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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

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

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

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESS: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Exactly how I quit!

JESS: Really? That's cool!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: You were happy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESS: Yeah.

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

JESS: Yeah.

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

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

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

GEORGE: Yeah.

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

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

JESS: Totally. Yeah.

GEORGE: Two opposite sides of the coin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESS: Yeah, of course.

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

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

GEORGE: You booked a whole island, all right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Yeah, cool.

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

GEORGE: I think it's awesome!

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

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

JESS: For sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESS: Yeah.

GEORGE: Maybe early next year.

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

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

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

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

JESS: Thank you!

GEORGE: Awesome, cheers!

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

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

 

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58 – Chris Nott – Family, Knowledge And Action Through Teaching Martial Arts

Chris Nott lives his passion through teaching martial arts. Here's how he got the business guidance that made that possible.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How martial arts business owners can benefit from martial arts events
  • The struggles Chris Nott underwent while starting his martial arts school
  • The importance of having a mentor for martial arts success
  • How Chris Nott was able to turn his passion into a career
  • Why it’s not yet too late for you to live your dreams
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

CHRIS: I think you, like any event that you go to, but especially for me The Main Event, because again it's run by people that already run successful schools … So there's a lot of events going on in our industry, and I like to go everywhere because that's where you learn, but specifically, if you run a martial arts school … An event run by somebody that runs multiple martial arts schools is for me a good thing already.

GEORGE: This podcast episode is the audio version of a video interview I had with Chris Nott. To get the full episode, access to the video, and to download the transcript, please go to martialartsmedia.com/58, that's forward slash 5 8. Here's the episode. Enjoy.

Hi, this is George Fourie, and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. Today, I am with Chris Nott, all the way from Mount Margate, Florida. How are you doing today, Chris?

CHRIS: I'm doing great, George. Good morning, buddy.

GEORGE: Awesome, and from FKA Martial Arts, and we're going to have a bit of a chat. We also are going to be meeting Chris officially at The Main Event in San Diego, so depending on when you're listening to this podcast episode, that is between the 26th and the 28th of April.

That's going to be a lot of fun, if you're a business martial arts school owner or instructor, you want to learn a little bit more. Going to be a great event to attend to. We'll probably speak a little bit about that, but first I guess we got to start right from the beginning. Who is Chris Nott?

CHRIS: Well, hi. So like the rest of you guys, martial arts is my passion, always has been. When I came to the US, I turned what was I guess a hobby in the UK, because I think back in the day that's more how martial arts was perceived, at least in England, but it's obviously changed now, but in America it was already run as a structured professional business, it was a way to, I guess, do something that you love, but also make a living at that and support your family at the same time.

So I'm very fortunate to do what I do for a living. My passion is teaching anybody, kids, adults, doesn't matter, but I would say mainly I really enjoy teaching children.

GEORGE: How did this journey all begin? You immigrated from the UK, came to the United States, where did it all sort of originate?

CHRIS: Yeah, that's a great question. As a kid, I dabbled in martial arts at different clubs, or youth clubs, I guess, in England. Played a lot of other sports, as well, you know. Football, what we know as soccer, but martial arts was always a passion. I think, I guess like everybody else around my age, when you once saw a Bruce Lee movie, you were like that's it, I want to be Bruce Lee. That's I guess kind of what drew me to martial arts.

And to the states in '87. I trained in a couple of different styles and systems, and kind of settled on a school up here and managed to find an instructor for Jeet Kun Do, which was my passion. That's where I started looking at the opportunity to, I guess, get involved in martial arts more as a career than something as a hobby.

At the time, actually my background, I was a French polisher. I went to London College of Furniture, so when I first came to the States that's what I was doing for a living. I actually worked down here on the yachts and boats, refurbishing, doing that kind of thing.

Eventually, when I got married and had kids, I kind of looked at that career path and said, you know, do I want to be around all those chemicals and dust and all that kind of stuff? Looking at my young family, I kind of want to grow up in a healthier lifestyle.

I got the opportunity through my training to go on to become an instructor, and then just decided to make a complete career change. That was I was probably, I came to this a lot later than most people, I was probably 29, 30 when I started. Most people have been doing this since they were children, at least involved in schools or living in the US.

I started my school, I stayed with that instructor for a while teaching, and eventually, I guess like we all do, you have a sort of yearning to jump out on your own and give it a shot, you know… I actually opened my school ten or twelve years ago in a community center located in the City of Margate.

I started with two students, and over the course of three or four years, we grew that to about 100-150 students in the school, and I'm like hey, man, I could actually make a living doing this thing, you know? So I did a couple of Hail Mary’s, and we invested in the facility and the school. Be careful what you ask for because the first few years were a little harrier than I thought it was going to be. With perseverance and time, and studying and learning from people in our industry that have been there before us, we I think now got a really solid school, a good system. We have a good business.

My wife now works at the school. I have a few full-time employees. We run an afterschool, a summer camp program, a pretty strong kids martial arts program, and a good adult class at night. I guess that was the 100-mile-an-hour overview of how did I get involved with where I am now.

GEORGE: That's cool. What were those early obstacles? You say you started late. I mean I'm a complete latecomer, 36 when I finally started training martial arts because my son was training, so I thought it was a cool dad-son thing to get going. That got me into in super late, what I think is super late, although it's now my full-time passion. If you look at those early stages, what were the biggest obstacles you faced to really make that switch from taking your career into making that shift into full-time martial arts school?

CHRIS: I think always when you give up one career… I mean the career I was actually in was a career that generated very good revenue, so I mean I won't be cliché, but yes by giving up that kind of revenue that I was making to go into a business that I didn't have that at the time, I was lucky enough to have a wife that was super supportive. She had a good job, so that definitely, I guess, was like a good insurance policy, an umbrella for us, while we made that transition.

But yeah, you know, man, like everybody, when you start out, you struggle. There are some hairy months. You're like, oh my God, are we even going to be able to pay the bills? We went through all of that stress. But again, I think if you're able to do something in your life where you can line up your passion, and also turn that into something that generates a revenue, come on, man, that's the greatest thing, right? You get to wake up and do what you love. Again, not to sound cliché, but I guess the finances, in the beginning, were the obstacle and realizing maybe I didn't have all the tools to execute and do what it is I need to grow the school.

I think a lot of that comes down to if you, probably, if you start martial arts at a young age, and you're in a school, I don't know, I use Fred as an example, but if you're in a school like that where they're already successful, they have systems in place, the kids are going to come up through that structured system, and so they've already got all the tools to succeed.

You know what I'm saying? Versus you talk about you and I’m coming to the industry later, yeah, super passionate about martial arts, I think very lucky to have some awesome martial arts instructors, but maybe not the best business coaches in the world. So here you are like man, I got this great martial arts skill program I want to teach, and now how do I get the students, what's that all about? I'm sure people can relate to that.

GEORGE: That's an interesting topic because it's something that's been coming up a lot. Actually, I was writing an email about this about an hour ago, about advice within the industry. I think there's, I guess, and you see this in business and then you see this in martial arts, people get this superhero syndrome thing, that because you're successful in one thing, you assume that that advice applies to everything else.

I think because especially in martial arts when people reach such a high state of martial arts, that often we share business knowledge and things that they might not be that on top of, and people buy into that, they go the wrong way, get the wrong advice, and there's a lot of repercussions, of course.

CHRIS: Yeah, sure. Yeah.

GEORGE: How did you sort of getting to finding the right people to listen to, and the right business advice to move you forward?

CHRIS: First of all, by making lots of mistakes, unfortunately, I have to say. We learn I think more often, a lot more, from our mistakes than we do from the things that we do right. Then just sort of coming to a point where you're like oh, but I just don't know how to do this, or I don't know how to do that, I'd a better study. Right? Education is how we improve anything we do. If you don't know how to do something, you need to read or study. I guess in this day and age, Google it and watch it on YouTube. But even then, it's a good start.

I think at the end of the day, whatever kind of coaching you're going to get, my advice would be just simply this. Take a good look at the people you're about to go mentor and study under and look at what they've done. If they've been successful with that particular thing, there's a pretty good chance as long as you pay attention and listen to them and do what it is they ask you to do, you're going to have that same success, because it's proven. Does that make sense?

GEORGE: Yeah.

CHRIS: Versus hey, my friend told me this chap over there is doing this, let's try this, and now you're kind of just pissing in the wind, and you really don't know what kind of result you're going to get.

GEORGE: All right. Awesome. What sort of developed as your strength in the martial arts space?

CHRIS: Let's see, that's a good question. I mean I'm super passionate about teaching. I love to teach. If you're going to be doing your job, you better love what you do, you know? So I love to be on the mat, impart knowledge, see people learn and grow, and be a part of people's lives. I like to think I'm a pretty good people person. I wouldn't say accounting and bookkeeping is my strong suit.

God bless my wife for taking care of that side of our business. I enjoy, I guess, building our business, like day by day looking at what can we do next. I love the challenge of what are we going to do for our marketing this month, how are we going to grow the business, how can we impact more lives in our community by getting more students into the school. I would say those are my strengths.

GEORGE: Cool. I'm going to change gears. This just is a question I picked up looking at your website, fkamartialarts.com, but before we get to that, I think I just want to, I don't want to lose track from where we are…

CHRIS: Actually the site is familyknowledgeaction.com.

GEORGE: Family, Knowledge, Action.

CHRIS: Dot com. FKA, that's what it stands for, is Family, Knowledge, Action. So when we chose our school name, our philosophy is basically embracing families in our community and imparting knowledge through an action philosophy, and that's what became the name of our school.

GEORGE: Okay, because there's two. There's fkamartialarts.com.

CHRIS: Yeah. We actually for marketing, we have like a ton of different websites…

GEORGE: Right, okay.

CHRIS: Websites, but if you really want to kind of get a feel for who we are as a school, familyknowledgeaction.com will give you a good overview of all the different programs. I don't say that as a plug. I know you can edit that out, just so that you have the right address if people are looking at it, you know?

GEORGE: Okay, that's good, because that's the website I was looking at. I did because we develop websites for martial arts schools, so it's obviously always one thing I look at, and always look at just what people are doing.

CHRIS: Yeah.

GEORGE: Internal critique, is that good, could we do better…

CHRIS: Yeah, oh. Yeah, for sure, all the time.

GEORGE: Just I found it very cool, and I don't want to get into a big technology talk, but I found it very good the way, the style that you had on fkamartialarts.com, just with using the sort of WordPress blog type template, but really good strong headline, really talking to your audience, parents and kids. Really good keyword structure and so forth. Is that something that you pay a lot of attention to with your school marketing?

CHRIS: I really can't take credit for that, the websites. I'm involved in many different groups in our industry. I consult … Again, I basically like to think we have two companies running out of one location. We run a martial arts program for children and adults, and as I mentioned earlier we also have an afterschool and a summer camp program. Well, I think the confusion for a lot of people is they try to run them like they're the same business. They're really not. They're two separate companies, I have two separate staff teams, et cetera, et cetera, and therefore you need two separate kinds of marketing strategies for those programs.

I'm not trying to plug here, but I do mentor with an afterschool and summer camp program called Mast, and actually Dwayne, Dwayne Spries is the chap that runs that, and he's the one that I have to credit for the website. I can tell you that for us they work. We generate lovely. They may not look like the fanciest website on the planet, you know what I mean.

I know there's a lot of other sites out there with many more bells and whistles, but sometimes I think less is more, right? Simplistic. As you just mentioned, big, bold headlines, hit you in the face. Looks more like a newspaper with some cheesy pictures on it.

GEORGE: Yeah.

CHRIS: It gets the job done. At the end of the day, our websites are … You know, I think we used to think that they were like oh, we got to show who we are, and all of our cool stuff, and look at all … No, we don't. They just want to know who you are, what are you going to … exactly, what.

GEORGE: All the bling at the back.

CHRIS: Yeah, but what do people really care about? What's in it for them, what are you doing for them, what services can you offer them. They don't care about your history, and I was born on the top of a mountain, and whatever that nonsense is. Anyhow, the sites work well for us. Yes.

GEORGE: Yeah. It's something we always talk about because we're always talking about conversions and websites. I just noticed that it really ticked the boxes, which was really good in the simplicity of it, which I think vouches for I think people get way too carried away with technology, and that's really web developers' fault because most web developers don't understand marketing and strategy, so they come to the party with the design aspect, how can we make this look flashy, and it actually just distracts from the user experience, which means not easy, people leave, get frustrated, they're not getting the actual message to fulfill their need, what they're actually looking for.

CHRIS: Yeah. I think, George, I 100% agree with you, mate. You know, at the end of the day, we look at our schools, and we have these opportunities, what we call our pillars of marketing, what do you have that's going to help you grow your school. Well, that's what your website, in my opinion, for whatever it's worth, should be, something that's going to help generate or explain who you are with a good sort of lead capture to get people interested, and as you said a good hook to get people to jump on and say hey, let me check this place out, man. For what it's worth, that's what I think, but what do I know? I'm no expert on websites and all that kind of stuff.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Cool, so getting back to I guess The Main Event. You're going to be speaking about a few things. If people had to come down to San Diego, which I think I'm travelling 25 hours to get there, so I think anybody in America could definitely make the trip, but what would you be … Sorry to cut you off there, but what are you going to be speaking about? What can people expect from your perspective?

CHRIS: Actually, I'm not speaking. I mean I will speak, but I'm teaching, so I'm not speaking so much as standing up there to give a dissertation or a speech about any particular topic. I wouldn't say speaking is my strong suit. Again, I love to teach, and I've been lucky enough to teach at The Main Event for the last three or four years, and again I just enjoy it. I'm going to teach a seminar. I know Fred said last year it might be an hour or two hours.

I'm not quite sure how long it's going to be, but I'm going to do my best in the time I teach to just share some of the core weapons-based drills that we do at our school, give a value to some of the instructors that come train, and if they have a good time that's awesome. Also, if they can take some of that information back and apply it to their schools, so whether they use it to help a weapons class, maybe a seminar, can use it in a birthday party, buddy days, add it to a little bit of the self-defense classes for adults, I'm going to try and quickly touch on a lot of different topics, and just give some value, I guess. That will be the goal. Make sure everybody has a good time, work out, and learn something.

GEORGE: Awesome. For you, as you have mentioned you've been to The Main Event the last four times, what do you feel as a school owner, what do you feel a school owner and an instructor would get out of going to an event like The Main Event?

CHRIS: I think like any event that you go to, but especially for me The Main Event, because again it's run by people that already run successful schools, so there's a lot of events going on in our industry, and I like to go everywhere because that's where you learn, but specifically if you run a martial arts school, an event run by somebody that runs multiple martial arts schools is for me a good thing already, because you know the content that you're going to get is going to be super relevant to what you do on a day to day basis, I guess, in your own school.

So whether you're looking to learn more about the business side of your school, learn a little bit more about the marketing side of your school, get some great tips on how to teach better classes, student retention, I've found that all of that is packed into the event, and again it's being given to you by people that have already done this over time. That to me is, again, you're going to learn, go study from people that already do it and have been successful with it, I would say.

GEORGE: Good point. Awesome. Hey, Chris, been great speaking to you. Is there anything that I should have asked you that I haven't asked you? It's the cliché question, but I'm asking it.

CHRIS: Would you like a pint, mate?

GEORGE: Well…

CHRIS: You didn't ask. You're an Aussie, that's just so rude.

GEORGE: It's twenty to eleven. I could probably pass. If you said yes, I would have some concerns.

CHRIS: Yeah, think of coffee, mate, it's too early for that. Maybe when I see you in San Diego, definitely we'll grab a beer together and chat. That would be awesome.

GEORGE: That'll be fantastic. All right, awesome. Chris, great speaking to you. If anybody wants to find more details about you, you mentioned the website that you corrected me on.

CHRIS: It's familyknowledgeaction.com. That's our school website. If not, people can message me on Facebook or whatever. I'm pretty accessible most of the time, so there you go.

GEORGE: All right. Awesome. Good stuff, Chris. I look forward to seeing you in San Diego and see you soon.

CHRIS: Alright, brother. Thanks, mate. Have a good one. We'll talk soon, okay?

GEORGE: Cheers.

CHRIS: See you.

GEORGE: Fantastic. I hope you enjoyed the interview. As mentioned, Chris and I will both be at The Main Event, so depending on when you're listening to this interview that is between the 26th and the 28th of April, and that will be in San Diego. For more details, you can go to the-main-event.com.

Otherwise, if you need help with your marketing, if you need help growing your school, if you are begging to get moving with your online campaigns, whether that's Facebook, Google, if you need to know how this whole search engine optimization thing works, it's one thing to hire a company, the other is to actually have the understanding yourself, and have a bit of a strategy before you hire someone.

That way you're a bit more in control of your business, and know what the right things are to do, and save a lot of money just on wasting time with people that might not be onboard with your martial arts business.

If you need any help, reach out to us. You can find more details, get in touch with us at martialartsmedia.com, or if you want to inquire about our martial arts academy program, you can go to martialartsmedia.academy. Thanks. I'll speak to you soon.

 

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57 – Zulfi Ahmed – The Real Secret To Success With Your Martial Arts Business

After 45 years, Grandmaster Zulfi Ahmed from Bushi Ban International has discovered the real secret to martial arts business success, and it's not what you might think.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The ‘real secret’ behind Master Zulfi’s success and longevity in the martial arts industry
  • The ‘ONE’ thing that he would have done differently at the start of his career in the USA
  • What keeps his passion in martial arts thriving
  • The importance of attending martial arts events to meet like-minded people
  • More details about Bushi Ban International, a comprehensive martial arts system that Master Zulfi founded
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: Hey this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media Business podcast. I have a fantastic guest with me today, all the way on the other side of the world in Texas, Master Zulfi Ahmed. How are you today Zulfi?

ZULFI: Wonderful George, thank you. Appreciate you contacting me and pleasure to be on your show.

GEORGE: Alright, awesome. So we've got, just to give this conversation a bit of context: Zulfi is the Grandmaster from Bushi Ban International, 10th degree black belt, 45 years’ experience in martial arts. There's a lot that we can obviously gain from this call. So I guess we've got to start just from the beginning, to give a bit of context: how would you, if someone has to ask you who is Zulfi Ahmed, what would be your answer?

ZULFI: Well, Zulfi Ahmed is a short little man, who was born and raised in Pakistan, a third world country and I migrated to the USA in 1985 and I've been studying martial arts since I was 9 years old, so 45-46 years in the martial arts. And I studied all over the world, I've competed, fought, trained in almost every part of the world, except Australia.

So that's where I need to be heading soon! And I have my organization, which is an international organization called Bushi Ban International. Our headquarters is in Houston Texas, Pasadena Texas to be precise. We have 9 locations in the Pasadena Greater Houston area and we have 2 more in Connecticut and few affiliates in the US and several schools, affiliates in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, in that part of the world.

The system which I teach is called Bushi Ban, it’s my system of development. I've studied many styles throughout my years and I'm still a student of the martial arts, I consider myself an ever-going, ongoing student, everlasting student of the martial arts. In the beginning, I studied the system called Bando. Burmese Bando, it’s a system from Myanmar and it has different branches, it’s called Lethwei, which is the bare knuckle kickboxing, Banshay, which is the self-defense and weapons art, Thaing which is the animal style and classical art, Naban which is the grappling art of Burmese martial arts and then I studied wrestling, Pakistani Indian wrestling when I was young, I studied Muay Thai, Shotokan karate… many, many styles.

And after studying for about 20+ years, I developed my own system and it’s an ever evolving system and that's the brief background. I've competed all over the United States in many different circuits from point type tournaments to full contact to MMA, to grappling, to Jiu Jitsu, to kickboxing, boxing, you know. So I've had a very well rounded learning experience. I've had people from all different disciplines took turns beating me up, so I've learned a lot.

GEORGE: Alright, fantastic. So Zulfi, did all this start… because I mean, you've got your own system and you've got nine locations in the United States: how did that all start? Because you came from Pakistan: was that the goal of the immigration, or were you already that far in your career when you were based in Pakistan?

ZULFI: Great question. I've already had many thousands of students in Pakistan. I came to the USA for higher education, so I was enrolled in college and university here. I was enrolled in Bernard M. Baruch College of Business in New York City, Lexington Avenue. I had a little, mini international scholarship.

Plus, I had an immigrant status. My sister, she's a pediatric on colleges, a specialist for children and my brother in law were citizens of the United States. They sponsored me for a green card. When I came to the USA, I was already a green card holder as an immigrant, but I came here to go to school and I really didn't have much intention on staying for any longer than I needed to and going back.

But I fell in love with the country, with the people and the opportunity presented itself, because I still had thousands of students in Pakistan and the opportunity presented itself for me because martial arts is my love – it’s my passion, it’s my fire, it’s my fuel. So, of course, I wanted to be in the USA to compete with the top of the line martial artists at the time in the whole wide world. So I jumped on the competition circuit. At that time, we had sports karate more prevalent, about 34 years ago. Very few other disciplines, but very scattered.

So whatever I could find, I jumped into that arena and then I opened my own little club teaching in daycares, with little children. And then, one thing led to another and I started with a small school, went to a bigger school, bigger school, bigger school and finally, built and bought my own building of 24,000 square feet, which is the headquarters now. And as time went by, we had more schools.

At one time, we had up to 17 schools and some of those schools are still active, but we don’t license them anymore. So they chose their own path. And to make a long story short, I came with the intent of finishing education and then see where my destiny leads me and my destiny kept me here and never looked back. Don't regret it for a single day. Love it, love the people, and love the country. I love my students and I love the martial arts. I’m a blessed, blessed human being.

GEORGE: Fantastic. I always love hearing an expat success story, as I'm from South Africa and I'm living in Perth. It’s always good to hear people who succeed. I call it the expat advantage because expats normally go and go with a different mission, because they've just got to make it work.

ZULFI: We have to make it work.

GEORGE: Yeah. So I want to learn from you: how did you go from… we always talk on the show about schools, and then marketing and so forth: but I think the topic we don’t explore that much is, how do you take that next jump? You've created this school and you've got a business: how do you scale to the next level that you can open the next locations and I guess in a way start removing, taking a step back and letting other people lead?

ZULFI: So, you know, if a person has a deep belief, deep conviction, deep faith, deep passion, deep fire, you know, of what you do, you love, and then you keep doing that, things happen organically and things happen with planning. So you must let your destiny lead you and don't question it. You must be led by your passion to a point where you are willing and ready to sacrifice and I'm a big believer in fate and destiny and karma and you know, recreate your own luck.

So what happens if one is passionate about and they believe strong enough and they're resilient and they don't give up and they are not greedy in the process. Then automatically, the universe opens doors. Sometimes, people come into your life because you attracted them and sometimes you go into people’s lives who you attracted. And they attract you.

And as long as you are aware of where your endpoint needs to be, things will manifest themselves as long as you are true, honest, hardworking and you are committed to your goals and dreams – you've got to have a dream. Then, things will happen. Don't doubt, things will happen.

When I came here, I was passionate about my martial arts. Schooling was my parents’ directive to me more than my own, even though schooling is very important and I did schooling and I recommend everybody does get their schooling and degree, because that's your plan A.

But fortunately, my plan B became my plan A, because I'm born to be a martial artist, my calling in life is martial arts. And I've known that since I was an orange belt since I was 9 years old. That this was what I wanted to do throughout the rest of my life. And that comes through my mentors, my teachers who inspired me to live a lifestyle of martial arts.

And then, being at the right time, right place with the right people, with the right mission, right purpose, opens doors. So I wish I could give you a more strategic, tactical answer: do this, do this, do this, do this, but to me, the best answer is just to follow your dreams and don't give up and don't quit and keep believing. And the right things will happen if you have the right intent. If your intent is good, if your intent is sincere, the doors will open yourself, just don't give up. That’s the answer.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's the better answer, because it’s always, you know, there's tactical change and it could be different for everyone and I think everyone has different strengths in what tactical things they need to do and not do. So yes, that's the better answer, thanks, Zulfi. So, at which point – I’ll get to this question in a minute, but when you feel martial arts school owners are going wrong in their path?

I mean, we've spoken about following their dreams and setting that intention and goals, but with the martial arts industry just being at a big booming stage. Where do you feel the school owners are missing the boat on their journey, with their schools?

ZULFI: I can't answer for the martial arts individual industry, I speak a lot in many different forums with the Martial Arts Industry Association, Educational Funding Company, MA1st. BTW, I’ll be speaking to our mutual friends, Fred DePalma’s event in April. I think it’s 26th-27th-28th if I'm not mistaken.

GEORGE: That's correct.

ZULFI: Fred is a great friend of mine and you know, I have the utmost respect for him and I’ll be speaking at his event. I’ll be speaking at many other events, EFC event in England also in April, the week before that I’ll be in the UK, speaking at the EFC, European Convention. So, basically, what I want to say, the answer is, you know the phases of learning and maturity is… the four phases of learning are unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence and unconscious competence.

So, you don't know what you don't know and that's where a lot of martial arts school owners, there’s so much out there, they just don't know what they don't know, you know? I still don't know what a lot of things are about. Then there are martial artists who know that they don't know, which is a great stage to be at. And then there are martial artists who know that they don't know and they want to pursue that, which is wonderful, and that comes to a point where you know what you know, and then you don't know what you know because it becomes second nature.

So I believe our industry is going through that second and third phase. We have a lot of martial artists, they don’t know that there's information, knowledge of business development, personal development, martial arts entrepreneurship exists, you know? I’ll give you an example: tomorrow I have a mastermind here in Texas, I've got Ken Pankiewicz, and he’s travelled all the way from the UK. He's got five schools there, I've got people coming from all over and I've got local martial arts schools owners coming in, who have never been to a martial arts business development event.

They just didn't know that something like this existed. So I think once you figure out that there is information there that could prove us and we take steps to go out and learn and implementation is the key. Everybody learns it, everybody knows it, everybody sits and takes notes, but can you go and implement?

So I think one thing which martial artists in this time and age, there's one school, one group, they don't know that we even exist, martial arts business educators. The second group is that they re information junkies: they love information, but they don't do anything with that. The third group is, they go and they take what fits in the model and they implement it right away, like my friend Ken, Ken is sitting here. He is soaking up and implementing. Then there are guys who already have implemented, they just need reassurance. They need to know they're doing it right; you know?

I go to these events to learn and I go to these events, let me give you a very honest answer: I go to these events to be humbled. When I see people who are doing much better than I am, it brings me back down to earth, because we are all kings in our own little kingdom, but when we go outside and we see, wow! These guys are kicking butts and taking names and they are way beyond my aptitude and it humbles me. And that humbleness makes me come back and say, hey, I thought I was this, you know, bad ass – excuse my French. But I've got a lot of work to do.

So to me, it humbles me, because you know, I believe most of us, me included, we are driven by ego. Martial artists have big egos. So once we let go of egos, we will come back to earth and we will do what we need to do to prove ourselves. So I don't know if that answers your question, but that's my feeling for it.

GEORGE: I love it, I love it, that’s fantastic. So, Zulfi, there’s a lot of unconscious competence that I think I can't tap into and it’s hard for me to actually get those questions, because I think you’ve got so much knowledge over 45 years, that things are common knowledge to you, it might be hard to extract all that information from you. So let’s put it this way: if you had to start this journey from the beginning, what do you think you would do different, or which paths would you go on? What would you change?

ZULFI: Great question. I would get myself a mentor ASAP. A mentor, or a group of mentors, or I would, these times and days are not times and days of lone rangers. Those days are gone. You have to be part of a bigger mission, bigger vision, bigger purpose, bigger group, bigger entity than yourself. Because the student is more aware of what the martial art is and it represents and represents and can benefit now than 30 years ago.

30 years ago, as a lone ranger, I could have hundreds of students, but now as a lone ranger, I can not compete with a stronger group of people who are united and they have more strength than you. So I would utilize, see, a lot of this, where I’m at today, I did a lot on my own trial and error and failures, more failures than victories. And then, when I found some mentors, one of my great mentors is the great grandmaster Dr. Maung Gyi. He is 87 years old and he is the father of American Bando Association. He mentored me, guided me and that was a blessing to me. Plus, other mentors in other fields.

So you've got to get yourself somebody who you respect and you feel can share with you through experience. Anybody can read a book and say what's in the book, but the years of knowledge, the experience, cannot be replaced by what you read in a book, or what you buy in a $2.99 program. It has to be lived and they have to live through trial and error, through victory and failure and that's the mentor I would get immediately if I could find one. If I could have someone who… that's the first thing I would do.

Because when I came to America, my teacher was 10000 miles away. I learned through trial and error and I learned to get beaten up. I would go to these tournaments, which I had totally different, I came from a different background and I went to do Texas style point karate with groin kicks who I love and I got beaten up every weekend.

But I didn't give up, I kept going back and going back and going back, so I learned through real failure and then, you know, if I would have had a coach, mentor, teacher in the business, I would have been maybe ten steps ahead. You know? So that's what I would recommend everybody: to get yourself a group of great people, a mentor. Build a little sphere of influence, build your own inner circle of friends and mentors, of like-minded pursuit, or get somebody who you believe can guide you. That's what I would do.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Zulfi, I'm just looking at the time and we’re running close, I know you've got another appointment to get to. One question just behind this: at what point did you decide to start your own style and to start your own program?

ZULFI: The decision to start my style was when I was living in Pakistan and I saw a rich cultural heritage of martial arts in Pakistan, which comes from India, Pakistan and that region. And I was training in a foreign style Burmese style. And I trained in Japanese style, I trained in Korean style, I trained in Thai style. And as a young person, I loved it.

I still love training in every style, Brazilian, Thai, and Mongolian – every style. But I saw that there was really nothing which was representing the rich cultural martial arts of the region where I came from, on an international level. Plus, I saw a gap of modern approach in those martial arts.

So you know, some people are creative by nature, some people are practical by nature, so I feel that my personal creative invocation, creative longing made me realize that I needed something. Number one, to fulfil my needs in what I was getting through that system was great, still great, I still train with it.

But there was something I wanted to improve and enhance. And when I saw the other system, it was like pieces of a puzzle. So I was making my own puzzle with different pieces and putting my puzzle together. And one of the key reasons for putting the puzzle together was at that time, the national pride that I wanted, a system which could be internationally recognized, which hails from that region of the world.

And then, I wanted to give back to that part of the world a more modern approach to what was going on in the other parts of the world where I was traveling, to Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, when I was living in Pakistan and I was accumulating this information and putting my pieces together and that was done on a selfish basis and it grew into a wonderful system called Bushi Ban. And my students loved it and it became a, we call it a supra, multi-dimensional system.

It was not a linear system, like Taekwondo might be linear, just kicks, but Bushi ban, in those days, before MMA, we were – and I'm not taking any credit, but we were incorporating wrestling with Muay Thai. We were incorporating karate with point karate, with kickboxing and we were incorporating Pakistani wrestling with point karate, takedowns. We were incorporating Naban, Burmese Naban with Taekwondo.

So it was evolving into what is MMA now, it was kind of evolving in that manner and it was becoming a multidimensional system and what I used to call it, I used to say, this is the tradition of the future. Traditional martial arts are the future, one day, people will adapt this martial art because it has the past and the future combined together in a multidimensional way and we used to say, you know, modern practices, traditional wisdom, and ancient wisdom, compiled together.

Of course, inspired by the late great Bruce Lee's thinking, as a child, as a young person I was reading that, and my own personal longing. So Bushi Ban became born, was born. And it keeps evolving because I'm still evolving. I’m the founder, I'm the creator and I’m still evolving and my goal is to keep bringing that evolution and innovation and creation into my students’ lives, wherever they are.

GEORGE: I love that, awesome. Master Zulfi, it’s been awesome speaking to you and I'm looking forward to meeting you in San Diego this year, so depending on when you're watching this video. So that's 26th to 28th I believe in San Diego at The Main Event. And Master Zulfi, where else can people find out more about you and your networking and everything that you have going on?

ZULFI: I would love to connect with people, I love people and I'm honoured when somebody calls me, I like to share. So if anybody who's hearing this, give me a shout out. You can email me at masterzulfi@gmail.com, or bushiban-hq@juno.com.

And if you don't mind, if I can plug in, put a plugin for an event we’re doing in Thailand, I've been hosting what we call the World Martial Arts Summit for the past two years and it’s in conjunction with the Thai martial arts games and Thai festival, which starts on the 12th of March this year and goes to the 18th of March. So in the World Martial Arts Summit, which I run that aspect, we have a sports karate tournament, we have a grappling tournament, No Gi grappling tournament.

We have a mastermind, where people like Fred DePalma, you know, Ken Pankiewicz, Hakan Manav, myself, Master Kazi Qais, Master Jeff Barley… many, many prominent martial artists from all over the world, from the USA, from India, from Australia, from the UK, from Thailand, from Malaysia, from Pakistan, from Bangladesh – many, many countries, they'll be there and we’ll be brainstorming and different martial arts business development, that's a mastermind.

We also have the Asia-Pacific Martial Arts Hall of Fame. It’s an organization to which we want to recognize top performers from Asia-Pacific region. So I would love to hear from anybody who would like to go to the event and you can log onto www.worldmartialartssummit.com and I’ll be in Bangkok Thailand on the 7th of March, till the 19th of March.

Then, there's another event I will be teaching, I'm the keynote speaker at the EFC, UK EFC event, which is, I think 20th and the 21st of April, that's in UK England. And then I’ll be at the MA1st Kyoshi Fred DePalma’s event in San Diego right after that. So, love to shake hands with all of you, love to see you there and looking forward to sharing our information with you all.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Master Zulfi, I’ll have all those links in the transcript of this interview as well. It’s been great to connect with you, all the way to the other side of the world and looking forward to meeting you in person.

ZULFI: Yes sir, my pleasure. Thank you, George, pleasure meeting you and I look forward to meeting you in person as well.

GEORGE: Thank you, speak soon.

ZULFI: Bye.

GEORGE: Cheers.

 

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55 – Bogdan Rosu – Personal Development Through Martial Arts

When you combine personal development through martial arts, the goals achieved become tangible. Bogdan Rosu's vehicle for this is Wing Chun.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • What led Bogdan Rosu to use martial arts in reaching out people.
  • The potential of martial arts for personal development combined with hand-to-hand combat.
  • Using concepts of Wing Chun to improve your life.
  • Being selective about the students you can and cannot help.  
  • BONUS PDF DOWNLOAD: 11 Goal Setting Questions to ask your students to reveal their real emotional reasons for starting martial arts.

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

TRANSCRIPTION

The problem with just doing personal development, for example, is that you just don’t get keeping it in your head. Imagine just reading books, or doing courses or attending seminars – that's great, that information eventually trickles down into your body. However, if you do a concept with your body and you're not just repeating it over and over again. You do it and you integrate it into every cell of your body, that’s totally different.

GEORGE: This podcast episode is the audio version of a video interview that took place on martialartsmedia.com. For the full video interview and to access the questions that we discussed: we discussed questions with Bogdan Rosu, we discussed questions that you can ask your prospect in regards to personal development, but what this does for you? It really helps you get a clear idea of what your prospects’ goals are. And if you know what their goals are, you can tailor make your presentation about your martial arts program based on what their needs are and not just about what your program delivers – big distinction. It will make more sense in the interview.

So to download those questions and the transcript, please go to martilartsmedia.com/55. Here's the interview – enjoy!

GEORGE: Good day, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. Today, I have with me – and I’m 100% confident I’m going to say this 100% right: Bogdan Rosu.

BOGDAN: That was actually pretty good.

GEORGE: Bogdan Rosu – did I get the “R” right?

BOGDAN: Yeah, yeah, actually the -su was like, it’s a bit unusual. Hi everyone, thanks for the invite.

GEORGE: Awesome. So quick introduction – and while I’m going to let Bogdan do most of the introduction, but Bogdan invited me to his podcast a couple of weeks back, Personal Development Through Martial Arts. And you can find that on addicted2wingchun.com. And it’s addicted with the number 2. So we’re going to touch a bit of that, on the personal development side within martial arts, within martial arts training as well, and just going to really have a chat, have some fun and learn more about Bogdan and what happens in the wonderful world of Romania? So officially – welcome!

BOGDAN: Thanks for the invite and like I mentioned earlier, it’s very nice to see you again. I’m excited to sit down and talk martial arts, personal development and marketing. Yeah.

GEORGE: Sounds good, all right. So first and foremost – who is Bogdan Rosu?

BOGDAN: I’m just a guy, you know, I’ve been doing martial arts since I was like 13 and the primary reason was because I just wanted to be a bit more self-confident and learn a bit more about people, I was horrible with people. Because for example, in the 5th grade, I was voted as being the most annoying, obnoxious kid in class and that was a bit weird for me because I love people so much and I just didn't understand why this stuff was happening.

But somehow I felt that it was because of me feeling really insecure. So I started my martial arts journey when I was 13 and in my 2nd year of college, I discovered personal development and I noticed that there was a really interesting connection between the two, in the sense that, what one was missing, the other can provide. So that's how this thing got started.

GEORGE: So – on personal development, right? So what actually led you to personal development? I mean, you're saying that you were feeling labelled most annoying kid in the class, although you're thinking you were probably just trying to reach out and connect. And then you said you discovered personal development, so, is that what sort of was the path to get you to say, well, there are some things I need to improve myself.

BOGDAN: Somehow, I mean, when I discover personal development, I had been doing martial arts for seven years. I started with this acrobatic style of martial arts and it was funny because the flyer said, “Learn karate, ninjutsu, judo, aikido…” and three or four other styles of martial arts and they were all taught by the same guy. And you can imagine the level of expertise. But he was good, he was a really good fighter. We ended up doing a lot of ground fighting, which was fun and a lot of flex, you know, a lot of acrobatic stuff. But I still don't know how to defend myself and I was so scared of the idea of confrontation, of physical confrontation, especially in the street.

And three years later, I switched to Shotokan karate and that's where I learned the values of working really, really hard. And reaching that point where you say, OK, I can’t do it anymore, I just need to go beyond that. And after three years of doing that, I felt a lot stronger. My posture changed, but I still felt very insecure. I still felt that my self-worth was close to nothing, I was still comparing myself to other people. And personal development came in the form of network marketing. A friend said, dude, you need to do this, you need to start doing this and I did it more for just having a side income, just to make a bit more money. Which did not happen of course. But I really got passionate about personal development when I started reading these books and these concepts, these ideas, really shaped me in the following years.

GEORGE: Interesting that you say that because network marketing was my stepping stone into the online business world.

BOGDAN: Really?

GEORGE: Yeah, that's what got me started. I know there are many perceptions about it: it’s a scam and it’s this and this, and there’s definitely a lot of that, and especially now that the bitcoin phase is happening and cryptocurrency, it really sticks out and it’s annoying. But I was part of the network marketing industry for a long time and what I find is – and this is what happens with a lot of people that get into that is, it is their first stepping stone into business. They normally try it, achieve a little success, or nothing, but it opens the mind to, Hang on – I can provide for myself, I can create this business. So it does leave a good groundwork for business skills, the start of business, being in business.

BOGDAN: Absolutely.

GEORGE: And then, of course, the personal development that goes with it.

BOGDAN: Absolutely, absolutely. And this whole idea of sitting down with someone and making an offer is hugely intimidating for a lot of people and yeah, you know, the problem was back then that I wasn't really aware of the fact that when you're making an offer, you shouldn't really be pushy. I was super pushy with people. But now we know better.

GEORGE: Cool, so let’s define, OK? I get to the personal development with martial arts. But let’s fill that gap in between that first. So you got into personal development – what exactly did you start doing that had the biggest impact on your life?

BOGDAN: From personal development or from martial arts?

GEORGE: Personal development, yeah. Because you were already in martial arts, right? So martial arts was there and your next thing was to start developing yourself, so how did that sort of transition I guess and then what did you actually do?

BOGDAN: To be honest, it actually started making more sense years later, because you're getting all these books, you're getting the information, but until you have also the experiences to use that information and consolidate them, it’s really not worth much. So I didn't see any kind of change in terms of my self-confidence, until I started teaching it, to be honest. And that's… it may sound weird to a lot of people, why do you teach stuff that you don't 100% own? Well, that was exactly the reason why, because I wanted to learn these concepts and own them, so I felt that by teaching them, it would really help me do that and it did. And that's when all of these concepts made sense. I’m still teaching stuff that I want to learn and master, or at least get better at it.

GEORGE: Yeah, for sure. Because that's the progression of life, right? I think it’s always important to pay credit where credit is due, there's nothing more frustrating or me when intellectual property just gets passed around like… you learn something and then you pass it on as your own, but I think for the most, people can see through that. But I mean, content creation like what we’re doing here with podcasts, a lot of that is actually educating yourself on the go. Sometimes it’s from experience, but as you say, the other part of it is, it’s something you want to be better at. So the minute you start articulating it into words, you actually start getting the better understanding of what it is that you do.

BOGDAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I absolutely agree. And a huge turning point in my life was actually learning… I started teaching, I started teaching Wing Chun. That was actually my third martial arts style, I discovered Wing Chun when I moved to Greece to study. And I got my instructor certificate and started teaching. And you probably know, like, working with your clients, the challenges of opening a school when you know nothing about marketing and you're handing out flyers and you're just dealing with all this frustration.

And I sat down with the person who would become my marketing mentor and he asked me about what I was doing. And I told him, look, we do teach martial arts, but we focus a lot on the mindset and on the tools that you can use to better your relationships, to actually have a better relationship with yourself. And he's like, yeah, but you're not just teaching martial arts, are you? You're also teaching personal development. And that was like, that actually makes so much sense. So he was like, why don't you just be open with that in your marketing efforts? And yeah, that made a huge difference. I just put myself out there the way I was and the way that I wanted to help people out.

GEORGE: So can you give an example? I mean, if you're doing a personal development within your martial arts teaching, how do you go about that?

BOGDAN: Mhm. Well, usually we have 5-10 minute discussions every training session. And what I've learned to do now is to allow everyone to speak and I speak at the end. I offer my opinion at the end. And then I ask them, what concepts did you use, or did you find in the Wing Chun training today? What idea is it that you feel you can apply in your life directly? Wing Chun is interesting, because it’s not a technique based on martial art, in the sense of, OK, you do step one, you do step two and you do step three. It’s based on ideas; it’s based on concepts.

So in Wing Chun, we say that you can do an idea with your hand, you can do the same idea with a stick, you can do it with your car, you can apply it in your life, in terms of your relationships, in terms of your work, in terms of business development. One example would be, we use the straight punch, right? When we do the first film, we do a straight punch. For us, it’s not just a straight punch, it’s a way of thinking. Instead of going around, right, to get to my target, I choose the fastest way, all right?

Sometimes the straight line is not always the best solution, sometimes you do need to go around, right? But if you can go straight to the point, just do that, right? So you're learning to be a bit more direct, you're learning to be more assertive with your way of thinking and with who you are as a person. So we normally do that, I get my students thinking of how they can apply these ideas, these concepts to better, not just their lives, but also to share them with other people.

So that's how we basically include the whole personal development. And then in the end, I share some of the stuff that I've learned, some of the books that I've read, the videos that I post on my YouTube channel, there's, the Wing Chun, the specific way we focused on the martial arts and there is the mindset and personal development aspect of the channel.

GEORGE: So if you say you're sharing the same stuff on your social media channels and so forth, is that sort of your leading theme as everything… you tie it in with your marketing, you tie it in with the whole concept of how you deliver everything. Would you promote yourself as a martial arts school or a martial arts school focused on personal development, or vice versa?

BOGDAN: Personal Development Through Martial Arts school.

GEORGE: Right, of course – as you wrote it. So now, bringing it back to… in the class, you say you get people really involved: do you find that it creates some discomfort, or that it presents some confidence issues, I've really got to step this up, that type of thing?

BOGDAN: Are you asking for the students or for the instructors?

GEORGE: The student.

BOGDAN: For the student? Mhm, mhm, that's a great question. Well, they kind of expect it in the sense when they walk in because it’s a whole new concept. So they would expect something a bit different from a traditional martial arts training program, so the people that usually come to the school, actually, they do feel a bit uncomfortable at the beginning, sharing their experiences and talking with the group. But slowly, slowly… the school is very welcoming to new people. So slowly but surely, they get out of a state of a, What should I say, or What if I say something silly. And we just start having a conversation. Usually everyone in the group contributes, says something.

GEORGE: Cool, something silly like swapping martial arts for personal development, instead of personal development for martial arts.

BOGDAN: Yeah, yeah, that's it.

GEORGE: Alright, awesome. Ok, cool, so anything else that you can add with the personal development side and how it’s sort of working for you and I guess results that the students are getting that they might have not expected. You know, the whole thing of, sell them what they want and give them what they need.

BOGDAN: Indeed, mhm.

GEORGE: There we go.

BOGDAN: Well, I personally think that all martial arts schools should include a personal development curriculum in their teachings, in their training. And if you love martial arts and you don't know where to start, a great aspect would be just to have a personal development specialist come once in a while in your school and holds an event, holds a workshop. Maybe somebody who specializes in communication skills, somebody who specializes in performance and productivity. Somebody who specializes in psychology, or something like that right? Or motivation.

I feel that martial arts are like when you're doing martial arts, you're really building a very, very powerful engine, upgrading your engine from, I don't know, an old car with a very powerful Ferrari. And I'm referring to your willpower, you’re really tapping into that, you know, I'm actually stronger than I thought and I can actually take on more than I thought. You're learning hard work.

However, you're not really learning what to do with that engine once you've got it. So by learning about personal development and what are the actual techniques, or how to communicate a lot better or more efficiently with people, you're getting the best of both. The problem with just doing personal development, for example, is that you're just doing it, or you're keeping it in your head. Imagine just reading books or doing courses or attending seminars – that's great, that information eventually trickles down into your body. However, if you do a concept with your body and you're not just repeating it over and over again; you do it and you integrate it into every cell of your body, that's totally different.

For example, confidence: you might learn about confidence, you might hear a very inspirational YouTube video about believing in yourself, but unless you do something with your body and change the way you use it, change the way you use your hands, change the way you use your spine, and the way you use your face, right? He's not really going to understand it.

So, in my crazy opinion, I think all personal development programs should include a physical aspect, more of a physical aspect, be it martial arts, be it fitness, be it, Tai Chi, be it, you know I'm saying that as if Tai Chi were not a martial art – sorry all the Tai Chi instructors listening in. Yeah, so, at the same time, all martial arts programs I think would benefit very much from including a personal development program. And yeah.

GEORGE: I think you hit it there in a huge way because that's really what it is, right? And I mean, you've got your different learning styles, you've got someone might be visual, someone might be auditory and then kinesthetic. So the movements, when you tie it into martial arts, then you're tapping into all the senses. So by turning your, and it could be really subtle, but I guess you've got to have, as an instructor, you've got to have that personal development goal in mind, or a syllabus or something that you follow with that in mind. And then you can apply it in a way that it sinks in and it really becomes part of your body. Body really, as in, yeah.

BOGDAN: Yes, yes.

GEORGE: And I think that's probably, that's the biggest failure in most personal development things, because as you talk about, I think it’s Tony Robbins that actually drew out the statistic, that if – and this is why they've got it, I mean, he's really the guru of gurus when it comes to personal development and they've also got the process down to knowing, obviously when people fall off in their behaviors and when they don't follow through. There's a statistic, and don't quote me on this because I might get it wrong, but I think it’s 21 days, if someone doesn't take action, enforce the habit in 21 days, it’s pretty much gone. And then I think it takes 21 days to actually enforce a habit of day to day before it’s an actual habit. But that's the biggest danger, if it’s not physically applied, then the habit is just easy to let go.

BOGDAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's actually the biggest job of any personal development seminar, workshop or whatever you say. You do it once – if you just do it once, you're never going to integrate all the lessons that you got, right? You might have a notebook full of facts and ideas, but if you just put it somewhere and forget about it in your drawer, it’s not going to work. And I'm saying that to remind myself as well because I attend UBW two years ago, I still have the notebook. But if you don't have the environment, if you don't have a group of people who are all together striving for the same goal, or reinforcing those specific habits, it’s going to be very difficult for you to do so.

GEORGE: So for me when I started martial arts – and this was really like, if I dig down to the deeper things of why I started, this was a big thing, because I've always been striving for that self-improvement thing, doing personal development and then, for me it was really backwards. When I started martial arts training, I immediately made the link, which is what hooked me, because I've been studying, doing all this personal development stuff and now I'm applying things in a physical manner, and now it’s like aaa! This is great, this is coming together for me.

BOGDAN: Yes, yes.

GEORGE: But what happens when the mind is not ready? Because a lot of people aren't open to personal development. Do you just not hammer it in, but you just subtly actually apply it in the way you go about your teaching?

BOGDAN: You know, usually, the people who say that they don't need personal development are the people who need it the most. So I tend not to work with people who don't see the value of personal development. I did that in the past and it just felt weird for me, because I felt I couldn't give my all in the interactions with my students and I actually chose to say, you know, maybe this is not a good fit and let’s find a different solution.

So yeah, not everybody will need or want what you have and that's great, but the people who do see the value, you tend to see like a very, very interesting evolution. Not just in terms of their self-confidence, you see it in your lives, yeah. Yeah, some people became… Since they started training with us, they became their team leaders, they got promoted at their jobs, people are making more money. People who were not in relationships actually, they're happily married now. People who were in miserable relationships have cleaned that out of their lives, so these are some of the results that people are getting through the program.

GEORGE: So would you, you were mentioning that you don’t work with people that aren't on that mindset, that don't want to go down that route, which is obviously a good thing, saves you a lot of time down the line – how do you go about filtering people out before they get started?

BOGDAN: So people usually fill in a form. It’s a pretty long form, it’s like a 12 question form. And they're very personal, very deep questions, like, what do you need and why do you need that? What's holding you back? What would your life look like if you keep doing the same things that you’re doing and that's a filtering process in itself? And people go through this form and then we call them up for a phone interview. If we feel that they're a good fit and we do and we can help them out, we schedule them for a trial period for a week, where they can see the whole training sessions, we can get to meet them. And then, at the end of the trial period, we decide if we want to take that person on and work together.

GEORGE: So I'm going to put you on the spot.

BOGDAN: Mhm?

GEORGE: Which means I might have to end this podcast. If you're still listening, then… Bogdan said yes.  So are we able to take your questions and actually include them in this podcast? As part of a download, with the transcription?

BOGDAN: You could, but I would have to translate them into English. It’s not a secret or anything, you can find this process anywhere. You can use this process for selling very high tech procedures as well or programs as well, it’s the same thing. Yeah, yeah, sure, you can include it as a PDF.

GEORGE: Awesome. And if you are listening to this and you are not focused on personal development, the reason I want you to have something like this is because, whether personal development or not, if you tap into your persons’ real – let’s take the martial arts out of it, we've talked about this. Martial arts is the vehicle to get them where they want.

BOGDAN: Yes.

GEORGE: You're not selling the martial arts training; you're selling the result that martial arts deliver.

BOGDAN: Yes.

GEORGE: So if your questions are provoking their thoughts of understanding what people really want, even if personal development is not your focus at all, but understanding what the real motives are for what this person wants to achieve, could be something that you could use in your own school and really benefit from the way you go about customizing your presentation, or your introduction. Because if you talk about a person's’ needs, then they're going to be more likely to respond than the logistics of, “We have a class Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – 20 pushups, 30 push ups, fitness…

BOGDAN: Yeah. Most people go about this the wrong way, in the sense, they start talking about themselves. Oh boy, you know, our school is the only one that teaches breaking bricks and my teacher was the world champion in China – nobody cares. If you start focusing on your potential clients, or just the people who are interested in what you're doing and you're talking about what they need and really being honest whether you can help them or not in that sense. And if you cannot help them, to recommend something else, or someone else.

For example, I remember someone filling in the form and saying, I need help with my money, with my financials, because I can't find a job. I got on the phone with that person and recommended someone who teaches personal finance. I recommended finding a mentor because I can’t help them. It wasn't the right time, and this is also important: if somebody can't really afford your program, don't give it to them. All right? Give them the tools that they need to be better off, but don't push to sell if it’s not the right time.

GEORGE: For sure. But I guess there's a flipside to that as well, right? Because sometimes – and obviously, what I'm about to say depends on the context of when this happens, if you’ve gone out of your way and you presented something to them and they can't afford it – by all means, at that level, yeah. Don't push the sale.

BOGDAN: Mhm, mhm.

GEORGE: But I think it’s important to not confuse that with the smokescreen of, “I can't afford this.”

BOGDAN: Ah, yes.

GEORGE: Because it’s very surprising what people could afford when you tell them that this is going to deliver the result that they want.

BOGDAN: Yes.

GEORGE: People make changes. People cancel stuff, they'll cancel their satellite networks or whatever they need, and if something is going to give them the result and the confidence and change everything about them, they will afford it.

BOGDAN: They'll find a way.

GEORGE: They find a way, yes.

BOGDAN: Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. I feel that people tend to say that, “I can't afford it,” when you're talking too much about your school and about Wing Chun and you're like, you're being pushy again. But if they fill in the form and they're looking for you and you're taking them through this filtering process, just like you would for a job interview, they're already qualified, right? So they kind of expect to invest in themselves in that way.

GEORGE: Good point. And it takes me back to olden days’ sales training. I can see now how hard it might be for a martial arts school if you started a martial arts school and you haven't been in that type of training of sales training. When people say, when people tell you they can't afford stuff, it’s easy to just accept that as true. But what we’re always taught in sales is that it’s more than likely just a smokescreen.

BOGDAN: Yeah.

GEORGE: I mean, if they're engaging, if they're actually in your school, talking about martial arts and they tell you they can't afford it, then what were they doing there in the first place? I mean, they knew it was going to cost them money, they knew it was not going to be free. So I think it’s the hardest part of communication is, I guess looking in the mirror, and I know I'm going a bit off topic, but I think it adds context to what we're talking about.

If you're having that conversation – and that's something that everybody tells you, then maybe, unfortunately, you've got to be able to look in the mirror. And it’s the hardest thing to do, you've got to look at, what is it that you're saying that is causing that? Because you're missing a point here maybe, like what you were saying, you're talking too much about yourself and you're not focused on what their actual needs are.

BOGDAN: Yes, yes, absolutely agree on that. I think we’re very conflicted as martial arts teachers in this aspect of charging what we’re worth and what most people teaching martial arts don't realize are that the same person that says, ‘I can't afford you, pays a therapist more than they will ever pay you for therapy. But you need to realize that you're not just teaching martial arts; you're giving people a chance to live healthier and happier. Why should somebody who is helping them cure the problem be paid more than you who are helping them prevent the problem, right?

So I'm not saying, OK, raise your glasses so that nobody will come to your school anymore, but just be aware of the value that you're really giving. You're not teaching people to punch other people in the face, like less than 1% of the people that you teach will get into an actual fight. You're teaching people to know themselves. By knowing themselves, they learn to say yes to more of what makes them happy and say no to what doesn’t make them happy and doesn't bring more of that satisfaction in their lives. So you're cancelling their medical bills, you're cancelling their psychotherapy pills and you know, you're just helping them thrive.

GEORGE: Definitely so. Hey Bogdan, this has been a very insightful conversation. I want to ask you, if you're new to this personal development thing, I mean, I probably have a few preferences myself, but for you as a martial arts instructor and you run a school and you do this: if I want to get into personal development, what do you think is the best place to start?

BOGDAN: Well the internet! The internet, it’s full of personal development quotes…

GEORGE: Facebook?

BOGDAN: Videos… Facebook, yeah, as well. The problem that internet, the advantage of the internet is the huge quantity of information. The disadvantage is the huge quantity of information. So whatever we recommend, if you're teaching martial arts and you want to tap into personal development, it’s actually to start listening to the Personal Development Through Martial Arts podcast. There you go. There's a plug for you.

GEORGE: Yeah!

BOGDAN: And absolutely, go ahead and check the interview with George. We talked a lot about marketing and growing your school, that was a lot of fun. Yeah, yeah, I basically recommend the podcast, because we’re having very, very powerful inspiration from people who are experts in this field of fitness, personal development, communication. I’m interviewing Florin who is a personal finance expert who teaches that. And also, of course, martial arts masters that you can learn and get insights from. Yeah.

GEORGE: Fantastic. And so, your podcast is for direct access, that's addicted2wingchun.com.

BOGDAN: I think the best would be just to Google Personal Development through Martial Arts podcast. You can find it on iTunes for now, Google play is not available in Romania yet, but I'm still looking into that and making it available on Google play as well. But yeah, the fastest way would be just to Google the title.

GEORGE: Sounds good. Bogdan – it’s been great speaking to you, and I'm going to round this up with one last question.

BOGDAN: Sure.

GEORGE: And that is, what is the one biggest reason that I would want to come and visit Romania?

BOGDAN: Uh, well, to come to our school. That would be the number one! Romania is awesome. You know, we’re very welcoming people. I think that if you came to Romania you would immediately feel like you're at home. And the people, the people, 100%. And you know, you can check out the mountains as well, the sea, there's a lot of stuff to do and a lot of fun, but 100% the people.

GEORGE: And your school, of course.

BOGDAN: And my school.

GEORGE: That's a given!

BOGDAN: Awesome.

GEORGE: Awesome. Bogdan, thanks, thanks again. Great chatting with you and it was great being featured on your Personal Development podcast as well. Personal Development for Martial Arts and I look forward to catching up again soon.

BOGDAN: Awesome, thank you so much for the invitation guys, thanks so much for listening in.

GEORGE: Awesome – cheers!

 

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54 – Damien Martin – Risk Management Planning in Martial Arts

George Fourie speaks with Damien Martin about Risk Management planning in martial arts, training in Japan and instructing children with special needs.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How risk management applies to martial arts marketing.
  • The risk factors in martial arts schools that some school owners overlook.
  • The necessary steps in identifying, assessing and controlling threats in your school.
  • How Damien changes a prospect’s perception about his school.
  • Working with students with special needs and autism.
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

Well, I learnt very early on that you don't have one advertising method that tries to bring you 20 students a month. You have 20 that try and bring you one. That way if one fails or one changes, you've still got the other 19 acting as a redundancy. Again, it comes back to risk management.

GEORGE: This podcast is the audio version of a video interview that was done on martialartsmedia.com. For the full interview with video and to download the transcript, please go to martialartsmedia.com/54. That's the number five, four.

Good day. George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com, and welcome to the Martial Arts Media business podcast. I have an awesome guest with me today. Damien Martin, all the way from Brisbane. How are you doing, Damien?

DAMIEN: Gold Coast, actually. But…

GEORGE: All right. Well, got that. It's close.

DAMIEN: Yeah, yeah. It's close enough.

GEORGE: It's close enough. All right. Well, that's a good way to start the podcast interview. So let's adjust from here on. Awesome. So we've got Damien on today and Damien is a wealth of knowledge in the industry. We're going to touch on perhaps some sensitive topics in regards to risk management and a few things.

And I met Damien quite a while back, officially face-to-face, at The Main Event in Sydney. That was last year. And we'd just finished building his website as well, which looks pretty cool, southerncrossmartialarts.com. So you can check that out.

So we're going to get started. So welcome to the call, Damien.

DAMIEN: Thank you and thanks for having me.

GEORGE: Cool. So to start right at the beginning, who is Damien Martin?

DAMIEN: Well, that depends on who you ask. But I've been training since 1982 when I started judo as a 12-year-old. Have been continuously training ever since. Been running teaching since 1987 and currently running the Southern Cross Martial Arts Association on the Gold Coast with my wife, Hannah. So we're a full-time center in Helensvale.

Primary focus these days is Okinawan Goju-Ryu and Okinawan Kobudo. So weaponry. As well as just the practical self-defense applications and things that spring from that and the other training that I've done over the years.

GEORGE: And when did you get started with Southern Cross Martial Arts?

DAMIEN: We started that in 2008. In 2008 I left the organization I'd been with since 1984, which was Zen Do Kai. We left there after some disagreements on future direction and not wishing to take advice on how to run a full-time school from people that don't run a full-time school.

At that point we were also running an RTO, delivering training to a bunch of government departments on risk management, self-defense and those sorts of things.

GEORGE: Alright, cool. So risk management, that's a topic that we've discussed in brief. What do you see, how do you see risk management and what do you see the effects of, I guess, the dangers of running a martial arts school?

DAMIEN: Well, just to back up where I'm coming from, I'm an OH&S consultant and have an advanced diploma in security and risk management. I worked in that particular space for well over 20 years. So most people tend to look at risk management from a physical point of view and think of risk as, you know, someone falls over and you get sued or one student beats another student up and you get sued.

And that's certainly an element of that but other risk factors that people don't tend to take into account in our industry is a risk to reputation. And I'm not just talking about social media and how many reviews you get and all those sorts of things. But, for example, if there's an accusation made of inappropriate behavior within your school that goes to the media, your school is destroyed.

Whether that allegation is baseless or based in fact. There are several instances in the recent past where similar things have happened to people in the entertainment industry who were later exonerated but they've lost their job, they've lost their marriage, they've lost their reputation. Now can't work in the industry based on, you know, false accusations.

And to be sure, there have been instances in the past where the accusations have not been baseless. And schools have been found and reported to be lacking in the recent Royal Commission into Child Abuse in Institutions where abuse happened within organizations and yet there was no child protection policy, there was no policy of checking when working with children or any of those sorts of things.

So those are some of the other issues. Then you've got your risks related to untruthful advertising and prosecution from the ACCC or Fair Trading in individual states. Like, for example, I've seen schools claim that they can cure autism. That's a pretty big claim and that is one that is likely to result in negative media attention. That negative media attention can destroy your own school but it can also negatively impact all of the other schools in the industry.

GEORGE: Okay. So, I mean, because I haven't really seen anything big in the media. Is this something that's sort of it's covered up before it sort of blows up type of thing? Or are there things going on in the underground that are just it's going to cause some obstacles and problems down the line?

DAMIEN: Sometimes things don't come to public light because there's out of court settlements with gag orders attached. So things like defamation or if someone sues for something. If there's a pre-trial settlement, the details are not made public.

Whereas if it goes to trial, the details can be found, for example, on the AustLII website, which is the Australian Law Library Index which catalogs all of the various cases that have gone to trial and come to a conclusion.

What insurance companies will often do is settle out of court. So if they settle out of court, that's usually based on there's a confidentiality agreement that you, you know, can't say what happened or what the accusation was or those sorts of things. You just take your money and shut up.

If you look at the AustLII library for things in relation to martial arts, there's a lot of disputes over contracts, there's a lot of disputes over trademarks. But a lot of stuff doesn't make public light that way. The other way that it can become public is if it goes to criminal trial. So like an instructor has perhaps, as has happened in a number of cases over the years, sexually assaulted students.

Other ways it happens is if it ends up on A Current Affair, and I can think of a couple of big instances over the last few years. One, in fact, in Melbourne actually led to a change in legislation relating to knives and martial arts weapons. A Current Affair ran a big story. It was a beat-up about a particular school and the particular instructor who focused particularly on knife fighting. And the next thing you know, the Victorian Government has changed the legislation based on that particular story.

The White Paper that was released on that, rather than a regulatory impact statement, gave the specifics of why the legislation came into being and how that was influenced by certain members of the industry who perhaps overstepped their authority to represent.

GEORGE: So where does the problem really start? You know, 'cause I guess the first thing I always … Like when I stepped into helping martial arts school owners with the marketing and so forth, I guess a big attraction to me was the ethical side of it. You know, like if this is what you practice as in an art, then I'd assume that's the way you live your life as well. Which I'm kind of shocked to see sometimes is completely not the case. But-

DAMIEN: Yeah. And I found that there's a direct relationship between the number of times an instructor mentions ethics and the amount of ethics they actually demonstrate themselves. Particularly some of the instructors I've met and worked with over the last sort of 35 years. There's been a lot of them go on and on and on about concepts like Bushido and loyalty and honor and justice and courage and these sorts of things, and yet that's lacking in their own lives in every way, shape or form.

They use the martial arts to feed their own egos. Now, there's a lot of those but it's a huge industry. I mean, the martial arts industry in Australia, nobody can really put a finger on how big it is. The Australia Bureau of Statistics varies, depending on which question is asked. And the Australian Sports Commission only looks at sporting bodies. It doesn't cover all of those martial arts organizations, some of which are quite large, that don't participate in Australian Sports Commission approved sporting activities.

So, you know, if you're not doing sport taekwondo or sport karate or sport jujitsu or sport judo, if you're doing recreational karate in a school hall somewhere, you're not in the figures. So, you know, no one really knows how big the industry is.

So it's broken up. Some people are really, really good. Some people are really, really bad and they tend to color it for the good people. But most people are just pretty much happy amateurs stumbling along, not deliberately meaning to injure anybody or cause anybody any grief. But they do so out of ignorance.

Martial artists tend to be quite credulous so they believe what their teacher told them without fact-checking and those sorts of things as a general rule. So if someone's teacher told them that a particular technique is invincible, then they've got no reason to check. That is the way a lot of people think.

Likewise, you know, I had a person who ran in the 1970s a large martial arts organization in Australia, probably the largest for about 20 years in this country, tell me that direct debit would never work because nobody would give you their bank account details. He was talking from a position of ignorance rather than being a professional business owner in the 21st century. That level of credulity, it just is a problem.

GEORGE: All right. So even if your instructor does these, what is it, these, what's it, yellow bamboo? I think it's called yellow bamboo. You must have seen that video. I think it's yellow bamboo, yeah.

DAMIEN: Yeah. Look, there's an awful lot of martial arts schools out there where the instructor's built up this reputation for being awesome at what they do because they only ever do it against non-resisting students. The real world is a different thing altogether.

So if they're not constantly testing the techniques against a resisting opponent, which is not the same thing as sparring. Sparring is, generally speaking, quite well-mannered and predictable. If they're not constantly pressure testing through scenarios and those sorts of things, or even combat sports application, then any claim that a technique is invincible is probably not true.

There are no absolutes. You know, martial arts instructors often tell their students, you know, if someone pulls a knife you run away. But you can't always run away and what if you can't run as good as the other guy? Again, the absolute of just run away is not true in all of that. You know, you can't always run away.

GEORGE: Yeah. So, I mean, what's the solution here? Because, I mean, if we look at the sort of evolution of this path, right? So let's say I'm an instructor and I'm training martial arts and I get this urge that I've got to create a school. You know, maybe it starts in my backyard and I get a few students, and then that sort of, you know, builds on itself. And then I'm like, “All right, I've got to get into premises.”

So where's the big gap and how do you fix the gap of where all these problems occur with risk management?

DAMIEN: Well, the same thing happens in a lot of other industries. You know, you get a lot of people, like they might be a very good craftsman at what they do. They might be a very good carpenter. They make wonderful chairs and tables and their things are well sought after. So they go out and they start and they set up a little shop, a little factory, to try and sell their wares.

That shop might not be zoned correctly. So they might set it up, you know, in an area where it's too noisy and finds themselves in trouble with the council. So martial arts schools, same sort of thing. They might not be insured for manufacturing things. Somebody sits on one of the chairs or does something with one of the chairs that they've built and it causes an injury, they might suddenly find that they needed insurance.

You know, it's no different really with the martial arts sector except that the martial arts sector is selling services based on, in a lot of cases, fantasy from what people have seen on TV. So there is no central body. Various countries and organizations have tried over the years, from the Dai Nippon Butokukai back in Japan pre-war and post war trying to coordinate all Japanese martial arts. That didn't work.

The Japan Karate Federation, the World Karate Federation. There have been so many organizations over the years try and bring all martial artists together, but martial artists are as diverse as language groups and cultures. You know, it's like saying that everybody's the same. And they're not. The martial arts themselves are not homogenous. They're very diverse.

People practice martial arts for different reasons. Some people want self-defense, or they think they do. Some want to get fit. Some for cultural reasons. Some do it because their friends do it. There's no one reason why people do martial arts.

So, you know, we're not all covered by the sporting bodies, for example. We're not all covered by international organizations and bodies because of the politics that are associated with those. It's a hugely diverse industry. And that's one of its strengths but it's also its biggest weakness.

GEORGE: So let's say I was a school owner and I'm not covered in any way. What do you think are the first steps that need to happen?

DAMIEN: Usually Google to start with, and do a basic business plan. You know, most small businesses fail in the first five years. They fail 'cause they fail to plan. You need to do a basic business plan. That basic business plan will ask the questions that you need to look at and address in relation to planning, zoning, insurance, accounting.

Like, you know, what's the best business structure for you? Are you going to be a sole trader, are you going to be part of a club or an incorporated not-for-profit association? Are you going to be a company? Is a family trust required? You know, you need advice from experts in the martial arts and the martial arts business sector, like you do in any business sector.

So I'd start with Google and a business plan. The business plan will set you on the right track for asking those questions.

GEORGE: Sounds good. So let's just touch on advertising. And I actually want to, you mentioned Japan and I know you've done some extensive traveling there the last couple of months. But let's talk about advertising because, you know, you mentioned that there's misleading advertising. And right now, at the time of recording this, there's a big shuffle on Facebook. A big change in structure in valuing more one-to-one interaction, valuing more local news.

So there's a lot of changes happening. And the first thing that marketers always do is they shut. Do they? This is the end? And marketers destroy everything. It's normally marketing becoming easier and people pushing boundaries, doing advertising and just it's becoming too easy. And because it becomes too easy there's not enough control.

And, I mean, I've seen this over the years in different platforms. Google being number one, known as the Big Google Slap where everybody lost all their AdWords accounts. Search engines being slapped. I mean, it's just a trend. It's a trend of the platform gets popular, there are eyeballs. Too many advertisers come onto the platform, make silly errors, it devalues the actual platform. And because the platform gets devalued, peoples' eyeballs go elsewhere and they've got to protect what they obviously own. Like with Facebook and such.

So, I mean, that's the things I'm seeing like in what's relevant right now with advertising, is there's a big cleanup happening. And I would suspect that if a lot of school owners had to lose their Facebook accounts, which happens, ad accounts get suspended on a day-to-day basis, their business will go with it. Because that's their one lead generation source. So your take on advertising and being within the boundaries?

DAMIEN: Well, I learnt very early on that you don't have one advertising method that tries to bring you 20 students a month. You have 20 that try and bring you one. That way if one fails or one changes, you've still got the other 19 acting as a redundancy. Again, it comes back to risk management.

To have all of your eggs in the Facebook market or the Facebook basket, so to speak, is a bit short sighted. You need to have those other methods out there. You've still got things like referrals, signage, people just knowing where you are. You know, there's a lot of other methods.

Some things don't work anymore. Yellow Pages, for example, doesn't work for us at all. Because we test and measure just about everything. Flyers in the letterbox don't work anymore. Again, we know that because we test and measure. We used to do the first four weeks of every year we'd do 10,000 flyers a week around our local area and then watch the associated web hits go up as people type in the web address and looked at our website and everything. That just stopped. It's not like it dwindled. It's one year it worked, the next year it did not. Or the year after.

So if we were putting all of our eggs in that particular basket, that would have been disastrous for us as an organization. You've just got to be somewhat diversified while staying on trend for the more current ways that people shop and think. You know, maybe Instagram will work for you in your area. Maybe it won't. Maybe Facebook is good in your area. Maybe it's not. Maybe Google AdWords works better.

Maybe you're in a country town and the newspaper advertising still works. You know, there's a lot of variables. You've got to know your own marketplace, your own client base and who comes to your school and who buys your services. A lot of people don't. They try and take a cookie-cutter approach. And, you know, for years everyone was buying their ads from organizations in America. MASuccess, those sorts of things.

And one thing I found early on in the '90s was that if there's an American flag on a uniform in an ad, that ad doesn't work in Australia. It might work in America but it doesn't work here. So you learn what your individual market requirements are and you've always got to be testing and measuring.

GEORGE: Yeah, so true. I mean, we've seen that with the same franchise, same marketing, same everything. Two different locations, two different results. Everything the same. And, you know, we always talk about, in my presentation I talk about five levels of awareness. I call it The Five Stages of the Student’s Signup Cycle. You know, there's your marketing but there's always the message that was received before and leading up to actually seeing your marketing. And that's going to also affect the actual response at the end of the day.

So, Damien, tell me about Japan. Tell me about your trip. Just to change gears here. Tell me about your trip to Japan and what did you get out of that experience?

DAMIEN: Well, we go to Okinawa, which obviously is part of Japan, every year to train with our Goju Sensei and with our Kobudo Sensei. Two different organizations but closely related. We just love the place, we love the people, we love the training. And we like, or I particularly like, those lightbulb moments that you get where practices within the martial arts that are remnants of where it came from, suddenly their purpose becomes apparent.

So, for example, a lot of the stories and things that are passed down, in martial arts schools in Australia at least, come from publications from the 1960s that were written by people that actually had very limited exposure to what they were writing about.

So these stories took on a life of their own. So there was, you know, the old Okinawan practice, for example, of practicing their training or their martial arts at the tombs of their family. So family tombs are a big thing in Okinawa and it was an even bigger thing pre-World War II.

And the theory was that they were, you know, spiritually connecting with their ancestors and all those sorts of things. And when we spoke to the Okinawans about it, apart from the sort of raised eyebrows to work out whether we were taking the piss, it was, “Well, the grass is cut short there. There are no snakes.” Everywhere else you could get bitten by a snake. And it's like, “Oh, that's very pragmatic.”

There's a lot of those sorts of things and, being a bit of a karate nerd and amateur historian, I really appreciate those moments. But the people are the main thing.

GEORGE: The people. So what are the sort of key things that you learn that you come back and you take a different approach in your school?

DAMIEN: Well, our journey with the Okinawan karate deal, like I was doing Zen Do Kai up until 2008. But in 1999 I started with Okinawan Goju as well. And my idea was to refine the Kata. Make them better, make them more practical, make them more understandable. Because if we've been doing this particular template of movements for the last 100, 150 years, it must have had a purpose.

So trying to find the purpose, trying to find the applications, was what sort of drove me down that path. So this year, on the way to Okinawa, we also went to China. To Fuzhou, which is where Kanryo Higashionna, who was Chōjun Miyagi, the founder of Goju's teacher, trained. And we found the or had found through a couple of years of research, the school where he trained.

And we wanted to go there and see what they were doing and why they were doing it, and how closely related it was to what we were doing. And I was pleasantly surprised that what they were doing was not that far removed from what we were doing. Some of it looked different but the applications were the same. The hip movement, the arm movement, the actual applications in different forms was the same.

Which for me, as a martial arts teacher, was good. I quite enjoyed that connection. So we're still fact-checking some of the things that they told us and we'll hopefully be publishing some information. It's a little bit of a historical addition, if you will, to the current sort of communal knowledge on origins of karate in Okinawa and the origins of Goju-Ryu in particular.

GEORGE: It sounds like you have a book coming out.

DAMIEN: I wouldn't say a book. Maybe a couple of articles but, I don't know, I don't think it's exciting enough for most people to justify the costs of publishing.

GEORGE: I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

DAMIEN: Well, based on the reaction I've had from some quarters on the Blitz article that was done about this for the December/January issue, what I found is by saying certain things it challenges people's beliefs to the core. And people's beliefs about their martial arts is very akin to people's beliefs about their religion. So we need to make sure that all our ducks are in a row.

GEORGE: Yeah. Yeah, I could see it opening a big can of worms. Yeah, especially if you touch on things, like you mentioned, with the tombstones and just things that people base their entire martial arts career upon, and now it sort of gets challenged. Yeah.

DAMIEN: Yeah, I think the Kung Fu TV series in the 1970s and then, you know, the later, the Ninja phase and all of those things that have been trends through the martial arts over the years have all left their little remnants in popular culture and the way people perceive martial arts and what they can be.

You know, like there's this common perception that karate is an antique and is not street effective. And if you're not doing Krav Maga then, you know, you're not doing the right thing. Or even in the MMA circles. But the core of a lot of Krav Maga technique came from karate. Krav Maga is a mixed martial art or a hybrid martial art. It forgets where some of its core techniques come from.

The MMA people that talk about, you know, the dominance of MMA fighters or this, that and the other forget that guys like Georges St-Pierre or Lyoto Machida and those guys were karate practitioners primarily. You know, everything has its place. So it's just another trend.

GEORGE: Yeah, so how do you … I mean, let's say I'm a prospect and I walk into Southern Cross Martial Arts and that's my thinking. My thinking is I've come from, you know, I'm looking at UFC and I've got this certain perception and that's sort of what I see as what I want. Or maybe what I don't want. How do you have that conversation?

DAMIEN: As much as possible, we put them on the floor and they start to train. And it's more about feeling and moving than it is about talking. The only way to change people's perceptions is to show them. You can tell them till you're blue in the face but people are so used to marketers lying to them now that they don't believe you.

So we get 'em on the floor and show them why we do what we do. We don't beat anybody up or anything like that, don't get me wrong. But get them on the floor to train, to feel their body moving and take it from there. And, look, what we do is not for everybody. Some people, some younger people want to spar more, for example. I did when I was in my 20s.

Now we're fully cognizant of the fact that people have jobs to go to and an income to make. They don't all want to live like, you know, karate hobos like we did with broken bits and pieces all the time. It's a different world. And we know more as well.

GEORGE: Awesome. Damien, I'm going to ask you one more question and now that I think of it, this could actually probably spur on a whole different episode, as such. But you mentioned that you work with kids with autism.

DAMIEN: Yep.

GEORGE: Now, this could probably be a much longer conversation but I just wanted to touch on it. What advice would you have for people that work with kids with autism or special needs?

DAMIEN: Well, we have a saying in the world of those that work with kids with autism. Basically, once you've met one autistic kid you've met one autistic kid. Meaning basically that they're all different. While there are stereotypical behaviors, each child is different, is motivated differently, works differently, mentally, physically, and so on.

But don't make assumptions and don't jump into conclusions. And the first thing that people need to do is get educated. There's plenty of programs out there on what autism actually is. Don't rely on memes that you read on Facebook. And actually, to be blunt, get a clue.

There's a lot of people now claiming that they specialize in teaching autistic kids. And we pick up the pieces. Yelling at them, screaming at them. You know, it's ridiculous what some people are doing. And it's, “Oh, this is the tradition.” Really? You know, it's not.

GEORGE: You mean, I can't believe all the memes I see on Facebook?

DAMIEN: No. Facebook is a wonderful way of connecting the world and so on, but it can also do so much harm. And some of these memes that are floating around. You know, like there's a correlation being found between gut flora and autism. Now, correlation does not indicate causation. All right, it's just something that they need to investigate further.

But you've got people out there that are advocating parents with autistic children get them to drink bleach, for example, because it'll kill the bad microbes and so. And it's horrendously harmful. But if you've worked with some of the parents that are so desperate to help their child, some of them try it. Based on some crap they see on the internet. It just…

So, yeah, I've seen martial arts schools advertise that they can cure autism. If that's not a potential A Current Affair episode, I don't know what is. You know, martial arts is good for children on the spectrum if they're working with caring and educated instructors. Because it has its consistency. Things are done pretty much the same way each class, as in your warm ups and those sorts of things. There's a predictability about it that makes them feel comfortable.

And we've had some amazing successes with some of our autistic kids. With one of our junior black belts now, he's 12, he's been with us for eight years. You know, his whole persona has changed based on the lessons that he's learned for dealing with other people. Just out of counting out loud in class and things like that.

GEORGE: Fascinating.

DAMIEN: Yeah, so I'd say that my main advice would be to get educated and get a clue rather than getting your education by getting on, say, Facebook. And I see this on a daily basis, and I've started deleting these groups. But they'll get on a martial arts business group, for example, and say I've got an autistic kid who's just joined my class. What do I do? And you'll get all of this stuff. It will be regurgitated by people.

And it all tends to be very stereotypical. It doesn't take into account that every autistic child is just as much an individual or unique as every other child that we teach. So, you know, we need to get to know them. A lot of kids with the autism spectrum have sensory processing disorders. So the idea of kiai, or kiai-ing in class, if that child is sensitive to noise, is going to be a major barrier.

Or they might have sensory processing issues with things touching their head. So if you wear helmets in class for sparring, that might be the issue and you need to work a way around that. There are so many different things.

GEORGE: Well, yeah, it seems like really putting aside everything, your practice and your tradition of what you do, and really customizing it to what's going to be the obstacles with this child and really playing a real close ear on the ground.

DAMIEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: I mean, a close ear on the ground to really understand what their needs and what their obstacles are in how this tradition is going to affect them.

DAMIEN: Yeah. And it's not a matter of lowering your standards. It's a matter of lowering your time expectations and having more patience. But just because somebody processes information in a different way doesn't mean that they can't do a front kick the same way as everybody else. It just might take them a slightly different way to get to that point.

There's just so many variables. And we've built up somewhat of an unexpected expertise with autism. It wasn't our goal. And we've spoken to our parents on a number of occasions. Do they want separate classes for the kids on the spectrum? And the overwhelming answer is no because they need to learn to deal with regular people.

GEORGE: Definitely.

DAMIEN: So by segregating all the autistic kids into the one class, all they get to deal with is other autistic people. And to be quite honest, most autistic people don't want that.

GEORGE: Yeah. That's awesome. Damien, that can probably spark a whole new episode. And I'm happy to have you on again if anyone's got questions about that. I know, you know, for I always mention this in our Martial Arts Media Academy program. You've just got to be so careful where you get advice from. It's easier, you know, Facebook has made it easier for everybody to connect but some people should not have an opinion verbally.

It's just a fact. You know, I mean, and Joe Rogan actually says it the best. You know, if you get a million people, there's going to be a hundred thousand assholes that don't know what's going on. Out of every hundred thousand or thousand? And those are mostly the most vocal ones. So it's very easy to just take advice because every comment looks equal. But you don't know the background of that person, what they've done, their ethics, their education. So, yeah, you've got to be so careful.

DAMIEN: One of the ones that comes up regularly is the link between … No, actually I'm going to rephrase that because there is no link. But the purported link between autism and vaccinations. Now, the doctor, who's no longer a doctor because he lost his medical license, who did that study had a financial interest in another vaccination. He fabricated a report and a link to no evidence whatsoever so that he could sell his vaccination.

Now, he got caught and it was all redacted and the Lancet redacted the report and so on. But that myth, since then, since Wakefield's report, has perpetuated itself and the internet is making it worse and worse and worse and worse to the point where diseases like a polio and whooping cough and so on are making a comeback. They were all but eradicated. Because people don't want their children to catch autism. It's not something that you catch.

But there are some good organizations out there that are doing training. I'm doing a presentation, or my wife and I are doing a presentation, for the Titan's event in May on working with kids on the spectrum and would just like to get more information out there so that people are not traumatizing these kids with something that should be profoundly helpful.

GEORGE: Fascinating. Awesome stuff. For anybody, there's a … And, you know, just we'll close, probably close it off here, but there's a book, Trust Me, I'm Lying, by Ryan Holiday. If you ever want a true perspective of how media can get manipulated, he was a self-confessed media manipulator. His job was to plant rumors, spread them, create the media behind it. There would be rallies.

Until they saw the consequences of people dying because of fake news spreading in such a way that the consequences kick in. It's a brilliant read, just to get a perspective of don't get all your information from a Facebook post. Because that article was probably written with intent or paid by someone to write. And they did their own research with whatever they could find, and they wrote it and put it together. And it creates a perception where the intent was really just to disrupt. So, yeah, probably a good way to end that off.

DAMIEN: No problem.

GEORGE: Awesome. And Damien, thanks again for coming on. If anybody wants to get in touch with you and learn more about you, where should they go?

DAMIEN: The best point of contact would either be via our website, which you mentioned earlier, www.southerncrossmartialarts.com, or Facebook is probably the easiest way. I'm not good with telephones.

GEORGE: Skype video, it works.

DAMIEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: All right. Awesome. Thanks, Damien.

DAMIEN: No worries.

GEORGE: Thanks for being on. I'll speak to you soon. Cheers.

DAMIEN: Cheers. Bye.

 

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43 – Henry Calantog: 3 Must-Haves For Martial Arts Instructors To Run Fun & Entertaining Kids Classes

Martial Arts school owners rate Henry as the ‘Go To' kids instructor. These 3 Must-Haves will make you follow suit.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How Henry Calantog got to work with Kyoshi Fred DePalma & MA1st
  • The essence of ‘Patience is a virtue’ when teaching kids classes
  • Helpful strategies on how to keep kids entertained and motivated during martial arts classes
  • The three general ways on how martial arts students learn
  • How to achieve the right balance of being serious and using humor
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: Hi this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast, episode number 43. Today, I have a guest with me that I met at The Main Event in Sydney. I was fortunate enough to be able to share some presentation at The Main Event, which is hosted, Ma1st and I was able to, it was my first presentation, it was good to get to a live event and meet Kyoshi Fred DePalma, who also introduced me to Henry Calantog and I was told by a lot of some of my customers and a lot of people that I engage with, mentioned that Henry is top notch and he has been helping them with instructors, helping them instruct their kids classes and everybody mentioned they've learned a lot from Henry. So of course, I wanted to take the opportunity to get Henry on the show. So welcome Henry!

HENRY: Hello George, thank you very much for having me on.

GEORGE: Awesome. So, we've got lots to talk about, but we're going to start of course, right at the beginning. So who is Henry Calantog?

HENRY: My martial arts background… well, actually let’s go through the personal background. I am the first, I'm Filipino. You wouldn't know that, because I'm over 6 feet tall, if you're familiar with any Filipinos, obviously, that's extremely tall. I was the tallest kid in the village, that's what we would make the joke with. But I am the first generation of my family that was born in the US, so my parents of course emigrated from the Philippines – Cavite, if you're familiar where that little fisherman village is, migrated here, and I was born here and pretty much, we brought the rest of the family over.

Did martial arts off and on when I was a younger child, I tried to do eskrima kali because of a friend of a friend of my father knew how to do it, so we tried to train it in the backyard. Had a really bad experience with it, just because it’s a very old school instructor and my first class was putting my hand on the table while he was hitting my hand with a rattan stick. So, at the age 8 years old, I didn't find that very entertaining, so I didn't want to come back.

I enrolled into a Taekwondo class; I just remember getting the pajamas. I did a Taekwondo class at the YMCA; I didn't like that either, because I thought it was boring. We sat around too much and didn't do anything. It wasn’t until I was raised in Reno Nevada – if you know where that is. And due to a job transfer, my mom moved to Arizona. We lived in Chandler Arizona, which is a couple of miles from where I'm a direct student of Kyoshi Fred DePalma. And then, I’ve been a student of his for 20+ years and that's where we found his school in 1994.

And so, it pretty much started from there. And the biggest draw for me was that classes were fun, that it wasn't just… my first two experiences, my hand, was getting beat by a stick and my second experience, we sat around and we just watched everybody do things, we didn't do anything. I think as a kid, I'm probably exaggerating – I probably kicked the pad five times in a two hour class and I just thought it was really awesome, with Kyoshi DePalma's and my other instructors, who was his head instructor, Jeff Wahlberg, was his head instructor at that school, because I was his student directly under him, they just made classes really fun and engaging for a young tween kid, you know?

And I've been with him ever since, and form a professional standpoint, I have had every job at the martial arts school. I was obviously the student – that went up. I did competitions, I helped out in classes, I moved up from helping out in classes to being a guy that cleaned the bathroom, who cleaned the throw-up at the end of a good class. If somebody threw up in class, you know those kinds of situations, I mopped the floor, I mopped the mat. I did every job, I eventually got moved up to just like an assistant role and then a job opened up at our school for a program director, which is kind of ironic, because we don't even have program directors in any of our schools anymore.

But it opened up and so at purple belt, I started being the program director in a school with over 300 active students. And I was a teenager in high school. So I was the handling credit card payment, I was making enrollment agreements, contracts – I mean, I was getting a very, very early I guess lesson on how the martial arts world worked – long story short, at the age of nineteen, I get sent out to run one of our satellite locations and I have been running that satellite location – which I eventually bought several years later, I've been doing that since March in 1999. So I have been the assistant, the assistant's assistant, a program director, I've been behind the counter, all the way to being a head instructor of a school, of a branch location, and now owning that school since 2001. So that's kind of the brief history of me.

I like to tell people, everyone keeps mentioning how I teach kids: it didn't even start off that way and the funny story about it is, one of the very first classes I ever helped out in, I had kids walk off the floor, because they were bored. Ironically, I was telling you the story that I was bored in the Taekwondo class – nothing against Taekwondo to my Taekwondo friends, I was just bored. But actually, one of my first classes that I was responsible for teaching myself, I had kids walk off the floor to sit with their parents, because they thought it was boring in a class.

To now, I mean, one of the schools we visited was Dave Loti’s school and they were telling me that some of the little dragons that they taught while I was there, they were crying that I wasn't there the next day teaching them. And so, it’s kind of, it’s funny, it’s a balancing act and we'll kind of delve into what we do with the company that I'm part of, Martial Arts 1st and the different instructor colleges and instructor workshops that we do with communications, but we'll delve into that more. That's the background of me.

GEORGE: Awesome! So I want to go back one step, because it is a big thing for you to be first generation born in a foreign country – how do you feel, and just knowing obviously, you teach a lot of kids and in the American environment: how do you feel it’s been different for you to grow up in a country where all your parents are from – well, you as well are from the Philippines.

HENRY: You know what, I have to honestly… there was a language barrier growing up, not with me, but with my mother. My mother obviously, English was her second language and this is actually the parallel that I brought up with my wife and we had a conversation today about patience. And I brought this parallel that why I ended up at being such a patient person which eventually moved on to being patient with kids was because I saw people treat my mom terribly because English was her second language. Now, not all Americans are like that, so don't get the wrong idea, but often times if people meet someone who does have that language barrier, they already pass judgment on them right away.

So like a good example, we'd be going to the store and my mom would struggle, trying to communicate to the cashier about something. And sometimes the cashier, let’s be honest, the cashier could be this young kid who's just frustrated that he's at work that day. And so he's just rolling his eyes because he just can't communicate. And then I come along, speaking exactly like this that has taken speech classes, presentation skills from junior high all the way to where I am now and I speak clearly and it completely surprises people. And so I think one of the first things is from being the first generation born, I got to learn patience right away, because I had to be watching people being impatient with my mom and with my brother, who also had challenges as well.

I learned to be patient and it also made me understand that you can't judge people right off the bat. You have to look at them as the blank slate that's always something that can surprise you. And that goes to teaching kids, because I find that sometimes old school instructors, especially the ones that we deal with when we do our instructor workshops, that always say “Why, I just can't teach children. There's a certain age group that I just can't go past.”

I find the reason that they do that is because they already judge that kids are that way, instead of realizing that kids are this open tapestry that you can keep adding upon, that that kid might be emotional at the age of seven, but they are going to be incredibly resilient by the age of seventeen. So don't pass judgment and say, well that kid is always that way. So I guess being first generation born, kind of answering your question the long way, kind of helped set my path in that direction, which I try to communicate a lot of times when we do our workshops.

GEORGE: Fantastic. That's… all right, so it’s easy for you, because you've lived through this and you experienced that. Now, when you do workshops and you have to actually teach instructors, OK, it’s almost… it’s not your teaching, but it’s actually… I wouldn't say character. It could be character in a way, because you're just not patient and you can't deal with that. How do you go about actually teaching instructors that deeper level of understanding, how to work with kids?

HENRY: Well, it’s fun because in our last workshops that we were doing throughout Australia, one of the things that we covered was the fact, there's three general communication styles that we talk about and three general ways that people learn: visual, verbal and what we call kinesthetic, which is basically hands on, that's just like the big word that people use for it. So you have visual, verbal and kinesthetic. And one of the first things that I go over in a lot of our instructor things is, I ask the instructors what type of learner would you characterize yourself as? Now lest kind of go further.

So a visual learner is someone, for instance, kind of self explanatory: you have to watch it, you have to see it. A visual learner might be the kind of person who will say, hey let me see you do it first before I do it. So they have to sit back and actually watch it and see the examples and whether it’s teaching a kata or form, or it could be something as simple as the way you're supposed to fix something on your computer – they want to sit back and watch you physically do it.

A verbal learner is someone who needs explanation of why. Why am I doing this? What's the purpose for me doing this? Explain to me the big reason for this. I make the joke that my wife is a verbal learner, because before we can act on anything, we have to then have like a 15-minute discussion of why. And I'm more of a visual and kinesthetic person: I just see it and want to do it, but she wants the full explanation. So, verbal learners are people who need to know the reasons.

And kinesthetic – they just want to put their hands in it. They just want to get doing, I’ll learn better by actually moving. That's one of the first things we cover when we do instructor workshops is, we ask the instructors to self evaluate – what kind of learner are you? After I just described what learning types are, what are you? Are you more visual, are you more verbal, are you more kinesthetic? What is your primary learning style?

Now, you always learn in all three ways, but you tend to push and feel more comfortable towards one direction. Once the instructors in the workshop kind of recognize exactly what type of learner they are, then I usually throw them a bomb and say, that's the reason why all your students are that type of learner. Because that's the only one you know to tailor to. So if you're a visual learner, you teach visually. You teach by doing examples, but you don't necessarily explain why you're doing it. You just show them, I'm just doing this move and let’s just follow what I'm doing.

So you tend to attract more visual learners, because you go towards that. Or as the opposite of the verbal, you have the why people and so on and so forth. And the big challenge that we make instructors understand is, if for instance, when you get a lot of instructors who are visual, we'll tell them, fantastic, you're visual! Keep doing that, but how can you improve your verbal communication and how can you perform or get better at your hands on communication? That's always the fun thing to say – it’s easier to do, it’s kinesthetic, it’s hands on, but how can you get better? Because when you teach something, you want to hit all three evenly, always and consistently, even always inconsistently.

So like an example that we'll do in a workshop is, my base style is American kenpo, so I’ll just teach a technique we call 5 swords, which is you're blocking a roundhouse punch or haymaker and we just kind of go through the movements in that. And through that example, I will show the whole instructor workshop through the breakdown of the technique – so now they're learning something kind of fun to do, the instructors are having fun, because they're learning something new that's maybe out of their style, that's different from their style and we're going through the technique, but then they're seeing how I'm visually demonstrating it, so I'm in front of the class doing it while they're following me, I'm verbally explaining it saying, we have our body shoulder width. We have our hand going towards the neck, because the neck is open and the line of sight is easier for striking from here to there, so I'm explaining why I'm doing every certain move.

At the same move, I might be having them doing it on a partner at the same time, I'm explaining it and visually doing it in front of them, if that kind of makes sense. And I know you kind of saw me do a little bit of work when we were at the main event, so in one five minute section, I’ll demonstrate how to do all three teaching styles, all three communication styles and get it in a way where I hit every learning style evenly and everybody gets the point within less than 5 minutes, whereas a lot of instructors, if they're primarily visual, they'll lose their verbal people right away. Or worse, the verbal ones don't necessarily get belligerent, but they're that student that sometimes the instructor gets upset at, because they're the one going – well, why? Why would I put my foot forward? Why do I move my foot at that angle? And it’s not just adults – I mean, kids ask why all the time! They do!

And some instructors will get frustrated, they're like, they're always asking me – they just need to do it! And I'm like, no, they're a verbal learner. They're not being disrespectful to you; they just want to know why you're moving your foot this way. Well, we're moving our foot this way because the line of attack is coming in this direction, so we're stepping off the line of attack so we don't get punched in the face. If you took the time to actually explain it in those terms, then they're going to go, oh, that makes complete sense.

But it’s really trying to hit all three, and we'll spend an hour role playing, working each and every learning style individually and then teaching the whole team and staff how to integrate all three, so by the end of the session, I don't want to say we perform miracles, but we get them to think outside the box. And the biggest reports I get from every workshop that we do is that a week later, two weeks after, everybody's super jazzed about it, but they see the differences in class, and more importantly, it isn't the owner that sees the difference – it’s the students who are commenting, what happened? Normally I would struggle doing this, but now I'm not struggling this. And they think it’s them! They think, I must be getting better at this. They don't realize their instructor finally understood, oh – I learned to communicate better.

The big phrase I always like to say is that it doesn't matter the subject that you're communicating, it’s how you're communicating it that really counts, especially with children, which is one of the reasons you have me on today. I don't care if you're teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Taekwondo, American kenpo, full contact kick boxing – the subject doesn't matter. I see amazing instructors that teach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to children. I've watched them, I've seen them, and I go, that's fantastic. They're hitting all three learning styles, they're building rapport with those kids, fantastic, they're making it fun and entertaining for them, but at the same time, they're getting substance.

And then I see, there are instructors who shouldn't even for lack of a better way of saying it, should never touch a child, because they get far too frustrated, they immediately throw their hands up at them, and they're like, they just won't get it at all. It doesn't matter what you're teaching, it matters how you're teaching it and the communication style.

GEORGE: That's such a big thing to really reflect on yourself. I know when, I've been helping martial arts school owners, probably for four or five years and it’s been OK, because people ask me what to do and I just go do it. And then we started to form the Martial Arts Media Academy, where I felt, all right: we've got to be teaching and coaching the stuff to really help school owners get a better result and it’s probably been the hardest thing that I've done, is having to really reflect on, how do I take something, in this case for me, it’s a complicated topic: how do I serve the left brain, how do I serve the right brain, the stories and give it that visual component and for me it’s really being sort of… some people want the analytics, the logistics of things, and then other people want the story and you've got to tie it in with the metaphors or something that triggers off the pictures in the brain that each earning style is really grasping it at the end of the day.

HENRY: We call it the, one of the types that I present a lot, I've been doing a lot in the last two years is called the empathetic instructor. And the definition of empathy is literally seeing the world from another person’s viewpoint. That's very difficult. As much as you want to say, oh, I get it – you never will. I bring my wife as an example I can say I understand, but I don't understand. I’m not my wife, I haven't lived her life, but how much closer can I get to really understanding? Can I really let the guard down in kind of a figurative way and say, how do they see it? What we're here for, teaching kids: what does a five-year-old see?

When they see you do that move, you might be seeing – and this is one thing I address a lot with veteran instructors: when you see me doing a jumping kick, you see the way I chamber my knee. You see the way that I posture up. You might see the way I loaded up the jump before I went up. You'll see the technical part of it, because you're an advanced level instructor. You know what the five-year-old sees? You jumped really high! They don't even notice you did the kick, they just went, and you jumped really high! I think you jumped as high as a rabbit! Or a kangaroo!

That's what they see and the instructor has to go back and go what it makes exciting for a five-year-old? That you're telling them, you're going to jump as tall as a kangaroo. You're going to jump as tall as a rabbit. You're going to be able to kick somebody that's this tall with that jump. That's going to be what their trigger point is and what motivation is for it, not to have the perfect jump kick to get a first place in a tournament, you know what I mean? Whereas, that might be why the instructor wants to do it, it’s what's the purpose of why do they want to do it.

So we go back to the why game: why do they want to learn it? Why would anybody want to do it, why would anybody want to follow through with it and then look at it from their vantage point? It’s funny because I do a lot of parallels between being an instructor and a salesman, because what does a salesman do? What's a definition of a salesman? It’s not just to sell something to you: a salesman is trying to fix a problem.

If I'm going to a car salesman, why do I go to a car salesman? My problem is, I need a car. My car is broken, my car is old, I need a solution. Why do parents, why do students come to us? Parents want us to solve their problem. What's their problem? My kid is really energetic; he needs an outlet for energy. My kid needs to learn confidence. My kid is getting bullied or harassed physically at school, I want him to learn to defend himself.

My reason for teaching is not the reason why they want to be there, I want to know why they want to and what the parents why could be a 100% different than what the kids why is. And you have to be able to communicate that. So that's one thing we address a lot with the empathetic instructor, is why does the kid want to do this, why does the parent want to do this, why does the art, the dojo, the school, want them to do this and then where's your mid point where you're hitting all three at the same time. If that makes sense.

GEORGE: Very much. Two things: one is, I love how you mentioned jump as tall as a rabbit, or jump as tall as a kangaroo, because that's the visual component you were just talking about, it’s that, alright, cool, I can picture that. Then you mentioned addressing the problem and something that I've always thought about as well is, the parent's problem is not the child's problem at that point in time, it’s a completely different thing. So do you have your core problems that you work on, or do you feel that you're trying – which is probably a hard thing to do, but to be really personal with your students and try and be on top of, you're here for this reason, you're here for that reason type scenario?

HENRY: It's kind of, that's like a multifaceted question. I think the best way to kind of answer it is, one thing that we tell our staff and we have a large chain of schools, we actually have a big instructor training tomorrow and one of the things that were constantly integrating to them and telling them is that black belt is the answer. And what I mean by that is, you don't sell a black belt to somebody and that's the answer that solves their problems. The path to getting a black belt will solve everyone's problems. Everybody's issues, the path to becoming – so if you need more confidence, the path to getting a black belt will always rebuild your confidence.

If you need to learn to defend yourself, the path to getting a black belt is going to do that. If the parent their child to have more self discipline, the path to a black belt… so we always kind of redirect it to the one key black belt magical thing that when you become a black belt, through the process of doing it, you'll get everything that you want, but then you'll also gain everything that comes along with that, plus more.

One of the questions I always ask to instructors is, why did you first start training in martial arts? And you get a variety of answers: I wanted to build confidence; my mom signed me up, blablabla. And then I ask the next question: why do you continue to train in martial arts? And it’s always, almost always, it’s a completely different answer. They started because they were bullied, but they continued because they love the life skills that come along with it. They started because they were having confidence issues, but they love how physically strong they feel because of doing it and so, I hope I'm not being too broad about it.

We kind of channel it that way and make them know that through the process of training, through the process of goal setting, through the process of it all, they'll get everything they want, plus more. Everybody will and if you're a martial arts instructor and you've run a school for any amount of time that had students be loyal to you for 5 + years, you understand that, because you formed such close relationships with them, and it’s actually, you mentioned something about it might be difficult to form those one on one relationships – it can be if you don't try, so whether you are running a school of a 150, or you can do 600, if you're not trying to shake hands and really get to know everybody, then they don't feel that you're making a connection with them which means you're not feeling like you're really guiding them in the process to that black belt again. I hope that answers the question, I don't know if I kind of steered off a little bit?

GEORGE: No, that's perfect, that's perfect. So getting back on to the kids, so we've covered the educational part and really addressed the problems – where do you bring the fun part? And I should mention that a few instructors mentioned that your energy is although it’s contagious, it’s almost… I don't know… why can't I be like that? How come I don't have your energy? So I can gather how you bring a lot of energy tot he class, which would be fun for the kids, but again, how would you transfer that message over to the instructors? How do you focus on making the classes fun for kids?

HENRY: Number one is… this is funny, because I say this over and over again, the name of the company I work for is Martial Arts 1st. We put the martial arts as number 1 – that's what we do, is martial arts. So I got brought up in a pretty old school mindset that we learned to fight, we learned to break things, this is what we do. In the process of that, I had an instructor with Fred DePalma and Jeff Wahlberg; they made jokes constantly while we were doing class. They were having fun with us. They were praising us, but at the same time, they'll make those off handed jokes. That's what you have to, you have to learn from a kid’s perspective.

Energy is – actually let me kind of segway this a little bit: before I teach, I'm a business owner, so I’ll do all my business stuff in the morning and early afternoon, but before I teach, no matter what, I usually take at least 30 minutes to an hour of me time before I have to teach that day. Whether it’s a private class at 3:30, even if I might have been at the school all day, at 2:30, I get in my truck and I drive.

Even if it’s going down to the local store to get a water, or if it’s just me taking a drive, because my school is located in the middle of beautiful mountains, so there's beautiful hilltops, and you can just go through the neighborhoods and just kind of take everything in. I play some upbeat music and I just completely shift my mindset that I have to be a performer that day. And that's where it comes in, because if you think about performers from a kid’s perspective, one huge part of engagement is that you have to keep the kids entertained.

Think about the programs that kids watch, from the movies, from the television programs, to even like the YouTube videos they're watching – why are they watching that? My own kids, right before bedtime, my son says, can I finish watching this YouTube video? Because they're really into video games and gaming and stuff like that. And they're watching it and if he has his earbuds in, I let him finish it.

And all of a sudden, he just starts laughing hysterically, because whichever YouTuber he's watching, made some kind of joke. And my kids aren't exactly; their humor isn't on a high level. He might have made some joke about the way the guy smelled in the video and my kids just start laughing. But my kids want to keep watching it, because they're trying to, not only do they see the content of what he's doing, but they're entertained by how he's presenting it and the jokes that he's making.

And so that's a huge part of taking that hour before you have to go and teach, getting yourself pumped up and prepare to be a performer. I will make a prefix: I was in drama almost the entire adolescent life, all the way to adulthood. So I did theatre production, I was in musical theater and I think that all of that really – and I was in speech and I debate, skills of high school, so I was used to being in front of people and entertaining them, I even used to do standup comedy when I was in high school at the local coffee shop.

Not very well, because I find my students laugh at me, because if they don't laugh at me, I’ll make them do more pushups, but that's my humor. That's how I get people to laugh now, but I think not only do you have to take a persona of being an instructor with kids. You have to understand, you have to perform in front of them if you want to keep them engaged, because one thing I tell instructors, I keep repeating that, and I tell this over and over again to everyone I do these workshops with: if you can't keep them engaged, they'll never learn that flying arm bar routine that you want them to learn. They'll never learn that kata that you think is so essential to your art form, that everybody must learn this technique in this art form because your art form is the essence of this. They'll never want to learn it if you don't make it fun for them in the process of doing that.

And so, like with kids, we'll make jokes, but we'll make sure to watch our hour so that it doesn't get to giggly. Like a good joke we make all the time is, let’s say, what's a good example, what joke did I make today with the kids that made them laugh: we were doing pushups, they were doing a pushup set on the ground, and I'm like, come on, keep going, keep going, until you feel your muscles burning! Are they burning? Are they on fire? Oh, too on fire, you've got to slow down; you've got to slow down! No, too hot, too hot – way too hot! Tssss – you're hot man, you're so hot right now.

And the kids just start laughing, because of the way you present that, but what's the kid doing while he's doing that? He's doing pushups while he's doing it and he's having a smile. So that can be kind of an example of the humor directed in the direction with kids. I’ll also make it all the time, where if I ever feel like the humor is going too far, then I’ll bring everybody back in and say, OK everyone, feet together, hands to the side, eyes on me, I'm really tall, so we really bring the focus back into it.

That's where some instructors will almost go too humorous and then they lose the class completely, so it’s very much a push and a pull and we call it the balancing act. You have to make sure you're right on the border where you're making yourself still kind of funny, but then you're still being serious at the same time. And you never want to be too serious with kids, but then you never want to be too funny with kids. And that's kind of a process we talk about.

GEORGE: Fantastic, that was actually my next question is, how do you keep that balancing act, because you're either going to be too serious, or you're going to be too funny, so you've got to have the push-pull.

HENRY: Push-pull. And we talk about reading your class and reading how they're reacting to things. A good example is, one of my instructors was teaching a kids’ beginner class, it’s a small beginner class today, there was about 7 or 8 kids in it today. And she was, we have our belt testing, belt grading, whatever, however you want to call it, this Saturday. And so they're getting ready for it and you can tell some of them are stressed about it, they're a little stressed, because they know they're test is coming up. And so, sensei Chester is my instructor, sort of making a joke with them like, we're moving like snails, let’s all move like a snail.

And then at one point, everybody's moving really slow, getting into it. Then at one point, one of the kids, he is our kid that does this, so we all have a kid that does this: he just takes it way far and he's, when we say move slow, we're talking about, we're making everybody go slow motion a lot. Slow motion move. He's standing there completely still and of course, sensei asks him, we're supposed to be moving. I am moving, I'm just moving so slow you can't see me. And then you see that and the other kids pick up on it and they kind of start going, oh, I'm going to do the same, because that's what kids do.

When one of the five girls falls, what do the rest of the girls do? They all start falling, because they think it’s funny, so sensei did the best thing and said, OK, wait: let’s all move as slow as possible for five more seconds. Ok, great: now, let’s be normal and go back to it. So it’s about giving that inch to them for a little bit, but then learning to redirect and then go, OK, now let’s be normal, black belts in the making right now and that is goofy. So it’s, read the class, but also kind of see the sign post that you go, if I let them have one more inch of this, I know it’s going to be a little bit too far.

And that's one of those general things that if you teach long enough – and typically, instructors will know what I'm talking about, when it does go wrong. So they'll tell me, yeah, I had this one class, where I couldn't get them to, I mean, they were too goofy. They start playing around too much and I couldn't get them in. Usually I can talk to that instructor about the individual situation and my first question is, well, where do you think it went wrong and usually the answer is, when I went along with the joke for too long.

When I should have redirected it right away and started going back to the drill, but I ended up and this is an issue that we talked about with our own instructors, I became a spectator, just watching the kids play off each other. So instead of being the person that steps in and says, OK guys, let’s go back to the drill, let’s go back to the kata, I just kept stepping back going, wow that's funny. That's really funny, wait, it’s getting too funny and I didn't interject and step in right away. So that being the one thing, it’s very individualistic, but it’s finding where that turning point is, I guess to answer that question.

GEORGE: Yeah, all right, fantastic. Henry, that's amazing. So we've got really the empathy part, I really liked that. I guess putting yourself on the other side of the table really thinking of how you're being perceived in a way, being empathetic.

HENRY: Exactly.

GEORGE: So visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

HENRY: Kinesthetic, hand on.

GEORGE: We mastered that. Keeping classes fun and having the balance act and really putting yourself in their shoes, how they learn. I like the associations of really jump as high as a rabbit, or as high as a kangaroo, that really making sure that you put all those components together. So before we round up, I do have one more question. Two more questions. One, where we can find out more about you, but one is, where does Master C come from?

HENRY: The country or state?

GEORGE: Master C!

HENRY: Oh, Master C, gotcha! Ok, so this kind of goes along with teaching with kids and you've got to understand this, OK? So my name is Henry Calantog, Calantog being not a really overcomplicated last name, but when I first opened our Scottsdale school, I taught a student, a little dragon, he was probably 4 years old, his name was Greg Goulder. And Greg had a speech issue, he actually was taking speech classes, going through speech therapy, because he had a little bit of a lisp, so he had a difficult time pronouncing things.

He was a very emotional four-year-old. And when I introduced myself, my name is Mr. Calantog and usually, I play a game with the kids when I say, what's your name, and they'll say, my name is Greg. And my name is Mr. Calantog, what's my name? Mr. Calantog. What's your name? What's my name? And we kind of play it back and forth, and I’ll go, OK, now we're friends, because we know each other, that's been kind of my little tactic that I've done with kids for years to kind of break that little report building shell.

When I tried it with Greg, he couldn’t say my name right. So he started stuttering and at one point, he started tearing up, because he knew he had a speech issue, and because he couldn't say Calantog, he was a four-year-old boy in his first orientation class, starting to cry. And I stopped and said, no, no, no, wait one second – Greg you are like the coolest kid I know. You can call me Mr. C. And you know, he wiped his tears.

No one else calls me Mr. C, you can call me Mr. C. And now 20 years later, everybody calls me Mr. C, or Master C. It just stuck because since he kept calling me that in classes, other students kept calling me that and then it just kind of built up. So going back to teaching kids, it wasn't about me making and pushing him to do what needed to be done, what was he comfortable doing and what made him feel special, because I made him feel comfortable.

GEORGE: Amazing.

HENRY: Good story?

GEORGE: Love it, love it. Thank you Henry, it’s been great speaking to you. So, please share with us – where can people find more about you and ma1st and all the rest.

HENRY: Ma1st.com, Martial Arts 1st. Obviously, we're in the US primarily, and so we hold workshops, we're almost every other month, we hold workshops in the US throughout everywhere, we're going to be in LA early in September, we're back in Texas I believe in November, then next year a big traveling schedule. We go to a lot of the big events, of course we're going to be in Australia I believe rudimentary the next Main Event is going to be in the August-September timeframe, because it’s going to be a little later in the year.

So easier for all of our Australian clients to kind of hit it and we'll be available for seminars and events and instructor workshops while we're out there next year up in Australia. So yeah, ma1st.com, you can find out more about us. And you can read about all the different features that we have, Kyoshi Fred DePalma – he's my instructor. He's also the man that brings me out and does all these wonderful things. You can contact him for more information, or myself.

GEORGE: Fantastic Henry. I look forward to that; I will also be at the Main Event again next year in Australia. I am planning to come to the US though.

HENRY: Good!

GEORGE: So yeah, I’ll definitely get in touch.

HENRY: San Diego is a beautiful place.

GEORGE: It is. Awesome, thanks a lot Henry, I’ll speak to you soon and for the show notes, you can go to martialartsmedia.com/43, the number 43. Thanks a lot for being on Henry; I’ll speak to you soon.

HENRY: Very welcome, you have a great day.

 

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42 – Amy Gardam: Living a Martial Arts Family Legacy

When Amy's dad Kyoshi Andrew Roberts sadly passed she was left with 2 options: Quit or continue the family legacy. She's doing the latter.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • What made Amy Gardam continue the legacy of her dad, Kyoshi Andrew Roberts
  • The dad and daughter bond that was cemented by martial arts
  • How Edge Martial Arts got back on track after losing 80 students
  • Spotting young talented instructors early and making it known
  • How you can help the Kyoshi Andrew Roberts Foundation and its mission to help families who have a loved one in palliative care
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

AMY: I felt like he was there, I felt close to him and I felt happy to be here, I prefer to be here than at home – this was my home.

GEORGE: Amazing, so you truly are living a legacy.

AMY: I think so, it's a good feeling.

GEORGE: Good day, this is George Fourie and welcome to another martial arts media business podcast, episode number 42. I have today with me Amy Gardam from Edge Martial arts in Mt. Evelyn, Victoria, how are you doing today Amy?

AMY: I’m good thank you, George, how are you?

GEORGE: Excellent, thank you. So we're going to have a bit of a chat about you and running your school and a whole bunch of other things that have happened and the journey that you've taken to… if it's right me saying that way, that you really continuing a legacy within your family, would that be the right way to say it?

AMY: Yes.

GEORGE: All right, so we've got lots to talk about, so I'm going to jump into the interview. Just a few things: the show notes for this interview is at martialartsmedia.com/42, so that's 4, 2 as in the numbers. And that's it, let's get started. So, Amy, first and foremost, tell us about you: who is Amy Gardam?

AMY: Ok. So, I'm a mother of two, I'm married, I've got my husband. I started martial arts when I was 4 years old with my dad. We started in just a local school hall at the time and eventually, the martial arts took off and he opened up a little part time center. And then when I was 15, just shy of being 15, I actually started teaching with him, just teaching the little kids. And from that moment on, and loved it, made it a career and now I run the business. I've got my two kids, and I'm a full-time working mum.

GEORGE: Ok, awesome. So you are running the business full time and you're a mum and so you're really just born into the martial arts, this is everything you know, right?

AMY: My whole life I've done martial arts, it's all I've known.

GEORGE: All right, cool. So now, you're also running the business and that's just you at this point in time?

AMY: Yeah, running the business with my staff, but my husband has recently, in the last three weeks quit his job as a welder to come onboard and we've brought it together, so we are running the business together and he's slowly learning martial arts basically.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. So he's coming from a completely different angle then. He hasn't trained martial arts yet, but he’s also stepped in to help?

AMY: Yeah. He did kick boxing, but that was about six years ago. He did it for six years back then, but he's never done karate or mixed martial arts, no.

GEORGE: Ok, so what's the main reason that your husband has jumped on board into the business?

AMY: He didn't love his job, welding was hard work. He always came home dirty and he didn’t like being dirty from work. But also, being a mum and running the school, it was really quite tricky to do it on my own because we have two schools that are full time. This particular school I'm in at the moment, we actually own the building and it was very hard to maintain, just things like painting, light fittings, you know, things breaking down as they do in a normal house, let alone a business. I just couldn't do that and teach and run the book work by myself, so I said to him, you know: best do it together. He was really excited to leave his dirty welding job and come on board and do it together.

GEORGE: All right, cool. So he's running a lot of, helping with the business maintenance and things like that for you?

AMY: Yes, yeah, that's mostly it. He's just started answering phone calls and doing Facebook enquiries as well.

GEORGE: So your dad was Kyoshi Andrew Roberts, right?

AMY: Yes.

GEORGE: All right, so do you mind just sharing the whole story of what happened with your dad and what led you running the whole business and everything full time?

AMY: Ok. Well, I started martial arts when I was four and at that time, when I turned 14 years old, I actually started teaching. And I've been doing it as a career ever since then, but I had my son four years ago and took some maternity leave, it was all good. And my dad actually got diagnosed with a brain tumor in June 2015. We noticed that he'd been forgetting a lot of things, his memory was tracy and his mood… it seemed like he had depression actually, but he was really grumpy, he didn't want to have family dinners, he didn't want to see any of us.

And my mother took him to the doctors after he was sick one night and they found the tumor. And a week later they found that it was actually brain cancer and the worst form. It's called a GBM stage four, which is the worst kind of brain cancer that you could get. They gave him 14 months to live and of course in that time, you think that your dad is a superhero and he will be the one that survives, especially one as fit as him. You know, he had such a will and power to live that you just think they're supernatural. I never really, at the time, I was sad, I was upset, but I didn't really think much about it.

My husband and I wanted to have another child, so I fell pregnant with my daughter April and I had her last year in May and I went on maternity leave. In that time, my father came to the hospital, but he started, his memory started getting worse, he went back for a scan and they found the tumor had grown back, bigger. And the doctor said that the chemotherapy wasn't working, he was getting the most powerful type, and they couldn't do anything else.

So basically, from that moment, he was in palliative care. There was nothing more they could do for him, we just had to… I guess just keep enjoying the time that we had left with him. So slowly, he went downhill. He lost the ability to move, he was in a wheelchair, he stopped remembering who we were and he just started sleeping. He just wouldn't get out of his chair, started sleeping a lot, then one day… we used to laugh because we'd take turns checking on him.

And at this stage, he was still talking any stuff and we called it daddy day care. So we'd actually go and sit by his bedside and if he wanted up, great! But one morning I went in there and he just wouldn't wake up, he was just not responsive. I called my mum in, I had to pop into the shops to get some things, and when I came back that afternoon, and he was still in bed and I thought, ‘normally he is up by now?’. And he made a really strange noise and I called my mum in, she came to check and from that moment on, we knew that was the end.

We didn't know how many days he had left, he lived another week and a half, but he was unresponsive. He didn’t, didn’t drink juice or water. And the palliative care nurses came to visit, and they said, yes, it could go on for days, we had no idea how long it would be. So on November 22nd, he actually passed away from cancer. He was asleep, it was… as far as they tell us, it's peaceful and we were by his bedside, all of his daughters, we sat by him every second of the day and spoke to him and told him funny stories that we remember from being little and making sure that the last things that he heard from our voices were the happy things, the thing that we remember and the amazing stories and times we had with him.

So that was very nice that we had the opportunity to do that, but an absolutely devastating situation, horrible. So that's how I came to take over the business. I wasn't sure if could continue on, but you know, I did. I decided that, yep, my dad worked very hard in his business and his whole life, he and I worked together, we used to be training buddies.

We'd go to seminars together, we'd be home watching DVDs of new material, new teaching techniques and we'd be practising in the laundry room. Mum would yell at us because we'd be in her way, or we'd kick something over, we were like two kids. But there was just too many memories to just walk away. So I decide to continue Edge on, as hard as it was. I walked back in and held my head up high and just did the best I could, still am.

GEORGE: You decided to Edge on – is that a slogan, is that something that you've got a stamp?

AMY: Actually, I haven't used that one before, but I'm going to use it now!

GEORGE: Ok, cool.

AMY: But yeah, you did, you do. I mean, I worked 15 years in this, because I'm nearly 30, 15 years of my life in this business – I don't want to just give that up because the only other thing I've done is a qualified swimming teacher. I’m not anymore, but that was the only other thing I've actually done, as far as a career, so this is the only career I've ever known, but then I sort of sat back and thought, well my dad did this his whole life and it actually brought me closer to him. The moment I walked back into the dojo doors, I felt like he was there. I felt close to him and I felt happy to be here. I prefer to be here than at home, this was my home.

GEORGE: Amazing, so you truly are living a legacy.

martial arts family

AMY: I think so, it's a good feeling. The moment I came back and I saw all my students, I actually felt closer to him, like he was still here with me. So from that moment on, I thought, yeah, I can do it. And you know, I will do it, because like I said, I've been training since I was 4 years old, I've been teaching since I was 15, so that's been nearly half my life, I'm nearly thirty, of teaching in this business. And just to walk away, would just have been silly.

It's a long time just to walk away from something, so I decided to continue it on, I love my students, I love teaching. I have so much passion for teaching, that made me feel better, just seeing my kids, seeing my students. And that's when I said to my husband, you need to jump on board and my mum, of course, inherited the business from the will and I spoke to her in February this year 2017 and she said to me that she can't do it anymore, because she doesn't want a part of it, it was just too emotional for her, so she said, do you want to buy it? And we said, yeah.

Obviously, it took a few months and we did the switchover and end of the financial year, because it just made sense and that's really sort of the story that, like you said, it's continuing his legacy. He's such a big part of the community here at Mt. Evelyn and the local areas that everyone knows him. His funeral was so booked with people down the street, I couldn't tell you, but a couple of thousand people were actually there, just to say their final goodbye, so it was very important.

GEORGE: Well, that's quite a story and my hat off to you, just going through all that, but really, really turning things around, because, like you're saying, there are so many parts of this, right? Because you actually have to deal with the fact that you just lost your dad, who's also been your teacher all of your whole life and now you've got two choices to make, right? Do you abandon it and let it not be anything and leave it to someone that might buy it over, but there's not that emotional drive behind it, because it's not that real passion about what was the business, which was the family as well, or face it and really just take it on, which is what you've done. That's quite amazing.

AMY: Exactly, thank you.

GEORGE: You're welcome. So how are you finding this?

AMY: Well some days, like yesterday, if you asked me the same question, I don't think it was. But most of the time, you know, I've got staff here, so they're really fantastic, they do a really good job. They're fantastic instructors and they're very motivated people, but with the kids, sometimes the kids come to work with me and that's not so much teaching, but they'll come and I'll be doing office duties and I’ve set up a little play area for them, but at home, the house is not as clean as it used to be. There's a lot more washing, but that's alright because husbands telling me that he's going to do the washing part!

Whose house doesn’t have a washing lying around?. But other than that, it's going good. I think it mostly helps just knowing that where I've come from and what we've been through, I was by my dad’s bedside when he passed away, I was with him 24/7 and I believe if I can get through that, I can get through anything. And at least I love doing what I'm doing, so I'm not doing a job that I hate, I get to come to work every day doing something that I love and that's what keeps you going as well. It keeps pushing.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. What was it like for the first time for you, stepping back into the school?

martial arts family

AMY: That was hard, it was hard because he's got photos and training certificates everywhere. So the whole school has lots of photos of him, but I mean, it was nice to see, nice to look at and I've got all these memories that I can actually look back on, it was just mostly hard because all of a sudden, even though he gave me the title of sensei, and I'm still sensei, I really realized, wow, there's no one else now, I’m the top. I’m the head instructor.

So everyone's going to come to me, even though I was used to people coming to me for questions and that was a big part of my job as being sensei, now there was no one to go to and go, hey, what do you think of this, or what would you do if this happened, or, I need your help, I need your advice. And that was probably the hardest part, because that all of a sudden hit me, and I'm like, wow! This is a really big responsibility, not just teaching martial arts, because to me, that's just like a walk in the park now, but having to deal with business calls and people wanting to do this and changing this detail and I didn't understand any of that, I'm still learning how to do bookkeeping. That's hard!

GEORGE: Right. Ok, so but you've got your husband that's helping with that role and so how are you guys finding a balance in who's going to handle which task of the business? Obviously, you're the teaching and so forth – how are you finding the balance?

AMY: Well, still at the moment, I'm doing a lot of teaching, because my head instructor is still away. Once he comes back, I can step you a little bit, because he's awesome, but we gave him 5 weeks just to go and travel the world, so I don't have to be on the floor teaching as much, which will give me a little bit more of a break. I can be at home with my kids a little bit more, but still, of course, I want to be involved, because I like being here.

But he's fixed a lot of stuff, a lot of things that were broken down, like simple things like just the lights not working – just call in an electrician to come in and fix it. Now, all that stress I don't have anymore. He's doing that, like yesterday, I said to you our EFTpos machine decided to stop working. Don't know why the line just wasn't there. So he's ringing, the electrician couldn't fix it. The next minute, he was on the phone to our bank and got a new machine in one day!

So if that was me, I wouldn't have had the time to have made all those phone calls and I wouldn't have been able because my kids get looked after when we're both here by family, so I wouldn't have had the time to be here all the time. And those things, repairs and maintenance, he does really well. Then, he's just started learning to take enquiries over the phone, so when the phone rings, he's been answering a few calls today, which is nice, I'm doing my book work on my computer, he's answering calls and he's taking over our Facebook page, along with me, because we're both admins on it, but he's been answering a lot of enquiries so he's slowly starting to learn how to sell martial arts, explain the benefits of martial arts to our prospective clients and the more he does it, the more he's going to get better, which will give me more of a balance to do the things that I'm good at, like teaching.

GEORGE: For sure. And also just to put things into perspective, because we didn't cover this at the beginning, just the way our conversation started. But if you put some numbers on the business, how many students do you have at your location?

AMY: So, we have three schools, the Mt. Evelyn here we have I think… in total, we have 578, this week, and that's all our total. Mt. Evelyn here runs 6 days a week, which has the bulk of it. Our school down in Chirnside park is about 10-15-minute drive down the road and it has just reached to a 110. And we have a school, a satellite school we call it, up at Woori Yallock, which is about 20 minutes up the road and that school there have 50 students, just fighting two classes, one night a week. So in total, were on at about 578, with a lot of new people coming in this week, so nice and big.

GEORGE: That's awesome. So how are you, how much time are you spending with your involvement within the satellite school and other location as well?

AMY: For the satellite school in Woori Yallock, I go there every fortnight and on a Wednesday night, I pop up there for the two classes to teach with my head instructor there and then, of course, come back to our main school here. And then at Chirnside park, I'm there in the mornings on a Tuesday morning and the Thursday afternoons, I got here and I teach as well. And then of course, in the daytime, I might pop in, do a little bit of bookwork, just check on paperwork, all that sort of stuff, but most of my time is spent at Mt. Evelyn.

GEORGE: Ok. Now, tell me, and just going back in the story again, right? When the big change happened and your dad sadly passed away, what was the response – and you mentioned there was such a big following and so much support for your dad: what was the response within the school? Did anything change with the students at that time?

AMY: Yes. Yes, we did. We dropped in that year, because the same year he was sick, the last year in May, I actually had my daughter, so I went on maternity leave for six months. So I didn't come back until sort of end of August, September time. And that's when he really started going downhill, so I think I only came back for three weeks to work again after maternity leave when he got ill. And because he was ill, I wanted to be by his bedside.

We knew he was dying, I wanted to be there every second that I could and we lost last year – so, my instructors did a great job with what they had but we did lose around about 76-80 students in total on that total count. That's a huge drop for a school to lose in 8 months’ time, because I wasn't here much, of course he wasn’t here from mid year last year and it's going to affect your business, you know, students have grown up with him as well as the head instructor, it could be the black belts, it could be middle kids. But the other thing we found, and it's OK, is the emotions we were dealing with, some people didn't want to be apart of that.

Everyone has their agenda and everyone has problems in their own life, so we understood that we would lose people because they couldn't be around us, maybe because it was sad. We tried not to make it a sad atmosphere, but it's going to affect us, you can't change that. And we were OK with some people that came up and said, look, we thank you for your time, but we won't continue on, and some people sort of left after he actually did pass away, because of course, it made them sad to be here.

And that was OK, we knew this would happen, but we had a lot of people stand by us and just support us and I had people, my black belts jump in. You know, I'll do the class, don't worry, we've got your back, we're here for you. And you know, we will be forever grateful to them for sticking by us and all the students that have. But it's going to affect you, there's nothing you can do about it.

GEORGE: Right. And have a lot of those students come back after that, now that everything’s sort of settled down, that people have changed their perspectives, or…?

AMY: Yeah, look, we have seen a few, but when I say a few, it's only about 8 or 9 students that I can think of off the top of my head that have actually come back and had that little bit of a break. We still have students that come back from a few years ago that left us, but for that time, yeah, it's not… I think… because it was such a big part of peoples lives and a lot of my black belts, most of my black belts stayed, a couple of them just because they were just so upset, especially the teenagers!

They're already going through their teenage problems, teenage dramas and I think that was just one more emotional thing that they couldn't deal with. But we haven't got a lot of people back from that time, but we have joined up a lot of new people which is nice. It brings a freshness to the center.

GEORGE: That's awesome. So yeah, because you're going to just have that change in people moving on and that's mainly, it was just time for them anyway to move on. And sometimes when you look at things in business, you look at it as there’s the downfall in it, people are leaving, the first thing you always look at is, oh, why is this happening, it's so frustrating!

The effects of a situation, but then, there's always – and I try to train myself for this is, always try to look for, where's the lesson in it? Or why is this really happening? Is it a need? Is it that the business now needs to take a new direction, or just make a change. And with your case, that's obviously where the new blood is coming in, new students and although they're not maybe aware of the history and everything, it's not that they're already part of that whole… the event happening and so forth.

AMY: Yes, yeah. So we… exactly, we needed to… I came in this year, so after having some time off at Christmas of course as we all do, a couple of weeks, I went away on holiday, I came back and I said to my husband, we need to change some things around, not just with classes and sort of structure, but we also need to change a little bit around the business, so people can see that we still care. I’m still very much, my whole life is invested into it, but we want Edge to grow bigger and better and the best thing I did was actually change our whole reception and office area.

Everything, I just went in and said, that's it, I'm moving everything around. And I changed it, I got some new cabinetry put in and everyone walked in and they were like, wow, that's amazing! And it was really just to show them that a change has happened, a big change has happened, but we want to now make positive changes. We want to show you that this is the new Edge, it's my school now and I want everyone to understand that I love it, I'm passionate about it, this is the way.

Last year, we had our problems, our downfalls, something that devastated us, but this year, it's a brand new year. Let’s go, let's make it bigger and brighter than ever, have more people here, build up the students, build up the school! Make it look better, or even with painting, changing colors too, just so people could see that Edge is still the same, fantastic school that he built, but now it's just going to get better, it's going to grow and get bigger and better than ever. That's my goal.

GEORGE: That's awesome, hats off to you, you're doing an amazing job and I'm sure if I actually interviewed somebody else other than you, they would give me much more insight about your skills and how you are handling all this, between the teaching and everything else. So what's your vision now, going forward? Where do you see taking Edge martial arts?

martial arts family

AMY: Well, short term goal: the short term goal this year is to finish out the year on over 600 students, so we've never officially reached, I think we've reached 599, that's our biggest count we’ve ever had and this year I want to finish at least 601. 601 students, it’s how I want the year to finish, active students. That's short term, but long term, I want to eventually create another full-time school, so it’s a similar area, but another 20 minutes – half an hour away. It’s a different market and that will be next year. Create a new school and just slowly start expanding.

My dad really always wanted to have many different schools everywhere and at the time, having kids, I was like, yeah, you know, I'm really happy doing what I'm doing, but I can't take that on for another school by myself. But now, having my husband on board, having awesome staff and instructors, I want to have another school and one day it would be really nice to turn around and say, yeah, we've got 1000 students in total.

Or, you know, I've got three sensei's at my schools, you know? That's always been a really big goal, just to make it bigger and better and a really big market for myself personally, I've always wanted to go into the field of helping women that have been abused or are in a violent relationship and go down that path of just empowering women and getting them to be stronger and just help them learn martial arts and be more confident in themselves, especially women. So that would be a personal goal that I would look towards in the future. When my kids are a little bit older.

GEORGE: All right, fantastic. So what are you going to do differently? You've gone through all this and you've grown up in martial arts, you've got all this experience. Now, you open that fourth location: what would you do differently based on everything that you've learned?

AMY: For everything that I've learned, if things aren't too different, I would just make sure that the person, obviously you've got to have an instructor that's in charge of that school and I myself have to oversee it, but make sure they really have 110% heart in teaching as well, because my teachers now, they're absolutely phenomenal. Over the years, as every martial arts school has, we've had teachers that might start off passionate and then slowly dwindle down and you can see how that affects your school.

But I want to be surrounded by people that love teaching martial arts and kids, so I would really make sure that all my instructors are passionate about martial arts. The other thing I would do different, just structuring things differently. I think because I was only young when this business started and it’s like, I've grown up in it, but I've never had control of it. So I have ideas, I have inputs and I've always taken on board ideas because my father valued me so much, but at the end of the day, you don't have the final say when it’s not yours.

No one does, any employee doesn’t have the final say, that I would just change some systems and just start fresh. So I think that's really what I’d change, but other than that, I love our school, I love our curriculum, I love our culture, so I don't need to change any of that because that to me is perfect.

GEORGE: Ok, fantastic. So are you already looking, do you have those instructors in mind that you are grooming for that role?

AMY: Yes, I do, and she just started part time with us this year actually. I've got two, but one obviously I want to make sure I keep one at our main school. I've got another instructor that is going to look at buying our Chirnside school down the track though. It's not happening anytime soon, but I’ll make sure they're going to manage it the way that you want it to be run. But I do have a young girl which started part time, she is just full of life, full of energy, very very passionate and I just got another young casual started on board too, so you never know, in a couple of years, after they finish school, they might want to do this as a full-time job too, hopefully.

GEORGE: Yeah, for sure. Do you actually, when you see potential like that, do you actually bring it to their attention that there is a career path that they can take?

AMY: Yes, yeah. I usually start them as casuals with us and they could start at the age of 14 years old. And as time goes on, they're going to get really good at their job, because they're loving it, but I will always come up and say, you know what, you're doing fantastic, I want you to work maybe an extra day, because I really need you and I want you to be here. The kids love you and if they're that good, I think you should tell them. Make them aware that they're very good at what they're doing and then you'll find out just by the energy they give you back, smile or just their face will light up because they feel really good that you've given them compliments and they enjoy what they're doing.

So hopefully, you build them up and you talk to them and you say, this would be a great career, we’d love to have you if you're ever looking for a part time job or a full-time job after school, there's one here for you if you want it. But this young girl that I've just put on this year, that worked well for her and she was really excited, so last year, she was going to go to Uni, she actually tried out at Uni after two months and she just didn't like it. She was like, I want to be a martial arts instructor. So that worked out well!

GEORGE: That's amazing, send people to school and then they find their true purpose and leave school for martial arts – good choice! To all the kids listening, that would be great!

AMY: It is a great job and this is a great career, I'm not going to lie, I love it.

GEORGE: Awesome. Amy, it’s been great chatting to you. If anybody wants to follow your journey and find out more about you, where can they find out more about Edge martial arts and what you do?

AMY: Well, we have our website, edgemartialarts.com.au. We also have our Facebook page, so we always upload things on there. We also have a foundation we run in my father's name, it’s called the Kyoshi Andrew Roberts Foundation and that foundation we actually use to obviously get basically we want to… it’s charity, so we’re getting money to help people if they're ever in a situation, it doesn't have to be brain cancer, it's not about brain cancer, it's about actually helping families who have a loved one that may be in palliative care and instead of taking them to a hospital or a hospice where they need to stay there and that's where they spend their final days, you can actually do it at home like we did.

martial arts family

We were really lucky because of our business; it gave us the income that my parents could afford to keep my dad at home. Mum bought the best bed, the best couches for him to sit in and be comfortable, so the last few weeks of his life, he could be at home surrounded by his family. Now, not everyone gets that opportunity, our foundation is to help people, to just offer them support, even if it’s something as simple as getting the house cleaner in, because you can’t maintain your house, or just being able to buy some of the equipment, like wheelchairs and toilet seat and things like that that can help you to keep your loved one at home if they are in the devastating end of palliative care.

If you follow the actual journey of how he lived the rest of his days, the rest of his life, on the Kyoshi Andrew Roberts foundation site on Facebook, otherwise it’s martial arts Facebook page, you can follow us there. Website, Facebook – we’re everywhere.

GEORGE: Awesome, we’ll put all those links in all the show notes that can be accessed.

AMY: That would be great, thank you.

GEORGE: Cool. Thanks a lot, Amy, I will speak to you soon.

AMY: You're welcome, thanks, George, bye!

GEORGE: Bye.

 

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40 – Martial Arts Instructor Gets Shot In The Head And Escapes Death – Here’s His New Perspective On Life

Martial Arts instructor Adel Refai didn't dodge a bullet, but he is lucky to be alive today. This will shift how you go about your day.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The accident that ended up changing Adel Refai’s course of life
  • The benefit of martial arts beyond the physical movement
  • How technological advancements have helped business in general
  • How his ordeal restored his faith in humanity
  • George’s relatable near-death experience
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: Hey, this is George Fourie and welcome to another episode of the Martial Arts Business podcast, episode number 40. Today I channel over to the East of the United States all the way to Florida and I'm speaking with Adel Refai from Combat Performance and Fitness. How are you doing Adel?

ADEL: I’m doing great, how are you George? Good morning.

GEORGE: Awesome, doing great. Cool, so you've got an exciting and horrific story to tell. But before we get to that, let’s just… just give us a bit of a background: who is Adel Refai?

ADEL: Well, I'm a 38-year-old male, 5’ 10”. I’m the son of Egyptian immigrants, I grew up in New Jersey in the United States and moved on to Florida about the time I was 29 going on 30 and like I was telling it before, I grew up kind of fascinated by the martial arts, but it was just something I admired from afar, watched movies and I was involved with other sports and activities growing up. And then when I moved here, I started the next chapter of my life. I just kind of decided, well, this is something I always wanted to do, so I'm going to check it out.

So I went into a gym and hit a heavy bag for the first time and I signed up for a karate program and then for the next 4 and a half years after that, I would go there 5 or 6 days a week just training, wanting to get better, wanting to get better. And then from there, got my black belt and then I got a black belt in kickboxing and then I started competing in Muay Thai fights and now I'm teaching kids, so the circle is complete I guess! But you know, I do internet marketing also and I work with small business owners and I kind of teach them just the basics and martial arts is just my passion and hobby on the side.

GEORGE: So how did you actually decide, all right: you're doing the martial arts and now you're going to start teaching?

ADEL: You know, it was just one of those things, it was one thing leads to another, leads to another, leads to another. I had a lot of instructors and they were so good about spending so much extra time outside of class with me to help me train and put in extra work one on one and all that. And so when I kind of moved on from going to the classes, because actually eventually they discontinue the adult program, but I have a little brother through a volunteering program here, Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

And so I signed him up for the karate program and I would go and I just started initially just watching and then the head instructor, she offered, you can jump on in and help out if you want. And I was like, oh, OK, well I don't want to impose. And I started just kind of helping out here and there, and then I actually just started volunteering about 2 to 3 times a week. It just kind of happened that way, it was just kind of the thing to do to start giving back after people invested so much time in me over the years.

GEORGE: So Combat Performance and Fitness: you mentioned it’s a part time business for you, right? Is it only you in the business, or…?

ADEL: Oh, no, no, no, no, I don't own it, I just help to teach the kids the karate program there. A friend of mine owns that business and he does jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai and kickboxing and then adult fitness classes and kids programs. I help out with just the kids’ karate side and then I help coach some of the fighters as well.

GEORGE: Ok, awesome.

ADEL: Yeah, that's it.

GEORGE: Now, you've been in the martial arts industry for quite a while and you had a bit of an ordeal I believe?

ADEL: Yeah, my kickboxing coach is also a video guy. He does video editing and stuff like time and for the last couple of years, we started doing a series of videos, action videos and he’s been using them to promote different organizations that he’s involved with on the martial arts side. So we did one video, where a guy, it was me and my girlfriend and I was pretending to be a bad guy attacking her, kind of a light hearted, funny video where she beats me up. And we started doing another one, another kind of action video to use for promotion and we got the choreography down and then we went out to a park out in Tampa to just kind of scout the area for when we start filming it.

And once we kind of figured out what we wanted to do, we were just kind of walking around, looking at the sunset. And I was getting ready to leave, I had a bad headache that day and I told Mark, I'm going to get going, my head hurts, and he was like, well, just hang on, it’s a really nice sunset, let’s just take a picture real quick. And I said, OK, sure, let’s just take a picture and then I’ll head out. So while I was standing there, it’s sunset, it’s daytime and we were standing right next to a children's museum and a dog park, it was a really nice area and while I’m standing there, waiting for him to get his camera ready, all of a sudden, somebody hit me on the head with a hammer and I reached up and touched my head and I felt a hole right at the top of my head, on the centre.

And I stayed conscious, I felt my body at that point just gave in and I kind of collapsed to the ground and my friend and his wife, they had heard a gunshot and they turned around to look in the direction where they heard that noise and when they turned back, they saw me collapse to the ground and I started bleeding. And my friend was quick thinking and he took his shirt off, put it on my head to stop the bleeding. He called the police and the ambulance, and the next thing I know, I'm being rushed to the hospital, there are 8 to 10 pairs of hands on me doing all sorts of tests and whatnot. Luckily, nothing serious happened and I'm fine today.

GEORGE: So just backtracking: you got a bullet to the head and the next thing you realized is you being transferred. The police are there and they're taking you to the hospital – are you actually conscious at this point?

ADEL: Yeah, I was completely conscious, but I guess my body was just in shock, I wasn't really panicking or anything. I don't know, it happened really, really fast, I was calm the whole time and yeah, I was conscious the whole time, I never passed out, but when I think back to it, it’s all a little bit of a blur, I'm not sure how I stayed awake for the whole time.

GEORGE: How did you recover from that? I have so many questions, but I'm a bit stuck on that!

ADEL: You know, I was fortunate, it wasn't serious, it didn't go through the skull and into my brain, obviously. It basically went as deep as it could without breaking the skull, so they took the x rays and they didn't find any bullet fragments, I just got lucky. I had a really bad headache a week after that and some panic attacks, but in terms of health and everything, I got lucky. I dodged the bullet, George! I got lucky, it didn't break the skull and that's it. An inch, a few millimeters one or the other and it would have been a different story I guess.

GEORGE: Well, I guess I should just give a shout out to Kevin Rogers from Copy Chief, because he was the one that shared your story and put me in touch with you, thanks to Kevin for that. Now, I want to know, do they actually know who did it? Was there someone who had the intention to do it, or was it just you caught a flying bullet?

ADEL: They found nothing, surprisingly. We were right on the Riverwalk, right next to the water, so our guess is that it went into the water after it hit me because if it had landed on the ground anywhere, they hopefully would have found it, but we think it went under the water. They didn't find anything, they didn't find anybody, there weren't any video cameras in the area, they didn't pick up anything – there was just nothing. We heard it and I saw commotion in the area where we heard it come from and as I was falling, I turned around and saw some people running in the distance, but the police were never able to identify anybody or find any video from the security cameras in that area, because it’s a public park, the cameras in it didn’t pick up anything, so… nothing.

GEORGE: That's fascinating.

ADEL: Yeah.

GEORGE: So how has life changed for you since the incident?

ADEL: Oh, you know, the first few days… well, the first week was just dealing with a bad headache, you know? And after that went away, it was kind of, it was re-evaluating everything, just thinking about what I want to do moving forward and what I want to stop doing that I've been doing… everything just started… you have to kind of stop and take a look at everything that you've been doing up to that point when that happens. And so I just moved on, I went and visited my brothers to clear my head and that was a really good visit for me.

And I came back to Florida and I made the decision that I need to move forward with my life in all aspects because I was going to that hospital and it was just occurring to me that I could easily be dead and I was thinking about how my life would end in that moment and all the loose ends and I wasn't happy with how things were in that moment, you know? I've just been kind of making an effort to live a little more urgently. And then, of course, the bills started rolling in and you can only have a little bit euphoria before some stress gets poured into your life. But it’s been fine the way I’ve handled this psychologically.

GEORGE: And the reason I'm asking this is for myself as well, because I was 27, 27 or 28… 26… I can't recall, it’s a blur. But I was in a car accident where I was unconscious for three days and I broke two neck vertebrae and had bleeding on the brain, so I had a haemorrhage basically and I was so medicated that I actually thought it was all funny, until a doctor walked in and he was looking at me and giving me my medication and he laughed! And I said, why are you laughing? And he said, because people like you, we don't normally operate, we don't operate on them. And I said why? And he said, because you're dead in two days. And he walked off!

ADEL: Really? Oh my God!

GEORGE: And that's what he said and my smile dropped. And it’s probably the biggest… everything in my life changed at that point, that was the first time it really hit me and it’s exactly what you were saying how you were realizing that you could have been dead: that was the moment I decided to emigrate.

I traveled to the United States, I'm in Australia now, but when I traced it back, the biggest decisions I've made in life was due to that one incident. Which is why I'm really asking you, what changed for you? Now you're saying you’re living with a sense of urgency and there are things that you don't want to put on hold and so forth. So what are those core things? What's going to be different for you from here on?

ADEL: Well, we've got I guess the professional side and the personal side. The professional side, I think there was a little bit of a lack of self-confidence that was pulling me back from pushing my business in the direction I wanted to go with it, I was kind of staying stagnant with it, I wasn't really sure that I was able to do what I wanted to do with my business, which was kind of take it overseas and start introducing internet marketing to certain third world countries where it would make more of a difference and impact. But I guess it kind of intimidated me in the past.

After that happened, it was like, well, I need to get moving with that plan, because I have this intention to try and help people and I keep putting it off. And I could be dead any day now and that is kind of selfish I think to hold off on doing something like that. Personally, there's this lovely woman in my life that I was honestly just scared to be with, to pursue a real relationship with. And I was lying in the hospital and she was one of the few people I was thinking of. And half an hour later, she shows up, and she's standing at my hospital bed and it hit me hard that I was screwing up with her in that part of my life and not moving forward with that. So I say those two things mainly are what really was on my mind in the weeks afterward.

GEORGE: That's awesome. I mean, it really puts things into perspective, doesn't it? It’s so easy to just get caught up in the moment and I guess you – and this is a deep conversation!

ADEL: Yeah, yeah, it’s getting deep George.

GEORGE: We don’t want to get the tissues out but hey, I guess it’s an important topic, because of look, we talk about the martial arts, that's what the podcast is about. We talk about the martial arts business, I'm also involved in the internet marketing side, we've got a Martial Arts Media Academy, where we help school owners learn about digital marketing and how they can use online lead generation in a strategic manner.

So that's always the topic here, but it’s so easy in life to get caught up, and especially in business, you get so caught up in the now and the problems and sometimes, it’s just perceived problem, because it’s really first world problems. I come from South Africa, where hunger is the problem. People are fighting not for where am I going to charge my iPod, but there are actually kids that are seriously hungry, they're trying to figure out where the next meal comes from.

ADEL: Yeah.

GEORGE: I guess what I'm really trying to get out of this conversation with you is, it just gives perspective. You think you've got problems and you think you're going a certain way, but in a snap, it could just be taken away from you, like with yourself. And I mean, it’s not that you were even doing anything, you just happened to be there.

ADEL: Yeah. Yeah, I completely agree, it definitely does add a lot of depth to the way you look at things, you know. The view of the accident, you actually do realize that it could have been over in a second and you actually feel it, it takes on a different meaning on what you're going to get up and do the next morning.

GEORGE: So tell me a bit about your business: where do you see yourself going with your business? You were saying you're looking at opening up in different countries and how do martial arts play a role in your life now moving forward?

ADEL: Well, I think martial arts has always been in my life one way or another. It started out from a selfish standpoint, where it was just me wanting to learn and learn and learn and be a martial artist and compete and get better. And then, as with anything I guess, once you reach a certain level of proficiency and you're good at it and other people start looking to learn from you and you hopefully, you turn around and help them gladly.

And so I guess now, I'm kind of like in between. Partially I'm still learning and competing, I'm also teaching adults, as well as kids, but specifically, there's been so many classes that have ended and I've been driving home, thinking about what I've learnt that day, what the instructor said and running it through my head and realize that it applies to something specific going on in my life right now, something in my business.

It’s one of those things, I guess martial arts is so personal, that it kind of just transcends just the physical movements and it applies to all parts of your life, at least that's what I found. I've always read books and tried to grow as a person and read business book to get better internet marketing, but sometimes it’s just like, a martial arts class, I kick a few times and I'm driving home and I think about the lesson I learned over sparring and I was going about my business and it’s just interesting how it kind of works around that way I guess.

But yeah, for the actual business side of it with internet marketing, like I was telling you, I work with small business owners, people that are basically new to internet marketing and teach them how to get their business online, how to market themselves online. And then, if they want to go any further after that day, in detail, or become an expert in any specific niche, then I’ll refer to somebody. And a little way ago, it occurred to me that anybody can teach somebody how to make a $100, $200, $300 a month, that's not hard – that's not something you can live on, at least in the US or Australia, right? But, in a third world country, $300 or $400 a month is life changing, that will change a life of an entire family in a small village.

And so that's where I want to go with this eventually, is to start introducing it to countries where it’s going to have a much larger impact, third world countries where they don't really have a good economy, but they learn internet marketing and all the time they're connected to the first world, the developed economy and now the money is being funneled to the areas that need it the most. That's what I'm thinking.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Where's your target, are you going back to your roots in Egypt, or are you thinking just on a broader scale?

ADEL: I’m going to start with Egypt, just because it’s familiar. The language, the people, if there’s any red tape, I’ll be comfortable navigating it. And I go there regularly anyway as it is, so if that works out, then that seems to be the easiest launching point and there can be a lot of people freelancing and there are enough people that speak English, that does seem to be the easiest point. And for some reason, if somebody tells me that different countries would be better to launch from, then that's fine, because I'm not really depending ongoing and opening up a shop, like a physical location, I want to keep it online and remote for the time being, so we’ll see. It’s early stages, so…

GEORGE: Well, good luck with that. I know for me, I employ quite a few people in the Philippines and it is rewarding to know that I'm supporting, the money that you send, it does support a family, it’s not just… it does impact an economy, especially for people where with jobs, there's nothing available, the internet is not available. And if they can't access the internet, there is not a real choice. It’s that or nothing.

ADEL: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Well you know, most countries have the internet nowadays. Even a country like Egypt, everybody’s got the internet. It’s interesting how technology, it’s moved so quickly the past ten years. I remember, growing up and no one, maybe out of my gigantic family, maybe one or two people had a landline. So if I wanted to talk to my grandma, we called the building she lived in, there was one phone and everybody used it, so we’d call the neighbors and they would go upstairs and get my grandma and my cousins and they would come downstairs and we would talk that way.

And that was fortunate, to have one in the building. And the plumbing wasn't what it is now and nobody had a phone, nobody had developed plumbing, because of the infrastructure issue, but the internet all of a sudden comes in and Wi-Fi comes in. And one year, I go to Egypt and everybody's got the internet in their home, and I say, how do you have the internet, how is this possible?

That's when it started clicking everybody's got the internet, or they have access to it, there are internet cafes everywhere or friends split the cost of internet for a month and they run cables back and forth, everybody's got it there. They have access to it, I think it’s going to allow a jump in the quality of living in all of those countries, it’s progressing properly.

GEORGE: For sure. Adel, it’s been awesome talking to you. I know you had a bit of a setback, I mean, you're instructing part time, you're getting your business going and so forth and I know you've been hit with some heavy duty medical bills, with your…

ADEL: Yeah, yeah.

GEORGE: Going through your ordeal, as if that wasn't bad enough to deal with, you got all that. I definitely want to give a shout out for anybody listening: if anybody can help you support… I know you put up a go-fund-me page, is that right?

ADEL: Yes, and no, it’s actually, the site I'm using is youcaring.com. I was looking into some of the different sites and youcaring was the only one I found that doesn't take up a percentage of the donation t run the site, so that seemed like the best option.

GEORGE: And you have the link?

ADEL: Yeah, it’s a bit of a long link, but it's youcaring.com/adelrefai-836411… if you can put the link up with your podcast…

GEORGE: I’ll tell you what I'm going to do: for everybody listening, what we’ll do is: one, well create a short link. You can just go to the show notes, the show notes in martialartsmedia.com/40, but I’ll also create just a link shortener for that, so it will just be martialartsmedia.com/adel, so that will be a-a-d-e-l, is that right?

ADEL: It’s a-d-e-l, but you can spell it, however, you want on the link, I don’t care.

GEORGE: A-d-e-l, OK. You know what, I turned it into two A-s to make sure I pronounce it properly.

ADEL: Oh, I got you, your little phonetic notes!

GEORGE: That was the genius hack that I did.

ADEL: Yeah, then the bill started coming in and they're still coming in and it’s just… it was starting to get a little overwhelming and I was trying to figure out a way to deal with it and then a friend of mine suggested setting up a fundraiser page. And I wasn't really comfortable with it at first. I set it up and I just kind of left it there. I don't know, eventually I just decided I need to solve my problem and ask for help and you know, if somebody wants to donate, they will, and if they don't, they won’t.

But the response so far has been so great, it’s been overwhelming I'm just so appreciative and whatever comes in is going to help and I truly appreciate it and I will obviously do my best to pay it forward at some point when I'm able to, but any help I could use!

GEORGE: I know it’s an awkward thing to do, it’s kind of the last thing you want to do: I'm in a situation, but I don't really want to ask for help either, you know, because like you're saying, it’s a pride thing and you just don't want it. But sometimes, you've just got to, my girlfriend always says to me: everybody always in some way got a hand.

Somebody reached out and helped, whether it’s in business or something else, there's always someone that actually stepped in and helped someone pull through to the next level in life. So if there is anybody that can help – awesome. It was great to speak to you and hear your story and give it some context because it’s something that can happen to anyone, literally, you can be anywhere in the street and be in the same situation. So yeah, anybody that can help, otherwise, it’s been awesome speaking to you Adel.

ADEL: Yeah, you too George, thank you so much.

GEORGE: Awesome, and I hope to chat with you soon and good luck with the business as well.

ADEL: Yes, thanks very much. I’ll definitely keep in touch and best of luck to you as well.

GEORGE: Awesome, chat soon!

ADEL: Take care George, thank you!

 

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30 – Matt Wickham: Running A Building Business By Day, Martial Arts School Owner And Instructor By Night

Matt Wickham shares his journey of running 2 businesses simultaneously while hosting the world's best martial artists in their small town.

matt wickham

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The benefits of inviting top martial artists from all over the world to come and train with your students
  • The importance of advancing your martial art skills and upgrading your credentials constantly
  • How traveling to various martial art schools helped Matt Wickham learn new techniques in running his martial arts business
  • How he manages to operate two businesses consecutively back to back in a small town
  • Keeping the work and family life balance
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another martial arts media business podcast episode and were up to number 30. And today I have with me a kind of a legend in the industry, Matt Wickham, who a lot of people are familiar with, although he operates from a very small town in Victoria. And that's part of the topic, we discuss operating a martial arts school in a very small town, where obviously your marketing reach is a lot smaller then it would be in a big city and how he manages to operate with both of his businesses, side by side. So he's into the building industry and that's a family business, and then he has his passion, his martial arts business.

But even operating in such a small town, he still manages to pull all the big names into his school and he invites people from all over the world to come and train with his students so that he can pass on the knowledge that he's been able to gather throughout his own travels. So great episode and lots of talk about that. I'm going to keep this intro very short today and we're going to jump right into the episode and chat with matt. As always, you can find all the transcripts on the website, so martialartsmedia.com/30, so that's the number 30. And again, if you reading this episode – the podcast players are right on the website, they're also in the app, so if you have a mobile phone, you can just download it and get the episodes delivered straight to you.

So that's it from me, let's jump right into the episode and please welcome to the show, Matt Wickham.

GEORGE: Good day everyone, today I have with me Matt Wickham.

MATT: Good day how you going?

GEORGE: Good good. Let’s start with, where exactly on the map are you? I was attempting to visit you on my recent trip to Melbourne, but you’re just outside of Melbourne is that right?  

MATT: That’s right. I’m situated on the Murray River, on the border of New South Wales and Victoria, it’s about two or three hours from Melbourne, in a small community called Echuca, population is probably, in Echuca I think it’s about 12000, across the river there's an extra couple of thousand, so in the community there are about 20,000 people.

GEORGE: OK, so really small town. So, I guess let’s just start from the beginning and I had a look at your website, there was a whole list of credentials, I couldn’t really get to the end of the website, there was a lot of credentials. In your words, who is Matt Wickham?

MATT: Who is Matt Wickham, all right. Matt Wickham is a country boy that from the age of 12 started learning martial arts and just fell into it. Actually, I probably fell into it, but it was partly because I loved seeing Bruce Lee and from Bruce Lee, then getting a slight bullying sort of thing from school, a mate of mine told me to start doing some martial arts so I started from there. When I got to around about 18, one of my instructors sort of said, “Look, you'd be pretty cool at running a class.” I belonged to a football club in my local area – it’s not actually in Echuca, it was out of it. And the local football club there closed down, so there was a lot of kids that didn't do have a lot, that had to travel into Echuca, which was a half an hour away from where I lived at that stage.

matt wickham

So I thought I would start up in the local hall there in a Zen Do Kai martial arts class. So an 18-year-old, had no idea about teaching anything. I had my instructor come out, run the first class and then he just sort of said – here you go, there's the class. And basically, I just had to learn from there. While that was happening, I also did my apprenticeship in building with my father, it was sort of a family business that kept me going, and once I finished my apprenticeship, probably around about 20 -21, I wanted to branch out and learn a bit more about martial arts. And I moved to Melbourne for about 18 months – didn't have a job, just went down there and just picked up any sort of work I could just to keep going, but every night I wanted to learn any sort of martial art.

So I did classes in Kendo, Ioto, I did Aikido, Muay Thai and also like advanced classes in Zen Do Kai. Tried to travel around different clubs to see what sort of stuff instructors were doing in Zen Do Kai system. And at that time I had no work, pretty broke and wanted to keep training, but I just realized I had to come back to Echuca. And my father was getting a bit older and a bit hard for work, he needed the extra help, so I moved back to Echuca just sort of early, probably 92 I think it was. And then I got back to my old club, and I said, oh this is the things that's going on and I just started to show them all the stuff that I learned over the 18 months in Melbourne.

And they didn't really seem acceptable about what I wanted to show them and I was a bit put back by that. Because I thought, well, here’s some stuff that I’ve learned from high ranking instructors in Melbourne. Because we’re so isolated, sometimes with isolation, you're afraid to see something new come up. So I decided to open up my own club and I opened up a full-time facility in the centre of Echuca, upstairs above a hairdresser salon. Had no idea how to run a martial art or a business. So I went in, advertised, set it all up with mats and started running kids’ classes to Muay Thai classes and Zen Do Kai classes. I was doing about 2-3 classes at night, morning classes, and working during the day with my father in his building business. And I was really, really, really struggling to keep the business going.

The odd night I would have, when I first started, the Muay Thai was really massive and big, so I had huge classes in this tiny little shop in Echuca and that was the only thing that was keeping me going. And the kids turning up, I had huge kids’ classes, but I had no business idea on how to run a business, or how to keep things moving along. And I just got so busy with building, that I was just burning the stick from each end and just decided I need to pull back. So I pulled back on the teaching and I just hired a hall and I started back into a hall, teaching twice a week in a local church hall and still helping out with the building business.

And suddenly my father, it was getting a bit too much for him, so I ended up taking over the building business and I did a few business coaching classes. Trying to manage both was really hard, really tough. My passion was really the martial arts and teaching and learning myself and weekends, traveling to seminars, trying to learn as much as I can. And I found that from a small community, people do really want to travel, to learn extra stuff, I was keen as mustard, I would travel because I knew that was the only way for me to advance my skills. So I would travel two to three hours, just to do an hour seminar, or a 2-hour seminar, and then come back and keep that motivation going and learning for myself.

Because when you're teaching classes, you don't sometimes get that chance to keep your own skills up. The building business, my father retired and I ended up taking over the building business from then on. And it got pretty heavy, I ended up having about 3-4 guys working full time in the building business. I was working on the tools during the day as well as doing quoting at night time after training and seminars and classes. And today, I'm still even building today, but the struggle of getting things perfect, I wanted things to be perfect in my martial arts training and my coaching, but also in my business.

And then I got married and had kids and you know family life, they want things and I knew that my martial arts was at that stage, it was more just like a hobby and an opportunity came up that I knew one of my instructors bought this business and upstairs, there was a huge area that I thought, well, we’re looking at about 2000 at this stage, huge area. And I said, I’ll hire that out to help out with the rent as well, it’s nice of him to do that, it was in the main street of Echuca. So I opened that up, and again, I went in full steam ahead, pulled down walls and set up. I had a full time boxing ring setup, I had heaps and heaps of people coming in and taking classes and I was running all the classes, doing all the classes myself and not asking for help or coaching any people to becoming instructors.

Again, just doing too much, it’s pretty hard on your family as well, when you're trying to make a dollar. But again, I wasn’t really prepared for running two businesses properly. And I did some more courses to try and get my head around running two businesses and also making sure that I can have a balance between work, my hobby, which is my martial arts, and also my wife. Again, I ended up putting a lot of weight on, because I was just doing stuff, I wasn't doing things properly, I wasn't looking out for myself, I was just keeping things moving along and I just lost track of myself a lot.

And I found that, because I lost track of myself and what I was doing, was reflecting on my passion, my martial arts and classes sort of dropped down a lot. I kept on beating myself up, thinking, what's going on, because I believed that I was teaching great stuff, trying to keep up with the times, with good tuition and stuff like that, but I thought, obviously it was something to do with myself, because I looked overweight. I was probably 30kg overweight, I put on a lot of weight.

Didn't do a lot in the classes myself, I wasn’t demonstrating a lot. And I started to get instructors to help out with classes. They were great, they were doing a fantastic job in the classes, but I wasn’t really structuring, I didn't have any programs set up to help these instructors, I didn't give any clear guidelines on where to go and how to do stuff. I was really just stretching it really thin between both businesses. The building business was going great, I had these guys working, I relied on them a lot to keep things moving along.

But then, the quality of the building started to collapse a little bit, because I wasn't watching what was going on in the building business, because I wasn't on site as much, I was quoting and keeping these gentlemen going for work, but my timbers let me down a little bit. It was getting to a stage that I had to do something about it, so ended up contacting, I did a course, and they were talking about business coaching, and I thought, well, I think I need to do this to get myself back on track. I had no idea, most of the stuff I was doing was very self-taught, in regards to business and marketing and done courses from here to there and in the building industry, they have courses all the time and I just did a few of those, but not really understanding.

I just sort of did them and just did a bare minimum of each area, not really focusing a 100%. And I think to myself when I look back, I should have really just focused a 100% on one business, because I could have made it a lot better than what it is. And also for me I think, being in my father’s building business, I didn't want to let him down. As a martial artist, you don't want to let you coach or your instructor down and my father was very passionate about his business and I didn't really want to let him down and I didn't really want to see that his business had failed if I stopped.

And I still do today think about that and part of that is what I wanted the business coach to understand is and he showed me that I should be able to run both businesses very successfully, so that was a line that we wanted to take in that direction, trying to keep both businesses running successfully, but manage them in a way that you have control in what you're doing. Also, some things, flaws in my personality that I needed to sort out as well. I had to work out, I was overweight, and he said Matt, you need to look after yourself, the number one person is yourself, I was letting my family down and everybody else down because I wasn't looking after myself.

GEORGE: Two things: sorry to interrupt you there. I just want to go back: firstly, you mentioned when you started traveling and you started to get out of your comfort zone – I wouldn't say comfort zone, but out of your town and having a look at what other martial arts schools were doing and you mentioned the people in your town weren’t really open to that. Can you recall what were the biggest takeaways that you wanted to implement in the martial arts arena in your town that wasn't being done already?

MATT: There were a few things. When I did the traveling around, for me it was quite easy to go and travel. At that stage, I was only looking at what the classes and the teaching process was, so I was learning off the instructors on how they teach and the drills and the techniques on how they teach a particular way and the techniques that they do. I love doing that, I love watching instructors and watching them how they communicate and how they demonstrate, I was learning off those guys. But something that I wanted to bring back to Echuca was – and that I'm really passionate about as well, when I first started my training, no one was willing to travel to do a seminar.

I don’t know if they were just frightened, the fear of getting to a seminar and going, I'm not good enough to be here, I'm not sure what it was. But I still do this today, I try and bring the expertise to Echuca, I know it’s only a very small town, but I want the people, my students to get that opportunity that I went out and got beforehand. So I try and bring people to Echuca to say, hey, these guys have done this, they've become real champions, they're fantastic instructors. So I try, sometimes it’s cost me a lot of money to ring people in, but I want my students to experience more than just what's in my own club.

For example, just in the last day or so, I've just locked in Robert Drysdale to come to our club. And it’s in a small town, we've got 20,000 in Echuca, we're 2-3 hours away from Melbourne and we've got a UFC fighter, 6-time world jiu-jitsu champion coming to Echuca. So I've had a lot of opportunities, where I've asked these people, would you be interested coming to Echuca, I want to expose my students to these professionals, these legends, these mentors. I just want people to see these people and say, hey, we can be there, we can have the opportunity to be as good as these guys.

GEORGE: And how do you go about that, to get a big name like that out to you, to your town?

MATT: George, I'm just very lucky.

GEORGE: It’s got to be some magic dude!

MATT: I've had some great mentors and great coaches over the years, and my Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach at the moment, I started doing jiu-jitsu in the late 90s and I got onto this great coach and he's given me these opportunities and I just see these guys and I think, I want to train with these guys. And they themselves have this opportunity and I just tap into it. So I was very fortunate that my coach had Robert coming to Australia and I said, he actually said, why don't you have him to Echuca – we will, we’ll have him here in Echuca.

Also we've got coming up Dave Kovar coming up to do an instructor boot camp and instructor college. And again, instructors around this northern area that I live in Echuca don't get that opportunity and I'm trying to help the martial arts community around here to give them the opportunity to come and learn from these professionals. And Dave’s helped me a lot over the years and how I got to Dave Kovar was from Sean Allen, and Phil and Graham from Perth. These guys were talking about Dave Kovar, and I was fortunate that he came to a club in Bendigo, which is about an hour away from Echuca and Melbourne and he was there and I just sort of said to him, is anyone interested in a seminar sort of thing and that where we got hooked up with Dave.

It’s been about 3-4 years that we've been associated with Dave and he's sort of helped our business grow by his guidance, it’s fantastic. So going back to what you're saying, those are the things I took away from those clubs. But the only thing I regret now, I wish I knew how they marketed those clubs back then. Marketing now is a huge thing for a martial art cub to keep going. And I wish that I took more notice of how they ran, what sort of programs or teaching to more detail, that's what I’m finding interesting nowadays. I’m trying to get people through the door, because you know that the hardest step for someone to start martial arts is to get them through that door.

And that's what we find that, at our club at the moment, that that first step is the hardest. And also first time, first time stepping in the club – am I going to get hurt, am I going to get kicked, am I going to get punched, what's going to happen? So over probably the last, it was in 2010 I started up a new gym, started up a new full time facility, and this time I wanted to make sure I set up, so with the help of Phil and Graham and Sean Allen and Dave Kovar, I put in a program, a teaching program in place and then I just started to set up, tried to make up a community, a community spirit within my club.

Using Facebook – now I use Facebook a fair bit to market my club, to try to create a community within my club that people are having fun, it’s a family friendly club, that's how I promote it. So if someone's coming in for the first time, they know that it’s a family friendly club, they're going to feel comfortable coming through that door. We set up with our marketing stuff, it’s more about the community spirit in the club. People are training together, smiling, having fun and learning, and then you see them also training hard, competing in kickboxing, jiu-jitsu tournaments, showing the different levels that we can take them.

That's where we're on at the moment in regards to our marketing, we're focusing more on trying to create a culture or a community spirit within our club. Not trying to push advertising so much, I don't try and push that we've got free sessions coming on, or this and that. It’s just small marketing on the community spirit type of thing. Get people involved in our community, it’s a friendly place, everybody’s friendly sort of thing.

GEORGE: For sure. It sparks a conversation I had earlier with Brannon Beliso from America. And this is really my question to you, the leading question: we were looking at how – it’s a discussion that keeps on coming up, how the same marketing doesn't work in two different locations. So you can't have the same marketing message and think it’s going to work in location A and location B, depending of course on the dynamics.

And this is something that we've been finding and we’ve been talking about his two locations that, what works in San Francisco doesn’t work in Millbrae. And it’s something we've been seeing a lot with Facebook marketing as well. So my question to you is, what have you seen that people are doing in Melbourne and in the bigger cities from a marketing perspective that you've tried to implement where you are, which is a smaller town, that simply just doesn't work with the people and the community?

MATT: That's a really good question, because what we see in Melbourne – I know in Echuca, my fees aren't as much as Melbourne and we're trying to educate people. For me, I had to educate people around the town because some people don't know where we are and what we do, and in Melbourne, there's a lot more people there and I see that they're putting up special deals and stuff like that and I tried them here, putting up a special deal from even something that Matt was working on the five, beginner classes sort of thing, we tried that for a short while. It worked in some classes, but we couldn't retain them. That was probably because of our following up and stuff like that, but we found this community sort of spirit thing working better for us, we're trying to get people educated about it, in the area what we actually do at the club, instead pushing the hard push: come in and get your free lesson, or there is a special deal on.

We’re working on that at this stage and we tried heaps and heaps, you know what it looks like, it’s all trial and error. And I still don't think I've actually hit the nail on the head yet, we're still trying to work it out, what works for us in Echuca. Because I know other guys have different marketing programs and I’ve tried some of that, and as you said, does not work for us, or I tried it but I had the wrong recipe. I think that you have to have the right recipe to set that up and if you don't understand it properly, I think that's when you sort of lose, if you don't know how to do it properly.

GEORGE: And here's the thing with that – sorry to cut you off there again: these deals and paid trials as we like to call them, it’s something we've had great success with our clients doing paid trials, but then sometimes, we also don't. And the reasoning, my reasoning behind that is, when you put up a great offer is, you're putting an offer out to someone who is already sold on the idea that martial arts is going to work for them or their child. So you're more than likely talking to a person that's already done some research and they're ready to take their credit card out.

But then, there are five different conversations happening, five different type of people, because there’s a person that is just completely unaware of martial arts and what the benefits are, so they're not even looking for martial arts. And then, you're going to find a person that, maybe there's a problem: their child is getting bullied, they're lacking in confidence or something. They know they've got a problem, but they haven't linked martial arts yet as the actual solution. And then there's one step up that may be the person that sees, all right: martial arts is the solution, but where do I do it?  And then maybe they know and you can go and level up and go, OK, this person know martial arts is the reason and the answer, and they know about you, Wickham’s Martial Arts, but they still don't know if you're the right fit for what they are doing.

So if you look at marketing that way, it’s not really as easy as putting an offer up and especially I think in an area like where you are, because you've only got so many people to work with. So just putting up an offer all the time, you could eliminate four different types of people that are not yet aware of martial arts, or interested yet, or it's not engaged, it’s not in their radar whatsoever. And with those type of people, you've got to market completely differently, because you've really got to educate them and pinpoint the need, or create the need before they would even look at the offer.

So yeah, I really think this is a bigger play in smaller areas, because, in a place like where you are, where there are 20,000 people, for you to run things like Google ads and things like that, it wouldn’t really bring much results, because there’s not that many people actually looking. And I could be wrong, but just statistically: we looked at running ads for someone in Darwin, and we kind of said, look, it’s probably not the best way to go, because there's just not enough people searching for martial arts training through Google. So there's got to be those different ways, and I like your way of community, because community is trust and community can get people to talk, and that's the thing, it’s probably going to work the best for you in the smaller type area.

MATT: Yeah, yeah, exactly. That's right. Cause people in a local community, there's so much other things going on, but we want people to feel part of the group, and people do, at the end of the day, they want to feel part of the club, they want to feel part of the gym that helps them and also that can be contributing in some ways. So yeah, definitely, that's what we’re working on, the community approach. We hit the nail on the head, we tried marketing deals, but it just hasn't worked as much, hardly at all really. So that's what we’re working on, that community spirit, to show that we have people learning and having fun and they're progressing along and kicking some goals in their personal lives.

GEORGE: Awesome. And on the goals, I see on your website, you've got a list of 15 school rules – can you elaborate a bit more on that? Is that something that you're very strict on?

MATT: That's basically about the Dojo rules when I first started, that was one of my instructor’s basic rules at the gym. He actually gave them to me a long time ago and we actually put that on the website I think by mistake, but I like keeping it there and just setting some rules for the club that everybody can read and say, OK, these are the basic rules in their classes: that everybody has to work, some basic guidelines at the club. Showing a bit of discipline, respect, so that's what the rules are basically up there for.

GEORGE: OK, awesome. So back to running two businesses: you were saying that you discovered a few things and so forth, but I'm going to guess that at the end of the day, it’s gotta be, you in the building industry, that's a whole project by itself, I guess it creates a big time commitment as is. And then you've got the martial arts school. How do you go about juggling both businesses, side by side, by night, affecting your family life completely and so forth?

MATT: I have a great support family; my wife is fantastic. And her parents were in the building industry as well, so she has a bit of an idea of what the building industry is like. She's very supportive of me, and she gives me lots of time to keep on these things. But usually, when she says she needs help, she needs some support, I'm there 100%, I just drop everything. For my family I just drop everything, for them. But I'm very fortunate to have great support. I've got three kids, Melvis is 17 and I've got twins, Mitch and Chloe, they're 15. Mitchell now does, he trains every night, does martial arts, or both of them do martial arts – Chloe actually now teaches our 6-10-year-old kick boxing classes and Mitchell competes regularly in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so we travel all around the place doing competitions and stuff now.

And I really love seeing these guys being involved in the club. My family is sort of involved with martial arts, which makes a huge help with me. And I know down the track, building now is getting very competitive, I'm competing against the larger building contractors and I've always done houses and renovation, stuff like that. It’s getting to a point now that even the trends that I’m looking at now for work is the renovation, so a lot of it change the direction of the building business over the years so I don't get too busy and I don't want to be traveling out of town, because I won’t be able to get back in time for classes.

So it's restricted me on how far I can go with my building business, so I don't take on as much when I could take on and also, having the martial arts at night time restricts me from going out and having meetings with clients as well. There is some good points and bad points. For the bad points, I don’t get the opportunity to push my building business more by talking with clients after work, or show them around houses and jobs, stuff like that, spending the quality time and the one on one time that I really want to, without employing someone else to do that. It’s getting to the point now as I get older as well and because it’s so competitive in the building industry, it is making it a lot harder nowadays to keep motivated for me, especially keep me motivated to keep the business going, when my passion is still much for martial arts.

And I love just teaching and learning and I'm not quite there in regards to the martial arts business as well, I've got so much more to learn: setting up programs and setting up certain things to keep going, so I have a legacy setup, that's what I really want, that legacy that it’s still there when my kids get in their twenties and they can start running more classes if they want to. There’s an opportunity for them to take over the business. I don't think Mitchell wants to take over the building business, I'm not really sure, but you never know, we don't know what direction our kids will take. But it’s definitely getting harder for me now as I get older, running two businesses, more so running out of steam, running out of motivation. You've got to try and advertise both businesses, I find it really hard.

The goal was, in 2010 when I started up this new martial arts centre that I wanted to get to a place that we have enough members that I would probably fold back and just do small jobs on the building, small renovation jobs and focus more on the martial arts business, so I can put a 100% into that business. Because I see myself, there's opportunities there to grow that business and I think for me, I feel like I'm letting myself down not pushing 100%. But on the other side, I don't want to let my father down by letting his business just vanish, because he's worked so hard over the years. That's probably something inside of me that I have to sort of work out and in time, it will sort itself out I reckon.

GEORGE: For sure. What would you say the next step is for you with your martial arts business and moving forward?

MATT: Next step would be – George, for me, over the years, I’ve been trying to set up, trying to focus on my coaching with instructors, instructing students to take the next level. I want people to, as I said before – a legacy. I want to set the gym up to a point that people can actually have a job in martial arts. Have a job in teaching martial arts. When I first started martial arts, people would go, oh, is that your hobby? And I would go, yes, that’s a hobby. But even now, they ask me the question, is that a business, or is it a hobby? What am I doing? Now I say it’s my business: I've got two businesses that I run, it’s not a hobby, it’s a business.

And I think back 20 years ago, martial arts were looked at as a hobby and it wasn't looked at as a martial arts business. And last year I was happy enough to travel up with Matt Ball to America to see Dave Kovar's business over in America and then sort of resonated with me in saying, yes, we can do this. This guy has done it. And I think that's what I want to do. I want to set my focus on setting up Wickham’s martial art as more of a full time business, instead of a part time business. So that's sort of the direction I think I would like to take it in the future.

GEORGE: Awesome. Well Matt, it’s been great chatting to you, and if anybody wants to know more about you and your school and the town you live and so forth, where can they find out more about you?

MATT: Probably on our website, www.wickhamsmartialarts.com. That's probably the best idea to get all that. On Facebook as well, were very heavily in Facebook community as well, so you can find the Wickham’s Martial Arts page on Facebook.

GEORGE: Cool, well link to that. And I also see mattwickham.com.au. A personal one.

MATT: Yeah, that’s mattwickham.com.au.

GEORGE: Here we go, cool, two websites to check out. Awesome Matt, thanks a lot, I hope to chat to you soon.

MATT: All right, thanks George.

GEORGE: Thanks.

MATT: Thank you.

GEORGE: Cheers.

And there you have it – thank you very much, Matt, for coming to the show and sharing your story with us. If you want the see notes, you can download that from martialartsmedia.com/30, and if you're enjoying these podcasts and you like to learn more or have any suggestions for any shows or so forth, you can contact us on martialartsmedia.com, but also you can head to Facebook and if you want to leave us a bit of a review, that would be awesome.

I know it's very hard to leave reviews on the podcast apps like in iTunes and in stutter, so you can find us Martial Arts Media on Facebook if you go to the direct URL, it's facebook.com/martialartmedia, not with the s, somebody, unfortunately, already took that. But if you just type in the search box Martial Arts Media, you should be able to find us there.

Thanks again, thanks for listening and we're going to be back again next week for another great episode and I will chat with you soon. Thanks, cheers.

 

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27 – Turning 2 Weeks ‘Quiet Time’ Into 96 Martial Arts Paid Trial Students (And How To Retain 90% Of Them)

Attracting 96 new martial arts paid trial students in 2 weeks is fantastic. But retaining them by providing value is another. Paul Veldman shares how.

Martial Arts Paid Trials - George Fourie and Paul Veldman

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • What the exact martial arts paid trial offer was
  • The marketing components applied to attract 96 new paid trial signups
  • Having the right incentive to retain your new student
  • The one thing almost no martial arts schools are doing to retain their students for life
  • Valuing your reputation over dollars earned
  • Why email is still a leading force for martial arts marketing
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

And what I had saw coming back in was some faces and names that I hadn't seen for years, saying, can we take up his offer?

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another episode of the martial arts media business podcast, episode number 27. I have with me for round 2 today, Shihan Paul Veldman from Kando Martial Arts in Hughesdale and also from Martial Arts Business Success and we're going to be talking about a couple of things, but we're going to start with a really, really successful campaign that Paul had in December, that we helped him with and that generated well over 90 paid trials in the end, which is now the official number, which it was 86, there were 96 results from that.

And we're going to break it down, not just the signup process: we talk a lot about generating leads because that's my specialty, but I wanted to really get a background view of what happens. You put out a great offer, you put out a great trial like that, and you've got this flood of new students that sign up, but what do you do then? How do you manage to get them into your club on a permanent basis, signing them up for a long term member? And we're going to take a look at the different steps and components that go into that, to really turn these paid trial leads into ongoing and long-term club members.

So lots of great things to talk about, and not to jump the gun yet, but if you do want to have a look at the actual page that we used that helped generate Paul more than 90 paid trials at the end of the day, then go and have a look at martialartsmedia.com/mabs – M-A-B-S. I did a short seven-minute video, it just gives you a bit of an overview of how the whole page works, different components, the up-sells, and that's going to put a lot of this interview into perspective, so whether you do that before or after the interview, just make a note of that, because that's really going to help you understand the different components, and how that can help your marketing.

All right, I want to get going. For all other show notes and links and everything mentioned in this episode, you can go to martialartsmedia.com/27,  download the transcript and everything else is on the website for you. That's it for me, I hope you enjoy this interview – you're going to learn a lot from this I can guarantee that, and welcome to the show once again Mr. Paul Veldman.

GEORGE: Good day everyone, today I'm with Paul Veldman sitting in front of me this time, round two. Welcome, Paul.

PAUL: Good morning.

GEORGE: Cool. And today we're going to touch on a few things, but I guess our highlight is going to be, last year towards the end of the year, we did a campaign. We helped Paul to get a package for a paid trial, and got really good results with it.

PAUL: We ended up with 96 results over a two-week period.

GEORGE: Two weeks, yeah.

PAUL: But the really surprising thing George, that I enjoyed, was in December, we tend to find we drop off our marketing. We know that on Facebook, the pay per clicks gets more expensive because we're competing with all the retailers for Christmas business, but we thought we’d give it a little bit of a go, mostly just hitting out a lot of old inquiries, old members. And the results were astounding, it was actually scary how good they were. So between the three clubs, we ended up with 96 paid trials.

GEORGE: All right, excellent. So there are lots of ways we can go with that, let’s just define – what I really want to cover here today is, not only the paid trial section, because we put a lot of emphasis on getting the lead in, but then there's obviously got to be the follow-up, how we're going to keep them in, how we're going retain them as a student for the long term. But for people that are not familiar with the whole paid trial system and so forth, what exactly was the offer and how did you go about that.

PAUL: A little while ago, we went to paid trials. What we found was, when we did the 2 free classes, which was quite traditional, then if you joined up, you get a uniform, we’d get a lot of tyre kickers. People would come in, there was no commitment, they'd do their free class or two, they'd stay, or they wouldn't stay. And really over two classes, it was really hard to show the value of the program. So what we moved to initially, and what we do as our current intro program is, we do $29 for a uniform and four weeks, and there's a lot of variations of that around, we found that it works really, really well for us.

It gives them time to come in, have a look at our view of the class, not just putting on a pizzazz class, trying to impress the parents. They make a commitment, and if the parents put their hand in their pocket, or a student puts their hand in the pocket, even just for a small amount, there is that I guess more committed approach to their classes, because they paid for them, and we qualify people. If they can't afford $30 or they're not prepared to pay for $30, then they're probably not the right person for us anyway.

So what we did with the Christmas special, was we left it at the $29,95, but we doubled the time, because we understood that we were closed for a couple of weeks over Christmas, kids were on holidays, parents might be committed without school activities, or like most parents, would like to have a bit of break. So we did a $29.95, plus 8 weeks of trial. Now, that extends things out a little bit more than usual, which takes a little bit more tracking, but we found I think, that we've had, out of the 96, I think we had 88 come in already and start their trials. So we're very, very happy with that part as well.27 – Turning 2 Weeks 'Quiet Time' Into 96 Martial Arts Paid Trial Students (And How To Retain 90% Of Them)

GEORGE: All right, excellent. I guess the biggest concern for anybody would be: all right, so this person has paid $29. Now they can milk the club for a full 8 weeks and potentially leave. So, how do you get around, taking someone who's coming to that paid trial system and getting them to commit for the long term?

PAUL: That's a really good question. I think what you've got to look at is the whole series or the whole process of taking someone from not doing martial arts at all to being a student. The way I like to look at it is like a chain. And I know some people, we use the term funnels, but if you look at the chain analogy, think about each step along the way as one link in the chain.

So your first link is your marketing: you've got to put your offer there, you've got to put it in front of the right people and at the right time. Hopefully, that will entice them to make the inquiry. And the inquiry might be an email or a phone call, they'll walk in and come and see a class. So the next step in the chain is, well, how are they dealt with when they walk in? What's your reception procedure like, is someone at the desk nice and friendly, is the phone answered in a timely manner?

You train your staff to smile when they answer the phone, emails are answered the same day. So there's that customer service element that is that first impression. From there, the goal of that is to get them into actually start their trial, get on the mats and then I guess you hand over the responsibility to your mat staff. They work their magic, they build value over however long the trial period is for and along the way, you're talking to the parents as well. You're talking to the parents, or talking to the adult student, touching on their goals, seeing if their fit is right for the club because it’s a two-way street.

Some students are not right for your club, just like sometimes the club is not right for the student. And then, when you get to the end of that trial period, effectively, you're making another offer. You might look at it as an upgrade almost, because if they've paid for a period of time, then what we're asking them to do is commit – did you like what we did, are you happy with how it went, can you see yourself staying? And that takes them to becoming one of your students. Then comes what I think is probably the most important part, and that's retention. That's a couple of sessions on its own, but the old adage is – and I can't remember the exact numbers, but I think along the lines of, it costs 7 times more to get a new student in than it does to retain a student.

So for us, retention is a really, really big thing. And like all clubs, we have ups and downs. January is a dangerous time for losing students, chatting to people across the board, it sounds like there have been a few hits this time around, I think we lost 19 students. That's probably a bit more than normal, but we expect to take that hit in January. And also, that's why that December intake was really good for us, because we wouldn't normally have those trials coming through.

GEORGE: Yes. OK, excellent. Now, just the details on that, because someone's come in for 8 weeks and they've only made that $29 commitment, financially. So what are you doing to speed up that process of getting them in a payment cycle that they're actually committing to the club?

PAUL: That's a good question. We offer incentives to join within the 8 weeks, which is normally a 4-week period. So we a have a $99 joining fee, and it’s not one of these fluffy ones that you brittle on your bit of paper and then never use it – we actually do use it, but we waive that if they join within the trial period. So for example, for the 8-week period, we’ll be talking to them after 4 weeks. For the 4-week period, the mat staff are doing a follow-up at 2 weeks, checking with the parents, how they're going, setting an appointment to sit down and talk about the ongoing program, discussing the options on training program, training fees and showing the benefit being the discounted rate of signing up during that trial period.

So, there's a Call to Action there, so they don't just finish their trial and they wander off into the sunset and three months later they might come back if you've been chasing them up. We've just started up a small satellite club, just a once a week club and we're running that by school terms. What we're doing for the Call to Action there is, we're giving them a discount rate if they pay on time. So, for example, the school term is ten weeks, the early bird rate, as we're calling it, is $17 a class, but if they pay after the term starts, it's $22 a class. So we're trying to make an incentive, like a reward incentive. And it's very, very important to word it that way – this is a reward for doing it early, not a punishment for doing it late.

GEORGE: Yeah, OK, cool. It sounds like there's a lot of relationship building, there's a lot of interaction, it’s really setting that foundation. You're using the paid trial almost like a relationship building type process, with the new prospects.

PAUL: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things I like about the paid trial is – and I say this to the customers who come in or the trials who come in: this is a really low-cost way for you to find out about us. Like I said, if you come in for 1 or 2 classes, I can put on all the bells and whistles, I can put my best instructors and I can run the most fun class, but if you come in for 4 weeks, you're going to get a really good cross section of what the club is about, you're going to see all the classes, you're going to see all the instructor in action.

It’s a really great way to try out a martial art, without putting your hand in your pocket too much. I’ll give you an example: I have a friend of mine who joined up at another club a while ago, outside of town. And when she spoke to me, she ended up paying something like $350 to get started. Now, she had a free class, then she had to pay a month upfront, then she had to pay the actual joining fee, then she had to buy a uniform. Now, she had two kids who wanted to train, but she ended up only putting one in because the initial cost was too much.

And that's a big hit for a parent, especially because, as you know these days, chances are, your child might turn around in six months’ time and go, I don't want to do that anymore. So for us, it’s a really low-key way to come in, try us out, get a feel for what we're about and then as we say, if you don't like us, we part company as friends. And that's why also we don't do contracts, I think these days, contracts or term of agreements are a little bit outdated because it’s such a consumerist society.

GEORGE: I think the backlash with being tied in and being punished for trying to leave and things, I don't know – I think the repercussions of that personally, can be so damaging to your brand, because if someone leaves the club and they've been punished for leaving, they're in that contract. From my side, I would see that as you're letting someone know they're really leaving for whatever reason they are, so it could be personal, or it could be that they don't like it, or maybe they just don't like training anymore. But now it’s almost like salt on the wound, and saying, all right: I'm going to keep you for this much longer. And I think that the longer you keep someone in the system, you're more open to being badmouthed and getting bad publicity.

PAUL: Absolutely. And don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against running contracts, we did that for a while. You'll tend to get fewer sign ups because people are a little bit more wary about committing, but what you do is a business. And often with income, that you feed your family with, you guarantee that. Now, my point of view is, and to be honest, my wife said to me at one stage, if you're not going to hold people to the contracts, which I never did, why bother with them? We might as well put them on month by month, and get more people in.

But like I said, I have no problem with contracts, because people going to a contract understand what they're signing up for. They're making a commitment, and really, martial arts should be a commitment. I’d love to turn around and say, give me 12 months. You've got to give me at least 12 months before you really get even a feel for martial arts, but as you said, people feel like they're being punished. They do forget they signed that agreement. They do forget that that was the deal they made with you at the start. I think, even if you do run contracts, there has to be something on more compassionate grounds. Like I said, people move, people's work situations change. There's got to be a bit of wiggle room because, at the end of the day, we're about the people. And if you lose that perspective that you're here for the student, people will sniff it out pretty quickly.

You've got some really big clubs around, that unfortunately can fall under that McDojo label because they've lost that compassionate touch with their students. I don't mind contracts or not contracts, they don't work well for me because I've never held someone to one anyway. Every time someone said, look, this has happened, we need to leave, I’d go – no problem at all. And as my wife said, well why are we bothering? Let’s just get rid of it.

GEORGE: For sure. And, by all means, anyone listening, I stand corrected – if there's something I'm missing with that point, please leave a comment below this episode and challenge my viewpoint, cause I'm looking at it purely from a consumer perspective. Our business provides services for martial arts schools, but I don't personally own the school myself. So I stand to be corrected, but I know that for any purchase situation I make, that's something that I don't want to be experiencing at the end of the day.

PAUL: Yeah, absolutely. And like I said, people will try to do what they want to do. If they have enough after a 6-month or a 12-month contract, even if they signed it, they'll want to get out of it. And as you said George, you've got to balance out how much your reputation is worth. You're not in the wrong by enforcing the contract, because they've signed it, but that person that either closes their bank account down, or you might have to chase for money, or you're billing them when they're not training, they're not out there saying good things about you. And to be honest, that damage to your reputation all is it unfair, is probably not worth the money you're getting out of them.

GEORGE: Definitely. So, let’s go back to the paid trial offer: have you ever had any backlash from students, where current students see, wow, you're putting this excellent offer together on your Facebook page, and they can get 8 weeks, or 4 weeks, or whatever the offer is, but the offer is just attractive and they're already in this agreement as such and they may be joined way before this paid trial system was in place.

27 – Turning 2 Weeks 'Quiet Time' Into 96 Martial Arts Paid Trial Students (And How To Retain 90% Of Them)

PAUL: Yeah, we had that once or twice, not much, though. We run a system here now where when students join they can lock in their fees. So the fee you pay when you join now is the fee you pay forever, we lock that in. And that was something I got off Master Ridvan (listen to the podcast with Master Ridvan’s son Hakan Manav). And I think that's a really nice way to reward loyalty from your students. Saying that, the fee we're at when we lock in, it’s a pretty comfortable fee for us, but we can also guarantee that while you're with us, while you don't change programs, we'll never change that, so once you've been with us for quite a while, you’re at a lower rate, so there's that reward.

And as I point out to them, you've had the advantage of being able to train longer. You've been here, you've been getting the benefits longer. We did have the usual administration hiccups here and there, we did have it on the last special we sent out, a couple of people go back saying, email back saying, we joined up a month ago. Well, that's fantastic, I hope you're really enjoying yourself, we'll update the database. But I think it’s like anything: if I go and buy a microwave oven, or a stereo system today, and then in three months’ time, it’s on special – that's just life. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

GEORGE: There you go. I guess you've just got to be strategic on how often you change your offer and for how long a time because if you're changing your offers week by week, you are probably going to get a lot more backlash. And I guess also, train your audience to just be open to that fluctuating special all the time almost.

PAUL: Absolutely. And like I said, our intro special is our intro special. We'll get inquiries, asking how long it goes for, and we'll say, that's it, that's our intro special always. But then we'll make it more special, occasionally. Well do the 8-week trial run and four, or we might do a 2 for 1, or we've got a really great system that you've helped us set up, where they can bump up their first trial to their second trial for only $19 more.

And that's really, really worked well. With just a tick of a box, for half the price, you get a second offer. Now, did people get that a while ago? No, they didn't, but I don't think there's much resentment there, because you get used to what you're doing, and every now and again, I have got to remind my club owners and also myself that our intro special is still a really good offer stand alone, let alone if we bump it up to a better offer.

GEORGE: All right, excellent. I’m a big fan of the “lock people in,” secure their fee if they stay a member. It’s probably one of the best retention strategies I've learned online. When you launch a membership of any kind, get your opening price, get people into that and make it known that the price has gone up and they are guaranteed that fee for as long as they stay a member.

PAUL: Yeah, and I like it too, because like I said, I think it’s a bit of a reward for loyalty. Realistically, what they're getting is, every time CPA comes around each year, they're getting this discount. So if the CPA is 2%, all their fees just dropped downward 2%. We've been running for about 18 years, I think we looked at it the other day: we've got 38 or 40 people actively training, who have been with us for 10 years or more.

And the fact that they're on these dirt cheap fees is really nice. And I remember when I first brought this in, my mentor at the time went, well that's crazy! Because what happens if they stay with you for 10 years and they're paying fees from ten years ago? And I said, I know, right? They've been with me for 10 years and they've been paying fees for 10 years! Anyone who puts up with me for 10 years deserves some sort of reward.

GEORGE: All right, so going back right to the beginning: you got the offer up and you created a decent offer, so let’s touch on all the marketing elements that went with the offer.

PAUL: Yeah, it was interesting, because anyone who knows me knows that I'm really I.T. incompetent. Which is why I really enjoy working with George. So what we did was, we did a couple of prongs. We did the email system, to offer it to all inquiries, but also all our old members. We did a Facebook boost, and then we did a referral, we pushed it pretty hard through the current students as well. And what I was kind of pleasantly surprised with was how many old members reignited.

And I’ll be honest, it was actually an accident that that part of the database was put in. I just didn't think to say don't send it, unusually our intro offer is only for new members. And what I had seen coming back in was some faces and names that I hadn't seen for years, saying, well, can we take up this offer? Well, why not? These guys have left on good terms, it would be lovely to have them come back in and what a great way for someone to start up again if they've been umming and ahhing, which is give them a uniform and a couple of months of training, just to get them back into the start of the new year.

So that sort of thing was really kind of a pleasant surprise, because like I said, I hadn't actually thought I was going to email that to ex-members. It was more along the lines of prospects who had come in, showed interest, but not converted. And we're talking from kids who had maybe been little dragons, all the way up to black belts, who said, look, we’d love to come back in and give it a try and see if it’s what we're still looking for. And it was nice to see them back on the mats.

GEORGE: Yes, especially with Facebook and social media, people really neglect I think the importance of email because email first and foremost – it’s sort of the golden age of the internet. It always started: build an email list and you've got a database of people that you own. Which, in reverse, when you have a Facebook presence, it’s awesome, but it’s still also control of Facebook and the algorithms and what. And I’ll touch on a few changes that are coming up that could potentially be quite scary for a few businesses.

So the whole email list, I think it’s really important to focus on that as a school, because you're getting all this data anyway from all your students, and having that database list of people that you can email at any given point in time, that really can push your conversions up. Also, looking that it’s another touch point. We talk about 6 to 8 interaction with your brand before a conversion happens, whatever that may be: the phone call, the message.

But if you just concentrating on that one medium and it’s just Facebook for example, it might take a lot more, whereas, that personal email that's going to land up in the inbox, it could be that they see it for the first time, because some people just don't like logging into Facebook all the time – I know that's hard to believe sometimes, but it might count as the additional touch point to drive the conversion, or it could actually be the interaction itself.

PAUL: Yeah, I'm a big believer in, you've got to have multiple streams of students. I think gone are the days where you would do a pamphlet drop, or an ad in the yellow pages, or pre-historic days where you'd get one idea and 20 students happen. I think these days unless you're really niching yourself – and there are people out there who do that, multiple streams work really, really well. And the first one for us and the most important one is referrals.

Because if you're not getting referrals from your student base, you're not doing something right. And it might not be not taking great classes, but maybe you're not letting your students know that you appreciate referrals. We have a referral reward system, which we use quite often, and I really like doing it. I love giving away free months of training to the parents when they bring someone in. We're just looking at wrapping it up to include little kids because the parents get a free month, and the kids get nothing.

So we're looking at giving something to the kids if they bring a friend in. Because these should be your raving fans. If you're doing a good job, your parents and adult students should be really appreciating what you're teaching them. They should be getting a lot out of the classes and they should be wanting to spread the word. We don't want to become evangelists, but if they should be talking to people, we have a VIP pass, that we always give out to people when they join up and we give those out to students regularly. That intro program I spoke about, gives someone a free one of those. And we say, use it for your siblings, use it for your friends. Stick your name on there. There's a space n there where they can put they name on so we know who referred them.

But for me, that's one of the first and foremost things. And to be honest, I think that you should have 3 to 4 streams minimum running. It kind of sounds like a lot of work, but it’s not. If you think about it, one of them is referrals. So if you're treating your people right and letting them know that you have a referral system in place, letting them know that you really appreciate referrals, there's a simple one. If you're in a full-time venue, the look of your venue itself is a referral. If it’s looking nice and neat and you've got nice sides, you've got the front, that should draw people’s attention to it.

And it’s a little bit like, as you said, George, people need to be touched on quite a bit. It’s like if you start looking for a certain type a car: I think I'm going to go buy a Volkswagen. Suddenly, there are Volkswagens everywhere, you've never noticed them before. One of the ships has just arrived with a lot of Volkswagens, or I'm just noticing that Volkswagen. So maybe people were umming and ahhing about doing martial arts, and they saw your ad.

Or, they saw someone else's ad, and they drive past your studio and go, oh, there's a martial arts club. And there's one, there's one. I think as martial arts club owners when we drive around, buildings fall into one or two categories: could I run a club there, or could I not run a club there? You drive past any empty building; you weigh it up. So, between your referrals, your building, regularly staying in contact with your email list – and not just to sell them thing and, I'm speaking with you who taught me this, but keep them informed. Give them these little bits of information, give them nice to have hints, give them some fitness tips, or self-defence tips, keep them engaged.

Then you've got your Facebook, which is the here and now generation, and then you might do some traditional marketing things. We've had some great success just doing occasional pamphlet drop around certain clubs for some reason. The demographic there seemed to really respond to the pamphlet drop, whereas in other clubs, we just don't. You get nothing back from it, and again, that comes back to your test and measure.

GEORGE: I actually remember, because the Facebook ad was doing really well, and I think you had about 40 sign ups, and you mentioned to me you're hoping to push those up to 60. And I remember when the email campaign kicked in, there was that jump that took it from that 60 to the 80 and up.

PAUL: Yeah, and I think that one of the biggest things on that was the Call to Action that you had put a countdown on the landing page.

GEORGE: Yes.

PAUL: And I remember, I was driving home to get my son to bring him back for training, and the emails when the sales came through would be on my phone. And all the way home, in those last 40 minutes before it closed down on my way home, the phone was just going ding, ding, ding, ding, as more and more sales were coming through, and I'm thinking –  this is crazy! This is really, really, ridiculous. And we had a couple of people ring up just after, and say, look, we missed it, can we do it? And we said yes to that, it was neither here nor there for me, a couple more. But that combination of things, the nice landing page, the offer, the Call to Action. And we did the Call to Action really simply, because of a day before we closed for Christmas, and we didn't want to deal with it after we closed.

GEORGE: Awesome. If you would like to see the page and the whole system, if you go to mam.com/mabs, m-a-b-s, you'll see there about a 7-minute video of the page and how it's laid out and how the upsell worked, which really can boost that conversion with about 30%, so do have a look at that. The link will be on this episode, but also, talking about MABS, Paul, you now also have a coaching program – would you like to share more about that?

PAUL: Yeah, I would. Michelle Hext and I – if you've met Michelle Hext, you'll know that she's an absolute gun with online programs, but also a very, very good martial artist and martial arts business owner. She was one of my business mentors, and she really helped us to niche down our program. And that was one of her specialties back then. She would run a women's only Taekwondo club, which was just going gangbusters, really, really honed her ideal clientele down.

So we partnered up a little while ago, I think the both of us, we've both got our other streams of what we do, myself with my clubs, Michelle with her online courses, and we put MABS together, which is Martial Arts Business Success – if you can say that three times quickly. It’s kind of a fun thing to do because we both are really vested in martial arts, something we've both done since we were quite young.

I love teaching and my career has gone from teaching students, to teaching instructors, to now helping business owners, and I really, really enjoy it. Because I’ve got to say, I find it kind of frustrating when I see really good instructors out there who are struggling to make a living, and it’s through no real fault of their own. But a lot of us, especially in my age and all that are stuck in this rut that ‘build it and they will come’. And it just doesn’t work, there's too much competition these days, there's too much around, too many things competing for people’s time and money.

And what MABS is all about – to say budget, I’ll say budget with price, certainly not with content. It’s a nice, easy in of grassroots, skills and packets that you can use straight away. I’ll give you an example: last two packets I've done was building a leadership team. It’s one for your team on the mats and one for your team on the desk. So how to, as a club owner, how to build up certain elements of your business and your club that are really, really important, not just for day to day running, but for expanding.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. And you can access that at www.mabs.com.au.

PAUL: Aha, yep. If you type in Martial Arts Business Success on Facebook, it’s a closed group, so just apply for the application. It’s a free group, you don't need to join MABS to join that group. We have another group of the guys who have joined up, where we go into things in a little bit more depth, but even in the free group, there's a really, really good bunch of guys and girls on there, martial arts club owners and the discussion on there is really good.

You can throw any problems up there, and suddenly you've got not just Michelle and I answering questions: you've got ten people who have goodness knows how many years of experience in the martial arts industry, who are more than happy to input their advice. And to be honest, to me, that's what martial arts is all about. We're a martial arts community, and we should be backing each other. You and I were having a conversation before we started recording about the competition in the local area.

And as I said to you, if I get on Google and look at how many people are within a 5km radius of my club, there are about 60,000 people. And really, my goal is to tap this place out at 800, so there's plenty to go around. And I think within 5 km of here, there are another four full-time clubs. So we have a bit of a joke, if you throw a stick in a certain direction, you'll probably hit a martial arts instructor – you've just got to work out which one you want to hit.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. Paul – it’s been great chatting to you, as always, and I hope to speak to you again, maybe for round three.

PAUL: Thanks, George, great to talk to you.

GEORGE: Cheers.

And there you have it – thank you, Paul Veldman. I hope you got a lot out of that interview, I certainly did. A few things that really stood out for me: one is the conversion process from paid trial to member. And if you think of it in these steps, that your paid trial is just your paid trial, that's getting them in the door, and getting them committed, now they're in a different state of mind and in a different process because they are really training.

All right, so what is the next offer? What is the next offer that you're going to give them to incentivise them to take that next step: becoming a member. And then a nice bonus incentive – and I've seen a lot of great companies do this. Most companies don't latch onto this, but why not serve your existing members and lock in their current membership rate at that fixed rate from the day that they join? It’s just a great way to reward loyalty.

Now, if you want to go see the page that we created for Paul and his team that helped him generate more than 90 paid trials over the December period, then go to martialartsmedia.com/mabs – M-A-B-S, and there's a short 7-minute video that explains how that page works and then there's also a special offer for you, if you would like us to do that exact same page and set up for you that you can start using that for your paid trial system.

27 – Turning 2 Weeks 'Quiet Time' Into 96 Martial Arts Paid Trial Students (And How To Retain 90% Of Them)

 

And that's it – thank you very much for listening. I’ll be back next week again with another awesome interview. Until then, bye for now – cheers.

 

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WE ARE NOT LIABLE EVEN IF WE’VE BEEN NEGLIGENT OR IF OUR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR BOTH.

EXCEPTION: CERTAIN STATE LAWS MAY NOT ALLOW US TO LIMIT OR EXCLUDE LIABILITY FOR THESE “INCIDENTAL” OR “CONSEQUENTIAL” DAMAGES. IF YOU LIVE IN ONE OF THOSE STATES, THE ABOVE LIMITATION OBVIOUSLY WOULD NOT APPLY WHICH WOULD MEAN THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE THE RIGHT TO RECOVER THESE TYPES OF DAMAGES.

HOWEVER, IN ANY EVENT, OUR LIABILITY TO YOU FOR ALL LOSSES, DAMAGES, INJURIES, AND CLAIMS OF ANY AND EVERY KIND (WHETHER THE DAMAGES ARE CLAIMED UNDER THE TERMS OF A CONTRACT, OR CLAIMED TO BE CAUSED BY NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER WRONGFUL CONDUCT, OR THEY’RE CLAIMED UNDER ANY OTHER LEGAL THEORY) WILL NOT BE GREATER THAN THE AMOUNT YOU PAID IF ANYTHING TO ACCESS OUR SITE.

Links to Other Site

We sometimes provide referrals to and links to other World Wide Web sites from our site. Such a link should not be seen as an endorsement, approval or agreement with any information or resources offered at sites you can access through our site. If in doubt, always check the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address provided in your WWW browser to see if you are still in a MartialArtsMedia.com-operated site or have moved to another site. MartialArtsMedia.com is not responsible for the content or practices of third party sites that may be linked to our site. When MartialArtsMedia.com provides links or references to other Web sites, no inference or assumption should be made and no representation should be inferred that MartialArtsMedia.com is connected with, operates or controls these Web sites. Any approved link must not represent in any way, either explicitly or by implication, that you have received the endorsement, sponsorship or support of any MartialArtsMedia.com site or endorsement, sponsorship or support of MartialArtsMedia.com, including its respective employees, agents or directors.

Termination of This Agreement

This agreement is effective until terminated by either party. You may terminate this agreement at any time, by destroying all materials obtained from all MartialArtsMedia.com Web site, along with all related documentation and all copies and installations. MartialArtsMedia.com may terminate this agreement at any time and without notice to you, if, in its sole judgment, you breach any term or condition of this agreement. Upon termination, you must destroy all materials. In addition, by providing material on our Web site, we do not in any way promise that the materials will remain available to you. And MartialArtsMedia.com is entitled to terminate all or any part of any of its Web site without notice to you.

Jurisdiction and Other Points to Consider

If you use our site from locations outside of Australia, you are responsible for compliance with any applicable local laws.

These Terms of Use shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the the State of Western Australia, Australia as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such jurisdiction.

To the extent you have in any manner violated or threatened to violate MartialArtsMedia.com and/or its affiliates’ intellectual property rights, MartialArtsMedia.com and/or its affiliates may seek injunctive or other appropriate relief in any state or federal court in the State of Western Australia, Australia, and you consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in such courts.

Any other disputes will be resolved as follows:

If a dispute arises under this agreement, we agree to first try to resolve it with the help of a mutually agreed-upon mediator in the following location: Perth. Any costs and fees other than attorney fees associated with the mediation will be shared equally by each of us.

If it proves impossible to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution through mediation, we agree to submit the dispute to binding arbitration at the following location: Perth . Judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitration may be entered in any court with jurisdiction to do so.

MartialArtsMedia.com may modify these Terms of Use, and the agreement they create, at any time, simply by updating this posting and without notice to you. This is the ENTIRE agreement regarding all the matters that have been discussed.

The application of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, as amended, is expressly excluded.

Privacy Policy

Your privacy is very important to us. Accordingly, we have developed this policy in order for you to understand how we collect, use, communicate and make use of personal information. The following outlines our privacy policy. When accessing the https://martialartsmedia.com website, will learn certain information about you during your visit. Similar to other commercial websites, our website utilizes a standard technology called “cookies” (see explanation below) and server logs to collect information about how our site is used. Information gathered through cookies and server logs may include the date and time of visits, the pages viewed, time spent at our site, and the websites visited just before and just after our own, as well as your IP address.

Use of Cookies

A cookie is a very small text document, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier. When you visit a website, that site”s computer asks your computer for permission to store this file in a part of your hard drive specifically designated for cookies. Each website can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser”s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a website to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

IP Addresses

IP addresses are used by your computer every time you are connected to the Internet. Your IP address is a number that is used by computers on the network to identify your computer. IP addresses are automatically collected by our web server as part of demographic and profile data known as “traffic data” so that data (such as the Web pages you request) can be sent to you.

Email Information

If you choose to correspond with us through email, we may retain the content of your email messages together with your email address and our responses. We provide the same protections for these electronic communications that we employ in the maintenance of information received online, mail and telephone. This also applies when you register for our website, sign up through any of our forms using your email address or make a purchase on this site. For further information see the email policies below.

How Do We Use the Information That You Provide to Us?

Broadly speaking, we use personal information for purposes of administering our business activities, providing customer service and making available other items and services to our customers and prospective customers.

will not obtain personally-identifying information about you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide such information to us, nor will such information be sold or otherwise transferred to unaffiliated third parties without the approval of the user at the time of collection.

We may disclose information when legally compelled to do so, in other words, when we, in good faith, believe that the law requires it or for the protection of our legal rights.

Email Policies

We are committed to keeping your e-mail address confidential. We do not sell, rent, or lease our subscription lists to third parties, and we will not provide your personal information to any third party individual, government agency, or company at any time unless strictly compelled to do so by law.

We will use your e-mail address solely to provide timely information about .

We will maintain the information you send via e-mail in accordance with applicable federal law.

CAN-SPAM Compliance

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime.

Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Choice/Opt-Out

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime. Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Use of External Links

All copyrights, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property rights in and on our website and all content and software located on the site shall remain the sole property of or its licensors. The use of our trademarks, content and intellectual property is forbidden without the express written consent from .

You must not:

Acceptable Use

You agree to use our website only for lawful purposes, and in a way that does not infringe the rights of, restrict or inhibit anyone else”s use and enjoyment of the website. Prohibited behavior includes harassing or causing distress or inconvenience to any other user, transmitting obscene or offensive content or disrupting the normal flow of dialogue within our website.

You must not use our website to send unsolicited commercial communications. You must not use the content on our website for any marketing related purpose without our express written consent.

Restricted Access

We may in the future need to restrict access to parts (or all) of our website and reserve full rights to do so. If, at any point, we provide you with a username and password for you to access restricted areas of our website, you must ensure that both your username and password are kept confidential.

Use of Testimonials

In accordance to with the FTC guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, please be aware of the following:

Testimonials that appear on this site are actually received via text, audio or video submission. They are individual experiences, reflecting real life experiences of those who have used our products and/or services in some way. They are individual results and results do vary. We do not claim that they are typical results. The testimonials are not necessarily representative of all of those who will use our products and/or services.

The testimonials displayed in any form on this site (text, audio, video or other) are reproduced verbatim, except for correction of grammatical or typing errors. Some may have been shortened. In other words, not the whole message received by the testimonial writer is displayed when it seems too lengthy or not the whole statement seems relevant for the general public.

is not responsible for any of the opinions or comments posted on https://martialartsmedia.com. is not a forum for testimonials, however provides testimonials as a means for customers to share their experiences with one another. To protect against abuse, all testimonials appear after they have been reviewed by management of . doe not share the opinions, views or commentary of any testimonials on https://martialartsmedia.com – the opinions are strictly the views of the testimonial source.

The testimonials are never intended to make claims that our products and/or services can be used to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. Any such claims, implicit or explicit, in any shape or form, have not been clinically tested or evaluated.

How Do We Protect Your Information and Secure Information Transmissions?

Email is not recognized as a secure medium of communication. For this reason, we request that you do not send private information to us by email. However, doing so is allowed, but at your own risk. Some of the information you may enter on our website may be transmitted securely via a secure medium known as Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. Credit Card information and other sensitive information is never transmitted via email.

may use software programs to create summary statistics, which are used for such purposes as assessing the number of visitors to the different sections of our site, what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications, and identifying system performance or problem areas.

For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, uses software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy, currency or completeness of the content contain on this website or any sites linked to this site.

All the materials on this site are provided “as is” without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of merchantability, noninfringement of intellectual property or fitness for any particular purpose. In no event shall or its agents or associates be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of profits, business interruption, loss of information, injury or death) arising out of the use of or inability to use the materials, even if has been advised of the possibility of such loss or damages.

Policy Changes

We reserve the right to amend this privacy policy at any time with or without notice. However, please be assured that if the privacy policy changes in the future, we will not use the personal information you have submitted to us under this privacy policy in a manner that is materially inconsistent with this privacy policy, without your prior consent.

We are committed to conducting our business in accordance with these principles in order to ensure that the confidentiality of personal information is protected and maintained.

Contact

If you have any questions regarding this policy, or your dealings with our website, please contact us here:

Martial Arts Media™
Suite 218
5/115 Grand Boulevard
Joondalup WA
6027
Australia

Email: team (at) martialartsmedia dot com

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