150 – George Fourie: From Life Lessons To Founding Martial Arts Media™

The tables turn as the interviewer becomes the interviewee: George Fourie shares his life experiences and journey through marketing and martial arts on the Kyl Reber Podcast.


  • George's journey from studying computer programming to selling computers, working on a cruise ship, and eventually starting Martial Arts Media™
  • The story behind George's most impactful $37 sale
  • George's near-death experience as a pivotal wake-up call that transformed his outlook on life and career
  • How George discovered a passion for martial arts and saw potential in combining this with his marketing expertise
  • How Martial Arts Media™ was founded, focusing on supporting school owners to grow their businesses through digital marketing
  • And more

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



Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Today, I am going to feature an episode, an interview that I had on the Kyl Reber Podcast. Kyl, a good friend of mine, interviewed me. You can look him up on kylreber.com.au. Also, martialartsmedia.com/145.

I had the pleasure of having Kyl on our podcast. By the way, I was looking at it. In episode 145, we were talking about him having 370 students. I know that number's almost up to 500 now. They are booming, to put it mildly. Anyway, go have a listen to that if you haven't yet. 

For this episode, I really wanted to feature it because I got to tell you. I've been trying to record a podcast where I tell a bit of my story and just background where I came from, how this all got together, and I've given the pieces and inside of this over the years. I just had a look. We had episode 150, and I actually started this podcast in 2016, July of 2016.

I'm probably in the race for the longest-going podcast with the least amount of episodes, but 150 awesome episodes it has been, and I'm going to continue to do this for a while. Anyway, I've really wanted to have an in-depth– about my story, and I tried to record it a couple of times solo by myself, and I've got to say, it felt weird.

I did it about three times, and I deleted it every time. Then, I got on Kyl’s podcast, and Kyl gave me 10 questions just to prepare for the podcast. I did that, and I thought it was going to be enough, but Kyl's questioning technique was really solid and in-depth. Every time I answered, he dug a little deeper and dug a little deeper.

I’ve got to be honest. I probably spoke about things that I maybe just haven't shared over the years. Nothing too serious, but just things that I've buried in my past and let go. But Kyl did a really good job of unpacking all the details about me and asking a lot of questions. So, this podcast is going to be a bit longer. 

I highly recommend you check out Kyl Reber’s podcast. I will have all the links for that at martialartsmedia.com/150. That's it for me. I hope you enjoy this. I would love to know your feedback afterward. Let's dig in.

GEORGE: One thing I told myself at an early age was if I feel uncomfortable, then I'm at the right place.

KYL: All right. 

GEORGE: Something is happening here. 

KYL: Spot on. 

GEORGE: I’ve got to get comfortable. 

KYL: Good morning or good afternoon, whatever time of day you're listening to this podcast. This is the Kyl Reber Podcast. This podcast is one of those ones that doesn't really have a formula. It doesn't have a demographic because everybody has a story, and as I'm starting to use the tag, I have a lot of famous friends that you may never know, but this podcast is aimed at getting inside people's heads and looking at the big picture, and what they may be on the surface may be very different to what's underneath, and there may be a lot of parts to these people that you may have known this person and now you can find out for the first time. 

My next guest, I have not known for a great amount of time, but I'm getting to know him better as time goes on. I'm finding he's an exceptionally interesting human, but I am probably going to learn more about him. I've been on his podcast. Now, I'm returning the favor, and he's coming on mine. 

George Fourie, how are you, my friend? 

GEORGE: I'm doing great. Thanks, Kyl. Thanks for saving me on that intro. There are a lot of things that you didn't tell me that I'm not prepared for. 

KYL: As I said, we'll duck off on tangents as we go, and we'll do it as we are as we see it coming. For those who are new to this, there are 10 questions that George got a few days ago. 

Some of them he has to put a bit of thought into. Some of them, he doesn't. Some of them, I might prompt him. Some of them we'll duck off in tangents and that's all part of the game. The 10 questions start with number one, which sometimes turns into the longest question. Birth to now in seven minutes. Three, two, one, go. 

GEORGE: All right. Seven minutes. All right. 

KYL: It's never seven minutes, mate. Don't worry. It's like 30. 

GEORGE: All right. 40 South Africa, great childhood, pretty much. 

KYL: What part of South Africa? 

GEORGE: Strand, Somerset West, which will be about 20, 30 minutes from Cape Town if you look at it on a map. I'm of the Great White is what it's called. False Bay. Well, If you look at the bay, that's what it's called. Played rugby—that's compulsory in South Africa.

KYL: As you should.

GEORGE: If I look at your significant things that I've really traveled back to and looked at where things happened in my life that steered me into different directions. My dad lost his job when we were 12. I remember us driving in a car and my mom telling us that our dad just lost his job. We were fine, which was because he started doing maintenance work and so forth. And then he held through a ceiling and broke his back. That just took us on a whole–our family on an interesting downward spiral for quite some time. 

It's probably reinforced the thing that no one's out to get you, no one's out to help you, and you better make things on your own. In our country, I was always the kid with cash at school, but I also didn't sleep much because I worked three jobs. 

KYL: How old were you when you got your first job?  

GEORGE: 12. 

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: At the Super Tube, like a slide. Then, I started delivering newspapers during the day, but then I figured that daytime was taking away the surfing time, so I started doing it in the morning. I'd get up at four in the morning and do my paper rounds. 

KYL: Surfing took over rugby, or surfing and rugby at the same time? 

GEORGE: Surfing took over rugby. It was a bit of a war at school because when I reached high school, I was like, “Why aren't you playing rugby?” I said, “I want to surf.” It didn't go down well. And then, I played rugby, and then I broke my collarbone when I tackled someone, and that really pissed me off because I couldn't surf. 

And so that was rugby out the window. So, yeah, surfing drums—that was my two best. 

KYL: Okay. School in South Africa. We have an interpretation. So, we're talking the 1980s?

GEORGE: 1980s– I finished school in 1995. 

KYL: What was high school like in South Africa? Was there still that, you know, like, again, we see what our interpretation is, but what was it like? Was there still that separation, or were you in an area that acknowledged that there wasn't any? What was that like for you? 

GEORGE: To be honest, I grew up in that era that I had– I was pretty much unaware of what it was. It was just we were divided. That is how–

KYL: That was the way it is.

GEORGE: Yeah. Like, I mean, you would walk on the beaches and it will say, “Whites Only.” That's a thing. And then I heard of this Mandela guy that's coming out of prison, and I was like, “Who's he?” And then, the whole thing got explained, “Well, this is wrong.” And I didn't really know it because that's how it was, right? 

It's strange because then you're like, “Oh, okay. Hang on.” But then there's still this confusion. And then, that was the first time that was probably like–I was probably like–we finished school at about 18, about around 16, 17. That was the first time people of a different color that weren't white actually came to our school. 

It was in the middle of that real transition of when things started to change. 

KYL: Was it a big deal at the time? Was it a big deal for you, or was it just, okay, that's what it is now? 

GEORGE: It was a big–with all things, politics, there's panic. There was weird things happening. People would knock on your door and say, “Hey, we just want to check your house out because we want to claim that this is ours.” When Nelson Mandela came in, there was a complete–like all politics. We can't go to politics, right? 

KYL: No, no, no. 

GEORGE: No? So, yeah, there was a lot of that. We've all got opinions. I feel it got better and it got worse, and then, you know, if we look at where things are at now, yeah. But the country's come a long way. There's a lot more unity, and it changed a lot. It's definitely changed a lot. 

KYL: It couldn't–I mean, like, again, not to get into politics, but it couldn't change when all that was happening, wasn't it? I mean, for it not to change would have meant a lot of really bad repercussions. So, high school finished. What happened then? 

GEORGE: I hated school. I hated the rules. 

KYL: You know the amount of people that are doing these amazing things now that all tell me how much they hated school? 

GEORGE: Well, I just didn't fit in. I didn't fit in with a thinking- 

KYL: This wasn't you. 

GEORGE: I didn't fit in with the thinking–coming from South Africa, there was a bit of a ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ philosophy. Corporal punishment was the thing. I preferred it because it meant I didn't have to sit in the attention. 

KYL: Got it over and done with? 

GEORGE: Yeah. But I mean the rules, right? If my hair was touching my ears, fringe touching my forehead, that's an inspection failed. I just didn't agree with it, and so I rebelled against this. 

KYL: I was going to say, “Did you not do it just because you can?” 

GEORGE: Kind of. Probably that, right? And so it came to a point where they would have the head inspections, and the woodwork teacher would say, “All right. Boys, look that way. George, get out.” All in one seat, and I was like, “What?” And I'm standing there trying to hide, and it's not happening. So, anyway, I finished school, and I just needed to do nothing.

Nothing meant surf, play drums, and work in restaurants, and that was okay. Then my dad said, “Look, you better go and get your life into gear.” I said, “Well, I want to do marketing.” And they were like, “Well, everybody does marketing.” I'll go do the marketing. 

KYL: Why did that click with you? What was there something that made you feel that I really liked doing this? Did you like talking to people or just that interaction, or what was it? 

GEORGE: It's probably just for, like, I mean, all the failed entrepreneurial ventures that I took on during school– 

KYL: Yeah, right. 

GEORGE: –but it looked like a path without a ceiling where everything else did. And yeah, there was just a part of me that, I don't know. It just resonated with me. I didn't even know that much about it. 

KYL: Because I never heard a lot of talking to people, so would you say you're extroverted or an introverted-extrovert, or if you need to do it, you'll do it?

GEORGE: I'm probably more introverted. I'm extroverted when I have to be. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: But it does tire me out, and I'm good with it, right? I'm okay to talk at events, host them, and be that guy. It fires me up when I do it, but I do like space to just focus and do the thing I want to do. 

KYL: Okay. So, when you did the marketing, where– 

GEORGE: I didn’t. 

KYL: You didn't? 


KYL: Okay, cool. 

GEORGE: I studied computer programming. 

KYL: All right.

Martial Arts Media

GEORGE: Everybody says, “Well, that's not the way to go.” So, I go study computer programming, and it was funny, right? Because I get into the class, and these kids have clearly been programming since two days after they were born.  And I'm like, “Where do I put this thing on?” Like literally. 

KYL: This is late, late 90s? 

GEORGE: This is 97. 

KYL: Okay. So, that'd be still in the–that was when I was at university. That's the era of floppy disks and massive computer labs, and these things that you needed two people to carry. 

GEORGE: Yep. Yeah, it took a while to get into that, but finally, I did. And I enjoyed the technicality and the problem-solving—the problem-solving, probably a lot. But six months in, I started selling computers to my classmates. 

KYL: Was that a don't-ask-me-where-I-got-this-from situation or?

GEORGE: No, no, no, no. We signed up for a supplier. I and a school buddy of mine, we found a supplier. Look, there was probably a bit of wangling of portraying we are way bigger than we are to get the account, but we got the account and we started. Obviously, I had a captive audience, and it was just, “Well, this is great.” 

And then, when I finished studying, I was like, “Well, I want to crack at this business. I was going to open a business.” I was just over 20, opened a computer retail and support store.

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: My buddy and I went door-knocking in the industrial area, and we just knocked door-to-door, handout flyers that we printed out of our little inkjet, test jet, whatever, printer. We've got a client, and we're like, “Yeah.”

We set up. I've got photos of this, but we emptied out the garage, and we put our desks. We had this garage where we had this official computer business, and then we got another client. And then all of a sudden, we got clients, and we became the talk of the town, literally, because the guys that were deemed to be nothing—and yeah, I had the headmaster tell me that we will equate to nothing in life. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: So, it's like a– 

KYL: And I guess that reinforces now even – we won't jump too far ahead – but reinforce now if you want something, you can't wait for it to come to you. You've got to make it happen. If you'd have sat in that garage and just waited for a client to come to you, it wouldn't happen, would it? 

GEORGE: Exactly, yeah. And so, because, I mean–actually, we set up the office before because that's what you do, right? Procrastination things. 

KYL: Oh, yeah. You need a tidy desk. I'm just going to tidy up for the– 

GEORGE: How many business owners start a business and spend six months on their logo? 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Because nobody cares about that, right? Anyway, we got going, and we got good traction. Young to have all these business lessons, right? But we went all the way through to just before the year 2000, when Y2K, the online computer crash. 

And I'd love to say it was that, but it was like me and my business partner having clashes and not understanding a lot of marketing and what we were doing. Sometimes, he appeared a bit deceptive, and people didn't like it. And so, we had this clash of personalities starting to appear, and then we lost it all. We lost it. I was crushed, ashamed, embarrassed. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: And I just looked at this mountain of debt that I had on my shoulders. I was like, “All right. We’ll take a few months off. We'll try this, and we'll try this.” But I had this permanent knot in my stomach, “Oh, I've got all this debt. I don't know how I'm going to pay things.” And now, I'm like, “Well, I've got to look for a job.” I'm a little too dusty on computer programming skills. Where do I find a job? So I'll go, I start looking for jobs and I can't get a job. I finally got a job, commission only—selling timeshare. 

KYL: Oh, God. 

GEORGE: Right. This is a part of the story I don't often tell because when I say that, people are like, “Oh, you're one of those guys, or you were–” Well, I'm not. But anyway, I'll get a job setting. To explain that entirely, the vacation ownership, timeshare, holiday, program. Not the guy that phones you up and says, “Hey, you won this free thing.” 

But then, we sit at the desk, people come in, and we've got to present this product to them. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: And they buy or they don't. Anyway, I had this job for three months, commission only, and I was that bad that I got fired. Yeah, all right. This is going well. But there's something here. And so, I see this other company advertising… it’s a timeshare -based company. I walked into this office, and there was a guy; he was about a year older than me, and I'm just early twenties, right? 

A year older than me, a flash suit like Armani suit. Probably the – you could say the real salesman look, but he was professional, right? 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: I walked in there. Look, I try to draw from false confidence and really portray myself as what I am. But this guy, Zane Rinquest – we were still friends on Facebook – he rips into me, right? He called his BS meter was so dialed in, and he destroyed me, right? 

It challenged me, like, “How can you do this? How?” I'm like, I can be more upset, but I remember walking out there, shaking. I walked to my car, and I was like, I don't know what just happened to me, but whatever happens is, I want to know what this guy knows about human psychology, understanding people, and being able to communicate. 

The next day, he called me and he was like, “Yeah, you're hired.” Two weeks later, I made my first sale, and then I was hooked on what just happened—being able to present a product to people and then actually joining it. I got hooked on this industry for many years. 

We traveled around in vans, like in a combi style thing, visit resorts in South Africa. That was my life. I did, when I lost the computer business, vouch to never touch a computer again. That was out of my system. Anyway, life goes on. Seven years, eight years, I moved up to Johannesburg. I break my neck in a car accident. 

KYL: Okay. Good one. 

GEORGE: Yeah. The hemorrhage, that's the scar on the side of my head. 

KYL: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Martial Arts Media George Fourie

GEORGE: And dents in my head. Yes, I break my neck and hemorrhage, and yeah, there I am in the hospital. I didn't have insurance. But in South Africa, and you're in a public hospital called Joburg General, it's pretty grim.

KYL: I was going to say, you'd–one thing that was popping into my head then the difference between Joburg to where you were growing up would have probably been a very different kettle of fish, wouldn't it?

GEORGE: Well, look, if I landed up in a different hospital but with no insurance – that's where I landed up – and I just watched these people. I've been here for two months, and it looked like – no offense to anyone – it just felt like I was in a homeless ward, and I've been there for months, just not being taken care of. Well, I had a head injury, so I went from ecstatic laughing comedian, probably when I was, you know, when I was medicated, to neurotic. Losing my temper, blowing up, and getting rage-filled with rage. 

I was trying to plan my way up because I was like, well, nobody else is going to get because I was interfering with the whole process. But anyway, two weeks in, this doctor walks in, and he's doing his checkup and goes through this paper. Well, you know, go through the sheet, and he laughs, and he laughs. 

And I said, “Why are you laughing?” He says, “Well, guys like you that come in here, we normally don't operate.” I said, “Why?” He says, “Because you're dead in two weeks.” And he walks out. 

KYL: Thanks? 

GEORGE: And my laughter, together with his, I just went numb. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: All right. And if anyone's listening, that's ever had a near-death experience, that was like probably the wake-up call I needed.

KYL: How old were you when this happened? 

GEORGE: 28, 28. 

KYL: Okay. That's not getting old, but that's getting, you know, where maybe things should be happening that you see, where society thinks things should be happening, and then they're not happening. 

GEORGE: Exactly. Yeah. But I'm doing all right. You know what I mean? But I'm also partying a lot. There's that aspect of life. And so, I realized I knew I've always wanted to leave South Africa and life is short. I just experienced that. I've got to get out of here. How do I get out of the country? Where do I go? How do I go? 

The one thing when you're in the timeshare industry, you can get a job anywhere in the world, pretty much, but it's risky, right? 

KYL: Yeah, of course. 

GEORGE: But you know you've got the skill to carry yourself through. And so, I looked at Tenerife and Spain and everywhere. And then, one of my old managers from Cape Town started working on carnival cruise lines in the States. It wasn't time-shared, but they were selling VIP cruise memberships, like a free package.  

And I was like, “Well, this sounds interesting.” And yeah, I went down that track, applied, got the call from Arizona one night, and then they accepted me. I flew, and got my ticket out at the end of 2004. 

KYL: To jump back a section there, do you have siblings? Brothers and sisters? 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

KYL: Parents, how were they about you wanting to leave the country? 

GEORGE: I think they were okay with it. In South Africa—I can't speak for everyone, right? But I know from where I'm at was, you knew from day one that you’re either in a family with money, right? That was not us. You are either going to become a doctor or a lawyer, something or an accountant, something super educated.

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: There's this vast difference in pay brackets in South Africa. 

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: There is lower, and there's middle, you know. It's more of a middle-class, upper-class. I'm just saying, class. I'm just talking about– 

KYL: I know what you mean, yeah. 

GEORGE: In South Africa, there's this big gap. 

KYL: There's a massive gap. 

GEORGE: Yeah, and those guys are normally exceptionally wealthy. You're either that, you run your own business, or you're in sales. Not generalizing, but that's, there's obviously, you can have sports careers. But the way to the top, it’s a hard road. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: If you're none of that, then your normal ticket out is to go to the UK and bring back pounds Hopefully, you set yourself up, give yourself a start, or you leave, and you're an expat, which is probably why you find so many South Africans everywhere. 

KYL: It is. You do see a lot of South Africans. While in Brisbane, you see a lot of South Africans. So, you go back to it, you leave, jump on the cruise? 

GEORGE: Yeah. I'm based in New Orleans- 

KYL: Oh my God. 

GEORGE: -which is just a crazy city. 

KYL: Never sleeps? 

GEORGE: Yeah. I'm working 60 to 70 hours a week on the cruise ships. But when you pull in, you're in the Caribbean for three days a week. So, the ship stops, and I'm on holiday. Wednesday mornings, we’re in Jamaica. On Thursdays, we're in the Cayman Islands, and on Fridays, we're in Cozumel, Mexico. 

There's exceptionally work hard and then there's party as hard. 

KYL: Work hard, party harder. 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

KYL: Do you feel in that situation like, again, you're working hard but you're also partying hard? To switch from party hard back to work hard was just one of the things you did, or was it like-? 

GEORGE: It was merged.  

KYL: Roger. 

GEORGE: Because it's just a lifestyle, right? I mean, you look at it. 

KYL: That's what I mean.

GEORGE: It's like a bit of a bubble. It's a fairytale, really. You're on a cruise ship; there are three and a half thousand new people every week. The job that we had, we were a concession on board, meaning it wasn't owned by the cruise line, which means I had a guest cabin from day one and guest privileges. 

It was very comfortable in the way we lived, and you don't pay US dollars, and it was great. You don't pay for meals. You don't pay rent. 

KYL: I was going to say you wouldn't have to really open your wallet, would you? 

GEORGE: Well, in the crew bar, you do every night or like a dollar a beer type of thing. 

KYL: And all sorts. 

GEORGE: Yeah. It's buy around for $5 and just put around. So, I did that for six months. Well, after six months, I went back to South Africa, flew back to Los Angeles, did Los Angeles for two weeks, then went down to San Diego, then got based in Vancouver, did the Alaska run for three months, did Hawaii, which was pretty epic because I wasn't allowed to work because we guys that live in the States will be familiar with this. 

Maybe not so much in Australia, but every state has a different law. Where the cruise ship leaves from, you're in that jurisdiction, then you begin into the new jurisdiction. If you want to do business, it's a different law. And so, our company had jurisdiction in 50 states. And so, when we entered Hawaiian waters, I was given the option to leave or stay on board, cruise for free, live for free. 

KYL: How is that even an option? Oh, I don't know. 

GEORGE: Clearly. Yeah. Clearly, I stayed in Hawaii, and then we rerouted to Mexico. In between this, this is where the story probably draws. We're way beyond seven minutes. 

KYL: Mate, I told you… 

GEORGE: I met a lady on board from Perth, Australia, and I was actually planning to come to Perth on holiday. That was the plan. Then I had a son show up, so I realized, well, I guess I'm moving to Australia. I didn't know how. 

KYL: Got to grow off a little bit. 

GEORGE: Yeah. I just realized I've got my cruise ship days at an end, and I'm moving to Perth. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: I had a holiday visa booked, right? It wasn't like I had to arrange anything. It was interesting, though, because I flew from Acapulco in the middle of the heat to Washington DC– 

KYL: Oh, geez. 

GEORGE: –a little snow, to get my passport stamped the next day, flew to Los Angeles, flew to Sydney, flew to Perth. And so, yeah, I got to Perth, and I'm on a holiday visa, right? I'm exploring, “Well, okay, I've got to stay in Australia.” 

KYL: What year are we in now?

GEORGE: 2006. 

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: 2006, I'm like, well, how do I stay? I'd go to the Immigration office and never forget this guy because he had that one eye. I explained my story now; just a bit of a difference, right? 

Oh, Africa, in South Africa, there's gray law, right? Gray law means that there's a law here and there's a law here, but you can bullshit your way into that law, right? Everything is so solvable with a good story. Australia, really, as well.  

KYL: You're right, or you're wrong, that or it's that, it’s black, or it's white. 

Anyway, I tell my story, which is an honest, sincere, valid story. But this guy pretty much says to me, “Look, anybody can get a girl pregnant to try and stay in Australia, and that's just not going to gel here.” That really rubbed me up the wrong way because I'm really happy to go. I'm trying to do the right thing here. How do we do this? 

And so it came to, I realized, well, hang on. Actually, I've got to leave. I had a No Further Stay clause on my visa, so I had to move, you know. I flew to Bali for eight days, came back, and just got destroyed at the gate. 

KYL: Yeah, right. 

GEORGE: It was 4 am, I walked, and the girl said to me, “So, you did a visa run?” And I gulped because it was a visa run. They actually know that this is a thing. Then she goes on the computer and she says, “Well, I see that you tried to have your No Further Stay clause removed, and we denied it.” And so, I'm the only guy there at 4 am, and everybody starts gathering, and these guys jump into bed, and I say, “Look, this is my story.”

It is, and they interrogated me for about 30 minutes, and then the guy picked up my bag. He says, “Okay, you're free to go.” He picks up a bag, and he hears something inside it and shakes it. He says, “What's that?” And drops my bag. He takes, leans in, and he opens, and he gets a bunch of, I think it was spirulina, and he looks at me and he says, “What's in this?” 

I'm like, “Spirulina.” He looked at me, and while he's looking at me, because he's trying to see if I've got a reaction, opens the lid and he throws it all out on the counter. Messy spirulina, obviously, and said, “Okay, you're free to go.” That's rattled me. Holy crap. 

Then, my son was born, and I had to do it again. But this time, cash was running out. I've been living off savings from the ship. I did three days, I got back, and I was so prepared. I was so nervous. I said to the guy, “Look, this is it.” He said, “Look, I believe everything you're saying, but we protect the visa.” And that's it. I said, “Look, well, I'm going back to South Africa to sort this out.” 

I had about a year to prepare for my visa. And then, at the end of that year, I went back to South Africa. I was there for six weeks. I set the appointment. I got the appointment for the day before I came back to Australia. That's all I had. I started that appointment, and I presented. I had this big file with everything indexed, and it was perfection, right? Everything that was, and she went through and said, “Okay, we'll contact you.” I said, “No, you don't get it.” 

KYL: Like, “I'm leaving tomorrow.” 

GEORGE: And if I get there, it's not happening. Then there was an Aussie guy, and he'd look through the file and say, Hey, look, everything looks good. Come back tomorrow. We'll give you your visa.” And that was my Australian visa. 

KYL: Jesus. 

GEORGE: So, we're in Perth; we're allowed to stay and not continue to do visa runs. 

KYL: What's transpired probably from, let's say, 2007 to now? 

GEORGE: Well, a big thing that happened at that time was I bought a computer.  

KYL: Oh, you gave in. 

GEORGE: I bought a laptop, and I started to learn online marketing because I couldn't work. Don't worry. Is anybody, tax man, listening? I've been to work in Australia, but I was online, and I was learning how to–I still had my US bank accounts and everything. I started learning Google AdWords and how to do marketing online. 

That's where my passion for online marketing really started. Hang on, I understand the sales and sales concept. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Here's this whole new medium where this happens online through pages, through websites. This was before Facebook, and anything was the thing. That was Myspace. But I started, I picked up a book with Perry Marshall, The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords. 

I started reading this, yeah. In 2007, when I got back, I got a job at a timeshare company, of course. 

KYL: Would you believe it? 

GEORGE: It was– 

KYL: That’s what you know. 

GEORGE: Yeah. So, I got a job with Accord. They flew me to the Gold Coast. We did two weeks of training. And so, that set me up, and I was back in motion, but between this, I started doing online marketing, and I would be sitting at the resort at the vines, and I would see all these PayPal notifications coming through because I'm making sales.

One of them works. And so, this thing of leverage, and I've just started to, well, hang on, this is working. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: I mean, I've got to give this a go. Then, I started the online marketing.

KYL: Fast forward to now, you run a company, Martial Arts Media™. Now, a 60-second blurb on that. What is that company? 

GEORGE: Help martial arts school owners with growth through digital marketing. 

KYL: And you're covering people from all across the world doing that? So you've got what, Australia, New Zealand? 

GEORGE: Canada, well, not Canada at the moment. US, Ireland. 

KYL: Okay. Martial arts for you, what's your experience in martial arts? The reason I ask this is one thing that's always got me with you, and I think it's a real good–it's a good thing. You're not–you're helping lifelong martial artists run their businesses better, and I think this is the misconception. You don't have to be a lifelong martial artist in order to be a good businessman. 

They're two different worlds. And that is, I think, maybe one of your strengths. But you have done some martial arts before? 

Martial arts marketing

GEORGE: Yeah, I think it's worth just going, gleaning two, three minutes to the little gap there. So, my son turns five, I've never done martial arts. I walked through a shopping mall. There's a bunch of guys promoting a program, and I like, “This could be great for a kid.” Awesome. And so, I enroll my son, go on a trial, and I'm watching this class happen, and I'm like, “This is awesome.” This is from my experience. I'm just looking at it through the lens. This is perfect. Personal development, all these things that I did about mindset and doing my sales career, all the things– 

KYL: Are your business brains kicking in? 

GEORGE: Yeah. I'm thinking, this is happening in physical form, right? I'm not my business brain, just my parenting brain. 

KYL: Yeah, yeah. 

GEORGE: It's getting learned. Skills and lessons that he's got no idea what it is, but he's learning focus, determination, and resilience. And I'm just watching this, and I'm like, “This is freaking amazing.” 

He's five, and he's training once a week, twice a week, three times a week. And now it's just the thing, right? Like he's training three times a week. Here's where it starts to come together: I watched the guys doing marketing, and I'm like, “But if they did it this way?” 

Look, at this time, we're talking 2000, and what's that? 2011, 10 years. Well, more than 10 years, but unofficially. But there wasn't, as all this online marketing stuff wasn't as prominent in local businesses as it is today. 

KYL: No. 

GEORGE: But I had these ideas like, “Well, you can do this with these easy email campaigns. You can do this.” I don't know how Google ads work. Out of the love of what they were doing, I said, “I've got some ideas for you. I'd love to share them.” I sat with him in the office one day and said, “Hey, there's all these things that you can be doing that you can just enhance your business.” And they said, “Well, can you do it?” 

I said, “Well, yeah, I don't want to, but this is how it works.” I said, “Well, we'll work something out.” So, we did that. I started doing one thing for them, and then they got results. And then they said, “Well, can you do this?” I said, “Yeah, can.” Then, we added this, and then we added that. And so all of a sudden, I'm spending all my time at this school, my son's training was training, chatting to the owners, I’m helping them. 

And so, we're talking over two, or three years, right? The thing is, I don't know any martial arts school outside this one place. That's my only perspective of the martial arts industry. But I'm just in love with all this that's happening. 

Somewhere along the line and, this was Graham McDonnell, “Hey, why aren't you training?” And I'm like, that's a weird question. At that point, I haven't even considered it, right? I was like–you guys were like, “I'll be all the excuses you hear, right? Of a 36–” I was 36 at the time. Turned 47 two days ago. I was like, “Because I'm too old. I'm too broken.” 

I had all these things that were okay. And then, I tried a class, and then I was like,

“Oh, here I am.” I'm, you know, without being cliche, but I'm hooked, right? Because I've experienced all this from the sideline, and now, for the first time– 

KYL: You’re in it. 

GEORGE: –I'm in it. Yeah. That's just become the thing. Now, this is consuming my life, right? I'm training, my son's training, I'm helping the school, and somewhere along the line there, I realized, “Well, like this has either got to be the thing or nothing.” I was working doing other stuff. 

That's a whole other tangent we weren't going to supplement my income, but I felt that I've always looked for the thing that I'm passionate about, that I love. If I can put my marketing and sales skills behind it and promote an ethical product that answers people's lives in a big way, that's a dream world for me. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: And so, that was Martial Arts Media™. It was born, and I just thought, “Well, that’s going to be my life.” 

KYL: When you realized that that was a thing that could be done, and then you probably went out to other schools, and you know, however, that gestated and grew, was it– I'm dissing my own kind here, was it alarming how – what's the word – archaic some of our clubs? Well, some clubs were in their promotion, if they were promoted at all, to see what they weren't doing more than what they were. 

GEORGE: Yeah, all hats off to Phil Britten and Graham McDonnell. What I didn't realize is they were just at another level at that time. They had built a business foundation that was exceptional but way above the average school. 

KYL: 100%.

GEORGE: That was my perception of this is how the industry is, which I did learn later that there's a lot of guys that are way more up and coming and working towards that. My coach spoke about it the other day. It's how the typical–he was talking about a yoga instructor, how a typical yoga school is born, but it's the same as the martial arts, right? If you start training, you fall in love, then you maybe teach a few classes, and then you think, “I'm going to open my own school.” 

It starts as a hobby that turns into a business. You had the business mind, or some did it, or some evolved that over time, but it's something that you are all into. So, yeah. With that, there's obviously a lot, sometimes missing in the business side, that comes afterward. 

KYL: And this is a thing like I said. It's always a hurdle, even in just the management of clubs and that sort of thing, and businesses, just because you're the highest rank or you've been there the longest doesn't necessarily mean you (a) know what everything you're doing and (b) you might be the best fit for the job. Was that a bit interesting sometimes these people, I'm not being resistant, but you going in going, “Hey, look, I've been doing martial arts for a blip on the radar, but I reckon you could run your business better if you did this, this, and this?” 

GEORGE: It's funny. It's always been–it's normally someone else that does coaching that would say, “You're not a martial arts school owner. How can you help martial arts school owners?” I'm like, “Nobody's asked me how to run a better class yet.” 

KYL: So, that's the thing. That's your niche. You're not doing necessarily; this is how you teach: I kick better, or I choke better, or whatever you're doing. This is how you get more students. This might be how you work with your staff better. This might be how you promote better and run your ads better. That's your thing, isn't it? 

GEORGE: 100%. I mean, I'm very open about what I don't give advice on, but as you know, we have a community where I know that that advice is there. 

KYL: That's doing itself. 

GEORGE: Yeah. That comes from the school owners like yourself. Those guys will be there for 20 to 40 years. They've got the experience, and they've done it all before. That's where the whole mastermind concept really becomes a value. But for anybody that's really passionate about marketing and really cares, and I'm not talking about the guys that buy a course and then, “Oh, I'll pick a niche.” 

KYL: Yeah. 

George Fourie Martial Arts Marketing

GEORGE: That drives me a bit when people chase the thing because there might be money there, right? I didn't gel with that. I started it for different reasons. Although I know my journey in martial arts is different, I value it as much. 

I feel that if you spend enough time, I have understanding problems that people are going through and having enough conversations, you detach from your being in the motion of running it, and you come up with different perspectives and different solutions. I guess it's the program mind programming that I learned in programming is you have to solve solutions with systems.

I find I'm just way more passionate about it because I love the product, and I love what martial arts does, what it did for my son, and what it did for me; that's where it all comes from. And if I think about the time I spend, I mean, I'm talking with school owners like yourself, at least, we have three to four Zoom sessions a week, anything from six to 10 hours per week. 

From that, I gather understanding and then go to the drawing board and say, “Okay, well, how would we do things this way?” Or “How do we go about it this way?” And it is ever evolving because if we look at what we're doing now, prior to COVID, I don't want to say that word in case you get flagged on YouTube or anything. 

But you know, if you think of how the market sophistication and everything develops over time, it's forever changing and evolving. It's good to have the good guys win, right? With the right tools. 

KYL: And I think that's the thing. If they–and the interesting thing there is you saying how you're learning sometimes from us as much as we're learning from you because there are systems that we've done for 20-plus years, and I think it's good. Sometimes, you will even add a conversation before this offline. You challenged that, and you go, “Why? Why do you do that?”

And it's like, “Well, that's just what you fucking do.” And it's like, “Why does it have to be what you do?” And then I think that's good because, at the end of the day, we are passionate about martial arts. We are lifelong martial artists, but it's none of us–I think you can pick apart somebody who is really just in this for the money, and they don't last long.  

But then, the people who are passionate about it, it does also still need to pay the rent. So, there is another area that we need to make sure we do focus on because, yeah, you have to let your passion pay the bills, but you've also–the bills don't stop coming in.

GEORGE: 100%. 100%. Well, I told you it'd be more than seven minutes. 

KYL: It wasn't that long. That's all that was. It's nearly lunchtime. All right. Let's get into question two. All right. Three reasons you get out of bed every morning. 

GEORGE: I live in paradise. I've moved from Perth to the Sunshine Coast. 

KYL: Was that a hard move or an easy move? 

GEORGE: Easiest best thing I've done ever. Waking up at the crack of dawn, ocean sticking my feet into the sand, having a swim. That's reason number one. 

KYL: You're an early riser? 

GEORGE: I don't think I'm natural. I can easily carried away and we burn the midnight oil,  but because I value the morning, yeah, it's getting easier as I get older. 

KYL: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly right. 

GEORGE: And I've got a 17-year-old son who's–he's up at four, and he goes to go surf. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: When I hear him leave, the guilt kicks in, or I sleep light, and then I hear him leave, and I'm like, “I guess I better get up then.”

KYL: You're not surfing as much as you did when you were a kid? 

GEORGE: I am. I've got an annular disc tear at the moment, which has thrown a bit of complications in all activity. So yeah, a little bit depressing. There's no Jiu-Jitsu at the moment, and there's no surfing at the moment, and these walks and swims in the ocean. 

KYL: It's what you can do. 

GEORGE: Exactly, yeah. It's made me appreciate that even more, just the fact that, yeah, I've got to get out. I've got to get in the ocean. 

KYL: As you said before, you were talking before when you had that chat to Phil and Graham, that you're 36 and you're too old. Now you're 47, and there's still all these things that you're doing, as we've had many discussions. I always look at my parents, and then you probably might look at your parents, and what their movement patterns were when they were 47. It's not what we're doing. 

GEORGE: Yeah, a hundred percent. 

KYL: Oh, it’s your attitude towards it. Have you got a number two and three? 

GEORGE: Family and kids? Spend time with on them, making sure we connect first thing in the morning, sometime in the morning, before the blocks scatter away. And then number three is, I'd say, the business. Business is a passion. It is this blended thing and problem-solving, creating solutions for martial arts school owners. That's a thing that I, yeah, get up and like. 

KYL: When you say it's a passion, I mean, clearly, you're deriving income from it, but what's made it a passion? What defines it as a passion for you over? This is just a means to an end.  

GEORGE: It’s probably the outcome that it delivers. If I had to go, take my skill, and do real estate at the sheer numbers of what the return on investment would be, it's the same skills applied to a different problem with a slightly different funnel and a different application to it. 

KYL: Yeah.

GEORGE: But it's the same. Principles really applied. If it was a money thing, that'd be easy, right? Because you could take the thing elsewhere. There are a few things that I guess make it a passion. It's the freedom of the way I live. I get to live once on the Sunshine Coast. 

KYL: Because you're what, 95% online? 

GEORGE: Yeah, probably. Yep. There's that. But then when I'm not, there's–oh, you mean as the business itself? As in working?

KYL: Yes. So, if you work from home and leave and go somewhere, you will do that. But one thing that I thought about before, probably with a lot of the work that you've had, you've never really had an office as such. You may have had one initially in that garage, but other than that, you've pretty much just worked your own hours and own space.  

GEORGE: Yeah. I did have a co-working office in Perth, and I had one that I just moved to the Sunshine Coast because I needed a place to head now. But the first time I did that, it was really because my daughter was born, and I realized I was not going to get anything done here. A lot of good has come from that. 

But I played with the idea. I saw a friend of mine get a nice office space in Mooloolaba and it overlooks the ocean. It's just tempting. But then I've got to go there, and I've got to–now I'm adding an extra 40-minute commute. 

KYL: There's still a process involved, isn't there? 

GEORGE: Yeah. Where I can just come back, good coffee at home. The freedom of being here, but also, if let's go travel, I can make the space and time, and I can run the business. I don't need to shut the business down. And sometimes people say, “Oh, you need to take a break.” I'm like, “Hang on. I built this thing that I don't need to escape from it.” 

I can get on a plane. I'll probably do it over the weekend so that I don't disrupt my calls, but I can change countries within a week and continue the business, and everything will be good.

KYL: And the people that say that they don't really understand that, maybe they've just never been exposed to it, asked it. In order to get to where we are, where we want to be, there's that element of seven odd days a week. We may be–I had this last year overseas. I was overseas doing Zoom calls. I did think I did one with you, and then I did a couple of other stuff's going on. 

People going, “Why are you doing that?” And I said, “I do an hour Zoom call, and the other 23 hours, I'm in Thailand enjoying myself.” I think that's a fair trade-off. 

GEORGE: 100%. Being able to do it more frequently than anyone else. Look, there's obviously some nice aspects in having a job that when it comes five o'clock, you can completely switch off, but I don't think I'm ever been wired. 

KYL: No. I don't think some of us are built for that. 

GEORGE: Yeah. I think that's just all of us that are entrepreneurs, right? You know that you can't really turn it off. 

KYL: No, I don't think it's ever off. You're in the shower thinking about something, you're walking down the street, you're driving the car. There's always something in your mind. All right, my friend. Number three is two guilty pleasures that you have. 

GEORGE: Coffee. 

KYL: How many a day? 

GEORGE: Three. I could turn it down. 

KYL: Go to mix? 

GEORGE: Go to mix. Oh, wow, you're asking. I don't–I have a flat white. 

KYL: Yeah, so just a flat white? 

GEORGE: I buy beans where–I got a nice coffee machine below. If I find–If I drink a good coffee somewhere, I'll buy the beans. 

KYL: Okay.


KYL: So you're a grind the beans, like full-blown in the house? You're not just a stick a pot in and push a button. You're that guy? 

GEORGE: Grind the beans, yep. 

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: I do the things. Really bad latte art, but– 

KYL: Do you find coffee as a source of inspiration? Do you find you work better after you've had a coffee? 

GEORGE: Yeah. I hate to have the dependency, and then I think about that often. I used to–I got this from one of our old clients, Amanda. She was like, “Avoid coffee the first two hours of the day.” I always used to do that. 

And then I've been hosting really early. Coaching calls like 6 am for me, which kind of works. It's the time I can pick works across the world in the best way. I do find it throws me a bit off. If I start having coffee too early, it probably messes with the adrenals a bit. 

Yeah, I enjoy it, but I am conscious of the stimulation. 

KYL: It's whatever works. You got a second one? 

Martial arts marketing

GEORGE: We can't call it guilty, but surfing and Jiu-Jitsu are probably tied. It's just both are non-existent as we speak, which, yeah. 

KYL: Again, a guy who's had exposure to many different martial arts, many different martial arts schools, different styles, what has Jiu-Jitsu got for you? Not to say it's better than any other, but what has it got that's clicked with you? 

GEORGE: So what's interesting is when I did Karate, I started doing Muay Thai, and I loved it. I loved Zen Do Kai and Muay Thai. It was always lingering to me the fact that I've had this hemorrhage. I went to see a neurosurgeon. I guess you'd never gotta see doctors, right? You should avoid them because they always tell you. But he had one of the take his glasses moment off and said, “Look, dude. You can't get punched in the head. The chances of you injuring yourself in an arena are, it's not on.” 

I didn't like that, obviously. I kept training, and I spoke to the guys, and like, “Okay, when we spar, just don't hit me in the head.” But then guys will say, “Well, hit me in the head because this is weird.” And so now, it has become really weird. I'd punch the guys in the head, and no one's punching me. 

I felt like I was half-arsing it. And so, I thought I would try Jiu-Jitsu. God, I hated it. I was like, “Man, I don't know what's going on here.” 

KYL: It's incredibly–and this is the thing. Our demographic is older here in our mornings, for example. For an older male who hasn't had that exposure, and you played rugby and that sort of thing, but to have another guy on top of you and you can't get them off or there's just that feeling of—I call it the two H's; helpless and humiliated. It's incredibly confronting. 

GEORGE: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Probably even harder if you come from that rugby, and I'll probably – look, I'm not a big guy, but I'm not a small guy either – and if guys are like that, 20 kilos less, there's still this aspect of, can I out muscle? And when all that fails in Jiu-Jitsu, that's double confronting. 

KYL: I've got nothing. 

GEORGE: Yeah, yeah. All right. Look, it was probably part of that as well, but I guess just did not understand what was going on. It took me three months of really training, forcing myself to do it because I love martial arts. I know I can't do that. I'm going to have to do this. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: And then slowly, I got hooked. For me again, I've referred to problem-solving a lot, programming. 

KYL: That is what Jiu-Jitsu is. 

GEORGE: Yeah. I don't know if maybe it appeals to that analytical brain of having to solve problems and that challenge. And also, I guess it's this unreachable goal that it's just never done. You never feel good at it. Do you feel good? I know you're good. 

KYL: No, it doesn't. I think there is a constant from someone who's been doing Jiu-Jitsu in particular for 22, 23 years, I think. There is never–the whole hammer and the nail thing, which can be quite cliché, I think, but yeah, there are days where you just go, “I'm fucking, I'm killing it.” And then, literally within 24 hours, you come, and you go, “I suck.” 

I think that's the thing, the beauty of Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts in general. There is just never a point where, like, you know, that phrase where it ends up. I don't think that's actually a phrase like, “It never ends up.” 

It's always going, and then you can be a higher rank and an older guy, and you have this 19-year-old purple belt come in, and he destroys you. But then the problem is you go, “Okay. I've got to cross from the physical brain into my spiritual brain, and what can I do to combat that?” 

We could do a separate podcast on that, but to answer your question, no, it never gets easier. Whatever that word is. One thing I always say is, “It never gets easier. You handle hard better. “ I think that's one thing I took away from a presentation I saw a little while ago. 

I think, like you said, you have this issue where you can't do it at the moment. There will come a point where you can do it again, and I think that's the thing that I think we don't bear in mind. Martial arts don't have seasons, and I remember a mentor of mine said this years ago. He said it during the Big C. 

At the time, he said, “I've been doing martial arts for nearly 60 years. If I miss out on training for six or seven months, that is just a blip on the radar. It doesn't even register.” 

GEORGE: Interesting, yeah. 

KYL: I said, “That's the way he looks at it.” That's good, man. I mean, look, it'll come back sooner or later. The surfing side of things that just a little – because surfing is a one-man sport, I guess you'd say – is that just your little time alone in the wilderness too? Do you verse the ocean? 

GEORGE: Probably, but I mean, I started surfing when I was 12, and if you had to zoom out, there were these big gaps where I did nothing. I lived in Johannesburg for three years. I lived in Perth, struggled to get good surf, and got a bit frustrated.  

There's been these gaps where it's like completely been removed in my life. It's the same, I guess, in Jiu-Jitsu, just on a smaller scale. But it's always there, and I always go back to it. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Yeah, it's probably very similar in that. It's never done. You're always improving. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: There's always a challenge. There's always something out there that can keep you humble. The ocean is very humbling. 

KYL: Yes. 

GEORGE: Yeah, very humbling. 

KYL: Much. 

GEORGE: Yeah, if I think of just life and death situations, I'll put myself in. Sometimes, it’s probably just young and stupid, but yeah. I don't do that as much more, but I really find enjoyment in it. There's being in nature–if someone's got choking you, you can't think of anything else, kind of in the ocean as well, and you’re just one in nature. 

KYL: You and the sea? 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

KYL: Yeah, very good. Very good. All right. Question four. One thing you bought that has literally made you happy every day after? 

GEORGE: Coffee machine? 

KYL: I was going to say, “It's a coffee machine, isn't it?” 

GEORGE: To add a different flavor to it, recently, a Weber. 

KYL: Yeah, okay. All right. That's good. That's good. I don't know if you saw, but I was gifted a Tomahawk steak yesterday, and I cooked out on the Weber last night, and that was just amazing.

GEORGE: Yeah nice. I'm a rump guy, but– 

KYL: Beautiful. What's your go-to–are you learning the versatility of a Weber, the roasts, and you can do all this other stuff with it? 

GEORGE: Yeah, I've got a book for cooking. Christmas, but I don't want to go on this tangent. But I made a significant diet change last year because of kidney stones and stuff, and I've been on a carnivore diet for about six months. I pretty much eat steak every day. 

KYL: The Weber would be servicing those needs quite well. 

GEORGE: It does it to perfection. 

KYL: Very good. Very good. All right. Now, question five. One thing – you've probably got a few of these – one thing everyone thought you were crazy doing but did it anyway, and it paid off?  

GEORGE: Well, I wrote martialartsmedia.com. 

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: Yeah, that probably leaves it at that. I mean, we could take probably every business, right? Every business you do. But yeah, probably martialartsmedia.com if I think of the thing that paid off as well. 

KYL: Is there someone, not to name names, but was there somebody or a group of people when you said, “I think I'm going to make this a thing.” When no one, how do you even believe you'll make any income out of that? 

GEORGE: Yeah. A lot from within the industry, which was surprising. But a lot of slack within the industry, which was confronting in itself at times because of the path that I,  you know, not being a martial arts school owner from the get-go, I started the podcast, Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast, that was my ticket to really learn about martial arts school owners, because I knew nothing. So, my positioning was probably a bit off because I was like, I don't know a thing, and I need to get all the knowledge. But yeah, I guess sometimes I ran into things that I didn't expect. 

KYL: Would you get a bit of that – and we've touched on this earlier – but did you get a bit of what would you know on a thing like that sort of resistance? 

GEORGE: It's funny when I get it because I got it recently, and it's a guy that's just started coaching. It's always funny that when people start in the business of coaching, that's their differentiation point is: Can I pull everybody else down? And so, that makes me a prime target. I get it. 

So yeah, I do get a bit of that, and I should probably play it in this podcast if that's the case. Maybe I haven't been that upfront with my story because sometimes I do have to tell people that I'm not a school owner, and they're surprised. 

So, there is that. Yeah, I mean, as I explained, I'm going to get backlash. I'm probably going to get backlash. We're always going to get backlash, right? 

KYL: Oh, haters. Haters are going to hate, and that's the thing. But the group that you have created from everything I see, they seem to be a group of people that, I mean, you're always going to get people that are resistant to change, and as you said, the longer someone's been in the industry, probably the more resistant to change. 

But from my experience, I'm very clear that there are things that I don't know. I'm not going to ask you to jump on the mats and teach a Muay Thai class of 30 people, but I will ask you because I don't know it. How do I run this better? How do I do this better? 

It's the same old thing. Like if you don't know your way around cars, you take your car to a mechanic to fix it. You don't open the bonnet and go, “I reckon I can fucking do this.” That's probably–and sometimes for people, that's very hard for them to make that admission and let that go.  

GEORGE: Yeah, you know, I think it could be a lot of it is caused by me and marketing too. It's really easy for somebody to go into my podcast and, let's say, see five videos where I talk about marketing and business. That is a teaching, that is where I am actually teaching something where that could be perceived that that's always how the conversation evolves. Like I'm the guru who knows everything that's always saying, but in actual fact, when I deal with school owners, I think it's a lot less of me and more of them.

It's more of understanding, and it's not a top-down command-and-conquer way of coaching. It's more of understanding and being able to help people go from one step to the next, from getting out of their way.  

GEORGE: It's funny that a lot of people see me as the guy that does the marketing. I help school owners with marketing, but if I think of the thing that makes the biggest impact is the thing of self-worth and pricing. 

KYL: Yeah. It seems to be like, and again, we just spoke about this offline, it's almost like a taboo topic, you know? We can't talk about that because, for a lot of martial artists, it may go against our core values, but as I'm learning myself, at the end of the day, the rent has to be paid, everything goes up, and the worth, you talk about someone that's been in another field for 30 plus years. 

Yeah, they would be on this level here, yet for whatever reason, we so often undersell ourselves. 

GEORGE: Yeah, Kevin Blundell says it’s okay to be in the part-time role, teach, and do it for charity and do all that. At the minute you charge a dollar, you've got an obligation to fulfill a service. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: And you can't fulfill much for a dollar. So, you have to be realistic about charging what you're worth to be able to fill the service. You can see it. If you look at a lot of schools that do charge a premium, they are the best schools. 

I don't think you can–and just perception of that as well, right? I know this is such a touchy subject, and I guess I've got to be careful what I say because it's so easy to take it out of context, but you can't be the cheapest and then tell me you’re the best. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Why isn't a Mercedes 10 grand? Why can’t I buy the AMG for 10 grand? Why is it not more expensive than the Kia? They both get you from A to B, but who's the best? And that's if you want to be the best ever. If you don't, none of this is it's got to be this way.

But there is value in pricing itself. If someone is struggling to make rent and trying to do this full time and it's just not working well, then you've got to be open to looking at different ways of how you can make it profitable so you can be rewarded for what you do. It's not evil. 

KYL: You would say, well, I don't know what percentage, but it'd be a lot of people who come across to you or you converse with. There would be people grossly undercharging and underselling themselves, wouldn't there? 

GEORGE: 100%. 

KYL: Do you think that's a bit of a, I said it before, just a bit of a tradition in martial arts? We're meant to be the nice guys. And this is, again, I'm going to have to be careful that I don't take stuff out of context, but it's something that I'm learning because the first thing is when we charge more, we're accused of being money grabbers or whatever, or now it's all about the money. 

KYL: What’s that? 

GEORGE: How do you get accused? 

KYL: The people who aren't coming, the people who aren't paying, and then it's always interesting. There's this group of people that, if you are charging a group of people, will complain about the price, and there are obviously reasons for that. But then there is that other group of people that don't bat an eyelid because they see worth in what you're doing. And I think that's the big thing.

We talk so much about self-worth and being worthful, and yet here we are as the leaders. We're not putting that worth on ourselves. It's something that I know I still come to terms with. I think when we started working together, I think it was literally the first real conversation that we had together was, and again, it's not what are you charging; it's what are you worth. 

GEORGE: And what are you getting in return? There's lots for me to say about this. If I think of the holding back, like what holds you back, again, if we look at the pathway, it started as a passion, became a business. Now, you've got to put your business hat on. Now, you've got to charge. Some people have beliefs from back in the day that's carried over about money. 

Money is bad. Money doesn't grow on trees—money grabber. And then, you get the Tall Poppy Syndrome. I've got less than you, so I've got to drag you down. And it's so prominent in Australia. 

KYL: Yeah, it is. 

GEORGE: So, you've got that. And then, let's say your leader, your instructor is, you know, did it for love or passion and never bought a business, and now you're exceeding him in student numbers and wealth. You've got to watch that you don't step out of line. There's a lot of odds against you to be successful. And then, martial arts school owners that should be supportive. This could probably also be the worst and pull you down, or are you better than us, or we the cheapest, or whatever angle to try and differentiate instead of being complimentary towards that.  

KYL: Crazy, isn't it? Just because of the amount of experience, you would say, like Kevin Blundell you were talking about before, the number of years and time that has gone into that, and again, you'll pay, I don't know, for a tennis lesson or a horse riding lesson or whatever or surfing lesson, and quite often they can be more expensive, and that's not to say that they're not worth as much as what we do, but you go. They charge that, and people don't blink an eyelid, yet I'm deliberating over putting my price up five bucks, you know, yet you'll go across the road here and buy a coffee for six. 

GEORGE: So, for anyone that struggles with that, you just got to get clear on your reason why. The reason why you're charging that or why it needs to go up, you're doing X, Y, Z, and this is why we're going up with us. That's a good place to start. What is your reason why? And you've got to get comfortable with that. 

I always feel, and maybe this is because of that history in the time machine industry, where these things like this was built into your head, and it's never about the money. It's always said it's about the money, but it always comes down to the value. It really comes down to the value. 

We used to see that with what we used to do, people will find money if they saw that they've got a struggling marriage and they know that this is going to force them to take vacation time and spend together as a family, people find–they'll find it– 

KYL: If you want it to work, it'll work. 

GEORGE: Exactly. And now, when we look at something like martial arts, the thing that you've always got to look at is, what phone do they have? If they've got one of these, these iPhones, what are they paying per month for that? Do they need it?  Probably not. 

What else are they spending on that they don't need? That's irrational spending. So, if the need was bigger and it was that important to them to do this martial arts training, would they find the money? Is it really that expensive that it's out of reach? I'm not saying everyone, obviously, everybody doesn't have the same situation, right? But if you can present it in that way and people know the value in it, then would they sacrifice something? 

Is there something that they can sacrifice to make it happen? I'm not saying of the charge. I'm just saying charge your worth. There’s a big difference. 

KYL: I think there's a massive difference and I think it's a thing we get. Well, look, I know, I get it mixed up because I'm the guy that regardless of how much I've done, I'm still like [making sounds] and I'm like [making sounds]. I remember recently, I had a conversation with someone about this and, I said, “Are you justifying it to them or are you justifying it to yourself?” 

And I said, “Oh, it's definitely the second one. It's definitely the second one.” All right. Four things you cannot live without, animate or inanimate. Coffee machine? 

GEORGE: Coffee machine, the ocean, the Audible app does me good on my phones. 

KYL: What are you listening to at the moment? 

GEORGE: Scientific advertising. 

KYL: Oh, Jesus. That's a lot of big words. 

GEORGE: Yeah. I've gone back into a big mission of digging up all my old marketing books, so I'm in a big–just getting into the fundamentals of copywriting again. 

KYL: Okay. You're a guy who gets the most he can out of a day. Do you listen to Audible at that one-and-a-half speed, two-times speed? 

GEORGE: No. Sometimes at 1.25. 

KYL: I tried it, and I just went, “Oh my God.” This is too hard.  

GEORGE: Because I find I need that pause to reflect on what I just heard sometimes. 

KYL: So do I. 

GEORGE: It's not like I just want to try and get it in my mind. I actually enjoy listening to it. Yeah, no. 

KYL: Have you got a fourth one? 

GEORGE: I don't. Steak knife, a good steak knife. 

KYL: A good steak knife. Well, if you eat a lot of steak, you need a good steak knife.  There's nothing worse than having a nice steak and a shit knife, and you can't cut it up properly. That's big. It's accessories, man. It's accessories. 

Number seven, if you were not doing what you were doing in life right now, what would have been option number two? 

GEORGE: Full-time drummer.

KYL: Full-time what? 

GEORGE: Drummer. 

KYL: Drummer. 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

KYL: Okay. Favorite band/demonstration of drumming prowess. 

GEORGE: Tool. 

KYL: Tool? Okay. Okay. I’ve got to say that's not what I expected from you. 

GEORGE: What did you expect? 

KYL: I don't know. I don't know. I would have–I don't know, maybe a little bit of, I don't know, Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, but you're jumping– 

GEORGE: Led Zeppelin? But Tool's just, it's on a level of its own. 

KYL: Have you ever seen him live? 

GEORGE: Yeah, it was a week before the Big C shut everything down. 

KYL: Okay. Oh, yeah. Yeah. 

GEORGE: That’s the last thing I could see in Perth. 

KYL: I saw Maynard James Keenan got his black belt in Jiu-Jitsu, too. 

GEORGE: He did? 

KYL: Yeah. Okay. When you say full-time drummer, was the concept of joining a band ever there, or did you play them loud in your bedroom and drive your parents nuts? 

GEORGE: Both. I played in a few bands with my school buddies. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: We were pretty good. 

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: We got number 10 on the local charts. 

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: National South African charts. 

KYL: That’s a win. 

GEORGE: A band called Ordeal 

KYL: Ordeal. Oh, that sounds deep. That sounds really deep. 

GEORGE: It was. I had a guitarist-vocalist, Jean, who sounded like Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots. Our guitarist could play every Metallica’s Solo Backwards. Like Kirk Hammett, crazy and yeah, it was fun days. I really tried to venture into that career. I played drums every day, every night, bands, and it was just after I'd lost my business, there was just too much on my back to even think, you know, I'm going to take this on as financially viable. 

KYL: Do you have a kit now? Do you have a kit now that you muck around on? 

GEORGE: I've got an electronic Roland TD-8 that I use. 

KYL: If you stick the headphones on and just look like an idiot? 

GEORGE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, pretty much it. Rock star with the music playing. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Depending on how bad I'm playing in the day, depends on how bad the music. 

KYL: Is there a song that you will play on drums that lights your fire?

GEORGE: Oh, there's lots. There's a lot of Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age. 

KYL: You're really showing your 90s grunge. 

GEORGE: Yeah, it's all of those all louder stuff. Yeah, Chili Peppers, Funk Rock. Jane's Addiction. 

KYL: Wow. 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

KYL: See, this is a side of George. I just didn't say it's interesting. We share a lot of music tastes. Very good. Very good. Question number eight – I think we've answered this, but let's give it a crack – one time you backed yourself when everything was saying to give up? 

GEORGE: Yeah, it was Martial Arts Media™. I guess if I had to give it more context, there was a stage where I had parted ways with the school where I've trained. I was in this middle where there were no clients at the podcast running. And that was probably the one time I felt like, “Man, is this happening? Am I being a fraud  to myself?” 

Because I don't even have a client base where I'm actually doing this, we're talking about a month where that happened. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: And then I flew to Sydney, and I met up with a bunch of other school owners, and it really recalibrated and got my momentum again. But that was an interesting time because I was really looking myself in the mirror and like, “Am I nothing?” Am I providing absolutely no value? 

KYL: So, you work with, not to get back to that pricing discussion and real worth, but do you find that's one thing you see in a lot of school owners when you start working with them? There’s this – I could say I'm in this bracket – that level of vulnerability? 

We have this persona, but inside, we're like, “I just don't know if I can do this. I just don’t know if I've got what it takes to actually do this.” 

GEORGE: Yeah. One of my coaches once said, “I guess what's easy to do right is you hang on to the old George.” Or the old Kyl. There's growth, and then with all growth, there's always its imposter syndrome, right? 

KYL: Yep. 

GEORGE: You're always in a comfort zone. Everything happens in breaking out of the comfort zone. You're in the comfort zone and every time there's growth, it means that you're in a new comfort zone, and now that means there's discomfort. And you know, humans will fight like hell to stay in their comfort zone and have that little voice telling you, “You've got to get back. You're out of line, and you don't belong here.” 

And so, you've always got to–one thing I told myself at an early age was if I feel uncomfortable, then I'm at the right place. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: All right. Something is happening here. 

KYL: Spot on. 

GEORGE: I’ve got to get comfortable. 

KYL: You've got to do it. 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

KYL: And I think that's something that—oh, God, we can have a full conversation about that. It's back to handling hard better, but we need to make ourselves uncomfortable, and comfortable, and just push ourselves through. Again, you'd see a lot of change in people that come on board with you from what they were when they started to what they're doing now, and that would be very rewarding, too.

Martial arts school marketing

GEORGE: Yeah, a hundred percent. It's very rewarding. If I look at some clients where they started and where they were at, some starting out, some like lifelong martial artists and that different perspective, a different take on marketing. It always starts with marketing, but it's marketing that creates problems that can be solved. That always leads to conversions and styles, and then obviously got retention, but retention is the biggest thing. But to get that front-end right and really challenge beliefs, and charge the worth, keep doing that. 

There's a lot of depth and work to be done there. I know marketers love to make it all sound easy. It's simple, but it's definitely not easy, right? Because it's just the depth. If you take all the martial arts analogies, you learn to punch from day one, and 10 years later, you're still trying to perfect this punch. It's depth. 

KYL: It's just that constant chip away. I say to people, “You've just got to do it every day. Every single day.” 

GEORGE: There is one shortcut. I do feel there is one shortcut, and the only shortcut you have is to follow people who've done what you've done or someone who's helped someone else get where you are. 

Sometimes it's hard to look at–I think there's a bit of a gap as well where you look at it and say, “Well, XYZ has five schools and 2000 students. I should be doing that.” He wasn't doing that, that got in there. He was doing this. 

KYL: That's one. I was just about like this, and you would see it now because when I started teaching martial arts, to have a full-time center in Brisbane, even just a space or like a shed or an address, that was rare. I reckon, probably in the mid-90s, I can think of probably four or five that had an actual space. Now, you have people; that's their first step. 

They're getting spaces, and they're doing this. Would you say, from your experience, patience is something that we need, too? These guys like, “Yeah, it's been two months. Why don't I have 300 students?” And I say, “Because it's been two months, that's why.” 

GEORGE: Yeah. I mean, yeah, with all things, right? I think if all martial arts school owners had to live the martial arts philosophy in business, I'd probably not have a business, right? 

KYL: That's right. 

GEORGE: Because it's really just that level of resilience, now, if I say there's a shortcut, there are two paths, right? You can go the hard path, and you can take the easy part. The only easy part is you grab the lessons that were learned from someone else, and that's got a plan to take you there. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Put the right things at the right time—sequence matters. I think sequence matters. If I could tell a quick story. I'll go back to this. When I started helping martial arts school owners, I knew Google AdWords and Google AdWords was, I took the hard part, right? 

I bought a book for 17 bucks. I cringed spending 17 bucks on a book. And then, I started running ads, and it's not like Facebook ads today where you can put something up, get a message, and you've got a lead. It was like you had to build a landing page. You had to get a hundred clicks and then go and look at your data, and then optimize. 

It was this never-ending track of throwing money at stuff. And when you don't know what you're doing, it's hard to throw money at stuff. I did that until I spent, like, I was down to my last 300 bucks that I was ever going to invest in a business. And then, I made a sale for $37, and it was the best $37 I've ever made because– 

KYL: I love the way you even know the amount. It was $37. 

GEORGE: Yeah, because it was $37, and I got a hundred percent commission of it, right? Somebody in the States, I was in Perth when I was legal, I’m paying tax, somebody in the States bought this book that I've never seen or knew. They bought it from an ad from a page that I created. And that was like, whoa. 

Then, I spent another 30 bucks and made another sale. All of a sudden, I was in business, but it was a hard path, right? If I had money to invest in a coach or somebody could show me, “Hey, actually, all this money that you're spending right now, we can shortcut that.” 

It's never completely–the shortcut isn't without obstacles of itself. 

KYL: No. 

GEORGE: But at least if there's some data to work with that, “Hey, this happens to work in this way that's better.” And I think this is one thing that I'm always trying to find: How can I get the result quicker? When I started, I was the website guy, like I developed websites for guys. I believe that taking traffic from Google to the website was the best way. The problem was the delay in getting that done. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: The website, traffic. And so, when I discovered how to do Facebook ads in a way that I could put the ad up, you don't even need a website. You can have a conversation with someone.  The minimal amount of effort could be done. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Not having a conversation. Can we sell conversations? That's where I really try to turn the whole system around. I'm looping back to that full circle with all that, but that was a big realization.

Can we get someone the result quicker? That's the first thing that we try and do. Can we get a good offer? Can we put it in front of the right people? Can we do the simplest way of following up? We'll get everything else. 

KYL: Yeah, remove all the bullshit. 

GEORGE: Yeah, we'll get what every other, and sometimes marketers say, “Oh, you need a website. You need this and this.” Well, yeah, you do later, but get your message right. Sorry, I hate the fact that you've got these agencies that promise the world and give this perception that you don't need to understand your message, and they will call the leads for you, and they'll do this. 

It creates this level of codependency where you're always at the mercy of the next hire, the next agency that's going to magically build your business. Sometimes, the path we take is probably not the path that everybody wants, but it's definitely the path that everyone needs. 

KYL: Exactly. And I think it's that learning—always learning, too. I just love the way you keep referring back to this coach, my coach, that you're providing all this experience to people, but you're still gaining experience yourself.  

GEORGE: A hundred percent. 

KYL: Three pieces of advice to people who are finding reasons to not back themselves, to instead back themselves. 

GEORGE: Number one, read The Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Have you read it?  

KYL: Yeah. Yeah. I have. I have. 

GEORGE: Yeah, right. If I ever think of a guy that – go read the book for anyone listening – but this guy was put in Nazi death camps and had to find joy in a bowl of mud water with a fish head for lunch. 

He just had one belief that he's got to get through this so he can document the story and help people. If you ever feel life sucks, pick up the audiobook or read that book. 

KYL: Very good. Very good recommendation there. I'm proud of you. Number two? 

GEORGE: If you've lost hope, take focus away from yourself and go and help someone else. 

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: We'll get it back to you and find someone else that you can help. And number three, there's a lesson in everything. So, in hindsight, if you're dealing with something right now, there's a lesson that's going to come up in the near future. Six months down the line or a year, you're going to say, “Ah, okay. That's why that happened.” 

If you had to step outside of your situation and be honest with yourself… What is that lesson you've got to learn now? 

KYL: Yeah. And I guess going back to those things like you said about helping somebody, I read somewhere that the amount of endorphin or dopamine release you receive from just being kind to someone is a real natural high. It puts things back into perspective, doesn't it? 

GEORGE: 100%. 

KYL: Okay. Very good. Well, number 10 is a quote to live by. 

GEORGE: Right. I don't have many quotes, but I've got one, and I'll have to give you some context. The quote is, “Do the work once.”

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: Context is, it's easy to have a system, whatever thing and you keep doing the work, doing the same thing. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Whereas, if you had to step back, zoom out, build the framework, build a system, have no work without a framework, have the framework, have the process, then do the work within the work. Instead of doing things on repeat and building things, can you zoom out, create a system, or simplify it? 

Do the thinking once; do the work once. Within the work is doing the thinking because if you really think about it and everything's being thought out now, it's like you to train on the train tracks, getting to the station. 

KYL: Do you find now, because again, you are so into IT and all that, do you find that might be hard for people to do now? Because as soon as they try, like to try and physically get into something they got to put all that other stuff and distractions out. Do you find that that might be harder to do than maybe ever before? 

GEORGE: With distractions? 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Yeah, a hundred percent. A hundred percent. 

KYL: You'll be right into something trying to really, and again like we were talking about something earlier that I got to put together, and then you get a Facebook message, or you get the email chimes and all. So, you got to like to try and shut all that down, and have you said that the way that – I'm not trying to say – if we lock down and do something as I said, it's done. We've only got to do it once, you know. 

GEORGE: I guess. And what goes with that is, can you build an asset? Process and standard operating procedure—that's an asset. If you can document something, get it out of your head the way you want it. It's never going to be perfect. 

That's why I love Google Docs because it just evolves. But the quicker you can get it out of your mind and then add the nuances to it, it makes it simple for you and for you to take a step back out of your business because people are doing it. It also takes the blame away from people because it's always the procedure's fault and not the human. 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: I mean, it could be the human's fault too, right, if they don't apply it. But the first thing that when things go wrong with things that we do, where's that in the SOP? 

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: It's not? Okay. Can you add it in? Right. It is. Okay. Well, why was it skipped? It just adds that level of responsibility, too. The process got to live outside a human because if that human goes, and that's the human that knows, has the knowledge and the expertise to do it, especially because I guess it's maybe it's a little different because I've always been online. I've never had anybody in my office, I've always hired people in different countries, and I’m online. 

So, just tightening up those systems and making sure everything has a safe place to live. Everything's got a process and a way that it's run. 

KYL: It's definitely something that I know I got to work on because there's so much up here that is not here. But we'll get better at that as we go. Well, that was a good chat.  

GEORGE: Great. That’s awesome. 

KYL: Yeah, I think as I said, as we said at the start, there will be people listening to this that know you in one plane, but now there are all these other things, and I think that's the interesting thing. There are so many different sides to us. It's that thing. Just because we do a job doesn't mean that we are doing that job. There are so many other moving parts. 

George, thank you very much for your time. 

GEORGE: Thank you. 

KYL: I know you're very busy. I know you have probably a few more hours of online stuff to do today, but I really appreciate your time, mate, and thank you for everything you're doing for the martial arts community. 

GEORGE: Oh, thank you, Kyl. It's been a pleasure. 

KYL: Man, that is another episode done. If you like what we do and you'd like to listen to more, you can listen to us on Spotify. We have our YouTube channel. We'll have all George's contacts up on this podcast if you'd like to get in touch with George personally and chat to him more about stuff, but give us a like, a share, a follow, and that'll be it. George, thank you, my friend. 

GEORGE: Thank you. 

KYL: It's lunchtime where we are, and we will see you guys later. Bye. Bye. 

GEORGE: There we go. I hope you enjoyed the podcast. Maybe you learned a thing or two about me, good or bad. I don't know. We'd love to know your thoughts. However, if you want to share some feedback, I'd much appreciate it. 

You can in a few ways. Take a screenshot of this podcast where you listen to it in whichever format and tag me on socials. You can also find me on Facebook, facebook.com/george.fourie, or go look me up, send me a friend request, and yeah, I would love to chat and hear your feedback. Awesome. 

And if you do need some help growing your martial arts school in the sense of strategy, digital marketing, business growth, a bit of automation, or getting your time back, I would love to chat. We made a few changes to how we onboard and work with martial arts school owners. Currently, we are not accepting new clients, but you can go to the waitlist. 

Jump on there, and we'll let you know when we have a spot. We can tell you all the details of how it works and see if it's the right fit for you. You could go to martialartsmedia.com/waitlist and jump in there, leave your details, and we'll reach out to you when we have a spot available.

Anyway, that's it for me. I hope you enjoyed the podcast, and I'll see you in the next one. Cheers.

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

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140 – Signing Up New Martial Arts Students With Dead Leads

Here’s a proven strategy to revive old prospects and re-sign former martial arts students through email, SMS, and Facebook Messenger.


  • How leads collected via Facebook Messenger, email, and walk-in prospects can be a valuable resource to reach out to nonresponsive leads
  • Having a conversation strategy that caters to potential martial arts students that are not ready to commit yet
  • How to restart a conversation with dead martial arts leads using The Conversation Carrots
  • The pitfall to avoid when reconnecting with dead leads and what to do instead
  • Using the 9-word Bullet Boomerang to boost student signups
  • And more

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



Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome back to another Martial Arts Media™ Business podcast. Today I'm going to be talking about signing up students with dead leads or leads that you have just forgotten about.

Leads that have inquired, they never signed up, or you were having a conversation with them and they ghosted you or just disappeared. Or perhaps you have those old students that left unless they left on bad terms and you don't want them back.

But otherwise, just students that left and something life got in the way and you didn't hear from them again and they left. So we're going to talk about a few simple strategies to restart the conversations with those dead leads, all students that have left, super simple but super profitable.

Hang around to the end. I've got a great resource for you, a PDF that we call Conversation Carrots. It's one of the most popular resources we have in our Partners Program, a really simple way to engage and start conversations. I'll give you the details at the end of the podcast, and how to access that. All right, let's jump in.

All right, before we get into the good stuff, a quick life update for any of you that have followed the podcast for a while and know that I haven't posted much on social in a while and done a podcast, this will take 30 seconds approximately.

So I'm recording this in 2023, February. In October last year, we decided to move the family from Perth to the Sunshine Coast. If you're not from Australia, that's equivalent to moving from San Diego to New York, it's that far, and that's what we did.

What decided us to move? Well in the mid-last year, we came here on holiday. I was hosting our first Partners Intensive, which is an event that we run for our Partners group. And we came on holiday the week before.

Absolutely loved it here, loved the beaches, and just loved the vibe of it. And we decided we wanted to do something new, that I'm closer to hosting events on this side of the country but also close to the states for travel and events that we want to host over there. And so we made the big move. That's it. 

Now, we're back and on track. The other thing that's been keeping us busy the last couple of months is onboarding new clients and working on a few cool things that I'm going to announce in the next month, a couple of weeks or so. Update done, right?

Let's jump into the good stuff. So how does one sign up students from dead leads?

All right, so let's look at a few scenarios. You have leads piled up in your Messenger. If you collect leads via Facebook Messenger, perhaps you have inquiries via Messenger or you have them from your website. So you have email leads, and you have them in your database, preferred.

We'll talk about that maybe a little bit. Maybe people walked in and you took down their details, whatever the scenario, you had people that were inquired but never joined. 

Now, if you had to track back the last few months, the last few years, how many of these people do you have in your database? If you still have them, we've got a few cool things that we can do with them and I'll chat about that in just a bit. 

All right, so these perfect prospects inquired, but they never joined. Now, I guess a dangerous thing for us to do is to make some assumptions about them, that they inquired, but now they're just not interested. Well, it could be, but it could also be just something else that happened that we can't control. 

Life got in the way. Maybe they were tied up in some other engagement and they just haven't had Covid, or maybe it's something deeper, right? There's a fear of what this whole martial life thing is about and they're just not comfortable stepping up and taking action on starting their training yet. 

Or one more option could be they just don't know who you are and they're just not sure about you. So they're just still doing a bit of their research, googling about having a look, trying to see if they can talk to people following, stalking you on all your social profiles, etc. That's them. 

Now, we could put them in the category of, look, they didn't inquire the first time and why would we need to talk to them? I mean, they inquired and they're not interested. Well, as we just discussed, that may not be the case. 

And so your prospects are going to fall into one of two categories. They're either ready now or they're not ready now. And the majority is probably not ready now. And so it's important that we capitalize on the ones that are ready to join, but then there's also the big bulk of prospects that come into your world and they're just not ready. 

Now, if you're doing paid Facebook advertising or any Google advertising, any marketing for that matter, you've invested some money into getting these leads. 

And so it's important that you have a marketing strategy that doesn't just cater to those that are ready now, but also those that are in your pipeline that might join later. So I want to talk about that strategy. 

So when you have people in your pipeline, well, how do you restart the conversation? Here's what I think is a bad way to do it. A bad way from my perspective would just be to shove more offers down their throat, never asking any questions, never starting a conversation, and just making an offer to offer, to offer. 

Now that might happen, but your chances of repulsing them and exiting your world by about offer number two or three is very, very likely. 

So what is a better way to do it? Well, let's look at how conversions work. Typically, before your prospects start training and start joining there is a conversation, right? There's got to be a conversation that's going to lead to them getting started. 

So if it's all about conversations, and we've spoken about this before, then why don't we just sell more conversations, because conversations will lead to the actual conversions? So how do we start conversations? How do we sell more conversations on email and social? 

Well, it's really, really simple, and we've spoken about these on a few podcast episodes, I believe on podcast episode number 44, is we start a conversation, we ask a real simple question. 

Now, there are a lot of names for these people, call them 9-word emails. We used to call them a Bullet Boomerang because a bullet sort of pierces through and then comes back, the conversation. 

But they've been termed in our Partners group as Conversation Carrots. Conversation Carrots, meaning it's a conversation, they're like something that you're dangling to start a conversation. And so if you think of a carrot in front of a donkey, it's kind of like bait. 

Well, I don't want to see it as bait, but it's a really simple way to start a conversation. We call these Conversation Carrots. And if you want to download the Conversation Carrots, you can just go to this podcast episode, which is martialartsmedia.com/140 for number 140. Just click the resources tab and you can download these.

So Conversation Carrots is a really simple way for you to start the conversations, start the conversations that can lead to a higher level conversation of whether are they ready to get started. 

So we divide these into a few categories. Mainly it could be super direct. Are you still interested in training in martial arts? That's super direct, but it could also be a bit more low-level, meaning a situational-type question. It could be how old is your child who's looking to start training in martial arts. Anything that really sparks the conversation. 

And so if you have a list of prospects, whether it's on email or Messenger or text message, you could just send out these little Conversation Carrots because all that they are doing is they are there to start a conversation. That's it.

A good way to complicate this is to give the answer already and say, are still interested in martial arts, insert offer here. No, now you've just given away the whole reason why you sent this message and it kind of destroys the whole purpose of it. 

So keep it super simple, and make it conversational. So if you have old prospects and also students that have stopped training with you, they also fall under this category. So students that trained, maybe you changing seasons and you know it's between years, like going from one season to the next or one year to the next. It's a great way to just send out a message and see if you can re-spark the interest. Start the conversation, conversation leads to the conversion. 

A follow-up strategy that we do after this, we call this our four-day Student Scale Campaign. And this is a four-day email strategy that helps sign people up. So this is a bit more working with a strategic irresistible martial arts offer and then creating a strict deadline and then a four-day email sequence that we have that sign people up. 

So I wanted to share what can get you started, martialartsmedia.com/140, download the Conversation Carrots, and that'll get you started. Go grab all those old leads that haven't joined all those old students and take this sheet from the Conversation Carrots, and send out that message, start a conversation. 

And when you sign up your first student from this, do me a favor and please let me know. Tag me in one of the social posts on Facebook or wherever you are watching this, or send us a message from martialartsmedia.com and let me know when you sign up your next student from this super simple strategy. 

Awesome. And if you got some value out of this, please do me a favor. If you can just share this with a martial arts school owner that you feel will get some great value from this. And we've also just revamped our Facebook group, or martial arts school owners, the martial arts media business community. 

You can access that at martialartsmedia.group. So not.com, you can just go martialartsmedia.group. That'll take you to our Facebook group, request to join, just answer a couple of questions, and jump in there. 

And I look forward to seeing you inside the community. Speak soon. Cheers.

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

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139 – Refining Retention After Massive Martial Arts Business Growth

The last time we spoke to Lindsay Guy, we discussed how he tripled his karate school in record time. Today we chat about refining retention to maintain this massive growth.


  • How retention impacts martial arts business growth 
  • Keeping martial arts classes fun to stimulate young students
  • Reaching out to parents on how to keep kids from quitting martial arts
  • Setting up your martial arts pro shop for profit
  • Keys to leaving a lasting martial arts legacy
  • And more

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



GEORGE:  It's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Today I have a repeat guest with me, Lindsay Guy from Guy's Karate School. Now if you recall episode 117, I had Lindsay Guy on and we spoke about how he had 3x’d his martial arts business moving past the Big C, we'll call it the Big C.

The YouTube and social media channels don't like us talking about what it is, although we probably mentioned it in the episode. Anyway, I wanted to catch up with Lindsay just to see how things are going right now. We spoke about how he 3x’d his business.

I wanted to see where he is now, how things are going, and how he handled the growth. We talked a bit about retention, and a little bit about marketing and it was just a great martial arts conversation. Now, I must warn you, Lindsay is super authentic and as he says, he's got no switch and he speaks very straightforwardly.

And we have this sense of humor where we look for little gaps and opportunities to have a go and have a bit of fun and fun with each other. So that might come out in some of the comments from him and me. Don't take it to heart. 

It's probably easier if you watch the episode because Lindsay's face explains his sense of humor. But yeah, one of my favorite humans to speak to when it comes to a sense of humor and having fun. 

So a lot of fun in this episode and a lot of value. So jump in episode 139. So head over to the website, martialartsmedia.com/139. You can download the transcript and all the resources mentioned in this episode. 

And do me a favor, if you get some good value out of this episode, please share it with someone you love, someone you care about, a martial arts instructor, or martial arts school owner. So they'll get as much value from it as you will.

All right, let's jump in. Lindsay Guy, welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Actually, welcome back to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast.

LINDSAY:  Thanks, George. Thanks for having me on again.

GEORGE:  Awesome. So last time we spoke in episode 117, we talked about how you 3x'd your martial arts business coming out of the Big C, we'll just call it the Big C, not we'll be talking about, that way YouTube still likes us and we are just chatting about the journey, a bit about working together in Partners, but just how you've progressed and where you're at. 

And I thought I'd have you back on being the funniest guy in the karate business. It's always good to have you on. It makes me a bit nervous when I have you on because I don't know, in conversations with you, I don't know what I'm going to get, which is the fun part. So this is good. So yeah, I thought I'd have you back on and see where the journey is at.

LINDSAY:  Excellent. Where would you like to start?

GEORGE:  How's business going? Weird, last time we spoke, so we were coming out of the rough batch, you got business booming and things are going well. How's the journey evolved from when we last spoke?

LINDSAY:  Our business has been continually evolving. It's been changing. We've made a lot of changes because what happens is when you get rapid growth in a business, you start to realize then all the things you either don't have in place or you should have in place, you start to work out some new things that you can add. 

One of the biggest problems, when you have rapid growth, is retention. So trying to keep all of those people, put systems in place, which is going to allow those people to stay. And over that time since we last spoke, which has been nearly probably nearly two years. 

We have been continually changing our systems to maintain that retention and maintain growth. There's no good having a system, a mouse on a wheel that's continually putting people in and continually losing people at the other end. Your business just doesn't grow that way. 

And I'm sure there are many businesses out there, many martial arts schools that do just that. However, we've had to sit down and work out why we lose people and what we can do to prevent that from happening. And that's why our systems have come into place now on changing that. 

So people feel quite comfortable, quite happy to come. Once you stop exciting people from coming to karate or to come to any martial arts, that's when they start to drop out. So we've got to maintain that excitement with our students. We've got to maintain the enthusiasm for them to want to come.

GEORGE:  All right. So I would like to dive deeper into that because if I always look at the first problem and the first time I typically work with anyone or somebody who reaches out to me it's, “Hey, we need more students.” It's always the first thing. 

There are always layers to that because there's always way more to just that. There's the pricing and the offers, and that's the one thing to fix. Now you fix that problem, right? You don't have so much of a marketing problem anymore.

LINDSAY:  We don't have a marketing problem at all. Every single time that we put a marketing campaign out, we get students. It's easy. We just go, “Look, okay, we need 10 more students. Let's put a marketing campaign out and get 10 more students.” Marketing and attracting students now is never a worry on my mind.

I just don't have that worry any longer where a lot of martial arts people that I speak to say, “I just can't get students.” “Well, what are you doing?” And most times they'll tell you, “Well, we're not doing anything,” or, “Yeah, we do ads.” Do you? Great. 

But of course, it's the content with the ad, not the ad. And you've got to get the right content. And how have we got the right content? Well, we've got the right content in a lot of ways. One was a lot of trial and error. But secondly, is speaking to other people who have actually got the right formula and just copying it. 

There's no point in having a formula that works than me saying, “Well, I don't think it'll work for me in my town.” So I just do exactly what all the other guys are doing that are attracting students. Guess what? It's like a miracle. It works.

GEORGE:  All right, cool. So we spend a lot of time on the formula, the framework, how to structure ads, and making sure that it works. So what's more important to look at is this next step and chat a bit about what you've done to help mitigate and fix the retention side.

LINDSAY:  That is a really hard question to answer because there are a multitude of things that we've had to do to keep students here. One thing that I'm always telling my junior instructors is that one thing that will keep people in your center first is for them to be… 

This is probably not the correct word, but I will use it anyway. Entertained. We have to entertain our students. Now you're going to get a lot of traditionalists out there going, “Oh no, you never do that. That's just breaking complete tradition.”

Now I spent the weekend with a bunch of traditionalists and they're getting 20 and 30 students in their dojos. It's because kids don't have that type of commitment anymore. They don't have the type of patience to go through traditional karate. I don't know whether they ever did. 

Because I remember when I was training, we never had a lot of children. They'd drop out as quickly as they'd start simply because the boredom would set in backward and forwards across a hall for an hour and a half doing basics. So today, we like to take a Wiggles approach.

The Wiggles, you take their songs, for instance, they're never going to be top 40. But what keeps people buying Wiggles music? What keeps people going to Wiggles concerts is the entertaining side of it. So you've got that side where the children are entertained. They want to keep coming back because they like the environment that we would use for them. 

Do we clown around? No, we teach karate to these children. But do we tell them that they're doing fantastic? Do we have a bit of a wiggle on that's like, “Man, that's fantastic.” Yes, we do. And I'm now teaching all of my students that same thing. So let's pass this on to our other students. 

So if we can get students inside the dojo making other students feel like they want to come back because they're creating friendships, they're having fun with each other in the dojo, they will continue to come back to my center.

Now, why do we need them to come back? One, the better the retention, the less expense there is, and the more money we make because we're not spending a lot of money on advertising because we've got critical retention, so we can reduce our spending on our advertising. And then secondly, people that are stopping, the longer they stop, the more friends they refer us to. 

And of course, our business grows then. So it just makes good sense. Now, it depends on what you want to do. If you want to teach pure traditional karate and you want to have 10 or 15 students in your hall or your center, that's absolutely great because I love traditional karate. 

I'm a real traditionalist at heart. But what I want to do is to treat it as a business. I want to make money out of this. I want to be able to support myself and my family by doing what I love doing, which is teaching karate.

Now if I have to kick off some of those old beliefs to be able to do that, I'm quite happy to kick off some of those old beliefs and keep people inside my center. And that's what we do every day. We come and teach karate and we love it. It's a dream. 

Imagine getting to the stage and going, “I've been doing karate for 40 years. I absolutely love karate.” Now I get to do it every day and someone's paying me to do it. I used to pay to do it once, but now someone's paying me to do it. It's fabulous.

GEORGE:  That's so good. Especially, and you're talking about being a purist at heart. Part of adapting is just, you talk about the entertainment side, there's no reason why it can't be both.

In fact, teaching has probably evolved. To teach it in a way that kids and younger people are learning and if they're entertained but they're learning the skills while they're getting entertained, that's a good thing. I'll tell you a relevant story. I took my daughter to a music class. 

Now I remember when I was a kid, my mom was cruel in a way. She forced me to play the recorder. I said, “Mom, this is not cool.” Three years in, I was forced to play guitar. Then I played the keyboard and then I ended up playing drums. It was a horrific experience.

And anyway, so I enrolled my daughter in what I thought was a drumming class. But I arrived there and it was a piano class. I thought, “Okay, well let's see where this goes.” And my wife did the enrollments, not me. 

Anyway, I was like, “Are we going to play drums?” And so I walked in and I just saw pianos all around and I was like, “Where're the drums? Are they going to play drums?” He said, “Maybe.” But this teacher wowed me in a way that I haven't been wowed in a long time because his teaching methodology was just magnificent.

Obviously, my daughter was a bit nervous, she's 4 years old, but he sat her down and he started dancing. So just to a rhythm. And so he starts dancing and then he brings out all these characters and then he's got this frog and that frog, and they gamified the entire experience for the child. 

And so she started 10 minutes shy, anxious, and 15 minutes in, she was all over it and completely wowed by the experience. And for me, it was just looking at, “Wow, okay.” Things have come a long way and people are realizing how just being entertaining, I could see what he was teaching her. 

For her, it was just fun and games, but it was education disguised as entertainment. In the martial arts space, you can take a lot from that. You can be the purist and teach all the right things and just make sure kids are entertained.

Martial Arts Business Growth

LINDSAY:  See, I need to teach martial arts and I like to have a good standard. I'm a bit like a tradesman looking at his work. I want to be able to come away saying, “I've done a fantastic job there with that particular task that I did.” Now if I can look at my karate students and go, “Wow, they're really, really coming on with their standard.” 

It's exactly the same as that tradesman looking at the finished job.

The only way that I can produce that standard is to keep them here long enough. Now if every two weeks I'm turning over my school base, there's no way that I'm ever going to produce a standard. So for me to produce a standard, I got to keep the kids. 

To keep the kids, I got to get away from some of those old-fashioned ideas about what should be happening inside a traditional class. So tradition, where is that starting? Well, I might be starting my own tradition, but I know now a formula that is helping us keep students, which is helping our students grow. And I can look at my students and now say, “I'm very, very happy with the standard that we're producing.”

At the end of it all, that's all that matters. It's producing great students that you can feel proud to say that those guys come from our center and I'm making sure that all of my instructors, whether they be our junior instructors because we have great junior instructors and a great leadership program now and I'm always onto those guys and people work well with praise. 

So I'm always telling them, “Make sure you high-five the guys. Make sure that your knucklesMake sure that every kid on that floor on that day knows they've done a great job.” How? Tell them that you're doing a great job. That is fantastic. What a great effort. And at the end of the class just go, “You guys need to congratulate yourself because not only was your standard great, your behavior was fantastic today. Give yourself a hand.”

And sometimes I even say to the parents, “What do you think, parents? You think the kids have all been good today and well-behaved?” And the parents go, “Yeah.” And of course, acknowledgment from a parent to a kid is huge as well. 

For a parent to say, “We think you've done really well today mate,” because there are so many kids out there today who don't get praise. It's important that children receive praise.

A lot of times, the only time they ever get spoken to is when they're doing something wrong. We need to change that. We need to tell children that they're special. We need to tell kids how good they are. 

We need to tell the kids that they're appreciated and that they are going to be okay. And that's what we're trying to produce here. That atmosphere of you're going to be okay, you're doing well. Keep going.

Because I talk to people, people talk about the black belt and say, “You know what the difference between a black belt and a white belt is?” And they go, “Oh, you've trained really hard.” Yeah, that's one thing, but that's not really it. 

What it is, is that the black belt person just trained longer than the white belt person. They've just attended more lessons and that's really all it is. There's nothing else to it.

They've just attended more lessons and we know you get better if you attend more lessons. And when you get better then eventually you achieve a black belt. So that's the type of thing we try to produce with our parents. 

We've even put in our new getting started brochures now. The excuse is that parents are actually going to get from their kids and why the kids are going to tell them they don't want to come anymore. So we pre-warn them, and said to them, “We've got a welcome brochure and we've got a whole page in there dedicated to why kids quit karate.” 

Sometimes kids don't quit karate. Sometimes it's parents that quit karate. Sometimes they quit bringing them. And there are a lot of reasons why that happens. Sometimes they just get tired of bringing them.

GEORGE:  Or they start training in Jiu-Jitsu.

LINDSAY:  Look, there'd be more people going the other way to be honest with you but…

GEORGE:  Apologies, that was a bit of a private joke inserted into a serious matter. Apologies to all my karate friends. To add flavor to where my comment just comes from, what is your take on Jiu-Jitsu, Lindsay?

LINDSAY:  I don't mind Jiu-Jitsu. I don't mind at all. It's actually a very, very good sport. I have rheumatoid arthritis so it's not good to have my joints manipulated and twisted too regularly. So that's why I don't like it. 

Because every time I've had a session and I come away with, “Oh man, my wrist's sore, my arm's sore, my elbow's sore.” So I just don't want to do that. My young guys on the floor do it all the time. 

We've got a couple of Jiu-Jitsu guys here and they get on the floor and my son Lockie is 22 and 22 stone and he gets on the floor and has a wrestle with the boys and absolutely loves it. So it's great.

GEORGE:  100%. As I said, it was a bit of a private joke, but Lindsay likes to give me hassles about cuddling and Jiu-Jitsu and so I thought I'd just get the one up.

LINDSAY:  George, I would never say anything like that to you. George's just making all that up now. Getting back to our conversation about parents, parents need to know that their kids are going to come up at some point in their karate training and that they're going to come up and tell them that they don't want to come anymore. Not all kids. 

I have parents that come and say, “I can't wait to come.” Every day, they're going, “Can we go to karate today? Is karate today? Is it karate today?” Simply because they just love coming. But we have those other kids that they're just half on, half off and they come up with all sorts of excuses, and we know what keeps them away. 

We know technology is in everybody's houses. They've got computers, they've got tablets, they've got phones, they've got PlayStations. 

Now if I was a kid and the parents said, “You're going to go to karate today,” and the kid's on his PlayStation in the middle of a game, it's pretty hard to drag him away from that sometimes. And then all of a sudden they go, “No, don't feel like going today. I'm a bit sick. Got a bit of a tummy ache, got a bit of a headache. There's something wrong with me. The reason why I don't want to go.” 

There are about 101 reasons I'd reckon that kids will give you that they don't want to go. But like us, once you get them here and you get them out the floor, they have a ball. So parents don't give up on their kids too easily because if we allow our kids after their first or second time just to say, “I don't want to do that anymore,” you go, “All right mate, well, what do you want to do?” I want to do this. Okay, we'll enroll you in that. I guarantee it won't be long before they're giving you the same excuses for that.

We have to show our children that if we commit to something, we've got to stay committed for a period of time. Because if we don't, what we're telling our children, it's okay to give up on anything whenever something gets too hard. 

All of a sudden, kids then go, “I don't want to do this. It's too hard.” All right, just give up then, mate instead of saying to the children, no, persevere. Some parents are like, “Whew, I was hoping you were going to say that. I don't have to take you anymore. I don't have to spend the money. Not that I could afford it anyway. Couldn't afford it before.” You can edit that bit out if you want. I get that all the time.

GEORGE:  We edit nothing in this podcast.

LINDSAY:  Okay. There's not one martial artist that would listen to this podcast that wouldn't tell you that or get the same excuses. Every one of us gets the same excuses from our students, but it's up to us to educate also. Not just the students but the parents. 

You're going to get it. I guarantee you, once you get it, still keep bringing them. Don't take their excuse, “I don't want to go because I've got a headache today.”

GEORGE:  Yeah, and so you bring up a good point, that most martial artists are going to know these are the excuses that are going to come up. It's going to come up because you get it all the time. So having that knowledge, it's probably worth having that conversation before it comes up. 

Because it's not if, it's when it's going to happen. So knowing that, it's if someone's really educated in sales, they know the objections that are going to come up. And so before while they're talking to you, they've already answered the objections that might come up and it just makes it easier for them to do business in the end.

So you're in the same situation where having the conversation with parents early, it's not if they're going to quit, they want to quit, it's when, and they're going to tell you that they don't want to come, there's going to be something more important. Or they're going to feel like they want to do the PlayStation etc. because it's not easy. 

Good things in life aren't easy and you need some resilience to push through and get that done. Actually spoke with Michael Scott about this yesterday as well about resilience. So it's just important to know it's coming, we might as well work on how we're going to remove that.

LINDSAY:  Well, we like to point out the page in the welcome pack which says, “Why Kids Quit Karate And What You Can Do About It.” That's the title. So we like to point out that a parent should need to read that section.

GEORGE:  Have you got your welcome pack in front of you?


GEORGE:  I just want to see.

LINDSAY:  This is the latest version. We do have another version, but because our center has changed and our business has changed, we've had to do some modifications to the brochure, add some things, and take some things out. We've done some really great things in the center. We've put our pro shop in, now we had t-shirts, we had hoodies, we had all of those types of things for sale, but we had them in plastic tubs in these cubes. 

And we had one hanging up on a coat hanger and we're hardly selling any. And we went to, I don't know when that was, July, up to Ross Cameron‘s CrossFit? Cross Fight? CrossFit? Was it Cross Fight?

GEORGE:  FightCross for the Partners Intensive.

LINDSAY:  FightCross. He'd be very happy with me remembering that. FightCross studio and he had all his pro shops set out. So when people walk through, all they had to do was just look to their right and all of a sudden there's all the gear that they could purchase. 

And I went, “Well, that looks fabulous.” And I said to Ross, “Do you have it licensed, this look?” And he went, “No,” I said, “Good because I'm going to steal it then.” And we've put the same wood grain look up, we've got all our T-shirts, our hoodies, our shorts, our caps, our singlets, everything now hanging on coat hangers. So when people walk into the dojo, they walk straight past it. 

Every single day now, I'm seeing empty coat hangers on the front bench from where people have purchased stuff and I'm just now putting in more orders for more gear. We weren't selling hardly any. And as soon as I put it out there on display, people are now starting to buy it. You wouldn't think that's rocket science, would you?

GEORGE:  They see it, they buy it.

LINDSAY:  They see it, they buy it. And Ross might have pointed it out to me at the time. He said, “When you go to places like a fun park, a theme park, when you get off the ride, where's the first place they walk you through? It's the gift shop.” To get off the ride and get it back out into the theme park, you go through the gift shop. 

There's all the gear, people are buying stuff. Why? Because the kids nagged them. But I have parents going, “Oh, that looks really good. I'll get Johnny one of those.” Well, don't wait, it might not be available next week. Grab one now while you're here.

GEORGE:  I love that. So we've been working together for quite some time and there's been a significant shift in your business but in your outlook on going about the company. And if I recall now in episode 117 when we were talking, there was a heavy low moment and it was in the midst of COVID.


GEORGE:  And then you changed things around and with that massive growth so fast, you'd had to look at the retention side because you'd had all these young new students coming through. How do you feel your thinking around the business has changed since prior to that time with the Big C and where you are at now and looking forward?

Martial Arts Business Growth

LINDSAY:  I was speaking to people at the weekend at a seminar we're at in Melbourne and they were telling me, “Oh, COVID absolutely killed us and we really haven't hit back since then.” And when I asked some of those people, “What did you do during COVID?” And they said, “Oh, well we did what everybody else did, we closed down.” Okay. 

See, what we did here and it wasn't my thinking because my thinking originally would've been to just close the business everybody else did.

But because I was involved in a network of martial artists that twice a week we were speaking at Zoom meetings, I realized that I had to close the doors to the dojo, but not close the business. 

So during COVID, we went on a marketing frenzy where we were spending money that we weren't earning so that we didn't have to get students through the door when we were to reopen. I was signing up people through packages. They were excellent deals. 

They were getting a uniform that they could wear at home if they wanted, wear down the shop. It doesn't matter where they were wearing it, but they couldn't wear it in my dojo because the government said you can't come in the door. 

So people then say to me, “So when are you starting back then?” And I go, “I don't know. No idea. That's up to the government. I have absolutely no clue when they allow me to reopen. But when we do, you've got a great deal to start back with.”

I once had someone say to me years ago, he had an agricultural business and he was doing extremely well. He was the busiest agricultural dealer in this town and we're going through a bit of a recession. And I said to him, “So how come you are so busy? Why are you surviving and some of the others are starting to go downhill?” 

And he said to me, “This is where people make mistakes. In hard times, the first thing they cut is their advertising budget. Cut your advertising budget, your sales go down.” He said, “Different from me, in the hard times, I increased my advertising budget,” and I'll always remember that. 

I reckon that was 20 years ago. And I'll always remember that talk from John saying to me in the hard times, you increase your advertising budget, not decrease it. And that's what we did. 

And it wasn't simply because all of those other things were going on, it was just simply the fact that I needed to assure I'd sign this lease. I had no money. I needed to assure that when the time came for us to reopen that we still had a business and it was going to be bigger than what it was before we stopped. 

So what we did was we kept in regular contact with our current student base that we had at the time and we're signing new people. And that's what we do today. We're always coming up with some special deal to get people to come to us.

I find it really hard to believe today people that tell me, “Oh, we just can't get students.” And it's generally because it's not that you can't get students, you're just not going about it the right way unless you live in a town of 20 people. I don't understand why you can't have, in retrospect, or in the ratio to your town a decent amount of students. 

I have people say, “Oh, you don't understand my area.” Oh, don't I? You've got a Woolworth there? Yeah. The prices of groceries in your town are the same as they are in mine. Yep. What's your fuel price? $2.30 a liter. Yep. 

What's the price of a Toyota in your town? Wow. It's the same as what it is in my town. And all those businesses are still surviving. Why can't you charge the same as everybody else is charging?

GEORGE:  I find it very dangerous when people talk collectively about an area or a town and make decisions for them because it normally comes from within. And the minute you talk about the town, well hang on, how many people are in this town? Did you talk to all of them? Do you understand their wants, their needs, and their feelings? 

It's a lot of people to be making decisions for. It's hard.

You are saying, “Well, people are struggling to get students.” Well, if somebody says that, then my question would be, “Well, when was the last time you made an offer to get students?” 

And to whom was it? Oh, we posted on our Facebook wall. Well right now, you might as well put a flyer on your windscreen outside. That's not enough. You do need to put your offers in front of enough people so that enough people can see them. 

And even if you did that really poorly, if you just made an offer every day, you would be getting students. But people can't sign up if there's no offer to sign up.

LINDSAY:  Absolutely. You've got to give them something… A reason to click. You've got to give them a reason to click on that button. I love the ads where I see them and people go, “Phone now.” I'll tell you, I'm sitting there at 11:00 at night going through Facebook. 

The last thing I'm going to be doing is picking up the phone and ringing some martial arts guy to start his classes. And you know what happens by tomorrow? That's all worn off.

You've forgotten about the ad you read yesterday, you've moved on, and you're now worried about I've got to pick the kids up from school at 3:00. You're no longer considering enrolling them in anything. But if you've got a button there that says, “Click here, send us a message,” right this minute, people do it. 

They just go, “Oh, I'll do it now, click. Might as well while I'm sitting here at 11:00 with nothing to do,” and you can answer it tomorrow. So there are all sorts of reasons that we can use as to why our business doesn't grow. But most times, the reason it's not growing, sometimes you get to sit back and look at what you are.

A lot of people judge what other people can pay based on their own financial situation. And that's very, very dangerous to do that. If you do that, you'll always be in the financial situation that you've always been in. 

It's not going to change unless you change your thinking. I've always been a big thinker. I've always thought that at some point in time, we can make it. We're going to find something. And I searched for ages and I might have said it on 177 that-

GEORGE: 117.

LINDSAY:  117, whatever it was, 117 folks, if you're listening, go to 117. You'll hear the first half of this. So if you get to the stage where you start to think that people are not going to come in your dojo, they're not going to come in your dojo. 

There's no way they're ever going to come into your dojo because that's your mindset. But if you have the mindset that you want to build a business, that you want to make your martial arts center profitable, it mightn't be that you want to do it full time. You might just want to be able to pay the rent on the building. 

You might just want to be able to have a few bucks at the end of the week to buy a car and a beer and go for a surf, whatever that may be.

You have to set the structure, you have to set the wheels in motion to actually get that to happen in the first place. And the only way that will happen is to get students. And the only way to get students is to get students. 

So if I was to say to you, George, I'll tell you what I'll do. Every student you've been through my door tomorrow for me, I'm going to give you three grand. How many students within the next week do you reckon that you'd be able to bring in for me? You'd just keep bringing them in every day. 

Because what would you do? You'd be walking down the mall saying, “Hey look, have you ever thought of doing karate?” You'd be standing outside of popular kids' places with brochures, handing them out to parents and talking to them, “Hey, have you ever thought of having your kids do karate?” 101 of sales. Get to the masses, get to start talking to the people. And that's what we do.

So if you want to get students, you'll get students. You'll work out a way to get students. And if you don't know how to get students, ask someone who's got students, how they got students. But I could tell you the key to that, if they've got a lot of students, do what they tell you. 

If they have five students, maybe consider their knowledge and the information not quite what you are looking for. If they've got 500 students, do exactly as they tell you to do. Because what will hold you back is your preconceived notions, your thoughts about what people want, or the way you should be doing it.

So all of these guys have, in the past, been in the same position that you are in right now. They've had their five students, their six students. We all had to start with no students. And we get devastated when students leave. 

I remember one point in time when 100% of my students left in one night. Both of them walked out. But you've just got to start somewhere. And the place to start is at the beginning. 

You just talk to people who are doing what you want to be able to do. And if worse comes to worst, pay someone to help you do it because there's always that option too. There are forward-thinking a couple of people out there that do this martial arts, marketing media stuff. That'll give you a bit of a hand. 

And maybe you need to get on to one of those guys who is pretty good at this and just do what they say. I want to be able to leave a legacy for my children. And we've spoken about that a couple of times and a few of the other guys that we regularly communicate with also have that same attitude that we want to leave legacies for our children. 

Some people want to have a business that they can sell at some point in time. I want to have a business that I can leave to my oldest son, my youngest son. He's not completely with it in life. He doesn't do karate. He's actually an accountant so he does okay.

But for the eldest one, I had to do something for him. He is a great manager and I am so fortunate and so lucky to have someone who's so forward-thinking.

Now he's 23 years old and he comes up with far better ideas than what I come up with. And that's because he is 23 years old. 

He knows what people of a younger era and a younger age are looking for. He knows what their interests are. I'm nearly 60 years old. I've lost a little contact with what 15, 16, and 17-year-olds like. Lachlan runs our junior leader program and our young instructor program. 

And to be honest, he is absolutely brilliant at it. He relates well to the young guys. He's a likable character. He's a lot of fun.

He creates a lot of jokes. Much to my dismay, I'm trying to get him to be more serious, but for some reason, it doesn't work. But he just controls our leadership group. People say, “Oh it's all right for you. You've got help.” 

Well, if you've got 15, 16, or even 14-year-olds in your class, you've got help. You've got that ability to take those young people and train them to be helpers, to be young leaders because that's what we all need. We all need more instructors. We all need people that are going to be able to fill in for us and be able to take over from us when we get to the stage where we don't want to do it anymore. 

And where's the best place to get those people? Inside your dojo. So if you've got those young 13, 14, 15-year-olds and you're not actually letting them help, you're losing a valuable resource. You're just letting that valuable resource go.

They're there for you to train. And we've got them in our dojo now. We have red coats who are our junior leaders. They come out on the floor, they start about 12-year-old and they come out and they start helping our more junior classes. 

It's simply correcting them, getting to show them how to kick properly or how to do a lower block correctly. It might just be simply turning the fist over to make sure that their punch is correct.

We have what we call our blue coats who are our junior instructors and they have a junior instructor across their back. Once they reach junior instructor level, they then have the ability to maybe get paid for what they do. We don't believe in asking these students to instruct classes and just swapping them for lessons generally because they feel they don't get anything out of it. 

Because it's generally the parent who pays for the lesson. So it's the parent that's not having to pay and the kid doesn't get anything. So we still make all our junior instructors pay for their lessons, but we pay the junior instructor for the work that they're doing. So they get paid.

It's their first job. They feel proud that they're now getting a job, that they're earning pocket money, but then their teaching picks up with assistance from us. But also then, their karate just starts to skyrocket because of the training that they're doing, because of that expectation that we're putting on them to teach correctly their karate improves so much. 

And then once they get to the point where they are a paid instructor, they then become instructors. And we've only been doing this probably about since we've come back from COVID. Oh, the Big C. Since we've been coming back from the Big C.

So it hasn't been very long, but we've managed to get a great stable of people from inside of our ranks. If you've got them there, use them and they love it. You ask a kid, “Can you come and help?” And you see their eyes light up, you see their smile beam from ear to ear. It's very special for them. Let them do it. 

Even if it's just starting. Say you got them in one of your classes, and let them take the warm-up for 10 minutes. The effect that has on that child is unbelievable. And yet your retention rate goes up with all those kids. 

None of those kids ever stop unless something goes wrong on the outside that they don't come any longer. But they generally come because they've got this commitment for helping. They've got this commitment to work and they feel great about it. So let them help.

And then the great thing is then the other kids see it. So everybody that comes through our door now that we look at them as a potential instructor. So we've also put that in our welcome brochure as well to say, “Hey look, one day your kids could be junior instructors here.” 

We could have a job for them whilst they're attending high school, whilst they're attending university, whatever it may be. There may be a job here for them part-time instead of the regular jobs that they consider McDonald's, or KFC because it's just amazing that people don't think this is an occupation. Why not? 

We actually pay better. Our junior instructors, even at 16 and 17, get 22 or 23 bucks an hour. That's well above the board. Why are we paying that? So we keep them, so they don't go and get more shifts down at McDonald's and don't come to train here any longer because McDonald's rings them up on Tuesday and Thursday nights and wants them to work for them. Sorry, I got a job. 

So for the same time, they're doing three hours here, they'd have to do six hours at McDonald's virtually, or five hours at McDonald's for the same money. So we're then speaking to them. If we're going to look at expanding our dojo base, we then have to look at who's going to take those over in the future. We need students that we've trained, that we've produced in our systems that know the way we work, and that understand us to take over those dojos at some point in time. 

They can only come from here. So we have to embed that seed into all of the kids' heads that one day, this could be you. One day you could be operating one of our dojos for us at the least you could be training on our floor and earning a bit of cash for it whilst you're seeking your lifetime goal of becoming a forensic scientist or whatever it is you want to do.

GEORGE:  Love that. You are very fortunate to have someone like Lachlan working for you. And I noticed this when we got together in Brisbane at the Partners Intensive. He was engaged in every topic, clicked on everything, especially on the marketing aspect, asked the right questions, was keen to learn, great son, and is a great role model for the younger kids. 

I actually think I will have him on the podcast and it'd be great to have his perspective just working in the business and getting that young person's insight and perspective of how it is working in the business, but also teaching the younger kids and getting them motivated and on the right path.

LINDSAY:  See, at 23, he's hugely responsible and he knows that this is his future. So he can go out there and spend five years at university and get a degree and then work for somebody in Melbourne or Sydney and shift away from home, and work the most ridiculous hours. 

At 55, be burnt out because you've just given your blood in your life to some company that doesn't appreciate you all that well. Or he can have his own business, or he can work in the family business of teaching martial arts, which is a great life, a great journey. You get to travel a lot, you get to meet absolutely brilliant people. And he understands that.

At 23 years old, he's got a very smart business head and he understands that. And he understands that because that's the thing that we've taught him all his life. I can remember we'd go overseas when he was young and he'd say, “Dad, can I get a T-shirt?” And at 8-year-old you'd say, “Here mate, you got 10 bucks. Here, go and get one.” But they're 20. Not my problem mate. And he'd always come back with a 10-buck T-shirt because he'd haggled with the store owner.

GEORGE:  That's great.

LINDSAY:  We've got to teach our kids those life skills, George. And you've got your daughter there. You've got to teach her those life skills. When you travel, when you go overseas, you've got to let her start doing some things. You've got to say, “Hey, look. Here, take this up to the counter and tell them that we're checking in.”

I really enjoy belonging to our martial arts group. I really do. And every single time I'm there, I've been a little bit quiet lately. I've had a few things going through my mind. I think about a lot of things when we're there and people say stuff and I go, “Oh, I think about that,” which is good to hear that I actually think about things that we talk about.

But I do steal lots of information and it's really quite good. And I love the guys. I just love getting together with people and we just have fun. Life should be more about having fun. Forget being too serious.

Life's full of serious people who all blow up and have heart attacks at 55, don't get like that. Martial arts is a fantastic journey. I don't know anything out there like it. I've searched the world for occupations and I've done 75 of them. 

And this is the one thing that people say, “Why did you quit that? I got bored with it. Why'd you quit that job? I got bored with it.” I've been into martial arts. This is coming up to nearly 40 years. 

You think if I was going to be bored with it, it would be by now, wouldn't you? It's not. It's not. It's because of the people. Everybody's great. There you go.

GEORGE:  Love it. Cool, Lindsay. Well, thanks so much for jumping on again. Great to see your journey just evolve and I'll see you on the next call. Any last words before we wrap up?

LINDSAY:  I'm going to use the Nike theme here, George. Hey, guys. Just do it.

GEORGE:  100%.

LINDSAY:  Yeah. All right. We'll see you again.

GEORGE:  Thanks, Lindsay. Speak soon.

LINDSAY:  Thanks, George. Appreciate it. Bye-bye.

GEORGE:  Thanks so much for tuning in. Did you enjoy the show? Did you get some value from it? If so, please, please do us a favor and share it with someone you care about. Share it with another martial arts school owner or an instructor friend that might benefit from this episode. And I'd love to hear from you. 

If you got some good value out of it and you just want to reach out, send me a message on Instagram. My handle is George Fourie, G-E-O-R-G-E, last name F-O-U-R-I-E. And just send me a message and I'd love to hear from you if you've got some value from this.

And last but not least, if you need some help growing your martial arts school, need help with attracting the right students, increasing your signups, or retain more members, then get in touch with us. 

Go to our website, martialartsmedia.com/scale and we've got a short little questionnaire that just asks a few questions about your business to give us an idea of what it is that you have got going on. And then typically from that, we jump on a quick 10 or 15-minute call just to work out if or how we can be of help, not a sales call.

It's really a fit and discovery call for us to get an idea if we can be of help, and that's that. We'd love to hear from you and I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.


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138 – Building A Thriving Martial Arts Business For Generational Wealth

Michael Scott shares the 3 core areas he focuses on for a fulfilled life, and building a martial arts business that fuels generational wealth.


  • Are Google Ads getting better results than Facebook Ads?
  • Having an exit strategy when retiring from your martial arts business
  • Your martial arts business as a vehicle to build generational wealth
  • Having an accountability partner you can trust and who supports your goal
  • Why have membership contracts
  • And more

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



GEORGE:  Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Another great interview for you today. Michael Scott from CMA Campbelltown Martial Arts in New South Wales. 

So I've known Michael for a little while. We've been working together in our Partners Group. When you meet someone and they're not at the front of the conversation, but when they speak, you want to listen because it's always packed with wisdom. 

In fact, at the end of last year, we did something fun in our Partners Group and we gave out awards within the group, and Michael was named the Wisdom Whisperer, and just for that reason, sits back, observes the conversation, but when he speaks, it's packed with wisdom.

Now, Michael talks about the three areas that he focuses on in his life way beyond martial arts and actually how he has used his martial arts business as a vehicle to grow wealth and build generational wealth and talks about investment strategies and things that he does after that. So, you're going to love it. 

I loved doing this episode. Head over to martialartsmedia.com/138. You can download the transcript and all the resources. And please do me a favor, if you love this episode, share it with someone that you care about, a martial arts school owner or instructor. I'm sure they'll get a ton of value from this. 

All right, let's jump in. Michael Scott, welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast.

Michael Scott | martial arts business

MICHAEL:  Thanks, George, I'm not happy to be here, but I'm here.

GEORGE:  Hang on. I've got a guest on my podcast who's not happy to be here. Why is that?

MICHAEL:  Well, it's nothing to reflect on you, George, just I prefer to stay out of the limelight if I can. I like to sit in the background and gather all my information and make my decisions from there.

GEORGE:  Right. Perfect. And that is the entire reason that I've actually invited you to the show. So a bit of context and then we'll jump into things. So Michael, we've been working together for quite some time in our Partners Group, and in the last year we did something fun and we were giving out awards for just different aspects of value, which a lot of members in our community bring to the table. 

And for Michael Scott, we deemed Michael the Wisdom Whisperer and we thought the Wisdom Whisperer was appropriate for Michael, pretty quiet, sitting in the background, observing. But when he speaks, it's always of value, packed with wisdom of combination of the years in martial arts, building the business in the right way, investment portfolio, etc. 

I had to really twist the arm here to get Michael on, but I know it's going to be super valuable as it is when we spend time together each week. So thanks for making the exception, Michael.

MICHAEL:  You're welcome, George. It's funny, even though I say I don't like public speaking, I really don't like public speaking, but in my previous working life, I've completed Toastmasters speaking courses and all these other stuff to help you speak better in public. I still don't like to do it.

GEORGE:  Perfect. That's cool. So let's jump into some practicalities. I've got the first question I always like to ask. When it comes to marketing, and attracting new students, what's been your go-to strategy? Your strategy that's been most successful either recently or of all time?

MICHAEL:  Of all time, I would have to say referrals. I think referrals have always been a great way to gain new students from day one till now. That seems to be the best. If they're referrals, they're not a warm lead, they're a hot lead, They're ready to go. So for my money, as you've heard me say a million times, George, I'll pay $100 every day of the week to get a good referral, something that's of value.

Apart from that, having been in the game for a long time, I've seen the change in where our clients come from and it started off trading post ads to yellow pages ads to pink pages ads to local paper advertising, a little bit of radio advertising. And now we're down in the rabbit hole with Google and Facebook advertising. I did my stats the other day actually, and Google is bringing in more students than anyone else at this stage.

GEORGE:  Interesting.

MICHAEL:  We get more leads through Facebook, but we convert more through Google.

GEORGE:  I love that. It's very interesting how the dynamics have been shifting over the past couple of years. And if I had to add to that, I think when I started working with martial arts school owners, I was probably not even active on Facebook, but I learned direct response marketing through Google Ads and it was always the go-to place for me because I knew at that time it was the more complex machine to get going. 

But once you get it going, the maintenance is just a lot less because it's search-driven and not newsfeed driven. And the whole difference, for those of you that are listening that don't know, if you look at Google leads, you get the intent. 

People are more intent-based and so they're actually going physically to the search engine to search for something. Whereas Facebook, it's interruption-based, meaning you got to put things in front of the newsfeed for them to snap them out of their trance of looking at cats or procrastinating or doing whatever they're doing with a good irresistible offer for them to actually respond to.

And there's definitely pros and cons to both. There's definitely pros and cons to how they can work together. But the interesting dynamic for me is how it shifted from Google being always the player and then Facebook came in and Facebook is just the go-to lead source and it still is for a lot of people. But the mature system is Google with the mature ad platform.

And I know a lot of people are getting a lot of issues with Facebook and just pages being restricted or things being flagged because the AI isn't as dialed in where Google has really mastered this over time. And we seem to see the shift as people don't pay as much attention to Facebook and social platforms and how Google is becoming again this powerhouse. So it's interesting. 

So you did the stats in a comparison of actually who are members and who are not members?

MICHAEL:  Always. Yeah. Each month I go through and I look at where all our leads come from. So my CRM spits out a report of where all the leads have come from and then I just refine that report and I just click on a button and say, “Okay, now I want to know what leads turned into active students and just goes bang.”

GEORGE:  Nice.

MICHAEL:  So it makes life very easy for me in that respect. And the other area I guess, which I didn't mention, is the website leads, which is something we’re just starting to see a return. So as you know, you helped us tweak our website a little bit. 

We've just done a completely new website, so that's starting to gain momentum now as well. So I'll be interested to see where that goes as far as our leads and conversions over the next 12 months. Because we were one of the first martial arts, I guess, to have a website when websites first became a thing in Australia. 

But we didn't really do much with it. We just went to someone who created a little website for us and we just plotted along until now. And it's only now we decided, okay, well we've played with Google, we've played with Facebook, we've played with everything else, let's play with the website leads and see where that goes. 

So yeah, with your input, we've done a few tweaks to it and they've completed those tweaks for us. So I'm looking forward to the next 12 months.

GEORGE:  Love it. So take us back, because I mentioned that you've been in the industry for quite a while. Just give us a bit of an overview, your background, your story, how you got into martial arts and how everything's evolved to now.

Michael Scott | Martial Arts Business

MICHAEL:  I guess going right back, I started in boxing when I was 10 years old. That was mainly driven through my father who was ex-military. So he taught me the basic skills in boxing. And then I went to PCYC like everybody else did back then and just boxed regularly there. 

I did that all through school till I was about 18 I think it was. And I got bored with it, to be honest. I was looking for something else. And at that stage, Bruce Lee, all that sort of stuff was out. I always had an interest in martial arts movies, whatever was around. 

I go back to the early days of phantom agents and stuff like that, which was on Saturday morning. You may not even remember them, little phantom ninja guys, who jumped up and down in trees and spat little stars at people.

GEORGE:  Right. Yeah, I do actually.

MICHAEL:  But yeah, that's probably my first inkling into martial arts. Even when I turned about 18, I'd left school, started working, and had money on my own. A mate of mine rang me up and said, “I found this thing to do.” I said, “What do you mean you found this thing to do?” 

He said, “I found a martial art for us to do.” I said, “What's it called?” He said, “It's Hapkido, Hapkido, or something.” So what do you mean by Hapkido?” He said, “I don't know, that's what it's called.” And he said, “I'll read a bit about it.” 

And it just said, “I can't remember the spiel, but it's basically learned jumping, flying, spinning kicks, bone-crunching techniques.” And I said, “Oh, that sounds like us.”

So I went in, looked at the school, and set a day where I always watch two lessons. Joined in the third lesson and I've been doing it ever since. And then in the night, that was early, that would've been early '80s, I started doing that and still doing that to this day. 

And then in the early-mid, about '96, I got introduced to John Will with a seminar he was doing in Sydney with John Will, Jean Jacques Machado, and Richard Norton. And that was my first foray into what's now known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

And I started training from then I just… After the seminar, I said to John, “So this stuff is cool.” I said, “Where I learned it .” He said, “From me.” I said, “Where do you buy?” He said, “Geelong.” I said, “How long does it take to get from Geelong to Campbelltown? 

I didn't know. I had no idea where Geelong was back then.” He said, “I'm in Melbourne.” I said, “Well that's a bit hard.” He said, “I'll come and see you.”

So that's where the relationship started. In the early days he came up and saw us four times a year. So I got access to him four times a year as well as he did whatever other Sydney seminars he did, I went along and did those as well. And I've been with John ever since, still plugging away BJJ as well. 

And I like anything in martial arts, any weapon, any style. If I can learn something, I'll learn it. I don't have any preconceived ideas of one style or one person's better than the other. 

And then I started, I think it was about '92. I left my instructor just not really left him. I left the organization because they were all teaching in small scout halls and school halls and that type of thing. And we'd already moved to a full-time premise. Well, it wasn't really, well it was a part-time to full-time venue.

So there's certain things we wanted to do. We wanted to do our own marketing, we wanted to do our own T-shirts and cups and we were just all excited about putting everything out there. 

And back then they had a little committee that he had to go through and I just said, “Well, this is a waste of time.” He said, “You guys are operating with 20 students. I've already got 90 students in three months.” So, I said, “I'm heading out if you're going to try to restrict me there, I'm going to do my own thing.”

So, I walked out, did my own thing, and that was '92, that's where it all started. I had a partner back then, Steve, you might know Steve Perceval, he was a partner with me, but he only stayed a partner for about 12 months. 

And then he went off and did his own thing. And then I moved to… It's '93, let's see, about '94, I moved to the premise I'm in now. And in 2000 I bought it. They wouldn't let me buy it until 2000.

So I bought it just prior to the GFC and that's how I got into it. I'd been working in marketing and I'd owned different businesses previously. And my company where I'd worked a long time for got taken over by someone else. 

They said my job was no longer a position there. So, I went and I looked for other positions and I thought, well, the position I had was just near home. I did a lot of travel, international, national, but the office itself was five minutes from home.

So when I started applying for other positions, they were all inner city and North Sydney and they're a nightmare to get to. So, I just said to my wife, “I don't want to work anymore.” So, she said, “What do you want to do instead?” I said, “I'm not sure. I think I want to run the gym full time.” 

She said, “What do you mean do it full-time?” I said, “Oh, I'm going to go sit with the accountant. I went and sat with my accountant, went through all the numbers.” She said, Look, you've turned other small companies into million-dollar companies for other people. Do it for yourself.”

So I left and I started doing the gym in '90, whatever it was '92, I started the gym. So I was probably about 12 years later, I went full time and haven't looked back since. That's pretty much how I got into it.

GEORGE:  Love that Michael. So I want to, something you touched on that you did quite early is you bought your premises. So you mentioned, so it was five years, right? Is that about a five-year window, a six-year window, and then you bought it?

MICHAEL:  We moved into the building and I leased it from '93 I think it was, or '94 we moved in, on a lease, but I wanted to buy. I offered the owners straight away, I said, “I want to buy, I want to buy, I want to buy.” And they kept saying, “No, no, no, no, no.” 

Until 2000, just prior, must have been February, 2000 because I think GFC came in July, 2000. So about February, 2000, they finally said, “Yes, we'll sell it to you.” And I said, “Great, I'll buy it.” 

I didn't know how I was going to buy it because my wife was eight and a half months pregnant with our first child, just about to give up work going back to a single income. But we did, we just bit the bullet and said, “Yep, let's do it.” And haven't looked back since.

GEORGE:  I know you're a big property guy and numbers guy. What was your thinking at that time? Was the numbers and the property, was that always a thing that started early or how did you evolve to putting all the emphasis and focus on buying the property and then we'll talk about what followed from there?

Martial arts business wealth

MICHAEL:  As soon as I moved out of home, I never rented. I bought my property straight away. So, I never believed in paying dead money. I just called it dead money. Rent to me was dead money paying someone else's mortgage for them.

So it used to burn me every time. I had to pay for the gym rent every month. So, it was always my goal to buy it. That was from day one. Having an interest in property from an early age, I knew that at least in the Sydney market, the property doubled every 10 years.

Property values double on average, some a little bit earlier, some a little bit later, some a little bit more, and some a little bit less. So, I knew if I didn't buy it, if I let it go for another five years, 10 years, it could be out of my reach at that point in time. So that's why I really wanted to buy it and I knew it'd just keep going up in value anyway. 

And my wife and I, because she was going off on maternity leave, we knew we'd be on a fixed income for quite a while. We just took out a fixed-interest loan. So, it was high, but we knew we could cover that cost and we knew that cost wasn't going to go up, so that's what we did.

GEORGE:  Walk me through your thinking a little because if I look at a lot of school owners today, the goal is growth. We're going to open this school and we're going to open the next school and the next school and expand the organization. How long have you been in the business?

MICHAEL:  30 years.

GEORGE:  30 years? Right. In 30 years, and you've gone the other direction. You've kept one location, you've built it highly profitable, but then you've taken the profits and you've built up this property portfolio and investment portfolio on the back end of your marginalized business. 

Was the motivation ever to expand the one martial arts school and go in that direction or where do you feel you sit on that spectrum?

MICHAEL:  I'd still like to have a second location, third location, and fourth location. But finding the right people to do it is very, very difficult. And a good friend of mine, an associate of yours, Fari Salievski, he's got quite a successful martial arts school. 

I consider him one of my mentors from early on in the business side of martial arts and he has multiple schools, but he doesn't own any of them. He just owns the one he's in. And I asked him the question many, many years ago, I said, “Why haven't you got yourself a second or third location? You can afford it.” 

And he said, “You just triple your headaches and you don't triple your profit.” So all his schools, all the individual schools are owned by the people who run them. I've been waiting for one black belt to come to me and say, “Hey, I'm moving out of the area. I want to open a school.” But it hasn't happened yet, still waiting for it.

GEORGE:  Got it. Now in the reverse of that, you've got your son, Ethan, who is a big part of your business, right? Stepping up to basically run the school.

MICHAEL:  Yeah, I guess in any business you need an exit strategy. So my goal was always to combine my business as both an exit strategy for me and a generational vehicle of wealth for future generations of my kids. And I just hope to God that one of them was interested in it. 

Martial arts business wealth | Martial Arts Super Show

Luckily, they're both interested in it. Ethan works full-time in it as of now, funny enough though, I asked him if he wanted to open a second school and he said no. Now whether that comes from my input on it, I'm not sure. I'd be interested to see what he does down the track.

But I guess he can just see that the work that goes into running one business, whether you want to branch out to two, I know a lot of people do it successfully. But yeah, just for me it's just something that's never really grabbed me to own another and run a second one as my own. 

But to have an instructor who had an interest in it, I'd be happy to own the building. They can pay rent, do all that, I'll put the systems in there. But everything else, the day-to-day running would be up to them.

GEORGE:  Got it. So, do you mind walking us through your investment strategy? I know you've got a bunch of properties and you mentioned now as well you'd be happy to buy the building of a school and have somebody in there as well. 

So, again, thinking on the property route, walk us through your investment portfolio and how you go about generational wealth and how you are working towards that?

MICHAEL:  Okay. I think I've spoken to you before, but probably not in this environment. I have three areas that I look at. So one is my current self, which means where I am currently in life with my family, my boys, and everything else, which means I need income to pay for current things like day-to-day living, mortgages, school fees, holidays, cars, and all that sort of stuff. 

Then your future self. So, my future self is something I work on for when I'm no longer… Not that I won't ever stop working, but I'm no longer reliant on the income from the business.

So I need to create a way that I have an income that the business doesn't have to cover me and then I need generational wealth, which is a way to create wealth for future generations. So in my retirement, when I slow down, when my wife and I slow down, we're not going to eat into or affect that generational wealth that will just stay there and that'll be the boys' problem to figure out once we're gone.

GEORGE:  Got it. So do you mind leaning in a level deeper on how you approach those three things?

MICHAEL:  Yeah, so they're the sort of three, I guess three stages of life that we all go through. So I guess I've broken it up into three stages of life and I'm probably not the first one to do it and I've probably gained this, gleaned this from someone speaking seminar or something I've heard, but it made sense to me. 

So they're the three stages of life and then I have three areas to work with. My first area is my business. So my business looks at my current stage of life, my future life, and my generational wealth. So it can sink into all three areas. And then I have my self-managed super fund, which is a whole subject on its own and it looks after future self and generational wealth. 

And then I have my private investments and they can look after all three areas as well so they can look after my current self, future self, and generational wealth. So that's how I structured my financial position if that makes sense.

GEORGE:  Yeah, perfect. So what investments do you prefer? Let's start there and then we'll go from there.

MICHAEL:  I like property. I like tangible things. I was caught up in the global financial crisis. So my wife and I had… We lost 50% of our super overnight in one fell swoop. It was just gone. 

And I know within five to seven years it recouped itself as a whole. But that scared me because I thought well they're just taken from me. If I wanted to retire on that day or do something on that day, half my assets just went out the window. So that was 2007, 2008 I think somewhere around there.

So at that point in time, my wife and I went and started our own self-managed super fund because I said well, no one's going to control my super except for me so that was the start of the self-managed super fund. And then the first thing I did was I transferred my building into it.

GEORGE:  I'd love to know more on that but just for our American listeners, that'll be equivalent. Super would be equivalent to a 401(k) if I've got that right?

MICHAEL:  A 401(k). Yeah. But I don't know whether they have the access, I don't know whether it's Americans who can manage their own 401(k) or whether it's just whatever the employer does with their super fund, that I'm not sure of.

GEORGE:  So, walk us through that process if you don't mind. And I know I'm asking the investment style questions, if there's anything you feel is not good to share, I mean you're more than welcome to retract of course. But if you go about, walk us through that process of you mentioned your property into the super fund, how does that work?

Martial arts business wealth

MICHAEL:  As I said, we took out a fixed-interest rate loan to buy the building and I think it was on a five-year fixed-interest loan. So we just said, “Yeah, okay, we're going to survive five years paying a high-interest rate.” But we didn't. We refinanced and paid it out within three years. 

So we owned the building within three or four years. So once we owned the building, we had some decisions to make. I mean it is paying rent to us which goes on top of your income, which you pay tax on, etc.

And I thought well we got a self-managed super fund with shares and sitting in there, which we can't do anything with. So I thought let's have some… I did some research on it obviously, looking to speak to a few people.

And I said, “I'm going to put the building in there then it's safe.” No one can touch it. It's in there forever and a day. The downside of putting it into a super fund is that you can't use the equity in it, that's just locked away in your fund.

So it has drawbacks but then it has advantages as well. That was the first stage. And I guess long term, if you're talking long term but self-managed super funds, once you hit 65, everything you draw out of it, it's tax-free. So again for me, I was looking at my future self and generational self, I guess.

GEORGE:  Right. Your property is in the super fund. So how did you then restart the investment cycle into different properties from that point?

MICHAEL:  So I have properties in and out of super. So I always look at both areas. Obviously, properties you're putting to super are pretty much there for life, properties you have outside of super, you can play with them, you can use the equity in them to get more, you can sell them, you can do what you like with them. So that's why I look at both areas.

GEORGE:  All right. So you've got a lot of experience in doing investments and working with property. What advice would you have for a school owner that's starting out, starting to see success with this school, and now they're looking at, right, well what's the next step for me? How am I going to start investing? Where would you start?

martial arts business

MICHAEL:  I guess it's hard because you don't know anyone's personal situation. And I guess the biggest thing too, which I didn't mention, which I should always mention is that everything I do is gold stamped by my wife. And you've got to have such a good partner because they've got to be 100% on board with what you're doing. And if you haven't got that it makes it very, very difficult.

So my wife's very good. I mean we've just finished doing taxes for the business and for personal and for self-money. I just hand piles of paper to sign as she just signs it all just because we have that I guess undivided trust between each other. 

But yeah, I know a lot of couples where one partner wants to invest, they're keen, but the wife's very reserved in investment strategies and unless you're both on the same page it just will not work.

So that's my first thing. If you're going to look at any investment, talk to your partner, sit down with them, go through it all, make sure they understand it. They might not want to be involved in it but as long as they understand it and they support you, I think that's a good starting point. 

And if they're looking at property, I have a guy who does all my property for me. I've recommended so many people to him that they now have properties with him as well. But I only recommend people to him that I know are the right people for him.

GEORGE:  Is that based on the type of property that he does or the more towards the type of person that you send to him within their caliber to make the investments required?

MICHAEL:  Definitely the type of person, the type of property he will match to them. I just make sure I send him the right type of person. Because he's a businessman, I don't want to waste his time with people who just want to go in and tick the tires and get some information and go somewhere else and get some information. 

Although before, as I like to sit in the background, one of my students invested with this gentleman first and he accumulated four properties with him. And I watched these four. I watched him grow from one property to four over a period of two or three years. 

I didn't invest with him or didn't talk to him until then. And being a student, a long-time student, he gave me all the data, he just gave me all his financials and said, “Here's all the financials, my own personal, my wife's financials,” everything with the properties involved in it. He said, “Go through it, have a look at it. If you're comfortable with it, I'll make an introduction for you.”

So that's pretty rare for someone to give you all that information anyway. Most people aren't too happy to share any financial data. But they gave me everything. I can tell you what his wife earned, what he earned, like everything. Because he was so confident in what he was doing that he wanted to show me how confident he was.

GEORGE:  It's why referrals are a good strategy.

MICHAEL:  100%.

GEORGE:  Having that level of trust from someone, I think it's just unbeatable on all levels.

MICHAEL:  Yeah. You can't go past it.

GEORGE:  Where to next with all this, you've got the business, and you've got the property portfolios building, where do you feel your business is headed in the next couple of years? On all spectrums, on just business growth, and on the investment side?

MICHAEL:  Like a lot of businesses, especially martial arts, I feel COVID really hit us hard. We've come out of it doing much better than a lot. But conservatively, I think it cost us 100 students and it probably cost us some growth that we're starting to since it all crashed. 

So it's reopening a new business. We've just been going for 12 months now. Although, we did have a database, a good database to start off with, which is better than a lot of people had. But I do feel it cost us 100 students and I think we'll start to recoup those over the next 12 months. 

So really I just want to get the business back into a good position. So for me, sitting around the 450, I always wanted to get the 500. I never made it to 500 students. So getting to the 400, 450 students is a really good solid base to do what I want to do.

We want to do some renovations, we want to redo our bathrooms, we're putting it, and we want to extend our mezzanine upstairs. We've got all that to do but have been a bit reluctant to do it just at the moment. I just want to give the next 12 months and just see what's happening.

Yeah, I think that's probably where we just really want to see the business. I mean it's just the numbers game with the business, our retention is really good. We do have pretty good retention but obviously, you still need the numbers coming in and anything the bigger you get, the more the numbers seem to leak at the bottom of it, seem a little bit bigger each time. We have to make sure we keep recouping those.

GEORGE:  What do you lean towards your retention and why is it so good?

MICHAEL:  I think it's 30 years in the business. We've refined a lot of systems. We're very systemized. Students know exactly what they're getting. There are no gray areas for them. We have a high standard across the board. 

Everybody knows that if you can't do what you need to do, you don't progress to the next belt level. There are no buts or maybes, our black belt gradings are renowned for being tough and anyone who gets through it deserves it.

And just keeping that high standard I think and a good culture, we have a really good family culture. Everybody knows that you can bring your 3-year-old to train, your 10-year-old, your 15-year-old, or you can train yourself as a parent.

And I guess being in business so long, we've got a lot of second-generation students there. I taught their moms and dads and now the kids are training.

GEORGE:  From speaking with you Michael, I know that you're very straight down the line in your systems and there are no gray areas. What is your stance on a few of those things? Let's say things that come up with students, there are excuses, or people don't want to commit. 

I think we've spoken about this within the contexts as well, how you go about that. Do you mind sharing a bit about that? Just your stance on where this comes from. There's no gray area and not tolerating excuses and everything else.

MICHAEL:  Oh I think it just comes from growing up, you know my boxing background. There were no gray areas, you just did what you were told, there's no about what, about these, about what? There's none of that. 

And then martial arts, my instructor was really tough. He was tough. What he did to us, he couldn't do now, he just couldn't do it. You just wouldn't be allowed. It wasn't anything bad, it's just a different era. 

Everyone training on the floor was 18 to 25 with this, the odd female and the odd younger kid that was it. It was a tough environment and you knew what you had to do to get to your next belt level and there were no shortcuts.

You knew if you messed up in your grading in certain areas you weren't getting your belt. We've put systems into place so the students can't mess up on their grading because there are tips involved and it's nice to go home to parents and go home to teachers. 

So we take away all the problems that could face us integrating before the grading happens. So anyone who's not going to get through the grading doesn't step up in front of us.

GEORGE:  Got it. And your stance on contracts throughout the business, how does this combine with this?

MICHAEL:  I'll go through that in a sec. Yeah, I think it's along the same lines, George. I think if you're going to be serious about anything, you need to commit to it. So, if you're not prepared to commit, I mean we do a minimum contract of 6 months. 

If you're not prepared to commit to something for 6 months, you're really not going to give it a good go. And even six months, the way I talk to parents and people about it, on average, you need to repeat a routine about 21 times to make it a habit.

So if you're doing a 6-month contract, you're training twice a week, you're doing about 26 lessons, 46 lessons, whatever it works out to be, you're maybe getting to the habit, and that's the problem if you're just doing short-term contracts or not contracts at all, it's very hard to get into the habit or even create a routine.

So we've been pretty strong on that stance. We still are. We've just introduced the month-to-month price, but we bumped it right up and it's really for the people who… It's not advertised, it's just for those people who we just know aren't going to get across the line on any contract they have contract phobia, whatever the case may be.

We had one the other day as grandparents, they are paying for their grandchild. Mom and Dad wouldn't pay for it. They just didn't want to commit to a contract. So it'll be right, they cost an extra 20 bucks a week and you can do it month-to-month as you get better. 

So we get an extra $20 a week and my guess is you'll probably be around in six months or 12 months anyway paying a higher price.

GEORGE:  As long as they're not in the contract, they're happy.

MICHAEL:  They're happy. Yeah.

GEORGE:  …To pay the extra two bucks for it.

MICHAEL:  We'll be the exception, not the rule for us. I still like the contracts, I like the commitment we have, black belts have been with us for 20 years. We still do their contract every year.

GEORGE:  Yeah, a hundred percent. I think sometimes there are people that downplay a contract. I see some gyms do this. But then again, all the love to the gym industry. They abuse the contracts that they have to say no contracts. 

And I see sometimes in their sales, in their marketing material, they advertise no contracts as a selling point. But then really, I mean if you can't commit for a short amount of time, is it really going to be beneficial? So, I think it's the value that you place in the contract.

Some people have been, it's a trigger word, something went wrong in a contract and they carry that weight for them through life. But I think it's really good to look at it in the positive sense of what is it that you… Does it tie in with your values of what you stand for? 

And I think that's something that you've communicated with us in the past. It's not the culture that you want to build of people that are going to try and quit. And so it does reinforce a commitment to doing the thing that you said you want to do. 

And I think it's something that is lacking in society just in general, people are very easy to go back on their word of committing to something but then just not sticking through with it. And I think it's good in a sense to remind people of the commitment they had to themselves because they're doing it for themselves and the contract could just be the thing that keeps them re-valuing their decisions.

MICHAEL:  Yeah, 100%, George. I think that society is very dangerous. It's like a transient society now and everything they do, they're just in and out, in and out. If something doesn't work, they just go to the next thing. And that scares me a lot. 

There's no resilience. That's the one thing that most kids and people who start with this, they just lack resilience in all areas of their life. And I think that's the one thing martial arts can really reinforce is resilience.

GEORGE:  Yeah. I had this reflection earlier and I think I mentioned it just talking about maybe it wasn't a parenting situation, but when we grew up we never had a choice. Your choice was limited, you had to do something or not.

In our case, growing up in South Africa, it's like you got rugby and cricket and emphasis on rugby and nothing else. And stepping into this new age and how kids grow up information is just, there's no shortage. How do you filter out the information?

So there's just too much choice. And I think the danger that social media and things like YouTube have expressed upon young kids is they see the result and not the journey. And so it's really easy to just see someone doing something at such an elite level on camera and you see it everywhere and you just… It's really easy to assume that I could just do that and it's really simple.

But then the resilience to actually get there is missing. The journey is missing when people see the results and not the journey and they try and apply and get the same result and they don't get it, disappointment kicks in, and okay, “Well, I'll just try XYZ.” 

I feel martial arts does help with that. You mentioned this is a concern for you. What have you seen that's a real difference in the way that when you started 30 years ago?

And there was this resilience, there was this more hardcore training and now you can't adapt those old strategies for the younger generation and obviously for some obvious reasons and things like that. But where do you feel things could adapt so that you can get the same results and that same resilience out of the younger generation?

MICHAEL:  I think we can get the same results. I think it just takes longer. I guess what I would say is, say one of my red belts nowadays would've been one of my green belts 20 years ago. The skill level would've been roughly the same. But we've had to mold our syllabus to suit the times. 

I guess when I first started training, we'd do walking, standing up a block, lower block and we did it up and down the gym for half an hour and we just do it because that's what we were told to do. But you couldn't do that now. 

You'd have half your student base walk out within a month. So you continually need to be creating something to keep them engaged. I think it's the great thing about martial arts, it has the ability to do that because you can do the same thing 10 different ways and the student thinks they're doing something different. 

So disguise repetition, but it takes work and it takes skill. And I think the other thing that we've noticed with the kids, which is sad to see, is that a lot of the basic skills that kids used to have are gone now. We have kids who come in who don't know how to jump, don't know how to climb. Even running, that is an effort for them.

And these kids aren't overweight or anything like that. They just haven't got the skills. When we were young, we were climbing fences, climbing trees, and we had monkey bars in our schoolyard. We climbed up and fell often. 

None of that exists anymore unless you're a parent who takes your kids outside to do something like that, the kids don't get exposed to it. It's all too dangerous at school now. So yeah, we teach kids how to climb up onto blocks and pads, and then how to jump off them and then bend their knees so they don't land on straight legs.

So a lot of the basic fundamental skills that are gone, you have to reteach the kids before you even start teaching them how to kick and punch. You need to teach them how to really walk and talk again. With respect to BJJ, the first thing that a new student wants to do with BJJ is to get it on the internet. 

And that's the first thing I tell him not to do. So stay off online until you get at least six months under your belt and then just dip your toe in the water.

Because as you said earlier, they're seeing the end result of maybe 10 years of experience doing a technique and they think, “Oh that looks easy. I'll go and do that. And then they come into the gym, they try it on someone and they just don't work and they don't understand why it doesn't work?” Because it works on the video. 

And the analogy I always give them is I say, “Look, if I stood you in front of the mirror and I taught you how to do a jab, I'm pretty sure in an hour I could teach you how to do a reasonable jab. And in an hour, how many jabs could you do in an hour, let's say 500, it would be pretty easy.”

So now let's go to the BJJ mats, I'm going to teach you how to do an armbar. How long does it take to do 500 armbars? They can't calculate it. And that's the big difference between the standup and the ground. 

Out of the ground, you can teach repetitions pretty quickly. On the ground, you cannot. And the BJJ has got more videos out there than anything else.

GEORGE:  It's definitely great to have an abundance of information. But it's also dangerous in the sense of… And we find that in a coaching aspect that, and we do that in our Partners membership where we have a thing called the on-ramp, which blocks out the 130 other courses in the program that you just stay on the track that because you learn one step at a time, the right things in the right sequence.

I think it's super important and it's easy to, yeah, it's so easy to get distracted and see the cool thing and you think, I just want to do the cool thing. But the cool thing is I just need to learn the fundamentals before the cool thing.

MICHAEL:  Yeah, 100%. I see that as a big obstacle in martial arts today in all areas is the online presence of access to something so easy without doing all the fundamentals it takes to get to that point. 

If ever I'm watching a video on martial arts, I turn the sound off, I don't listen to them at all. I just look at their footwork, their hands, their hip movement, and that'll tell me all I need to know.

GEORGE:  Why do you prefer to keep the sound off?

MICHAEL:  They're great technicians, but they may not be great at teaching, especially when it… I mean, teaching on video is a whole other level than teaching in front of the class. And even a lot of the great instructors, I watch their tutorials and they're doing all the right things, but they're not saying it. So it's very hard.

You've probably heard of the terms invisible Jiu-Jitsu or Royal Jiu-Jitsu, it's all the things that a person does automatically without realizing they're doing it. Well, they know they're doing it, but they just do it automatically. It's built into their DNA now.

And to do a single move, they might be doing 20 different things they're not talking about, but unless you do those 20 different things, you're not going to get their result.

GEORGE:  Unconscious competence. Yeah.

MICHAEL: Yeah, 100%. I'm a visual learner anyway.

GEORGE:  Hey, love it. Michael, it's been great chatting to you. We've gone through a roundabout different aspects and I really wanted to connect with you because I know you've got a million things that you can share and I just wanted to really extract a few gold things. 

But any last words, anything to add before we wrap things up? If you are open to people reaching out to you, you're more than welcome to share details of how, if you prefer not, please don't because people might reach out to you. Any last words?

MICHAEL:  Look, I think for any martial arts school owner, obviously your school is very important. But also look at, I'm a big believer in what I just said. Look at the three areas of your life, where you are currently, where you want to be when you retire, and what you want to leave behind. And I think if you focus on those three areas, everything else will sort of make sense to you.

GEORGE:  100%. Awesome. Michael, thanks so much for doing this. Thanks for being on. I'll see you on the call during the week.

MICHAEL:  Thanks, George. Because it was not a pleasure, but it was fun.

GEORGE:  Awesome. It was great. Thanks.

MICHAEL:  All right, George. Take care.

GEORGE:  Thanks so much for tuning in. Did you enjoy the show? Did you get some value from it? If so, please, please do us a favor and share it with someone you care about. Share it with another martial arts school owner or an instructor friend that might benefit from this episode. 

And I'd love to hear from you if you got some good value out of it and you just want to reach out, send me a message on Instagram. My handle is George Fourie, G-E-O-R-G-E, last name F-O-U-R-I-E.

And just send me a message and I'd love to hear from you if you've got some value from this. And last but not least, if you need some help growing your martial arts school, need help with attracting the right students or increasing your signups or retaining more members, then get in touch with us.

Go to our website, martialartsmedia.com/scale and we've got a short little questionnaire that asks a few questions about your business to give us an idea of what it is that you have going on. And then typically from that we jump on a quick 10, 15 minute call just to work out if or how we can be of help, not a sales call. 

It's really a fit and discovery call for us to get an idea if we can be of help. And that's that, we'd love to hear from you and I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.


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

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137 – [Martial Arts Business Case Study] How Amanda & Wayne Increased Their Revenue By $200K In 12 Months

Amanda Saliba and Wayne Ardley share how they increased their revenue for the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Krav Maga gym by $200,000 in just 12 months.


  • A martial arts hobby turned into a successful martial arts business
  • When to get help from a marketing expert?
  • How the ‘Partners OnRamp’ helps boost martial arts schools 
  • Quitting your day job to become a full-time martial arts instructor
  • Tapping into a pool of knowledge through Martial Arts Media™ Partners
  • And more

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



GEORGE:  Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Today, I'm doing one of my favorite episodes to create, which is a case study. A case study documenting a client's journey from when they started working with us to where they are now. 

Today, I'm speaking to Amanda Saliba and Wayne Ardley all the way from Melbourne. And I love this episode simply because Amanda is so committed to achieving big goals, and same as Wayne, still in the workforce, positioning out of that going full time into the business. And in the time that we've spent working together, they've increased their income with an additional $200,000 over the last 12 months.

What I love about this is that we zoomed out with this journey. You know, we love to talk about marketing on the show, attracting the right students, increasing sign ups and retaining more members. And sometimes the emphasis is on getting more students, but we all know there's more to that, right? 

There's the retaining, keeping the students, which is the biggest part, really. And well, you can't have one without the other. So this case study really documents the journey of staying with the course, you know, not looking for the quick fix, doing the work.

You know, we are on coaching calls every week. Amanda's always on the coaching calls. There's lots available, Amanda's always on all of them, and does the work, implements, makes the refinements, and really commits to the journey. And that's really what it takes.

So I love doing this interview. You are definitely going to get a lot of value from this so head over to martialartsmedia.com/137 if you'd like to download the podcast transcript and the resources mentioned in this episode. And that's it. Let's jump in. Amanda and Wayne, welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast.

WAYNE:  Hello.

AMANDA:  Thanks for having us, George.

GEORGE:  Cool. So I wanted to bring you guys on the show, and this is one of my favorite interviews to do because we get to talk a bit about a customer journey working together and the awesome results that you guys have managed to do over the last 12 months, which is really exciting and I look forward to diving a bit more into the details on that. But just before we kick things off, if you don't mind sharing just a bit of an intro, who is Amanda? Who is Wayne and what do you do in the martial arts space?

WAYNE:  What do we do? We run a club or gym, depending on what terminology you want to use in Bacchus Marsh in Victoria. We primarily focus on Brazilian  Jiu-Jitsu, Krav Maga. We also run a little side program called KravFit, which is just more of a high-intensity sort of workout. 

So it gets a little bit away from the martial arts space, but into the fitness space. But using martial arts techniques and things to just give that quick 30-minute high-intensity program.

AMANDA:  And we do that for adults and for children as well. From the age of 3, we have a little ninja program for 3 to 5 year olds, and then we go all the way through to adults.

GEORGE:  Love it. So what got you into what you do into the martial arts space and the different styles?

Amanda Saliba Wayne Ardley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Business Case Study

WAYNE:  Well, that's a long question. I don't know, have we got enough time for that one? Well, both of us are long-term martial artists, I suppose you could say. I certainly started when I was probably around 14 in Taekwondo, moved to karate, and moved to Thai kickboxing, boxing, through a number of different programs. 

About 20 plus years ago, I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I've been doing that one ever since. That's sort of my real passion. I also studied and trained, got instructor publications in a number of other styles, including Ray Flos, Night Fighting System as an example. 

Kali, Filipino Martial Arts, trained as an instructor many, many years back for over half a decade with one of your compatriots from South Africa, Rodney King and the Crazy Monkey Defense Program. There's probably a long list, but the primary things for like 20 plus years, probably the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and basic striking, whether it be Krav Maga or boxing Kickboxing for myself.

AMANDA: For me, I started when I was 17, and I did Muay Thai for over a decade, competed in that, then moved into Crazy Monkey with Wayne. And then when I was 34, I started going into Jiu-Jitsu. And three years ago, I took up Krav Maga as well. So I've been doing this for a couple of decades now.

WAYNE:  She's won, I don't know how many Australian titles in Jiu-Jitsu now. So she's doing really well.

AMANDA:  And that too.

GEORGE:  I've seen those awards coming up.

WAYNE:  So no, we're just really both, I suppose, really passionate about martial arts. And obviously, our main thing is how we use it as a vehicle. It's not about training champions, although we do have a number of people who compete and compete quite well at a high level. 

It is about how we make people's lives better through martial arts. And I think that's pretty much what we're both mostly passionate about. How can we change and help people?

GEORGE:  Love that. All right, so we've been working together for I think just over 12 months, right?

AMANDA:  Yes. September 2021.

GEORGE:  There we go. So, just over 12 months, and you got some great results, but I just want to break down, just to process what got us to that and we'll speak a bit more about the journey of how we've gotten to when we had that first conversation. What did you want to achieve and, and what problems were you facing in the business at the time?

AMANDA:  So we met you through our ClubWorx seminar, so through our CRM. And you did a seminar there, and I was really interested to hear about marketing just because I knew that I wasn't doing it very well, and I needed some help in that area. So at that time, I was still working two jobs, and this was something that I thought if I wanted to be able to do this full-time, that we needed more members and that we needed to attract more people into the business.

So once we got people to the business, it seemed okay, once they were at Phoenix, but prior to that, just getting them there. So community awareness and then when you popped up, I was very interested immediately and I was thinking, we have to log onto this, and you shared some fantastic information on that seminar or podcast, whatever, however you want to explain it, which led me thinking that we need more information, and then the discussion with Wayne, of course, to contact you further.

WAYNE: We took it a little bit further back, I suppose you could say we pretty much run it really more as a hobby, so that we basically had training partners, so to speak, really, and had people to train with and it made a little bit of money on the side, but it was not at the time certainly not running as what we would call a business as such.

It was more, much more of a hobby. And, that's sort of, Amanda was the driving force that decided it's time to turn it into something that's a bit more than that, and make it grow. That's where we actually, where we ended up doing the ClubWorx, just to try to get better at doing things.

And then, of course, doing the podcast with yourself via ClubWorx which was quite fortuitous.

Amanda Saliba Wayne Ardley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Martial Arts Business Case Study

GEORGE:  Cool. So at that time, business was going, was a bit of a hobby, but there's obviously this passion. So what was the big goal for you at that time? Where did you want to take the business?

AMANDA:  We just wanted more numbers. We realized what we were doing was not going to be, was not getting enough people into the doors. So we needed to attract people to us. And what I thought we were doing in terms of marketing turns out that I was not doing that. So I realized I needed some help. And lucky enough, Wayne actually got us onto ClubWorx, which is how, how we found you.

WAYNE:  If people found us, they generally stayed. We've got people that have been with us for a long time, but nobody knew we really existed, I suppose. We just did not know how to market ourselves. We put thought just putting a couple of Facebook posts out there every now and again will do the job. So obviously we had a lot to learn.

GEORGE:  Gotcha. So what did more numbers mean to you? Like, if you were able to get more numbers, what would be the impact on the business and you personally if you were able to, to do that and get that growth?

AMANDA:  So I suppose, it would be a transition from going to what we considered a hobby to a career. And even though we love what we do, we need it to be financially viable for us to be thinking we can do this, and only do this full-time and focus our full energy and passion into it. 

So it was that transition between our hobby and then saying, “We're doing this full-time.” That would be the impact on our immediate life, I suppose. Because, you know, I had two or three jobs, and Wayne worked full-time as well, so it was going to be a big shift in our lives.

WAYNE: We were devoting a lot of time already to the Club or the gym in particular at that time. And we were starting to invest a lot more money. New mats, new facilities, tried to always improve.

And it was just getting that we were outlaying a lot of money and we thought we actually need to make some more money if we want this to keep working and grow so that we can justify keeping it going as well, let alone taking it the next step, which is, of course, is becoming full-time careers for us both.

GEORGE:  100%. I mean, it's great if you have a martial arts hobby and you’ve got a lot of friends that do that as well, you know, just lay the mats out on the garage, and it's great when it's a hobby, but when the hobby is training with other people and you're taking on the expenses for more people to train, there's, there's got to be, the money's got to make sense to be able to, to continue, right?

WAYNE:  Oh, definitely. And then you've got the time commitment as well, even just as a hobby, you have to be there. If you've got a class running certain times each night, you have to be there. And that certainly interferes with other parts of your life as well. So, these are all things you've got to weigh up. And at the time, it was just getting too big that we had to make a choice whether we grow it or almost scale down. Obviously, we decided to grow and turn it into a business empire. 

Let's not go that far yet, but certainly grow it into something that could support us both as well as provide us with what we want out of a club or a gym, which really is something that's constantly evolving. And, we want a world-class type training facility with the best trainers, and that's sort of where we're, sort of… That's what we aim for. And obviously, you have to make money to be able to provide those things.

GEORGE: 100%. Let's shift from the implementation of things. So we started working together. What were the first pivotable things that you implemented that made the biggest difference right in the beginning?

AMANDA:  Which was, for us, we just went straight into your OnRamp. So I followed that program every step of the way. If there was something in that OnRamp, I was there and I was doing it. All I did was do that to the Tee and that changed us in an instant. 

And the three of us had a conversation, of course, and it was about even pricing, how we were underpricing, and trying to change our mindset about value. And what we're providing is a requirement or is valuable, and we can charge that. So changing our pricing structure, which to me was like, who's going to pay that? 

Who's going to pay that money to come and train? And then I started thinking about it, and then what we're providing and the experience of Wayne alone in coaching. I was thinking, “No, we are worth it.” And within our community, we have the most experience by far. So I was like, “No, we can charge that,” and changed our mindset to say, “We are worth all of that and more.’

So having those conversations with you and you just saying, “No, that's not good enough.” And restructuring our pricing as well, which was part of our OnRamp and the initial consultation with you.

GEORGE:  So I have to ask, right, because what you've just said is like the biggest obstacle that a lot of people struggle with, so much time invested into martial arts, all this experience, and then a lot, a lot of school owners really struggled with this and really just undervalue themselves. 

Sometimes it's from a hierarchy of martial arts leaders that are, you know, don't make money or whatever the case is, and you almost feel like you're pressured to fall under this same structure. Or it's just feeling that it's a bad thing to charge too much. There's so many things that come up with this, and so I just wanted to hammer home that point.

Is there anything bad that happened when you raised your prices and started charging what you are worth? And I'll say what you're worth because it's not just about raising your prices, it's about delivering the service that goes with it. Did anything bad happen?

AMANDA:  No, we've got more people joining.

WAYNE:  In fact, I actually would pick a small point with what you said, and I would suggest that now that I know what we've learnt from you and looking at the market and learning about business, I probably, I think we would probably still be undercharging to be honest, given what we're offering, the facilities, the training, the coaching, the experience. 

I believe we're probably still under-valuing ourselves. And it's something that we need to probably keep working on. It certainly wasn't eyeopener, up to having a few conversations with you about that and then putting it to the test.

AMANDA:  And since then, we've also increased our prices again. So within 12 months we offer a, like another package as well, and we've got people joining that package.

GEORGE:  Love it. All right, so let's wrap some numbers around that. So what outcome have you achieved with that? I think it's good for us to zoom out, right? Because sometimes we always talk about marketing and we're getting this many students and this many students, but then there's always the conversation not being had and that's numbers falling out the back. 

So, over the time that we've been working together, what difference has that made between going through the OnRamp and the pricing? If we had to wrap some numbers around that.

AMANDA:  Well, if I could go back a little bit, which was before we met you, we were only offering free trials. So the idea that someone would pay to do a paid trial seemed inconceivable in my mind. And I thought, there's no one, no one's going to pay to do a paid trial, but yet, people were just literally signing up to do a paid trial, which was like, this is crazy.

Which changed my whole view on marketing and that people would pay for a trial, whereas people don't see value in something if they're not paying for it. So when we started with you back in September of 2021, we had 67 members. Moving forward now to October of 2022, we're at 170 members. So that's an increase of 266% in net revenue in just over 13 months.

GEORGE:  Very, very cool. There was a dollar amount that you mentioned as well, with the increase.

AMANDA:  So I think it went…

WAYNE:  One of the beautiful things of ClubWorx is it graphs and keeps all these stats for us, which is really handy to keep. So sorry, we're just going to look that up for you. In the meantime, I will point out that I thought you were a snake, some charm salesman there at one point.

How on earth would people pay money for a trial where they can get it free? I think that's just crazy, but you proved me wrong. So, thank you for that.

GEORGE:  Just, just to add to the trials, I mean, I think there's definitely a place for free trial and, and I think it's always important to not focus just on the trial because a trial should never get in the way of just someone that wants to join either. But sometimes, I think markets are conditioned, you know, as a business owner you think, well, if I give it away for free, there's no obstacle.

But free normally comes with an agenda, right? Free feels like, well, especially if it's like short free, you're going to think, “Well, it's, it's really just that I've got so much time to try this thing and then I'm going to have to sign up.” And so sometimes it just feels like there's too much risk, almost free. Where, when it's paid, it takes.

There's value in the thing that you're paying for in the program even if it's just for a short time. And it feels a little more complete, that I'm actually paying for this and I'm going to get value from just what I'm paying for as well.

WAYNE:  No, it's certainly.

GEORGE:  Go for it, Amanda.

WAYNE:  Give us, give us the numbers.

AMANDA:  So within 13 months, we've gone up 190,000 in net revenue per year.

GEORGE:  Love it. So what does that mean for you in the business and for you personally?

AMANDA:  So for me, I am full-time at Phoenix Training Center. So doing the marketing side, the CRM side, running the back end, so to speak, as well as doing some coaching in the evening. We've been able to expand our business. So we've gone from one facility and extended that, so we've got another facility right next door as well.

So now, we're able to have two spaces going plus a gym, building a therapy room, and having a pro shop room being built as we speak. So our business and, and it's not just about the business, so to speak, it's about our lifestyle moving forward in the future, which is going to significantly change. And we can see this as easy to see now what the potential that we have now that we're in this position already.

WAYNE:  And just being able to offer so much more. And as I said earlier, we really wanted to grow the facility. Even though we're in what you would almost call a country town in Victoria, it's not quite, it's just on the outskirts of suburbia. But, to provide what I would try, I wouldn't class it yet as a world class facility, but we're on the way to that where the facilities are just constantly improving.

You'll be struggling to find a better facility outside of some of the big places around the world. So we're… That- that's one of the big goals there. And this is allowing us to do that. People certainly walk in, they go, “Wow, this is good when you compare it to everywhere else around us.”

GEORGE:  That's awesome. All right. Anything else to add on that? How are you feeling about all that? I mean, that's like a big moment and I recall getting the Facebook message from you saying, “I've got some good news to share with you and sharing the numbers.” How does, how do you feel about that and where you're headed?

AMANDA:  I think we feel like we've accomplished something that seems like in our mind, I, I sort of put it too, like I needed… We've got the facility, but we've got the spark, and I just need some to add a little bit of fuel and we're going to be taking off.

But I just didn't know how to quite get there, and you were sort of like the missing link that I felt like we needed. Because, you know, we've run businesses before but not like this. We know that we needed help and for us, I felt like you were the person that we needed to help us move forward and to get these results.

And there's no way I don't see how we would've gotten them without you and the support of Partners.

Amanda Saliba Wayne Ardley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Business Case Study

WAYNE:  Realistically, we're, we're martial artists first and foremost. And like a lot of martial artists, we probably thought we knew a little bit about business, but we didn't, certainly didn't know about media and marketing and all those sorts of things. So it was a real eye-opener to realize how wrong we'd been with what we were doing.

And it was just that following the OnRamp course was sort of mind-blowing in that respect of how to do things properly. I think that's what a lot of martial artists probably need. We certainly needed that help. And I imagine that most martial artists would. We devote all our time to how to choke people and all that sort of stuff, punch them in the head.

GEORGE:  The good stuff.

WAYNE:  Probably too many punches in the head, so, but it means at the end of the day, we can't specialize in everything, and that's where you, you need to go to a specialist in something to get better at it. That's what we got. So we're pretty happy with that. This is just the start, George.

GEORGE:  That's, that's awesome. For sure. I want to say thank you, but you guys did the work and implemented without that drive, nothing happens.

WAYNE:  We actually decided early on that we're just going to follow your blueprint to the letter. It made it easier that way we could blame you if it didn't work as well. But we just followed the blueprint to the letter.

And again, not knowing any better, I think that was the best thing. We didn't try to read too much into it and said, this is what the blueprint says, let's just do it. And then we… I would often say to Amanda when she'd bring something to me and she'd been working on some advertising or whatever material and she said, “What do you think?” And I said, “Well, what would George say?” 

And I'd look at it because, and, and I start… We both started to learn what you would say when we were to send something to you, “Oh no, this is, this is this, or no, this needs to be fixed or no, that's got to be at that angle and you've got to have… what's the offer?” So things like that, your little saying Georgisms.

But, in the end where I would just say to Amanda, “What would George say?” I better go and change that. And it works.

GEORGE:  Oh, that's great. Georgisms.

WAYNE:  Yes.

GEORGE:  I'm going to have to check if that's, that's a real name that's available for one day when I'm famous. Alright, awesome. So if you could finish this sentence, we almost didn't join because…

WAYNE:  Stubbornness on my part thinking that we could do it ourselves.

AMANDA:  So thinking that we couldn't spend more money and that we couldn't afford it, thinking that we couldn't afford to invest in a coach even though we knew that we needed it, but thinking that we can do it ourselves. But like I said before, you were what we needed.

GEORGE:  All right, awesome. What's been your favorite part of working like with me and within the Partners group?

AMANDA:  You and all the other martial art owners, because I haven't really missed many of those meetings. The Hour Power that you run twice a week and then with the additional ones that you also run. I haven't really missed many and being accountable and if I get stuck within a problem, there's nearly someone in the group. 

I've never gone to a group where they're like, “Oh, no one's experienced that.”

So the experience within the group and the knowledge of the group like we are… and I am very, very grateful for, for everyone in a way, sharing and saying, “How about doing it like this?” Or, “I've been through that, try it like this.” I'm not only grateful but, but proud to be a part of it.

WAYNE:  The group is both knowledgeable but also inspiring. When you see what a lot of members of the group have achieved and what they've been through and as I and Amanda alluded to. The issues that they've faced that we've brought up to the group and they go, “Oh yeah, I've done that before. No, don't worry about that one.”

And just… it does give you a sense of purpose. I suppose to hear these people talk and listen to again, what they've been through, what they've done, how they've succeeded, and where they're now. And you sort of want to emulate that and give you that impetus or the drive to, to follow through and do, achieve what you want to achieve as well, what we want to achieve in this case.

And there are some really nice people, we've met some really great people and we've caught up with them outside of the group and chatted to them and it's been really good.

GEORGE:  That's so cool. I see you guys jetting around the country and meeting up with other members. That's awesome. Last question, Who do you recommend Partners to and why?

AMANDA:  I would say anyone that got a martial arts business and that if you think that you are not where you want to be and you want to do this full time, you need to join Partners because it's not just about George, it's about the power of the group and what the group gives back to you as well as you giving back to them.

WAYNE:  I think anyone really who's passionate about martial arts and wants to grow it and turn it into a career for themselves, definitely because it's… as I said earlier, you can't be an expert at everything and if your expertise is in martial arts, you're probably lacking in other areas like marketing, media, building websites, all these other things that the group provides the solutions for and helpful.

So no, it's really good to, for anyone who's a passionate martial arts instructor, most definitely join up.

AMANDA:  With the group, I feel like it… there's a level of comfort as well. I think when I'm there I feel like I can ask anything to the group because they've probably been through it already and I think they're going to give me not just their level of experience and knowledge, but it just feels warm within the group to be like, “Okay, I can go to this and I've got a problem or an issue or whatever,”.

They can give me a solution there and then too, because it's, it, it's live and it's interactive. And Wayne can't be there at all of them of course, because he, he, he's, he's working as well. But hopefully in the near future he won't have to do that either.

WAYNE:  That's the plan.

Amanda Saliba Wayne Ardley Martial Arts Business Case Study

GEORGE:  So on that plan, I'd love to have you guys back on the podcast and have another chat. What is the goal that we're going to celebrate on the next podcast? Let's, let's make it… let's cement it in.

AMANDA:  Look, once we get to 200, so another 30 more members, and I can't see Wayne going back to that job.

WAYNE:  It's hard to justify because of the workload… and this is one of the things we've learned through this, it's certainly not just turning up and taking a class, there's a lot of back-end. There always was. There's programming and all that sort of stuff for what was going to be taught, how it's going to be taught, all that sort of thing. 

But when you're not the only instructor on the floor and you've got multiple classes going and you're dividing things up and you've got different levels, training at different places, so you've got training instructors to deal with as well. So you've got to coach them on how they're going to coach, plus all the different stuff in the background for writing that up. Plus all the stuff that Amanda is doing with the marketing and managing all that sort of thing.

But as a number, although Amanda said 200, I reckon next time we talk, I want to be looking at least 250 preferably 300 members.

GEORGE:  Right. Done. Should we put a time and a day into it?

AMANDA:  Originally when I had a vision with you. So we sat down for 10 minutes. You and I, we wrote through setting some goals and I've still got it in my three-year plan, so to speak. And in 12 months, our plan was to have 140 members, which was on average two per week, and we're now at 170, so we're smashing our own personal goals. And in two years it was supposed to be 250, but I can do well…I believe that we will be able to beat that.

GEORGE:  Love it.

AMANDA:  So creating goals and making them short term and then hitting them all the time so it doesn't seem so daunting is, for my mind, it works for me. So short-term goals to long-term goals, breaking them down, having a clear vision, and then just going for it.

WAYNE:  And hopefully, by the next podcast we'll be a little bit more relaxed because this is actually quite daunting as well.

GEORGE: We'll just have to have you on more often. And then it's… everybody knows I've got an edit button because I need to be edited the most. So it's all good.

Amanda, Wayne, thanks, thanks so much for being on and congratulations again, love watching your success evolve and, really look forward to catching up again and chatting about the next milestone.

WAYNE:  Thank you. Looking forward to it as well, George.

AMANDA:  Thanks, George, and thanks for everything you've done for us.

WAYNE:  It's been really good.

GEORGE:  Thank you.

WAYNE:  Bye-bye.

GEORGE:  Thanks so much for tuning in. Did you enjoy the show? Did you get some value from it? If so, please, please do us a favor and share it with someone you care about. Share it with another martial arts school owner or an instructor friend that might benefit from this episode.

And I'd love to hear from you if you got some good value out of it and you just want to reach out, send me a message on Instagram. My handle is George Fourie, G-E-O-R-G-E, last name, F-O-U-R-I-E. And just send me a message, and I'd love to hear from you if you've got some value from this. 

And last but not least, if you need some help growing your martial arts school, need help with attracting the right students or increasing your signups, or retaining more members, then get in touch with us. Go to our website, martialartsmedia.com/scale, and we've got a short little questionnaire that just asks a few questions about your business to give us an idea of what it is that you have going on.

And then typically from that, we jump on a quick 10, 15-minute call just to work out if or how we can be of help. Not a sales call, it's really a fit and discovery call for us to get an idea if we can be of help. And that's that, we'd love to hear from you and I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.


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136 – Jason Flame: Community Networking That Fuels Martial Arts Business Success

Over and above professional wrestling, martial arts, and the Master Motivation podcast, Jason shares how giving back to the community powers his martial arts school and 2 other businesses.



  • How community networking and fundraisers help promote martial arts schools
  • A traditional martial arts marketing strategy that works
  • Why advertising should emphasize the benefits of martial arts training
  • What helps improve student retention during the summer
  • Why giving back to the community matters for martial arts schools
  • And more

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GEORGE: Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Today, we're back with another epic interview with a phenomenal martial arts school owner, Jason Flame from Moorpark Karate and Krav Maga.

So, this episode, the value per minute was super high. We spoke about community engagement, how to infiltrate your community organically and be involved, and we also spoke about him running three separate businesses. He likes to call it the trifecta and how the 3 businesses actually operate and help boost his martial arts school.

Jason is also a professional wrestler, so he spoke about wrestling, and what I really got a lot of value from is his student retention strategies that's really, really helpful, especially through your long summer months or when students want to take a break and how they boost their attendance through that.

So, all the show notes and the transcript of the show, you can download at martialartsmedia.com/136. The number is 136. You're probably going to want to do that for this episode because as I said, the value per minute is really high. So do that, and by all means, if you love this episode and get some good value from it, please share this with another martial arts instructor or another martial arts school owner, and help us grow the show and get it out to more people.

All right. Hope you enjoy the show. Let's jump in! 

Jason Flame, welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast.

JASON: Thank you for having me. Super excited.

GEORGE: Jason Flame, Flame is your last name. Is that real or a pseudo name?

JASON: It's funny, I get asked that quite often, and yes, it is the name that's on my birth certificate. It's actually my name. Master Flame is really easy to use in the professional wrestling industry. It's great in the karate world, and I guess I get a little extra attention with that name. I bring the fire.

GEORGE: Now, you, one person that can claim you bring the fire because, I mean, it's in your name, right? It's embedded.

JASON: That's right. 

GEORGE: First up, what I love to ask our guests is about marketing, attracting the right students, increasing sign ups, and also retaining new members. What I'd love to know from you, what's been your best strategy recently or of all time for you to bring in new students?

JASON: I would say that the best thing for us marketing-wise has to be our community engagement, our community involvement. We own three different businesses here in our small town, and the martial arts school was first, but it helped us open up opportunities for some other businesses. 

But the one thing that we pride ourselves on is giving back to the community by doing fundraisers, by providing items for auctions, and raffles, and different things for the schools and the sports organizations. Every youth organization in our city, we sponsor in one way or another, and it's just something that we feel is really important because our community has supported us for so long.

We opened our martial arts school in 1994, and we started at a recreation center and built it up from there. The community has supported us. So I think that it's only right that we give back and support our community.

GEORGE: I love that. So it's something that comes from the heart, but it also pays off for the business. I want to touch base on the three different businesses because that's interesting, how that can actually overlap as in one strategy that suits all, but that's the what, what you know do.

How do you actually go about it? Where do you start? Who do you contact? Where do you start with community involvement and so forth?

JASON: Well, you know what, what was really easy in a way is that we have two children who are now adult children, 17 and 20 years old. They went to preschool, and they went to kindergarten. They went to elementary school, middle school, and high school all here in our community.

One thing that my wife is really, really good about is she has always been present. She has always been there in the classroom with our kids. Maybe not necessarily coaching, that was more my forte, but being team mom for soccer, baseball, softball, football, whatever the kids were active in, dance.

So I think that was the best lead-in was that we had children that went through the program. But even before we had children, I think that it was still something that we were able to do. It's just that we weren't as engulfed in it as when we had children, if that makes sense.

GEORGE: Perfect. So, obviously, being a parent, but then just having a close ear to the ground of where the opportunities open up?

JASON: Definitely. I mean, with social media, social media has made our life so much easier in the way of gaining information quickly. Right?

So we see a post on social media, whether it's Instagram, Facebook, or wherever else, and we see something going on with the schools, and we're going to jump on that opportunity. We see something where there's a need for a fundraiser, we're going to jump on that, and we're going to offer our services. So social media has made it so much easier, but yes, I think even back in the day, we'd be looking at the cork boards that local businesses would have, the community bulletins.

I look at everything that comes through the mail regarding our recreation brochure because our recreation brochure goes out to every home in our city that tells all the different recreation programs, be it dance, karate, which we still offer to this day at the recreation program, swimming, you name it, right? The camps. So we can see a lot of what's going on in that brochure. That's really helpful.

GEORGE: That's cool. I always walk past those billboards, and part of me looks at it, and I think, “Do these really work?” It always makes me think that everyone that's in a small business, they typically struggle with the marketing side. 

They typically struggle to get the reach, whether it's a passion project or something that they're trying to do, and what a great way to actually look at that differently. You look across the community boards and just see what's going on. How do you just get people involved?

JASON: Right, and I don't know how it is in Australia, but lead boxes were a big deal in the late '80s, '90s, before the big social media boom. So I would notice Gold's Gym, all the big 24-Hour Fitness. They'd have lead boxes everywhere.

Well, if they can do it, and they're a membership-based service, why can't I do it from a martial arts school? I mean, that was one of the first ways that I learned how to market effectively.  I was a 17-year-old black belt that was working in a karate school, and I can't really say I was working because I wasn't getting paid, but I wanted to find out or create a way that I could get paid.

And I said, “Well, hey. What if I can bring more members into the school? Could we work out something where maybe I get paid per new member?” So lead boxes were part of that. I went out and just placed lead boxes everywhere, got those leads, called them up, made appointments.

I learned how to be really hungry that way, and then I remember even as a teenager making cold calls in our white pages, the phonebook. Nobody uses a phonebook anymore, but I'd just open it up and start calling. I think, for me, I was always looking for a different way to get the message out there, a different way to reach because my target audience for martial arts is literally everybody that is 3 years old and older, and whether they can stand on two feet or not, whether they can see or not, whether they can hear or not.

Anybody can do martial arts, so I don't really discriminate against my audience. I want to get that message out there to everybody.

GEORGE: It's so funny, right, because I'm a digital marketing guy, but if you want to shortcut marketing, just walk up to someone and ask. It can really be that simple. We did a program with Kevin Blundell who's a local here in Australia, he's got 21 locations, and they typically infiltrate these smaller towns.

We did this course called The Next Profitable Location, and everything was old-school, but in a real cool way. The way they would train their staff and the first thing that they would do is they'd just go to town, and get the haircut, go to the coffee shop, and it would always just be, “Hey, we are the new martial arts school down the road,” and always be introducing it in that aspect.

It's something that we've really adapted and we talk about a lot in our group. It is just looking at your surroundings like, “Who's the coffee shop next door? Which small business can benefit or already has your audience that you can chat to?” I was looking at your pages because you're pretty active with your videos, and I just saw you posted a Moorpark Chamber Networking Mixer.

JASON:  Yes, sir.

GEORGE:  Is that part of the strategy?

JASON:  So community networking is huge, especially in a small town, and just to give you an idea, our population is somewhere between 36,000 to 38,000 people. When we're surrounded by the surrounding areas, the population is anywhere from 130,000 to 150,000. So we're relatively a small town, and it's like everybody knows everybody, but still, that community networking goes so far.

Our Chamber of Commerce works really, really hard to help support local businesses to help give networking opportunities. So, yes, tonight we are hosting a networking mixer where everybody is coming here to the karate school. Local leaders, business owners, politicians, the city council, the school board, the mayor, anybody that's anybody will be here tonight in our school, which is amazing because now we get to show them the facility, show them a demonstration from our students, talk to them a little bit about the benefits of martial arts.

I mean, anytime that we can create something unique and special to bring people into the school, I think that's a huge advantage. So, the networking within our Chamber of Commerce has really stepped up over the last, I would say, seven or eight years.

GEORGE:  That's such a simple and really cool concept. Really, just bringing your community together, and you using your facilities to do that. I want to change gears just a little bit here, but I want to learn just a little bit more about you and your other businesses.

I know you were a professional wrestler, so let's just start with the martial arts stuff and the wrestling.

JASON:  Okay.

GEORGE:  So what came first? The wrestling came first, then this karate because it's Moorpark Karate and Krav Maga? Take us a bit back into the martial arts background.

JASON:  For sure. So I started training in martial arts in 1985. My instructor is Dennis Ichikawa, who was a student of Chuck Norris and Pat Johnson. So we're a Tang Soo Do system, and it was my mom's idea.

I think I saw Karate Kid around that time, but it wasn't really because of that. My mom always wanted to do karate, and she said that when she had kids, she wanted her kids to do karate. I have two younger brothers who are also black belts.

One of which owns his own school as well, my brother, Jacob Flame. He still carries the name of our original school, which is Tang Soo Do University. He's in our hometown where we grew up, Newbury Park, California.

So my mom put us in karate, and it just stuck for me. My middle brother played baseball, so he went in and out of martial arts, even though he did earn his black belt. My youngest brother went in and out, and then at a certain point, really engaged with my school in the beginning and worked with me.

We trained together before we decided to help him open his own school, and then I just continued all the way through as a teenager teaching martial arts and opened my school at 19 years old at a recreation center. It was the only way that I knew how to start a school because I didn't have much in savings. I didn't really have a job per se other than teaching karate and private lessons, and so my instructor started when I started.

I started at a recreation center. I said, “Well, if that's how he can build his school, I'm going to go do the same thing.” So, in '94, 1994, we started our first class at the recreation center here, and we still teach that program to this day.

Then, we finally opened our first facility in 1996. So it took me about a year and a half to build up enough students where I can pay rent because once again, I still didn't have any savings. I didn't have any financial backing. My parents were not in a position where they were going to help me open my school.

I wasn't going to borrow money and go into debt, but I had just enough to put the first month's rent down and the security deposit. I had enough students that I knew that I was going to be able to keep paying the rent as long as I kept those students, and so that's the beginning of the martial arts journey.

As far as professional wrestling, that came much later. I don't want to go too deep into the story, but at 20-something years old, I really did want to become a professional wrestler. It was always a dream of mine.

I grew up watching Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior, and just loved the WWF at the time. Now, WWE. I actually went to a wrestling school, and long story short, I chickened out and I didn't follow through, but continued with my martial arts.

My martial arts was always my career and my passion. But flash forward like 20 years later, I met a gentleman who walked into my school, interestingly enough, who was asking me, “How would you like to promote your martial arts school? How would you like to tell more people?”

I'm like, “Yeah.” That's another marketing opportunity, right? I'm going to get out there. We're going to have a booth at this event. I didn't even really know what the event was, but I knew it was at the Boys and Girls Club, and then he told me it's professional wrestling. I'm like, “Well, I'm in because I love both of these things.”

So I go, and I meet the promoter. He basically says, “Hey, we have a school, and if you want to come by train, here's the address.” I went down, took my first class, and I wrestled for almost 10 years, over a hundred matches, and had a really, really great time. My last match was probably about 3 to 4 weeks ago, but it's not as frequent as it used to be.

Professional wrestling came later, but I was able to tie the two together. As a matter of fact, we opened a professional wrestling school five doors down from where my martial arts school was about five years ago. We've since moved the pro wrestling school, but having the karate school and the pro wrestling school almost next door to each other made it so easy. We wrestled every Friday night.

GEORGE:  I love that. I'm a big fan of the wrestling component, and I know about training Jiu-Jitsu. It is really important. When you get to be a wrestler, that's always the hardest work, but I want to ask you about the professional side. A lot of people look at WWF, WWE now, and they look at it. It's like, “Yeah, it's staged and so forth.”

What's your take on that? How much of that goes into the stage, and how much is the real hardcore wrestling?

JASON:  Well, the way I look at it is that professional wrestling is no different than doing a martial arts demonstration. Whatever we do in a martial arts demonstration is all choreographed. It's all made up.

It's all practiced and rehearsed, but listen, when someone throws you to the ground, there's some physicality to that. You have to be flexible, agile, and coordinated just like martial arts. That's a thing for me is that I flowed right into the professional wrestling world so easily because of my background in martial arts.

I was already very comfortable with my body and what my capability was. I had to learn a lot about the psychology of professional wrestling because pro wrestling is telling a story. It's not just doing a bunch of moves. It's telling a story and getting people to either boo you or cheer you, or get a reaction one way or the other.

I cannot think of many things that incorporate the physical aspect, the drama, and just the storylines. Professional wrestling is just so fun and so entertaining, and the best part for me was just like martial arts. The people that you train with and the people that you're working out with, day in and day out, you really have this bond.

As you train in Jiu-Jitsu, you know how close you get to the people that you train with, and those people that are getting better right next to you only elevate your game. So I found myself wrestling with a lot of people that were way better than me, but made me look like a million bucks. I mean, I have some really good friends that I made through professional wrestling.

GEORGE:  What really hit home for me, what you mentioned there is how the storytelling part works. Can you lean in a bit more about that? How does it work? If you look at a wrestling match from start to beginning, how is that storyline supposed to evolve? Is it flexible, or how do you typically go about that?

JASON:  I mean, it depends on the storyline that's going on with the wrestlers and the characters. Right? I mean, you got your good guy, and you got your bad guy. You got your heel. You got your face. It just all depends on what that next match is going to be or what we're working toward.

In the WWE in the old days, they used to always work up to WrestleMania, work up the storylines to survivor series, and there'd be a series of matches that would create this drama between two characters, and then there's usually some kind of resolution and some kind of closure to that story before moving on to somebody else.

Is it flexible? I mean, most of what's done in the ring is off the cuff. There are some people that really like to plan a match all the way out from start to finish. That's not really my style. I like to go with the flow a little bit more like this interview. Right?

We just go with the flow and see what works, see what's catching the attention of the audience, and draw them in. I mean, that's the whole thing is you want to take the audience on a roller coaster and make it fun.

GEORGE:  You're almost like a professional DJ in a way. You've got your skills or your tracks, and you're there to entertain the audience. Now, you just tune into what's getting the response, what's the vibe, and you give them what they want. Right?

JASON:  Yep, and I'll tell you something else too. I'll tell you something else. We tie in all professional wrestling with marketing, right? I mean, as a professional wrestler, you have to understand how to market yourself, and how to market the match, and how to market the show, right? Because it's really all about the show.

It's not really about one person. But if I can get myself over in a promo, do a video. We do videos for our martial arts school. We do videos for events. Well, we do videos in professional wrestling to get people hyped to watch us do our match.

I just watched one today. I was on LinkedIn, and someone that I know has a school, and he was promoting a match between two people. I happened to know these two wrestlers, and I've seen them wrestle, and I know what they can do, but that video, that promo that they did to hype the match, I was like, “God, I can't wait to watch this match.”

It's so interesting because there's a story behind it, but you got to market the show too because if you don't have anybody there to watch you, who wants to perform? I mean, we love to perform whether there's 10 people or 100 people, but what would you rather do, 10 people or 100 people?

I think most people would say 100 people, but even if it was 10, you want those fans out of their seats going nuts the whole time.

GEORGE:  Right. So this is really putting your marketing act on, right? Understanding your avatar who's your perfect target audience. Then, building a character around that for them.

So what do you think a martial arts school owner can grab from that, from that experience on how to position and promote themselves?

JASON:  Well, I think one thing that martial arts school owners struggle with is they talk about themselves. “I'm a seventh degree black belt. I trained in Tang Soo Do. I trained Krav Maga. I did some Jiu-Jitsu. I do this. I do that.

I've trained many black belts.” At the end of the day, nobody really cares what you've done. They really only want to know, “What can you do for me?” So I think that when a school owner is promoting their school, they need to think about creating value in their program and really outlining the benefits.

When we talk about discipline, well, how do you teach discipline? Confidence. How do you teach confidence? Right? Because sometimes people throw out all the buzzwords: discipline, confidence, respect, but how? How do you do it?

Can you give specific examples? If you go to our social media channels, I think that you'll get a very good sense of the culture of our school, and you'll learn about the benefits of martial arts, which is going to create value in your program and want them to come and sign up.

GEORGE:  100%, and I'm not putting you on the spot, but if somebody asks you, “All right. Well, how are you going to give my child more confidence?” What do you say to that?

JASON:  Well, so one of the things that we do in our program that helps build confidence in a student, especially on day one, on day one, very first class, is we have them do a board breaking lesson. So we teach them how to overcome obstacles and how to have a breakthrough moment.

These are all key terms that I use, but we lead up to it by telling them, “In order to break this board, you have to have the confidence. That means you need to believe in yourself even when nobody else believes in you. If you say, ‘I can do it,' you can push yourself farther than you think.”

“Then, number 2, you have to have focus. So I need you to pay attention. I need your eyes on my eyes. I need you to listen to every direction so you know what to do.”

You need to have discipline. Discipline means doing what you're supposed to do without being reminded. So I'm telling you, I'm giving you all these directions right now. I need you to remember what to do, and then you have to have commitment and follow through.  So when you go to break that board, even if you don't break it on the first try, I need you to try again until you follow through and finish.”

So these are just some of the main things we talk about with confidence. The second thing would be our belt system. Students will achieve confidence through goal setting and achievement. When you start at white belt and you have a clear goal.

The next belt is yellow belt, and you have to earn 3 stripes on your belt for your attendance, and then you gotta earn 3 more stripes for the curriculum that you learn. We happen to use 3 black stripes for attendance, and then a red, white, and blue stripe.

Every time they earn 1 of those stripes, it's like it's a notch on their belt literally to where they feel like they've elevated. Now, they know, “I've got 3 on this side of my belt. I got 3 on this side of my belt.

Graduation is at the end of the quarter. If I have these things, I'm going to be able to test.” Then, they get that new color belt, and now they are fully elevated. We get to start again. We keep repeating that process over and over, and I think that that's what builds their confidence.

GEORGE:  I love that. What I haven't actually heard so much before is giving 2 stripes, stripe for skill and stripe for attendance as well. So do you normally hand those out at the same time. How do you go about that?

JASON:  Well, so we're kinda old-school, and I'll show you something that most people in the martial arts industry are going to go “Oh, what software do you use?” I don't use any software in my school for our billing, not for attendance tracking, none of that.

This is how I keep attendance right here, this little card, and we still do it Old-school. We stamp the card every time they come in. Right? So every student is going to earn a black stripe based on their attendance requirements.

We divide in 3, whatever it is, if it's 30 classes. Every time they come to class 10 times, they get that black stripe. Then, when they get the third black stripe, we know that they have enough classes to be eligible. Once a month, we test on our monthly curriculum.

So, usually, the testing cycle is 3 months. If we divide that up into 3 parts, we're going to do their first portion at the end of month one, they earn their red stripe. Month 2  is white stripe. Month 3 is blue stripe. That way, there's a system which, again, as far as our curriculum goes in my school.

Here's our quarterly. You can't read it, but this is what we teach. This is our class plan. Right? There's no deviating from this class plan because if I deviate from it and do what I want to do and not what we need to do, I might not prepare a student.

If I'm not preparing a student to graduate, then I might not be helping give them the confidence to stick around. Right? So it's a cycle that if we keep the confidence going, and we show them the achievement, they just keep reaching for more, and it continues.

But once that break in the cycle happens, things like missing class, if they don't come to class, we have to make absent calls, and send “We miss you” cards, and find out like, “Hey, are they sick? Are they on vacation? Are they losing interest? What do I need to do to get them back on track?” because we know the longer they're out, the less chance they're going to come back.

If they don't come back, they're not testing, no confidence, they're gone.

GEORGE:  I want to ask about that. How does that help your retention?  I know you guys have this huge summer month, and always, when I talk to my American friends, one of the biggest challenges is keeping students active during that time.

Have you found this system helps you through long breaks?

JASON:  It does. When I was a young school owner and an inexperienced school owner, I would dread summertime. I would dread summertime because everybody's going to take a break, everybody's going to go on vacation.

So one of the things that really helped us business-wise is that we don't operate on memberships or monthly dues. We sell programs in our school. So we sell 6-month programs for our 3 and 4-year-olds. Everybody else is a 12-month, 1-year, 3-year, or a 5-year program, whether it's the basic training, elite training, or our leadership training program.

So they're all based on a time, not necessarily a belt, but when you sign up, if you sign up for 12 months, you're going to train for 12 months, and you're responsible for those payments. So, now, this is where people throw around the word “contracts,” and I don't know that the contract is what keeps them.

The program is what keeps them because you made a commitment to 12 months. Now, here's the deal with our school that's different from most. If you take a break during the summer or you take a month off, you don't lose that time.

We add that time to the end of the program and give you your full time, but programs have really helped us keep people from taking those really long-term breaks. Everybody is going to go on vacation. Everybody gets sick from time to time. So we just let them know, “Hey, no big deal. We add that time to the end.”

The other thing is the striping system that we use. It really just helps keep them on track and give them something to reach for, but again, students lose interest, or they play other sports, or they have other activities. I think more than anything else, what keeps students from taking long-term breaks is keeping them engaged with a fun and exciting curriculum, number one, but also offering special events during those downtimes, be it a day camp.

We don't do daycare, but a day camp or parents' night-out. Most fun comes when we have parents' night-outs. Bringing in guest instructors. I have been bringing guest instructors from all over the world to teach seminars here at our school, and that just makes people get outside of just the normal class.

They get to see a little flavor, a little something different from every one of those events, but the camps I think are so cool. I don't know if you went to a camp when you were a kid, but I remember making some of the best friends and having some of the best memories at camps.

When we create relationships between our students, there becomes this sense of accountability to one another to show up. Right? So if you and I are training together, and we go do this big long 8-hour camp or Jiu-Jitsu session together, and then you're not training next week, I'm going to be like, “George, what's up, dude? Come to class.”

Kids are doing that the same way, and the families become really close in our school. That type of culture I think is what helps keep people training longer.

GEORGE:  Jason, that's so good. I want to quickly change gears back just to touching base on your three different businesses.

JASON:  Sure.

GEORGE:  How do you go about managing all that? We spoke a bit about marketing. How does that overlap between the three businesses, and how do you go about managing that on a day-to-day basis?

JASON:  Well, number one, first and foremost is I wouldn't be able to manage or keep any of those businesses going without the proper teams and systems in place. So you have to have the right people whether it's here at our martial arts school, we also own Country Harvest Restaurant, and then we have Coaches Old Fashion Ice Cream Parlor which, interestingly enough, a lot of people ask me, “Well, how'd you get involved in these other businesses?”

Well, it's because of martial arts, because a high school friend of mine purchased a restaurant about six or seven years ago in our hometown, and we had trained in Jiu-Jitsu, Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, Ketsugo Jiu-Jitsu from the time we were teenagers until now, right?

My friend is where I earned my first degree black belt in Ketsugo Jiu-Jitsu with him, and so Chris, his name, and his wife, and another friend of ours that went to school, purchased a restaurant in our hometown. During COVID, he was reaching out to me and saying, “Hey, I'm thinking about expanding the business and opening another restaurant. What do you think?”

I said, “I got the perfect location. It's already set up. It's already ready to go.” We already have a built-in networking community here in the city. We have a lot of great connections with everything that we do, and so we opened the restaurant first.

Then, within 6 to 7 months, we ended up opening the ice cream parlor as well, and that's something that he also had in our hometown. He had the restaurant, and then he opened Coaches Old Fashion Ice Cream.

It's really cool. I love Coaches a lot because number 1, it's what I do. Right? I am a coach, whether it's martial arts, or wrestling, or business, or whatever, but the whole theme is about highlighting coaches. If you look at our social media at all, every time, it's a quote from a famous coach.

We have one of our coaches, our hometown coach, Dan Burchfield, on the wall with his son, who unfortunately passed away when he was very young, but it's a story in our community, and so we featured him and his quote which was amazing.

Who doesn't love ice cream either, right? I mean, it's just super fun, but how we tie the 3 together, here's just an example, and this is where my wife's marketing genius is just unparalleled. I mean, my wife, when we were younger, I would ask her to run the front desk at the school. I would teach classes, and she could take care of our students and our families, but she didn't like to sell. It just wasn't her thing.

She didn't want to sell memberships or do any of that, but she just has this uncanny ability to market anything and bring people together with events. So what we do in our area is we have a lot of what we call dine-out fundraisers. It will be for,  let's just say, for example, the middle school is having a dine-out fundraiser.

Well, we give a percentage back from the restaurant. We also hold the fundraiser at the ice cream parlor, so we give a percentage back from the sales of the ice cream, and then the martial arts school will match what both of those businesses donate. So, now, we're giving almost 40% back on every fundraiser.

Most fundraiser events like this, they're given 10%, 15%, maybe 20% back. We're actually giving 40% of the sales every time we do one of these special events. So we can really tie our businesses together.

Tonight, the Chamber of Commerce event is held here at the karate school, but all the food is provided by our restaurant, and everybody gets a scoop card to go over and get some Coaches Ice Cream right after the event. So we're constantly doing things where we're tying together, and then also, when we're doing sponsorships, when I come in with three businesses, they're going to sponsor a banner on the high school football field.

You can imagine that they're going to take care of us. Right? We might get a little break when we're doing 3 ads versus just the 1 business, so I call it the trifecta. We have a trifecta of businesses that all work perfectly together.

GEORGE:  Jason, been so good chatting to you. I have one more question, kind of a double question before we wrap things up.

JASON:  Yes.

GEORGE:  What drives you, and what are you excited about for the future?

JASON:  I mean, when you ask me what drives me, my family always comes first. I want to create opportunities for my family to spend more time together. When I first opened my business, I was so focused on getting the business going, and I would pride myself on working 12, 14, 16 hours a day because I thought that was the right thing to do.

But as my family was growing, family time became way more important to me than anything else, and so that drives me to continue to find that extra family time, to provide both of our children work in our businesses. My son coaches here at the karate school. He works at Coaches Ice Cream. My daughter is a server at the Country Harvest Restaurant.

My wife manages all the social media. So these things have brought us together, but my family is what drives me. I want to be the best example for my kids. Physically, I try to work out every day to show them that I take care of your body.

I read every day, trying to show them that we got to take care of that mental. Taking time for prayer and going to church. That spiritual side as well. So I try to be that example for not only them, but also for my team members and for my students in my school. So, really, those are the things that really drive me.

GEORGE:  All right. Perfect. The last one was, what are you excited about for the future? Where is Jason Flame headed?

JASON:  Well, I'll tell you what. With all 3 of these businesses going exceptionally well, and I really enjoy all 3 of them all for their own reasons. The martial arts will always, has always, and will always be my passion.

I love professional wrestling, so I try to stay in tune and in touch with it, but I'll tell you what I'm really excited about is my podcast called Master Motivation. I host a show every Monday at 12:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. I have a guest.

I've had you on the show. I've had several martial arts instructors, school owners, mentors, coaches, but I've also had actors, comedians, authors, and speakers. It's funny because with the businesses, I get paid to do what I do.

The podcast, I don't get paid to do any of it, but I look forward to it each and every week. I don't have any sponsorships. I'm not monetizing it in any way, but the conversations like today, the conversations that I get to have with whether it'd be local or regional, national, international leaders that I get to talk about and help share their story, that is what I'm truly excited about each week to be able to do that.

One of the reasons why is because I feel like… and this is something that I developed after I did several things. I feel like it's an opportunity for not only my children, but my children's children.  

My legacy will be able to look back and watch those interviews and learn about the people that I knew and go, “Wow, my dad, or my grandpa, or my great grandpa knew some really great people and got to learn all about them.” So I think that that is what I'm most excited about now and of course, going on vacation with my wife every chance we get. Those always excite me too.

GEORGE:  That's awesome. Jason, thanks so much. I'll link to Master Motivation in this episode. It was really great.

Thanks for having me on the show there. It's funny, when I started this podcast, I was new in martial arts, but I was so fascinated about martial arts and so inspired. I started so late in my mid-30s in the industry.

The podcast that I started, when I started this Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast, it was pure selfishness of learning. That was the goal. I just wanted to interview school owners and get to learn and understand. That was five, six years ago that I started the show.

Jason, so good having you. Thanks for being on, and we'll link to the podcast on this episode. I hope to come and see you in California soon.

JASON: I'll be here. I'll be here. I appreciate you having me on the show and going out of your way to make this work. I know we tried it a couple times, but we got this one done all the way through.

I hope that everybody enjoys the information that we provided and keep tuning in and listening to what George brings to the table on this podcast.

GEORGE:  Cool. Thanks so much, Jason.

JASON:  All right. Thank you, sir.

GEORGE:  Thanks so much for tuning in. Did you enjoy the show? Did you get some value from it?

If so, please, please do us a favor and share it with someone you care about. Share it with another martial arts school owner or an instructor friend that might benefit from this episode. I'd love to hear from you.

If you got some good value out of it and you just want to reach out, send me a message on Instagram. My handle is @georgefourie, G-E-O-R-G-E, last name, F-O-U-R-I-E. Just send me a message, and I'd love to hear from you if you've got some value from this.

Last, but not least. If you need some help growing your martial arts school, need help with attracting the right students, or increasing your signups, or retaining more members, then get in touch with us.

Go to our website, martialartsmedia.com/scale, and we've got a short little questionnaire that just asks a few questions about your business to give us an idea of what it is that you have going on. Then, typically, from that, we jump on a quick 10, 15-minute call just to work out if or how we can be of help. Not a sales call.

It's really a fit and discovery call for us to get an idea if we can be of help. That's that.  We'd love to hear from you, and I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.


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

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135 – How ‘Teachable Moments’ Drive This Martial Arts School’s Year Long Waiting List

Sean Allen's thriving martial arts school supports his lifestyle of training, learning, and surfing. Discover how his passion for teaching drives demand and impacts his community.



  • Sean Allen: The Antichrist of martial arts marketing?
  • The 1 sentence that trumps all other martial arts marketing methods
  • How the Dunbar number boosts relationship between student and instructor
  • Capturing 10% of your martial arts school’s target audience
  • Turning class challenges and discomfort into teachable moments 
  • Getting parents off the phone and focused on their kids' martial arts class 
  • And more

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



GEORGE: Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business podcast. In today's episode, we're back with interviews and I'm really, really excited to have a repeat guest with us, Sean Allen from Margaret River Martial Arts. 

So Sean and I connected way back on episode number 8. I had a look yesterday when we did the recording, it was just over six years ago that we had our first chat. First up, it was great to chat and tap into a different insight that Sean Allen delivers. 

Sean does a bit of a contrast of what we speak about, which is how to do marketing, online marketing, attract the right students, increase signups, and so forth. Sean does no marketing and his school is at capacity with a one-year waiting list. So we might say there's no marketing in there, but there's obviously a lot in there to generate that type of demand.

And I really wanted to chat with Sean about having this lifestyle martial arts business, his choice of where he relocated to which is just in Australia. Margaret River is like the surf Mecca of Australia of the world, you'll hear that from the Margaret River Pro. And Sean decided to relocate there and really build this lifestyle martial arts business that serves his lifestyle.   

But we took a strong turn in the episode and spoke about teachable moments in martial arts instruction. There's some real, real value in there for you as a martial arts school owner and instructor. So buckle up, this is a great episode. 

Jump in all the show notes are on martialartsmedia.com/135. So you can go there and download the transcript of this episode. And if you've got some value out of this, please share it with someone that you feel… Share it with an instructor that would get some great value from this. All right, that's it for me. Let's jump in.

Hey Sean, welcome back!

SEAN: Thank you very much, George.

GEORGE: The last time we spoke on podcast 8, I was just looking back a few minutes ago and exactly a few days past six years ago that we actually spoke, episode 8.

SEAN: Lot's have changed.

GEORGE: All right, and so let's jump into that. I wanted to have you back just to have a chat of those changes and a few things that we do differently now. So I'm going to kick it off with the question that I like to ask. What's been your best marketing strategy since we've spoken or just in general that generates the most students for you?

SEAN: I was thinking about this. I knew this question was going to come up and there was a fair amount of trepidation on my behalf because I know you are a marketing guru. What you do is, you get relatively new school owners to get more students. Whereas me, I'm like the antichrist of marketing.

GEORGE: What? 🙂 

SEAN: I'm just not interested in making the phone ring. We've got a year's waiting list for our martial arts school. Now, my caveat is I only have 250 students, but I've spoken to people and they go, oh my God, I'd love 250 students. 

I make good money, my overheads are low. But I find that my best marketing tool is word of mouth and everybody says, but you better call them 'cause they've got a waiting list. Now, it's true. We literally are saying to people now, maybe, maybe second term 2023. 

And as of the time of our recording, it's the end of term three 2022. So it's nearly a year, especially for some classes. I mean, most martial arts instructors, they're going to get a huge number of inquiries for six-year-old boys or eight-year-old boys. This boy is sending me nuts, he needs some discipline and we know our limits. We know what we can do well and we don't overload ourselves so that we forget their names.

GEORGE: All right. So I'd argue that that's like the forefront of marketing, but we'll go with the waiting list antichrist. But let's dive deep into that. 

You're doing a lot of things right to have 250 students and to have the waiting list. And so there are a few questions there, obviously, what drives the waiting list? What drives that demand and what stops you from taking it to another level and say, all right, well 250 is not my cap and I'm going to scale further?

SEAN: George, have you heard of the Dunbar number?

GEORGE: Remind me.

SEAN: Dunbar number. It's the number of social connections that one person can keep juggling and remember. And it was coined that when, I think the guy's last name was Dunbar. When he noticed that villages in South America, or it might have been Africa, when they got to a certain size, they split into two because the chief couldn't keep his control of more than a certain number of people.

And the average size of those villages when they splinted was 152. And I remembered I needed my first full time employee somewhere between 100 and 200 students. And I actually spoke to him yesterday, Jason who runs Moorey's Martial Arts in Mandurah. And he's got like 300 or whatever it is students, nearly 400 students. And I remember I employed him at about the 100 to 200 marks.

So I know personally, I just can't remember all their names and have a personal connection once it gets over a certain number. So when I say I've got 250 students, I've got 115, my wife and another two instructors have 100 students that they share. And then we've got another in a satellite town, there's another 30 odd kids so I'll disregard that. 

In my school, I teach 150 people. Adult males and kids. So for me, I know that I can control that. Could I join more and do more classes? I think that that would water down my ability to be able to provide a good service.

So that's where I make my decision of, okay, if I'm going to have George Fourie raving about this martial arts school is the best place I've ever been to or I've ever sent my kid or whatever, I've got to be able to have the time to be able to foster that relationship. I remember the last teaching job I had, I had a tough class.

It was in a relatively low socioeconomic area and the principal said, “Sean, you don't have a class. You have 25 relationships.” And I've never forgotten that. It's just personal relationships and you've got to juggle all those 25 relationships. Now if you've got seven classes in a row, 3:30, 4:15, boom, boom, all the way through, you can't juggle that amount of stuff in your head.

I do three classes on a Monday. I do none on a Tuesday. I do three classes on a Wednesday. I do none on Thursday. I do two classes on a Friday. And I've just started a competition group on Saturday and Sunday. 

And I only do that here and there because I want to, but I take a personal interest in each one of those students and I know if I have any more than 150, my service is going to drop. So that's where I think my buy-in is. My emotional buy-in is from my clients.

GEORGE: I think it's good to add some context on a little bit where you're at. Because if I look at you and your business, I kind of see it as it's the lifestyle martial arts business. You're super passionate about what you do and you're teaching, from what I recall from the last time we spoke. And then you've got all these other things in between, surfing and so forth. 

So yeah, we've got a worldwide audience. How would you describe Margaret River where you live?

SEAN: Margaret River is, I would say probably the surfing Mecca of Australia, definitely Western Australia. So we are a town within the Shire of Augusta Margaret River with about 20,000 people. There's about 5,000 or 6,000 people in Margaret River itself, Margaret River township. 

There's about 2,000, what is it? 2,500 kids between 6 and 16. So I've got about 10% of that market training with me.


SEAN: So it's a relatively affluent area three hours south of Perth in Western Australia, winery region, obviously surf. We're on the world surfing circuit. So you can see that a lot of people who are attracted towards Margaret River have a reasonable level or a reasonable income level. 

And of interest is that they are very much into a peaceful lifestyle. I think if I ran a fight gym, a hardcore fighter's gym, I would not be able to do a lifestyle type situation I have now. However, if I moved it into a hard core area in a big city, I could have a fight type gym and make a good living because there's the demographic. 

My demographic suits me. And by the way, most people move to Margaret River by choice, they weren't born here.

GEORGE: Hundred percent.

SEAN: Very rarely do you have a born and bred person here, apart from the kids that we train. So they come here for the reason of a relaxed lifestyle. They want to raise their kids in the same way that I run the martial arts school. So it's a marriage made in heaven, you might say.

GEORGE: Hundred percent. I love that description. American listeners, if you look at the map of America and you sort of look at San Diego, maybe sort of South of that West.

SEAN: Totally similar, yep. San Diego has a similar feel to it that Perth has. It's got a similar weather system, we're on a similar latitude. And in terms of the surfing aspects of it, I've surfed my way from San Francisco down through the Big Sur, down through LA into San Diego. 

So I've seen all that coast and it definitely is a surfing lifestyle over there. So I would compare the two. Yeah, definitely. However, our population is a lot smaller.

GEORGE: So you would take a fraction of San Diego, remove all of it, and then you got Perth and then you got Margaret River.

SEAN: Yeah. I mean, there's big name UFC fighters training in San Diego and they've moved there for the training. There's no big name UFC fighters living in Margaret River.

GEORGE: No. I guess just to add to that, so if you want to get perspective and especially if you surf as well. Look up Margaret River Pro if you would've seen that on the circuit and that'll give you a glimpse into what Margaret River's about.

SEAN: Yeah, they do quite a good video promo. So yeah, it's a good idea.

GEORGE: We'll probably include that just in the show notes. Let's just go back to martial arts, teaching, and so forth. So we touched on, you've got this demand and so forth. 

What's happening and you've spoken about the lifestyle and how it suits that demographic, but what else is there to capture 10% of your market? Most school owners I talk to have the philosophy of if I can grab the 1%, I'm doing well. If I can grab 1% of my town, I'm doing great. You've captured 10%.

SEAN: Yep. We've got two kids in every class, every school class between grade one and year 12, which is our start primary school and end of high school in Australia. We've got two kids on average, two kids in every class throughout the four or five schools in our area. That's a huge number.

That was by design once I realized, okay, I had a couple of years off from martial arts teaching, I decided I wanted to make a measurable difference. And I thought it just takes a couple of kids in each class, school class to give a teacher headaches. But it just takes two kids in a school class to be able to, especially if they've got street cred, to be able to show other kids what should be done, how to concentrate, how to be respectful, how to be strong, emotionally strong.

And that was my aim to make a difference in my community by putting two strong character kids in every single class between grade one and year 12. Now obviously some classes have got five kids, five of our kids in there. There are other classes that don't have any of our martial arts kids in there. But that was my idea. It takes quite a while for you to be able to create a strong young boy or girl out of someone who's a little bit scatterbrained or needs direction. 

So it doesn't happen overnight. But I thought when you were talking about we were going to do this podcast, I thought, what is the benchmark of my school? What makes my martial arts school different now than what it was 20 years ago or 30 years ago? Because I first started teaching part-time in 1985 and then I started full time in about 1994 or something like that. And I've changed the way I stand in front of a class now.

The two things that I think I need to mention was one, being able to teach discipline. And I think all martial arts schools try to do that. Whether it's a discipline to be able to get in the ring or the discipline to be able to say no to drugs or stand up to a bully or whatever it might be. 

It still takes discipline to be able to do the regular things in a martial arts class and the regular things which form a strong personality outside the martial arts class. But our method of delivery, I'm not sure if you understood when I sent you this, was by creating teachable moments.

GEORGE: Can you elaborate?

SEAN: I learnt this from educational consultants within the West Australian Education Department. And I also learned it from the Rock and Water course. Have you heard of the Rock and Water course, George?

GEORGE: Is that the surfing one?

SEAN: No different. The Rock and Water course I did about five or six years ago. It's a martial arts-based course. I think it started in Germany, Belgium, and Sweden, European-based countries where effeminate boys, young men, and gay young men were being targeted and beaten on the streets. And I think one of them died as a result of a beating. 

So this guy, Freerk, I think is his first name. He created a system to be able to teach them martial arts techniques but to be able to stand strong, to be able to get eye contact, to be able to say no in such a way that no means no and he created a series of activities or drills and then he would scaffold a conversation after that drill so that it makes sense. The problem 20 years ago, Australia-wide, we started to use what's called a message of the week.

And we would say, this week's message is about telling the truth. It's important you tell the truth because of this, this and this reason. Repeat them to me, bow, thank you and all the kids would go home. And there was no context whatsoever for them to be able to think, I've got to tell the truth or I've got to stand up for myself or I've got to make good decisions. 

So our school focuses on teachable moments. A lot of times you won't know when a kid is going to start crying because he's cracked his toe or when a kid is going to lose his cool because he hates that kid who keeps punching him sparring or whatever the story might be. So we tend to step back and wait for a teachable moment, which is what child education specialists say that teachers and parents have.

 If a parent's got a problem with a kid because a kid loses his patience with his sister and the parent takes the kid to an educational specialist and the psychologist, counsel of the specialist says later on, what's the problem? Why do you get upset? Why do you lose your temper? And it's too far removed from the actual situation. 

We're in a very lucky situation, we're in a lucky position to be able to know pretty well, in most classes, when someone's going to get stressed out, male or female and also a kid. And that is a platform, it's a scaffold to be able to pitch the virtues or characteristics of martial arts. You can't just say indomitable spirit and then walk out the door. 

You've got to provide an opportunity so that they feel it emotionally. And that's what we do. So for instance, we might… Say for instance, I had a bunch of kids who competed and I got them in a class last week and they had just competed last weekend. One of the kids, let's call her Jane, she has competed twice now in Perth. First time was averagely successful, second, this time averagely successful, but this time she was up against better opponents.

And I said to her, how did you feel last weekend? She goes, I loved it. I said, how did you feel the first time you did it? And she said, I was really scared. And I remember I was there, she was petrified. So I had this opportunity that the kids are looking at this girl thinking, wow, she was scared, now she's not because she confronted difficulty and then I can spiral into, that's what it's like every time you come here in martial arts training. 

So I've created a situation that happened in the class and they can go, if I stick at it becomes easier. It's only difficult at the start. Whereas if I just do a martial arts class, nothing goes wrong. And then I say, remember kids things are always difficult at the start, bow, see you later. 

They're going to go, what the hell does that mean? So our discipline is taught by teachable moments by the instructor standing back and watching for amongst other things, what can I say next which is going to make a measurable difference in this kid's life. So yeah, I thought that's how I'm different now to 10 years ago, to 20 years ago, to 30 years ago.

GEORGE: That's pretty unique and high level. The way I'm perceiving it is you've got a very close ear to the ground and instead of just teaching and saying something for the sake of saying it. You're waiting for the timing of an emotion, maybe it's an emotional reaction as you mentioned, kids got in the face or something. 

So emotions are, there's frustration, there's anger, there's disappointment, there's fear. And in that moment, you're anchoring a new belief to that emotion immediately because it's right there at the moment. And beyond that is you're not just teaching the one person, but you're taking it to the group level with what you mentioned with Jane, for example.

SEAN: I've been teaching kids classes for, I don't know, 25, 30 years. Always with parents on the side, always. Years ago they'd be talking to each other. Nowadays they're doing this on their phones. 

So I always encourage parents to watch what's going on in the class, but sometimes they still zone out until I give one of these talks and I say, this kid was crying three minutes ago, three minutes ago. Or you could hear a pin drop from the parents. And I'm delivering life advice at the moment, not general life advice, like be nice to your brother and sister and tell the truth to your mom and dad. You know, really?

GEORGE: Unscripted.

SEAN: Yeah. This is, it's something and my wife has asked me to write these things down and we do have things written down. How do you teach patience, how do you teach discipline? How do you teach indomitable spirit, which is the Tae Kwon Do one, and so on and so on. How do you teach character? How do you teach courage? 

But you don't know whether you are going to have to deliver a talk on courage or patience because you don't know what's going to happen in a class. So you've got to have a bank of these discussion topics in the back of your head. And it might be courage, tonight's talk was going to be patience, but it's now courage because that girl showed up for another competition after the first competition where she was terrified but she went back. And now she controlled, she came to terms with her fear through being courageous.

And as we all know, courage is mastery of fear, not absence of it, Mark Twain. And it's those things you've got to have just on the end of your tongue. It does help that I'm 60, I'm not 30, I'm not 20. I'm 60. I think the best role models are those that have had trauma in the past. And for that reason, I think, say the average lifespan of an adult male is 80, I'm 60, 20 years to go. 

These kids are 10. It's like I'm the same age as your grandfather. I could be your grandfather. Your mom and dad are 20 years younger than me. So I'm very careful about what I say because I know it has power, words have power. Especially when the situation has just developed. 

The kid is still crying, the kid still has tears on his cheeks and I deliver a talk about his courage. He'll never forget that. His parents will be talking about it on the way home. And that's the difference with just doing a normal martial arts class, that's why we've got a one year waiting list.

GEORGE: So walk us through that, right? Because what would be the first thing that you would do to deescalate that situation? Let's say, the kid burst out into tears, the situation is tense. 

There's pressure on you on how you're going to handle this in a gentle way that the outcome is good and you've got other parents watching and there's potential judgment. You spoke about trauma, I would like to talk about that as well in a bit because I think a lot of times the trauma that the parents experienced could, they could have certain negative annotations towards certain types of responses or certain words. You were just talking about words. 

That one word could just trigger an emotion and that sets things off. So how do you go about handling that situation, deescalating it, and then reverting it back to the parents for life lessons?

SEAN: It was only last night, I was watching a bunch of, I don't know, 10 to 14 year olds. And I said to them afterwards, I said, help me out here. I said, I can see some of you are making mistakes. 

I can see some of you are going through a difficult time with a particular partner. And I don't know whether they're wrestling or sparring or what, it doesn't matter. I can see the frustration. I've got a choice. 

And I said this to all the kids that are spread out right in front of me and the parents are over on the back and I go, help me out. Me and mom and dad can watch you getting upset. We can run him and save you. Mom and dad aren't because they're polite because I'm the instructor, but I can run in and I can save you and I can tell you all the answers to life and martial arts straight away.

I said, but I'm torn. Sometimes you've got to work it out yourself. Sometimes you've got to feel the pain for a while until you get so frustrated then you'll go, oh that's right. I'm supposed to parry the punch. So I said to the kids, what do we do? Do we save you or do we let you experience the trauma? And all the kids said, let us experience it. How's that?


SEAN: I mean, we're closing in on the end of the term. Say I've got 15 kids, we've got a cap on our numbers, 20 in a class. So I say I have 15 kids, all of them said, not one kid said, I want you to come out and save me. All of the kids said, we've got to learn the lesson. So I do quite often set the scene for the parents and the kids to say, this is how we roll.

For example, once I said it a little while ago, if you are struggling at home with homework and your dad knows that in the back of the book is the answer. And you go, I'm really struggling with number five. He's going, keep trying.

He's not going to go, mate, the answers in the back. Just look up the answer. Okay. No parent is going to do that. They're going to possibly help you come to work out how to get the answer, they're never just going to tell you the answer. 

And it's little talks like that, which are carefully scripted in my head, which I spend a lot of time thinking about so that when I deliver these talks, you end up becoming the Mr. Miyagi for these kids. You end up becoming a god. I think it's, it would've been hard for me to deliver these talks when I was 25.

I didn't start teaching till I was probably late twenties, say 30. Wouldn't have been… I wasn't even a dad then. I became a dad at 32, got divorced at 42. So there's all this trauma that happens, now you look back and you go, ah, that's what happens. So now I can step back and say to the kids, this is life. 

If you don't get frustrated here, you are guaranteed of getting frustrated out there and we have these talks all the time. And I tell them how to control their breathing, how to count to 10 if they want to punch their brother and count forward, don't count down to one count up to 10, control your breathing and we deal with this stuff but just after someone's traumatized. 

And then they go, ah and they can see the kid crying. Or some kid goes like, they always do this. Oh Mr. Allen, I got three submissions in wrestling today. And I go, yeah, congratulations. Then I sat him all down and went, James over there got three submissions and he told me, and I'm so glad you are proud. 

Who did you wrestle, James? And he goes, I wrestled Jackson over there. And I go, when you said to me I got three submissions, how do you think Jackson felt? And then he goes, not too good. I go, so we have a rule, you can tell me that you got three submissions, but tell me in private. Share it but in private. If you submit Jackson, you go, good job, here's how you defend against it.

So we have a little structure around that one particular area of training and that's what the parents listen to. They stop scrolling especially because Jackson's mom's going to lift her. She'll be halfway down Facebook or Instagram and she'll hear Jackson and she knows I'm talking about Jackson and James's dad is going to be looking because he's wrapped. 

So the rest of them start going, whoa, what's happening? What's he talking about? So yeah, it's a carefully thought-out procedure of creating a responsible kid based on what I think is a strong character. Does that make sense?

GEORGE: A hundred percent. Let's flip it on the lid quickly. Let's say you're not 60 years old and you don't have that life experience in two ways. 

You're either a young instructor and you are improving your craft of being an instructor or you're a school owner that's got younger instructors and you want to put some structures in place to deal with certain situations or teach at this level. What advice would you give in that situation?

SEAN: At this stage we have a lady who would like to do what we do, be full-time martial arts… And maybe full-time, but she's taking her own class. It's gone from 15 students in a class to now she's got 30. And I don't include this with the 250, she's in another town outside of where we are. 

She hasn't got the ability yet to be able to jump on those teachable moments. So my wife goes down there every second week and she delivers those talks. And this girl, this lady who's the teacher, she's listening all the time. So obviously she's a student of ours anyway. She also assists in our classes. So she's privy to these talks all the time. 

So she hears the talks. She's on the receiving end of the talks sometimes. But when she's assisting in a class, she sees me take over and I deliver the patience talk or whatever it might be. She sees how I deal with it. So it's a gradual stepping away process. 

Now she's running her own school, she's been doing it for a year and a half, two years. She's still by her own admittance, not comfortable enough to be able to teach the character development in the way we do it. Anybody can parrot fashion. 

Indomitable spirit means not giving up. What does indomitable spirit mean, kids? They go, not giving up. Say it again, not giving up. Anybody can parrot fashion that. But I don't know, I just, it's fake. So as the dog tells you, it's fake. So I think that it's a gradual stepping away process. It's so important that's the reason why we keep the school small. 

My library behind me is littered with books which are autobiographies that talk about how people got through difficult times. And I think that you need to be able to immerse yourself in your education as a teacher and as a human being so that you can lead other people. Because we're not just leading people to punch and kick and do an armbar. We're leading people to be able to make good decisions under pressure. And that's a life skill which is not to be handled lightly.

GEORGE: A hundred percent. So let me ask you this, Sean. What drives you and is there something about trauma that's triggered this for you that does drive you? Are the two linked or are they separate things?

SEAN: No, they're totally linked, totally linked. What was I listening to today? Tim Ferris as in 4-Hour Work Week Tim Ferris was abused as a child. He said you can look up Tim Ferris and trauma on the internet and you'll read about it. So I'm sure he won't mind me sharing it here. 

The numbers of other elite level athletes or very successful people who have had trauma and have grown as a choice afterwards. They've had to think, what do I make of my trauma? So everybody's had trauma that fills their life. 

I mean I was picked on, I was bullied as a kid and I still remember being beaten up by a group of people and they took turns punching me. I still remember the laughter, I still remember the crack of my head and I still remember them laughing, the girls and guys laughing. Now was I sexually abused? No. Was I tortured? No. But my physical battering that I got, filled my life.

So everybody has trauma that fills their life. My most recent one, which gave me an ability to stand in front of the class and say, I walk our talk. Because they all saw me last year, I had, within a six month period… Did you know about my last year in the hospital?

GEORGE: I do, yeah.

SEAN: Yeah. So within a six month period I had a burst appendix whilst surfing, burst appendix. Then a month later I had a brain bleed. So I had brain surgery and then another month and a half later on for that I had open heart surgery. 

And then early this year, during all those surgeries, they found a grapefruit size growth on my adrenal gland. So they cut in through my back and took out this growth and the whole adrenal gland.


SEAN: So all the kids see is Mr. Allen going into hospital, coming out in the hospital coming out. And I told them how I dealt with pain because the burst appendix was the hardest one. That was horrific. 

The brain surgery was difficult, the open heart surgery was difficult, but you get good at breathing through pain. And so I said, all I did because they all wanted to find out how's Mr. Allen? He's in hospital, he's been in an ambulance to Royal Perth, next thing you know is at another hospital and I've got this huge zipper scar down my chest again. 

So I told him, I said, you've got to take yourself to a happy place and you've got to concentrate on your breathing because that's the only thing you can take with you. You might not have your teddy bear kids, but you'll have your breathing and your ability to be able to focus and bypass that negative voice in your head.

So it's because of difficult situations that I've been in that I can stand in front of them and go, I know this works. For example, but it doesn't have to be me. In two weeks, two and a half weeks' time, I've got Danny Green coming into my martial arts school. 

Now for people in America, if you look up Danny Green and boxing, he's a three-time world champ in traditional western boxing. Knocked out Roy Jones Jr. which is one of his claims to fame. But Danny Green, a legitimate world champ in boxing, happens to live down here. Move to Margaret River because he's a surfer. 

I said, can you come down and talk to the kids about how to handle trauma, how to be able to stay focused on your goals when you feel everyone else is against you, how can you get through anything difficult, how can you control a mindset so it's positive? He fought Markus Bayer in Germany. He flew to Germany to fight the German world champion.

Can you imagine a crowd full of Germans who want to see blood and it's not their guys, it's your blood. And heed up to that. Now, he's got stories as a result of that. And I've talked to him and I said, our teen boys need to hear it from someone else apart from me. 

So I think that the parents will appreciate the fact that they're doing a difficult job in this day and age. It takes a village to raise a child and a coach is a tremendously powerful and formidable force in the life of a young boy or girl or even young man. Because say if I've got a 30 year old young bloke, who's juggling, his wife's pregnant and he's taking care of one kid and she's pregnant with a second. 

I go, I remember that. I totally remember that. And you just gotta get through it mate. I know what it's like to have a son looking you in the face and saying, you're not the boss of me, a 14-year-old son. Whereas six years before when he was eight years of age, I love you dad. 

You are the best dead in the world. And then at 14 and a few short years, he goes, you're not the boss of me. You can't tell me what to do.  And I'm thinking, I brought you into this world I could take you out. But I've got no answers for some of these things. 

The mothers I've had every year I have mothers tear up in front of me. What happened to my little boy? He used to love me so much and now he doesn't want to talk to me. I go, I totally get it. Just be there for him. And I tell them my story of my son and what have you. 

So life is about gradually having a series of experiences and growing from those experiences. And looking behind you and as people have their experiences, then you can help them. You say, look, I might not have ever… I don't know what it's like to give birth to a child, I have no clue, but this is what I've done and you support them.

GEORGE: Love it.

SEAN: So I think, yeah, your life experience is very important. I was at a seminar years ago and it was a business seminar and the person who was running the seminar said, “If you have a question, you put your hand up and we'll say, yes you and you stand up, you tell us your name, tell us how old you are and what you do for a living.” 

And at one stage this girl put her hand up and he said yes. And she said, my name's Sally, I'm 27 and I'm a life coach. And then she started her question and the guy next to me lent over and said, at 27 years of age, what would she know about life? He was half right and half wrong. 

There's not much she can teach a 60 year old, but can she teach other 27 year olds and other 20 year olds and other kids about life? Yeah, she probably can. I think that as long as we have dealt with some difficulties in our life, as long as you have drawn a plan to handle those difficulties, you can stand in front of people and say, this plan works. And I think that's important.

GEORGE: Love that.

SEAN: First time, I've had heart surgery twice. Once eight years ago and then once again last year. I was really scared the first time. Because they put the incision there and they pull your chest open, your heart is off for about four hours and on a bypass machine. So blood goes out through a machine and comes back again and then they wire your chest shut again. 

And by the way, you're on ice the whole time. And after, so your organs don't start fading or decaying or whatever and then afterwards they heat you back up again. So anyhow, I have this open heart surgery and I'm also a speaker for Beyond Blue, I think you know that.


SEAN: I was asked to do a talk for Beyond Blue, which is an organization that helps to increase awareness and decrease the stigma of depression and anxiety. So I was asked to do it in a retirement village and part of my talk was how I dealt with pain in open heart surgery. And so I'm talking to all these retired people, at that stage I'm about 50 and they're about 70 or 80. And they were wonderful. 

Afterwards there's a line of them, they're all lining up to shake Sean's hand and say thank you young man for coming along. And they said, I really enjoyed your talk about heart surgery. I've had three heart operations and I battled cancer.

And anyway, I just wanted to say I really appreciate it. No, thank you very much. I'm thinking you should be doing the talk and the next person comes up. Oh yes, I've had heart surgery too. 

And so Gerald over there and I'm like, I really am not in a position to be able to talk to these people about how tough I am having dealt with heart surgery. But that's an extreme situation. I think any young instructor who's dealt with difficulty in their life, especially if they've been bullied or been beaten up and then they've done martial arts and now they are confident. 

That's a platform with which they can go, this is how I dealt with it, this works. And as your life turns over, you get better and better at articulating your method when it comes to standing above normal human weaknesses. I'm speaking to a guy in Newcastle upon Tyne, northern England. I spoke to him a week or two ago. 

I don't know, he's 25 or 30 or something and he's all keen and eager. And I saw you, Sean and I just wanted to talk to you. So we organized a little FaceTime thing like you and I are doing now. And we're helping him, yeah. I'm helping you. 

I gave him some advice and I don't know what I would've done without guys like you George as a mentor when I was learning how to market my school. But I remember thinking afterward, sure I can stop him from making some big mistakes, but he's still got to learn the ropes. I can't turn someone with five years of experience into a 40-year veteran. You've got to do the next 35 years. That's why.

GEORGE: And what you've just… A hundred percent, but what you've just done is you've given, we've gone full circle back to how does a young instructor develop that skill. And even without the vast life experience, you've still got experience that took you to being a martial arts instructor and achieving that level of expertise. 

And in that there's going to be experiences that you can pass on to your 10 year old to younger kids or anyone really younger than you, purely based on the level that you're at through your martial arts.

SEAN: Yeah, I think one of the things that fledgling martial arts instructors, young martial arts instructors should do is continue to put themselves on the edge, continue to compete or continue to stress themselves out, put them into positions which are difficult. Some of my colleagues opened up martial arts schools about five or six years after we started martial arts training. Because our system was going through an expansion in those days in the mid eighties. 

And I remember thinking, I want to be a little bit more lethal before I stand up in front of other people. So I kept fighting, I was in the ring fighting full contact. I'd done all tournaments and all that stuff, but that didn't really scare me. But the ring, fighting full contact is a huge thing. I did security at some of the roughest pubs I could find.

And I'm not a violent person, by no means am I a violent person. But I had to be able to find a switch inside me that I could turn on if there was aggression in the air. And that's something that I teach now. 

I know that I don't want to teach a young, gentle young man or boy or girl, I don't want to make them aggressive, but I want to make them assertive. And I tell the parents, I want to give him or her a button that she can push, that only she can push. No one else pushes that button and gets her mad or gets him mad. 

I want to be able to give that kid, your child, your daughter, your son, a button that they're in control of. That they know they can switch on if someone attacks them, is aggressive, is standing over them, you know going, give us your money. So you've got the courage to be able to think now's the time to stand up, look him in the eye, maybe not swear, not drop to their level, but say the answer's no and there's no way you're going to get my money or whatever the story might be. 

And I think that teaching for instance, that skill to be able to say no to unhealthy peer pressure or whatever is far more important as, more important than being able to dodge a right punch. How's this, George? I told you that I've had somewhere between five and 6,000 students since I first started. No one has ever been killed in a violent confrontation. Out of all my students, I would've heard of it. I've lost five to suicide.


SEAN: So that tells me that I'm keeping them physically safe, but I'm not keeping them emotionally and mentally safe. So handling demons inside you is probably as if not more important than handling demons on the street.

And once I realized that… One guy did it with his own blue belt that I'd just given him, he'd just done his blue belt grading and it just rocked me. His brother was training with me also and his brother told me, I remember thinking that I've got to become better at equipping people to become emotionally stronger, which then shines the light back on me because I've got to become emotionally stronger. 

I'm six foot one and 90 kilos. I'm not to be sneezed at, but am I emotionally strong? So that made me sort of look back at myself and go, I've got to reinvestigate what real strength is. And it might not be the ability to punch someone in the face. 

It might be the ability to be able to say no to drugs, might be the ability to accept the failure of a marriage and know that it's just one of those things and how you feel today is not how you're going to feel next month. Tomorrow you're going to feel just as bad. 

Next week you're going to feel just as bad. Next month you're going to have an hour where you don't think of it. And then a month after that, you're going to have two or three hours every now and again that you don't think of and you gradually pull up. 

And I had to really get my head around how I create real value in the life of a student and not just an ability to be able to punch and kick because the value of that is minuscule compared to internal peace and happiness.

GEORGE: So good. Sean, I'm really happy we caught up and had this chat again. I think we should have another chat again sometime.

SEAN: Yeah, I was thinking what advice, life advice do I give? Because I'm thinking why am I successful now? I said, I think you should be a student of the martial arts longer. 

And you need to really, like I joined our, you and my original Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor, still my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor. I joined Adam Metcalf’s school. I was still running the big school bigger than Adams, but I'd come to Adams during the day because I wanted to get smashed. 

When no one knew me, I'd done 25 years of kickboxing and karate. I was a six degree black belt but you're a white belt and you get your ass handed to you, as you know all the time. And I thought, I don't want to stand up and have all these people calling me these traditional martial arts. Oh, sensei. I think I don't wanna, I'm not going to hide behind anything.

So I think you've got to be a student longer. I think you need to constantly educate yourself. And I think you need to take yourself out of your comfort zone, which is the reason, one of the reasons why I moved down here. Because surfing down here scares the hell out of me. 

I did a breath hold course which trains people to be able to handle large waves of consequence where people died. And my breath hold went from, usually I could hold my breath about a minute, minute and a half. On the first day with the training and the mental pressure they put you under and the mental rules and regulations they had to go through, I went for a three and a half minute breath hold. 

Underwater, not sitting on a couch, but with someone pushing you down underwater. Three and a half minutes, from one and a half to three and a half minutes just with a system of controlling your emotions. And once you've dealt with stepping into the ring, you need to keep finding areas to be able to challenge yourself. And that's the reason why I did the breath hold course and now I help teach it.

GEORGE: I'll chat to you about that because I know the level of Margaret River surf is just at another level. And when I was a kid, we would do that kind of stuff, but it was just young and reckless and we would paddle out into the surf that was just ridiculous. And if I ever thought of the ultimate fear of watching water approach me at a level and feeling that I've got to put myself in a very calm state or I'm going to die.

SEAN: Literally, you'll run out of oxygen.


SEAN: And dealing with that is very important. Like George, the first time in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, someone squashes you or puts you in a sleeper and cuts off your airway. You tap so quickly, you freak out. 

So you've got to be able to deal with panic. And I think you need to chase adrenaline because we are adrenaline junkies, all martial arts, decent martial arts guys, we're adrenaline junkies. We need to push the limit so that when we come home, come home at night, we can sit in a chair and think I'm happy with my day, I'm happy with my life. 

And I've challenged myself, whether I survived or not, whether I was successful or not, I challenged myself. I had the courage to be able to paddle out into those waves, join that martial arts school, step up, start another university degree, and jam something into my day. And I think that's important that we walk our talk.

GEORGE: Love it. Sean, thanks so much for jumping on. Always great chatting to you. If anybody wanted to reach out to you, say hi or connect with you, how would they go about doing that?

SEAN: If they do a search on Margaret River Martial Arts, and I chose the name for the school because if someone's in Margaret River, they're going to look up Margaret River Martial Arts. So that's the name of the school and then it'll lead you to our website and me, Facebook, Instagram, blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. So do I market via those? 

No, but I post regularly. My thoughts, what we do, what kid has demonstrated the type of attributes that we teach, giving the kids street cred. So they'll see all that kind of stuff. A lot of people, they educate themselves just by looking at what other martial arts schools do to promote themselves. And obviously that's what you do too when you share that type of knowledge.

GEORGE: Awesome. Cool, Sean, thanks so much. I'll speak to you soon. Or I'll see you on the mats or maybe even in the surf.

SEAN: Yeah, there's a seventh Dan coming up to see us in a couple of weeks at Adam School. Coral Belt, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


SEAN: He's the guy that started off the GF team anyway, so I'm coming up for that. So I'm still coming up to do regular seminars like that which will be cool.

GEORGE: Awesome. Sounds good.

SEAN: Okay, George.

GEORGE: Speak to you soon. Cheers.

SEAN: See you, mate.


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134 – Martial Arts Business Events: The Partners Intensive Live 2022 Review

Live martial arts business events are back! Here’s what we covered at our private Partners Intensive members event, and details about the next one.


  • A look at what's included in the 170-page Partners Intensive workbook
  • What’s wrong with most martial arts business events
  • A walkthrough of Ross Cameron’s world-class martial arts facility
  • Nailing your socials with vertical videos
  • Google’s bigger comeback
  • Creating martial arts curriculum using the Curriculum Creator 
  • Getting young instructors to run high-level classes
  • How to Run a 6 Figure Open Day   
  • And more

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



Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. So today I'm going to give you a full review of our most recent martial arts business event, our Partners Intensive, which was a private martial arts business event for our private clients, and our Partners members, and it was held in Brisbane, on July 2022. 

martial arts business events

So I'm going to give you a full review of just what we covered, what we did, and what made the event cool, different, and exciting. And stick around, I will also share with you how to access the recordings of the event and how you can potentially be invited to the next one, or on martialartsmedia.com/134. But let's jump into the details.

All right. So our Partners Intensive, that was it. If you're watching this, I'm holding up a big, thick workbook, 170 pages of strategies, notes, models, and things that we worked through from front to back. Why so many pages? Well, you didn't ask that, but I think I'm just going to tell you, because you think, “170 pages. That sounds like hard work.”

Well, it actually means less work, right? It means that we did the hard work upfront. And in the sessions, our members were able to take notes. The strategies were already done for them. And it was a great way to just really refine things and keep track and walk away with a clear plan.

martial arts business events

So let me start with that. Events. Now, I don't know what type of events you've been to. There are great events, and there are not-so-great events. And then there are events that you think are great events and you feel like it was a great event because it was, but when you look at the content, you kind of walk away with a scatterbrain. You walk away with all these ideas. And you're on this dopamine high, so you feel really good about attending this event. And you've come back with ideas and you think, “Oh, wow, I've got all these things that I've got to do.”

And so you're on this mental high because of the event. But now you get home and now you got to make a plan. Now you got to put this all together. Now you got to make it practical for yourself. And that's hard to do if you don't have a structured strategy and an outline for you to be able to take everything and implement it fast, because, let's face it, information without implementation means squat.

martial arts business events

So you might feel good about the event and you might have gotten a lot of ideas, but if you weren't able to capture it and capture the strategy of how to implement it, it sort of becomes like that whole long to-do list of stuff that just never gets done. And so it doesn't take long, and you look at it, and it probably causes more overwhelm than actual results because you just can't get to the things that were mentioned.

So I'd like to say we go about it a little bit differently. Now, our events are for our private clients. So these are paid for events by us, our members who pay to be in our program, and so we run the events for free for them. We structure it over three days, and we make sure that our members can walk away, get the strategies, but also get the work done and be able to implement. And so that when they get home, they have a clear plan and they know what to do. All right.

Partners Intensive

So I'm going to jump into exactly what we did over three days. So first off, this event was really special because one of our Partner members, Ross Cameron from Fightcross in Albion, Brisbane, created a… When I say world-class, I don't even think it does it justice, but their new gym is a combination of a complete lifestyle center and a gym, martial arts gym.

So what I mean by that, is that I'll just get Ross's permission before sharing it, but I'd love to post it below in this episode. So if you go to martialartsmedia.com/134, there will be, I say, “Will be,” because he'll say, “Yes…” We did a walkthrough of his facilities and we posted this in our private members' group, but I'll share it on this page so that you can get a perspective of actually what this gym is about, and it will really inspire you for whatever it is that you want to add or fine-tune in your facilities.

So it's a complete lifestyle center, meaning you walk in, there's a coffee shop on the side. There's a patisserie where you can pick up pastries and really healthy meals. Then there's a bar. And then you walk upstairs and you walk into Fightcross, which, you got to see the video, right? But it's like wooden panels. It just looks spectacular, the vibe, the feel, the everything.

There's a gym at the back. There are different areas for fitness, fitness classes, and so forth, and then a large mat space at the back and a cage in the corner. When we hosted the event then, this was an event that we probably won't be able to repeat really because, well, we'll need a bigger space next time. Now, Ross's gym is huge, but, obviously, the space where we were able to host a conference can only host so many people.

So it was really great to have that type of experience and be able to host the event at a martial arts gym/lifestyle center of that caliber. It was really good to have all our members get together there. And we were able to do things on the mats as well as in the conference facilities. So really special to have done that. Thanks to Ross Cameron for opening up his facilities for our members. If you're ever in Brisbane, hit him up and go have a look. It's mind-blowing. So, that's the first thing I want to say about it. Just the facilities were, it was just a spectacular environment to be in.

So then we got to work, right? So for three days, we got to work. And let me just cover some of the content that we went through. So first up, we started off with our Progress Snapshot, just all our members looking at things that they have done over the past couple of months and the results that they got. We also had a session called Mimic the Masters, where some of our members shared some things that they were doing well, and then we had a round table discussion about that.

martial arts business events

Then my friend, Pete Tansley, Pete Tansley spoke to us about nailing your socials. So you can follow him on Instagram, Pete Tansley, P-E-T-E, last name T-A-N-S-L-E-Y, all one word. Also, check the show notes, obviously, for a link to that.

So, Pete Tansley spoke to us about nailing your socials. So we were talking about vertical videos, how to get traction on it, how to plan it, and how he creates an astronomical amount of videos. I think he created 30 videos in 17 minutes, something crazy. And he really brought a great diverse flavor and experience to the event.

Now, obviously, our clients are all martial arts school owners. Pete is very well-known in this fitness industry and works with Fitpros. And so he gave his perspective of just building that personal brand and how we could adopt it for martial arts schools. So a really, really valuable session.

Then we jumped into Google. So we had a goal that by the end of the day, our members would have either new Google Ads up and running, for those that didn't have any Google Ads or those that already had Google Ads up and running and had their setup optimized. So if you've listened to my podcast for a little while, you'll know that we focus heavily on Facebook, and that's what we do. We've also started diversifying back to Google. 

And if I say, “Back to Google,” Google is where I learned how online marketing works. That was before the Facebook days. I know I'm giving away my age here. But that's really where I started. I started learning how Google Ads works, and how direct response marketing works via running Google Ads. And the first time I ever worked with martial arts schools, we were running Google Ads, and we got great results from it.

Google is, I don't want to say, making a comeback because it's always been there, but there are a lot of things developing with Google that I'm really excited about. And I feel that if you're not taking advantage of what Google is doing, then you're not running a complete customer journey. So yep, you might have great Facebook ads, but then people search for you and they don't find you.

Now, a lot of people say, “Yes, but when we type in our name or this, people find us.” Yep, that's great, but it's typically only for one keyword. And if you're coming up in the organic search results, it's easy to come up just for your name or something else.

But you've got to remember a few things. Number one, there are about 10 to 15 spots on the Google front page that can be occupied. So the more real estate you own, the better. And you probably won't come up for all the other keywords, all the other terms that people are typing in. And by the way, Google has expanded way beyond just the search mechanism.

So yeah, very excited about that. So the first session we did was hands-on, more about the theory. And then we all pulled up our laptops, and I was able to walk around the room and help everyone get their Google Ads up and running. So, that was great. Cool. So, that was day one.

Partners Intensive

Day two. On day two, we had my friend Costa Prasoulas from Zeus Academy in Sydney. He covered a process that we called the Curriculum Creator, where we went through a strategy of how to extract a curriculum from your mind and structure it in a way that you can build an asset within your curriculum. We went into the real detail about how they go about breaking down a technique, which I found really interesting, breaking it down between not just the actual technique but a whole framework around it, behind the history, the founding fathers, the etiquette, et cetera, et cetera. And so we did.

In the conference room, we went through the whole strategy. Our members were able to, we had a bunch of sticky notes, they were able to write down all the techniques and strategies and be able to map it out on a big board and structure a curriculum.

And then after lunch, we went to the mats. And we went over the various styles as an example. So Costa, with them, they teach Taekwondo, they do Muay Thai, and they do jiu-jitsu and Hapkido. So we went over the different styles and how we could bring this curriculum together and what the crossover was between different techniques so that you get more of a visual experience of how it all fits together.

So, that was day two. A lot of it was martial arts, martial arts training, and curriculum. And then we rounded off, the last session of the day, and this is always a killer, was our Mastermind Session. And the Mastermind Session was just 90 minutes of pure gold. It's also the one session we could not record, because the Mastermind, you got to be in the Mastermind to get the value out of the Mastermind. So mastermind's kind of just a round table, and everybody brings something that they're working on or stuck with, and we use the power of the room that everybody gets clarity on that.

Partners Intensive

That was Saturday. Saturday night, we had some fun. A good night out in Brisbane City, which was great. And then Sunday, we had an epic day. Sunday morning, we had Brett Fenton. Now, Brett and I created a program way back, and I'll link to it in this episode, called The Instructor Team Blueprint. So I might butcher the numbers a little bit here, but Brett runs about, I think it's 74 classes per week, and he only teaches 6 of them. So he's really empowered his entire instructor team to run the classes, with complete autonomy.

And so we wanted to do an add-on of the course, Instructor Team Blueprint, and we covered a session, Young Instructors: High-Level Classes. And we did a video breakdown of how his instructors go to work, and how they run the classes. A really, really valuable session.

Partners Intensive

Then we jumped into The 6 Figure Open Day™. And so Cheyne McMahon, one of our top members, did a session on what they've been doing to run a 6 Figure Open Day. In the most recent one, I think they got 89 signups on their Open Day. If you're in the States, you might refer to it as an Open House, States or Canada. The same thing, we just call it an Open Day. And we went through the whole process. This was a really heavy session with just strategies, how we go about promoting it in Facebook groups, just community groups, which is really gold, how we go about running the Facebook ads, and how we structure the ads.

The real gold is how to sign people up before the Open Day, from the Open Day, and after the Open Day. And the beauty of it is the whole Open Day runs in 90 minutes flat. Yeah, that was a really good session on how to get local communities involved, how to get food trucks involved, how to get local radio involved, etc., etc., etc. Last but not least, we ran a session to map out a 6-week plan, so like a 6-week cycle. And so all our members were able to take all the notes, everything that they covered, and map it out into a plan to execute over the next 6 weeks. That was our event.

Partners Intensive

Now, if you would like to join us for our next event and come as my guest to our Partners Intensive, at the time that I'm recording this, we are planning to host the next one somewhere in North America. That's all I can say right now. We also run these online throughout the year. Now, if you'd like to join us for our next Partners Intensive, then I'd like to invite you to come as my guest. Now, the way you can do that is on this page where we host this podcast, martialartsmedia.com/134, the numbers one, three, and four, go to that page, and there's a button where you can download the transcript.

And on the next page, you'll find a little calendar where you can book a time to chat with me. It's 10-15 minutes. The purpose of the call is really a quick marketing brainstorm to see how we can potentially help you. And we can chat about whether you would be a fit to attend our next event or not. It's not a sales call. It's really just a chat, a low-key chat, between a little bit about marketing, what you're doing, and to figure out if you would be a fit for our next event. Go to that, book a call. Otherwise, if you don't want to book a call, just send me an email. Go to your email client and just email me at george@martialartsmedia.com. Send me an email, just with the subject line, “Event,” and we can chat via that.

Partners Intensive

And if you do want to get access to the recordings of the event, all the content that we create is always recorded. We had a video crew that recorded all three days. That is currently being edited and uploaded into our members' portal for our Partner members. So for that, same strategy, same way to get in touch with me, send me an email or just go to martialartsmedia.com/134, download the PDF transcript for this episode. And on the next page, book a call with me, and we can have a chat about whether that would be suitable for you or not.

That's it. I hope this was useful. I hope you got a few things out of it. Before I wrap it up, I really want to say this, and I should have said this in the beginning, it's been a rough couple of years, right? It's been a rough couple of years with events and doing everything online. And I think people like myself are probably way more ready to live in this online world because I've been living in this online world for way prior to COVID. So it was just business as usual for me, but I know it was a lot to adapt for a lot of people. But there's one thing that just can't be beaten and that is face-to-face human interaction. You can watch content online and you can sit and watch an event online, but come on, you know what it's like.

Partners Intensive

When you're in the same environment where you can still be distracted, where your phone can ring, where somebody could walk in, you still don't have that uninterrupted time to focus. And events are not just about the content. It's really about the people that you meet and the conversations that you have in between. So, yep. You got to book the flight. You got to clear your diary. You got to have the conversation with your wife to look after the kids, unless, of course, you bring them along and they can have a bit of a break and you tag a holiday onto the back of it.

Hey, we work a lot and do a lot for our members, and our students. Why not use the business and claim a good holiday on tax as well? Use the business to your advantage. But at the end of the day, right, and I'm preaching to the choir, and you've probably been to a lot of events and you agree with me on this 100%, but nothing beats going to live events and meeting people and having those conversations in between the sessions, and that's really where the magic is.

So anyway, get in touch with me if you want to join us for our next event. And thanks for listening, thanks for watching. I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.


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

1. Download the Martial Arts Media™ Mobile App.

It's our new private community app exclusive for martial arts school owners, with top courses, online events, and free resources to help grow your business.  Click here to download it for iPhone or Android (any other device).

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

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month to get to 100+ students. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, get started with our 7-day risk-free trial – Click Here

3. Work With Me and My Team Privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, fill out the form and apply HERE … tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details – Click Here

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

133 – Should You Have Prices Listed On Your Martial Arts Website? (Round 2)

Here’s my attempt to end the age-old debate about the pros and cons of having your club fees listed on your martial arts website.


  • The honesty vs dishonesty debate about prices on martial arts websites
  • The pros and cons of listing prices on your martial arts website
  • Getting the best results from your martial arts website
  • How an irresistible martial arts offer boosts your conversions
  • When is it actually a good idea to list prices on your martial arts website?
  • And more

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



Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Today, I'm going to revise one of my first podcast episodes discussing, should you have your prices listed on your martial arts website? 

Should you have your club fees listed? If you don't, what should you have listed? And if you do, how does that impact your sales and your conversions? And if you don't, are you just hiding stuff and being all weird? 

All right. Let's dive in. Make sure you stick to the end, and I'll share with you a cool resource that you can have on your website that boosts your conversions and helps you sign up more students. All right. Let's dive in.

Having your prices listed on your martial arts website, should you do it or shouldn't you do it? I see this topic come up often, and I just dug through the archives of the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast, and I actually covered this on episode number four, my fourth podcast. It was 2016. And I wanted to have a look if my stance has changed on it. And I could say, “No, it hasn't,” but I want to give some context to what that stance was and where the exceptions to the rules are.

First up, short answer, is it a good idea to have your prices listed on your website? No, it's not a good idea. Now, what I've been noticing over the years is people get really weird when you say that. People go the whole honesty and dishonesty route. 

People get really angry about this, that if you don't put your prices on your website, you're hiding stuff, and you're not being ethical, and you're being sleazy. And it gets really nasty, which I find really odd and weird. 

I want to explain the psychology of why it's actually not a good idea to have your prices listed on your website, and it's actually the reverse. If you don't have your prices on your website, you are serving your potential prospects way better. You are able to establish way more value around what it is that you provide.

Let's dive into a few scenarios. As a recap of what is discussed in episode four, in the younger version, I had no beard and maybe the camera's a bit better. Hopefully, I've got this podcast thing a bit smoother, more relaxed, and better after a couple of years down. 

All right, let's just cover one scenario. You've got a mom sitting in front of her computer. She's thinking about enrolling her child in martial arts. In context, she's never done martial arts before, she doesn't understand it, somebody might have told her it's a good idea, somebody might have mentioned it and said, “The benefits are X, Y, Z,” or she's done some Googling and researching, or maybe she's got a child that's being bullied. She's kind of figured out that martial arts could be a good thing for her child, but she knows nothing about it.

All right. She knows nothing about it, so she starts searching and she finds a couple of websites. Maybe she finds you and she finds another school. You know the other school, you know that you provide a way better service, provide a way better martial arts than the other school does, and this person is searching and all that they can compare with is price. Right?

Because let's face it, no matter how good your website copy is and whether you've done a really good job of conveying what your message is, your values, et cetera, when somebody doesn't know what they're looking for, there's one thing that they do understand and that's dollars.

So, they're going to revert to the dollars and think, “Well, if that club's this and that club's this, well, martial arts is martial arts. They don't know any better.” Potentially they're going to go for the cheaper option. Right? Because there's no value attached to this figure. The price of a martial arts class, how do you justify that? 

So, because your price was listed on your website, you might have missed the chance to have the actual conversation with that person, because they just looked at it, and said, “Well, it was expensive. That's not what I want to pay.” And rightfully so. They don't want to pay that because they don't have any value attached to that price. They just see a price and a number, and they think they don't want to spend it.

Now, what if that person sat in front of you, and you showed them around your school, and you showed them the impact that you have on your students, and the value that they get, and your environment, and the club, and the quality, and the level of the instructors, and they got to experience that. Would they change their mind on the pricing? If they see, “well, this club is much cheaper, but you provide all this service.” 

Would they have gone with you? Probably, yes. Right? Because they got to experience the surrounding, but also they got the opportunity to build a relationship with you. Right? So, this is where it's way better to not have a price on your website because the price is not what should be discussed.

Let's face it, the cost of martial arts classes, people could say it's expensive, but compared to what? Because people pay way more for a car or way more on a night out. People spend so much more money on things compared to martial arts. So, saying it's expensive is, well, against what? Because they're spending more money on other things. You have got to think of the value that you can attach to your martial arts classes.

So, what do you have instead? Well, you should be looking at, well, where can you have a conversation? Where can you have a conversation with your prospect? So, your website should rather be optimized for conversions and conversations. Can they make an online inquiry, enter their name, detail, number, and email, and inquire online? Or maybe you have a chat icon on your website. Or your number is visible and they can contact you directly, or you can have an irresistible offer. 

What is an irresistible offer? You can download it on this page. Martialartsmedia.com/133, the number 133, and you can download our template, irresistible martial arts offer, the PDF worksheet, and we'll give you all the options of which numbers to use and how you can create an irresistible offer to promote your martial arts school.

Now, why would you want an irresistible offer instead of your club fees? Because the person that is just looking at the martial arts school, and they've never done martial arts before, and they might be nervous to give it a shot, but if they see an offer that’s irresistible, and there's value in it, and it feels risk-free because remember, this person is not… they're not sold on martial arts, potentially. Very few would be. Right? But more than likely, they would not be sold on martial arts hook, line, and sinker, so they're probably going to be hesitant. Right? 

So, we want to give them something that's of value, that they can try out, and what do we know? We know that if they try it out, and they're going to walk in, and they're going to experience it, then yeah, that person that was skeptical or was looking, has now completely changed to a person that's engaged and sold on the idea of martial arts, almost all martial arts school owners will tell me we've got no problem signing people up once they're through the door. Right? Because that's where the experience changes. 

So, why would you want to put obstacles in the way of them getting through the door? Makes sense. Right? I hope it does.

Now again, I've seen people get a bit weird about this. And I've seen well-respected martial arts school owners and coaches get really weird and hung up about this. Maybe because they were annoyed with a certain group that maybe appeared like they were unethical and spammy and they promoted not having prices on the website, and then they just deemed the idea as how those people approach the business world. And I can understand that. 

But what's important is to just take a step back and think, “Well, if I'm trying to serve my potential students the best, and I know I provide the best service, and the best martial arts, and create the biggest impact on my students, then I've got to do everything humanly possible to make sure that happens,” and that you can sign them up and change their lives, because you're really doing them a disservice if you don't sign them up. It's really in their best interest.

Now, what I didn't cover the first time I covered this topic was exceptions to the rule. Where would it maybe be a good idea to have your prices listed on your website? I want to be funny, but it's probably not funny. I say this tongue in cheek and not. You hate money. You think everybody is a McDojo that is more successful than you and charges more money than you, has more students than you, and you don't want to attract any more students. Right. Maybe true. Maybe not. Let's just take that for a grain of salt.

But here's a real exception to the rule. Right? A real exception to the rule is your brand exceeds the availability of students that you have. You have a huge reputation in the industry and people that… maybe it's an MMA or jiu-jitsu, or you are just seen as a professional martial artist that people typically follow and want to train with. So, your brand and reputation way exceeds the market demand. And you want to let people know that you are the premium martial arts school, and this is what you pay and you don't want time wasted. Now, just be careful about this. 

You obviously got to be in demand to be able to repel the people that you don't want to train with you, and we've got a few clients like that, where the leads are just so many that we structure our irresistible offer in a way that is a few hundred dollars extra, that the average inquiry will probably look at it and say, “No, that's not for me.” It does repel people, and they don't take up the offer. 

So, number one, your demand exceeds your supply. You've got leads coming in, everyone wants to train with you, and you put your price at a premium and you want people to know that. Or you are super famous and you are well known and respected in the space, and you want people to know that you are the premium provider. 

And then number three, you have a martial arts school at a holiday destination or place where people visit often and maybe they just come for two weeks or three weeks, and you've got packages available where people can train. Then that'll be a good idea to have your price listed on your website because then people know when they travel, what is available, and what they can do. Other than that, I still stand by episode number four, the best idea to not have your prices on your website.

What to do next? Well, if you want to know what you can put on your website, the one thing that makes or breaks in the conversation is the irresistible martial arts offer. Now, obviously, there are a few more components. Right? But if somebody has been looking around, and they're comparing clubs, and they're looking around and they get to your website and you provide an irresistible offer that feels like the risk is on you as the martial arts school owner and not on them, it feels like they can try it out. 

We know we don't want them to try it out, but we want to remove the risk of them trying it out. Then head over to this podcast page, martialartsmedia.com/133, and download the irresistible martial arts offer worksheet. And that'll get you started.

Anyway, thanks again for watching. Do go check out episode number four, just for its good value, and just for a laugh, a laugh just because it's super old and probably good to know that I haven't changed my stance on any of the things I discussed a good five years ago. Anyway, thanks again for watching. Thanks for listening. I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.


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

1. Download the Martial Arts Media™ Mobile App.

It's our new private community app exclusive for martial arts school owners, with top courses, online events, and free resources to help grow your business.  Click here to download it for iPhone or Android (any other device).

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

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month to get to 100+ students. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, get started with our 7-day risk-free trial – Click Here

3. Work With Me and My Team Privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, fill out the form and apply HERE … tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details – Click Here

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!


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