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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brett Fenton

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRETT: Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martial Arts Instructor

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Why Disney?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martial Arts Instructor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brett Fenton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRETT: That's okay.

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

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

BRETT: Yep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instructor team blueprint

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRETT: See you soon, absolutely.

 

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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Love it. Great opportunity to lead.

ZULFI: Thank you so much for your time. 

GEORGE: Thank you, Master Zulfi.

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

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92 – How To Stop Students From Canceling

In uncertain times, cancelations can escalate quickly. Here's a strategy you can implement right now to retain more members.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • How to adjust your martial arts business plans in uncertain times
  • Tips on how to run engaging online classes 
  • Sympathize vs. empathize
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

If students want to cancel, what is the plan? What is the plan that we need to implement, and how do we really install certainty? Let's look at this. Why do people want to cancel right now? Well, they're uncertain and there's some fear of the unknown.

Hey George, I hope you're well. I want to talk about how to stop students canceling their memberships right now. Right now we are in a bit of a challenging time in the martial arts industry. People are fearful, they aren't making rational decisions and they want to cancel their memberships. I want to give you a plan to navigate through that and stop your students from canceling and do what's the best thing for them right now. Let's explore the situation.

First up, and I was just discussing this with one of our Partners members, Peter, in a game plan session. We were looking at, all right, well if students want to cancel, what is the plan? What is the plan that we need to implement and how do we really install certainty? 

Because, let's look at this. Why do people want to cancel right now? Well, they're uncertain and there's some fear of the unknown. There's some fear of the unknown, and because there's fear, people would rather cancel things, horde, sit back, try and protect. So conversation has changed from aspirational to survival, okay?

That's the first situation that we're facing, is the whole frame of people's mindsets have completely changed in the matter of a week as of the time of recording this. People want to cancel because they are uncertain. Now, how do we remove uncertainty? Well, we give a plan. This is why it's so important to be on top of the situation about what's happening in the world right now, because you want to be that source of inspiration.

You've been training for this your entire life. As your martial arts school owner, you have been teaching confidence, resilience, all this that you've been through is what's going to count for you right now, because this is your opportunity to lead.

Let's be realistic. These people are fearful. If you can be that source of confidence, and help people see a plan for the future, then people are going to bond with you more than they ever did before. Right now is your time to lead, and step up, and show the path to how we are going to navigate through this.

First up, what are you going to need? You're going to need a plan. You're going to need a plan, and I'll share with you how you can get a plan for free from us right now. You're going to need a plan. Now let's look at how we handle this conversation.

In our Partners program, we've got a program called Sales 101. Sales 101 Strategy. It's all about really establishing the value, more so pointing out the real value, focusing on the real reason why people want to train martial arts.

I'll give a quick example. I'm sure you get the objection. How much is this? Our strategy for that is to steer the conversation away from price and to the real reason, because let's face it, it's never about the price, it's about they just don't know what to ask, right?

So, it's easier to ask for the pricing. Yep. It might be for the price sometimes, but really people don't know what to ask, and they don't know what martial arts is going to provide for them.

It's important to always take conversations back to, well, what is it that you actually want out of this? So, if somebody does ask you for the price, it's good to say, “Cool, I'm happy to talk about the price, but is it okay if I just ask you a few questions just to make sure if our martial arts programs are right for you or not?” Okay, cool. Now you've shifted a logical price conversation to an emotional drive conversation, okay?

Let me show you how we use this strategy right now to stop cancellations. Well, somebody wants to cancel. Now we can approach this with two mindsets. One, sympathize. Sympathizing is not the right way to go, obviously. Now, why would you sympathize? Because, potentially if you've been soaking up everything that's going on in the media, and you're feeling fearful, and you're scared of what's coming, your head might be in the sand right now. 

If your head's in the sand, and not looking forward, and somebody else is saying they want to cancel, you might just sympathize because you actually feel the same way, and you think that there's no other alternative. You might just say “It's okay. We totally understand.”

Okay, so sympathizing is one way. We don't want to go there. What would we want to do is empathize, empathize, and then we want to lead, okay? How that might play out is somebody says, “I want to cancel.”

We don't disagree with them and say, “Yes, look, totally cool. I get that you want to cancel, and I know that things are a little uncertain right now.” But then we transitioned to leadership. “But is it okay if we just stall this cancel conversation just for a little bit, because what I really want to talk about more importantly is about you.”

Maybe you can even pause there, right, let's talk about you. What's going on in your life right now? How are things going? This is an opportunity for you to bond with your students, lead and bond. Now you can get someone talking about their situation and what's going on. This is where you really just need to listen. The more you can listen, the more you're going to connect, and the more you're going to establish a relationship here. 

Now you can start shifting the conversation back, as we did with a price objection, and we can look at it and say, “Okay, just curious. Can you recall why you started training martial arts with us?”, and get them talking about that? “What was the real thing that you needed to get out of your martial arts training?” It was X, Y, and Z.

Okay. Now, person, let me ask you a serious question yet here. With all this happening in the world right now, do you think it's going to be a wise move to start neglecting your health, and not exercising, and not training anymore? No, of course not because it's not, right?

What is the most important thing right now? It's health, it's safety, it's security, it's looking after ourselves. If we don't look after ourselves, then we can't be our best for everyone else around us. If there's one thing that's more important right now it's martial arts, and now the conversation has shifted.

This is where you have an opportunity to present your plan. Say, “Look, I understand things are like this right down. But if your health is important to you as you say it is,” Or maybe not frame it in a way that sounds, just come from a good place of intent, because you care, and that's why you are having this conversation, and this is why I'm having this conversation with you, because I really care about you staying afloat and you making your business navigating through this, right?

Now you can shift and really discuss your plan. Say, “Look, as you say, your health is important to you, and this is important to you. So, here is what we are going to do.” Affirm it. “This is what we are going to do. Right now, we've reduced our classes, we've done this, we're going online.” Now you've got to present the plan. 

But here's why it's important that you've got the plan. Because if you don't have a plan, you can't deliver an alternative, and right now you want to be ahead of the plan. So if anything else happens, you know governments, things, start to do things and shut things down or whatever they do, you want to be ahead of this.

You need a plan. Now, if you don't have a plan yet, I spent the last weekend when things started to unfold and I spent 48 hours. Told my family I'm staying at the office, and I recorded in total about 15 videos to show you exactly how you can make a pivot. It's called the Martial Arts Pivot Plan, and it's about how to take your classes online.

Now, a lot of people are talking about this. I've been doing this for about 10 years. I've been living in this digital world for 10 years, and that's why I really wanted to get this out.

Because, if there's something that I know that I could really help with, it's a world I already live in, and for me it's just backtracking, taking a few steps back, and showing you how you can go about this the right way.

Because, a lot of guys are talking about doing it and I see a lot of guys showing off fancy TVs and equipment, and to me that creates obstacles because it's not about that. There's other elements that are way more important than fancy equipment. It's about getting it right and getting it going fast and being able to leverage what you do on the back-end.

So, look, I've put this training together for you. It's 100% free, as in 100% free. It's there, it's uploaded into our member’s area. If you go to martialartsmedia.com/online-class, so martialartsmedia.com/online-class, that will take you there. Just log in, we'll email you a username and password, get stuck in, but please, if you're watching this, do that right now. Do not delay. Do that. Go through the videos. 

If you get value out of it, just share it. Please share it with someone else. Please share it with another school owner that could benefit from this right now. If you've got any questions, reach out to me wherever you watch this video, and ask me a question or you can join our free Facebook group, martialartsmedia.group, so martialartsmedia.group, not.com, .group and just click to join there. I will approve that and let you in and all of this.

Good luck. There are options, right? This is not doomsday. This is a little dip, and we're going to move through this, but it's important just to do the right things right now, and capitalize on the opportunity. Because, if you have time now to add value to your existing programs, add value to your existing membership, and really an opportunity to provide more value to your existing student base, which is really what this is about, they make use of the time and do it.

Look, I hope that it's useful. Grab that course, get it going and let me know how you go. All the best. I'm rooting for you. You've got this. Speak soon. Cheers.

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

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

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

91 – How To Train And Teach Martial Arts With A Disability

Sam Broughton proves that anything is possible and shares how to overcome the challenges of training martial arts with cerebral palsy.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • How Sam copes with his limitations and overcomes challenges in training martial arts
  • The common barriers that people with disabilities face when trying out martial arts
  • How martial arts can benefit people who are disabled or have cerebral palsy
  • Sam’s mindset in running a martial arts school in a small town with small population
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

I think a lot of people or almost everyone that walks into a martial arts school has a really good idea of where they would like to be. They also generally know quite well what their limitations are and what things are stopping them to get there. The thing that a lot of people really struggle with is those smaller steps in between. So they know the start point and they know the endpoint, but they're not sure on the thing they should focus on first. 

GEORGE: Cool. Hey, this is George and welcome to another Martial Arts Media Business Podcast. Today, I'm chatting with a good friend of mine, Sam Broughton. Now, fortunately enough, I speak with Sam pretty frequently. He’s part of our Partners program where I work with school owners and help them with their lead generation and marketing and so forth. 

So we chat on a frequent basis, but I really wanted to bring Sam on because he's a wealth of knowledge, lives in a very small town in Port Lincoln, which people say they live in a small town and they can't reach a market. Sam is about to squash that whole idea, as well. And, yeah. We've got some interesting things to chat about. So, hey. Welcome to the call, Sam. 

SAM: Thanks very much, George. 

GEORGE: Cool. So just to kick things off, if you could give us just a bit of a background. Who is Sam? How did you get into martial arts and how did your whole journey evolve? 

SAM: Okay, cool. So as you said, I run a martial arts school here in Port Lincoln. I teach standup self-defence, Muay Thai, and some Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I started martial arts around 20 years ago now, when I was 14 years old, training in stand-up, I was training in Zen Do Kai. I always wanted to do some martial arts, but it was something that I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to do.

Actually, I have a physical disability called cerebral palsy that affects my legs, balance, coordination, that kind of thing. So I was always inspired by martial arts movies, Bruce Lee, the same kind of stuff most people are getting into martial arts for initially, but I just needed to find the right open-minded instructor that was willing to take me on. And from there, I never looked back.

GEORGE: Awesome. Cool. And we'll chat a bit more about that, but I guess just to touch on the business side of things and just for everyone listening, it's Spektrum Martial Arts. Spektrum with a K. I want to backtrack more into your journey, but how do you find running a school in a smaller town? Are there certain challenges that you're aware of or is it just, hey, this is just the way it is and we just do what we do, either way? 

SAM: The obvious challenge, I guess, would be the population density. We've got about 16,000 people in Port Lincoln, itself, and some smaller outlying communities. There's definitely that, as a challenge. But I guess the other thing, too, is less competition we are the only full-time school here.

Initially, I always thought of the population thing as a challenge, but then when I actually looked at the amount of students that I needed and that I envisioned for my business and the actual percent of the population that that was, that made it seem like a more manageable task. 

GEORGE: Okay. So you started martial arts when you were 14. 

SAM: Yep, that's right. 

GEORGE: Okay. Having the disability, cerebral palsy, how did you overcome that to actually take a step? Were there sporting things that you did before you got into martial arts? Or how did you go about that? 

SAM: There were some sports I tried, some team sports in different things, and some of those experiences were good, some not so good. But I think the thing that really kind of pushed me in my childhood to try things was the way I was raised.

I've got a twin brother that I grew up with and an older sister but, especially having a twin brother, he has fully able-bodied so, while he wanted to ride bush bikes and climb trees and do all those normal things, I just kind of followed along behind and just found my own way to do it. 

And my mum, especially, she never really wrapped me up in cotton wool, although she probably wanted to. She never told me I couldn't do anything. She always just encouraged me just to give it a go, modify things where I needed to, and I got pretty good at finding a different way to get the same result. 

GEORGE: All right. So in your experience, what type of challenges did you face just up until before the whole martial arts thing even started? What type of challenges do you face, just on a day to day, just getting through things? And especially from the childhood stage.

SAM: Yeah. I had a bunch of surgeries, corrective surgeries, as a kid. So there was definitely that. Lots of rehabs, learning to walk again, those kinds of things. In and out of the hospital. I had to be very focused and very disciplined working through all my rehabilitation. So that was tough.

Because of those things, I kind of stood out at school because, quite often, I was in a wheelchair. I had plaster or walking stick and those kinds of things. So that was a little bit tricky, always explaining to people what was going on, getting looks from people in the street and all that kind of thing I grew up with. 

And everyone's always asking the question, especially kids who don't necessarily understand, “Oh, what's happening with your legs? How come you walk like that?” All those sorts of things. Most people were just genuinely curious, so I got pretty good at handling that.

And then, obviously, I had a little bit of the more so discrimination, derogatory type things. That was mostly a minimum. I think, too, because I had a pretty tight circle of friends around me, they kept a lot of that out of the way, as well. 

GEORGE: I would just think that would be probably the toughest thing to handle, as a kid. Bullying, as in a big sense, people getting bullied about just simple things. And for you, you actually have a real challenge. It's not like someone's laughing at you, hey, because you've got a booger wiped on your shirt. 

It's not just something happening, an embarrassing moment. You've got a real thing that you've got to deal with every day and you've kind of got to make peace with that it's not really going away. I guess you feel fortunate. You were saying that you had a family that really supported you and so forth. How do you find that people, in general, with your situation, actually deal with that? How do you really overcome all those tougher challenges? 

SAM: Well, for me, I was born like this. It might've been different if I was fully able-bodied and then there was some kind of accident to cause me to be this way, but I was always like this. It was my everyday life, from day one.

So I was used to finding different ways to do things and overcome challenges and things like that. I struggled quite a bit when I was younger, sometimes understanding why people would treat me differently because this was normal for me. It was everything that I'd ever had.

And when people talked about, “Oh, you've got a disability,” or, “You're not the same as everyone else,” that kind of thing, I didn't really understand that as a kid because I was kind of like, “Well, I'm just like you. This is the way that I've always been.”

But then, as I said, on the other side of that, I had a lot of people encouraging me, helping me along, willing to work with me, sometimes modify group activities so I could be included and things like that. So it was definitely a challenge, especially as a kid, but one that I worked hard to overcome.

GEORGE: Yeah. Amazing. So let's walk into the martial arts space. So you built up the courage to start martial arts. How did that then evolve and get going? 

SAM: I was fortunate enough to have a really good instructor from day dot, that was just happy to basically have me along to class and see what I could do. He was really open to just sort of assess me on my own merits and not really rule me out of doing any kind of activity. He was just happy for me to give everything a shot. I've progressed through belt grades and things like that by showing my knowledge in the syllabus and the requirements and demonstrating what I could. 

And I also have become a little bit more advanced, a little bit more experienced and got into helping out with a little bit of teaching of the techniques that I couldn't do, the high kicks and things like that that I couldn't physically demonstrate, he started getting me to teach those to lower-level students to help show that, maybe I couldn't demonstrate the technique physically, but I certainly had the understanding.

But as long as through a combination of being able to physically demonstrate techniques as most people would, but also teach them and show that I had the understanding of the things that I couldn't do, he was always happy to grade me and help me progress in that way. 

GEORGE: Got it. And sorry, what was his name again? 

SAM: Andrew Adriaens was his name. 

GEORGE: Andrew Adriaens. And which school? Just so we give him some credit. 

SAM: He runs a Zen Do Kai school in Port Augusta in South Australia, which is about three and a half hours from where I am now. 

GEORGE: Okay, cool. So you started off in Zen Do Kai and now … What's your main focus in martial arts at this point? Still Zen Do Kai or … I know you also do jiu-jitsu. 

SAM: Yeah. I still teach a lot of stand-up classes. Also do some Muay Thai kickboxing within that, as well. And probably for the last 10 years or so, quite a bit of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. 

GEORGE: All right. So now, we talk about the challenges, but where do you feel you have an advantage? Because I'm sure that there are challenges, but you have to approach things on a whole different level. How do you go about that? 

SAM: Definitely advantage is definitely the area that I've kind of been focused on most of my life. Being born the way I am, I never really had anything kind of taken away. So I didn't really understand what I was missing, but as I got older and definitely got into martial arts, I started to understand how I could use what I had. 

I had quite a lot of upper-body strength from having to push myself around in wheelchairs and pull myself along and use my arms where I couldn't use my legs. So that was definitely an advantage. And anyone that knows me well will also tell you how stubborn I am. I don't give up easily and I think that's really good and productive, having a lot of challenges thrown at you early in life. 

And probably the other thing that I alluded to a little bit earlier is I couldn't just demonstrate techniques and maybe kind of bluff my way through showing understanding like that. I really had to be able to verbalize the technique and be able to explain it in fine details for a student that had no idea what I was talking about or that I couldn't even give a physical demonstration of the technique.

I had to explain those techniques in words, try to get that result of that technique into the student without maybe having to rely on a physical demonstration. So I had to really learn how to break things down and verbalize techniques really, really well. 

GEORGE: I like that. I mean, how do you really go about that? Is it just a really super intense focus of, look, I've got to look at something and I've got to break it down? Do you have a process that you go about? 

SAM: Obviously, I start by looking at the end result of the technique. That's obviously the thing that I need to make happen. And then I sort of try to backtrack and look at what are the working parts of that technique that made that thing happen?

How can I use my arms and sometimes my legs, to some extent, to try to get that same result? So I needed to really understand how a technique actually works to get me from the point I am to the point that I'd like to go to. 

GEORGE: All right. That's with your own training and then with the teaching. Okay. Let's just start with other instructors. If you had to speak to other instructors that had to teach people that are in the same situation as you are, how would you go about actually educating them on how to do that properly? 

SAM: Yeah. I would say, first of all, just be open and take the student as they come. Let them tell you what they think they maybe can and can't do. They've lived with their particular challenge their whole life, so they're very aware of what capabilities they have and also ways that they can modify techniques.

It's really a collaborative effort because, as an instructor, to have a student with a disability, they can't necessarily follow that same path, that same lesson, that same even syllabus, to some degree. 

They're used to using all of their other students. It's really a collaborative effort of, “Okay, usually I would use this technique. Let's see how that would work for you.” You can't quite make that happen but, as an instructor, kind of try to work out where those students strengths are, what they can and can't do, and then use their martial arts knowledge to try to get that student to the same point. 

Like I said before, I think one of the things that everyone focuses on the disability because it's obvious, because you can see it, but it's not until they get to know the person that they start to realize, “Oh, no. Hang on. They've got all these other kinds of extra attributes because they've been through that early in their lives.” 

GEORGE: Do you have anybody that you teach that's in the same situation? 

SAM: Yeah. I've got two students at the moment that have cerebral palsy, a little bit different to my own. I've got one student that has what's called hemiplegia, which is a little bit different to me. My cerebral palsy just affects my legs. His cerebral palsy is down one side, so it's one arm and one leg. He does a lot of jiu-jitsu and some stand-up, as well, so his rips are a lot different. 

His ability to make a fist and fine motor skills with lapels and things like that with jiu-jitsu are a little bit more challenged than most. And his ability in striking is a little bit modified, kicks and things like that. So that's an interesting problem for me as a coach. I've also got a student who actually had sepsis and doesn't have a hand and actually has no feet, as well. So that's a really interesting challenge for me. 

GEORGE: For you, you've had support. Even having the support, it's a tough road to work. Right? Now, let's say you have somebody that inquires about martial arts. Maybe you've got a parent listening to this and the parent doesn't have faith in the child. It's coming from the top, almost, that they just … maybe they feel challenged by the situation, themselves.

They've got a child and they don't know if the child can do this and it's actually fearful for themselves that they're going to create hardship for their child because they're going to put their child in a situation. 

Perhaps, they're not going to cope with it or they're going to have those obstacles. How do you have that mental conversation? How would you have that mental conversation with someone? And let's say, if not that direct, but if someone had to actually walk into the school and they were toying with the idea of martial arts. 

SAM: It's a really interesting conversation because, as I said, every student, every child is different, anyway. And then you're putting disability on top of that. Then you just add that difficulty, add that complexity, but I think it's got to start with an openness from the parent just to allow their child to have a go and just see what they can do because they can get the same things out of martial arts that anyone else can, but obviously their path is going to be a little bit different. 

And I think it's definitely a big mindset challenge on the student's part to understand that there's going to be challenges, there's going to be obstacles. There's no sort of cookie-cutter path that they can follow that's going to lead to sort of X result. If they're willing to put the time in, put the work in, and kind of do that collaborative journey with their instructor, then they can definitely reach the same result and milestone. 

GEORGE: Perfect. And if you had to say that to someone directly in your shoes, what would you say to them if they're having the challenges and thinking, “Oh, could I? Should I? Shouldn't I?” And having those doubts and that resistance? And it's so funny. We have this conversation and I think it's something I could ask almost anyone, right? 

Because a lot of people, before they start martial arts, they've got this … and now it almost feels like this imaginary obstacle. Right? They've got this obstacle that they don't want to start because of XY reason, which is factually so small, in comparison. How would you have that conversation with someone directly, in similar shoes to you? 

SAM: Yeah. Well, we talk a lot about future pacing when we're talking about signups and intros and things like that. And I think a lot of people or almost everyone that walks into a martial arts school has a really good idea of where they would like to be. They also generally know quite well what their limitations are and what the things are that are stopping them to get there.

The thing that a lot of people really struggle with is those smaller steps in between. So they know the start point and they know the endpoint, but they're not sure on the thing they should focus on first. 

And some of the problems, too, or limitations that they might have might seem quite big and they don't know how to tackle them. They don't know what small steps that they need to focus on. So I think that's really important. Creating a start point and an endpoint, but a lot of small steps, as many as that student needs, in order to be able to sort of make that journey. 

GEORGE: Because again, it's not a cookie-cutter approach, but if you had to think of one or two situations where you could install confidence quickly … somebody starts and you've painted this future pace and you've painted this journey that this will be where you want to go, this is how we want to go, is there something that you can do that's the quickest confidence-builder in that situation to install some confidence to move forward? 

SAM: Yeah. Most definitely. I would say, definitely focus on what you can do and not what you can't do. And often when you do that, some of those things that you can't do, I've found those problems kind of solve themselves or you find ways around them quite easily. And I think jiu-jitsu, for me, has been a massive example of that. There are tons of tons and techniques when I started as a white belt that seemed like I'd never been able to do them or lack of motor skills or flexibility, things like that. 

And of course, a lot of people have that in jiu-jitsu because, a lot of the movements, they're quite foreign and they're not relatable to things that we do as humans in everyday life. It was a little extra for me and it was a lot of techniques that I just kind of ruled out from day one, like, “I won't know how to do that, I won't know how to do that.” 

Now, with 10 years’ experience and a purple belt, finding other ways to do those techniques is something that I actually really enjoy and something that I'm bringing a lot of stuff into my game now that I never thought that I'd be able to do when I stepped on the mat as a white belt on day one. So if you give it a little bit of time and you build up that little bit of experience and knowledge, then you become almost like your own coach, to some degree, because you know your own body and you also know a little bit about the martial art, you know a little bit about the system. You can start to develop those techniques and then run them back through your instructor as a little bit of a filter. 

GEORGE: Got you. Now, you still Zen Do Kai and jiu-jitsu, right? So I know you're teaching both. And you're still actively training both? 

SAM: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. 

GEORGE: Okay. So it's on the jiu-jitsu side, who's helping you with that journey, at the moment? 

SAM: My jiu-jitsu instructor is John Will. I don't think I could've chosen a better jiu-jitsu coach for myself, personally, because he's been 100% invested, 100% willing to do this journey side by side with me. He enjoys actually kind of solving the problem that me and my disability kind of present.

As a coach, he's really into that. He's really into finding ways to get those same results for me as he would for any other student. That's definitely something that he's taught me, as well, to have that kind of mental, analytical-type approach, really look at breaking a technique down into its working parts and really try to understand what's happening and re-engineer or reverse engineer the technique to fit me. 

GEORGE: Awesome. And I know, because the other day just before we jumped on a call, you were actually chatting to John by Skype. So with you being in a different location, I take it you travel a lot, but is there also a lot of things that you really, in your case, break down just on Skype chats and things like that? 

SAM: Yeah. Luckily for me, John Will, he's made himself super accessible for me. I travel over to Geelong to train with him, face to face, quite often to train with the students at his school. They're always great. They really look after me when I go over there.

But we also do a Skype lesson every fortnight, which is ultra-cool. He'll be on the other side of the camera explaining techniques, breaking them down and coaching me through them. I'll be on the mat with a training partner and working through those techniques.

Sometimes, he'll have a partner on his end and I'll be watching a physical demonstration and following the verbal instructions, as well. And other times, he'll quite literally just be basically on his couch in his lounge room talking me through the techniques, step, by step, by step. And it's just that he knows me well enough as a student to know what I'm able to physically do and he knows his techniques inside out. He can talk me through exactly what I need to do to make those techniques happen. 

And even sometimes, I'll say to him, “Oh, I've got an idea about this technique. Can I show you?” And we'll break the technique down and look at the pros and cons of what I've kind of thought of or come across to do in a given situation. And he'll do the same. Sometimes he'll say, “Oh, I've got this technique that might be really good for you. Let's try it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't quite work, but we always end up with something we can take away from it. 

GEORGE: Fascinating stuff. Okay, awesome. Sam, it's so great to really speak to you on this level and getting to know your real story, how you've evolved and got into the whole martial arts journey. Before we wrap things up, you're running a really successful school, Spektrum Martial Arts. You're doing really great things. What's known as a, as you said, there are 16,000 people in the town. Any advice you would give to someone in that same situation that's running a small school in a small town or a smaller market? 

SAM: There are definitely advantages with word of mouth, with being known in the community on a face-to-face kind of basis. It's probably much easier in a small community to build up a little bit more of a public kind of a profile than maybe it would be in a larger community. And I think, focus on your strengths and focus on how you can maybe diversify what you offer a little bit.

Obviously, as I said, we have three different martial arts styles, so that was part of the reason that I decided to branch out from just doing stand-up to start doing some jiu-jitsu, as well, just to cater for that market. It made it a little bit easier for me to open a school and kind of cater for a more varied kind of a population than if I maybe just did just the one martial arts style. 

Be realistic about the kind of numbers that you're going to get, but also understand that … and this is one thing that we did early on that was really good for me with you, George. I worked out that, to have my goal number of students at my school, that was only 2.3% of the population of all of Port Lincoln.

So 16,000 seems like a really small ball to work with in terms of marketing and the student base and things like that, your total number that you'd be happy with, with your school pumping and you work out that it's only 2.3% of the population, it makes it seem much more doable. 

GEORGE: Yeah. Love it. Awesome. Hey, Sam, thanks for much for being on. If anybody wants to reach out, have a chat either about your school does this, getting started, if someone's listening in Port Lincoln or somebody that has a disability and got this mental challenge of do I start, how do I go about it? If somebody wants to reach out to you, what's the best way to do that? 

SAM: I'm more than happy to help anyone wherever I can. They can either look me up on Facebook, Sam Broughton on Facebook or feel free to message me on my school's page, Spektrum Martial Arts. 

GEORGE: Sam, thanks so much for being on. I'll speak to you soon. 

SAM: Thank you, George.

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

90 – Do You Groom ‘A Player’ Martial Arts Instructors, Or Hire the ‘A Players’?

How do you know which path to take when hiring new staff or martial arts instructors?

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN: 

  • How to groom high-potential martial arts instructors
  • When to let go of an instructor who isn’t a ‘good fit’ for your school
  • Why you can't afford to ignore your employee’s bad behavior 
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

Quick question for you. Do you groom your staff to become A players or do you just make sure that you actually choose the A players?

Hey George here, so a bit of a windy morning in Perth. Hope it doesn't cloud our sound completely. Quick question for you. Do you groom your staff to become A players or do you just make sure that you actually choose the A players?

Two quick stories that I want to share with you. I was talking to one of our Partners members a couple of days ago and he’s really frustrated with his staff member and things not going to plan.

This actual staff member did something quite horrific. It's the things that could land him in jail and he’s doing it under the business name. If things like this had to actually hit the news, it could potentially shut his business down.

How much do you actually tolerate? At what point do you say that's enough? Do you just stick it out? I guess the problem is they are such a valuable asset to the business because they are great instructors, they are teaching, the kids like them and they've formed this bond. 

But now you're in this situation where potentially it's gone to the person's head, or they just don't feel like they want to abide by the rules, or they're a great instructor but when it comes to sticking to rules and some common sense with things that you can or can't do. So what do you do? At what point do you have to pull the plug? 

For me, just in a similar situation where I had a staff member that I probably should have let go of a long time ago, but because they are just such a nice person, shows up on time, and does a lot of things right, it was just really hard to actually make the call. But at the end of the day the question came to, are they an A player or are they not an A player?

Here's the thing, you can try and fix things, you can try and motivate, you can try and enforce some rules, you can try and set up some consequences, but sometimes you just got to reach the point where you actually just got to make the call and pull the plug, not just for you and protecting your business, but also protecting the culture in your business. 

Because if you let things slide that your other staff members can see that this is okay. It's okay to behave like this. It's okay to break rules. It's okay to do stupid things that could land you up in jail or shut the business down. Then what example are you setting for everybody else in the business? If that becomes acceptable behaviour and it's an acceptable practice, not going into details of it, but what are the consequences for your business, but also for your culture and all your other staff members?

At the end of the day, you'd just create this culture of it's okay to suck. It's okay to be average. It's okay to do things your own way and not think of the bigger picture, which is your business.

I'd love to know from you, at what point do you pull the plug and what do you do to actually keep your stuff in line and keep them in check, making sure that everybody's on the same mission, following the same values, and on the same mission to serve your students at the end of the day? Would love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below this video, wherever you're watching it.

I'm going to head back to the office. Have a great week. Speak soon. Cheers.

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

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

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .Com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

 

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

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

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

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HENRY: Exactly.

GEORGE: So visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

HENRY: Kinesthetic, hand on.

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

HENRY: The country or state?

GEORGE: Master C!

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Amazing.

HENRY: Good story?

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

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

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

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

HENRY: Good!

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

HENRY: San Diego is a beautiful place.

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

HENRY: Very welcome, you have a great day.

 

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42 – Amy Gardam: Living a Martial Arts Family Legacy

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

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMY: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMY: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Ok, cool.

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

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

martial arts family

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

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

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

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

AMY: Exactly, thank you.

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

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

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

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

martial arts family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

martial arts family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

martial arts family

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

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

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

AMY: That would be great, thank you.

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

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

GEORGE: Bye.

 

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

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

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

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

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

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Ok, awesome.

ADEL: Yeah, that's it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: That's fascinating.

ADEL: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

ADEL: Really? Oh my God!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADEL: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADEL: Yeah, yeah.

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

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

GEORGE: And you have the link?

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: That was the genius hack that I did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Awesome, chat soon!

ADEL: Take care George, thank you!

 

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Email is not recognized as a secure medium of communication. For this reason, we request that you do not send private information to us by email. However, doing so is allowed, but at your own risk. Some of the information you may enter on our website may be transmitted securely via a secure medium known as Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. Credit Card information and other sensitive information is never transmitted via email.

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For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, uses software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy, currency or completeness of the content contain on this website or any sites linked to this site.

All the materials on this site are provided “as is” without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of merchantability, noninfringement of intellectual property or fitness for any particular purpose. In no event shall or its agents or associates be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of profits, business interruption, loss of information, injury or death) arising out of the use of or inability to use the materials, even if has been advised of the possibility of such loss or damages.

Policy Changes

We reserve the right to amend this privacy policy at any time with or without notice. However, please be assured that if the privacy policy changes in the future, we will not use the personal information you have submitted to us under this privacy policy in a manner that is materially inconsistent with this privacy policy, without your prior consent.

We are committed to conducting our business in accordance with these principles in order to ensure that the confidentiality of personal information is protected and maintained.

Contact

If you have any questions regarding this policy, or your dealings with our website, please contact us here:

Martial Arts Media™
Suite 218
5/115 Grand Boulevard
Joondalup WA
6027
Australia

Email: team (at) martialartsmedia dot com

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