white and blue belt, if somebody asked me if we managed to go to have some dinner after the training, it felt great. It was awesome. You get to hang out with your Jiu Jitsu friends. I always found that the conversation with Jiu Jitsu people was always free flowing and you don't ever have to try because if you never run out of things to say, it goes back to Jiu Jitsu all the time.

And just the best people you find on the mat. Everyone's awesome. The people who have the humility to have Jiu Jitsu as part of their lives, they're just great people that associate with Jiu Jitsu. So the hangout really helps to kind of get off the mat and have some other conversations outside of Jiu Jitsu and eat and drink together and have some fun. We do the Higher Hikes now that it's summertime.

So that's us going out on a Sunday and meeting up and having some time off the mats and hanging out together. And there's many, many aspects of Higher that I think really helped that culture. Most definitely. Does that answer your question?

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. I was fascinated just by your perspective of sort of top-down and I never really thought of it with… And especially in times of COVID, people spend a lot more time online and studying online and online Jiu Jitsu, online this. There's a Zoom class for pretty much everything. How do you feel that could impact?

If you've got sort of this top-down approach and you've experienced having this commune effect of just too many influences or too many perspectives, how do you feel that can actually impact the way you teach and the way you go about things if you've got the syllabus or more like a philosophy that you sort of stand by? And people are plugging into different philosophies all around and checking things and picking up different techniques. Do you feel that compliments or sometimes there's a bit of a clash or they need a bit of a course restructuring in the direction in that?

JOHN: I don't think it affects anything. Firstly, I'll mention, too, that I think the knowledge is top-down, but also bottom-up as well. On Fridays, George, it's a Lab Friday. So what lab is, is we come in and I don't have an agenda for the day. Every other class that I come in, I know what I'm going to share. There or thereabouts, the class goes a different route, maybe someone asks a question and it sends me on a loop into answering that person's question. That's rare though.

But Lab Fridays is when people come in and it's like a basic Q&A. So the white belt can come in and say, “Hey, I learned this on YouTube. What do you think?” And I'll say, “Yeah, that's pretty cool. Maybe you can think about this and this aspect as well.” So it allows for a lot more open-minded learning. And that's why I started the commune, because I wanted to be a bit more open-minded and I didn't want to have a super stringent focus on a syllabus.

And I think A, the syllabus that we have, it's evolving. It hasn't been stagnant. And every time I teach the syllabus, every time we go through cycles of the syllabus, it's a new me. All of our coaches are always learning. And we do courses ourselves and we learn ourselves as well. So the cross collar choke that I did yesterday would have been a different cross collar choke than we did three months ago.

There would have been many different details that added to it. And if the students are concentrating, if they're focused in on details, then they can see that the technique is always evolving, because that's what Jiu Jitsu does. Jiu Jitsu doesn't stay the same. It's always an evolving martial art. And if you can see here, that's our logo. Can you see that triangle?

The triangle, what we have is it's one part of the triangle, the second, and third part comes up and then it drops down. So it's not a closed triangle. It's a triangle that the top is always open and it allows for new techniques to come in and maybe some techniques to be jettisoned if they're not effective anymore. So I think our art is just an amazing one.

And I think if we stay stagnant in martial art, then just like in life, if you stay stagnant, if you don't want to learn anymore, if you don't want to develop yourself, then very soon you'll find yourself falling behind. And that's the same with our Jiu Jitsu as well. So with that being said, George, it's never been a problem. We've got some very enthusiastic students that always do their homework and always go beyond our program.

And I have no problems with that, as long as they're respectful to the class. So what I don't like to see if I'm teaching a cross-culture because I did last night, is to see two students doing something completely different because they want to. I don't think that's been a good student in that class. If you're going to come to the class, then focus, there or thereabouts on what the class is.

So if we're doing a cross collar choke and then you develop it into your own Apilado or a triangle that's kind of related to the cross collar, I have absolutely no problems with that. But if the whole class is doing guard and then you choose to do mounts because you're learning your own mount DVD, and it's not an open mat, it's a scheduled class, then I almost feel like you don't really need to be in that class.

So it hasn't been a problem at all whatsoever. If anything, I like students just going elsewhere. It shows me that they're keen to learn and that they're enthusiastic. I think sometimes, depending on your experience level, if you start looking a little bit too far beyond the syllabus, I think it can have adverse effects on your learning. So for example, the way, Phil, my teacher puts it to me.

He's like, “When I studied marketing at Macquarie, all the subjects of the Macquarie uni marketing degree, I did them at Macquarie.” Whereas if I had done branding at Macquarie and consumer behavior and New South, and then something else that Sydney Uni, then it really takes away from the effectiveness of the whole program.” So if you're a white belt at Higher, I'd probably advise you to go on to Pedro Sauer online. That's our online portal.

And we have Master Sauer and all the black belts of the association that share technique on that portal. And it tends to be more focused on our way of doing things on the mechanics that we do and the techniques that we have in the syllabus. And then I think as a blue belt and beyond, I think there's no problems whatsoever in you looking elsewhere. And then bring it back. Bring it back to the crew. Bring it back to the nest, share your knowledge, and then we all get better.

GEORGE: I love it. So we have a mutual friend who was on the podcast on episode 101 – Costa Prasoulas. Hello, Costa. And you seem to share a lot of similar philosophies. Is that due to your Greek heritage or is that something else that you just pay attention to?

JOHN: I don't know. What philosophies do we share? Cons is an awesome guy. His values are on point and he's a guy by the book. He's respectful and he's honorable and he's a school owner as well. And he's been in the game for a very long time. I guess I'm happy that I share similar views as him. But what in particular?

GEORGE: It's not something that I can actually put a finger on. It's just when I speak to you and when I speak to him, I can hear congruences in the values, just the way you approach things. Very attention to detail. Very in-depth. Very thought out. I mean, just a simple thing where I think most guys would go get a logo designed and you'd kind of just say to the graphic designer, well, just put something together.

And you'll just look at it and say, okay, that's good. Where you actually show a triangle where actually there's a purpose behind it. That's a very fine attention to detail level that most people just don't think of. And discussing your mission statement, the thought, and I think the real deep work that went into really thinking of this is exactly what this is supposed to communicate by itself without you having to say it.

There's a real in-depth attention to detail and values that come from that. I hope that I did it justice, but there's just some similarities there in the way you guys communicate.

JOHN: Yeah. Maybe it is our Greek backgrounds. All right. Let me kind of give you a little something. So Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, distinguished two aspects of learning: the ethos of something and then technique. So the ethos of something is, I'm probably going to botch it up for sure now, but just the overarching kind of idea behind it. How can I say it? The philosophy behind it, perhaps, and the way that you go about this particular thing.

GEORGE: That's the reason why?

JOHN: Yeah, that's definitely a part of it, too. And then you've got the how, which is the technique, which is the ins and outs of doing things. And I think it's really important that we have an idea of both. So Higher Jiu Jitsu has an awesome syllabus, for sure, full of really beautiful techniques. But if various techniques are done in a way that's not congruent with people's intentions of being there, then they're just techniques.

So what I'm trying to do here is kind of bring a beautiful ethos, a beautiful vibe, a beautiful feel to Higher Jiu Jitsu. And then within that, kind of add the technical aspect as well. And I think having those two aligned helps to create the fireworks of a beautiful Jiu Jitsu school. I don't know. Does that help, a bit of Greek philosophy in there?

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. You did it great. I don't know Greek philosophy, but for me, that sounds awesome.

 

JOHN: Well, Cons is really keen on his Greek philosophy. I think he dropped some knowledge in your podcast as well. Cons is awesome. I haven't gone to his school for a little bit, but I plan to go there again soon. It's just hard as a school owner. The night off that I have, I'm wanting to spend it with my kid and my wife, because usually I'm not home. But Con, I'll be coming to your school very soon again.

GEORGE: That's perfect. Hey, John, so good to catch up. Wanted to chat a bit, how are you going with your kid? How's the new little man in life affecting life?

JOHN: I'll tell you what, it's amazing. It's so beautiful. You think you love something and then a kid comes along and it's like, whoa, I've never felt this before. It's just a whole new realm that's opened up in my heart with this boy. And every moment that I spend with him is just a gift, that's so beautiful. Yesterday he rolled. He was on his back and he's been working on it a little bit.

I've seen him. He's trying to turn here and there and he could never really succeed with it. But yesterday, just by himself, I had him on his back and then I was in the kitchen and I came back and he was on his tummy. I was like, wow, that's awesome. So having a kid is amazing. It presents a lot of challenges, for sure, with regards to running a school.

I guess you've touched on it, George, I'm pretty thorough with my work and I love my work. And I put my heart and soul into everything that I do and I want to put my heart and soul into being a dad and into being a husband and into being good to my family. And then I want to continue putting heart and soul into the school. And it's just a little bit hard logistically because when I'm at home and I'm trying to do my writing, because I try to write every day, I try to write a thousand words a day so I can get my articles out so I can keep the pages of podcasts going and the emails have to be written.

No one's going to write them for me. So I'm trying to be there in the morning, trying to write my emails. And I can see Roscoe, my son, just staring at me and smiling maybe in the corner of my eye. It's so distracting and I want to just sit there and cuddle him and play with him for the next five hours. So it's difficult. It presents some challenges, but these are such beautiful challenges and I'm more than happy to kind of work through them and find a way and I guess work with my wife. It's teamwork. I think teamwork is really, really important.

Touching on that, I think teamwork is a big one. As school owners, I think we need help from other people. And I think a lot of the times I've fallen into the trap of trying to do everything by myself. Whereas now I guess I have no choice but to delegate. So I felt like there are some awesome students at Higher Jiu Jitsu that have aspirations of their own school.

So I'm bringing them in now and showing them the ways that I do things. And then hopefully there are some certain tasks and things around Higher Jiu Jitsu that I don't necessarily have to do. And so that's how I'm slowly trying to delegate to other students and then I can focus on the things that I do well, that are unique for me. And so writing those articles I think is an important one. I don't want to delegate that. I love doing that. Yeah. So it's just an ongoing challenge. As you know, you're a dad, how do you find balancing work and family life?

GEORGE: It's always a learning experience and being attentive. I mean, kids know only one currency and that's time. They don't understand work, this, that. Where I live, which was a good idea right before we had kids, this is a lounge converted into an office, which is great, but it has no door, which means my daughter will come and jump on the couch and I'm like that's gone.

For me, I mean, the big discipline is early mornings, just getting a solid, early routine in. I'm up between 4:30 and 5:00 and just knock out some hours of deep work, getting some creativity in. And if I can just set that momentum early, that just helps the tone for the rest of the day, that at least I've set that momentum. And then, yeah, once the kids are out the door, I have my space, then it's simpler.

I mean, it's always a juggle. It's always a challenge. I think just really trying to be when I'm attentive, to be attentive. The beauty of our life and probably the most disruptive in our lives as well, these mobile things, just really trying to put them aside and when I'm attentive, I'm attentive.

JOHN: That's the thing, because your attention is so important. And it's hard to direct your attention and you can't pull your attention left and right all the time, because I don't think it works like that. I think if you want to do deep work, as you said, I love that book, by the way, if that's what you were referring to; if you need that, then you need… I like having time gaps.

So I like working in an hour, at least two hour blocks, and really delving into the depths of the task or the job that I have at hand. So it is difficult, but that's all right. We manage and we live on. We continue and we do our best to kind of move forward with it and make it all a little bit better every day.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. Hey, John, it's been great chatting to you and good to catch up. I'm looking forward to getting on your mats again. Real quick before we go, if people would like to learn a bit more from you, where can they go?

JOHN: Hey, hey, hey, the Higher Jiu Jitsu podcast. That's where they can go. Can I plug it?

GEORGE: Of course, you can.

JOHN: Thanks, George. So it's me and me and my student, Matty. It's his birthday today. Happy birthday, Matty. We have the Higher Jiu Jitsu podcast, and I think we're about 28 episodes in. And it's plenty of fun. The why on the podcast is an interesting one, because sometimes it is for us just to come in and have a chat, but it's to help the everyday people on that journey of Jiu Jitsu, really.

And we take all different dilemmas. Sometimes a student will ask me a little question in class and I'm like, ooh, that'll make a nice podcast. Or if there are certain kinds of themes or patterns of problems that I can see, then that's our chance to open things up and work on the ins and outs of how to approach the problem and what to do in order to get better.

So the Higher Jiu Jitsu Podcast. Everybody, check it out. It's plenty of fun. I think it's cool – higherjiujitsu.com.au. If you're coming to Sydney, you're more than welcome. We're in Woolloomooloo. We're right just on the outskirts of the city, which is actually really nice. A beautiful school at the PCYC City of Sydney. So if you're ever in Sydney, come in. You're more than welcome. Thanks, George. Thanks for having me, man. It's been a pleasure to chat to you. Thanks for all the work that you do with the Australian Martial Arts Community. I think your work is making everyone better as well. So keep it up. It's awesome.

GEORGE: Thank you, John. Much appreciate it. And look forward to seeing you back on the mat.

JOHN: Yes. Perfect. Thanks, George.

GEORGE: Thanks, John. Speak to you soon.

 

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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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