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

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


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: All right. 

GEORGE: Something is happening here. 

KYL: Spot on. 

GEORGE: I’ve got to get comfortable. 

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

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

George Fourie, how are you, my friend? 

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

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

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

GEORGE: All right. Seven minutes. All right. 

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

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

KYL: What part of South Africa? 

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

KYL: As you should.

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

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

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

GEORGE: 12. 

KYL: Okay. 

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: 1980s– I finished school in 1995. 

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

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

KYL: That was the way it is.

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: No, no, no. 

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

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

GEORGE: I hated school. I hated the rules. 

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

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

KYL: This wasn't you. 

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

KYL: Got it over and done with? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah, right. 

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

GEORGE: I didn’t. 

KYL: You didn't? 


KYL: Okay, cool. 

GEORGE: I studied computer programming. 

KYL: All right.

Martial Arts Media

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

KYL: This is late, late 90s? 

GEORGE: This is 97. 

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: Okay. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: So, it's like a– 

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

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

KYL: Oh, God. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

KYL: Okay. Good one. 

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

KYL: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Martial Arts Media George Fourie

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: Thanks? 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

KYL: How old were you when this happened? 

GEORGE: 28, 28. 

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah, of course. 

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

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

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

GEORGE: Yeah. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

KYL: Okay. 

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

KYL: I know what you mean, yeah. 

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

KYL: There's a massive gap. 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

KYL: Oh my God. 

GEORGE: -which is just a crazy city. 

KYL: Never sleeps? 

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

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

KYL: Work hard, party harder. 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

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

GEORGE: It was merged.  

KYL: Roger. 

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

KYL: That's what I mean.

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

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

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

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

KYL: And all sorts. 

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

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

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

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

KYL: Mate, I told you… 

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

KYL: Got to grow off a little bit. 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

KYL: Oh, geez. 

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

KYL: What year are we in now?

GEORGE: 2006. 

KYL: Okay. 

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah, right. 

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: Like, “I'm leaving tomorrow.” 

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

KYL: Jesus. 

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

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

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

KYL: Oh, you gave in. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

KYL: Would you believe it? 

GEORGE: It was– 

KYL: That’s what you know. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martial arts marketing

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

KYL: Are your business brains kicking in? 

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

KYL: Yeah, yeah. 

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

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

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

KYL: No. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: You’re in it. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

KYL: 100%.

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: That's doing itself. 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

George Fourie Martial Arts Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: You're an early riser? 

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

KYL: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly right. 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

KYL: It's what you can do. 

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

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

GEORGE: Yeah, a hundred percent. 

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

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Coffee. 

KYL: How many a day? 

GEORGE: Three. I could turn it down. 

KYL: Go to mix? 

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

KYL: Yeah, so just a flat white? 

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

KYL: Okay.


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

GEORGE: Grind the beans, yep. 

KYL: Okay. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martial arts marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: I've got nothing. 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

KYL: That is what Jiu-Jitsu is. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Interesting, yeah. 

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

KYL: Yes. 

GEORGE: Yeah, very humbling. 

KYL: Much. 

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

KYL: You and the sea? 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

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

GEORGE: Coffee machine? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: It does it to perfection. 

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

GEORGE: Well, I wrote martialartsmedia.com. 

KYL: Okay. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

GEORGE: 100%. 

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

KYL: What’s that? 

GEORGE: How do you get accused? 

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

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah, it is. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: What are you listening to at the moment? 

GEORGE: Scientific advertising. 

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

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

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

GEORGE: No. Sometimes at 1.25. 

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

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

KYL: So do I. 

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

KYL: Have you got a fourth one? 

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

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

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

GEORGE: Full-time drummer.

KYL: Full-time what? 

GEORGE: Drummer. 

KYL: Drummer. 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

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

GEORGE: Tool. 

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

GEORGE: What did you expect? 

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

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

KYL: Have you ever seen him live? 

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

KYL: Okay. Oh, yeah. Yeah. 

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

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

GEORGE: He did? 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: We were pretty good. 

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: We got number 10 on the local charts. 

KYL: Okay. 

GEORGE: National South African charts. 

KYL: That’s a win. 

GEORGE: A band called Ordeal 

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: Wow. 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

KYL: Yep. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

GEORGE: All right. Something is happening here. 

KYL: Spot on. 

GEORGE: I’ve got to get comfortable. 

KYL: You've got to do it. 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

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

Martial arts school marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: That's right. 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYL: No. 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah, remove all the bullshit. 

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

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

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

GEORGE: A hundred percent. 

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

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

KYL: Yeah. Yeah. I have. I have. 

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

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

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

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

KYL: Okay. 

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

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

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

GEORGE: 100%. 

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

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

KYL: Okay. 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

GEORGE: With distractions? 

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

KYL: Yeah. 

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

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

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

GEORGE: Great. That’s awesome. 

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

George, thank you very much for your time. 

GEORGE: Thank you. 

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

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

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

GEORGE: Thank you. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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140 – Signing Up New Martial Arts Students With Dead Leads

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


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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139 – Refining Retention After Massive Martial Arts Business Growth

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


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINDSAY:  Excellent. Where would you like to start?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martial Arts Business Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE:  Or they start training in Jiu-Jitsu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE:  We edit nothing in this podcast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


GEORGE:  I just want to see.

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

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

GEORGE:  FightCross for the Partners Intensive.

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

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

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

GEORGE:  They see it, they buy it.

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

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

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


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

Martial Arts Business Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: 117.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE:  That's great.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE:  100%.

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

GEORGE:  Thanks, Lindsay. Speak soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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138 – Building A Thriving Martial Arts Business For Generational Wealth

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


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Scott | martial arts business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE:  Interesting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE:  Nice.

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Scott | Martial Arts Business

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

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

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

GEORGE:  Right. Yeah, I do actually.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martial arts business wealth

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

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

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

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

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

MICHAEL:  30 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martial arts business wealth | Martial Arts Super Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martial arts business wealth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

martial arts business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MICHAEL:  100%.

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

MICHAEL:  Yeah. You can't go past it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MICHAEL:  They're happy. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE:  Unconscious competence. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE:  Awesome. It was great. Thanks.

MICHAEL:  All right, George. Take care.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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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?


  • 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.


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.

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89 – The 8 Key Factors Needed For High Performing Martial Arts Websites

Get your martial arts website attracting new students organically with these 8 key performance factors.


  • Why George shifted from building martial arts websites
  • The 8 key performance areas that you need for a high converting martial arts website
  • Changes to mobile usability that you can’t ignore
  • What Google assesses on your martial arts website for a quality score
  • The one topic rarely considered with martial arts websites and ownership
  • And more

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


The key thing is that with all that marketing that you're talking about, all that lead generation, you spending money on ads. You don't want that to be going to a website where you're losing money because people are turned off by something on your website or they didn't get the message that needs to be there to get them to buy.

GEORGE: Hey, this is George and welcome to another episode of the Martial Arts Media business podcast. Today I have a different guest on board. I'm going to say why, but we're going to be talking about websites. Websites, optimization of websites, conversions and the importance of it. So just a quick introduction, Justin Meadows from TunedWp.

JUSTIN: Thank you for having me on the podcast.

GEORGE: Awesome, you're welcome. Just before we get into what we're going to talk about today. Just a bit of content, depending on how long you've followed my podcast or martialartsmedia.com. You know that a big component of what we've always provided for the industry is websites. Websites, and how to convert your websites. Justin and I have actually been in the same coaching group for only like a good last five, six.

JUSTIN: Yes, at least.

GEORGE: I'll give a good mention to James Schramko who is from superfastbusiness.com, which is a coaching community we've been a part of. And the reason I mentioned that is because we come from the same understanding of websites – the value of owning your own assets and owning your own online properties. The component when I started providing websites for the martial arts space was, at that part in time I couldn't find somebody to do it properly. We were running Google ads and our main focus was lead generation.

The hard part was really getting the mix right of wanting web developers that understand the importance of conversions and the sales copy side and really what goes into actually making a website work – understanding the technicalities of it and throwing a website up that actually works. That got me into the business and started providing websites for the industry.

I reached the point in providing that, but I just thought that it was not a business that I was going to scale moving forward. It took me from the focus of just lead generation and lead generation to doing the websites and juggling. I had an old sales boss that always used to say to me, you can't steer two light bulbs at different sides of the room at the same time.

That your focus is going to go out. It's brought me to a point where I've stopped providing websites but I didn't just want to stop providing websites because the things that we're going to talk about here today I find simply important and it's a big missing component for the most part in the martial arts industry. And I want to make sure that if I'm not going to be providing websites anymore for the industry that I can refer anyone to someone that I trust as a provider.

Somebody that knows exactly what goes into building websites the right way. There are only a handful of people that really understand doing it the right way. What goes into the conversions and so forth. And that person is Justin and his team, again welcome to the call.

JUSTIN: Cheers.

GEORGE: A bit of a background, just if you can give us a quick summary of who is Justin Meadows.

Martial Arts Websites

JUSTIN: Sure, yeah. So I started building the business that I've got now about 10 years ago. I live in a small country town in Victoria, near a ski resort. It's a lovely village up here. I talk to a lot of business clients and that sort of thing. So I built my business in a certain way.

I've built it online and I started out building it in a wholesale set up so that we would provide services to marketing agencies. So we were the backend website development team for design agencies and that sort of thing. And that's how I've grown and now I've got up to a point now where we've released a new brand and we now work directly with business owners.

And I've got quite a large team behind me. We've run a 24/7 support desk and that sort of thing so we've grown over the 10 years to quite a decent-sized business. Over that time we've really had quite a broad range of experiences working with a lot of different business owners, lots of different industries, and working with a lot of different marketing agencies and that sort of thing.

So we really do have quite a broad range of experience in building websites. And so I've really seen what works and what doesn't work. We've done a lot of testing with different types of websites, sort of options and things that people can have on their end.

Yeah, we've really refined out processes. We've distilled down eight key areas that you really need to get right on a website in order to get a good performing website that produces results for your business and helps you grow and that sort of thing. 

The key thing is that with all that marketing that you're talking about, all that lead generation, you're spending money on ads, you don't want that to be going to a website where you're losing money because people are turned off by something on your website. Or they didn't get the message that needs to be there to get them to buy. And so that's really been the core of my services because we've focused just on doing that development side of things.

Actually, when I very first started, we did a lot of SEO consulting and helping people with their SEO but then we needed to make sure the website was structured correctly and set up right so that when they did the SEO work, they were getting results on the actual website itself. So that's been the focus of our website, of our services.

GEORGE: Cool, most of the martial art industry I know, when somebody provides services that are not particularly practising in martial arts with the service, the question always comes up. So how can you help the industry if you're not actually part of the industry? What would you answer to that?

JUSTIN: Yeah, so that's a good one. But the main thing is that we have a very general understanding of what works across the range of different industries. So we know if the different types of businesses, different things are going to work, if you're a locally-based business then something is more important that are very different to if you're a software business or if you're serving information to an international audience or something like that.

So we really know what works for different types of industries and the main thing is that we're also going to work in tandem with you providing the guidance and instructions on what's the best practice for a martial arts business and that sort of thing. But our focus and our focus and our specialty is on the performance of a WordPress website. We don't work with other platforms anymore. We focus on WordPress and providing support and optimizing WordPress to be the best that it can be, to make sure that you're getting results out of your spend.

That's really what we are specialists in and I see my understanding that's exactly why you come and have a chat to me and saying if we could work together because martial arts is your area of expertise but there really is a lot. The more you dig into what works in WordPress and how you improve the performance and speeding up your website, there are rabbit holes that go on forever. You can't have it all basis so our specialty is just in the performance of the WordPress websites and yeah we know how to customize that to suit a martial arts business.

GEORGE: Perfect. I know that was a question just to throw the curveball at Justin but behind the scenes for the last three months or so we had been working one on one on just our clients. We've moved over some support over to Justin and making sure that the core essentials of what's important for martial school owners are taken care of.

That's always from the work that we've done and through our web, well I guess through our learning pages that we still provide in our Partners program. We process close to, the last count was 4,535 paid trials in the system so that's paid trials, not leads.

So with that we've done a lot of assessment of what works, how to shape web pages that it converts. And then obviously the ongoing maintenance its always been really basic. There's always just been change of authors, change of timetables, and different things and so forth. But I want to jump on to you talking about the eight factors, was that correct?

JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah. We've coded our performance blueprint and its eight key areas of your website that you need to get right to make that performance really come through. And so the first one is making sure that you can be easily found. So that is looking at your SEO, how your website appears when it's shared in social media and making sure that Google understands that your website is a valuable resource for people that are searching for martial arts in your area.

So that's one of the key things, so firstly just that you're found. You're not making most technical mistakes that are very common. I see them a lot on some websites and yeah, that can really hold back your results so that even searching for your own name you might struggle to come up in Google.

What we want especially for martial arts businesses is that your relevant to the suburb that your dojo is in or that your centre is in, wherever you're physically located. You want to make sure that Google is well aware that you are relevant to those surrounding suburbs and where those people are coming to you so that when they search, you're the first one that comes up.

GEORGE: Can you give us an example of how do you spot the mistake and how somebody would go about optimizing?

JUSTIN: With the mistakes, there's a podcast episode in itself. There are a lot of different things that you could be doing wrong, there is a lot to cover. I can't say there is one easy way to do that but there are a lot of ways that you can get your website assessed of the SEO value. Google will give you a rough guide if you go to web dot dev, they give you a very broad overview.

However, it's more on the technical side of things. It doesn't give you guidance as to what your website is optimized for. So it'll just pick up if perhaps you're not using SSL, you're not secure or you're making some other mistakes like not using page title or stuff like that.

So yeah, there is a lot to cover there and it does get quite technical. In terms of what does work for a local business, having pages specifically for the location. So the talking not just about the types of martial art that you provide but also a bit about the suburbs and the area that you're in so that then Google knows that you're relevant to that.

Couple that with optimizing local business listing through my business page and things like that reference your address and make sure that your name, address and phone number are exactly the same all over the internet and connecting you to social media. Doing that is definitely the most important thing for a local business.

GEORGE: Perfect, I'll ask a question on top of that. We were just in our Partners program we run a session called the Local SEO Advantage and the big focus was Google My Business. And it was interesting, one of our members pulled up his stats of more 7000 views of an actual page.

But we were talking about page titles when it comes to location and you've been talking about different locations so you have several martial art locations at a different address. How important is that in the title section of that page. Is that what you really trying to optimize for with different pages, there are different locations etc.?

JUSTIN:  Yeah. If you have several locations, you should have a page for each location. It doesn't necessarily need to have the address especially if that's a bit longer. You want to make sure that you're talking about the types of martial arts words that people will be searching for.

And so, especially when you get a bit into the less common martial art styles and that sort of thing. You might want to make it a bit more general, that page title so that it is the thing that people are going to be searching for, you don't want to get too specific. But you want to make sure that you have at least the suburb name in that page title I would say for each location.

GEORGE: Yeah, perfect. And for any followers listening, I mean the easiest way to do that is just go type martial arts in your area. And then a good trick with Google is always just to scroll to the bottom and you'll see Google bringing up all its related searches. And that will give you a good starting point. But at least jump back on key point number two.

JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah. So number two is loading fast. So after people have found you, you want to make sure that your website appears quickly, and this does actually work back into the ranking factor. Making sure that your website loads fast is becoming more and more important to Google but also to users.

People expect your website to load fast if it is loading slow then people get impatient and they'll hit back especially on mobile devices and that sort of thing. People expect things faster and faster these days.

Yeah you want to make sure that it loads fast. If you have a fast loading website, Google will prefer you over other websites in your search results. It will also decrease the cost that you're spending on Google ads so in your Google ads, Google gives you a quality score. And if your website loads fast, you get a higher quality score and that means that you need to pay less per click for that ad so that it's well worth optimizing your website for speed.

If you find that and I imagine the martial arts you would have a fairly high. I would expect roughly about 60% of your traffic to your website would be from mobile devices. In that case, you want to make sure that your website loads really fast on mobile and a good thing that's very recent. It's only really become prominent this year, is I am paying. It's a mobile version of your website, which is designed specifically to load super-fast.

It’s hosted in Google's caching system. So Google will make sure that it loads fast. Google will give you a higher score again for your only score, and SEO, and your mobile speed score, which is connected to all that. Yeah, so it's a very limited code structure and the means creating it, essentially a copy of your homepage just for mobile but it is worth doing if you have a lot of mobile traffic because it serves at a very fast and gives a good mobile experience.

GEORGE: All right, excellent. Cool, the third factor.

JUSTIN: Number three. Number three is being mobile-friendly. So apart from just loading fast on mobile, you want to make sure that it is easy to use. You quite often the navigation menu might be a bit hard to navigate on mobile, you want to make sure that everything rearranges into a nice easy to read format, you can scroll through it and see everything nicely. Again this feeds into Google's quality score for ads and SEO. They want to serve up ads that are mobile-friendly, easy to use.

For example on your timetable, it should be easy to click through your timetable and see what sessions you have that sort of thing. It's because sometimes table formats can be really ugly when they're squished down in mobile hard to read, so you want to make sure that converts really well on mobile. And your form to get started, you should be able to click through that with your finger.

So there are a few considerations that can make a big difference to how many people are going to sign up, if they're viewing your site from mobile. If it’s too hard to use and they get frustrated they'll give up.

Although they might not even do it intentionally, they might just go, “too hard” and put it down for a second and then they forget about it. So you want to make it as easy as possible, definitely.

GEORGE: 100%. Even if you're not doing Google ads, or SEO, which if you miss the term SEO search engine optimization, which is a free side of Google so you're not paying for ads but just appearing in the organic results. Even if you're running Facebook ads and I don't actually have this as a verified thing but I remember this coming up with Facebook was also doing something with a quality score. Which is a big reason why Facebook really prefers to keep you on Facebook and with all their tools.

But if you are sending people from Facebook, it's also about user experience because they can track how quickly you click and how quickly you get back. And that also qualifies as a bounce rate right, because you're clicking and it's not loading and you're out there. That signals to Facebook that either your content is not relevant or your site is slow, which is more than likely what happens.

JUSTIN: Right, then now the people using Facebook, if they're they're clicking on ads, and they go to pages that don't load, then that's a bad user experience for the Facebook user and they don't want to be doing that so they penalize you by making that ad click more expensive.

GEORGE: Yeah, if I may. Cool, where are we at? Number?

JUSTIN: Five. No, four.

GEORGE: Four, better write that down.

JUSTIN: Four is the first impression. So you've clicked, you've loaded and on top of my bar, you want to make sure that you convey a message very quickly that says who you are and what you have to provide and who that is for. Sometimes, I see a lot of websites that are very airy-fairy and they look pretty in that but you're like, what do these guys actually do.

It's not clear, the thorough process for people going to a website, goes like this. “Who are these guys?” “Is this right for me?” “And then how do I get started?” And you want to make sure that you're messaging and your design on your website clearly answers those three questions very quickly.

You want to show what is that you provide. What type of person that is for, and then how they get started in a very quick impression. Once again people on websites do have a shorter attention span, they'll get frustrated easily if it's not clear and so making it easy and spelling it out and making sure it's very clear and simple just lifts your conversion rate. So you will get more sales if you're doing that right.

GEORGE: What could be your preference, I see and am not a fan of it but I shouldn't say my opinion before I actually ask the question. But Let's say what would be the preference, would it be let's say if you looked at the desktop and there's just one of the videos that play in the background or like there is video. Or a structured headline with a call to action.

JUSTIN: Yeah, I think videos can be distracting. They'll also slow down your load speed, so that's another reason why having a background video isn't a great idea. It does look nice but functionally it doesn't actually help you get the sale. And same thing with sliders, it's very common on websites to have imagine sliders.

But it's been a thing for a while but in the website development space we've known that it’s a bad idea for a long time. Because once again you're slowing down the loading, it takes more time to load up all these big images, the slide across and the animation script and that sort of thing.

So it's a lot better to just have one very good image that conveys the message of who you are and what you provide and the benefits that people can get, so happy people that are looking fit and training and that sort of thing. That's the impression you want to get.

So you want to have a really good image of that and then a clear text message that's static, that gets that message across in button to get started, that sort of thing. That's really the best practice, having those image sliders, apart from slowing things down they also are a bit of a distraction and it's common to have several different messages on them but in reality, most people like probably 8% of people are only going to see the first message.

They'll look at that and they'll scroll down. They're not going to see the other things you've got in there. So it can dilute your message, so you really want to decide on what is your core message and make that stand out front and centre.

GEORGE: All right, perfect. Sounds good, number five.

Martial Arts Websites

JUSTIN: Yeah. So now we are onto building trust. And this is a very important thing on the internet, selling things from websites is that trust barrier. Everyone has an initial apprehension when they're handing over money on a website. So you really want to reassure people who are visiting your website that you are legit.

That there are people who have got results from before, you've built some social proof and they are really good ways to do that are with testimonials. They work really effectively. Having some good testimonials with a photo of the person who made the testimonial adds more legitimacy to it and a good way to do that is, it might be a bit tricky and sometimes in the martial arts especially.

If someone does give you a testimonial, have a look if they've got a Linkedin profile or a public Facebook photo that you can just copy that photo and send it to them and say is it okay if I use this photo rather than asking them to go and take a photo of themselves that they're happy with because that might take weeks or never happen. You want to make it easy for them to provide a photo so you go and see if they have a public photo on the internet that you can use.

A video is fantastic, if someone has really loved the results they've got from your coaching and your training then get your phone out and just 30 seconds video of them saying I started out and I was like this and then through this training, I've now got this result.

A sure click like that can speak volumes and it really does build trust and build rapport with the new visitors to your website. The other things that build trust, logos of associations and that thing that you're part of. If you're a part of any maybe school-related programs or health programs or those things, having logos of that on your website just builds that legitimacy and publishing helpful content.

Publishing videos that help educate people or articles that sort of things. Trying to be as helpful as possible with the content that you're providing on your website helps to reassure people and let them get a feel for who you are and your style and they then know that you're a helpful person. You're not just trying to take their money and give them a bad experience. Those sorts of things help to build trust with website business.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. It's always been a big focus of mine. I know it's the hardest thing for martial arts school owners to do but there is so much focus on Facebook and getting content out. And this is probably a topic for a whole another episode but the content that you typically put on Facebook is for the most part gone in 24 to 48 hours unless you have a strategy. Like we structured in our Video Ad Authority Builder, we make sure that you create a video that you can actually put some money behind and leverage and build authority online.

But a good thing to really think about and we won't go too much into detail but now is we are creating content. How can you put that on your website and really dig into the keyword research and understanding, what are the questions that people ask because I know for most martial art schools owners their biggest problem is not the conversion. Once people walk through the doors, its cool.

It's how do we get the walking through the doors and think about that as in content. What can actually put in your website that's going to educate people to create the trust as Justin referring to that's going to give them the confidence to take the first step or even just put their hand up or get that inquiry button and get in touch.

JUSTIN: Yeah, absolutely. FAQs are great for that. Answering those questions, because especially for people who've not tried or been a part of any martial arts training in the past, they really don't know what to expect so if you can just map it out clearly how it's going to go, or what the process is going to be when they sign up and they come in and answering any questions that commonly come up when people do sign up. Making those very clear start on your website really does help with getting people to take the first step, yeah.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. So we're at number six?

JUSTIN: Six, yeah. Generating style. So this is where the rubber hits the road. So turning that interested person who's looking at your website into a paying customer. And I know that you've got a really good process there with the trials, having a paid trial, yeah.

GEORGE: Yeah, I guess there are two things. Well I mean this is more than we optimized for but if you look at the sale on the website, for the most part is going to be selling a paid trial – that's the top lead we go for. And the next sale is how do we get somebody to actually inquire and then of course picking up the phone, which is the alternative. Don't know in the big optimization if we're taking sales, sending an email and somebody getting in touch is not a big sale, that's an inquiry. So those are the two things in context that we got going.

JUSTIN: Yeah, and I think that is a good process for martial arts business and making sure that opportunity to opt-in for an inquiry and just say, yes I'm interested. How do I get started, that sort of thing. Making that as easy as possible is very important so having that on top of the home page where they can just fill in the form and get in touch with you.

It is also important that you don't have too many things that are distracting from these primary goals. You want those call to action that try to join the page trial or to inquire about a booking or about classes or whatever that is. Having those things really standing out from everything else on your website, using contrasting buttons and very strong wording like get started now or that sort of thing is very important.

And then as well as having that in your design, having those call to action very easy to use and standing out very clearly. You then also want to make sure that you're tracking who's using your website so having the Google analytics in place you can add Google ads, re-tagging and Facebook pixels so that if people are coming to your website, you have the opportunity to remind them about you.

If they don't become a paying customer, you can show ads to them in Facebook but it's a lot more valuable to show them to people who've already visited your website than to show them to other people who've never heard of you before. It's a lot easier to get people who already know about you to come back and check you out again.

As well as doing that you want to as much as possible when they are filling out that email thing, you want to be building an email database with people who have inquired and separating out whose paid and then you can target some very good email messaging to the people who have inquired but not paid or signed up. And yeah, really help to form a relationship with them, provide more value, and then turn them into a paying customer.

GEORGE: Yeah and so Justin, we're talking about a lot of things about all the website and optimization and things. And I guess it's important to mention, for a lot of people and this has been said to me so often, it's just a website. The value of a website, just like well, I mean so and so could do it for me for 500 bucks, so and so could do it for me for 1000 bucks. Well the reality is and I've done this mess at so many presentations, if you're a lifetime student value is an average. I think the last call I had was $2200 a year. That's $2200 per student.

If your conversion is 2%, which means two out of every 10 people inquire. Let's say two out of every 10 people that come to you, well that's actually a big. Sorry its two of 100. Two out of 100 people come to your website and actually sign up, that's $4400 in that case, if you're a lifetime student value was $4400. Well if your website sucks, which most people do and it's slow, it doesn't build trust, it's not loading properly and people don't know how to contact you.

They don't know how to do this; your conversion rate is going to be awful. Now what if you paid more website but the experience of building this not just in martial arts but in thousands of other industries, and you use this collective knowledge and you're able to buy a website for triple the price. And I’m not saying that's irrelevant but I just want to make sure in context that the value is accurate.

That now you're going to website that converts at 4% and that sounds ridiculous right? Its small, 2% to 4%. Well that's double your value, which means now every 100 people that goes to your website is worth $8800 and not $4400.

In your first 100 visits, you've got money back in your pocket and then some. So it's so important to look at this as your virtual salesman and your asset because that's the first experience. I can tell you how many Facebook ad campaigns we've run and remember the Facebook ad campaigns?

And all of a sudden we just the conversion cost drop on Google, all the time. Which is saying to me that your first interaction is, Facebook I saw the ad, people on their mobile phones in three minutes, which means I saw the ad and I was like, Oh yeah saw some George's martial arts, cool. Could happen to work, what was it George's martial arts, go onto Google, find you and make the purchase.

It's important to look at the whole thing of context and the value of knowing all this stuff. And this doesn't happen just from the school kid, all is factored in that are signing out and are able to drag and drop the website together for you. You're not going to get that value.

You get that value from seeing people's accounts, Google analytics, knowing the stats and knowing hang on this is actually what drives sales. And a bit of rank but I just want to make sure that distinction because it comes up so much in conversations well I could just buy this 500 bucks.

Well you're robbing yourself off five grand, fifty grand down the line very, very quickly.

JUSTIN: Exactly, yeah. And this actually leads very smoothly into my next to the number seven argument, which is building assets. So it's important to look at your website not as an expense but as an asset for your business, and if further down the line, eventually you're going to get to a point where you're going to pass on your school to someone else. You might sell that or whatever happens.

The website that you're building and the assets that you build with your website are saleable assets. So it's not just something that you're spending money on and it's a cost that goes away. You're actually building something, which increases in value. When you sell that website, that's as important as the other parts of your business, your customer database and that sort of thing that you're selling.

So it is an important consideration. You need to look at it from that point of view and it is something that is bringing more money to you. Like you're saying, you can save a lot of money on your ads and by having a website set up really well, that you get a great return on investment.

So the other thing is that your website should be doing is building assets. Apart from the website itself, so on the website itself, it's right to be publishing that helpful content which overtime helps with your good rankings and this in itself an asset that just attracts new students to you. But then also having that email database that you're building from that lead form and having those remarketing tags.

So you have audiences on Facebook and on Google. If you're having a quieter period you can go out and spend more ads on marketing to those people or emailing to those people. That is a very valuable asset for you to have and to build up. And it takes time, it’s a long-term play. It's not something that gets you a short term result necessarily but, yeah. It is definitely worth investing in the long-term of your business.

GEORGE: Yes, I'm going to probably open a can of worms here. When you referred to that, you got the physical asset; you got your domain name. I mean your domain name you always own but then the actual website, what we refer to as content assets, every time you create content that's valuable to somebody taking the first step as we spoke about earlier.

Then if that is done right, something that we cover in our Academy and Partners program. Like how do you create content that you can actually leverage. It's evergreen and it's an asset because it brings in people find that article or video online and then they access your website through that.

Now the can of worms is, and I'm saying this because out of the best intent and it’s not a dig at anyone in the industry as such. I know there are really good providers in our industry that provide martial arts websites under the SAS software model. So I've got all praise for these companies, I know I can see why they do it, it's great, it's easy you pay them a couple of 100 bucks a month.

They take care of your website and you've got this martial arts website in it and it brings you leads and that's awesome. It is awesome until it's not awesome. And when it's not awesome, is when you realize that it's not an asset.

And if you realize that you're paying five grand a year, give or take, maybe more on something that you don't own. And if you stop paying, that means that all those assets that you've built up on this infrastructure are now gone and that is a really, really distinction. As I mentioned I see the value in doing that as a business and I know it's super easy for martial art school owners to have that but if I had to have a true gut check within myself and say, would I do that for my business? Never ever in my life would I do that because I know the value of the asset. And that's the only reason why I've never gone down their track and just don't provide that as a service.

JUSTIN: Absolutely.

GEORGE: And sorry to cut you off but it’s probably if you look at everything online, it's the one asset you've got because Facebook, Instagram, they can all be gone in a heartbeat.

JUSTIN: Yeah, absolutely. The social media platforms come and go and also they change their rules so you might have some really good ad campaigns going on Facebook and then all of a sudden they will change their rules and your ads stop working or they don't do those ads like that anymore and they're banned and you've got to work out something else. And all of a sudden if you're relying on that as the only way you get students, then you're stuck. So it is important to have an asset that you do own and control.

Absolutely, and then you use these other methods of finding leads and bring them into your asset, where you have control and then you can build that email database of those users and talk to them directly. And yeah, having full ownership and control over your website is one of the most important philosophies in the way that I've structured my business as well. That's why we focus on WordPress because WordPress is the most popular website platform out there on the internet. It is very easy. If you're not happy with our service like we build your website and that sort of thing.

It's very easy for you to then take that and move to a different provider and you're not locked in with us. You still own your own website. You can hire someone else to look after it but you still own it. It's still your website, and I think that's very important for all business owners to make sure that you do have that and then you can sell that website and you can hand it over to the new owners and they will take it and it will provide value to them because it's already getting people coming to it and new students being produced from it.

GEORGE: Awesome, yeah. Totally. Number eight I think.

JUSTIN: Number eight, yeah. This one is not so much about attracting new students but staying secure is very important for your website and for your online presence. It can be a bit of a brand disaster and can cause you a lot of strife if you do get into trouble by being unsecured. So if your websites' not secure, and you get hacked and there is malicious malware going out to people who visit your website. There are all sorts of things, unlike people who no longer trust your business.

If they go to your website and says that it got the unsecured thing up in the top of the website browser and Google has a big warning on there saying, warning this website is unsafe, that sort of thing people aren't going to trust you. So that immediately kills that trust barrier sort of thing. You can often have some really unsavoury things. There's malware that gets into your website and then puts on these random messages from unsavoury groups on your website and that sort of stuff that gives a really bad impression to your customers and to your students.

And it makes you look like you're not a very well organized and professional operator. And the other thing is that it causes a lot of cost and expense for years so if you have something like that come in then you've got to spend money to get someone to clean up that software from your website. Clean up the malware and get that infection sorted. And it usually also involves a lot of stress, and you spending a day just trying to fix this problem that's happened and so you've got to also think about the cost of that as well.

So it is very important to look after the security of your website for these reasons, and the other things are, apart from them, if your website is unsecured or does have malicious malware on there, Google will stop running ads to you. It can hold your SEO rankings, and it can have a lot of flaws and effect that will damage your profitability. So with WordPress, once again because it is the most popular platform, it is a target to this malware that will be built to access WordPress because then they can access heaps of websites.

So it's important to keep your website software up to date and that just means that when this malware finds a loophole that they can get into the WordPress software, very quickly the WordPress developers will create an update to the software that blocks that and patches up that loophole. So it's important to make sure that those patches, those software updates are installed on your website.

Sometimes installing those software updates can cause issues with the way that your design works or that sort of thing if it's not structured correctly. So it's important to get a developer to do that. To make sure that if it does cause any design issues they can roll back to back up they've just taken and fix the problem and that sort of thing.

So yeah. It is worth getting someone to look after your website who knows what they're doing and that way you don't have to worry about yourself and you don't have to go through all that stress and the ordeal of having your website hacked. The other things are things like just having that SSL, so HTTPs in your address means that your website data is encrypted. That means it's safe. Google likes that and it shows that your website is secure and the website browser and that sort of thing.

Yeah, and making sure that you have regular backups is also very important. So that if something does happen, worst-case scenario may be the hosting dies and you can't get back on to your website or something like that. You have a backup that you can then restore on some other hosting providers’ website or like their service. So for controlling assets that's important as well.

GEORGE: Perfect so Justin, first thank you for jumping on. I mean if somebody needs with that, somebody needs help with their website, let's say they've got an existing website. Maybe it's one WordPress base hopefully and they need help with all these support stuff, the security, speeding things up, making sure it's secure, all that stuff and then the other component obviously is if somebody wants a new website, a new website that can provide all this. A website that you would own as its upright it would be yours, how can people reach out to you? How can people get in touch?

JUSTIN: For sure. So, my website TunedWp, that's Tuned with a d Wp dot com. And the best way to get in touch is via support at TunedWp dot com. We've got a 24-hour support desk and we'll get back to you within one hour so we have very rapid response time.

So if anything is urgent, just shoot through an email to us and we can do that. We have a number of different levels of service that we can provide so we can just provide that hosting and security element or we can also provide another service where we will optimize the performance of your existing website and do ongoing changes for you.

So you never have to log in to the website yourself as a business owner, it's really not what you should be doing. You should be focusing on your students and growing your business and leaving all the website technical stuff to experts like us. So we provide that service for you and we can also rebuild a new website if you want a new design or if you don't have a website that's set up correctly, we can certainly build that for you. So yeah, feel free to get in touch with the support at TunedWp dot com.

GEORGE: Awesome. And thanks really for jumping in and you've taken great care of all our existing website customers and we're definitely recommending people to you. We've known each other for many years being in the same community and a lot of the things we spoke about today really come from that understanding of really, really knowing how this online world works and worked before Facebook came along.

How do build the online assets, how to structure business that you are safe against things that fluctuate within the business, whether that's in Google or Facebook. That you've got some leverage and ways to get sign up students from multiple avenues and the biggest component of that is having a simpler, secure, awesome website that is the face of your brand. Thanks for that Justin.

JUSTIN: No worries at all. Thanks for having me on the podcast.

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

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

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

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

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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88 – Darren Reece – The Art Of Crafting Muay Thai Champions

Darren Reece is the coach behind many Muay Thai champions. He shares what it takes and a snapshot of his 30-year Muay Thai career.


  • How Darren Reece evolved from being a Muay Thai professional fighter to a martial arts gym owner
  • The one skill that’s helped many school owners open their first gym
  • The ‘iron sharpens iron’ strategy Darren uses to craft world-class Muay Thai Champions
  • How Darren keeps their fighters motivated and focused on their goals
  • And more

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


We don't have any processes. I don't train my guys like, “You've got to say this. You've got to say that.” We are just who we are. We love being here. The guys that have jobs as trainers, Dan Skinner and Barrie Oliver work full time for me. Caley loves being in the gym. Chris “Tiger” White, who used to work for me when he finished his fight career, before he shifted away, just loved doing what we're doing. So that carries over because you're happy.

GEORGE: Hey, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. So today I'm local, and I'm live, so something new, not on the virtual face-to-face. So I'm joined today by Darren Reece.

DARREN: Hey George.


DARREN: How are you?

GEORGE: How are you doing? Good good good. Darren Reece, well, long history in Muay Thai, I'm going to let him share all the stories. Depending on where you're watching this, here in Perth, there's a big Muay Thai movement. And many, I could almost say all, but most of the paths lead to Riddlers and Darren Reece. And we're sitting here in a room of… How would you describe it? Memorabilia? Like, newspaper articles, trophies, which I've added here as a separate little video. So, we're just going to have a chat, as we do. So thanks for jumping on.

DARREN: No worries George. Thanks for having me.

GEORGE: Cool. So why don't you just give us a quick round up. Who is Darren Reece?

darren reece muay thai

DARREN: Oh, well. My fight nickname was The Riddler, that was given to me by Michael Schiavello who used to commentate all the fights on Fox Sports on Foxtel. Well he's obviously gone on to very big things around the world commentating, chief commentator at commentating fights. He gave me my fight name. Back then all the fighters used to call one another by their names, to the point that sometimes you didn't even know the person's first name, it was just, “Hey, Riddler.” “Hey, Nugget.” “Hey, Pitbull.” Stuff like that, so.

Been in Muay Thai since 1989, I started training. In a combination of Muay Thai and Zen Do Kai. Got into it and loved it straight away. Knew it was what I wanted to do. Was actually at uni, and decided to leave uni because I wanted to be a fighter. Which didn't go down well with the parents, but eventually, especially my mom, came around and supported what I was doing, so.

GEORGE: How do you describe that sort of career path to your professors and lecturers?

DARREN: Well, university of Muay Thai, I guess I've been to, for 30 years, so it's a pretty big degree. But, yeah, it was definitely the right choice and very happy in my life and what has been created and what's going on, so I think it was a good choice.

GEORGE: Yeah totally. So we're sitting here at Riddlers Gym but before we get into just what it is about anything else that's going on, walk us through, how'd you get started? You were talking about, we had a chat earlier about you living and training in Thailand as well. Give us a bit of a background of your career.

DARREN: Well, as I mentioned, I started in Muay Thai and Zen Do Kai. Which was really a martial art that kind of blended everything, or the best of everything in progression, is what Zen Do Kai stands for. Most people in W.A., Perth, in the early days started with the BJC, Bob Jones Corporation. I chose, after training for a while, having my first two fights that I really wanted to pursue the path of fighting. My trainer back then, Sean Allen, that wasn't the path that he wanted to go, so he advised me to move on and go to someone that specializes in Muay Thai.

And from there I started to discover Thailand. Obviously it's so close to Australia, and Muay Thai was starting to become known, more and more exposure to it over here. A Thai person, Phon Martdee, famous pioneer in W.A. especially, was putting on shows and bringing over well-known world champion Thai's, just really got my interest, that lead me to Thailand training trips. 

I think the first time was for one month, and the second time was overstaying my three month visa by a month, and staying there for four months, and then another three months trip like that every year, I was making sure I was doing it. And then I lived there from '97 to early 2000, so just did that, yeah for about three and a half years straight. So went there for the Kick's Cup World Championships, which I won and stayed. Yeah, loved it, loved it.

GEORGE: So how difficult is it for someone from Australia, or from, I guess from Western society, to fit in with the Thai culture, and the whole Muay Thai scene, and actually make something of it?

darren reece muay thai

DARREN: Back when I was going there, there weren't the camps down in Phuket and Koh Samui. There was WMC Lamai Gym in Koh Samui, which is still around and going strong now, but back then that was pretty much one of the few Western places that you could go. In Pattaya in Thailand there was Sibutong, which was a world famous and that's where all the Westerners were going early on, that's where I went, my second trip, spent my four months.

In comparison to now, where the Thai's have realized that it can be a tourist thing, just increasing the exposure of it. It's great for the Thai economy and Thai culture and obviously the spread of Muay Thai. Now it truly is a world sport, and people from all over the world go to these training camps now in Thailand. And it's not a matter of being accepted or anything like that, it's just you go there and you train.

So very early on, as I said, those kinds of places weren't around. And the camp that I spent my three and a bit years, Sangmorakot Gym in Bangkok, a large part of that time, I was the only white person there, training with professional Thai's, it was a professional camp in Bangkok, so it was just the ultimate experience. It was obviously very challenging, there was very little English back then. I had to learn Thai, which I wanted to do anyway, living in the country. And, yeah, it was a great exposure.

GEORGE: Fast-forwarding a bit, how did Riddlers come about?

darren reece muay thai

DARREN: Riddlers came about in that, in the latter part of my career, where I was full-time, I obviously started to think about the future. Actually, I knew very early on that I wanted to teach Muay Thai, that it was going to be my career after competing, after fighting. So I did make plans for a very long time. I've got lots of books, still got notebooks with notes and ideas. Gym names, and systems and things that I wanted to have in place. So it was a long term plan. And then when I got to that stage of my fight career, I knew that I needed to start thinking of the future, or putting it into action, so to speak.

So I started doing a few PT's, a couple of small classes, and then the PT's started to build up. And then that lead to, okay, it's time to start the gym. So I, funny story, one of my friends that I used to go to his house to train him, I was training him in his garage underneath his house, which is in Leederville, not far from where we are now, and we'd finished the session, we were like, “Man, this is a good size for a gym.” So it was about 80 or 90 square meters, it was about a triple size carport, and he was looking to shift, so he shifted out of the house, I shifted into the house in Leederville, and that's where Riddlers started. So I was lucky enough, it was kind of a blessing that I only had one lot of overheads. I think rent and stuff like that is the biggest killer of new businesses. So all I had to do was be paying my rent and I had the gym there.


So Riddlers operated from there for about three, three and a half years, until I started to get too busy and my neighbor complained about parking and noise and that kind of thing. I was getting up to 20 people turning up for evening classes. I was training with fighters, Eugene Ekkelboom, Chris “Tiger” White, a couple of my novice, newer guys that I was bringing up, in the mornings, so that I was free to do PT's and teach classes in the evening time. But I had problems with the council because of the complaint, and then that pushed me again to take that next step, and find premises, which happened to be nearby.

Ran into a friend of mine, told him that I needed to find somewhere because I was having council problems. He was in the butcher's shop and a coffee shop, and he's like, “Man, come and check out this place behind me. It's not being used. We go and do some training there after work, and we've got a bag hanging up, and hit the bag and stuff like that.” So I went in there and it was 200 square meters, so more than double what I had. And it was just perfect. So that was where I started.

GEORGE: You're not the first school owner I speak to who has transitioned from really focusing on the private sector. We actually email, in our Partners program that we work on, I'm working with a gentleman on Thursday nights, and we're going to get a program called Profit With Privates. Not that that was his way of getting started, but they needed to renovate the gym. So they put all their energy in how they can use private classes to stack up the cash. A good way to transition.

So now you guys are here on the main road, huge gym, what I really want to know from you is, you've got all these champions, and all these people that come through Riddlers Gym and reach such a high level. What do you think is the edge? What do you do different that you create so many people at such a high level?

darren reece muay thai

DARREN: Two things. I think obviously it's my experience from fighting that has sort of experienced all situations. And in fights, seen what's going on. And being able to read it from my experience, being able to communicate that to my fighters where, very importantly, having the respect of my fighters to the point that they listen and use that instruction for their gain. So then it's like they're fighting with my experience, my time, no matter what level they're at. So that's one thing.

And the other thing is having strong fighters. I have a saying, “Iron sharpens iron.” So the more strong people that you have working together, the more and the better everyone grows. So if you're in a small gym, that's like one champion fighter and you've only got other novices and stuff to work with, you're not getting that sparring, clinching, and stuff like that, that you need. Or perhaps guidance from the trainer, because you've outgrown the trainer. Whereas when you've got lots of those people around you, then you all help one another to grow. So yeah, I love that saying, “Iron sharpens iron.” And it's very, very true.

So from those early days, when I had the Eugene Ekkelboom, Chad Walker, Kim Olsen, all those guys. And for the smaller guys, I had Caley working with Chris “Tiger” White, with “Pitbull” Aram, stuff like that. So those guys really had that common to work hard together, spar hard, clinch hard. So, yeah.

GEORGE: Right. So you've got, I mean first and foremost, you've got the right people, and the champions attract more champions. Obviously people see the success that everyone that trains here has had here, and that sends more people around. Is there anything else that you really focus on?

DARREN: Lots of technique. We're big on technique. Big on skill. But also big on strong basics. I personally don't use lots of fancy techniques and things like that. I stick with strong basics and will work those, hammer those basics, we hammer them over and over again. Everyone is, all my guys, are extremely fit, well-conditioned. And we're kind of known for that.

GEORGE: Gotcha. So tell me more about Riddlers, and you've got all the fight shows, and things like that going on?

darren reece muay thai

DARREN: Well I've promoted for shows actually before I even started the gym. I started promoting with a fellow group, splitting the load between us. That was when I was still fighting. So I was fighting on shows, but we were a big group promoting together. That lead to just a partnership in promoting.

I've always felt the need to promote because of the level of guys that I have as fighters. I've felt like when guys gain experience, there's obviously a lot less fights locally, and even interstate. So if you sit there waiting for the fights to come, or there's no fights, more so there's no fights, fighters lose motivation, and they're not in the gym training. These things can happen. So by having a regular schedule of fights, they have those goals. It keeps the fighters motivated if they know that they're guaranteed three or five fights per year, they're more likely to stay motivated and in the gym.

And then if anything else comes up, and this happens a lot these days because there's a lot more promotions around, a lot more going on. A lot of interstate opportunities come and you can take fights on fairly short notice. Like I get lots of calls from interstate promoters, we get lots of trips away. I mean, because with having a big fight team, the promoters also know that they're not just going to get one fighter. If they need three or four, strong chances are that we're going to be able to fit that. So they end up with three or four big fights on their card, with one trainer, so it saves a lot of money to get a lot of fights that way.

GEORGE: What's the big drive? I mean, you've built this machine. I mean obviously you've got the love for the Muay Thai and the passion for the sport. But what keeps you going? What's the big drive for you?

DARREN: I guess helping people on the path that I got to follow. Leading your guys, passing on your experience, seeing them use it to grow in their experience, and just get to live their dreams, to fight and compete. Maybe it’s achieving titles, but for a lot it's just actually competing and doing it, I live supporting and helping that. Trying to help them achieve those dreams.

GEORGE: Got you. So I'm trying to think of some things that we haven't asked, and I'm looking at something here that says, “10 things you don't know about Darren Reece.” And I don't know how old these are, but…

DARREN: Yeah, these are pretty old, so back then…

GEORGE: What's changed?

darren reece muay thai

DARREN: Yeah, quite a few. There's one here, “I do not have an iPhone. Don't have an iPod. Don't use Facebook. Don't use Twitter, download music or burn CDs.” I still don't do a lot of those things. But I do definitely have an iPhone, and I use Facebook, it's a fantastic business tool and just connecting with people. Good for promoting things. It's really changed the way that we advertise our businesses, as you well know. And even for fight shows, we used to get thousands and thousands of fliers and posters done up for shows now, and have to do flier drops and pay for postal distribution and things like that to try and get it out, but it was very… it didn't have a high success rate because it wasn't really a target market.

And now with Facebook, where you're promoting it through people that are in the industry, or friends of those people, or getting those fighters to share things about their fights, it just hits the target market so much more. So it really has changed how we have to do things, and we have to evolve, so I've kind of evolved too.

But having said that, I'm still not overly technical. I'm not huge on the computer. I use Facebook, a little bit of Instagram, but I'm by no means an expert on it. And the things I do right are what I feel. The same as the things with Riddlers Gym, with the business, how we treat people. Everyone always comments on how friendly the gym is, and the great vibes that we have here, in the community, and things like that. And it's nothing that we've ever tried to enforce or push or anything like that, I just got the right trainers and the right personalities, and it's just how everyone is, you know?


DARREN: You say, “Hi.” To everyone. The conversations with them and just, I guess, people can't really believe it, but it's what we love doing.

GEORGE: For sure. But you might be selling yourself short there as well, right? Because that's got to come from the top. So if that's the type of person you are, you've set the tone for that culture.


GEORGE: Then that's what's going to take.

DARREN: Yeah, yep.

GEORGE: That's what's going to catch on.

DARREN: Yeah and it's been a big part of the community here. Despite all the champions that we've had, and have, here at the gym, no one's really put up on a pedestal, and so there's no egos. No one's put up on that pedestal. We promote all the fighters equally. All the members, no one's really any more important than anyone else. And it doesn't create that monster.


DARREN: That monster thing that can affect an environment or a community, so.

GEORGE: Just from having that strong culture, a lot of your marketing is actually good fun, because that's enforcing the culture, and people talk, then that's the message that comes across, how much effort. We spoke a bit about culture earlier. Is there certain things that you focus on, that really shapes the culture? Or do you really just stick to who you are, and that sort of resonates through that…?

darren reece muay thai

DARREN: Just really stick to who we are. We don't have any processes. I don't train my guys like, “You've got to say this. You've got to say that.” We are just who we are. We love being here. The guys that have jobs as trainers, Dan Skinner and Barrie Oliver work full time for me. Caley loves being in the gym. Chris “Tiger” White, who used to work for me when he finished his fight career, before he shifted away, just loved doing what we're doing. So that carries over because you're happy, and you're motivating people, and when you're teaching and pushing people and seeing them give it a crack and just loving it, plus you're getting to pass on what you're passionate about and seeing other people enjoy it, just makes you feel good inside.

GEORGE: So what's next for you? Where are things headed for Darren Reece and Riddlers Gym?

DARREN: Oh, look, I… to be honest, my focus has changed… Or, not changed but my focus has broadened in that I'm not interested in expanding the business. I don't want to work more hours. Caley and I have had two boys, so I've got two sons, which we've had in the last three years. Maddox turns three at the end of the month, Leo's nine months, and to be honest, I just want to spend as much time with them as I can. 

GEORGE: Right.

DARREN: I don't want to, in a few years, go, “Oh damn. I was busy. I wish I'd spent more time with the boys.”

GEORGE: Totally.

DARREN: Because they're only young for a period of time. In a couple of years they're going to be in school, and then they're going to be teenagers and not want to hang out with me anymore because I'm not the cool guy. So I want to make the absolute most of that. So to be honest, I'm happy with keeping Riddlers the way it is. I've got no interest in expanding, opening another premises, getting bigger. I just love where I'm at. So that I'm enjoying life. I don't feel like I have to work harder. And I'm still working hard, but I'm also working smarter. And I've got great trainers, great team around us, which keeps things the way that they are.


DARREN: And keeps me happy. And my fighters still get lots of attention and lots of focus, and I don't feel that I'm doing any less a job. Everyone's getting some really big fights and still stepping up and growing, through the state level, national level and international level.

GEORGE: Yeah. I love that, because sometimes the focus can be growth for the sake of growth. When is enough? You've reached that point in your life, and family comes first, and that's where you want to spend time. And I think the gym is awesome, you're producing great fighters, it's providing for you and your family, and you get to do what you love every day. Why change? Why complicate? What's in it?

DARREN: Yeah. I want to train every day. I want to have an hour for myself and train, whether it is hitting pads, or doing some strength and conditioning, doing some cross fist stuff. I love it and want to do that. That keeps me happy, keeps me sane. And especially with the boys, where it's go, go, go, and it's all about them, you need that sort of switch off time, and just be able to get in your own zone, and just go out and go for it, do it.

GEORGE: Yeah. I've just reached that, coolness of dad has dropped. I was cool, but 13, my son is 13 now. Yeah, I can see my coolness on the decline, very quickly, off. 

DARREN: That would be hard to accept.

GEORGE: Yeah. Hey, cool, Darren. Thanks so much for hanging out and chatting. So, just quickly, if people want to know more about you, and we run for at least the sort of time of your next fight show coming up, but tell us about your fight show because you have got a couple in circulation. And if people want to reach out to you, where can they find you?

DARREN: Yeah, well you can if you're interested, you come down and try Riddlers Gym. We've obviously got a fairly active Facebook page, we've got a website, riddlersgym.com.au, you can check us out. It's got all about the trainers, our full schedule, pricing, and everything’s on there. And our fight shows, keep an eye out for EPIC Fight Promotions, I think we're up to number 21, which focuses on our professionals and our main experienced fighters. 

And then my wife Caley Reece loves to promote her show, it's called Evolve, it's coming up this Sunday. That's focused on grass roots Muay Thai and she'll have a couple of main card fights, including the MTA State Title, which she's got on this one. And she works very hard to bring that for the fighters. It's something that she feels like she wants to do on her own, and give back to the sport that did so much for her.

GEORGE: Yeah, perfect. Hey, awesome. Darren, thanks so much for hanging out.

DARREN: Thanks very much, George. Thanks everyone.

GEORGE: Speak soon. Cheers.

DARREN: Cheers. Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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87 – Getting Your Fight Shows Featured On UFC Fight Pass

An Australian first, Ben Vickers from Eternal MMA now gets their fight shows featured on UFC Fight Pass. We discuss the details.


  • How Ben Vickers’ Eternal MMA started their collaboration with the UFC 
  • What it means to be the first Australian fight promoter to get featured on UFC Fight pass
  • The martial arts metaphor for life
  • The number of interactions needed before an individual takes action to buy a product or service
  • And more

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


To be a leader. You have to demonstrate you're prepared to go. You're not just prepared to scream and shout. You're prepared to put yourself in those uncomfortable positions also.

GEORGE: At what point did you start looking at opening a school and how did you end up in Perth?

BEN: I started coaching about 2007. I really enjoyed coaching. I kind of realized that I was never going to be a world champion and… But I do firmly believe I could train a world champion. So that was sort of my focus sort of switched from being a fighter to training fighters, and I made the hard decision to quit competing myself in MMA anyway. Sorry I've got a fly harassing me at the moment.

GEORGE: It’s Perth.

BEN: I could Mr. Miyagi it with some chopsticks, but… So I made the call that I was going to cease my fighting career. I couldn't do both. If I wanted to focus on coaching, I had to fully focus on coaching. So I started to coach full time. I was actually in the fire service at the time and decided to leave the fire service to pursue MMA as a full-time career. So that happened in 2010 so I was coaching full-time and working as a firefight full-time.

It's the beauty of the shift system there that I could make that work. And then I put the firefighting away to pursue a career in what I love doing, which was teaching martial arts, MMA in particular. So see I was just coaching and then the opportunity to come to Perth came up at the right time in my life. I was just ready to make the move and there were a few circumstances at home that made it a good, good time for me to jet off to the other side of the world. So I did that.

We opened an MMA Clinic here and I was just working as the head coach. And then some things changed and I ended up running the gym. And then eight years later, the gym’s rebranded and I'm sort of sitting there as my own boss with my own school and yeah, pretty happy with that.

GEORGE: Sounds good. I do want to ask you a question to back track. You said it was a hard choice to move from being the fighter to being the coach. What was sort of the hardest part about it? Was it… I mean you mentioned that juggling the two things at once, being the coach and the fighter. Was that the hardest part or was it sort of more of giving up on a dream that that's the path that you want to take?

BEN: No, when I made the call, I realized that the dream is, is to be a world champion as a fighter, I think. And it's a hard sport. MMA is brutal. And I realized that wasn't necessarily a possibility, so that wasn't the hard part. The hard part is I love competing. I love training. I love not having a responsibility when I go to the gym, you know, it's nice just to be able to go and get your hands dirty and get out. So then I had to make that call that now I was going to become the…

As a coach, you become more than just teaching people technique. You become a life coach sort of thing for your students they become family. It's such a strange sport in that you beat the living daylights out of each other so the ego can go straight away because you know the pecking order. You know who can win and who can’t.  

So you don't need to worry about that stuff anymore. And your sort of leave all your, all your, yeah, your ego just, it doesn't need to exist anymore. The role is well defined within the gym. Everyone knows how everything stands. And in coaching, you take respect in a different way. You know, I'm 40 years old, my students are half my age. I have to understand that I can't necessarily compete with them anymore, but I have to then guide them in the right direction.

So it's a hard choice when I'm a very competitive person. So I missed… I had to make the decision to step away from competition and prepare others for competition. And to fill that hole I do stupid things like ultra-marathons and just to test myself mentally because fighting for me is all about the mental. Overcoming mental barriers and finding comfort in discomfort.

So, yeah, I did a two years or three years ago I did an eight weeks training and did 65 kilometer run and that put me in that place, which was what I just wanted to test myself to see if I still had the mental that when the going got tough, the tough get going or would the, would I, would I crack on and make it to the end or would I quit? You know? That's why I wanted to find out. And I constantly look for different ways to test myself in that regard.

So I found a home for my competitiveness elsewhere. I took up rugby so I could turn up on a weekend and be a part of the team but not have to lead it and just get my hands dirty and get stuck in. And so I found ways in that way to manage that competitive spirit and focus all my energy during the week on my guys and making them the best they can be.

GEORGE: Got it. It's such a metaphor for life, right? And that's where martial arts just is a, it's a real test of life because, you know, putting yourself in those uncomfortable positions while there's no… I don't think there's, you know, a much harder place to do it then get in the cage or to be in martial arts or have that contact where it can kind of feels like a life or death.

BEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. And you know, we're only ever a split second away from absolute disaster, you know, I mean things we do, you know, punching each other, twisting each other into uncomfortable positions and stuff like that. So it takes a great amount of trust and faith in your training partners, which is what bonds are so close together, I think is, you know…

When someone has you in a choke, in a real-life situation, if they don't let go, you run out of oxygen and you die. If someone has you in an armbar, your arm's going to snap if they don't stop when you ask them to stop. That mutual respect and that mutual feeling of trust build really strong bonds with your students. And I'm very much, I lead from the front, so I do everything the guys do pretty much. I'm sure stepping into the cage, I still spar, I still do the fitness sessions with them. I still do everything that I can prove that I'm not just screaming and shouting. I'm actually putting my money where my mouth is sometimes.

I think that's important too, is to be a leader. You have to demonstrate you're prepared to go. You're not just prepared to scream and shout. You're prepared to put yourself in those uncomfortable positions also.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. Let's just shift gears towards the business. I tell you, you're running a successful school. Just for context, so what styles, so you've got MMA, what else do you guys do?

BEN: We do all the disciplines individually, so we have presenting jiu-jitsu, our freestyle wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai, striking, which is more like kickboxing style, and then the MMA stuff as well. Plus strength and conditioning on top of that. So we run, we run the full, all the disciplines that you'd need to compete in MMA. And then my job is to put them all together. That's where MMA fighters are made, is not in the individual arts themselves, but in transitioning those arts together.

GEORGE: Awesome. So… and I'm curious, what is your process for doing that?

BEN: You have to make the best out of each art for mixed martial arts. Like for instance, in jiu-jitsu, you might be a guard player. You might lay on your back with the other person on top of you, while there are no strikes coming down, guard is a pretty safe position. When someone can punch or elbow you in the face, it becomes a completely different story.

So it's working out, taking the good from all the different arts and then putting them together in a program that works best for mixed martial arts in itself. But the key is transitioning them. So how do you get from boxing to get someone on the ground? How do you work those transitions? So it's fusing the transitions in. So my mentor is a guy called Mark Fury. He was Matt Hughes coach, Robbie Lawler's coach. He's cornered a 137 UFC fights or something like that.

And he uses the hand as the metaphor for coaching MMA. So if your hand, if these are the arts, that's easy to work. This is BJJ, this is wrestling, this is boxing, this is Muay Thai or striking, whatever. It's these parts, the parts that join the hands together. That's what we need to get people good at. So you might have good BJJ and good wrestling, but how do we create the transition to that. You might have good striking and good jiu-jitsu, but if you can't wrestle, you're not going to dictate where the fight goes. So it's working on the joining factors. So for me, that's the key.

GEORGE: Yeah, perfect. The loop that makes it flow. Probably not the best analogy but-

BEN: Yeah, exactly. It's like what makes everything flow together as one as opposed to being four different martial arts that you're good at. They all need to work in synergy with each other.

GEORGE: So that's now the gym and then so you've got the fighters and now you've got fighters competing and you've created Eternal MMA. So quick just how did we actually transition into that and then we can talk a bit more about what's going on with the fight promotions.

BEN: Yeah. I actually can't take the credit for creating Eternal MMA. I have a business partner in the Gold Coast, Cam O'Neill. He formed Eternal in 2012 and I actually used to just put fighters on it. So he flew some of my guys over to the Gold Coast. He's from the UK as well. So we sort of knew a few people, same people come up with the same sort of time in the same sea. So we got on really well straight away and he started using my fighters on all of his shows.

In 2015, we decided to bring a show to Perth and that's where I sort of came on board as a co-promoter and a co-owner of the business. And that's when we started expanding from the Gold Coast into Perth. I helped sort of develop the promotion on this side of the country and then a couple of years ago we decided we'd move into other States. So we did Adelaide. My thing was on three shows in Adelaide and we just did our debut in Melbourne last weekend before the UFC 243 card in conjunction with the UFC. So we worked together closely with them on that.

So yeah, that's how it sort of came about. I was a reluctant promoter. I didn't really want to do it. I had enough stuff going on, but Cam's very convincing and here we are.

GEORGE: Now, that's quite the… the UFC, how did the UFC come about?

BEN: We sort of asked them questions and we knew they were looking for a partner in Australia and I guess we stated our case. There were a few other promotions looking for the same deal. But I think what makes Eternal… We went into quite some depth in our, in our pitch more than just being on UFC Fight Pass and providing them a broadcast.

We want to help develop the regions. So you know, we want to work in conjunction with them to develop fighters to give them. So to become a pathway to the UFC so we can blood all the fighters, get them their experience, test them out, and then when the UFC is ready to pick the ones that they want, then they can come to the promotion and they'll have a good idea of who they're looking at. Also, if they have fighters they are looking at, we can find them fights for them and stuff like that. So…

GEORGE: I guess just an important step back is how did you actually make the connection? How did it before you actually got to give your pitch?

BEN: You just hear it, you hear things in the industry and we heard they were looking for partners, a partner in Australia, and it's quite easy to get a hold of someone's email address these days and there you go. You just, we just fired off emails and they started talking, started a more in-depth conversation. I know a few of these people from dealing with them with other things as well. So yeah, it's just a case of being diligent, sort of being in the right place at the right time, having a good product and delivering on what you say you're going to deliver on.

I think that's the key to business in general. It's having a good product and doing what you say you're going to do. Which I find is the biggest problem in business these days. I don't think many people follow through on their promises, but I live by that. If I say I'm going to do something, I will do it and do it well. Right.

GEORGE: Yeah. Tell me, I've got a question on that. So you get to do your pitch and what I can hear is you, well obviously you want to deliver on the promise, but it sounds like you really framed it in a way of, you know, it's not just what are we going to get out of the, you know, being promoted for UFC Fight Pass, but really what are they going to get out of it? You know? How could you help develop them? Can you elaborate a bit more on the pitch and how you went about all that?

BEN: Yeah, so we put a pitch together. Obviously, we provide a lot of content. UFC Fight Pass for those that don't know what it is, is the UFC's streaming platform. So it's a digital streaming web-based channel that has 500,000 subscribers in 200 countries across the world. And obviously to service those guys, they need content. So not only can we offer quality content 10 times a year, we can also offer our knowledge of the region.

They need the talent to come through to grow in each region so we can offer them fighters with the skills and qualities that they require to suit their brand. Being the brand leader, they need the best talent and I believe we have the best talent, most of the best talent in the country fighting for us.

That's what we can offer to them as well as sort of being able to give them inside information on the scene in the country as a whole. It's a very mutual relationship. Obviously, we give them all our content and in return we get exposure. That's the nuts and bolts of it. But behind the scenes there's a lot more to it than that.

GEORGE: That's great. So what does that mean for the fighters? Like how does the exposure work? Is it just that it's being promoted on the platform or is it more to it? Not that that's not enough, but-

BEN: Yeah, there's definitely more to it. So for example, we debuted on fight pass in Melbourne just before UFC 243, so we did the Friday night and then 243 one on a Sunday morning. But, obviously, a lot of the UFC top brass were in attendance. So the matchmaker from the UFC was in the crowd that day. So there's no better audition than for you to go out and apply your trade-in front of the guy that you want to impress live.

GEORGE: Totally.

BEN: So things like that, we aim to work with the UFC on dates. If they have a show in Australia, we aim to sort of create… We created a mini fight last week. So our show, we had weigh-ins Thursday, the show Friday. They had on Saturday and the show on Sunday. So Thursday through Sunday there's MMA every day and in Melbourne. Whereas in UFC Fight Week in Vegas, you know, obviously they have these big expos and stuff like that.

So it was like a really big weekend for Australian MMA and we can do stuff like that every time they come to the region. That's one benefit. Being able to display your skills in front of the people that you're trying to impress rather than sending them an email with a highlight reel, doesn't have quite the same effect. They're also readily available on that platform. So if we send a matchmaker a fighter's name, all he has to do is go on Fight Pass and look at that fighter direct through their own TV channel. 

But then also inside information. So if they have any questions or anything like that or they want some guidance on as to who, how this guy is stacking up or whatever, then we can provide that too. But also we're providing regular, if an event does three shows a year and you fight on that event, you might not get on all three shows. So you might only get two fights a year. We're providing an opportunity to fight on 10 different shows a year. Most fighters want to fight three or four times a year, so we can definitely do that for pretty much all our fighters on the frequency that we put shows for it.

GEORGE: Perfect. Awesome opportunity for any fighter, obviously, as you say, you know, direct, but then just being featured on the show. Even if you know you don't have the promoters there, what better thing to put on your portfolio? Just check my fights with them. UFC Fight Pass. Yeah.

BEN: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And it provides a bit of a pathway. It's like I can fight on this show. I know that it's on the UFC, so there's more chance of us then being selected. If we're the best in the country. What we're aiming to do is if you're the best in the country and you owned an Eternal championship, then you should be sort of next in the pecking order to be moved on into the UFC. That's what we're looking at.

Obviously its early days and we're yet to sort of prove that method to anyone, but hopefully next year we signed a multi-fight deal for 2020. They'll take 10 shows from us, whereas this year was a bit unorthodox. They wouldn't normally sign a promotion last quarter, but we managed to get it over the line and they're taking two of our three remaining events this year because of scheduling. They couldn't take the last one, but in 2020 all our events will be live on UFC Fight Pass. So that would give the fighters in the platform on every show to really push and make a run for the big show.

GEORGE: Now, you had mentioned to me earlier, Ben, that you guys have done this all from self-funded 100% you're still running with no sponsors. Is that correct?

BEN: That is correct. Yeah. I sort of spoke to you briefly before, but I've transitioned from being a fighter to being a coach to being a gym owner that none of it was pre-orchestrated or planned. I've never claimed before the last few years to be a businessman. You know, like I just was a guy that had a passion for the sport and wanting to grow it and it's just organically sort of turned out the way it's turned out. So now we're at the point in and it's that corporate sort of driving sponsorship and stuff like that.

It's an area where I don't have the expertise and I've always been a guy that I stay in my lane. If I know about it, I'll do it and if I don't know about it, I'll try and get someone else to do it for me and obviously, you know, pay some… I'd much rather pay someone to do something properly than make a botched job of it myself. Trying to save a few dollars. We have some minor sponsors, you know, a couple of us, you know, they buy tables at the show and stuff like that. But yeah, nothing on a major level that, you know, perhaps some of our competitors might have.

GEORGE: Totally so if we were having that conversation, like let's say I have a product that could be mutually beneficial to what you guys are doing and obviously knowing that, yeah, the exposure is the next level for what you're getting, you know, to be UFC Fight Pass and so forth. Who do you think would be an ideal sponsor and how could they benefit potentially from?

BEN: I think you'd be surprised as to who could be a sponsor for a mixed martial arts event with big viewership. Because you think about the demographic that is one, into the sport and two, attending and watching the sport. It's mostly a male, sort of 17 to 45 disposable income demographic. So you know, it's a good demographic for most companies. You know, clothing, nutrition, tattoos, betting, all that kind of stuff all fit into the sort of the demographic that we service.

So they're the kind of people that we're looking to link up. We did some stuff with Winter Warrior, which is a show that puts on like 20-week programs in gyms around the world. So we're working with them next year, so we're going to be partnering up with them. So that's really exciting for 2020. Any company that wants to have a chance to put themselves in front of that demographic would be a good fit for us.

And also we have assets, you know, we have these champion people, you know, we have great athletes who are very humble and you know, we can come to companies and train their staff. You know, we can do talks, we can… so we can set up very bespoke packages. You know, there's plenty we have to offer with the assets that we have within the company, not just inside of viewership and advertising. Sort of team building, personal development.

UFC Fight Pass

You know, you could learn a lot from a young MMA fighter who's disciplined and sacrificed a lot to get to where they've gotten to. And also from people within the company, like myself and Cam, we were kind of self-made business people that have reached quite high with limited funds and experience, you know. So there's plenty of areas to explore.

It's just a case of like anything, it's just, it's a skill that we need to learn and get better at. I probably need to take some coaching or something like that. I mean obviously if you want to get better at something, you find someone who's good at it and you learn from them. So that's probably what we need to do. It's just, we're very time-poor. I run two businesses and I'm just about to open a third. I have a young family that I don't see very much obviously. 

So yeah, the time to go and do a course or learn from someone is not really there at the moment. But if sacrifices need to be made then they'll have to be made at some stage. So yeah, I guess it's all part of the learning experience.

GEORGE: For sure. So, and what about if like if I'm a martial arts school owner and I've got fighters and so forth, how would that benefit getting on board with you guys with Eternal MMA?

BEN: Well we can advertise your school at our events and your customers are sitting in our audience, you know, and are watching our show on TV so that you're putting your case. So we have had people in the past put adverts on the big screen in the venue of their gym and now we can put flyers or… What it is if you have a brand, I thought, I don't know the exact numbers, but it needs to be seen X amount of times before it sets in someone's head. And then when they're looking for that service, your name will be the one that they…

So it's like subliminal advertising, really. Putting yourself in front of someone enough times for them to, when they do eventually require your service, you'll be the name they type into Google. You know, so that is really where we can assist gyms and also we can obviously help getting their fighters fights if that's… Because I have a huge fight team to service them, having the promotion is great because I can get them more fights. Whereas if you don't have necessarily the connections or know the people to talk to, then you might struggle to match your guys up regularly, which might lead them to getting disgruntled and going somewhere else where they might get better opportunities.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. On the marketing side, like in our group, our Partners group where we work with school owners on the marketing side, basically classify it as a touchpoint. I mean there's various tests, six to eight interactions. It could be typical before somebody reaches out.

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: I mean there are some other tests that stretch up to 43 days and you know, all the fancy stuff. But I mean for any school owner you can think of six to eight interactions with your brand before somebody says hi, let's have this conversation. But that is a perfect thing for a good touchpoint. Sometimes the touchpoint, especially if it's, you know, massive exposure like you know you're doing something on UFC Fight Pass. It could be promoting the actual promotion sometimes has value.

What I mean by that is, you know, nowadays when people have an article in the newspaper, it's kind of pointless. This big newspaper, cause nobody hears about it, but somehow it's got some credibility. So you're marketing referencing that you were featured in this thing is sometimes more valuable. Just like I see when school owners we've worked with that get featured on Sunrise or you know, morning shows.

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: … nobody sees the morning show, but they see the YouTube clip of them featured.

BEN: It gives you that sort of recognition that you're a legit brand. Right, because-

GEORGE: Critical work, yeah.

BEN: Yeah. Credibility. Exactly. So say Nike sponsored you for something, you automatically get that, that’s the biggest company in the world, one of the biggest sportswear companies in the world, you're sponsored by them. All of a sudden people go, “Oh yeah, these guys are legit.” That sort of thing.

GEORGE: 100%. Thanks for your time. I'll bump into you on the daycare trip.

BEN: Yeah.

GEORGE: … again soon. But if anybody wants, let's say, number one, you know like you want to get on board with us. I mean obviously there are big things in store for Ben with the Eternal MMA and the UFC Fight Pass, the exposure. So I mean if, if you're a potential sponsor or a school owner, you've got fighters that you want on board, how can people get a hold of you and have a chat to see if it's mutually beneficial?

BEN: Best bet is probably just an email. So my email would be Ben, B-E-N, at eternal MMA dot com. Yeah, hit me up on an email. Even if it's just like I love to support and advise as well. So if anyone's got any questions, you want it to start a fight promotion or gym-related stuff. I'm more than happy to sort of… I believe that sharing is what makes… Helps everyone achieve and I am very much in lifting people up. So yeah, I'm happy to offer any assistance that I can and yeah if anyone's interested in jumping on board or talking about some options and then, yeah, I'm definitely all ears.

GEORGE: Yeah. Perfect. And if you've listened to the show and you've enjoyed it and you've got some value, especially out of the fight promotions and things like that, just yeah, just shoot Ben an email and just love the podcasts and give some feedback.

BEN: Yeah, definitely a hundred per cent.

GEORGE: Awesome, Ben. Well, thanks for being on the show and I'll probably see you in a couple of days down the road.

BEN: Yeah. Maybe tonight when we pick the kids up.

GEORGE: Yeah, true.

BEN: All right mate, you take it easy. Thanks for your time.

GEORGE: Cool. Thanks Ben. 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

86 – Using Facebook Messenger Bots For Martial Arts Schools

How martial arts school Messenger bots can help educate your future students when you're not present.


  • How martial arts school messenger bots help with relationships
  • The power of speed replies
  • Getting conversations started without you
  • And more

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


The quicker you reply, the better response you get at the end of the day. So what a bot actually does for you is it gives you the opportunity to reply instantly and start building a bit of relationship, or sharing information, or maybe even directing people to a paid trial. 

Hey George here. I hope you're well. I'm on my usual walk with the girl. So exciting stuff, in about 90 minutes from now I am meeting with our messenger bot developer. So we're busy mapping out a messenger bot for our Partner members. And so, quick couple of things about bots. I don't know if that's something that you're familiar with or not, but it's basically if you think of email automation in a way, where you have a sequence of follow up messages, well a messenger bot does the same thing. It just does it a bit more instant and looks real in a way, but obviously is an automated way of following people up. 

So there are pluses and minuses to it. I always feel that to have an optimal sales process nothing's ever going to beat face-to-face or person-to-person live contact, provided of course you've got some cool selling skills and so forth, and you know how to present your offers in the right way. But then a big benefit about having a bot is the instant reply feature. When you look at email marketing, email can sit for a day or even longer, and it's okay to take a bit longer to reply. But with messaging people expect a bit more of an urgent reply. The quicker you reply, the better response you get at the end of the day. 

So what a bot actually does for you is gives you the opportunity to reply instantly, and start building a bit of relationship, or sharing information, or maybe even directing people to a paid trial while you're busy and while you're on the mats and before you actually get to them and be able to speak to them one-on-one through the chat, or get on the phone, or however you want to do it. 

So there are two ways to do it. One is to start the conversation, which is my favourite. I prefer to use it as a conversation starter and not to be the actual conversation. And I think a lot, especially of the bot developers, get really crazy about it. They get all technical and create these long sequences and so forth. But at the end of the day, for me, the way I look at it is I just want to be able to speak to someone, start a conversation, and provide them with useful information before I could have the real conversation, and the one-to-one chat. 

That's pretty much what it's all about, for us at least. You can get really fancy with it and have all these long fancy sequences, but for me and for our members, we've got different ways of following up with chat on a one-to-one basis. So the bots really going to facilitate in helping start that conversation, and just give a bit of breathing space, or a bit of time for someone to actually soak up some videos, read up some information, and ultimately if they're ready, sign up for the paid trial. 

So anyway, that's me. I've got to jump to the meeting fairly soon. Just wrapping up the last couple of questions and things that we're going to work on and how are we're going to format the whole bot. So, exciting stuff. We'll let you know more about it once we have it up. 

If that's something that does interest you and you'd like to have a messenger bot built out for you and for your school that you can plug and play, and just swap out a couple of words and be good to go, then yeah, just hit me up with a message wherever you're watching this. Just reach out to my profile, send me a message and we'll have a chat, and see if we could help. Cool. Have an awesome day. I'm going to head back, 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


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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.

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Martial Arts Media™
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Email: team (at) martialartsmedia dot com

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