75 – Growing Your School With Video & Teaching Martial Arts For Special Needs (From A Wheelchair)

Jim Morrison talks about contributing to the community, creating content & teaching martial arts to kids with autism and special needs.



  • The surprising benefits of giving back to your community
  • How Jim Morrison teaches Taekwondo in a wheelchair to students with special needs
  • The importance of being genuine about your martial arts business
  • How to communicate effectively to your target ‘avatar’
  • Useful techniques in creating awesome martial arts videos
  • And more

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



You know, just like martial arts, we all start as white belts, right. Every single one of us, the greatest martial artists to ever walk the Earth, started on their first day and they sucked. And you know, we have to really embrace the suck, right, that's what it is. We know how hard martial arts are, right, if you can't embrace the suck, then you're never going anywhere from there.

GEORGE: Good day, this is George Fourie, and welcome to another Martial Arts Media Business Podcast episode. So today I'm speaking with Jim Morrison, all the way from Barrie, Ontario. How are you doing, Jim?

JIM: Awesome, how are you?

GEORGE: Very good, very good. Great to speak with you. This is the first time we've just been chatting before the show, and Jim's been going for about 15 years in his martial arts school, Champs Academy. And yeah, we're just going to have a conversation and add some value for you as the school owner. So let's jump in.

JIM: Awesome.

GEORGE: First up, Jim, just to … just give us a couple of minutes, who you are, what type of styles you teach, all the rest.

JIM: Awesome. We're a martial arts academy that primarily focuses on Taekwondo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We've had our studio in place here in Barrie for about 15 years. Before that I was in the martial arts industry teaching for my instructor for many, many years. I think since I was 17, I was teaching. And then I started martial arts when I was about eight years old, so it's a long time ago.

And yeah, we've grown and grown. We started as a small school out of a community center that expanded to a small unit and then that unit grew, and now we're in a 10000 square foot space, yeah, and we're looking to open another two schools in the next two years, so yeah. We're programmed for growth.

GEORGE: Awesome, so 15 years, break that down a bit. So you got started with the same business that you've got now, 15 years ago?

JIM: Yes. So we've been, Champs Academy has been in business for 15 years, this is our 15 year anniversary, so we're actually going to have a big anniversary party this year, mayor's coming and everything so it should be really fun. But we started 15 years ago, it was a small school, we were just teaching out of a community center.

I always had aspirations to make this a full time career, at the time I was working construction during the day, and teaching at night. But you know it was always a big thing for me to be able to make the plunge, and make myself a career martial artist.

And it was just, I'm a growth minded person, and over the years the industry's changed a lot, but I've been able to try and stay on top of all the growth and all the changes over the years. And yeah, I think we've done a good job of staying on top of the pulse of our community, and it's helped us kind of grow.

GEORGE: Hang on, you're not going to let that off so quickly. You've got your 15th birthday party, but the mayor is coming. How did you do that?

JIM: So actually, the mayor is, his family's training with us now, too, but before that we'd also made contact because what we do in our community, we do a lot of outreach stuff in our community. I think that's really important, because if you want to be the go-to location in your area, you need to make sure that you're present in everything you can possibly be in your community.

So we do a lot of work in the schools, we offer free bully prevention courses that we go into schools and teach. We go in and do self defense courses, stranger danger courses, things like that. We do Cub Scout groups, anything like that we do big group areas.

We also work with a lot of special needs in our community. So the word of our club gets out in so many different avenues, even outside our own marketing. We're so well known in the community by now that when I approach the mayor, the mayor's office knows who we are, so it's easier for us to get our foot in the door and put our name on his schedule, right?

So that's something we've always tried to work at is that easy way to start our marketing, to start to open up to the community, and give back, and it's something that gives you back in return. So it's helped us a lot.

GEORGE: That's fantastic. So you got … so you used that a lot as in a … I mean you probably can't use it as in the front of your marketing that you're taking the mayor along, can you?

JIM: Of course, you have to be respectful of the fact that he's going to fit in a job, and you're not the only thing he's dealing with every day. But I think whether it's the mayor, or we've got in contact with our local politicians in many different levels, and the big thing we try to do is be respectful of them, but we also encourage them to be part of what we do.

Even on small ways, whether it's sometimes we teach an autism group. And for example, autism in Ontario right now is, there's an issue with funding and things like that. So there's an opportunity there for us to a part of that, a voice in that community, because we work with a lot of autism groups, and that means we're on the page of the news as well.

So it helps both ways, obviously we're genuine about getting back to our community and helping these different groups, but at the same time, I'd be lying if I say it didn't help us in some way, because it does give us a voice outside of our club.

GEORGE: Yeah, it's such an underrated marketing strategy to just actually care and give, and if you do that, you can actually be surprised what comes your way. Instead of just thinking about, how do we get? How do you give, and things start to shape up for you.

JIM: Yeah, I think the ethics of what we teach, we always know that giving back is a part of that. We've all been taught that since day one in martial arts, but somewhere along the way when we start a business, we kind of want to put those ethics on a shelf or those ideas on a shelf. And I think if we explore them a little more, I think really there's a lot of benefit for our own club from giving back to our community, and doing anything we can, because it spreads the word of what we do.

And if that's the message of what we do, well, people connect with that. That's a passion that people connect with. And in this day and age, when people are inundated with marketing, and advertising, and flyers and media and commercials on TV, they have choices that they never had before, and when they hear somebody who's genuine and passionate about what they teach, and they see that they're somebody that cares about their community, I think that speaks volumes for what the product we sell is, and that's helping people get that message, too, right.

So I think we want to always expand in that general direction. It keeps in touch with my family's ethics, but as well as what I teach in the martial arts club.

GEORGE: Yeah, for sure. I'd like to talk a little more on that. I mean I work with a group of martial arts school owners called Partners, and a bit of our focus with marketing is … a lot of what you're saying is, how do you become an authority in your space? How do you stand out? And a lot about standing out is not by leading with the marketing of the offer, and how do you join, and how do you get a member in?

But rather, how do you give? How do you go that layer up, and how do you create content that provides value that connects with people that maybe they're a good prospect for martial arts, but they don't know it yet, or they have their problems that you can solve, but they don't know it yet.

Like you speak about autism, and I think most parents that have kids that have autism aren't thinking that martial art is the solution. So there's so much in your marketing that you can do, that is not about the offer, but it's about speaking to people on a higher level. So if you don't mind sharing, how do you go about speaking to groups that are potential prospects for your school, and how do you work within the community to get them through the doors?

JIM: Yeah, well that's a great question, because it's not an easy thing, because a lot of times it's even hard to find these specialty groups, even if you have the best of intentions. I think if we all started, the first time I ever started teaching any specialty groups is I was teaching Taekwondo, and I was approached by a parent that I was teaching the one son Taekwondo, and the other son was in a wheelchair. And she said something along the lines of, and I'm paraphrasing, “It's too bad there's nothing he can do like this, because it's helped my other son so much.”


And I said, “Well, if I had a group of kids like this, I'd be happy to do that,” and she said, “Well watch what you say, because I'm going to help you do that.” And the next thing I know, I'm in a rented wheelchair, teaching Taekwondo classes from a wheelchair, I don't actually have to use a wheelchair, thank god, but I'm teaching classes from a wheelchair to a group full of kids in wheelchairs. And it was such a great experience for me that I wanted to make sure that we continued to spread that message.

So then, when I had students that had autism, or I had a student that was in a wheelchair or something like that, we would highlight them. And what I mean by that is, any chance we got, not an advertisement, just to put something in the local newspaper, put on our website, put on our Facebook page, we're so proud of this student, and how far they've come. They are a leader in our school, and we're so proud of them, and to see how far they've come in their training.

And what we found was, a lot of people responded to that because just seeing that, hey, you know what, this is not something that is elitist just to the athletic kid from school. This is not just a … you know, martial arts, we have a horrible reputation. We have the worst … outside of our clubs, the marketing is horrendous. Most people think we, as people, are thugs, and we're tough guys, and we're all those other things, when the reality is we're almost the exact opposite of those things. Because the ethics of what we grew up with taught us to be so much more than that.

So I think it's up to us to break that wall down, and show people that everybody can do it. And that was kind of where we went with it, and right now we have three or four different special needs groups that we teach, specialty classes only for each of them, on top of the kids that we teach in our regular program that are special needs as well. It's become a niche for us, not intentionally, just because we're trying to reach out to the community that we serve.

GEORGE: That's fantastic. So do you actually then teach in a wheelchair?

JIM: Yes. I actually sit in a wheelchair, and like I say, I don't use it, and if you want to be humbled … If you ever want to feel humble, try and teach kids that actually sit in a wheelchair all day how to do things from a wheelchair. And muscles in your arms that you're not aware of, and your shoulders, will start to hurt in a way that you have not had any experience with, because they're so much stronger than we are at using their arms in different ways that we haven't had to use them in. So it's actually very humbling experience, but it's also very … I don't know, I guess it's something that I love doing. Something passionate for me.

GEORGE: That's fantastic. So tell me a bit more about that. So how do you then adapt, adjust your whole class structure, and like, what kind of strains does it put on you, and how do you prepare for that? How do you go about teaching a class from a wheelchair?

JIM: Well, whether it's from a wheelchair or any other special needs group, the first thing we always do is we have a system that our instructors use, and it's basically, it's our own self-assessment more than it is theirs. And what we look at is, we say, okay, what is the highest functioning action we can expect from this group, and it's usually higher than they actually think they're capable of.

So what do we think that is, and we have to draw a picture of what that specifically looks like for whatever group we're looking at. And then we look at the lowest functioning factor, and we say, okay, we have to meet them here, but we want to get them there. So we have to start to look at the physicality, very often the communication is a big factor, because like I say, we have a Down's Syndrome group as well, you know, they're not going to pick up on the same gestures and movements that you and I would in a class. Even the specifics of how you're holding your hand, things can be different depending on the physicality and the mental capabilities of the group that you're teaching.


And that's not to diminish where they're going to be going; it's just to say where the starting point is. So we always have a little chart, we do that, and that way any of the instructors that are, if another instructor's going to teach that, they can look at that chart and decide where on that chart they're going to focus that day. And of course, it can vary day to day, too, 'cause as any instructor knows, teaching any group of kids, there's days they come in ready to learn, and then there are days they come in, and I don't know who gave sugar to all these kids before they walked in here, but they washed it down with coffee. So on those days you going to do what you going to do, right?

GEORGE: Yeah. Definitely. Okay, so now … And just to clarify, so this is teaching Taekwondo classes, or Jujitsu, from the wheelchair? Or both?

JIM: The wheelchair classes are all done for Taekwondo specifically, it just lends itself a little easier to the techniques we teach. We see that the kids get a quicker grasp of the movement, and therefore they're encouraged. Of course, most physical situations that a kid is facing if they're in a wheelchair, they're very aware that they're working from a deficit of some kind, so one of the first things we have to do for all these kids, and this is the same for any kid, is build their confidence.

So they need to see some progress. Just like any kid would, right, so we just have to look at it from that same standpoint we would be teaching any kid off the street, and just say, hey, we need to build their confidence, so they know they can do this journey.

And then from there you can lead them down the journey you want, but if they don't believe in it, they're going to give up pretty quickly, regardless of whether they're in a wheelchair or special needs, or they're fine, and they just need to get started in martial arts, right? So we need to build that confidence before we step anywhere.

JIM: Sorry, that's why we find some of the Taekwondo techniques lend themselves a little easier to that.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And that was actually my next question, and I think you've probably answered it, with how does the mind-set differ? The mind-set of someone that has the special needs versus a normal child, and do you have to change the process of how you get them to instil that confidence in themselves?

JIM: Very often, yes. Because like I say, they face more challenges. I mean that's … things that we don't even think about, you know. When you pull up to a building, you and I don't have to figure out what part of the curb we have to get to, to get in a building. Something that simple, and those kind of things weigh on a person, you know, just think about all the things that weigh on us when we hit traffic, and it's slow, or things like that. Well you know, they're facing that plus when they get to the plaza they're going to, they can get in the door because they don't have a dip in the curb big enough for the wheelchair.

So you have to take into consideration what you're facing, so I think a lot of times, for us that's the biggest piece. For kids that are facing any more challenges than the average kid, whatever it is, like I say, start with that confidence piece and build from there, because the more success they could feel, there's nothing like seeing a kid break a board, right, but if you see a kid break a board who didn't think he could possibly break a board, there's something that changes inside you as a person when you see that, right, you get to be a part of something special.

And that's something, I think, that they experience, but also you as an instructor experience. So there is a mind-set we have to get past, and I can't attitude that we have to get past, because they really can't do a lot of the things that everybody else takes for granted. So we've going to get past that and give them some confidence, and give them some successes.

GEORGE: Yeah. I mean think about that next time you're stuck in traffic, you know? How tough life is.

JIM: Yeah. You know, we think about that with all our students. We try to … One of the things, getting back to the point we were saying is teaching from a passionate place, I think we try and talk to our instructors, and our staff and we say, look, you can't fake this thing we do. We don't have the kind of job we can call in, whether we're teaching anybody, an adult, a kid, we don't know what these people face in their daily life, and we could be the best thing that happened to them today. So we can't bring half an effort. We have to bring the best effort, and I think if we do that, it translates.

And like I say, in this day and age, people have choices they never had before. I started in the 80s, and my parents put me in the martial arts club that was closest to my house. That was it. That was their precursor for hiring a martial arts instructor for me. And it worked out great, I was very happy with it, but it could have easily worked out horribly, 'cause now that I know the industry a little bit better I know there's good and bad in everything. And our industry's no different, right?

GEORGE: That's it. So Jim, what's been the biggest shift for you over the last 15 years, from where you started up to now?

JIM: Well I think the biggest thing is to go to the idea of marketing. I think marketing, when we first started, first of all, like I say, they didn't have … people didn't have as many choices. There was one or two martial arts clubs in town, and even if the martial arts were something that the parent couldn't pronounce, if it was the closest thing to what they thought it was going to be, they just signed the kids up.

Nowadays, with the internet, it's a great thing but it's a curse, and it's a great thing because people have more choice, they have more variety, they can test drive things before they do it, they can go and look inside your facility before they get there. But it's a hard thing, because if you don't quite know how to communicate that to people, I think that you're missing out on clientele that they should be in your facility, they should be training with you.

And I think that's probably the biggest change in marketing, is getting a hand on what happens on the internet, whether it's your website, or social media, or specifically Google Analytics, and all the details. Getting content out there so people can taste test what you're doing, and they have an awareness of what you do. And the more we can do those things; those things I think are the big change over the last 15 years.

It used to be me and my students with flyers going door to door, nowadays, if I get a flyer I do what everybody else does, and I put it right in the recycling bin, and that's about the end of that. But we get so many clicks per video we've put out, and so much interest off Facebook, and our website, Instagram … That's the wave of the future. If you can't … You really have to get professionals on your side as far as what kind of web presence you're having, and that'll make a huge difference.

GEORGE: Definitely so. So do you have a … I guess when I hear the things that you have going on, you've got this big pool of ideas just sitting there to create content from. Do you have a specific strategy that you follow? To create content for your school?

JIM: Yes, well first of all we look at … The biggest thing is, we communicate what we do. So again, it's about being honest. Stick to the virtues that we teach every day. If we want to be honest about what we do, and what we don't do, I don't create MMA fighters. There are great clubs for that and I think it's fantastic, I fought MMA for a few years, but I don't want my kids to do it, so I don't teach it in my school, 'cause my kids are a very big part of my school now.

So I want to communicate exactly what we teach, so what we teach I want to show people the quality of what I teach, I want to give them a taste of what the class looks like, or feels like. I want them to see whatever my strengths are, I want to make sure I magnify those, and I want to make sure that I'm reaching the people that are looking for me. So again, that's about knowing you’re … I don't know if you guys use the same term, but we call it an avatar, which is your ideal customer.

So we always keep the ideal customer in mind and try and keep our content specific to reaching them as well. So it's two sided, it's making sure we're honest about what we're putting out there, but we're also making sure that we're targeting our avatar, so we're not wasting energy and money pretending we're something we're not.

GEORGE: Gotcha. Now I know that for a lot of schools, I know it's a bit of a … people get stuck when they want to create video, and I think even though martial arts school owners and instructors are super confident and know how to run and teach a class, there's something that just, there's this barrier that gets stuck when it comes to creating video and getting confident with that process. What was it like for you getting started with video, and how did you venture through any obstacles to get it in motion?

JIM: Yeah, well that's a great question 'cause I really sucked at it at first, so that's a great question. When we first started doing content and things like that, I really didn't know what to videotape, and I would just take my phone and videotape part of a class, and post it. And do the kind of things like that.

And it got mixed reviews, sometimes I'd get people saying, “Oh, that's a great thing,” or sometimes I'd videotape a class, and didn't realize that it looked a little hectic, 'cause I was taking a video of the part where they were having some free time. And so somebody else, they're like, “Wow, that doesn't look formatted or structured at all,” and now they get a bad taste of what we do.

So I didn't really know what to do. So I have to give credit where credit's due, my son, I have a … So I have a big family, I'm the proud dad of seven little kids, so.

GEORGE: Awesome.

JIM: I have seven kids, yeah, and my oldest son is 19, and he's now running our head office, and he's of course a little more in touch with technology than I am at 44. So he started getting really involved in what we videotape, and he's really good at researching what works out there. He started following some industry leaders, which I always recommend. Look for people that you know, whether you teach Jiu Jitsu, or you teach Taekwondo, or whatever you teach. Look for people anywhere in the world that are, who's got the most views, and who's popular for other people to watch.

Go and watch your heroes, the people you see who win tournaments and things like that, why are they getting views? You know and sometimes, we as martial artists want to give it the quick answer, “Well that's easy for that guy, he's Chuck Norris's student,” or something silly like that. Or, “That's easy for that guy, he's a world famous Jiu Jitsu fighter, it's Kit Dale,” or somebody like that. But it's not just the big name, right, it's making sure what people are really watching Kit Dale's site for is going to be those great Jujitsu tutorials, or those little pieces where they get a taste of something they want to learn.

So if you can mimic what they greats do, you don't have to know how to do the great content, you're just going to find your own niche inside that. And then I think, really, like I said to go back to, is being honest about what you offer. If you're not a Jiu Jitsu program, you know, don't model yourself after one, model yourself after what you really are targeting. And then you can specify to your avatar a lot easier.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And I'll probably add to that, because that also, and what I see is creating an obstacle. Because sometimes you look at your peers, and you look at the guys that you aspire to, but they're already at such a high level, and now you're entering this video realm and your expectations are to be exactly like they already are. And I think that puts a bit of a big roadblock in, because you want to get started, and just be perfect at it, but you've going to run the reps, right?

JIM: You know, just like martial arts, we all start as white belts, right. Every single one of us, the greatest martial artists to ever walk the Earth, started on their first day and they sucked. And you know, we have to really embrace the suck, right, that's what it is. We know how hard martial arts are, right. If you can't embrace the suck, then you're never going anywhere from there. If you could ever take a video of what it looked like your first day of martial arts, how proud would you be looking at that based on your current knowledge of martial arts? Well, you'd be almost embarrassed instantly, right?

Well it's the same thing with your first video. It's going to suck, but that's where you start. That's your starting point, and if you're not willing to take those steps and make those efforts, and try something new, try this, because if you haven't done social media marketing, and you haven't done it well, then you're not going to be able to go anywhere. But in that same breath, there is market leaders that can direct people, there are professionals out there that are really great, making sure you have a good website. Go to people, they're specific to our market in martial arts, and they design great websites that already attract great Google traffic.

There are people that already know how to use Facebook, and they can give you guys, anybody tips out there on how to find those little niches that they can target. You know, there's a lot of different resources out there, but just like martial arts, if you're not willing to go out and try these things, if you're not willing to go out and learn from somebody that's maybe a little further ahead than you, then you're going to stay a white belt, right, just like you would in a martial art.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's so true. I love that saying, and I heard that the first time in High Performance Habits, from Brennan Bechard. Embrace the suck.

JIM: Yeah, I read the same book. That's another thing I think is very important too, is martial artists, we're designed for growth. We have to realize, as martial artists, you and I, we should be constantly reading and listening to podcasts, and if you're not growing, you're dying. We have to really start to look for more things out there that can inspire and encourage us to grow, and become better at what we do. ‘Cause that's what we're doing here, that's what we're selling, so it's a lie if you're not doing it yourself.

You don't want to stand up there and tell everybody, “Growth is important, prove yourself, do these things,” and then you're going home to watch the same TV program and fall asleep in bed doing the same thing you did for the last five days.

I try and do something each day, just to grow, I don't think it's too hard, I think you can find some podcasts, or watch some videos online, or whatever you need to do to feel like you're making steps forward. And that kind of thing too can give you a little bit of confidence to take another step too, 'cause you can find people that are doing those things out there that you want to follow.

GEORGE: I love that, and I'll just add, one thing I'm noticing about you is, you're just doing what … you're just being true to yourself. And it's a big component of the things that we teach in our Partners program, we always talk about how do you create content? Well, just do what you do. If you have yourself in check, and you are growing, and you are being true to yourself, and you've got integrity, and you've got all these attributes that martial arts teaches, talks about, and you are living that, then just live it. Just live it, be it, and let that become your marketing. Let that become the way you spread your message.

JIM: Yeah, and then it just comes down to communication. And then it's just finding the avenues for communicating what you do. And then being honest with that, and putting it out there, right, like we just … I just spend the entire afternoon with my son, we were videoing different content for social media, we should have enough now for the next six months off of today's. Tiring day.

GEORGE: Awesome.

JIM: But yeah, great stuff, and but the thing was, I make a point like, because we don't teach high end MMA, for example. I'm using that as an example, but if you do, I mean, great, that's what you should focus on, and you should make sure you're communicating that. So there's no judgment on it, I just say that that's not what I sell. So because I don't sell that, I try to make sure each thing that I put out there is directly representative of what you would see when you walked into my club. So that means that when you walk into my club, you're already qualified to yourself as a customer.

So by the time I'm reaching these fingers out into the community to bring in people into our club, people that walk through my door, people that call me, people that email me, people that send us Facebook messages, which happens all the time, daily, all that stuff is already qualified as genuine leads because they know what we do. I've already given them a sample of what I do, so, and it's easy to find if you search me up, you'll find me everywhere. Instagram, Facebook, all over YouTube, everything, and that's purposeful. Because it's not, I'm not bragging, it's not something that I'm better than the next person, it's a window.

It's not about how good I am, it's a window into my club. So when you see that window, you can look in, and if it's not for you, you can decide that too, but if it is, you've already qualified yourself as somebody that would be interested in what we do. So we're not selling cars here, we're selling martial arts. If somebody walks through the door, if they make the effort to do that part, and we've done the advertising right, you should have 80 to 90% sign up rate minimum.

I mean that's a given, because if you've done a great job of your marketing, they're coming in for that, what you're selling. So they're already almost buying. They've got their wallet in their hand, they want to buy your product, so it should be an easy conversion at that point.

GEORGE: Just don't stand in their way.

JIM: Yeah. And make sure you know when to shut up, and you know when to talk, and you know when to answer questions, and you know when to listen, right?

GEORGE: That's it. Love it. Hey, so Jim it's been great speaking to you, and it sounds like we could speak another couple of hours, but we might do that on another one. What I do want to ask you though is, what would you do different? Going back over the years, what you've done, what's the one thing that you would tweak or look at differently in a way, moving forward, if you had to start all over?

JIM: I think what was really intimidating for me was a lot of the stepping my marketing to different angles, doing things that I hadn't done before. Because just like you're saying, I was intimidated at first, and when I first stepped into it I knew I sucked. I could watch other people do a much better job, and I didn't really understand that. I think I would just be a little gutsier with the going for that stuff, especially social media stuff. It's almost free. It's so cheap compared to any other marketing.

So I think what I would do if I could go back is spend more focus on those kind of things, and just do that, get that message out there more. I think I was a little bit too silent for too long with that, and now that we've got that ball rolling, we see the results of it, and it's great.

GEORGE: Love it, yeah, it's just something you've going to nurture and be patient with, and I guess just stay clear of all the distractions. I mean there's marketers pulling you in so many directions, and so many ideas, but it always comes down to the … I always, and I can't recall who mentioned this to me, but one of my coaches mentioned to me, always look at what people do, versus what they say.

JIM: Yes.

GEORGE: Which, people might be telling you to do this, but they're doing something completely different.

JIM: Yes.

GEORGE: And I think it's just important to focus, do the hard work. The hard work is creating the content, fine tuning your message, and looking after yourself. And if you can get that through, and be patient with it, you're going to build a following and it's going to start … that's where you get the whole snowball running down the mountain, and it just catches momentum. And you've got leads coming in from everywhere, and after a while you can't track where, it's just happening.

JIM: Yes. And I think that's the trick. Just get started, just go for it, just start putting your word out there. And like I say, be genuine with what you're putting out there, watch people that you trust, and watch what they're doing. And again, like you say, don't listen to what they say, watch what they do. Go follow them. Go follow them on Instagram, go follow them on Facebook, and you know what, the thing is that this day and age you can find all that information so easily, so you just have to be willing to take that next step and go for it, and follow the right people, and even make mistakes along the way. Be a white belt, embrace the suck, do your thing and just go with it, right?

GEORGE: Love it. Jim, been awesome speaking to you. If anybody wants to know more about you, and what you do, where can they go to find out?

JIM: Anybody can contact me anytime, I love helping people in my community, I love helping people in the martial arts community, so my email is direct from our website, so www.champsacademy.ca, or info@champsacademy.ca is our email. You can email me through there, I'm on Facebook as well, you can look for, I'm Jim Morrison, I know everybody's going to remember that, and I'm on Facebook, I'm on Instagram, I'm everywhere, so look for me there, and I can even put you in contact with my son, who handles a lot of this stuff as well, and he'd be happy to help. That's part of our mission.

GEORGE: Awesome. Fantastic, Jim, look forward to speaking to you again in the future.

JIM: Yeah, anytime.

GEORGE: Awesome, cheers.

JIM: Cheers.

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top, 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. 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 Community and an easy way to access it is if you just go to the domain name martialartsmedia.group. So martialartsmedia.group. G-r-o-u-p. There's not dot or anything. Martialartsmedia.group. Then we'll take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks. I'll speak to you on the next episode. Cheers. 


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***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

74 – How To Sell Your Martial Arts School Into Profit Despite A Flood Disaster

Cheyne McMahon's school got flooded moments after going full time! With some help and sales skills, he turned disaster into profit.



  • How Cheyne McMahon applied his experience in selling cars to selling martial arts memberships
  • How he was able to bounce back from a flooded dojo and an eight week hibernation to a full-time school
  • How he grew his 110 students in December to 185 students in February
  • Some valuable marketing hacks to attract potential students
  • The secrets to a profitable martial arts open day
  • And more

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



As a teacher, if you don't think you're teaching the best quality chosen martial art that you're doing, then how can you convince other people that they should join you?

GEORGE: Good day, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media Business Podcast. Today I'm joined with someone who I've gained a lot of respect for in the industry, being fortunate enough to work with him the last couple of months in one of our programs, our Partners program. I want to introduce you to Cheyne McMahon from Australian Karate Academy in Brisbane. How are you doing today, Cheyne?

CHEYNE: Yeah, good mate. Thanks for having me on.

GEORGE: Awesome, so welcome to the show. I know you've mentioned you've listened to a few of my episodes as well, so this is going to be an interesting conversation. There's a lot of value, you're getting some great results in your school and you're going to be sharing a lot of details on what you are doing, how you're going about it. First, if you want to give us a bit of background, just a bit about you, the school and how you got started in the industry, etc.

CHEYNE: Yeah, no worries. I started karate when I was four. My father was, I suppose he still is, my teacher. He started karate in 1967. He opened his first club in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland in 1976, so I followed him around and wanted to do karate. For the first couple of weeks apparently was holding me as I was walking around and I was crying. 33 years later, I'm still in love with karate. The longest break I had was six months off when I moved overseas. My dad started the Australian Karate Academy in ‘89, so this is our 30th year as the Australian Karate Academy. He and my mom were the main teachers. He retired a couple of years ago and I've since taken it over. We're in our 30th year and still going strong.

GEORGE: Fantastic. You went through school, you've been training all your life. At what point did you gravitate towards the teaching side of things?

CHEYNE: I started teaching with my mom when I was probably 14 or 15. Actually, one of my students now, I was there on his first lesson when I was 14. He was a six year old training with us for 15 years, then went off and had a career and came back a few years ago. In a couple of weeks, he's about to go for his third dan. I clearly remember his first lesson when he turned up, him and his sister. I started straight after school, so in year 12.

I was never really an academic, all I really wanted to do was karate. It was just karate. Karate was my life. In year ‘12, towards the end of year ‘12, I went on a three month tour of Europe for karate. No thought about, it's going to affect my ability to get into university or TAFE training or anything like that, that's not what I wanted, so I went over there and competed for Australia and stuff like that.

After school, I was lucky enough to qualify for a grant from the Queensland government, so I was being paid to teach karate and to train in karate as an 18 year old, as an elite athlete. From there man, every part-time job I've ever had was all revolving around karate, fitting in karate times, training, teaching, training. I've loved karate ever since I was four.

GEORGE: Alright, awesome. That's pretty cool to get a grant from the government as a sportsperson.

CHEYNE: I had to do some TAFE courses to keep it, but everything was revolving around the training. Staying in condition, first aid, those sorts of things. I think it went for about two years. I got 250 bucks a week. Big money, huge money, but my parents were pretty happy because they didn't have to pay me.

GEORGE: Exactly.

CHEYNE: I don't think they do that anymore. There's a lot of issues around the government funding stuff like that for karate, because karate didn't get into the olympics and stuff like that, so a bit of politics. It might change now with karate being in the olympics.

GEORGE: Yeah, definitely so. Let's backtrack, because we met, it was December last year, depending on when you're listening to this, that's 2018. The first time we spoke, you were in a bit of a situation with the school. Do you mind sharing a bit what had happened?

CHEYNE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, no problem. In September of 2018, I decided I was going to quit work and just concentrate on karate, so very happy to do that. Four weeks later we got flooded. Where we are in this big building, they took the roof off because there were dramas with the roof. And of course, we had rain for two weeks so we lost all of our mats, we had to close the dojo, obviously. We lost all of our carpet tiles and bags and we went from having an increased number of students to suddenly no classes for six weeks. In between that, the landlord told us we have to move in that building as well.

We were probably shut for eight weeks. I quit work, I committed to do karate and I realized if I keep going the same way as I'm going, I'm not going to earn as much money as I was selling cars. That's when I figured I need to find somebody. And I found you.

GEORGE: I don't want to let the story off there, because that's quite a big thing, right? It's a big thing already, having to burn the bridges going from employment, secure income, you know that there's money every month, and you burn the bridges, and then you start your business. That alone is a risky thing for anyone to do. I think it's what holds a lot of people back from taking that leap forward. You made the leap and then you had the rug pulled under you and flooding. What's going through your mind at this time?

CHEYNE: All the money going out of my account and nothing coming in. I know that I'm going to be doing karate for the next 30, 40, 50 years, so making that decision for me was not so hard. When you have a wife and a young family it's a little bit scary, and throw into that people not coming in to karate so there's no money coming through. In fact, the money's going out because I'm still paying rent, and still trying to pay myself, and pay for this, and pay for that.

Our numbers were steadily growing, slowly, maybe ten a month or ten a term so we were slowly building. It was okay when I was selling cars, which was my job because I still had an income so it wasn't such a huge drama, but when there was no income, and there was no students, and money is going out it was a very, very, very scary time. I almost called my boss up, my old boss to say. ‘Hey, can I come back to work?' There was only one way. There really was only one way forward and that was to come back bigger, better, stronger, and bolder than we were before. With your help, we're almost there. We're almost there.

GEORGE: That's awesome. That's really cool, and I'm happy to play such a small part in you moving forward. Do you think that also plays a big part in it, the fact that you see what the road looks like when the business doesn't work, that you just come back with this unstoppable determination to, you're going to…


GEORGE: The stakes are a lot higher, right? It's so easy if you've got a part-time, full-time job and the school's just ticking along, right? Then when things really almost hit rock bottom, and you can see what life could potentially slip down to, you feel that really changed your drive and determination?

CHEYNE: As funny as it sounds, I think the flooding, all the water, all the problems that we had with the building… We couldn't get into the carpark and half the building was knocked down, and I couldn't put my signs out, that all played a part. If it wasn't for that, there's no way that we would be as strong as we are now. That played a massive part. I got to the point where it's balls to the wall or nothing. If it wasn't for the flooding, I don't think I would've had as much drive and determination as I do now to build our numbers back up, bigger and stronger.

One of the funny things is, I was talking to you on messenger about it, when I was talking to you was, ‘Cheyne, let's have a flood sale. Let's do a flood campaign.' And we did, and it was like. ‘Save the dojo,' and people got on board, and they brought in their friends and family and it was great. So I think that that sort of galvanized our members. I think it brought us together a bit more and made us a bit stronger, and moving forward, our dojo is 10 times, 100 times better than it was in November last year. I've got aircon, first time ever.


CHEYNE: In 30 years of full time karate dojo, my parents have had, this is the first time we've ever had aircon. I haven't got the bill yet, I'm a bit scared.

GEORGE: That's a pleasure to have in Brisbane. For anyone listening, especially not in Australia, Brisbane is hot, but it's very, very sticky hot, as in you'll have a shower in the morning, you'll go dry off, you'll walk outside and it feels like you just got out the shower, right?

CHEYNE: It's two or three showers a day, for sure.

GEORGE: I would like to talk about just that whole turnaround, right? Because you reached out to me on messenger and whenever something happens that feels out of your control, then you've got to look at it and say, ‘Well, how do I turn this into something good?'


GEORGE: So there's a situation that's bad, what can we do to turn it into something good. The reverse side of that is, if something bad happens, there's always a lesson in it. You're going to hit the lesson two years from now, or a year from now, somewhere down the track. You're going to look back and say, ‘I'm so glad that happened.'

What's a good way to look at things is, ‘Okay, well,' and it's a hard thing to do, but if something bad happens can you sit back and say, ‘Alright, well there's a lesson in here. What if I had to learn that lesson now? And what can I do?' That's the thinking of how I looked at it, and you mentioned the flood and I was like, ‘That's perfect.' It's not perfect, but it's such a great opportunity for you to say, ‘Hey,' because people generally care and people generally want to help. If this is what happened and you're just open about it, it's like, ‘Hey well, this is what happened, how do we turn this into something good?'

CHEYNE: Yeah. Every day I'm taking photos of the water. it's not just water, it was all the dirt that came with it. Because it's a construction zone outside, it was just so much dirt and mud and the karate mats, or martial arts mats, they're pretty resilient, you just clean them. There was just so much dirt that was sitting there for days that we couldn't get in. They were just irreplaceable, so we've obviously had to replace them, so we lost a lot of money and we had nowhere to train them because we can't train them on concrete.

Every problem, there's a solution. We were taking photos and putting them up on Facebook, and friends in other karate clubs were messaging me and asking me, ‘Do I want to come and bring my students to their clubs?' and stuff like that, so it was great. Everybody wants to help, as you said. I really appreciate those who came in and helped me. A lot of students came down and cleaned, and helped, and moved stuff and just made us a bit stronger.

GEORGE: That's the ending, what's the result from the sale that you ran?

CHEYNE: We ran a two week sale, just a quick one to bring in friends. I think we had about 15 to 20 and because they are referrals, we know that they're like your members already, they're friends of your members. It was very easy to convert them because they already wanted to join. Then we ran the 72 hour sale as well, which we talked about and ran through. The email follow up of four days, and I think we sold just over 20 grand which paid for a lot of the stuff that we lost. During that period I had no money coming in because I had no students, then people were happy to pay for it, for your training, so it was great.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Let's just touch on a few other things, there's so much I haven't asked you yet. You've got a background in sales. How do you think this helps you with interaction and signing up more students, at the end of the day?

CHEYNE: I sold a lot of things but probably the one I did the longest was selling cars. I did it for about seven or eight years. I moved into selling cars, I went from having a full time karate dojo to… my dad wanted to come back to training, and my wife wanted to go to uni, so there was not enough income. It was okay for me, but not for three people. I went the other way, instead of working 20 hours a week to working 60 hours a week. It was nuts.

I started selling cars, and straight away I could see the correlation between talking to people, especially on the phone. We used to get a lot of phone calls and people wanting your best price. It happens now, the first question a lot of people ask is, ‘How much are the fees?' Maybe that's not what they really want to ask, but that's just ingrained in people. You learn a lot of strategies of how to get around the price. I'm not saying that we're lying or hiding the truth, but in a lot of cases it's not the reason that they want to buy the car, not the reason that they're wanting more information about your karate school.

You start talking about the car or you start talking about the karate school, and you point at all the great things about the car. The car has five star ANCAP rating, it's two and a half thousand dollars off, it comes in five different colors. Using the same skills, you start talking about how many instructors you have at your little karate school. You've got full time school or all of these extra things that you've got. Air conditioning, that's my big one. Those sorts of things.

Selling a car and selling a membership is very similar, especially over the phone but in person, selling a car is so much easier and selling your karate school is so much easier in person. Because a person has committed to come in, so they're almost there, they just need a bit of a shove. When they're selling cars they usually bring a friend along with them, and they're the uncle that nobody likes. We call them “Eddy the expert” so you've not only got to overcome that person, you've got to overcome the customer, and always the customer's wife. Customers love them. And the same in karate.

You're selling something and the wife might say or the mom might say, ‘Let me have a chat to my husband and I'll get back to you.' In that instance, it's hard to get them back, the same as a car. If they say, ‘Let me go talk to my husband,' and maybe they don't. Maybe they don't have a husband, but everybody uses that excuse. I've used it in buying a fridge or buying a TV, and I know that I'm lying. I know that I'm lying. Because I don't have to talk to my wife, because my wife has already given me approval for this. People use that as an excuse.

Selling cars, you've got to look through the BS to really see what the reason is, why they don't want to buy the car, but more importantly, why they want to buy the car. Why they want to have little Johnny come and do karate. You ask very similar questions to the customer, ‘Why does little Johnny want to do karate?' ‘Because he's being bullied at school.' Okay, so it's about building his confidence and concentration and these sorts of things.

The more questions you ask, it's like an onion, you just start peeling layers. The same as selling cars, the same as selling a membership. Why, why, why, why, and you get to the real answer. A lot of people struggle with asking for money. If you can't ask for money selling cars, then you will starve. And the same as a martial arts school. If you can't ask for money right then and there, then the chances of them buying off you are very slim. It's 40 bucks, 20 bucks, 100 bucks, whatever it is that you're asking for, compared to 20000 dollars. 100 bucks is nothing. People buy 49 dollars and never turn up. People will walk away from 200 dollars but they won't walk away from 500.

When you're selling a car, you ask for a deposit. You always ask for two grand. Two thousand dollars. They say commit to two thousand dollars, you've sold a car. And if people go look, I'll give you 200 dollars. No, because you won't come back. 200 bucks people walk away from, like, ‘Oh well, don't worry about it, 200 bucks.' So that's why you want to ask for two grand. They might come back and say, ‘a thousand dollars.' Done. So you always ask for double. That's selling cars. If you can't ask for 49 dollars, the person standing in front of you, you're going to struggle to get members.

GEORGE: You mentioned some really valuable stuff there, especially with the excuses. Now, we all want to believe that people are 100% honest, which they are. People are 100% honest, and it's not that people come into your school to intentionally lie. There's a fight or flight situation that happens, and if a person is in a situation where they don't have the right, they haven't been sold on the value. They're not convinced yet, but they also don't know what to ask you.

They're in this situation, that they don't want to feel stupid and they've got these unanswered questions. They don't know exactly what's missing, but something's missing so fight or flight kicks in and now I say something, ‘I just need to think about it,' or, ‘I've got to speak to my wife,' or, ‘Got to go walk the dog,' or, ‘I don't make on the spot decisions.' There's a million of these things that are just knee-jerk type responses.

CHEYNE: Yeah, and they're not trying to offend you. They know that they're lying, but it's not a lie that they're uncomfortable doing. In your karate school, your martial arts school, if they don't buy right then and there a two week trial, four week trial, even a term, or monthly, whatever it is, then you haven't asked the right questions or you haven't given them enough information. And if they go, ‘Look, let me go and have a chat to my husband,' that might 100% be the reason. I don't know how many marriages or partnerships, where the partner doesn't know what the other person is doing.

So we used to say, ‘That's fine, give your husband a call, I'll sit here and wait.' And just sort of sit back and maybe have a coffee. That person's like, ‘Oh, well they're at work at the moment,' so they can't talk to you. Those sorts of things, so you give them, ‘Oh, well why don't we just do a two week for 29 dollars now, just to secure Johnny into one of our programs, and then you can have a chat to your husband. I'm still happy to offer you the four weeks, 49, once you've spoken to your husband.'

The most important thing is securing a place right now for your little Johnny. So you've got to give them urgency. If I could do that right now for nine dollars. Would you be happy to, for nine dollars, If I could offer you that two weeks for nine bucks? For seven dollars? Five dollars? What if I give you 12 months at half price, would you be happy to buy the car now? That was just coming out, sorry. Would you be happy to sign up now for 12 months and we'll give you 50% off. Surely, customer, at 50% off, you'd buy that membership wouldn't you, 50% off? You've just got to keep asking, asking, asking, and if they go, ‘Look, at nine dollars, happy to pay for two weeks,' at least you've got something. I mean it's not nine dollars but you've got a commitment. They're committed.

GEORGE: I guess you've got to also be, I could see your passion in-

CHEYNE: Yeah, sorry. I'm a rambler.

GEORGE: …In the sale, but that's awesome. I've got to ask the question, right? It's the elephant in the room. How many times have you been labeled the term ‘used car salesman?' And what do you think about that?

CHEYNE: When I was teaching and working, I never told people what I did for a living. People ask what were you doing, ‘Oh, salesman.' And they go, ‘What do you sell?' ‘Oh, bits and bobs,' and I'd talk about karate. But after a while, I couldn't care what people think about used cars salesmen. They do have a really bad reputation from years ago. This place I did work at, this was before I started, but if I offered you a thousand dollars for your trade in and you wanted five thousand, they would get your keys and throw them on the roof, and say, ‘Well good luck getting your keys.' That's a bad reputation of used car salesmen. It's sort of changing now with the internet and everybody being pretty open about how they work.

If you were a lawyer, you'd be like, ‘How many lawyers does it take to chain down to the bottom of the sea?' Those sorts of things. As a used car salesman, people just used to find it funny, because I'm pretty open and honest guy. Even when I sold cars, I wouldn't lie. I just wouldn't tell the whole truth. You only have to tell somebody as much as they need to hear. I'd never lie about the history of the car, you know. It was owned by Grandma Edith who drove five kilometers down the road on Sunday.

Those sorts of things, I wouldn't do that. I'm not that sort of person. A lot of the people I've worked with aren't like that. But some are, and I've worked with those guys, and they generally don't stay in one job for a long time. They're six months here, and eight months there, and three months there. I was lucky enough to stay in my first place for two years, second place for four years, and my last place for two years so I wasn't jumping around.

I guess it comes back to, when you buy anything, whether it's a car, a TV, martial arts membership… if you like the person, if you trust the person, then you buy off them. You might pay them a bit more money because you have a connection, or you like that person. Have you ever bought a TV or a washing machine and you liked that person, and you go back to that person? It happens, and maybe you don't go check all the other prices because you did and you know what, I like Johnny, he's a nice fellow. I'm going to recommend one of my friends to him. Go and see Johnny because I bought my car off him and he was really good to me.

That comes back to, you're running martial arts school too. This used to be my tagline: You come for karate but you stay for the jokes. I say all bad jokes, all dad jokes and one liners through my teaching, every class and I'm saying jokes left, right, and center for the parents in the kids classes, so the parents are laughing. The kids are looking at me like, ‘I don't get it,' so they don't think I'm funny, but the parents think I'm funny. You're not buying and staying with somebody that you like, and that you have a connection with, and somebody that you feel comfortable with, especially over a long period.

We've got a couple of guys who have been training with us for over 20 years, and that's training with my dad and training with me, having my dad as a mentor for years. These guys are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, some of them, and trusting me in my 30s. So obviously they like me, they like my karate, they like my personality and stuff like that. They're happy just to continue training with me, so it comes down to the person. It always comes down to the person.

GEORGE: I'll add to that. In a sales environment you get taught a lot of technique. It's all about the intent. I don't think there's any negativity around a technique, I think the negativity around the intent, using the technique.

CHEYNE: Totally.

GEORGE: That's what you're saying there, right, is people… the old saying of “connect with people they know, like and trust,” so that's the connection. If you're using the technique in a positive way and respectful of boundaries, then there's no negativity in that. A mentor of mine, James Schramko always says, ‘Sales is the situation of taking someone from one situation to a better alternative.' And sometimes people need a bit of help because, I tell you what, I wish that someone sold my parents on me doing karate when I was a kid, and I only started martial arts when I was 35.

I would've loved if somebody, really knowing how to uncover my needs, and how martial arts would be a good fit for me, and gently being able to, with good intent, pushing them into the right… I wouldn't say pushing, but guiding them into the right way of saying, ‘Yeah you should be doing karate.' Because it's a life changing thing, right? I think as a martial arts school owner and an instructor, you've got to believe that. You've got to really believe down to your gut that you are changing lives. If that's what you're doing, and you are using a bit of technique to help the right person makes the decision to join, then you've got to do it.

CHEYNE: As a teacher, if you don't think you're teaching the best quality chosen martial art that you're doing, then how can you convince other people that they should join you? I think that comes down to loving what you do. I've sold cars to people who came in looking for one car, and I've sold them a totally different, because it doesn't suit their needs. They're looking for a small car and they've got four people in their family, for example, those sorts of things. I would steer people away from certain cars, especially if there's somebody that I have a really good connection with.

You can't be friends with everybody, and it's really naïve to think that you can sell a car to everybody or sell a membership to everybody. You can't be friends with everybody, everybody has a different personality. A friend of mine I helped a couple of weeks ago, he's a karate friend of mine, and he and his wife are having a baby and they're looking at a certain car. I tried to steer, because he was set on that car, and I was helping him have a look around for that car, but I slowly steered him into a better car, and buying the car that I recommended. I helped him buy it and stuff like that. It's a much, much, much better car than that thing that he was looking at buying, because… and it's the same as a membership.

So many times people come in, and really the parents want to train too. A lot of times, dads come in too, they're 35, 40, 45, and they want to sign up little Johnny. But you know, out of the corner of their eye they're sort of watching the class, and they're looking at… and you know that they want to train. So those things you pick up if you're good at selling. Then you start asking questions, ‘Johnny have you ever done karate?' ‘No.' And then you say, ‘Have you ever thought about doing karate?' ‘Oh yeah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,' then all of a sudden that's two memberships sold instead of one.

One technique I do, and I've done it for ages is, when I get a phone call and I say, ‘This is Cheyne from the Australian Karate Academy,' ‘Oh yeah, hey. I'm just calling up about your karate classes.' And I say, ‘Sure, our adult classes are on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wed-‘ ‘Oh no, I'm calling for my son.' ‘Oh okay, no worries.' Immediately, I always talk about adult karate, like they're coming to join our adult karate. And nine times out of 10 it's the kids, but I always put it in their mind, ‘Oh, maybe I should do karate too.'

GEORGE: That's great. That's genius. I like that because you've just planted the seed.

CHEYNE: You're just planting the seed. ‘Johnny's dad, have you ever thought about doing karate?' ‘Oh, yeah.' my dad ran this campaign years ago in late 80s, early 90s. At the time we had no money. My dad was working at a juice factory and my mom was cleaning houses. My dad's passion was karate, and he was at uni studying teaching, and we had a full time karate club.

My dad put all of his money into a Sunday newspaper. Remember when people used to read newspapers? Sunday ad, it was like a quarter of a page on a Sunday and it said, ‘You… a black belt in karate.' My dad started a 12 month black belt course. A lot of people were very negative about it at that time, and probably still are but what people didn't realize is those guys are training five days a week, twice a day. Two hours in the morning and two hours at night.

He put this ad in, ‘You… a black belt in karate,' and we used that for years, man, because that was a Sunday and they put all of their money in, everything that we had into that ad. The phone just rang and rang and rang. My dad, he signed up people, so many people. It was just a simple idea that he had about people wanting to be a black belt. I even thought about writing that as a Facebook ad, I'll talk to you about that afterwards.

If you ask that question… because the end goal for a lot of people is getting to black belt. They don't realize there are lots of levels after black belt, but we do ask that question, ‘Have you ever thought of being a black belt in karate?' In karate, it's a big difference, 3, 5 years. It’s not BJJ which is ten years, we'll say. If you don't ask that question, that person may never, ever join and ten years later they're thinking, ‘I should've started karate.' If you ask that question, it's either a yes or a no. That's what we say in sales, they're all going to say yes or they're going to say no. If they say no, no skin off your nose. They say yes, man, that's a couple of thousand dollars. That's a thousand dollar question right there.

GEORGE: Awesome, so a couple of questions for you. In regards to working together, you started out with us a couple of months ago. We're recording this now in February, so you started out in December, right? It was just right before the floods etc. We did talk about the 72 hour sale that generated 20,000 dollars, so that was a good plus, but what were your student numbers at the time when we got started together?

CHEYNE: I was on track but because of the flood, and I didn't really know what I was doing, to be honest, mate. I think I was falling over members. We got down to 110. 110 is great for a lot of people, sure, and it was great for me, but not as my sole income, not as income. It's not enough. So you're down to 110.

GEORGE: Alright, perfect. Where are you at today?

CHEYNE: As of today, I actually signed up two new kids today, so we're at 185. 185 members training. That's not including family members who train for free, I don't like that word “free”. My family members and instructors. Members all up, people who are paying money, and some are paying for once a week, and some are paying for unlimited classes, is 185. As of right now at 1pm. I haven't checked my email, but yeah.

GEORGE: That's amazing, so you're 35 students off to doubling your school from the time we started three months ago.

CHEYNE: Yep. And to be honest, man, my goal was 250 in December of this year. I really thought it'd be 200. But now I'm looking at 200 in March, which is nuts. The good thing is we had everything in place to cater for those students. We've got ten instructors. Some are family members. My sister teaches, her husband teaches, he's a third dan as well. They met through karate, and I've got genuine friends who help out and teach classes, and some uni students who assist in classes as well. They're all black belts through me and they've all been on Queensland teams before, so it's great. We're in a very good position at the moment. But again, that was all set up for December of this year, not March of this year.

GEORGE: That's cool, so what are the three parts of the Partners program. 1 to 2 to 3, whatever you feel is good. What's made the biggest impact for you over the last few months?

CHEYNE: Definitely our open day, everything leading up to our open day. Being able to talk to the members of the community, because Partners is so small, it's not like there's 1,000 people on it. The great thing is being able to chat to guys like Darryl, and I can see Stacy and those guys doing the same sort of thing. We all have the same passion. We all want to teach the best martial art that we can, and make an income, to do that, and being able to talk to those guys about what's worked and what hasn't worked. It's great. And being able to talk to you, man, just Facebook message. If you don't reply in half an hour, I know that you're sleeping or you're dead.

So just being able to talk back so quickly is phenomenal, but probably the biggest one is our open day, and setting everything up for that open day. It's not like we just magically made an open day. It was months leading into it, or the weeks leading into it, all the preparation. Even behind me, you might be able to see the list of open day stuff that we had. I've written out everything, everything printed off. Everything was pointing towards a big open day, and it's only because I had the time to talk to you and set everything up. Without your help and without the other Partners' help, we couldn't do it.

I did an open day last year, and it was good, but this one was so much better. So much more organized. Even though my sister broke her toe on that morning, and the carpark was locked. We had drama, after drama, after drama, but because we prepared so well for it, it was just easy. Then it had a flow in effect after the open day. Having a chat to you about organizing the Facebook ad campaign afterwards and the follow up, all those sorts of stuff. We signed up 34 people on the day, just on the day they gave me their money, they gave me trust for that. After that, the two kids I signed up today was from the open day campaign. I just let it keep running and kept following up, and following your suggested email trail, and it was great.

GEORGE: That's awesome. That's so good to hear. Who would you recommend the Partners program to? And why?

CHEYNE: I would recommend it to people who are just sort of treading water, doing the same thing and expecting a different result, and that was me. That was me. I thought I knew the answers. I ran my karate club before, previously, full time and I think we got to about 220 members in one location, but man it was a lot of work. I was doing all of the classes there, all of the marketing, and all of the cleaning, and I burned myself out and, very close to quitting karate.

I would recommend it to those who are floundering, just wondering, well they get to a point… ‘Where are the next students coming from?' Or, ‘How do I market the customers better, how do I make my systems easier?' And, ‘Who do I talk to?' and those sorts of things. So those who love their chosen martial art and they're ready to go full time. I'd say just wait a little bit, and have a chat to you.

Even guys who've been doing it for 10, 15, 20 years. We all get stale, and we may have exhausted our current market. To those who've been doing in the same club for 20 years, maybe they need a refresher. They need a different angle, a new angle. The video stuff that we do is phenomenal. I think those sorts of people, and I've recommended a couple of my friends who just need a little bit of an arm twist, and I think it'll be beneficial for them.

GEORGE: Awesome. I remember, just before you did this, the 72 hour sale, you said to me that you almost didn't join, and you thought that you'd just wasted a bunch of money, right?

CHEYNE: Yeah, yeah. It's the fear. It's the same as buying a car. That's why people get cold feet. It was a big commitment. It's funny, because I knew at that time, I had to do it. I had to do something different. I can't keep doing the same thing, thinking I knew it all. It's ridiculous. It's that ego, man, that ego inside you. Whether you do karate, or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or kung fu, or who-flung-dung, it's that ego inside you to go, ‘You know what? I'm a man, I can do it all myself.' You know?

I'm a black belt, I'm a fifth dan. I don't need anybody else's ideas or opinions. Once you sort of step back from yourself and really have a good look at yourself, you realize you can't. After I committed to you over the phone, I had a bit of a think and I went, ‘what have I done? Oh my god, it's a lot of money.' I thought, ‘It's just a total waste of money now. I'm just going to have to do something different.' Then I cooled down and had a think, and I had another chat to you and I realized this is definitely the way forward. It'll give you a change, you know. I am so happy that I found you, and I committed, and moved my ego to the side, and obviously we've made some money man, so it's been great.

GEORGE: That's awesome. So, for anyone listening that would like to know more about it, just go to martialartsmedia.com. Send us a message, and we can see if we can potentially help you and if our program is a good fit. Cheyne, it's been great speaking to you.

CHEYNE: Can I just say one thing? George, you asked me a lot of questions as well, about whether I would be a good fit for you. That made me feel really comfortable, instead of you not knowing anything about me, about my karate club. You asked me a lot of questions, maybe 20 to 30 questions. Just to make sure that you could help me, and I really appreciated that. Instead of just taking my money, you qualified me, and that's another thing that we do in sales. You've got to qualify, otherwise I'm just giving you money, you're just taking money. I really appreciate it and I could see that we were a good fit. A good personality, very similar to mine, very relaxed, but driven. Sorry, sorry I hijacked but I really, really appreciate it.

GEORGE: No, thank you. And thank you for acknowledging that. It takes a while in business to realize that… I guess you start putting your filters up, right? You realize that nobody just wants to make money, right? Especially in the martial arts industry. It's about passion. I'm not on the teaching side, I am on the service side of helping martial arts schools.

I'm in this industry because I've got a passion for martial arts, and I had many other opportunities where, believe me, I could make a lot more money if I ventured into that. But, as in life fulfillment as you sit there, you know that this is what drives you, this is what you want to do for your life. I sit in that same boat. Martial arts drives me, there's one thing that I want to propel forward and help and be a part of, is my club. It's martial arts and martial arts school owners.

Within that, there's also some reasoning that, and you mentioned this earlier, that everybody is not a good fit for everybody. I'd rather take the time discovering that, and making sure that if you are going to be a client, and we are going to work together, there's going to be a lot of energy from our part and there's going to be a lot of energy from your part. We've got to make sure that we can match those goals and say, ‘Alright, hey if you're going to come on board, we're going to be able to help you.'

Because if we can't, you're going to walk away unhappy, we're not going to feel good and be fulfilled. It's never really about, yeah of course there's money on the back end, but there's so much that has to happen before that. Before you can say, ‘Right, this is a school I can now really work with. I can help them move forward.' Let’s talk about taking that next step.

CHEYNE: Yeah, it's definitely got to be a two way street. Definitely got to be a two way street. It's been great, man, and being able to talk to you all the time is just fantastic. If anyone's out there thinking about it, just send him a message. Just pick up the phone, give him a call. Very easy.

GEORGE: Much appreciated there, Cheyne. Thank you for jumping on the call. If people want to know more about you, something that we didn't explore is, you have a program called Dirty Karate. Take two or three minutes and just tell us where can people find out more about you and what you've got going on.

CHEYNE: Yeah, look, Facebook is our big one, I suppose. We have an Australian Karate Academy Facebook page, or just friend me on Facebook. Our karate website is AKA, it's very easy – aka.com.au. Australian Karate Academy is the club name. It's a great name, really, really good name to have as a business because it's pretty easy to remember. But, yeah, Dirty Karate is on our Facebook page. That's being put to the side for a little bit, until I can secure an income teaching karate properly. That is a passion project of mine. We hardly spoke about karate, and I could talk about karate all day.

GEORGE: Perfect. And we can do that for round two.

CHEYNE: Sounds good.

GEORGE: Awesome. Awesome, Cheyne. Thanks for being on the show. I'll speak to you soon.

CHEYNE: Thanks man.

GEORGE: Cheers.

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top, 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. 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 Community and an easy way to access it is if you just go to the domain name martialartsmedia.group. So martialartsmedia.group. G-r-o-u-p. There's not dot or anything. Martialartsmedia.group. Then we'll 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 4 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. *NEW** – Premium Martial Arts Websites with Easy Pay Plans.

If your website is not delivering new leads consistently, doesn't represent your true value or you simply need to make a change. Click here for details and a demo.

2. 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.

3. 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 work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

4. 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!

73 – Is This Why Your Martial Arts School’s Growth Is Stuck?

Sometimes in martial arts business, it's not what we do but what we DON’T do.



  • How to set your focus on things that matter in your martials arts business
  • Why you should commit to your own game plan and not someone else's
  • How to steer away from distractions and reach your business goal
  • And more

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



So what are those key activities? Because if you're just jumping from this to that, then you are committing to someone else's game plan and not your own.

Hey, this is George. I'm super-fired up about getting this message and video out to you but everything seems to be going wrong. I tried to film it last week. It came up in conversation again yesterday, and I thought, “I've got to get this message out.” I went outside; the wind was blowing, I thought, “mic might not sound good.” And then a bird craps on me. So I thought, “Come on. Should I be sharing this or should I not?”

Well, I think it's super important, and if you're stuck in your martial arts business or any business for that matter, I think we all deal with this. I could be preaching to the choir, but my gut says no.

Right, so I speak to a lot of martial arts school owners, and I'll give this a bit of context. Last week I spoke to my friend Cat Zohar in the States, and we were talking about the same topic. Yesterday it came up in a conversation, one of our first clients, Dave Richardson in Brisbane, we spoke about this as well. The topic was focus.

When speaking to a lot of school owners, there are some people that just go out and make it happen and run with things, and then others that keep on getting stuck. And then when we look at the ones that are getting stuck, is they're dabbling in low-level tasks and work, never sinking their teeth into the activities and tasks that really matter.

Here's the thing. Facebook groups, I'm sure there's a lot of value in Facebook groups. And the Facebook group is just a thing, you know what I mean? It's just the term for the community, but I mean, there are groups that there's truly a lot of value and we use it in our community, obviously, for our coaching groups, but there's also a lot of distraction in free groups, because there are marketers that are trying to pull you into whatever it is that they are selling.

A wise mentor always used to tell me, “Don't always look at what people are selling. Look at what they are doing.” Side note, when it's different, your radar should be going up and thinking, “Right. Is this really legit or is this really where I should be paying my attention to?”

So here's the thing that happens, is there's all this activity in Facebook groups and there's the latest hack of this and the latest hack of that, and things kind of go viral in a way. Everybody just jumps on, shares the email addresses and wants to be a part of this new hack thing. Now I want to ask you, and if you have ever jumped on anything that was being promoted, how many of those things have really, really planned out and has been a really great success? Or did it actually just take you away from the plan?

Because here's the thing with online marketing. There's always distraction, there's always something that's better, easier, and what really pisses me off about it is it taps into the psyche of, “This is going to be easy.” It's, “Here's the quick hack. You don't really have to work hard. Here's the quick hack to get it done.”

That kind of thinking is not good for you, because here's what happens, if you dabble in this, you dabble in that, you dabble in this, you dabble in that, and you're doing all these majoring in minor things all the time, but then the things that really, really matter, you don't get your teeth stuck into.

So what are those key activities? Because if you're just jumping from this to that, then you are committing to someone else's game plan and not your own.

One thing we do in our Partners program, the first thing we do is we have a game plan session because we want to know … We've got a lot of content and a lot of training programs that we can share, but it’s not applicable all to you at that point in time, so we got to know what it is your goals are and where you want to go and what are the key things that are going to move you to where you need to be?

If you don't have a game plan, then you're just jumping onto someone else's game plan for them to sell their products.

I'm not saying all products are bad or all products are distraction, but if you're not following your own course in a direction of getting you to the goal that you are trying to get to, with student numbers and revenue, etc., then everything is just going to pull you away, and once the going gets tough, the little hack is just going to look so much easier and you're going to jump ship and go for that.

Time can go by pretty quickly, months, years, and you can still be at the same place and you've done all this stuff and why? I've done all these courses, I've bought this, I've bought that, I've tried this, I've tried that. The problem is you are following 20 or 30 plans, except for the one plan that's going to move you forward.

So look. I hope that helps. If you don't have a plan, then reach out to us. I'm not saying that what we've got is going to work for you, but, I mean, we work with a lot of school owners and really helped them move the needle and move forward.

So if you need help with a game plan that's going to work for you, then send me a message. Let's have a chat. You can see if what he has is a fit for you and if not, just make sure you follow someone's plan but don't follow 20 plans. Follow one plan to help get you forward. If you need help with it, reach out. Otherwise, good luck focusing and I'll speak to you soon. Cheers.

Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top, 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. 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 Community and an easy way to access it is if you just go to the domain name martialartsmedia.group. So martialartsmedia.group. G-r-o-u-p. There's not dot or anything. Martialartsmedia.group. Then we'll 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 4 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. *NEW** – Premium Martial Arts Websites with Easy Pay Plans.

If your website is not delivering new leads consistently, doesn't represent your true value or you simply need to make a change. Click here for details and a demo.

2. 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.

3. 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 work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

4. 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!

72 – Greg Probyn: Applying Military Principles To Martial Arts Business

Military man Greg Probyn's big moves in a small town with his martial arts business.


  • Greg Probyn’s mindset in running a martial arts business in a small town with 38,000 population
  • Why Greg doesn’t treat his martial arts business as a hobby
  • How Greg’s extensive military background helped him build his bjj school
  • How Greg was able to start his business with little business experience
  • How to overcome ‘tall poppy syndrome’ backlash
  • And more

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



When we talk about the business, again that's … I don't treat this like a hobby. Again, too many people out there think it's only a hobby. It won't last. If you treat something like a hobby, well guess what? People will respect it like a hobby.

George: Good day this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media Business podcast. So today I'm joined with a special guest, Greg Probyn. So Greg is someone that I'm fortunate enough to work with on a frequent basis in our Partners program. To give you a bit of a background on Greg and then I'm going to let him run the show.

So Greg is a military man, has served in both the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Regular Army, traveled extensively around the world and has deployed operationally to Iraq, Afghanistan and Fiji. Greg started his bjj journey in 2008 and due to being in the military training, gained experience from many different clubs throughout Australia.

So Greg also enjoys competing and coaching, more importantly enjoys coaching kids, helping them develop confidence so that if they are placed in an intimidating situation or being bullied, they can say stop. So Greg welcome to the podcast.

Greg: Thanks for having me George. I appreciate it.

George: Awesome. So, it's worth mentioning or not worth mentioning. This our round 2 of recording this. So we've had a good practice run so you're in for an awesome show. And I won't go into the details why but this is round 2. So this is going to be good. So Greg, I've given a bit of an intro just about you. Do you mind sharing just a bit more, just a bit of your background and how you got into this jiu jitsu journey?

Greg: Yeah, sure George. This is kind of ironic as well for me, because of all the times I've listened to your podcasts and I always hear that question so who are you? I always sit there and go, I wonder if I'll ever have that question asked of me? So yeah. Father, husband, yeah. I'm a veteran now. I have been doing Brazilian jiu jitsu since 2008. I spent, three months shy of a full 25 years of a military history or career, it's given me so many different things.

I'm very much in doctrined in terms of the way people think, not necessarily outside of a box, but when things are black and white, I'm the go to man there. By that I mean if it's our policy it doesn't happen. I think Brazilian jiu jitsu has given me a fantastic way to show people that well not everything is black and white. I'm fighting some of my own demons now that I'm out of the military.

George: So, spending all that time in the military, how does that compliment your jiu jitsu training? And I guess … sorry and I guess just to give context, military … I think very sort of precision thinking and very strategic, clear cut plans, preparation, etc.

Greg: Yeah, you're right on there mate. So, I started my career in the military in the navy and I finished up doing a job, that of a fitness trainer or physical training instructor or a PTI they call them for short. Started … you can't just join the military directly into that role. You have to spend several years in another job. So I was what they call a bosun's mate in the navy – did that for about eight years. Then saw these guys that worked in gymnasiums over that time and just managed to work on their fitness and take a lot of people for their fitness. I thought why not give that a crack.

So I spent though the remainder of my years, eight years in the navy, doing that, and then I transferred across to the army and did the same job, finishing up there. It was really easy to transfer the skills that I had received as a physical training instructor, across to being a coach in the sporting sector.

I also pursued different levels of coaching within the civilian sector, doing like certificates and diplomas and it was really … it was fantastic in that when I did my strength and conditioning coaches courses, I was stuck in a classroom with maybe some university students or people that had done a little bit of work in the civilian sector in terms of the fitness industry.

You sit there going wow, I've got it easy because I've got people that have to be there, in terms of doing their own health and fitness stuff. I don't have to worry too much in terms of what people can't do. I mean they are all fit and healthy and then the ability to transfer what I'd learn into training for the defense.

That was again easy because you're able to back what you're doing up with current studies or current technique as opposed to maybe having you know do the tricky thing and get waivers for people. They accept what you're giving them is going to be good for them, and well it is. The proof is in the pudding.

I mean the Australian Defense Force has been a fear fighting nation or a fear fighting force since the Boer War. So maybe you've got relatives back there George who might have come across a couple Aussie's back in the day.

George: Possibly. Yeah. So then was training in the military, right, I mean jiu jitsu is quite a physical thing. One thing that's always fun when sparring jiu jitsu is even if you go 100%, you've got the saving grace of just tapping out and you can just take the foot off the pedal, and you know you always set the pace. Normally the pace starts as a light roll and it never ends in a light roll, right?

Greg: You're correct.

George: But the training in the military, you're training at a whole new level and a whole new purpose and I guess the stakes are real, right? Because it's life and death that you're dealing with. So how do you actually train at that intensity and without burning people out?

Greg: Yeah, good question. Good question. I guess to answer that, what I'm going to do is I'm going to rewind the clock to about well it will till about 2008. Now I've been involved in martial arts since about 1999. Started doing various forms of karate and then I went to muay thai and then I found muay thai as a very practical martial art or sport. Fought nationally and internationally and then I had a hiatus of roughly eight to ten years, and then thought bugger this. Got back into the training for muay thai and recommitted my fighting.

t the time I was working at the Australian Defense Force Physical Training School which is on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. You've got, you could say the best of the best physical training instructors lecturing all aspects of health and fitness to people that are aspiring to do that job that I do or did. So you'll either work on what's passionate to you or if you're not … if you want to work on something new or improve your knowledge, you'll research a specific topic. So some of the topics that selected from was strength and conditioning, factors affecting human performance, and they are quite big modules in their own right.

And at that time, there was a … the military self program which was headed by the army and at this stage I was still in the navy and I had to do the course because the role of the physical training instructor was required to undertake this because in the navy at the time, there was a lot of boarding operations going on. Now, what the army had noticed, well the field of operation for them heavy in Afghanistan at the time and Iraq, they'd had these close quarter combat course and then but it was only the special forces that were really getting involved in it.

The infantry units were doing forms of self defense. But, the army they initiated this military self defense program. Now, it was heavily based on self defense and there were components of Brazilian jiu jitsu in it. And, when I did it, the military and armed combat cell, they came down to HMA service where I was at the time. I got involved in the course and I hit it off with some of the instructors because they knew that I was fighting muay thai as well at the time as well.

One of the instructors, he's like, come with me. I'll show you this thing called Brazilian jiu jitsu. Now, I'd see the UFC and I'd had a couple little books of Brazilian jiu jitsu but because of my limited knowledge, it didn't float my boat. I went and did this one lesson and I was just totally dominated and I couldn't believe the control. I couldn't believe how an individual could move or escape from somebody that could be heavier than them, bigger than them. How to control a bigger, strong opponent. And I don't think at the time in the military self defense course, we'd done the groundwork components.

Then the next day or the day after, we're doing basic guard escape or man escape or controlling your opponent while still on the ground. And I was like yup, hook, line and sinker. It's got me. And, yeah this military self defense course, when I transferred from the navy to the army, it became even more apparent how important it was. I mean the navy was using it but it's very, very difficult to do it on a very small boat. And at the time, this was when Australia's policy on the control of illegal immigrants or the boat people, were coming across them.

We'd seen through the news how people were throwing kids overboard and this and that. I mean as much as the media sensationalized it, there was a threat and the threat was only the young single males that had nothing to lose, but when you're on a fishing vessel or a boat that's not even 20 meters long and there's close to 100, 150 people on it, this military self defense program, it was very difficult to utilize because you can't keep your distance on a small vessel like that.

If you need to do a high double A takedown, you're not just going to take them down under the deck. You're going to take them down under about four or five other people. So it was difficult for the navy to use. They were able to use aspects of it. When you go across to the army, their field of play is totally different. As we move along in the level of intelligence that was being gathered in the army and across the navy and the air force, there are also personnel on the ground from the other two services. But more from the infantry people.

When they'd go to a compound and they'd notice that there was little to no women and children, well they knew they were going in for a battle. It would be the fighting age males, the adult males and they were always the threat. If there was every any hand to hand sort of combat, well the soldiers were able to utilize this military self defense stuff.

But what they noticed was it was too defensive and it's progressed now into an integrated combat, sorry, the integrated infantry combat course I think it's called now. All about control. Very little defense. You're in someone's face with the full military garb. You're wearing helmets, the body armor, you've got your rifle. You are not working with one other person but you're working in the section with eight to 10 people. Whereas the military self defense course in some respects, as good as it was, the entire time you're only working with a second person through the program, not utilizing the rest of a team.

So unfortunately I never got to do the infantry combat course. But it was really, really interesting. Now how do we link that into the Brazilian jiu jitsu? Well after being totally dominated and seeing how that worked in the military self defense course, it was a no brainer for me. I was getting older. My opponents in muay thai were getting younger. It was taking longer for me to recover and I found that again just like you said, with the Brazilian jiu jitsu, you're able to stop when you're either being uncomfortable or you're having your arm ripped off your body.

And now in the military, we've got these integrated combat clubs. And it's a way now for army, navy and air force people to get back to grassroots in terms of martial arts or some form of competitive sport and the transferability now, irrespective of whether they participated in the military self defense course or the infantry combat course, is so easy. So now the soldiers, sailors, and air men, they've got the ability to be put under pressure in stressful positions or altercations and deal with it as they see.

Then if they end up in that field of operation, especially on the ground, and not on the ground as Brazilian jiu jitsu on the ground, but in the area of operation whichever that is. They are able to best handle situations and know tactically what they can do and how their body is going to respond.

George: Interesting. It just reminds me and I don't know how legit this is and depending on when you are listening to this interview, I've trained with a few people from the police force and they use jiu jitsu all the time. For my international and American friends, in Australia, the police don't carry guns. If I'm correct. We don't. I think some do.

Greg: Some states do. Yeah Victoria does. New South Wales does.

George: Yeah. I know in WA, it's more a thing of … it's always hand controlled and these guys use jiu jitsu a lot. And I haven't checked the, how valid this resource is but I saw an article floating around that it's going to be compulsory now for police, I know police in WA, that's Western Australia where we are, that police will be doing jiu jitsu as a compulsory activity as such.

Greg: Oh send me over.

George: Cool. So I want to change gears here quickly. So, Greg's school de Been 100% Jiu Jitsu is in a little town called Wodonga. I believe 38,000 population?

Greg: Yeah correct George. Yeah that's right. We're a small town, right on the Hume Highway heading up to Canberra City. And we're right on the border. The Mary River obviously separates us from New South Wales as well as the Hugh Molly. Directly on the other side of the border, on the other side of the Hume Highway is Aubrey. So there's roughly 60,000 people in that town. So with the two towns combined, we're looking in an excess of yeah 100,000 people. Nice sleepy little town.

George: Awesome. So now for a lot of people when they hear you're in a town of 38,000, there's two mindsets of that right? I'd love to hear your mindset but a mindset I hear often is … it's a very lack mentality. We don't have enough people. We've got too much competition. There's too many schools in too close a range. What's your take and how do you view your business within a small town with small reach?

Greg: Yeah I like that question. All right, so coming to the decision of having a business that is oriented towards the combat sports, some people said no you're crazy. I've got family members, workmates or ex workmates now, that indicated that it wouldn't work in an area such as this one. I don't believe that it wouldn't work. It had to work. The reason why I say that is because if I can get 1% of just Wodonga, well that's only 380 people. There are some … and listening to the podcasts that you've punched out there George, you've got some pretty successful people that you've interviewed.

And I look at it like this, why can't I get 1%? When you look at it like that, it's pretty inspiring I think. 1%. 1. Yeah, 1%. Why couldn't that occur? And then if you looked at the entire, well if you put the two towns together, well 1%, that's 1000 people. And I've heard you've interviewed people there who have got multiple schools. So when I first came to this idea, I was training at another facility and I shared this dream of mine. Well it's actually not mine. It's my wife's. So I'm very lucky in that respect. I shared this dream with him and he didn't really take kindly to it.

We left, not on the best terms but I remember him saying you'll never go full time here. The place is too small and that's what exactly what I said to him. Well 1%. If I can't 1%, there is something wrong. So I'm a third of that not, and we've been open not yet two years. Which is … I'm happy with. That 1% keeps driving me, you know? 380 people. But we've got people who are traveling as far as 40, 50 minutes to come and train with us. In terms of my competition and I was asked this last night, this same question. I said to this gentleman last night, I said my competition is Aussie rules. Swimming. Hockey. Water polo. Believe it or not. It's huge here in this reason. Net ball. And a little bit of rugby and of course soccer.

And he said well what about other Brazilian jiu jitsu? And I said, they are not competition. We've got to try to raise the profile. Raise the profile of the sport. There are people out in this region that don't really know much about it. They will see it on the UFC. Think it's more of a thugs game. I will laugh when I have MMA people come in, I just tell them MMA is a thug sport. Come and do something with a bit of finesse.

George: Sorry to all the MMA fans listening.

Greg: Yeah, so he was really shocked. There is an older guy, I'm not sure what sort of martial art he does and I'm not sure how he drives his business model, but I don't look at him when I see him in his van and go that's competition. I look at him and I go, let's ban together and try to raise the profile of he's karate. People say to me, well Brazilian jiu jitsu, martial art and I say well you can look at it like that, I'll look at it how it's a sport. I'm big on looking at it as a sport. I treat it like it's a sport.

When I have people talk to me about the self defense applications, I'm like well come down. You're still going to get the same benefits out of it. I might talk about points in the class. I might talk about holding position for a certain amount of seconds to get your points. But at the end of the day, you're still able to, I took at class last night. We were doing transitions.

I shared with this woman, it was her first class. The knee on the belly. And I made a reference about it being points. I said if you want to look at it as a self defense application, what better way to control a human. You've got your knee on their chest. One hand might be controlling clothing or an arm, while the hand is pulling at the mobile phone. You're calling 000. Help, I need some help.

So, she walked away out of the class thinking oh wow. I never thought of it in these different aspects. But yeah. That 1%. Always refer back to that 1%. That's what I want.

George: That's awesome. You brought something up that's … I really want to highlight this for any entrepreneur and I guess any, yeah anybody in business. I mean the worst advice you can get is asking people in the workforce an opinion of you starting a business. Because none of them are going to support it. I don't think they mean bad intentionally, it's more a sense of they are dealing with their own internal dialogue of, it's not possible for them. And they don't want you to get hurt or whatever the case. So it's easier to just shut you down and not support the idea or the dream.

And I saw somebody post a quote yesterday. It was something about, it said, ‘what will they say?’ And below it was ‘these words have destroyed more dreams than any other words’. Because the focus is … you are influenced by what people say. When you've got this idea and you want to create this business and you think I'm going to do this thing and you've got this vision, but you've got this vision and now you've got to tell a family member or somebody you care about, and it's just … I mean that's the first people you want to tell right because it's the people you care about. And you're hoping for that support, but for most people, you just don't get it, because it's just a completely different way of thinking and completely different mindset, right?

Greg: You're absolutely right. Now I can't … I'm not going to talk too out of turn here, because I end up in deep water, but we've got some very close family who when we talk about the business, again I don't treat like this like a hobby. And again, too many people out there think it's only a hobby. It won't last. If you treat something like a hobby, guess what, people will respect it like a hobby. So when I talk to these couple of individuals about the business, one of them is very aggressive towards it. And the other one is very defeatist about it. Like, over Christmas, it was like oh I didn't think you'd be … you'd still be open this far down the track. I'm just like how can you be like that. Just support what's happening.

George: It's the typical tall poppy syndrome as well. I've mentioned it before but for anybody in the states, tall poppy syndrome is the visual aspect of a crab in a bucket. Pulling down anything, anybody that succeeds behind your level. The term exists of trying to pull them back down. It's almost like people want to see you succeed but they don't want to succeed, they don't want to see you succeed more than them.

Greg: That's it. That's it.

George: They want you to succeed but once you go beyond me, I've got to pull you back. I've got to pull you back into my level of thinking and comfort zone.

Greg: Yeah, you're dead right. And look, you asked me that question in terms of like the military mindset and I said I think too much black and white. When this idea of having a business centered towards Brazilian jiu jitsu popped up, well I had to think straight away, well what do I need to do in order to get this happening, you know? I'm not just going to open a place up and people start coming in, we're training, and it's like oh crikey I've got to pay the electricity bill. Well I need money for that. Do I have it there? Or we've run out of toilet paper. How do I go there?

Even having stock on hand to get people thinking with the green side of their brain in terms of the buying power and the military doesn't really give you the opportunity to do business style type courses, so I had to go and research my own thing. I found a company out there oriented towards the personal training industry and I thought, because you know working in the fitness industry? No brainer. But, how do I run a business?

Okay, so I did a little bit of research and I found this one company and they are called the Max International College for Fitness Professionals. I got in contact with them and I said look, I'm just after your business side of things and they had this program. You do your certificate three four in fitness. You do your diploma in business and advanced diploma in business. I said well you know I'm not interested in the fitness components because I've got a diploma up there and I've done this course and that course. They are like well it's a whole complete package. It all sort of intertwines and works with each other.

And I thought all right. I remember seeing somewhere or heard somewhere or something about if you failed to plan, you planned to fail. And, I thought well you know, what do I got to lose? Do everything because it's still going to give me that, the business components that I needed. This admittedly being in the military, you're not walking around with people who are all happy and bubbly all the time. And you know, because you've got this … like a sergeant major and there are all these grumpy people and you're like do this and do that. Just like you see in the movies, people getting their faces ripped off because they might have looked sideways wrong or poor timing.

These people were all happy and bubbly and I remember saying to one of the directors, I'm like is everybody like this all the time when I'm communicating with them? And he goes yeah that's right. Is that a problem? I said that's not reality. And he goes, in my world it's a reality. In your world you've got sharp edges. And you've got nasty corners. So there's that black and white mentality. These people, and they are not walking around with rose colored glasses. I'm like okay. I have to drop a few barriers, get on their boat, start paddling with them because we're all going in the same direction.

This Max International College of Fitness Professionals paved the way in order for me to then get the business up and running and be successful. That comes back down to what I said earlier. If you have your club or whatever martial art that you're doing and you treat it like a hobby. Well everybody else is going to treat it like a hobby as well. We've got people who have participated in other martial arts. I remember when they first started training with us, oh Greg do you want to help us clean the mats? I'm like no dude, you're paying my fees. That's part of the service I provide. I clean the mats. I clean them regularly because that's where we are lying on the mat face down sometimes if you're unfortunate.

But these people are like oh yeah but our last sensei made us do this or the last coach used to make us do … I'm like that's fine but I hope you weren't paying the same amount of fees that you're paying now. And you can see them, they start thinking and it's like oh okay. Then there's a bit more of a respect that comes through as well. So I think people appreciate it more too, when you have that professional outlook and if you pave it professionally, make it professionally. People don't see it. Like the family.

These other members within the family that I've got that are the negative ones. They haven't come in and seen what I do and how it looks, but we're not in a shed. We're not in a factory. I'm actually in an air conditioned and heated facility. It looks pretty neat I think. Well anybody who walks in and walks out, I always get the compliment, wow I never would have thought it would be like this.

George: Awesome. So on that thinking of that planning and that black and white I want to just, before we wrap it up, I quickly want to bring up something, your vision statement. Just to give it a bit of context. Greg works with us in our Partners program and part of our Partners program, we also bought websites to make sure all our members got the right tools. So, before creating the website we always have an interview with a school owner and just ask a couple of questions so that we can formulate a good sales proposition on the website, so it's all customized.

So a question we always ask and it's a question I never really get a straight answer, but I did with Greg. Right? And the question is, what's your mission statement? And it's important for us to know, because then we can sort of get a good perspective on how the club owner sees it. So you nailed it and you just … I was almost shocked that you had it sort of down to a T. Do you mind sharing your school's mission statement?

Greg: Sure. We rolled out vision and mission statement in together and we've added our core values as well. So we foster a family ethos where each and every member feels part of the team environment but more importantly at home we have like minded people. We'll provide the opportunity for you to improve your health and fitness and well being through education and confidence building. Our core values, I like the acronym of TRIC, is teamwork, respect, integrity and confidence.

And it does it and it paves the way. You asked me earlier George about why? Why this mission statement? It gives me direction. It gives people that come in direction. We don't have any … every club or academy or affiliate or what not, they have their cliques. We try to break those barriers down. Everybody is part of the family. You know I've got white belts that will say to colored belt that's visiting, you know where is your shoes if they are walking around bare foot off the mat. And people get shocked. It's like okay fair enough. We're in somebody else's house. And then if we've got somebody that's being negative, within the group, it's not me the head coach that's trying to pull them back into line. It's other people. They are saying to them, you know, well here we do it like this. It would be good if you're like that.

I'm really proud of the ethos that we've got on the mat and that's … I put that back down to the mission statement. It's all about being part of the family.

George: Good note for us to just wrap it up. Greg, thanks so much for being on the call. Thanks and I'm glad that we nailed it this time. We'll get into that story later. But if people want to know more about you, where can they find more about you Greg?

Greg: Oh fantastic George. Well we're all the www.debeenjiujitsuwodonga.com. You could also go to the de Been Jiu Jitsu Headquarters website as well and we'll be there, linked into them. We're on Facebook. Again de Been 100% Jiu Jitsu Wodonga. And we're also on Instagram. Just the hashtag. Just make sure you put Wodonga in there, otherwise you'll probably see someone from maybe Ipswich. There's a de Been in Ipswich. So that one. That's how you'll find us.

George: That's good. We'll put links to all those in the show notes of the interview.

Greg: Fantastic. Thank you very much George.

George: Thanks Greg. It's been great speaking. Speak to you soon.

Greg: Take care mate.

George: Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top, 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. 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 Community and an easy way to access it is if you just go to the domain name martialartsmedia.group. So martialartsmedia.group. G-r-o-u-p. There's not dot or anything. Martialartsmedia.group. Then we'll take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks. I'll speak to you on the next episode. Cheers.


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71 – Matt Milchard: Building Martial Arts Schools At The Back Of Children Centres

Matt Milchard's core business of children centres and nurseries gives him a unique approach to running their 9 martial arts schools.



  • The importance of establishing a connection with the parents and letting them see the real value of martial arts
  • The marketing tools every martial arts school owner should invest in
  • How to build your email lists through children’s events, corporate events, festivals and outdoor events
  • How being connected with the education sector contributed to Matt’s success
  • And more

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



It's not about the price of your lessons and your offering, it's about the value to their children. If you can prove to a parent that your lessons and your teachings are of great value to their children, they'll pay whatever you ask.

GEORGE: And welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast episode. Today I'm joined with Matt Milchard, all the way from Pyramid Martial Arts. How are you doing today Matt?

MATT: Very good, thank you. Good to meet you. Pleasure to be here. So what would you like to talk about?

GEORGE: Just getting into it. So Matt is a serial entrepreneur, has multiple projects on the go and his passion honestly is martial arts which brings us here today. So let’s just start at the beginning Matt: give us a bit of a background, how did you get into martial arts – who is Matt Milchard?

Matt: Ok. Martial arts, I grew up part of my life in Jakarta in Indonesia. Your neck of the woods or closer to you than it is to me. And when I was about 10 years old, I got introduced to the local arts there and learned it. Studied it for maybe two years from when I was 10 years old. And then when my family were brought back to the UK, I was desperate to carry on learning martial arts.

So I tried lots of traditional styles, all sorts of traditional practice that I could find in the UK until one actually stuck. I found one and I stuck with it for many years. That was just freestyle sport karate, so it was kind of a blend of many different martial arts. And then when I went to university, I moved away from the club I was at and I decided that I could not find a club that I was satisfied to carry on my training, so I opened my own one. And it kind of spun out from there. That was many years ago and I'm still doing it now.

GEORGE: You recall much about growing up in Jakarta?

MATT: Yeah I learned Indonesian. It was like a second language, I went to an American international school which was fun. Very diverse in cultures and experiences and stuff like that, especially at that young age. Yeah it was great, living there was certainly a lot better than it is here in London, definitely remember that.

GEORGE: So you open up your own school, so how did this start? And I guess I'll just backtrack because you did mention you have 15 different companies, about 15 different businesses that you run.

MATT: Yeah.

GEORGE: So what came first? Did the martial arts business come first or was that…?

MATT: No, no, that was later on. My first stab at running my own martial arts centre just when I was at the university, I decided that I would run the club for the university, for the students. And that was fine and throughout the study of my degree which was actually in the building, nothing to do with martial arts or sports or leisure. And I ran the university kickboxing club for about three years.

And then went off into the big wide world and found myself a career. And then years later, I decided to open another one as a just a sort of commercial interest, rather than the university one was just to train myself and to help my friends train. So yeah, a commercial interest of the martial arts started about ten years ago.

Quite a funny story to that to be honest. I was out with some friends and my girlfriend at the time and there was my girlfriend’s best friend and my girlfriend at the time having an argument. And I stepped in to try and calm them down and the other lady’s boyfriend stepped in to calm it all down and it ended up me and him arguing because it was all a big mess.

And we both went our separate ways, but we found out later we were both experienced in martial arts and luckily, it didn't come to blows because still to this day, we joke about who would have won. But it kind of formed a bond, we shook hands afterwards and apologised and then over beer got talking about our interests and found out we were both accomplished martial artists and looking for an opportunity to open a martial arts club.

So we ended up opening one together. So what could have started off as a mischievous brawl, ended up forming a lifelong business partnership with a good friend of mine. So, yeah that's how it all started, that's how Pyramid started.

GEORGE: The reason that it actually didn't escalate was because you both were experienced in martial arts.

MATT: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, you know, yeah. That's exactly it. Both of us knew our ability and both of us don't go out looking for trouble, because that's kind of what's embedded to you for a lifetime of martial arts, as I’m sure you'll appreciate.

So, yeah, that's exactly it. We both realized that it's going to get out of control and walked away. It’s quite a fun story, we do enjoy our sort of annual awards ceremony and stuff like that,  with new members, sharing that story. Because it's a funny way to start a business to be fair.

GEORGE: That's fascinating. Meant to be, obviously.

MATT: It was, it was meant to be. And still to this day, obviously, the founder and co-founder are still very close friends. He lives miles away because he runs one of the gyms in a place called Birmingham, which is about 4-hour drive from where I live, so we don't see each other that much. However, he's running the place up there and I'm running the place down here. So it works well.

GEORGE: A bit of context about Pyramid Martial Arts. How many locations do you have, etc?

MATT: Ok, so we currently have nine locations, throughout the UK and growing. The nine that are run by us, we have a couple of franchise pilots that we’re operating right now as well, there's two of them. So yeah, there are nine so far and then two franchises. The franchise model is what we’re very much expanding upon in 2019 next year. But we just wanted to make sure the pilot model was correct.

As far as our main head office centre, it's our biggest one, our first one. We run I think 12 different disciplines from there, so we’re not a kickboxing school, or a taekwondo school, or a karate school – we are a multi-discipline school. And, I know schools like us appear around the world, but certainly, in the UK, we’re one of a kind. I still haven't come across any schools in the UK that service as many disciplines as we do.

So our unlimited membership means a young child, boy or girl, could literally come every day and learn different styles and master different styles every day, whether it's jiu-jitsu, whether it's boxing, whether it's kickboxing, whether it's taekwondo, whether it's kung fu – we do all of them here. So it's quite a diverse timetable. And I guess the reason we did that is, when I was a young lad, learning martial arts, I always wanted to try lots of different ones, but there's wasn't one place where I could go to try them all at the same time.

So in my head, even then I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful to have a school where you could try everything. And so that's kind of what formulated our plan really. And that’s what we’re doing.

GEORGE: So that's really popular amongst the students? Is that sort of embedded in the culture, to really crossover and run the multiple styles, or do most of your students really just get fixated in the one?

MATT: There are some students that do everything, especially the fighters. We've got some pro and semi-pro fighters and obviously, it's very good for them to learn a bit of everything, so they have a bigger vocabulary, experience when they’re actually in the ring, or in the cage or whatever. However, we also pride ourselves on being a lifestyle gym, so it's not just about the fighters.

It’s about the family and experience and people who come and meet friends, it's not just about kicking and punching to us. So there are quite a few of our students that do many different styles, just because it means they meet different people. Whether they’re rolling down on the mats one evening doing jiu-jitsu, or standing up in the boxing ring, you know, having a couple of boxing bouts.

So I’m thinking a lot of them use it as a social hub as well. In fact, I know that they are. Not saying… it's the way we've done it, you know. I'm sure some people say you should stick with one style when they come in, but we chose not to, and for us, it works.

GEORGE: And I see what you're saying, but really it's a social hub, so students are really, it's more a bonding thing, from what I can picture. You know, crossing the different styles and stuff like that? Maybe for some, you know, that I’ve just got to be fixated on a style, but it's because it's like, hey, we’ve got to try this and this. Has that sort of created a non-competitive type of environment in a way? You know, that people aren't heaving to be one up the type of thing?

MATT: Yeah, no, absolutely. We've got as I'm sure many clubs, there's sort of inter-student WhatsApp groups and I sort of monitor all these groups. And all the time my friends pinging, one of the students saying, “Hey, we’re doing BJJ tonight,” “Oh, I can't make it tonight, but I'll see you at boxing tomorrow, or, “Is kung fu still on Friday night,” and these things, you know.

They tend to spend more time at my gyms than they do out with their friends it seems, certainly some of them. So it's good and we very much value the social element of it. We have lots of social events, we've put on lots of parties and award ceremonies and social outgoings and I think that’s good because we've got some very strong fighters in our camp and lots of other gyms who've tried to poach them and they may be better coaches, it's not for me to say, but for all of us, students stay with us because we've become a bit of family.

And I think a lot of that is the social inclusion or whatever the correct wording is. You know, because they want to stay with us and be with us. There are other gyms, which are very, very successful and produce very good fighters and they've tried to poach some of our fighters, but for whatever reason, the fighters are staying with us. So I think there's a lot to be said for the full inclusion and the family in the martial arts setting, definitely.

GEORGE: There's an old saying on my marketing wall that's, you know, when people sign on for the online community, they come for the content, but they'll stay for the community.

MATT: Yeah, yeah.

GEORGE: And it sounds like exactly what you're saying, people are obviously attracted for that emotional reason, or whatever they need or what they want to get out of martial arts, whether it’s fitness, or confidence for the kid, or whatever, that’s the draw card. But then, when martial arts become part of the routine, what keeps them growing is presence and family. And that's the real pain to disconnect, why would you train at the gym down the road when you've got your whole family right here.

MATT: Yeah, and that's part of our business model. And because we’re so diverse, I mean, our students start at 3 years old, which not many martial arts gyms, certainly in the UK,  they won’t touch 3 years olds, they won’t. Most gyms start about 5. But we developed a program for ages 3+ and it's been very successful, because what it means is that the whole family.

We've got something for the whole family, and we've got something for 3-year-olds, we've got something for 7-year-olds, we've got something for mom, we've got something for dad, we've got something for the cousin, you know. We do family packages to encourage whole families to join, not just individuals.

So I think on a marketing point of view, you just highlight it as a thing of value, certainly of great value to us. We sell more family packages, far more family packages than we do individual packages.

GEORGE: I've asked you a few things on marketing, can you clarify just your two models? Because you mentioned you've got the franchise model that you really want to focus on in 2019 and beyond, and then you mentioned you also had a pilot model, correct?

MATT: No, it's the pilot of the franchise. So, we run 9 gyms ourselves, they're self-managed by us, from our head office. And the franchise model, we've got two pilots, so we’re just playing with it, making sure it's right before we roll out the franchise as an official line. Ideally, we would like to have gyms in all the main towns in the UK, 100% definitely.

But on a logistics point of view, it would be very difficult to self manage, too many more. We’re quite stretched at 9 as it is. So we're looking perhaps one more to make it a magical 10, self-run, and then the rest would be franchises. And that's the plan and I think that's the way it seems to be going.

GEORGE: So your day to day life, you've got… going for 10 martial arts schools, you've got franchises that you really want to get going with. And then you've also

got all these other businesses that you run. So how… what is your day to day role, within the martial arts business?

MATT: Ok, well I have teams that run the individual clubs, you know. Chief instructors, receptionists, PTs, cleaners, you know, there is a whole team of gym managers. So myself and my partner tend to float in for weekly meetings, sit down with the whole team and discuss what we're doing right, what we’re doing wrong.

Look at promotions, look at pricing, look at the competition, look at social events and together work as a team to try and keep an eye on each one of them. As you pointed out, I run multiple businesses, so I can't be on the ground with all of them at the same time, of course not. But I do make a real effort to try and meet all the students, even the ones that I don't directly teach.

I mean, my background is freestyle sport karate and kung fu, so if I teach, I teach those lessons, maybe a bit of krav maga. But I go out of my way to get to know my BJJ students, or my taekwondo students, although I don't directly teach them, I think it's good that they always know and can approach myself and my partner as the gym owners, rather than just being a strange person that wanders in and out every once in a while. So we do make a conscious effort to do that.

As far as my day to day routine goes, I still try and teach, especially the black belts. I teach in about three of the clubs every week, I probably do about 10 hours a week at least. Ranging from the children up to the adults. I would like to do more, but physically and mentally, I can’t. Because my other day time commitments are with the other businesses, so…

GEORGE: The cool ones that I picked up there was, obviously the meetings, the weekly meetings. Really focused on making sure that you get that personal connection with students.

MATT: Students, yeah.

GEORGE: How difficult is that for you to do, have you got a process that you… is it just sort of showing up and trying to make as many connections as possible, or have you got that down to a system where you can really introduce yourself to as many students as possible?

MATT: We've got a system. I guess myself and my partner try to be at all the gradings, so they will see us at the table doing the gradings, and obviously we’re very vocal and it's seeing who we are and what we do and trying our best to, not to be that scary grandmaster that everyone has to bow down to, to more be proactive and calm them down, so look, we’re just testing you to show us how good you are and show us how much you're learning.

So I think we’re trying to befriend everyone, rather than be this distant school owner that just takes everyone's money. So that's the idea and you know, going to class, obviously, I don't want to interrupt lessons the other instructors are doing, but I'll be around and sit and watch and comment and, you know.

And all of the teams are on the regular newsletters that are always signed off by me, there are pictures of all our instructors and all our gyms. There's pictures of a lot of our students and all of our instructors on the website. So although there are many locations, we try and bring the locations together for the award ceremonies, or for the gradings to make sure all the different clubs know each other and the other instructors. I rotate my instructors as well, so one instructor might be teaching one venue one week, and then another one another week.

So it's always fresh, the experience is always fresh. It’s the same syllabus and the same teaching styles, but the lessons are always fresh because I think you can very much get stuck in a rut if you're teaching the same lessons to the same people, week after week. So I feel mixing up the instructors, it gives a fresh approach to the warm-up or to the teaching techniques etc. So I think I went off on a bit of a tangent there, so…

GEORGE: Perfect, that's what these podcast conversations are about. It’s about tangents, it's about exploring and…

MATT: Yeah, yeah.

GEORGE: Just the things that you do and you know what provides value to everyone who listens. So Matt, and before we got started, something that we touched on was your vast experience in other companies and marketing with kid centers etc. So how does this crossover into your martial arts business and how does that benefit?

MATT: OK. One of my core businesses is, as you currently said, children centers and nurseries, day nurseries for babies up to… 3,4,5-year-olds. So for instance, my biggest children centre has a 150 full-time place for children on a daily basis. So from that, obviously, I have a real insight into the marketing and what the parents are thinking and how they wish to develop their children, just because of the educational side.

So another USP for us is that in our children centres, we offer martial arts lessons. So that's the USP for the nurseries. It also works the other way, because a lot of our nursery parents will drop their young children in the nursery, but then to get to the nursery, they have to walk through the martial arts corridor, where they can see there's offers for the siblings, for the slightly older children, or themselves.

So then the mom can put her child in the nursery and then go and have a self defence lesson, while the child is in a nursery in the same location. So we've purposely made that connection, with both companies, because one absolutely facilitates and compliments the other.

So now, whenever I open a new children centre, very soon after it comes Pyramid Martial Arts in the same location, the gym would be in the same building. And again, with that, because we've built up a very big name, a reputation within the schooling community, it's very easy for us to go into local schools and do talks about martial arts, because I can ride on the fact that I'm connected with the educational syllabuses, the community, the teacher associations, because of the other business. So it certainly opens a lot of doors within the martial arts if you've got your foot in the education sector as well, absolutely.

GEORGE: I can just see it, it's like a perfect merge of…

MATT: Yeah.

GEORGE: …of obviously having the foot on the ground. I think it’s almost the most important, being able to tune into conversations and understanding what's going on, you know, for starters. And let me ask you this Matt: knowing what you discover within the children centres and conversations you have with parents – what do you pick up that you really try and implement on the martial arts side?

MATT: That’s fairly simple to answer. So with parents of young children – and I have two young children myself, so I can certainly identify with everything they're saying, it's not about the price of your lessons and your offering; it's about the value to their children. If you can prove to a parent that your lessons and your teachings are of great value to their children, they'll pay whatever you ask. That's the whole thing, getting across the value of what you're teaching.

What I mean by that is what benefits the child and what is vital that the child learns these key skills from a very early age, whether it be discipline, or respect and fitness and all these things. The sooner you can help the child learn these things, from a very early age, the more they'll develop into a more grounded and rounded individual as they go through their life challenges. And I think if we can get that message across to the parents of how we’re going about that, they'll pay whatever you want.

GEORGE: Is it possible to articulate that? Like, how do you go about demonstrating or like really communicating that value to a parent?

MATT: I think it's getting them within the conversation to buy into it and understand it. For instance, no parent that I know of would want their child to be bullied, of course, they wouldn't. No parent would want their child to grow up to be obese. Or to be disrespectful, or to get themselves into trouble, or connected with the wrong group. So you’re offering an opportunity to help them avoid that from a young age while instilling discipline and key life skills.

So to articulate it, you kind of … you have to almost get into their heads and show them the path they don't want their children to take and then show them how you can help them put their children on the path, with their help from the start. All of our lessons and teachings and syllabus includes homework, which really makes the parent interact with the child's martial arts career, but more importantly, they can see the progress on a daily basis.

For instance, our very young classes, we make our children take home a tick sheet and on that tick sheet, the parents tick and sign that they've done 15 minutes of night practicing, that they've been respectful, that they've actively held doors open, or they're making their bed or they're helping with the washing up, or all these things that the parents are actually ticking and handing in to prove that the teachings go beyond the dojo; they go home and help the children develop at home.

Because I think the parents can see that, they understand it and they support it more, because if a child, and all the young children, they might say, “I don't want to go tonight because such-and-such is on television,” or “I want to play on my Xbox,” or “It's cold outside.” Many parents that don't understand the value would say, “OK, don't worry, we’ll miss it tonight, go and watch telly.”

But most of our parents will say “Nope, you're not missing it, this is important.” Regardless – obviously, they’re paying for it, but more they see the value and they want the children to go regardless. And I think if you can get the buy-in from the parents, your student retention from my point of view will be a lot better.

GEORGE: I was… on an episode, I’ve been with a young entrepreneur, Adam Myers and he was discussing this topic of really… I mean he's only been going for 12 months and he's pushing up for 250 students. I mean, he's really on a sprint, and he was talking about his whole thing of kindness and really just placing the energy on the people that are actually paying, rather than… it’s one thing for the kid to know that they’re having an awesome class, but the parent doesn’t know that. So really make the parent see the…

MATT: The value.

GEORGE: And I really like what you said and I can guarantee you that a lot of the podcast listeners are going to implement just that whole check sheet system. I feel we’re sort of scratching the surface. There are so many questions I can ask you and so many directions we can go. Is there anything else from your experience with your other businesses that overlap into the martial arts industry?

MATT: Again, in recruitment, we do a lot of… I have children’s event companies as well and then we put a lot of parties and corporate events and festivals and this sort of thing, outdoor events. And that also gives me an opportunity to engage with parents and families, because they're all at my events. So not only can I build my email lists up, obviously; it gives me a chance to advertise on all the flyers and all the marketing material because I'm in control of it, I can put my logo wherever I want.

But again, with the parties, we usually have, we offer martial arts children's parties, for instance, where the instructors go through a training program as a children’s entertainer as well and what that does, the interesting thing that does; if we hold the children party with a martial arts flavour to it, for 25-30 children at a time, potentially you've got 25-30 new clients with you for social events, trying out your product for free, because someone else has paid for the party. And it gives you a real opportunity to show the kids what fun they can have at a martial arts lesson.

Also, the parents, sit and watch at the party how evolved the children are. So there are so many different ways you can market your product, away from the normal, standing on the street, handing out flyers. There are multiple ways you can get in the head of potential students. And again, that's how I use another one of our businesses to do that, parties and events.

Sometimes we put on sort of carnivals and street festivals, so I always offer for free a martial arts stand, or floats, where the kids are demonstrating throw stars, or nunchucks, or their routines. And other kids can see them doing it to music, so it's all fun and upbeat. Other kids can see it and think, “Ooh I want to be a part of that, that looks fun.” So yeah, I guess that's another way we can use the other businesses to promote the martial arts side.

GEORGE: Question: you mentioned something that I don't a hear a martial arts business owner say often, was, the emphasis on you building your email list.

MATT: Yeah.

GEORGE: Now, it's something I'm a big proponent of in all our, like in our partner’s program, we focus on the automation side, but then also the actual activity of using that as a broadcast and relationship building tool. And a lot of marketers obviously spread out the idea that email is a dead horse etc. What's your take? What's your take on that and how do you use email within your businesses?

MATT: Ok. Yeah, email is not as strong as it used to be, I'll admit that. I think it should be part of your armour, not all of it. We use a mixture of live chat on our websites, we use clickfunnels to guide potential clients into our email lists. We use messenger bots, so they can have live updates, or live communication, whatever time of day or night through our messenger bots.

So I think it's important to use all the technologies, sort of at your disposal. I think it's too early to write off emails completely. They're not as responsive, people they're going to dump files and some people ignore them absolutely, but I think there's still a value, especially in conjunction with clickfunnels, from my experience.

A clickfunnels I'm sure yourself have come across the funnel, but for anyone who hasn't, it's a way of channelling all your media into one place and then with that data, then you can contact potential clients. That's my understanding, I'm not techy at all, but it's my understanding of it. And it certainly works in that fashion for us.

GEORGE: So yeah, that's something we… we are a big proponent of using different funnels and, whether it's clickfunnels or tools that…

MATT: Oh, there's various, I know Clickfunnels is a brand, but yeah, I know there are various ways of doing funnelling, yeah, absolutely.

GEORGE: I like what you said, so the multiple channels, it's definitely the be-all, end-all, you should pay attention obviously to what's relevant right now, I mean, chatbots, I’d say for the most part are an uptrend. Definitely chat on websites, we use something like Intercom, where we try to funnel everything into the one location.


GEORGE: A source, where we can pick up if there's a Facebook message coming in, or if there's a track from the website, or… yeah.

MATT: Certainly when I was starting out, there would be post-it notes with someone's number on and an email and a text message and trying to collate it all… when you're starting out, it's fine, but as soon as you start growing, there's no way you can keep on top of it. And the same from our point of view for the billing. I speak to some martial artists, some of the schools come to me for some advice sometimes and I give it happily and some of them say, “So how did you keep on top with your payers?

You know, I've got all these lists of people that have paid this month and haven't paid this month,” and you drive yourself mad. There's no way! If you've got 100, 200, 500, a 1000 students, there's no way you can keep up with who's paying and who isn't, and who's missed their bill and who's forgot to pay – there's no way, it's uncontrollable. So you need technologies, as I'm sure you'll agree, you help you keep control of that as well.

So I think it moves on far from just learning to teach people to kick and punch. If you're a successful martial arts school owner, you need to embrace the technology and you need to learn it or get someone to show you how to do it. Because there's no way you can build a big, successful school without it, I don't think. Certainly not from my point of view.

GEORGE: Having you on and I'd really like to take this conversation further at some point in time, it would be fantastic. So for now, thanks again for jumping on. If people want to learn more about you and what you do, where can they find you?

MATT: The main website is www.pyramidmartialarts.com. Pyramid-like the Egyptian pyramids, so it's just pyramidmartialarts.com. Contact me directly on that, there's a way of contacting me directly. But then, there's also online, there are videos of what we do and there's access to all the different clubs, we've got an instructor’s forum. I mean, you have to get a password to get into the instructor’s forum, but all our instructors communicate and share lesson plans, which I actively encourage. Yeah, so, visit us and drop me a message, I'd be happy to talk to anyone, of course.

GEORGE: Thanks for being on and I hope to connect to you soon.

MATT: Nope, my pleasure, thank you. It's been a pleasure.

GEORGE: Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with another top, 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!


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70 – How To Scale Your Martial Arts Business Through The Mathematics Of Kindness

Adam Meyers from Story Martial Arts shares his sprint from 0-250 students in 12 months.


  • How checking the population and demographics has helped Adam grow his school.
  • Building a connection with parents for improving customer retention.
  • Being humble enough to admit that you're not always the best person to do every single job in your martial arts business.
  • The importance of having a business mentor and attending business seminars.
  • And more

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


I mean, any big school owner and what we get into now being a big school is that they realize that even if you're teaching good classes, the parents might not see that they’re good classes, because there are 30 kids running around. Even though you're a good instructor, it might not look like you're a good instructor to them and at the end of the day, they're paying the bills.

GEORGE: Hi, this is George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media business podcast. I have another fantastic guest with me today and someone I actually met… I believe it was in Sydney, we met at The Main Event, maybe about a year or so ago?

ADAM: Yeah, a year ago, yeah.

GEORGE: Yeah. All right, so Adam Meyers, welcome to the call. I’ll give you a quick introduction. Adam has a diverse martial arts experience. Began training in kickboxing, age of 15, eventually moving on to taekwondo, where he quickly found success on the domestic competition circuit.

He's an 18-time State Champion in sparring, he's also the 2015 and 2017 Australian National Champion, member of Australian taekwondo team and a number one ranked heavyweight in the country. Besides the martial arts achievements, Adam's also a really successful school owner and within a short time span of 12 months, he managed to hit 250 students, I believe Adam?

ADAM: Yeah, in just over 12 months, yeah.

GEORGE: Fantastic. So a lot of knowledge, and especially for anyone that's starting out, and even if you're not starting out, if you've been going for a long time and trying to hit those big numbers. This is going to be a valuable interview, just to hear how Adam went on that journey. Welcome to the call Adam.

ADAM: Thanks so much George, really appreciate you having me on the show. I'm an avid listener and a big fan.

GEORGE: Perfect. So you better listen to this one then.

ADAM: Hahaha! I’ll download it straight away.

GEORGE: All right, perfect. So I gave a bit of an intro, but just expand a little – who is Adam?

ADAM: Yeah, so, I've been training martial arts a little bit over 10 years. Taekwondo for 10 in this coming February, it will be 10 years in February. I've trained at a lot of different martial arts schools, a lot of different taekwondo schools especially, throughout my sparring career. I've been on the national team since 2014, kind of going overseas and fighting in opens and at the Oceana championship, so I went to the world university games, where I came 9th.

Came 5th in the Asian Games last year. I just have kind of a wide array of international experience with taekwondo and I guess what a lot of people didn't know, as I was fighting and travelling all over the world for taekwondo is, I've actually been coaching since 2011. So I know that doesn't seem, maybe it doesn't seem long to some of the older guys that are listening to the podcast, but as I was training full time, I was also pretty much teaching full time, 25 hours +, helping run a couple of seminars, a couple of really big taekwondo schools here in Melbourne.

So yeah, my taekwondo experience has been really wide ranging, I guess with different mentors and different coaches that I've had. I guess that's probably the key to the success I've had in my business, is that I've kind of seen what works over here and seen what works over there and kind of pooled all that together into my business, Story Martial Arts.

GEORGE: All right, so if you can elaborate on that: so you were training for how long before you started the coaching side?

ADAM: So I was training… I think I had my black belt for about 6 or 7 months when I started coaching kids’ classes, beginners, intermediate, that kind of stuff. So I was training for about 3 years, I think before I started coaching. Yeah and by training I mean I was doing 6-7 classes a week of training and preparing for competitions. We would have state team training at Box Hill, here at Melbourne as well also. We kind of had the club training and then state team training on the weekends. So yeah, I was doing a lot of hours, a lot of hours in the car too.

GEORGE: Hahaha! All right, cool. So there's an old saying about, the quicker you start teaching what you know, the quicker you learn, because the quicker you sort of articulate everything that's been taught to you. Do you feel that helped you a lot, being able to coach from an earlier age?

ADAM: Yeah, definitely. It definitely helped with my martial arts skills, because I wasn't the most naturally technical person. I was never the most athletic in high school, I didn't really play a lot of… I played a lot of sports, but I wasn't really kind of the super star, I wasn't like, “Let’s have Adam on our team,” that kind of thing. I was always in the middle of the pack. I just realized that, I guess due to my parents, I'm just the hardest worker in the room, in most rooms that I'm in and that's probably what I attribute to my success in coaching and in competing as well.

GEORGE: OK, so what was the big drive that just, starting with the martial arts side: what was the big drive that really got you in the whole wanting to compete and really getting that taste for, all right, I've been your 18-time champion – what was that drive to take you to that point?

ADAM: In 2009 when I started competing, so I was like a yellow belt right at the bottom, beginner level, in the juniors, under 17 division. I watched a little of UFC, I watched the Ultimate Fighter, the reality show they have. And I saw a lot of these guys were black belts in a couple of different martial arts. They’d have black belts is Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or a black belt in judo, big division national wrestler, black belts in taekwondo, karate etc. The list goes on. So I was, I really admired the athlete Edson Silva, who was the UFC middleweight champion at the time. He is a black belt in taekwondo, in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

So that was initially my plan, was to just get the three black belts. I thought, if I got three black belts like him, I'm going to be the champ of the world, that's how it works, right? I was 16, it's as simple as that to become a champion. So what I did was, it was just a complete fluke. I was already doing kickboxing a little bit, training 2-3 times a week, just fitness and enjoying myself and kind of watching rocky movies and stuff like that, which wasn't really serious. It was just kind of training for training’s sake.

A complete fluke in a shopping centre one day, there was a taekwondo booth, signing people up to a trial offer. I think it was like $25 for two weeks, or whatever it was at the time 10 years ago. And I was like, you know what, hey, taekwondo, that was one of his black belts. That's the way to go, we’ll start here. And again, 10 years ago, there wasn't a lot of MMA schools, or Brazilian jiu-jitsu schools around. So when I was kind of coming into my desire to be a martial artist and to be a competitor, there wasn't really a lot of taekwondo and karate around.

So I would have to travel to the city, or pretty far away. I didn't have my license, I mean, I was in high school. So it wasn't really feasible to ask my dad, who works 6AM until 4 to drive me all over the city to go to jiu-jitsu classes, when there's only two clubs really around. You know, St Kilda and things like that. It was just a bit too difficult. Hall’s taekwondo opened up a centre in Sunshine, where I'm originally from, in the western suburbs of Melbourne. And it was just a perfect match.

I went in, I've been doing kickboxing like a said for a little bit, so I just got right to it and started training a couple of times a week. Within I think 5 weeks, I got my yellow belt, it was kind of halfway though the term. Three weeks later, we had the Victorian Championships, I just had the one match and I won by knockout. I knocked my opponent out in my first ever match and I probably, maybe thought a bit silly, but I was just like, you know what? Let’s go to the Olympics, let's do it.

I'm obviously the best in the country already! I’m a yellow belt, it's time to do it. So I just realized, I'm starting late, I'm 17 years old. A lot of these guys had black belts and were on the national team by the time, they’ve been training since they've been 5, they’ve been black belts for 10 years already and I was just a yellow belt. So how am I going to beat these guys in Olympic trials or London or Rio, or anything like that. Kind of looking ahead and I just thought, well you know what? If they're training 5 times a week, I will train 7! And if they train 8 times a week, I will train 9.

And eventually over time, that bridge is going to gap, I'm going to bridge that gap. So that was kind of my initial plan, it was just keep fighting, keep training as hard as I possibly could, like I said earlier: just being the hardest worker in the room, you have a lot of guys in my club who were at a higher belt rank than me, there weren’t a lot of black belts, because it was a fairly new centre, so there weren't heaps of black belts to train with. So what I did was just make sure I turn up every day, did 2-3 hours of classes and got after it.

GEORGE: Great. So, simple plan, right? You just get your 10,000 hours first.

ADAM: Yeah. Yeah, I'm just going to get my 10,000 hours fast and they can get theirs. That was my initial plan really.

GEORGE: Ok, great Adam. So let's jump into your school, Story Martial Arts. A questions I actually wanted to ask you the first time: why the name, Story Martial Arts?

ADAM: Oh, that's a good question and not the first time that I've heard that question either George, it's not an easy name to kind of assign to a martial arts school. There's two reasons: the first is that my university degree is actually in writing, so I did literature and composition at Uni. I've written two novels and two collections of poetry, which most people don't know about either. Because I've been so busy posting all about kicking people in the face for the last 10 years. The second one is that my Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach and very good friend Ninos from the Australia Elite team always tells us to get our first page.

So that was kind of like his coaching method, if you start the match the way that you want to start it, you write your first page, it's likely that you'll be able to write the rest of the story of the match too. And I just thought, first page martial arts is a bit of a mouthful, so let's go with story, because it was kind of the end of the coaching line and I've been writing stories for a long time as well. So that's how I decided on the name.

GEORGE: That's pretty cool. So your coach, was he referring to story sort of really having a clear game plan with just that first couple of minutes type of thing?

ADAM: Yeah, so if you for example, if you want to pull guard, get in there and pull guard. If you want to get a takedown, get in there and get that takedown. If you want to get a certain grip, or play a certain game, you have to take control of the match. I think that really applies to jiu-jitsu, but I think it really applies to all areas of martial arts, especially in taekwondo. You know, if I want to establish a certain distance, or a certain style of play or a certain pace, I think every competitive martial artist will agree that if you start the match right and the way that you want to play, then the rest of the match is a lot easier to control.

GEORGE: Definitely. All right, fantastic. All right, so we have Story Martial Arts and let's break this down, right? Because, I mean 12 months is a real sprint to 250 students for a lot of people. I mean, I've spoken to people that have been going for years and they're at 70-80 students. To be fair though, a lot of those school owners, that's their sweet spot, right? It's their hobby business, they're happy with that.

But then, I've been speaking to a lot of people that… I mean, if they were really honest with themselves, this is what, I mean, who doesn't want that lifestyle, right? They want that successful school, they want their life to be martial arts. And you've done this in a very short sprint. So let's go back to the beginning, it's only 12 months ago – how did you get started with it all?

ADAM: So, I started with my business partner, who was my business partner at the time, Lee, we opened up a center just kind of near our houses. We knew there were a lot of kids around, there were a lot of primary schools and kindergartens, so we kind of already lived in an area where there was a bigger population density. We looked at the census, which I think a lot of people maybe don't do so well. We looked at census and see how many people live in the area, within 8km of the centre.

How many children under 14, so what percentage of those people are children under 14, which – this is all free information on the census website, you can search every suburb. And one of those, what's the populations density in the surrounding suburbs, you know, people who will travel 10-15 minutes to get to class, that kind of thing. So we settled on that location, we were kind of looking at 3-4 locations, but we kind of settled on that due to convenience, so it was near our houses and it was pretty easy to get to for us, after work, because I had a day job at the time as well, just like everyone else. What we did straight away was establish a policy that I think is really, really, important.

It's a question I ask myself when I decide anything in my business, is, will this work at 500? So, will this policy work at 500 students? For example, we have a grading checklist, so sign up on the checklist. If I have two pages of checklist, imagine going through 40 pages of checklist, trying to make sure everyone's paid for grading. So that's not going to work on 500. If I have one instructor and I don't have a leadership team, it's not going to work on 500.

If I have a certain amount of mat space and I don't want to open on Tuesdays, because I like having dinner with my wife, or my girlfriend, whatever it is, it's not going to work on 500. So that policy at the start really laid the foundation, in building that size. Because from the start, we were behaving and acting as if we already had 500 students.

GEORGE: All right. I love that! Firstly, just for American listeners and anyone not based in Australia: the census website is basically a data website. Is that the best way to explain it? It's the…

ADAM: Yeah, it's a website that has the profile of each area. So you'll have for example a suburb, this is how many people live here, this is how many people are male and female, how many kids arrive, etc. The average weekly income, which is also…

GEORGE: The population, yeah.

ADAM: Yeah.

GEORGE: All right.

ADAM: So, yeah.

GEORGE: All right, perfect. So yeah, just wanted to clarify that. So really just the population and data of a local area. So what I really like about this is it's really a very clear beginning with the end in mind. We run a program called the Partners program and one of the first things we do is we try and map out a game plan and with that, one of the questions we always ask is, what's your goal at that student number? And then, what's going to break?

Like, when you've got that, how does life really look? I mean, it's always good to say, yes a I want that amount of students, I want this, but then you really got to peel things back, because what does life look like…, what's going to break, who are you going to need, can things ošperate the way they do. And the first thing that normally breaks is the school owner, right?

ADAM: The first camel to break is the school owner, because like a lot of people in the martial arts business, they think they can do everything. Their black belt in karate or a black belt in taekwondo, or whatever you're an expert in, is not a black belt in marketing. You know, it's not a black belt in sales, it's not a black belt in web design, it's not black belt in any of these things.

I think that's the greatest thing to overcome is, you spend so many years of your life earning this ranking, and earning this respect from your community and from your students and from the parents, that you kind of… I feel like a lot of martial arts business owners don't want to give that respect up, or give that responsibility to someone else, you know? Take control of your lifestyle.

Now, for me personally, I've spent a lot of money learning how to do Facebook ads, not just from the obvious sources, but I was in Benson Mastermind for 6 months and spent nearly $20,000 learning how to do Facebook ads, because that's something that I'm really good at. But if I did it for 6 months and wasn't getting any results, you'd better believe I would have hired someone else to do it, because you need to be humble enough to admit that you're not always the best person to do every single job.

GEORGE: Yeah, it's such a valuable skill and the way I find it is, you know, I personally think everybody should understand and know their own marketing. You know, we come from a done-for-you background, where we used to do everything for school owners, but I really feel that for and it's an old top marketer, Dan Kennedy, top copywriter. You know, he always had this philosophy of, there's two things in your business that you don't hand over: one is the checkbook – the old term, we don't have those anymore. Some youngsters will be asking what is that.

So the checkbook and the marketing. And I'm not saying that you should do everything, but if you have the strategy, finding the hands is a lot easier. But you know, the reverse side a lot of school owners are trying to do is find the cheapest resource to do it all for them and if that cheap resource had the strategy, they would not be cheap. Right? So it's good to always have, get the top knowledge from the top person and then finding the hands within your own organisation is much easier.

ADAM: Yeah, I agree. I think another place that a lot of martial arts business owners go wrong is that they might say, well, it's easy for you to say hire a marketing agency, you've got 250 students. But really, I didn't have it at the start. I put $500 on a Facebook ad when I didn't have $500 in my bank account, in the business account. That's just the truth.

Because in my experience, I knew with my knowledge that I will be able to get the paid trials, that it would create the income that would cover that ad spent. I think a lot of martial arts business owners don't charge enough for their services, that's for sure. Someone told me once they were charging like $50 a term, or unlimited classes, but I could have 500 students. Well, on that price, I probably only need like 90.

GEORGE: Yeah. You know, we – and I'm storming you on this topic, because this is probably the most important part of it all. I did a video yesterday about the toughest martial arts stretch in business. It's that discomfort of actually doing the discomfort, you just mentioned something that really, it's something that I had to go through, you know? You're saying that you spent $500 on ads and you knew there wasn't $500 in the account.

I remember 10 years ago when I started doing Google ads and I was on my last cents and I was like, this is it. I'm actually just going to leave this, until I made a sale. $37 was the best sale I ever made, someone in America bought an ebook. That was… the fact that somebody bought an offer that converted – and that's the hardest part, right? Having your offer, a valuable offer that people respond to and they actually buy, that's one of the hardest things. But then, to get to that point, you're going to have to take an uncomfortable step, there's no doubt about it, right?

ADAM: Yeah. I think the uncomfortable step George is especially when people have day jobs. They say that's an easy way. It's an easy excuse, I have a day job, I work till 3 o'clock, I go straight to the club, teach classes till 7-8 o'clock, whenever it is. To be honest, if you didn't want to have a day job and teach classes, maybe this isn't the business for you. Maybe that's my youth speaking, I’m not sure, but I went into it fully knowing that I was going to work 14 hours for as long as it took, until I could get a full time centre, until I could train my staff. Until I could have a little bit more freedom, like I do now. For example. I have time to talk to you today, because I don't have a day job.

GEORGE: There you go. And I guess just to be clear right? I mean, if that's the life you want – perfect. But it's really easy to believe our own bs, right? To really believe our own excuses and justify a reason. Because that's always the first thing I pick up in a conversation: I don't have this, because of this. But it's really a choice, because I mean, it's the story that – sorry, excuse the pun.

ADAM: Hahaha!

GEORGE: But the story you tell yourself to justify the reason why you're not there. But that's where you've got to really challenge yourself and really challenge yourself to say, all right, well, is that really true? I mean if this is thing that I really want, then hey – do the uncomfortable thing. Whether that's spending money on the ads, or quitting your job, or whatever that is, but do that thing that's holding you back.

ADAM: Yeah, I’ll add contrast to my athletic career. In competition, I was gearing up for the 2016 Rio Olympic games. I got onto what's called Olympic shadow team. So it was essentially, it's the team that you kind of get put into and then they select the Olympis athletes out of that team. Now, I didn't end up going to the Olympics, I was just on the shadow, that was the end of the journey for me, in terms of Rio.

On the way up though, it was, I saw it after the games – my mistake: after the games, it was you know, it's not like oh, they didn't pick my weight class. Or I didn't get to go to as many competitions, or it was based on your ranking points and I didn't have the money at the time to go to all the events. Well, I also went to holiday with my girlfriend at the time. I also went out with my friends on weekends, spent $30-$40.

On a cheap night out as well. So it was… you kind of have to be OK with saying, you know, it's my fault. I didn't go to the Olympics and I 100% take the responsibility for that. If I go and start blaming Australian taekwondo, or start blaming the Olympic committee, soon it will be my whole life hating people when really I caused the situation. I think the martial arts business is the same, because I could've stayed on 50 students and only worked the classes, gone home, had dinner, gone to sleep.

But I went home, I wrote more messages, created more flyers, created more social media content, entered all the direct debits in – I was doing everything, until 10:30-11:00 o'clock at night, for at least the first 9 months, because I had a day job at a special ed school, where I was at from 8 till 3:30. And before any of that would start, I was at the gym training for competitions. So I think, if anything went wrong, even though I was working 12-15 hour days, I still said you know what? That parent didn't know about the grading, or this person didn't get the email, because we entered their email address wrong in the system – that's my fault.

Because I didn't train the receptionist to double check, right? I didn't train my instructor to remind every single parent every class, instead of every second class. No matter what happens in your business, eventually it all leads back to you, the owner. The CEO essentially, it’s all on you. So I think that's an easy escape when you have a day job, I definitely don't think excuses good enough.

GEORGE: Yeah. That's awesome. Ok, cool, so we start with the end in mind, right? So you're building up your systems, 500 students, does this work with 500 students. So what's the next step? You get to, you've gone from 0, you've gone to the easiest few to track,right? The first 50, or the first 100 students?

ADAM: Yeah, the first 3 months we got 60 sign ups, the first 3 months. We were at a community centre, so the rent is like a $100 a week, so 60 is plenty. We started looking at a full time centre. We found a full time centre quite quickly, permits take a little while as they do, but we get in there for. So we spent one term in a part time location, wasn't going to work with 60 students three nights a week. Open up a full time, 5 nights a week. Fitted it out, etc.

Now, you go from that local point, I think 50-60, past our next breaking point, which was 100, that's an obvious goal, to get to a 100 students. The thing was, finding people who knew more than me. So I'm a big proponent and anyone can ask me at anytime any questions they like on Facebook: if you are not in MABS, you are losing your mind. Paul Veldman and Rod have such an excellent program. I did the work, but I base a lot of my success on coaching from people like Paul and Rod.

I also spent the money and went to The Main Event two months after opening my business. It wasn’t, oh, that will be good to do next year when we have more cash – how are we going to get the cash? I'm going to The Main Event to learn from all these guys. To learn from guys like you. I've been in the business a grand total of 8 weeks, so yeah, I actually presented at that main event on coaching. Not on business, but on coaching.

GEORGE: I actually didn't realize that when I met you, that was your, that you had just actually started your martial arts school.

ADAM: Yeah, it was hard in the round table I think, because it's kind of hard to listen to someone who's had a total of two months on business, but I had more students than most of these guys I think.

GEORGE: Well there you go. Again, the discomfort. The discomfort of, you know, you're in a situation and, I mean, you're being true to what you know, it's not like you're deceiving anyone, but you're pushing yourself that extra step. And that's just so important, in everything that we…… it seems to be the topic we sort of hammer on every year.

ADAM: What I was going to say was, after The Main Event I actually, I remember something that Paul was saying, Paul Veldman was saying about taking action. So I didn't want to be one of those school owners who fills their notepad full of notes, or fills their computer full of notes, goes home and says, geez, it was fun catching up with everyone. Business as usual. That's ridiculous, right? What a waste of time and money! I just went right to it. Every single note in my main event notebook has been actioned. Every single one. I did the 7-word email that you talked about when I had only 20 people to send it to. And I still got three of them back.

So every single thing that happened at The Main Event, I implemented straight away. Every coaching call that I had with Paul, everything that someone would ask in the group at the time, every question that someone asked, I wrote a note and implemented it in my business, that day. And not, oh, I’m going to do this next week when I have more time, or,  geez, on Sunday I'm going out with the family, I’ll do it another time. You got to get stuff done.

GEORGE: So going from the part time school, you made sure that you had some cash in the bank, so you made sure there was some directive that's coming in and that was the first step to get you to the full time location. And then pushing through that 100 students and past, how did things look from there?

ADAM: So yeah, when we were at the full time centre, we had I think 55, there was a couple of kids… even if you move 3-4 blocks down the road, a couple of kids don't really want to drive the extra distance, that's OK. So we came in at 50-55. We knew we needed 70 to pay the bills.

So we actually moved into the full time centre, without enough students to pay the bills for the full time centre. So as soon as we moved in, we were about a month away from closing down the business entirely and stuck with a three year lease. So what I did was, we ran a big media open day, talked to all the business coaches, all my other friends who have martial arts business, all my former coaches. What do you do at an open day… I mean, I used to work at these open days when I was a trainer at schools as well, so ran the open day, got 25 on the day. Hit 75, bills are covered – beauty. Then we immediately went into term 1, so we went through referral, we did a bring a friend week, nerf gun nights, all that kind of stuff.

And this is stuff that everyone who listens to the podcast have heard before, but I think they probably should do it more frequently. So we were doing nerf gun nights once a term, open day, we would do family day in term 4, which was kind of an open day on a smaller scale, you know? You would get 10-15 sign ups for a very small advertising budget in term 4 and we hit a 100  just after September. So it took us a little bit less than 9 months to get a 100 students.

GEORGE: Ok, cool. Were just breaking up a little bit there. Ok, so 9 months, you were at 100 students, right?

ADAM: Yeah.

GEORGE: Ok, cool. So lots of events, open days, nerf gun wars and really involving the community within the school at that time.

ADAM: Yeah, and I think a really important point to make on the rapid growth after that point was, we really started realizing we were on to something special and that was probably my first mistake in the business, was, we got to a 100 so quickly, 200 was going to be so easy. But we just got to a 100 in less than 9 months, 200 is going to be a cinch. We hadn't even ever had a term one back to school special, because we opened later.

So we never even got that big kind of initial boost most martial arts business owners hope and pray for the entire year. So we were kind of looking forward to term one and $6000-$7000 ready to spend on Facebook ads, we had only $1000-$2000 in the bank at the time, we were still only just scraping by, we had to hire another instructor. Because of the rapid growth of the club, so we had another instructor on the mats and we were really looking forward to that term one boost.

We get to term one, come back 91 students on the books in January, I know it was specifically 91. I was like, you know what? This is going to be the last time that I ever have less than a 100 students. It's going to be the last time ever that I have less than a 100. So we put a big amount, I think we spent $14,000 in 2 months, and we got 135 paid trials in one location. So we had a huge amount of kids, we ran the open day again, so a campaign ride up to 200 straight away.

So the biggest mistake we made was not adhering to our own rule, which is, does this work at 500. And the systems that we had been in place at the time were working and we thought they were going to work at 500, but all of a sudden 130 brand new white belts in the door in the first kind of six weeks of the term wasn't a very good idea. So we probably should have been less aggressive with our marketing, even though it's kind of hard to give up money and students and enrolments. We should have set a limit, where 60-70 trials – we stop selling trials, because we ended up losing I think like 60-70 of those kids anyway.

So out of a 135, I think we only kept like 50. So we ended up under 140 students, whereas if we had better systems and maybe more things in place for retention of new white belts, not just retention of the whole club, but white belt retention specifically, we would have done a better job at keeping a larger number of those 135 trials that we got in that month.

GEORGE: Ok, and so that's a good point there, you know, it's always good to say, if only I got an extra 100 students or something, but again, how does the system fall apart on that? How does it impact your existing students and of course your new students. So if you had to, let's say, depending on when you're listening to this, but let's say the new year, you run another campaign and you get another influx of 135 students – how will you structure this differently? What would you have in place to make sure to have a smooth onboarding?

ADAM: To be honest, I’m going to try and stop it before it got to that point, because in the business now, there's a lot of color belts obviously, there's kids going through the advanced levels now that we’ve been open for a little bit and I really think that I would stop at 70-80 trials and then just stop the ads right there. And you know, those kids are going to join eventually, those extra 50-60 kids that I haven't sold the trials to, but if I could get 80 and keep 65-70 of them, it's a lot better and also, I haven't spent a lot of money on ads for kids that are going to have a negative experience in my centre, just because it's so jam packed with white belts.

Everyone knows, you have to give those white belts extra special attention, it's very hard to give extra special attention to 22 white belts in a new class. It's just impossible, in a 30-40 minute class. It's not possible. I mean, any big school owner and what we get into now, being a big school is that they realize that even if you're teaching good classes, the parents might not see that they’re classes, because there's 30 kids running around. Even though you're a good instructor, it might not look like you're a good instructor to them and at the end of the day, they're paying the bills.

So I think that's what we’re really trying to curb, is making sure that the parents know that I’m teaching good classes. I'm obviously teaching good classes, we have this many students, we’re taping a lot of them. My recent boost for this, we had 97% sign up from trials, no word of a lie. So anyone who's listening I can send a screenshot. So all those kids that are staying in, obviously we’re running a good program. But the challenge now becoming a bigger school is, can you run a good program at 500?

So back to that initial rule again – is this going to work, even though it's worked up until now, is it going to work with 500? And the way that I'm teaching the classes now, I'm making the mat chats a bit more vocal. I'm making the kids laugh and go and give their parents a high five and that kind of thing. Come back into the class, go tell your mom that you just had a good time, that kind of stuff. So we’re really working now on making the parents part of the experience.

I've listened to a really good podcast about Airbnb launching their experiences platform, where instead of renting a house, you can rent an experience. So you can go horseback riding in Utah, or do a samurai show in Tokyo and those kinds of things, so I think the challenge for us now is what's the Story Martial Arts experience look like? For a student, everyone knows what it looks, they're learning martial arts, they're building their character, they’re building up their skills.

But what does the Story Martial Arts experience feel like for a parent watching a class? For a parent who's at the end of the day deciding what happens to the child, the child might be getting better at taekwondo or getting better at karate, that's the truth. They might be getting better at their martial art. They might be having a lot of fun. But does the parent think they’re getting better? Does the parent think that they’re having fun? Does the parent see the value in paying whatever it is you charge a week, because if you believe it and the kid believes it, it doesn't matter. Because the most important missing link in that chain is the parent who decides.

GEORGE: That is… that was pure gold, that was awesome. Adam, before we wrap it up, I do want to ask you just, how do things look now and what's going to be your prime focus from 250 through to that 500 student mark that you've been, that's been on the goal?

ADAM: Like I said earlier, the prime focus is working at a big business scale now where we’re at. It's moving from a medium size martial arts school to a very large martial arts school. And what I’m doing is listening to a lot of podcasts and reading a lot of books about people who own gym franchises, so Anytime Fitness has 500,000 members nationwide, so imagine the retention they have to put on a gym. Obviously, there's no martial arts school anywhere near that, so what my sign up experience was, I've been kind of going around the gyms and trying to sign up, I would literally spend an hours of my day going to gyms, asking about membership plans and seeing how they treat me as a potential client.

And I've been taking the best parts and leaving out the worst, preparing for that big influx in January. Like we said at the top of the show, I think I’m opening a pilates business as well, so not really the topic of this podcast, but pilates and martial arts running together under the Story group company, how will we give that experience to the customer? How are we going to improve their life through this signup process? Not through what were teaching on the mats, because that's obvious, everyone knows that. It doesn't need to be repeated a 1000 times: good classes, make sure you’re good at martial arts, invest in the staff training – everyone knows that.

But how pleasurable is that signup process? How do they go away thinking, geez, I can't believe I got away with that value. How can we even offer more and more value, not on the mat when they come in, because everyone is already working on that. But what we’re not working on in an industry I believe is giving out those gift bags and offering free sausages to the community, going around, giving out things like at shopping centre's and things like that. Things that big gyms do, because they work. Martial arts businesses, I think, miss out on the signup experience a lot. So I guess that's my focus, is making sure the parents and the students enjoy the classes, obviously they have to enjoy the classes to stay, but also enjoy the process of purchasing a trial, how easy is it to buy it. Come into the class, how welcoming is my staff, that kind of thing.

GEORGE: Fantastic, I love it. Adam, we should have done this sooner, thanks for being on the show, it was really great.

ADAM: No worries.

GEORGE: And I think a lot of people are going to get a lot of value out of this, just, I mean, the beginning of the story and it's all value, but I think really focus on what you said in these last few minutes of the experience – that's true gold and it's something I haven't really heard a lot of people talk about, yet, I’d really take that on board. If anybody wants to get a hold of you, you mentioned as well, you’re bringing out an ebook, can you just tell me something about that?

ADAM: Yeah, so the ebook is called ”Offering value – how to scale your business through the mathematics of kindness.” So it's really about the journey from 0 to 250, the last 12-18 months now and how are we planning on offering even more value, not taking more monetary value, but offering even more value to our customers and really building an experience inside of our martial arts business.

We’re also going to go over a lot things about irresistible offers, so how have we been able to attract all the leads and more importantly, how we have been able to sign up a staggering rate of those trials that have come up. I don't think we’ve ever had below 80% except for that one time where there was a big rush. So yeah, the book is called offering value. It's going to come out at the end of January, just in time for the back to school marketing. It's going to be on Amazon, there's no courses at the end no paid groups, it's just me, offering value to the martial arts business industry.

GEORGE: Fantastic. And I will link to that in the show notes, depending on when you're listening to this, that will be available. And Adam, thanks again.

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top, 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 – thing 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 community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialartsmedia.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!


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69 – The Most Uncomfortable ‘Stretch’ In Martial Arts (Business)

Just like that uncomfortable hamstring stretch, there's a stretch in your martial arts business that's potentially holding you back.


  • The uncomfortable step that's potentially holding you back
  • A Partner members success story
  • Playing a bigger game
  • The one thing to do before hiring a martial arts business coach
  • And more

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


I've questioned myself on doing it, but I’ll tell you what: it was the best thing I've done for my business, just automatically playing at a high field and associating myself with people of a higher calibre.

Hi, George here, I hope you're well. I want to talk about the most uncomfortable stretch in martial arts business. So I'm going to make this quick: I stepped out from the side of the lake, there are frogs going in the background, I could feel a few mosquitoes going at me, so I'm going to make this quick. And hey – it’s Australia, so who knows what's in the bush, right?

So the most uncomfortable stretch in the martial arts business. So a couple of days ago, I was on a call with one of our Partners members. And he said to me openly: when he decided to go ahead with our program, he was in regret and he felt really uncomfortable, and he thought, oh, I've just wasted a lot of money. And then he felt better when he saw the calibre of the people that were in the program, he felt a bit better.

But then I got the best message a couple of days ago. And he just did a sale for 72 hours, which is a module that was a part of our program and then got some help from within the community. And he managed to generate just over $20,000. And that's the program paid for, you know, way beyond. And you look at that as in a stretch.

Now, why the analogy of the martial arts business stretch? Well, when you stretch in martial arts, it’s not comfortable, right? I mean, you're stretching for the purpose of having to hopefully do a technique or do something in a more comfortable way, which is why the stretch, but the stretch is always very uncomfortable. And the same within martial arts, right?

Within business, I see so many school owners that are splashing around in the shallow water, trying to create tidal waves, right? It doesn’t really happen. And what I mean by that is not willing to really go ahead and invest in their business. Really frowning upon, oh well, I can't spend a couple of hundred bucks there, or this there. But then always staying at the same plateau.

And you know, a lot of the school owners that I speak to five years ago are still doing that same thing, right? So there's a bit of a mindset shift that's got to happen for you to go to the next level. There's going to be discomfort, right?

I know for me, just in my business this year, I took a big step and I've been investing in coaching for quite a while to improve myself and my skills and my business. But this investment for me was a big one. It was $20,000, which for me was a significant amount of money on coaching. For you, it might be nothing, for other people it might be a large sum as well. And that caused a lot of discomfort. It was like, can I do this? Why am I doing this?

I mean, I can't afford to spend this amount of money on coaching. And I've really questioned myself on doing it. But I’ll tell you what, it was the best thing I've done for my business. Just automatically playing at a high field and associating myself with people of a higher calibre, immediately pushed myself to raise the bar.

Now, I'm not saying you've got to go and spend $20,000 on coaching. If you do, please make sure that you actually met the people, their expertise. But what I'm saying is, if you want to go that extra mile and you want to take your business to that higher level that you actually want, then there's going to be some discomfort.

And you're going to have to make peace with that. And by doing that, that's where the real growth comes, right? So just like in martial arts, I mean it’s probably common knowledge for you anyway, right? Make that stretch, do that thing that's uncomfortable, like you would do in martial arts and do it in your business.

Hope that helps, I'm going to get away from the frogs and the mozzies (mosquito’s)  – I’ll speak to you soon. Cheers!

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top, 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 – 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 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 in the next episode – cheers.


Here are 4 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. *NEW** – Premium Martial Arts Websites with Easy Pay Plans.

If your website is not delivering new leads consistently, doesn't represent your true value or you simply need to make a change. Click here for details and a demo.

2. 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.

3. 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 work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

4. 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!

68 – Create Better Martial Arts Videos (Without The Editing, Gear And Gadgets)

Ask yourself this one question to get better results with your next martial arts video.


  • The difference between martial arts videos for friends vs prospects.
  • How to get on target and be relevant.
  • Why it’s not about the tech and gadgets.

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



If you're creating video content, then who are you actually creating it for? Because is it for your martial arts friends or is it for your prospects?

Hey, this is George. Hope you're doing well, I've got a little princess visiting me for this video, going for a quick morning walk. She's been up early.

So hey, I was on a phone call with one of our new Partners members yesterday. And we were talking about social media content. And we were basically talking about creating different videos and things like that. And we came to a bit of a realization. So, and it's a very simple realization, but it’s one that's easily neglected, right?

So as martial artists, if we start doing videos, the first thing that's always the easiest to do is to start looking at moves and thing like that. You know, what type of different techniques, kicking, punching, etc.

But here's the question I want you to ask yourself: if you're creating video content, then who are you actually creating it for, right? Because, is it for your martial arts friends or is it for your prospects? OK?

So, I mean, the way we like to go about it: every month, we cover a different topic in our Partners program. So we’re either talking about attracting the students, how do we increase sign-ups or how to retain your members.

So there's definitely a place, obviously for doing those martial arts techniques and so forth and it looks awesome, right? But I guess what I want you to think about is, is it really connecting with the type of person you are trying to attract in your school? Is that the person that's really going to want to train? Is that what's going to get them over the edge is seeing a fancy technique, or submission or whatever it is, is that what's going to push them over the edge? Is that what’s going to remove their fear and actually make them take action?

So think about that the next time you create a form of video. This is something we are doing next month in our Partners program, we're looking at simplifying social media – I've just got to remove the fly. Perth and flies, I’ll tell you what. Yeah – so next month, we’re covering the topic of simplifying social media and in that, we’re mapping out the next 12 months of social media content and we’re using different formulas for videos, for content and how you should be positioning it.

So a good place to start, if you want to get one good takeaway from this video, then think about talking about the problems. You can start with problems, what type of problems are you trying to solve. And you can always change the context of what it is that you're doing – oh, here comes the sun! So if you are creating a video with moves, then at least frame it to the right person. And explain to them how and why that is being used.

Cool, I hope that's helpful, we can head back. Hopefully not get attacked by the magpies. Cool, have an awesome day, speak soon – cheers.

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top, 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 download and worksheets – the thing 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 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 in the next episode – cheers.


Here are 4 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. *NEW** – Premium Martial Arts Websites with Easy Pay Plans.

If your website is not delivering new leads consistently, doesn't represent your true value or you simply need to make a change. Click here for details and a demo.

2. 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.

3. 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 work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

4. 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!

67 – And Still… The No.1 Martial Arts Marketing Mistake

How to avoid the biggest marketing mistake that martial arts school owners make when advertising online.


  • Matching your message for the right platform.
  • If this one thing doesn’t work, your ads won’t work.
  • The ‘kitchen sink’.
  • The real reason why you need to simplify your sales funnel.
  • And more

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


The first thing that you really, really need to get down to is, how do you structure the offer, how do you get an offer to convert? Because if the offer converts, everything else is going to work.

Hey, this is George. And I quickly want to talk about how to avoid the one biggest marketing mistake that comes up quite often when I speak to martial arts school owners.

So just a bit of context: I'm in New Zealand right now, just on a bit of a family vacation. And we've got this awesome view and the weather’s been up and down, but today it's just such a perfect day on the lake here in Hamilton, so I just wanted to get that on video.

So here's what happens, right? So we've got a program in the Martial Arts Media Academy, where we help school owners with all areas of marketing. When it comes to emailing, Facebook, Google, etc. And where the problem came, was trying to mix too many of the same strategies.

So, here's what happened: one of our members had been trying to get their Facebook ad to really work. And we've got an email structure that sends out… basically, we structure emails that go out to your prospects. They're structured over about two weeks and it basically helps build a relationship with your prospects while you're not there.

And so when doing email, you follow certain…there's certain things you can do, right? There's a certain way you can speak, there's a certain way that you can format your message. And the first message that goes out, we call it ““the kitchen sink,”” because it's everything in the kitchen sink, right? It's telling the prospect everything they need to know about you.

And so where the confusion came in, was trying to actually use this strategy, because our member got such good results with this one email, he decided it would be a good idea to put that on a Facebook ad. But the problem was that the email, it sends people to… it's in a whole different position, right?

The person is already a lead, they're already a prospect, the relationship has already started, and now they get this email that sends them to YouTube, that sends them to everything that they can learn and know about them and then martial arts school, right?

So when you use this on a Facebook ad, of course, that's kind of suicidal, because you're sending people to all these different locations. And by sending them to all these different locations, you’ve got no way to ever know if it works, or not. And my exact answer was, let’s say this ad works – awesome. You get a good result. That would be great, but let’s say you run it again and it doesn't work?

Then there's no way for you to know why, because there were just too many variables, right? People went to YouTube, people went here, people went here, people went here… so that creates a lot of confusion and……not a confusion so much, but there's no way for you to actually scale and improve that type of ad.

So here's what the biggest mistake is: the biggest mistake is trying to do too many things too soon and sending people to too many directions too soon. So when you create an ad and-  it's a very common thing, but just have people do the one, simplest thing that's going to start the conversation with them. How can you make it easy for them to raise their hand and do something?

And sometimes that's just a comment, sometimes that's sending a message. Because here's the thing, right: if you’’ve never run a Facebook ad and you’’ve never gotten anybody to respond, so you never got a conversion on your Facebook ad, then nothing else is going to work, right?

So the first thing that you really, really need to get down to is, how do you structure the offer, how do you get an offer to convert? Because if the offer converts, everything else is going to work. So if the person is going to respond to your offer, then you can start looking at, OK: how do I make this landing page better? How do I make this message better? But on the frontend, you’’ve got to get the offer to convert.

I hope that helps. If it helps in some way, then leave me a comment below, or yeah – I’ll see you in the next video. Cheers!


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

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

66 – The Hard Way Vs The Easy(re) Way

Every martial arts business has its challenges. If there was one ‘shortcut' to success, this would be it.


  • The real ‘shortcut’ to martial arts business success
  • The easy and hard ways of marketing your martial arts school
  • Why you should invest in these marketing strategies
  • And more

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


If you're struggling with something and need help, then why don't you just get help from someone who has done it before, made all the mistakes and shortcut all that learning? All the mistakes that they made, you can bypass that and get the result faster.

Hey, George here. Just walking back from a trip, we were just at Mount Ruapehu, if I've said that right. You can probably see it, it's sort of in the background there. Yeah, the snowy mountains, pretty awesome scenery here in New Zealand. Pretty cold, when you're used to the hot weather in Perth.

I was reminded today, there's the easy way to do things and a hard way. So today was the first day I took up snowboarding and because I’ve surfed before, I always thought, oh, this is going to be so easy. So I thought, you know what, why not give it a shot? Why not I go and try snowboarding, without lessons and just go do it, right? And the outcome was pretty… interesting.

So, yeah, I ate a lot of snow, falling down and, yeah, it was an interesting affair. And it reminded me that there's always the easy way to do things or the hard way. Just like before I started helping martial arts school owners with digital marketing stuff. I took the hard way, I tried to learn everything myself, without any help.

So just going by mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, spending a lot of money, wasting a lot of money and it's just a long process, which can be really frustrating, right?

If you're trying to learn something and you don’t have any help, then you try everything, you do everything. It doesn't make sense and you think you’re going to save money by not spending money on a  course or trying to get advice or coaching. So you go the long road, the long route.

And you try and fumble through things by yourself. And it can be really frustrating and it can take a long time and I guess that’s why a lot of people also stop doing what it is they were trying to achieve because it's just too hard.

So, yeah, when you go that route, it's always, it just takes a lot longer and it's a lot more frustrating. And I guess that’s just with everything, right? Like, with your marketing, marketing your business with your martial arts, you can try to fumble through things, try and take shortcuts, or just get help.

Get help from someone who’s done it before, who’s tried things, who has invested in some knowledge and gotten good results, obviously. You can’t just follow someone that invested in good marketing, or good coaching or something, because if they didn't get results yet themselves, then how can they teach you to get a result?

So I guess I just thought I’d shoot this video, the real message I want to get across is: if you're struggling with something and need help, then why don't you just get help from someone who has done it before, made all the mistakes and shortcut all that learning. All the mistakes that they made, you can bypass that and get the result faster.

Hope that helps in some way. I’m going to go into that spot over there, which is nice and warm and get myself a nice drink. Cheers!


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

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


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