80 – Discovering Your Martial Arts Student’s Inner Greatness

It's great to know the real reason why your martial arts students want to join, but what if you could go one level deeper? Cat Zohar shares how.


  • How to improve your martial arts school’s student retention
  • Member engagement vs. customer service
  • Why member engagement is like fortune telling
  • How to identify your martial arts students inner greatness
  • And more

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


GEORGE: Hey, this is George and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. So, I've got a repeat guest with me today, Cat Zohar, all the way from the States. Hi Cat.

CAT: Hi. How's everyone? Welcome, hello. Glad you're here if you are.

GEORGE: Cool. So, a quick intro. Why the episode number two and a bit about what are we going to be talking about here today. Recently on our Partners program, we co-created something with all Cat's expertise, all her IP, and we called it Retention by Design. Retention by Design, and Cat's going to correct me if I've misplaced the wording.

But something that we've focused on in our Partners program, we always talk about how to attract the right students, how to increase sign-ups and how to retain more members. And on the increased side, we talk about mastering sales. And with mastering sales, we're really big on really understanding the real reason why people join. Not the hey, I want confidence, but why the confidence? What is the deeper emotional reason why people go ahead?

Cat's taken that to a whole another level when it comes to retention. And instead of just uncovering and discovering what the actual emotional reason is why people go ahead and start martial arts, but she's developed a system where she can actually identify the personality traits and how to identify the actual greatness of the student in a more detailed way. Are they good at the competition, would they make a potential instructor, and so forth.

I'm not going to reveal too much from that, but what I really liked about the whole concept is it just takes things to a whole another level. And if you've got retention problems and football is a top priority over martial arts and a whole bunch of other things and you're finding price wars instead of value wars of why your martial arts program is superior, then this is going to be a lot of fun and a lot of value.

So with that, welcome again, Cat.

CAT: It's great to be here, George, thanks for having me.

GEORGE: So, just for a quick two-minute intro. Just for anybody who hasn't listened to the first episode, just give us a quick rundown, who is Cat?

CAT: Well, that's a loaded question. Cat is a person who has a marketing company that focuses on helping martial arts schools with their member engagement. Member engagement is probably a lot of my contribution to the martial arts industry and helping martial arts school owners not just sign up new members, but most importantly keep those members and keep them not just coming to classes, but keep them showing up happily and referring their friends and family members to their martial arts schools.

So, a lot of what Cat is, is a little special twist on taking a look at our relationships that we have with our students and how to be able to best serve our members. Not just in a sense of giving things, but most importantly in a sense of what they're able to receive by taking part in the martial arts class. Pretty much a combination of the martial arts business along with being a martial artist myself for over 30 years and a practitioner of the arts.

Cat Zohar

This is something that I have a good sense of direction on where martial arts instructors and well-meaning school owners tend to put more emphasis in certain areas, where if they were to shift some of that focus and attention to keeping their students through different things and not just teaching great classes, but also the process of which they help them develop personally and give them that personal development aspect in their program, they could actually do a lot less recruitment than what they may believe is necessary.

In the long run, it saves them a lot of that effort that goes into the ads and goes into the marketing and goes into the arduous task of getting new sign-ups each and every day. It definitely saves a lot of gray hairs from showing.

GEORGE: Awesome. So, let's break it down. Let's start with just the problem of this. Where did things go wrong with member engagement?

CAT: If I had to pinpoint, I always use this expression, member engagement is the opposite of customer service. Customer service waits for a problem to happen, and then figures out, what could we do to make it better, fix it? Member engagement eliminates the need for customer service because we try to pre-empt whatever that problem may be and just stop it from ever forming and ever even becoming an issue.

So, member engagement truly is, almost if you had a crystal ball and you were looking into it and you were saying, if that's the path for this new student that I have, I want to be sure that that thing that I just saw come up into my vision doesn't happen. Or, if that could be the ultimate outcome for this particular student, I want to ensure that that's exactly what their experience is going to be. So, it's almost like a fortune teller, if you will, looking into the crystal ball for the life journey of a martial arts student.

The truth of the matter is, here I am, I'm going to go off on a tangent because I guarantee my instructors never would have expected the fact that I, the geeky little six-year-old girl that signed up for martial arts classes would have been as invested into martial arts training as I am today. And I think that really is a lot of what … Instructors have preconceived notions of their students when they get started and they're not always favourable.

It's like, they're going to end up dropping out, or they're not going to end up going that far. Or they put high expectations on other students, like this is a superstar, they have so much ability, I can make them so great, and then become utterly disappointed that the student decides to pull out or they take a break or stop for football, or soccer as we call it. Yeah, that gets very dejecting in the whole school owners' job role.

GEORGE: It's really hard for this is just a practicality of life, right? Your assumption of people is generally wrong. It's almost like when you run a split test for ads. You always think that's the sure winner, and then it's typically not. And same thing with people. You can have a gut feel and some intuition with, all right this person is like this. You get a good feeling about it. But then there's all these other things that are going on that you could never predict. So, you can never really accurately assume.

And assumptions could also be dangerous. I see this in sales a lot. One thing with website development, always talking with copywriting. We always ask the question, if I had to walk into your school and ask what do you do here, what would be your answer?

Sometimes the question just goes, we started in Okinawa and we did this and there's this whole tangent of stuff. And I'm like, hang on, you lost me at 1964. I'm not here anymore. Because you completely missed the point. What I'm getting to with that, it's so easy to just assume your story is going to connect with someone, or just assume that somebody's here for confidence. But there's so much more going on behind the scenes.

And want to take this, not to a crystal ball level, of course, because it's actually a practical process that you put together. So where do we go from here? If we look at member engagement and you need to lift your game. Maybe people are dropping off and other sports are taking priority, etc., where do you start this whole process within the communication with the parents, etc.?

CAT: Great question, George. And everything that you've said so far has been completely spot-on with your analysis of where people, well, what do you guys do, what do you accomplish. And I think that is exactly where most school owners drop the ball is because they want to put someone on a trial membership, or they want to get them enrolled on something. And before that they're so eager to sign them up on a program or say I got one and celebrate that success, one of the most important areas to learn about the student is day one. It's on the intake process. It's the day you ask them to fill in a liability waiver form and permission slip to try a first class with you.

This is one of my strong beliefs is that If we were to ask better questions on that intake form, and not just one of those old lists of 50 different questions about will you be living in the area for the next year or so or questions that are a little bit less relevant to the life of the student as opposed to the life circumstances of the student is really telling.

How often is it that martial arts instructor as a parent, of say a child that's five, six, seven years old, what kind of a friend is your child? Does he get along well with others? How does he participate in group activities? These seem to be very reasonable questions for a future educator, a teacher, a martial arts instructor to learn and to know, especially from a parent's perspective before they begin teaching the student.

To me it seems like common knowledge that we would take the time to ask questions about the student that we're going to be teaching so that way we know how to teach them. But I don't think it happens nearly enough.

GEORGE: Okay, so let's look at how beneficial this is. Our goal is we want to keep more students and we want to learn more clear understanding of who they are, what they really want, what are their potential personality trait. So how do we go about uncovering a better understanding and being able to use that, not just on the sign-up process, but actually to keep them engaged throughout the program? My follow-up question would then be, how do we predict the actual times, where you were saying member engagement to actually replace the customer service. How do we go about that? I'm asking that now in case it doesn't slip my mind.

CAT: I hope I remember that question when it comes around to that part of the discussion here. Great great great pack here. An assessment. I think the number one way to be able to ask parents the important questions that we need answers to is through a simple assessment. What if this assessment was, oh, I don't know, 18-questions long and ranked them in order of different priorities as far as how they showed up most powerfully in a child's life. And a parent takes this on behalf of a child, or an adult student takes it for themselves based on how they react to different situations and things.

And giving them this type of simple, very straightforward matter of fact-type questionnaire that they could quickly take and basically, you're able to then get a little bit of a profile of who this person before you is, without making too many judgements, but just based on how their personality is showing up and how other students in your martial arts school may have also related to such questions.

GEORGE: Give us an example. I'm trying to just cut in. Just give us an example. So, assessment. If you could handpick a couple of things to give us an idea of how you go about the whole profiling.

CAT: Sure. So let's say if a student has really strong perseverance. Because we know our martial arts program teaches a student perseverance. Let me backtrack one step. Let's say that all these things that we say we teach in martial arts, confidence, perseverance, indomitable spirit. All of these traits were there. And then a parent was able to say, well, I definitely see my child, as opposed to say lacking, he needs more confidence.

What if we were able to take it from a completely different perspective? What if we were able to say that my child has so much fortitude, so much perseverance. He doesn't give up and sometimes he probably should. He's the one who stays to the end, and he's trying to be everybody's friend even when other kids may not be so nice to him in return. These are real frustrations a parent may have if they're dealing with everyday life with their child. It gets me so raging mad when I see other kids taking advantage of his good nature.

And I'm sure there's people listening to this recording right now and says, oh my gosh, I've heard parents say that to me last week. And they're probably thinking of their own student body and thinking to themselves like, I have students like that. Where if somebody took their very last snack for lunch, they would not even have a problem with it or let them do it because they're not aggressive or they're not assertive enough.

So we hear these things that parents want these things for their child. They don't want them to be bullied, they don't want them to be cornered. They want them to exude, not necessarily just confidence, but also assertiveness. They want them to be able to say when enough is enough and stand up for themselves so they're not being taken advantage of, which is completely understood.

But what if a parent was able to recognize, well the fact that they have such good endurance and what if that was really more like empathy. And what if their child's empathy was one of their strongest features and that was not a bad thing. That was a good thing. And we're able to recognize that first through the questions we ask. Like, for instance, how much empathy does your child display when working with other kids or in groups? How do they share empathy with their friends at school?

These types of questions that we're asking specifically, they may say, extremely much. He gets a five on a scale of one to five, five being the highest, that's my kid all the way. So, now we have a little bit of a different understanding of what this child really has initial greatness for because that's the way his personality is showing up. That's the way he communicates on an on-going basis. That's what mom hears from the school teacher every time they have a sit-down conference.

So, these are the types of things that now that the martial arts instructor's able to say, hey, we know you want confidence, and that's going to come with our martial arts program, but we're not going to let him lose one of the strongest qualities that he has with maybe say empathy, or maybe say fortitude or one of the other types of honour. He just has such great integrity, he's not going to tell a lie and he's going to be honest if something comes down to the wire about what happened in this particular situation.

These are all really good things but sometimes can perhaps be seen as a little bit more passive or a little bit meeker. And sometimes that could also lead to some of the reasons why parents bring their kid into a karate school or martial arts program in the very first place.

So all of that being said, gives us a chance to really hone in on where the areas are that a parent says this is great, as opposed to saying, ugh, we just need more discipline in this house because he just doesn't listen to any of the rules. As opposed to focusing the attention negatively on what's lacking, we just really want to shift the conversation and focus on the beginning of a new relationship on what's already there and build on that.

GEORGE: That's awesome. So, what I was getting at then was predictability. So we know in the program, and maybe this is a question down the line, actually because we can focus more on what we've just discussed here. But to that question because we're going to push it out and we're going to forget about it. So, let's discuss it.

So, predictability. So if we think customer service, member engagement. We want to combat problems and deal with situations before they actually arise. How do we go about looking at that journey and saying okay, white to black, let's just call it that. For example, we know in the next three to five years or whatever the journey is. Longer if it's Jiu Jitsu. That's going to be the journey of the student and there's going to be some obstacles where the student's going to want to quit, lose interest, etc. How do we go about that? That's a big question.

CAT: That really is. This may be a little bit of a more lengthy response to it as well. But in all fairness with time and our listeners' schedules here, let me address that this way. There's not a roadmap in any martial arts student's journey. There's a destination where X marks the spot. And if that's black belt, we know that that's what the goal is for a student that we want as martial arts instructors to see our students achieve.

But until that goal is also the student’s goal and the parents’ goal, we have a three-way obstacle. So, we can't just be pushing someone. The student has to want it. We can't want anything for our students more than our students want it for themselves. I didn't say it, I just probably said it better. I wasn't the first person to quote that.

The truth of the matter is if our students and our parents of these students don't want black belt just as much, they're not going to get it. Part of member engagement is really listening to find out what the outcome is that a student is looking for. And make sure that we're able to not just deliver that, but find out what the next outcome is going to be as well, too.

And, through something like the assessment where we know where a person's tendency tends to be strong, we can actually say, well given this amount of fortitude that your child has, and that perseverance, we're running a boot camp session where it's going to be a four-hour training day, but he's got the makeup, he's going to be great for this. This type of rank advancement camp, or this type of workshop that we're going to do, or this intensive training for a competition team, maybe, it's going to be right up his alley. This is going to be something he's going to do so great at.

And because he has that grit, has that perseverance that he's showing naturally, that it's there, it's within him, that's something now that we can take and expand over the course of yellow belt, green belt, blue belt, purple belt, red belt, black belt, and make that grow with him.

A parent comes in, they want confidence, we show them confidence. They say thank you very much, have a great day. We were able to do that in two weeks, that was worth it. And then you're done. But wait a minute. Because we tried to show up with something that wasn't necessarily already there. We tried to show them or give them something that we were able to throw at them or help them develop or help them gain. But we negated the fact that they already came prepared with something.

And that greatness they came prepared with is going to get us so much longer of a road to be able to work with and to be able to naturally appeal to what it is the child's already doing well at. And the parent recognizes, already on board with, keyword. They're already in alignment that yes, this is one of the greatnesses in their child. This is something they'd really excel at. You tell me what parent wants their child to fail and just fail miserably in anything that they do? And then, not only want them to fail miserably at what they do, wants them to do that consistently for about three to five years.

No. We make this into such a struggle, and that's where so many disconnects are going on with martial arts school owners because they see things as this is our curriculum, this is the way it has to be, this is everything that needs to be taught. But sometimes they miss the fact that, well, the student's probably not going to be ready for that after just two classes, six classes, eight classes. Every student is not identical. But the instruction was so great, they're always going to be ready that way. That isn't necessarily the case, either.

So, by giving them the proper instruction where we recognize areas of greatness. Let's say, perseverance, for one. They're able to then now suggest, with confidence, hey, our competition team requires a lot of perseverance from our competitors and it takes a little bit of commitment on the parents' part, too. So, I'm guessing if your kid has all that perseverance, you probably have a little bit of it up your sleeve, too. So, we're going to recommend that he gives try-outs a chance. Is that something you'd be interested in? Because he looks like he's got a lot of talent and a lot of ability to grow with that.

And they say yes, great. And now this is something that's able to move them in the direction of continuing on. So, it isn't necessarily just setting the goal of black belt, but also giving them something that does resonate with them. And that is worthy of their journey.

So how do we overcome and take the predictions with a crystal ball and different things and the membership process where a student may want to stop or may want to take a break? You always refer back to what the initial goodness was in their child from the start. And recognizing that. And recognizing where they're going with that. And recognizing the progress that that area's making.

Not so much about the areas of efficiency, but more so about the areas of progress and about the areas of growth. Not only was he great at something like this when he came in, but look at how much better he's getting at it. And wow, do you see how that transfers over for now to A, B, and C.

Sometimes it's kind of funny. Martial arts instructors want to get to 100%. Say this is 100% right here, and they say, well the best way to get to 100% is not to go from the 98 percentile to make it 2% higher and get there, but what's the area where it's like two, four, six per cent. The area that's 4%, I want to start here and really make it go all the way up. Why such an uphill battle? If the goal is to get to 100%, I want to find out where are we at 90. I don't want to have to go 100 degrees to be able to get there, I want a student to be able to go from 95, 96 and there we are. Look at what we just did.

But it's just an easier way to be able to show people. And then most importantly, instil that type of success in our students through the journey that they also enjoy the process. Sometimes it's counterintuitive what's easiest to be able to deliver with our programs.

GEORGE: So, there are two paths, really. There's the linear path, and then there's the personalized path. The linear path is, yep, there's some bumps in the road and we know that typically when a student goes from this to this, there's a drop off. Or this type of season might affect it. Or change in school, going into teams, all these things. So that's sort of the linear path of the constants that you can predict.

But then what you can't predict and what we're talking about here is focusing on the higher-level, the outcome, the individual path of the student. Where are they at in their journey? So taking it to that point, it's almost like saying, all right, here's the outcome that we want. Here's the outcome that the individual wants. That's what they want. Here's martial arts. How do we form the glue? What's the glue that's going to keep these two together.

And when Johnny here goes off-path, and loses sight, now we can sort of come back and say okay, Johnny wanted to be here, how is that going. Well, you're not there yet. Okay. So let's backtrack on that. So sometimes, it can be also, I guess, reminding of where they're at and what they actually wanted and are they there yet. What's your take on that?

CAT: Evaluation and communication always has to be part of the growth process, period. So, recognizing where a student begins, recognizing where a student is somewhere after a belt promotion, maybe. Having sit downs with parents and open communication about how the program's working in their life. These are all real, important parts of keeping engagement strong with your members.

And of course, any type of relationship is going to have its ups and its downs. It's not always smooth sailing 100% of the time. Isn't that the way the saying goes? It's the turbulence or it's the rocky waves that create the proficient sailor? It's not the calm waters that create the experienced sailor. And remembering that and recognizing that with parents when they come in. It's like, oh, this is a perfect opportunity for us to be able to really, truly express to little Billy here that this is part of the road of life, and we're going to work through this together. And getting him through that period or that experience. So, yeah, definitely.

But also recognizing that so often if there's a problem, their teachers are going to address it like, she just won't keep her hands to herself, she touches and smacks the kid next to her all the time and who cares that he keeps pulling her hair, but she needs to learn to keep her hands to herself. Whatever the situation is.

So often parents are just used to hearing what's wrong, what's broken, what's not right with this particular incident. How can they “fix their kid?” We've got to just recognize from the start when parents come in that there's nothing wrong with their kid and not to assume that there's something wrong with their kid. But, instead, assume that you're here, for what? To just do better at being who you are, right?

I don't want to change you when you come in for martial arts classes. And I think this is where we really have a disconnect a lot of times with the enrolment process. Because somehow, martial arts instructors get this idea that in order for me to do well at my job, I have to completely transform and change who you are as a person, or make you into something completely different than what you are. I don't think that's what parents want, either.

Just because they come in with a concern or a problem or a reason, doesn't mean that reason needs to be 100% of the focus of the entire relationship on-going. To refer back to say, he didn't have confidence, now he does. I'm a superstar, stay with me for the next six, seven, eight years, that's not necessarily the path to success. But, instead, recognizing since your child is so great with A, B, C, since your child does so good already with this particular element, I know he's going to find a lot of success with this and this and this. In fact, this is the reason why our instructor over here, Mr. Jojo or whatever his name is, is doing what he's going today teaching classes. Because he was quite similar.

So, recognizing that the process to growth isn't always the path of most resistance, but instead the least resistance. And recognizing areas of personal development that we could see for ourselves as martial arts instructors.

When I talk to school owners, I'm always amazed sometimes when I hear them express that I know this student's going to be getting ready to quit. Or I'll even ask them a question, who's the next student in your martial arts school that's going to quit? And they give me a name. I'm like, wait a minute, stop right there. You have a name of somebody who's going to quit in your mind. What have you done to prevent that? Nothing. I'm just waiting for it to happen.

I know if I take my vitamins every day I'm not going to get a cold, but when I feel a cold coming on, and I know a cold is coming on and I say, nah, no vitamin C. I'm not going to take any orange juice, I'm not going to have anything to help combat that in any way. I'm not going to make sure my diet's clean this week. No. No, I'm just going to let it happen. It's almost like saying, what's wrong with you?

I'm asking all the listeners to this recording right now. All three of you out there. One, two, and whoever else is listening to this right now. I'm asking you, please ask yourself that difficult question. Who's your next student to quit. And then whatever name comes to mind, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do differently? Because if you were going to do the same thing, we already know what the outcome is, you're going to be right. Congratulations, you're going to be right again.

But none of the times where a student says that they're going to quit is it completely always, I never saw that coming. It's usually they missed a class, they missed two classes. This happened. Or we hear a little bit of a soft tell. Oh, well we're running into some problems at school. I hope he can keep his grades up. We hear a different type of tune about it. We hear different things about it all the time.

So, instead, a parent comes in says, we're running into some problems at school, we're going to have to stop karate so he can focus on schoolwork. Well, when has that ever been known to help? When has that ever been known to actually fix the schoolwork? So he's going to spend all his time with the tutor then? Actually, helping him excel at something that he's great at, like, I don't know, martial arts classes, is going to be great for his confidence to continue while he tries to improve at school. So, we're going to take the one thing he's struggling the most right now and make that 100% of his concentration and focus?

How would a parent do with that? If you were to say to a parent, let's just go ahead and tell you the only thing you could do 100% of the time is work on that one project you've been procrastinating on for the last year. How are they going to feel about that? Their reactions probably going to be about the same. Yeah, everybody needs a healthy outlet. Everybody needs some way to be able to feel good. So, we just recognize where that shows up. I hope that helps.

GEORGE: So, look, we've been talking a lot of big-picture ideas, big concepts. I want to quickly make this super practical. Because it's one thing when we did the thing for our Partners, Retention by Design, we broke it down as in a process. Let's be real. Maybe this is a simple conversation or simple listening for a lot of people. But for a lot of school owners this might be next level of the head. It's like, all right, I get the concept, but now what. How do I actually make a thing?

So you've made it really practical in a way of going from assessment to actually identifying the, I say personality trait, but the greatness, their inner greatness. And that whole concept as in a process. So, walk us through how that works. How do you go about it?

Cat Zohar

CAT: That's a really tough question to verbalize since it's so heavily based on visual aids. And unfortunately, I don't have my brochure with me right now. But one of the things that is really important is after we take the assessment, we do an evaluation on the assessment. And the assessment's easily broken down into six different categories, or six different areas. And each one has a rank of up to five points per section.

And basically, what we're looking for is out of three areas, which I refer to as our centralized qualities, we also have three contributing qualities. Every centralized quality is going to get matched with one contributing quality. And when these two come together, a centralized quality and a contributing quality, they make a butterfly. We call these butterfly themes. Each student has a unique butterfly theme. And there's nine different butterfly themes a student could actually fall under.

These particular themes aren't my creation as far as how they show up, but instead, science. It's different learning styles. It's the way that students learn best or tend to do best in certain environments. Some students tend to do better visually. Some students tend to do better by hearing the instructions broken down step by step by step. Other students do better when they actually get to demonstrate or physically participate.

So based on what a person's learning style is, we then are able to kind of direct or guide how we go about teaching the classes, how we go about instilling confidence in that student and for whatever their path is. And basically, use this as a little bit of a tool to be able to leverage what recommendations we make for this students' martial arts journey.

So, really after we have their butterfly theme figured out, the next step is for us to be able to communicate that with the parent and then give the parent some ways that this is going to benefit their child at home, too. So, when it comes down to cleaning up their room when they're asked, what's the best approach to get them. What's the best way to give that direction for the child? We're not just going to say it's always this way.

No. Instead, we're going to take it based on how their personality shows up and then recognize what kind of learner they are. And then from that be able to clearly and confidently share with the parent, one of the best ways for you to be able to coach your child, like we do here in the martial arts school in the art of personal development. And it's to give them this command for cleaning up their room. And them recognizing when it happens, that this was done by the process of what. Where their natural greatness tends to fall in.

It really helps you incorporate the martial arts that you teach at your martial arts school with parenting martial arts in a sense that they're able to give out to utilizing the same type of information that we just uncovered based on the assessment for them as well.

GEORGE: Awesome. So, I think here's what we're going to do. We could talk about this forever. it's a lengthy topic, so I want to be respectful of your time. I think here's what we're going to do. If you're listening to this podcast, you're going to have to head over to martialartsmedia.com and find this episode. We have not really planned this, so this will potentially be the worst presentation.

CAT: What are we doing here, George?

GEORGE: This is potentially the worst attempt at a cool offer. If you are still intrigued, listen on. So, we're going to put together something that you can take the assessment and you can implement this whole process in your business from front to back. And head to where the episode is. Just look for Cat Zohar on martialartsmedia.com.

We haven't worked out the details, which is why I'm saying this is probably the worst attempt at a sales offer on a podcast, ever. But the cool part about it is, if what we've spoken about is cool, if you have problems with your retention. If you know that understanding a student's true greatness is going to be super beneficial to understanding how that works.

And to make it in a practical way that you don't have to be a genius with a crystal ball to and really figure things out, but to have a practical sort of step-by-step way of going about it. Then, head over to this episode. We'll have a link where you can access more details. I think we'll shoot a quick video just to give a bit of a breakdown on what that actually is and how that works. How was that?

CAT: Yeah, sure. Sounds great. We'll give the assessment to anybody who wants to take it. So, if this has piqued your interest at all, good. Take the assessment. We'll send you back what your evaluation comes back as and have a conversation about your results. I think that sounds great.

GEORGE: We should ask. Where can people find out more about you and more about all this what you've got going on? And thanks for being on, again, Cat.

CAT: My pleasure. I love being able to share with martial arts community. This is where I grew up and this is where I plan to stay. This is my livelihood, so whatever I'm able to do to help martial arts school owners around the world is truly a good passion of mine and I'm happy to help any way I can in that way.

Best ways to learn about me are either my website CatZohar.com that has the links to all the different creations that my mind comes up with. There's BeginnerMinds.com too, which is the program we're discussing. Any of those sites are the best way to keep tabs on me. Or of course send me a Facebook friend request if you watch this and I'll be happy to connect with you over social media as well.

GEORGE: Awesome. Cool, cat. That sounds cool when you say it like that. Thanks for being on.

CAT: Why, thank you.

GEORGE: Thanks again for being on. As I mentioned, you can check out, obviously, all of Cat's websites. Catzohar.com and BeginnerMinds.com and we'll put together something special for you guys as a podcast listener. So, head over to the website, check that out, martialartsmedia.com. Cat, it's been great having you on again. Always great speaking to you and I'll speak to you again soon.

CAT: You too, George. Awesome. Thank you

GEORGE: Cheers.

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!

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

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

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

79 – A Different Approach To Running Self-Defence Courses For Corporates

Dave Friedman takes a unique approach for sharing his passion for running Krav Maga based self-defence courses for corporates.


  • What is personal safety really
  • About Live Safe Education, which aims to teach a spectrum of self-protection strategies to schools, companies, and businesses
  • How not to be more vulnerable or prone to becoming a victim of a crime
  • The advantages of learning self-defence and self-protection techniques in the workforce 
  • And more

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


No matter how good you are, no matter what degree of black belt or dan you might be in your martial arts, if in the moment you freeze, and you're unable to physically act, it doesn't matter how good you are.

GEORGE: Good day, this is George Fourie, and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. Today, I am joined with Dave Friedman.

Dave Friedman, he's going to do the official, good intro, but he's from Krav Maga Australia, and something we're also going to talk about today is Live Safe, which is their company based on personal safety, and working with corporates and schools. Welcome to the call, Dave.

DAVE: Thanks, George. We appreciate you having me on.

GEORGE: Yeah, cool. This is the first time I actually have a South African guest on the podcast, other than myself, which is pretty cool.

DAVE: So now there are two accents that people won't understand.

GEORGE: Two accents, and I mean, we're not as good as the Kiwis, because apparently we're second best in the world. I don't know how that stat works. And I don't know why the Kiwis got it. It's not like they already have the All Blacks, you know? They have the All Blacks and now they've got the best accent as well. But anyway.

DAVE: That's right.

GEORGE: Yes, so I hope you can decipher the two accents. Well, I guess you're used to one, so now you've got two. Awesome, Dave. Thanks for being on.

I guess, just to kick off, if you can give sort of a bit of a background, just I guess also your background, all the way from South Africa; how you ended up in Australia, and then what you do in the martial arts space.

DAVE: Sure. I'm from Cape Town in South Africa, which is the good part of South Africa. I grew up doing judo as a kid, I represented my province, which is the equivalent of my state, up until about the age of 10. I then actually took quite a break from martial arts. I focused on soccer, I played soccer at quite a high level. And about the age of 18, 19, I got back into martial arts through Muay Thai and through Krav Maga.

So I trained quite a lot of Muay Thai, I competed in a few tournaments in South Africa, in Cape Town. At the same time, I was also training Krav Maga. I've been teaching Krav Maga since 1997, so 22, 23 years now, more so on the side. It wasn't my main, professional form of income, up until about a year ago.

I moved from Cape Town to Melbourne in 2008 with my wife. Most reasons, obviously just crime was on the up in South Africa. Also, more so for education, in terms of starting a family and just wanting my kids to be in a better education system. I've now got two boys, both born in Australia; a nine year old, and a six and a half year old. They both train at my Krav Maga school with me as well. So the bigger they get, the more nervous I get.

And yeah, so been in Australia, now teaching Krav Maga full time. And as mentioned, we've got two companies. Our first company is called Live Safe Education, and that does most of our work in schools and in corporate or businesses, where we teach a spectrum of self-protection, or personal safety, not just self-defense. And then Live Safe Education also owns a Krav Maga Dojo called Krav Maga Australia.

There, we have about 120 students currently, growing. We've owned Krav Maga Australia for seven months, and we've doubled the student base in that time. So we've gone from 70, from about 65 to 120 in seven months and still growing, which is great. We run kids and adult classes there, 11 sessions a week. And then during the workday, we focus on the schools and the corporates under the Live Safe banner.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. So I'm going to backtrack here, and I might have spoken a bit about this, but because … and we've got listeners from the United States, from New Zealand, a lot in Australia as well. Give a bit of context. I mean, it's always good for me to say Australia is great, but for different reasons that other people might see. And I think when people live here, it's easy to complain about minor things. Whereas when you come from a different perspective, you see things with different eyes.

DAVE: Sure.

GEORGE: What is your take? How different is it for you living in Australia versus South Africa?

DAVE: Look very, different. In South Africa, I think the difference being in South Africa, crime is literally or can be around the corner at any time. Whether you're at home, whether you're out having a coffee, or having a meal, walking in the street. There is a 24/7 concern of crime, and therefore, the average person growing up in South Africa, you have this 24/7 always a level of concern.

If you talk about Cooper's Color Code of Situational Awareness, he was a sergeant in the American army which came up with these color codes. He speaks about code white, yellow, red and black. Code white being where you're just oblivious, your situational awareness is almost at zero, and you're unaware of what's happening around you. And that's how many Australians live, because thankfully, we can afford to live like that. And that's one reason why we live here.

In South Africa, everybody is constantly in a code yellow at least, and code red at certain times. So you're never fully relaxed. You're always aware that, at any time, something could happen. When you stop at a red traffic light, you're looking for someone coming to carjack you. When you're getting out your car, you park in a spot, you first look up, you make sure there's no one close by, and then you get out of your car. Every part of your life in South Africa is governed by the constant threat of crime.

Although the concern or worry about crime in Australia is on the up at the moment, it's still nowhere near the levels of South Africa. Unfortunately … well not fortunately or unfortunately, but your average Australian is more often than not in that code white in terms of the level of situational awareness, which makes them more vulnerable, or prone to becoming a victim of crime, whether it be a very low level crime, like a mugging, or having something stolen, or something more severe.

Self-Defence Courses

Whereas what we do at Live Safe is just try and give people some very basic strategies and techniques, without affecting their daily life, but just where they can be close to that code yellow, particularly in transitional spaces, where they are more prone to becoming a victim of crime, in order to keep themselves safe from both the physical, but also the psychological aspects of becoming a victim of crime.

GEORGE: Yeah, cool. So we will definitely dive a bit deeper into that, but I was speaking to one of my friends the other day, and now if you bring this up, it's sort of … and I don't know if I'm accurate in saying it this way, but something when you grow up in South Africa and you're talking about the situational awareness, it is a different thing. I know it took me a couple of years to really drop my guard, until they broke into our house at the end of last year.

Now that situational awareness is right back where it was, but it's a different type of way of life. As you say, you're always assessing, you're always judging, you're always looking why you're standing there, why are you doing this? What's your intention? You're always trying to summarize a situation. And something that, when I grew up in South Africa, you'd never hear of things like you hear in Australia, like the king-hit. You know, where people get punched and they just … they die.

I've always thought about that, like is that just because, well, I mean, I'm used to just the report they live off crime, which also is a whole another story. But partly, the discussion came about, is it that when you grow up in a situational … like in a country where crime is not that on the forefront, that a king-hit catches you off-guard that you actually stumble down and die, whereas when people are more aware of their situation, it's less likely to happen. What are your thoughts on that, Dave?

DAVE: Great. No, I think again, In South Africa, because you … and again, one reason why we left there is because you have this natural level of aggression, concern, suspicion, and that's your base norm to anybody you meet or see, almost until proven otherwise.

Where I think in Australia, your base norm is that everyone's a good mate and a good bloke, and just wants to have a drink with you, and therefore, the person who is on that extra level of aggression, whether it be mental health, personality, drug-induced, or alcohol-induced … it isn't the assumed position. So yes, you're walking out of a club and you bump shoulders with somebody, in South Africa, you actually both turn around and you kind of make sure that there's no escalation, and then you turn and leave.

Here, you don't think about it. You keep leaving, and the next thing, if the person you bumped into turns around, and just king-hits you from behind, and you're taken completely by surprise, because the average Australian doesn't think that that's actually a possibility to happen. So they're not aware of it, so they're not taking that extra step to maybe just look over their shoulder, and just look at the reaction of the person you bumped into, as innocent as it may be, before actually determining that, “Yes, there's no concern. Yeah, I could carry on walking.”

It's small things like that. We're not saying you need big, impactful things to your life, but if you do bump into someone by mistake, just look over your shoulder, have a half a second look. Even if you smile, put your hand up and go, “Sorry, mate.” It doesn't affect your life, but it just gives you that ability to make a quick analysis, “Is there something going escalate here that I need to maybe take some sort of preventative action, or can I just carry on?” It's half a second, but it can make a big difference, as you've as you mentioned.

GEORGE: Yeah. That's awesome. Well, let's dive a bit more into something you mentioned before we spoke, which I found kind of fascinating, as in the differentiation in the definition of what you do. Where most people approaching corporates go the self-defense aspect, and they promote their-

DAVE: It's correct.

GEORGE: …as self-defense. You've chosen to go the opposite, which is personal safety. What's the reason behind that?

DAVE: Right. So number one, again, obviously just with my background, growing up was Africa and having these natural intuitions. What I never said earlier is that when I was working professionally before teaching Krav Maga, I was in the security environment, and particularly sort of high-level counter-terrorism security. Again, even when you're consulting on counter-terrorism, you're not consulting on what to do when there's a gunman inside your venue, you want to know what can you do to prevent the gunman getting into your venue in the first place. 

I say, “Avoidance and prevention, which is much better than the cure.” So I take that, my learnings, that analogy from counter-terrorism, combine it with my self-defense skills, and now I teach what we call personal safety. So we've come up with what we call the Live Safe model of personal safety, which talks about avoidance, prevention, effective escape.

That's what we teach people, so it's not just about self-defense. Yes, we need to learn how to punch and kick and defend ourselves from being held or grabbed or whatever, but we never ever want to use it. On one hand, I strongly believe in learning self-defense, because the confidence you gain from learning self-defense is very often enough to ensure that you don't become a victim of crime, because knowing you can defend yourself, you actually portray this aura of confidence that doesn't make you an easy victim.

But even before that, we want to talk about avoidance and prevention, so that we never have to even think about self-defense in the first place. So I can zoom in on each of those quickly.

GEORGE: Yeah, please.

DAVE: We talk about avoidance. So avoidance, we talk about making safe decisions in the first place. That can be something as simple as you're getting ready to leave the work day, it's 16:35, 17:30, sun's down. You've got a 20 minute walk to the train station, it's dark. Before you leave work, just lift your head up and ask your colleagues, is anybody else leaving in the next few minutes? If someone leaving in two, three minutes, hang back, take the three minutes, walk together in a group. It's just safer than walking by yourself.

Self-Defence Courses

You're going for an exercise, run or a walk in the mornings or evenings when it's dark. You have an option between a dark, unpopulated park, or a well-lit populated streets, take the well-lit populated streets. It might not seem like the best choice at that time, because you're late, you're urgent, we've all got to rush somewhere, the three minutes through the park is quicker at the time, but it's not the safe decision.

So in safe decision, we talk about avoid potentially dangerous environments altogether. Stay in a group, stay in well-lit areas, no matter what might seem pressing at that time. And the way I talk about it is always think of the two extremes of either choice.

Now hopefully, you never come to any extreme, but if the extreme is something happens to me, the park and instead of being five minutes late, I'm in hospital, versus staying in a populated area and I'm 15 minutes late, nevermind five minutes late … which of those two consequences would I prefer to deal with afterwards? And I would hope to think that being 15 minutes late is an easier consequence to deal with than being a hospital. And as I said, dealing with not only the physical, but also the psychological aspects of being involved in a crime. So that's where we talk about avoidance, making a safe decision to avoid an unsafe or a potentially dangerous situation altogether.

Under prevention, we talk about, if you can't avoid an environment altogether, at least have increased situational awareness that will allow you to make an early decision. And that can be simple things, again, these things don't have to impact your life. It can be just listening to gut-feel. So you are walking down the street, you see three, four guys walking towards you. Maybe you can see by body language, you can see they're maybe a bit intoxicated or affected by drugs, alcohol, mental illness, whatever it is. You just get that intuition, “Something doesn't feel, I don't feel safe.”

Why walk past them with a sense of saying, “Oh, I hope they don't hurt me.” Just cross the road, walk into a shop. Let them walk past you. Just make a safe decision, or an early decision to avoid becoming a victim of crime within an environment you can't necessarily avoid altogether. But you cannot make an early decision without situational awareness. And obviously, the biggest killer to date of situational awareness is our smartphones. When we walk and looking at our phones, we need to understand that we have zero to no situational awareness at that stage, and we are more prone to becoming a victim of crime. I'm going to talk about this further. I can talk a lot about this.

GEORGE: Yeah, man. It's great, and yeah, so the last one, effective escape.

DAVE: Yeah, that's great.

GEORGE: That's correct, yeah?

DAVE: And then effective escape means that if I'm either about to be or in a situation where I have become a victim of crime, then it's about an effective escape. And that word effective escape is very important, because if I'm by myself and I back my martial arts … never when I'm by myself, I'm pretty fit and active. I know that if someone's trying to attack me, maybe I can give them one kick or one punch. I can slow them down for a few seconds, and I can turn and run and get to safety.

But if I'm with my six year old kid, I can't run so fast. So maybe one little kick and running away, what am I going to do? Leave my six year old kid behind? My mother-in-law? Maybe we can discuss that, but my six year old kid? No. And I make that joke, my mother-in-law's listening. It's just a joke.

GEORGE: Love you, mother-in-law.

DAVE: If you're with your wife, if you're with your partner, if you're with your mother, if you're with your kids, you can't run so fast. The last thing you want to do is pick up your kid and run, but being chased now, and be caught by a potential criminal, three, four, 5 minutes later, when you're exhausted, and now you can't fight, and now you've got to deal with a fight.

That might take maybe one, two strikes, three strikes, four strikes. It might be putting him on the ground and sit on him until the police arrive, until backup arrives to assist you. But that is your effective escape, because running may not be an option for you, depending on your environment, who you're with, how far you are from a safe venue.

Escape has a whole range itself. It could be a distraction technique, it could be throwing something behind them and you running in one direction, because you're by yourself and you're a good runner. But it could be full strikes and techniques and everything else to go to full restraints on the ground, because there is no other effective way to escape. So an effective escape is a really important aspect of that.

GEORGE: Love it. That's awesome. Cool, Dave. A couple of questions, just steering towards our business owner listeners over here. So Live Safe, now, I really like how you define the personal safety aspect. What is typically your foot in the door with corporates, and how do you go about approaching them?

Thank you. Yeah. Thankfully, a lot of corporates are now coming to us, which is obviously great. What's interesting is they come to us for one of two reasons, either because they have decided there's a need for increased staff-wellness, and more and more so, staff wellbeing and staff-wellness is becoming a bigger priority for companies, and that's obviously good for us. That involves both companies assisting their staff with mental wellness, as well as physical wellness, and one impacts the other. We can talk about that as well.

So sometimes, it's a company that says, “We want to do this for our staff.” Whether it be as a general concept, and might be … We did a session last week as the company was having a staff-wellness week. As part of their staff-wellness week, they brought us in for one session, along with whatever other activities they did for their staff in that week. We did a session for the Sussan Group, which is quite a big retail clothing group, with the head office in Melbourne. And there, that actually came to us because their staff are 97% female, and their staff approached the manager of HR saying, “We don't feel safe walking to or from work. Is there something the company can do for us, or facilitate us doing some sort of training?”

DAVE: The company then researched a number of self-defense companies. They came across us, and again, they phoned a number of companies, but we're the only company they actually brought in for an interview, and ultimately got the work, purely based on the fact that we're the only company that spoke about the overall model of personal safety, and not just self-defense.

Self-Defence Courses

I think that's really important, that's what companies want. They don't just want to know that their staff can punch and kick, but they want to know that their staff can avoid becoming victims of crime through non-physical strategies and techniques that they can implement, and obviously, it has a range of benefits to staff members: confidence, empowerment, physical confidence, also helps with mental wellbeing, and mental confidence. It comes with loyalty to companies, staff know the companies are looking out for them, that they build loyalty amongst their staff members. And certainly, it has, even though it's not primary, it has a really good team building aspect.

When you have a number of staff from different divisions, different levels of seniority, all doing something for the first time, I'd know who's who, I'd know who's the janitor, or who's the CEO. I'd see the faces in front of me, and suddenly, they're all doing something at the same time, our sessions are very fun. If you look at some of our videos, there's always laughter and they're enjoying it. It's serious, but we learn it in a fun way to make sure that our participants enjoy being there.

Obviously, if you enjoy doing something, you're always more open to learning more of it. And we get a lot of positive feedback about how our sessions help increase general team building, staff engagement among staff that maybe work inside the different divisions, or departments that don't ordinarily talk to each. But suddenly now in the coffee room, they have something common to talk about and laugh about the next day or the next week. So that's kind of a side benefit for our clients as well.

GEORGE: That's awesome, because you're touching with some of the aspects there. I guess it comes down to the whole sell them what they want and give them what they need. Because most people … in my mind, because we do a lot of Facebook marketing for schools and just general marketings, and campaigns and copy, and it's like different exercises and things. We've got a group we call Partners, which is a group of school owners I work with, and we always sort of testing different ideas and things. You're talking, I'm like, in my mind, I'm thinking of different approaches that really go well, but I mean, I think the typical approach for a school owner would always be, can your staff defend yourself? Can they defend themselves?

But let's face it; that brings up a lot of resistance in a lot of people, because, “Ah, I don't want to fight. I don't want to punch people. I don't want to …” That it could be that whole mindset, that whole frame of thinking. Whereas, does your staff feel safe walking home at night? … is a whole completely different story. How you would combat that is the same avenue, but how you defined it is just, sets a whole different tone.

DAVE: Good, absolutely. And again, what we do, and I mentioned the example of walking down the street and just seeing a group of people that make you feel uneasy, and you walk into a shop across the road. Or asking some staff members before you leave, “Is anybody leaving soon?” These are very simple, basic things which they don't affect or significantly affect your life in any way. You said it to people, and you can kind of see the bells going off at the top of their head going, “But that's so simple.” But it is simple. And security doesn't have to be rocket science, or personal safety isn't rocket science. It's just a matter of having someone put it in your head, and these are things that can be very easily implemented.

I talked a lot about, obviously Melbourne, there's a lot of trams, and there's a number of incidents across Melbourne where people get attacked or sexually abused or whatever, on trams, because very often, you're on tram with a group of people, and if you towards the end of the tram stops, very often there's women who are situation where they're one-on-one on a tram with one other passenger. And if you read all the case studies again, all the time they say, “Yes, the passenger, he made me feel uneasy. 

It was the way he was looking at me, or maybe I could see he had mental health issues. The way he was talking to himself or shouting or swearing, or even getting angry and engaging the other passengers.” So then as the tram's getting emptier and emptier and emptier, again, if your head's not buried in your phone, but you have the situational awareness of going, “I can see that he's … not is, but potentially, or has the potential to become a problem.” Don't wait for a problem to manifest itself.

But if you can see that the potential is there for it to maybe, and definitely not, but may become a problem going forward, don't put yourself in a situation where either something may happen. Or even if it doesn't, if you feel vulnerable, no one deserves that, that feeling of vulnerability. So as people are getting off the tram, make an early decision. Whereas getting down to just three or four of you left on the tram, get off early. It doesn't matter if it's three, four, five stops prior to your stop. Don't be in a situation where you're one-on-one on that tram, just in case you are that 0.000001% of the person who might be attacked or abused. Now, to you, it's another percentage, but tell anybody who is that 0.000001%, how they feel, and it's their 100%.

So get off the tram early, wait for the next tram. Be 15 minutes late, take an Uber, spend an extra 10 or 15, $20, whatever it is. But it's an early safe decision to make, to avoid a situation. Even if it's not guaranteed, but potential, why be there? Why have even the possibility of becoming violent? Get off two stops early, three stops early. Find another way home. There's enough options out there for you. It's just having that situational awareness of being able to … 

I call it Analyze, Evaluate and Act. Analyze your environment, analyze the situation, analyze what's happening in front of you. Make an evaluation, threat or no threat. Danger or no danger. Danger, potential danger or no danger. And once you've made that evaluation, then act upon that, and make the safe, responsible early decision under that and act. So we're talking about Analyze, Evaluate and Act.

GEORGE: Awesome, love it. So just quickly, before we start sort of wrapping it up, if you had advice for any school owners that would think, all right, they want to start running self-defense-type programs for different corporates in their area, how would you go about starting the whole journey?

Self-Defence Courses

DAVE: I think similar to what we do at Live Safe, and obviously, our actual self-defense teaching is around the Krav Maga model, and through our Krav Maga Australia School. But don't just think of your striking, your punches, your kicks, even your releases from chokes, your holds and that kind of stuff as personal safety. That's an aspect of it. But also think of everything around it and what value-add you can give to people, almost un-sell your own product. 

Say, “I want to teach you self-defense, or I can teach you self-defense, but more importantly, I want to teach you how to never have to use self-defense in the first place.” Because if you're involved in a fight, somebody's going to lose. Somebody gets hurt, it's as simple as that. In a fight, somebody gets hurt. You just hope it's the other person, less so than you. And even if you win the fight, you might still get hurt. And there's still psychological effects after that as well.

It's a matter of what can we do beforehand to avoid ever having to be in a fight, but also, what can we do afterwards? You know that effective escape means running to safety, well, how do you define what is a safe place to run to? Or why are you walking? Are you constantly assessing what is the nearest safe place for you? Is it an open shop? Is it your house or a friend's house that might be nearby? 

If something were to happen now, where would you run? So there's this thinking in the moment, the more you can just have it sort of front of mind, or just in our subconscious, generally the less thinking there is. And we all know, when the actual event happens, and the adrenaline dump hits, and the stress level is increased, and the heart rate increases, our ability to think and make judgment calls becomes harder and harder.

So the more we plan for these and prepare for these, the easier we are to make a safe and responsible decision in the moment. But it's also about avoiding that moment. And also again, when we focused on, and both very much in our Krav Maga Australia the school, whenever we teach techniques, we don't only talk about the physical aspects of the street fights, but we also talk about the psychological aspects of the street fight. 

So as owners, do your research. What happens to the body when you experience an adrenaline dump? What are the effects that you have? Things like the elevated heart rate, the tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, the time slowing down, et cetera. What actually happens to the person, and how can we train to counteract those things?

It doesn't matter how good you are at any martial art. People ask me, “What's the best martial art in the world?” I'll say, “Whichever one you train the most.” It's simple, whichever one you train the most, whichever is your muscle memory and go-to, that's the best martial art. It's simple as that. But no matter how good you are, no matter what degree of black belt or dan you might be in any martial arts, if in the moment you freeze and you're unable to physically act, it doesn't matter how good you are.

So we also have to train the psychological aspect of not … making sure we don't go into that freeze mode, and we are in the fight mode, that we can fight. It might be a psychological fight or a mental fight, but we have to train our students in how to realistically understand and cope with what might happen to them in a street fight, in terms of them talking about their personal safety when they're not inside the gym. And therefore, so that they can deal with the psychological aspect in order to enable their physical training to actually be useful in that moment.

And that, to me, is a lot of surprise drills, high-heart elevation drills, et cetera. We do a lot of work, we'll train techniques in our gym, for example, we might train a technique on a choke release, whether it be someone's got one hand or two hands around your neck and they're choking you. We'd go through the technique, we'd train it, slowly. Then we train it at a bit more of a faster pace, and then we'll always do a surprise exercise. So eyes closed, and you don't quite know exactly when that choke's going to come on. 

Or we make them turn the lights off in the dojo, we make our students just walk around the dojo with 10, 15, 20 other people on the mats, and at some point, one of them suddenly going to just put the choke on them. It's a matter of trying to deal with the element of surprise and how quick they can go through that, Analyze, Evaluate and Act loop, to get to action, have a good, quick reaction and get out of it before they get into that freeze mode.

GEORGE: All right. Dave, that was really good. That was really helpful. You've got such a lot of cool little one-liners as snippets from this, from this interview. If somebody wants to hire you or perhaps get your advice on this, how can people get a hold of you? And how should they get in touch?

DAVE: All right, thanks, George. Yes, we do have the two websites, so for Live Safe, the website is livesafe.org.au. And for the Krav Maga Australia, it's kravmagaoz, K-R-A-V-M-A-G-A-O-Z.com.au are the two different websites, or on my phone number, 0424 184 618.

And again, as you say, it'd be nice if anybody wants to sort of hire us as a client, but again, unfortunately, my passion for teaching personal safety outweighs my passion for business. I'm more than happy to offer any advice, any tips that I have, both to other school owners or just to members of the public. Don't be shy, give me a call. I'm more than happy to offer whatever knowledge and assistance in whatever way I'm able to add value. I'm more than happy to.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Yeah, and if you're listening and you got great value out of this and it's spearheading perhaps a portion of your business that you've been trying to get going, yeah, do just reach out to Dave, even if it's just to say, “Hey, thanks. Thanks for the tips.” And yeah, that'd be great. Awesome. Dave, thanks again for being on. 

DAVE: George, appreciate you having me.

GEORGE: Yeah, you're welcome.

DAVE: Thanks, George, appreciate it.

GEORGE: Yeah, and good to have a similar sounding accent on board.

DAVE: Yeah, absolutely. I've got-

GEORGE: It means a lot.

DAVE: I could be at home.

GEORGE: Exactly. Awesome. Speak soon.

DAVE: Great. Thanks, 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!

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

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

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

78 – Geordie Lavers-McBain – Living & Breathing The Martial Arts Lifestyle

Geordie's life is 24/7 martial arts! We discuss creating your own style, tournaments, optimising KPI's and more.


  • How Geordie was able to develop his own martial arts style and why he refers to it as the best style
  • How he started teaching combat sports in the Australian army
  • The three battles one must win in self-defence
  • How to host successful martial arts tournaments
  • How to optimise key performance indicators in your school
  • And more

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


If you can put those sorts of things together and you can work out what makes an elite athlete, what things should you focus on and you apply it to your business, OK, what makes a really good class? What makes a really good ad?

And even if the ad is to a completely different thing, or your classes are a completely different style, you can just put those key factor and key components together and work out what it is that's really important.

GEORGE: Hey, George here – welcome to another episode of the Martial Arts Media business podcast. This episode is going to be a little bit different. We’re busy driving in a car, we just finished an event in Sydney and I've got with me Geordie and Giorgio.

GIORGIO: How's it going guys?

GEORGE: Good, and I'm speaking today to someone I've been trying to interview for quite a long time and he's been hard to track down, but I'm finally in a car with him and he can't escape. So, welcome to the show Geordie Lavers McBain.

GEORDIE: Thanks for having me on George.

GEORGE: Cool, so just for the sound, I'm going to be passing the phone up and down. So we might sound like we’re going in and out, but here we go.

So first up Geordie – thanks for being on the call. Just for everyone that doesn't know who you're, you own multiple schools, you've got a long history in martial arts – give us the two-minute take – who's Geordie Lavers McBain?

GEORDIE: Ok, that's a complicated question. I'm a martial artist, I like just about all styles of martial arts. I teach my own style of martial arts in my school and I have a lot of combat sports that I also teach. I teach wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, MMA, I have guys who fight in Kyokushin, boxing – lots of different styles of combat sports, but I also have my own style of martial arts, which I've sort of combined with all the different styles that I've done over the years.

Geordie Lavers McBain

I've done a variety of different things, and have black belts in different things, so… yeah, so that's what I do there. Also, around jiu-jitsu tournaments in Queensland and wrestling tournaments in Queensland and I also am a defence force contractor with the army. I go on base two times a week and teachgrappling, close quarters grappling and different things like that, so it's pretty much me I guess.

GEORGE: Pretty much, but that's quite a full plate. So there's a lot of places we could start. I guess just starting – how did you get around to developing your own style?

GEORDIE: Yeah, so my own style was a combination, so basically what happened was, many years ago I've trained in a lot of different styles of martial arts, so I started teaching Zen Do Kai way back in the day and my instructor ended up leaving Zen Do Kai and then he sort of went on a different path, so I started doing my own system. And Zen Do Kai was the best of everything in progression, but I really sort of took that to heart.

So I started sort of thinking about, what other things I can incorporate into what we do. I looked at different ways to test that, so I bounced for about 15 years, so I sort of worked at a few things that worked in that environment. Also, I sort of was just looking at different ways that we could test things, such as like, how do we work out if body punctures were effective for multiple areas.

So, if I'm doing boxing and I’ve got a big glove on, I punch someone in the stomach and that works, then I put on say, a smaller glove in the Thai boxing sort of arena and I punch him in the stomach and it still works. Then I get a smaller glove, like in MMA glove and punch him in the stomach and it still works and then I put on like a little padded piece of felt, like in Kudo, and you still punch someone in the stomach and it works. Then you go in  Kyokushin, you punch them in the stomach it works, it's kind of like, well that punch is probably universally going to work because it's worked against fully resisting opponents, so we’ll incorporate that into our martial arts system.

But anything which only really sports specific, or only sort of works in one environment, we tend not to focus on that in our core curriculum and that's something that if people want to do, then they're going to learn that as an extra. So if someone becomes like an elite level jiu-jitsu player, and they want to learn some inverted guard or something, that's fine, that's something we’ll teach to them.

But in the context about martial arts curriculum, we’re not going to do that, because it’s not going to work in other environments, it's not going to work against someone in the streets, it's not going to work against multiple people, it’s not going to work when someone's armed, we’re probably not going to worry about incorporating an inverted guard in that sort of scenario, so we take that out of our curriculum. So we just try to have something which is really practical.

GEORGE: Got to say, how do you prioritize all that? Because I mean, that's a lot going on, is your own style sort of the top priority or what you focus on in the school? How do you juggle in between them all?

GEORDIE: Yeah, so my own style is kind of like my legacy I guess because it’s my style. People say what's the best style in the world and the normal answer is there isn't one. But when you have your own style and you have complete control over what the curriculum is, then it should be your style. So I believe that my style is the best style in the world because it's the best style for me. And if it wasn't, there was something that wasn't practical or something I didn't agree with, I could change it immediately and then it becomes the best style again.

So, that is my kind of hope for my legacy, our future generations and so on. It's my pressure testing and constantly re-evaluating through all the different combat sports we do, plus the stuff I do with the army. Plus different other groups of people that I teach in different contexts and environments, we sort of look at that. But as far as… basically we have grappling without a Gi, grappling with a Gi, striking without a Gi, striking with one and combine them together, with a Gi, without. In combat sports, sort of scenarios. And it comes together that way.

GEORGE: What a perfect… so just to give it some context as well, the question I haven't asked: so you're running multiple schools, right?

GEORDIE: Yeah, that's correct. So I have two full-time schools, which I run myself and I also have a part-time school, which I also teach at, because I train during the day near that school, so I work there. And I also have 10 other schools that my students run in different locations.

GEORGE: Cool. So, jumping over to the military – how does that fit into all this in the schedule?

GEORDIE: So, yeah, I'm there 2 days a week, so that's sort of how it fits into my personal schedule – is that what you meant?

GEORGE: Let's rephrase: first up, tell me a bit more about working with the military and how that got started.

Geordie Lavers McBain

GEORDIE: Ok, yeah. So, I've always been interested in that style of things, so I've done a lot of training with different people over the years and combative training and stuff like that and tried to find the truest sources of that sort of information, first-hand knowledge and so on. And anyway, what really happened was, when Kudo first sort of started growing up in Australia, Paul Cale who is in special forces and a commando introduced me to a heap of other soldiers that were all in the special forces still, they were soldiers that were involved in that combative style thing on base and on different bases all around. And through that, I got to meet these different people and then I eventually got invited onto a base to teach a seminar.

From that seminar, I got invited back again. They seemed to feel that the direction that I was teaching and the skillset which I was trying to impart, was much more along the lines of what they were after in developing with soldiers. And so from that, basically I ended up getting a defence force contract. I’ve got a pass which lets me on base any time of the day or night and I can go there all the time and train and teach and we run tournaments and competitions, with a variety of different rule sets, that sort of try to reflect the same features of what's going to happen out in the battlefield.

So what's important, how should you know that, what should people be able to do, what shouldn't they be able to do. If you've got all your gear on and you're rolling around on the ground, there are certain positions that just aren't going to work for you. If someone is… essentially, you've got your primary weapon, you've got your secondary weapon, which is both firearms. Then you've got a knife, which is usually on your hip, and you got to the last resort knife on your chest and how do we incorporate those sorts of things in close quarters and what stuff is happening from there.

Paul Cale worked the Australian combative program, so the army can use his program, which everybody in the Australian army has to know. And this sort of stuff is a continuation training, so away soldiers, once they’ve got their basic force down, they can continue on with those same goals and mindsets in place, of, be aggressive, push forward, never give up and other features of that.

For example, we don't do leg locks whatsoever in the army when we’re grappling, because… a few things. One, you've got boots on, too, if I'm playing with your legs, you can stab me or shoot me and usually when you go for a leg submission, you have to give up top domination to go to the bottom. In those sorts of circumstances, it's really not advantageous. So we’ve just got to make sure that were always staying with that mindset of, how do we get back on the Gi that we’re meant to be using and rather than make it into a mixed martial arts match or something like that, everything has to be always focused towards moving towards your objective in that situation.

We try to do our finals in a cage, because when you're doing room clearance drills and in urban warfare, if you kick a door and you have to go in and get someone, what's going to happen if you're going to be up against a wall. You're going to be up against something in that, they might put you against it, or you might put them against it. So we have to do a lot of drills that sort of relate to that and a lot of different martial arts styles have drills, they fight people against a wall, but you really can't go beyond things like, the information that the MMA has pulled out and the tactics and knowledge of that.

And then if you weaponise that and then you also have other people in your team doing the techniques, then you can really start to develop some really good tactics and then you can practice them against live people and develop competitions for them. That's what basically my role is to help do. We wear things like plate carriers, armed plate carries, which we put rubber inside of for PPE. And what happens is, you can throw people and choke them and use that against them and it becomes a little bit more realistic. And we just try to work out what tactics and what ways that can work, so… yeah. So that's pretty much how I got there and the stuff we do, I think.

GEORGE: OK. So, I mean, working at that high level of self-defence, you know, if you look at everyday martial arts schools, everybody likes to promote the aspect of self-defence: what do you feel is missing in that? I mean, if you're working on that type of level, where it has to be so realistic because it’s a life and death situation, how do you feel martial arts… What do you think martial arts schools can do better to make things a bit more realistic, or you know, up to the game with self-defence?

Geordie Lavers McBain

GEORDIE: Yeah, so pressure testing is really important.  Creating dynamic simulations, where you're recreating the environment in which you're hoping to defend yourself is important. Putting people under duress and stress and seeing how they perform. Also, like for me, there are three battles you've got to win in self-defence. So the first battle you have to win is an immediate physical battle, which is right now. There are enough techniques out there in the martial arts world to understand that.

Certain situations are going to be more extreme, a lot of people don't practice defending another person, or defending against somebody else with somebody else, but that sort of stuff probably isn't as important as making sure you've got some more fundamental, physical skills. And if you want to win the physical battle, that's anywhere from an hour to three seconds to two minutes, or you know, it really depends on how long it goes. Some self-defence situations can take a long time, others are over in a split second.

But you've got to move on to the next one, which is your legal battle. Even in the military, there are rules of engagement. Everyone is sort of obliged to follow some rules. And you have to follow those rules, if you don't, you're in breach of that. And in the real world, as a civilian, if we don't follow those rules, we might go to jail for the next 25 years.

And then, of course, you've got to win the moral battle, which is the last battle. Which is the battle of, are you happy with what you did? So, uncle Bob is there at Christmas time, he's had too much to drink and he grabs the butter knife and he threatens you with it. You know, it's a lethal weapon and you poke him in the eye with your finger and he's blind and every Christmas, you have to go back and see uncle Bob and your grandma won't talk to you anymore, because he's wearing a patch over his eye. Your mom won't speak so much to you, because you blinded Uncle Bob.

You're having a bit of trouble sleeping because you never really thought you're going to poke someone in the eye. It was a bit squishy and you sort of feel that every time you pick up something which is a bit squishy and it gives you nightmares. You're sort of losing that moral battle and if it's really full on, maybe that's going to be… Your life is now upset by that, you can't sleep every night, you're getting nightmares, it’s coming back to you, all because of something you did, which you might not have really meant to do.

So the reality is, you have to already be sure of what you're going to be able to do morally before you worry about what you're going to do. And then you also have to understand legally what you're going to have to do. So realistically, the last thing is actually the physical. You have to be morally prepared for what you're going to do. You have to be legally understood, what would a reasonable person do in that situation. Did you actually fear the… In correspondence to what you actually did to the person, was there? And then, physically, were you capable of actually doing it? So, I think that probably would be a good thing to start within focusing on self-defence.

GEORGE: Awesome. So just looking at the time we have, tell me a bit more about your tournaments and that side of your martial arts?

GEORDIE: Sure. I ran my first grappling tournament in 2003 and that was like shoot wrestling, combined with Brazilian jiu-jitsu and just some guys were doing different styles, sort of submission style wrestling back then in Queensland and we just wanted to get everyone together to do a tournament, there weren't really many tournaments around then. Mat Cooper was running tournaments, but there was no Internet really, telling anyone anything, so it was all word of mouth.

So I started then and then, that sort of moved forward to Daniel Lemoore, who was my jiu-jitsu coach and I decided to form a partnership and start running jiu-jitsu comps, try and lift the level of the Queensland competitors. We weren't doing so well in jiu-jitsu tournaments up here. I was actually taking students in a state 3-4 times every year, to go and compete in other states, so that we could lift our competition game. And we just figured, if we could run more comps here, we’d lift our end level locally, we wouldn't have to travel.

So that started out slow, the Queensland Brazilian jiu-jitsu, that's the name of our association, our circuit. We’re now affiliated with the Australian Federation of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, we did that about 4 years ago. So we run the state champions for that up in Queensland. This year, we've got 16 tournaments, next year we've already got 22 tournaments planned. We've got a regional Queensland, so… a lot of the other states, the state bodies who run the tournaments will only stay in their major cities.

So if they're in Victoria, the Victorian federation only really runs competitions in Melbourne, whereas we’re running competitions in Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Mackay, up on the sunshine coast, Ipswich, Brisbane, Gold Coast – we’re trying to run competitions all over, we really want to be a circuit for the whole state. You know some of the competitions are quite small, some of the competitions took us 2-3 years before we actually made the money back on the flights and we try to have to best quality referees on our tournaments as well, so it took a bit of time.

The other thing we do is none of our staff are volunteers, everybody's paid. You give someone a t-shirt, we pay you for that, we pay everybody, we make sure we’re paying them above minimum wage and we try and look after our staff because our staff are important. We give our referees really good money because if you have bad referees, you have a bad tournament. So that's kind of the jiu-jitsu.

Geordie Lavers McBain

Also, we run wrestling tournaments, I've run a lot of Kudo tournaments as well and I run, even within my own club, because we do multiple styles, we run our own internal tournaments twice a year. I enjoy running tournaments, I find that once you've got a good system in place, it’s really, really easy to just continue on. I've got some really good staff members now, some of them are getting paid really well, some of them are almost on a wage, because what we're doing is, we're just making sure that they’re constantly able to organise the things that we need them to organise, so we can really offer a really good product to people who want to compete. We want to make sure it’s the smoothest and the easiest tournament.

We don't charge spectators at our tournaments either, especially jiu-jitsu, because to me, if you go watch jiu-jitsu, it's generally because your mom, your dad, your son, your daughter, your niece, your nephew – someone related to you, or some close personal friend is competing. You're not going there for the spectacle of it. No one is saying, “Hey, what are you doing Saturday or Sunday? Oh nothing. Oh, let's go watch a jiu-jitsu tournament,” – no one is doing that unless they're doing jiu-jitsu.

There are people who might go watch boxing or kickboxing or something, but no one is doing that for jiu-jitsu. It's probably pretty boring to watch, to be honest. The rules are really complicated, it's hard to sort of understand what's happening and the best guys in the world are the most exciting if you understand that when he changed his grip from the left lapel to the right lapel, that was really complex and something’s about to happen. But mom and dad don't get that, so why should we charge these people a spectator fee? So we also just make sure that everyone has the… We try to make everyone have the best experience that they can possibly have in our competitions.

We were doing really big customised medals, probably about 7 years before anybody else was doing that around. Really spent the money on things that we felt were important and we’re re-investing all the time, we’re actually sponsoring a movie, a Netflix level quality movie, to come out, a history of jiu-jitsu in Queensland. We’ve decided that we’re going to sponsor that. We don't have any credit control over it, so we’re just sort of hoping that it makes everyone look really good, hope it makes us look really good.

But the thing is, it might not. We've hired an independent director who's won multiple awards, and we’re like, OK, let's show everybody this. So we’re trying to put back in and the way we can do that is by running really good tournaments and people support it and we try to support the community back ourselves, so this is one of the things we're doing.

GEORGE: Awesome. So, on the business side, you've got lots going on. You're a man of few words, but your actions speak super loud of the things that you're doing. If we're talking on the business side, what do you feel is your big thing, your sort of zone of what you're doing in business that makes you really successful?

Geordie Lavers McBain

GEORDIE: I just really like teaching martial arts and teaching classes, so I think if you're passionate about what you do, people pick up on that. I can't even walk past a class that I'm not meant to be teaching and not want to get in there and teach. I think if you're genuine, people feel that genuineness and they want to follow on. I really love structure and systems. I really like analysing curriculums and developing systems for things and really trying to work out what the truth of something is and get the most result from that.

I'm lucky, I've trained a lot of champion athletes and my wife has 67 titles in 8 different combats. She's a world Muay Thai champion, Australian boxing champ, Australian Kyokushin champ, a high-level jiu-jitsu champion, multiple different things like that, national titles and so on. World combat wrestling champion, Kudo champion, MMA fighter… Heaps of different things like that. And basically, it’s just working out what works. And the business is exactly the same. So you sit there and go: how do I make something work?

So, once you work it out, if you get someone who’s a world Muay Thai champion, you can make them the world combat wrestling champion. She's hoping to get in the Olympic games for freestyle wrestling, coming up in Tokyo. If you can put those sorts of things together and you can work out what makes an elite athlete, what things should you focus on and you apply it to your business, OK, what makes a really good class? What makes a really good ad?

And even if the ad is to a completely different thing, or your classes are a completely different style, you can just put those key factor and key components together and work out what it is that's really important. What are the things that actually matter? Because there's a lot of fluff and there's a lot of other stuff out there that will get you a 1% return, or a 2% return here. But the reality is if you can get something that gives you a 25% return on effort, why spend time and effort on something that's going to give a lower yield result?

And then at the top end, you've got to be prepared to change so much of what you do. So I've done a lot of traditional martial arts styles and if you're saying to pure traditionalists that you can improve an aspect of what they do by, say, 80% if they change 2% of what they do, they won't do it. Like, my personal experience is that they just won't do it, because it's not traditional, it's not what they do. But if you say to an athlete, if you change 80% of what you do, I can give you a 2% return and you're at the top level – he'll change 80% of what they do.

Geordie Lavers McBain

And if you take that sort of association across to business, if someone could say to you, I can improve your bottom line by 2% if you change 80% of what you do – that's an improvement. Why not do that? Because it's never going to be the other way around, it's never going to be if you change 2%, you're going to get 80% in return. Sometimes you've got to make big changes and look at those sorts of things, how do I get that slight, different improvement? And you've got to take risks and you've got to try and see what's the most up-to-date thing out there.

The first set of kettlebells I ever got, I imported from… I think it was the Czech Republic, somewhere over in Eastern Europe and no one had them in Australia. And I got this really old wrestling book that was actually written in Russian and they had kettlebells there. And they had a lot of pictures and I thought, that looks like a really good thing, how do I get those things? Took me ages to find out what they were called – and now you can buy them from K-mart.

So if you want to stay cutting edge too, you can't just rest on your laurels and say, yep, we've worked that out. You've got to be always like, well, what's changing, what's the next most proven, effective thing that you can do. And a lot of fads end up being not very good. Even people who do ice cold baths, research has now shown that just stretching lightly after training gives you the same result in recovery, but because all the football teams are doing it, everyone just assumed it was the way you should do it. So don't always just jump on fads either, try and do a bit of research and try and really work it out. Just because the good guys do it, doesn't mean it's actually giving any effect.

GEORGE: Cool. So on that, on optimising, you're talking about optimising little, making little changes that really optimise your business etc: is there something that you… You know, with optimising, sometimes it's easier to remove stuff than to just add stuff. Because I think we always want to… there's a danger in always wanting the best thing, because you end up kind of going halfway in a lot of things. You major in minor tasks type of thing. So is there sort of a couple of things that you really focus on to optimise your results, and are there things that you've kind of just eliminated from your school that you don't do, that maybe the everyday martial arts school would do?

GEORDIE: That's a good question. Things, I guess the key performance indicators are really important to see what's happening, but culture is pretty important. So I sort of look at, like I'm a little bit of a, what do I want my martial arts school to look like, as far as, is this somewhere I’d want to train, is this somewhere I’d want to do it. Sometimes that can be a mistake, because really, then you just start marketing to yourself. You know, someone who's doing martial arts for 8 years old, that's pretty tricky, because there are not too many of those other guys out there. But on the same take, you've got to sort of look and go, what do I want it to look like? What do I want it to feel like? And how do I cut those things out that I don't like?

Like, I don't do birthday parties at my club, because I don't want to do that. It’s something where I'm like, for me, it doesn't feel like it's something that I want to do, so I don't do it. But I know people who are way more successful, who do them. But it's just not the culture that I want to do. So I get success not because I don't get those people who do the birthday party to join up, but because maybe the culture that I'm trying to instil in my students is one where they feel that that's not what we do here, so they like that and they stay a bit longer. I'm not sure, I'm not sure a 100% on that, but there's little things where I know I'm doing different to a lot of other schools, but I kind of feel like that is kind of helping.

GEORGE: Hey Geordie, thanks for being on. And if… Any last words if people want to find out more about you? Where do they go?

GEORDIE: Probably Facebook would be the easiest. I'm Geordie Lavers McBain, G-E-O-R-D-I-E, Lavers McBain. I'm sure if you write the first one, the second one will turn up. Yeah, if you want to reach out, my club is called Black Dragon Kai and yeah, I really appreciate you wanting to interview me – thank you very much, you’ve had some amazing martial artists before, so to be grouped with those people, it's a bit of an honour, so thanks heaps George.

GEORGE: You're welcome. Awesome – thanks a lot Geordie and thanks Giorgio for driving us and keeping the podcast running.

GIORGIO: You're welcome!

GEORGE: All right, awesome – cheers.

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!

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

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

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

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

77 – What Happens When You Have The Wrong Martial Arts Business Coach

How to avoid hiring the wrong martial arts business coach who will take you nowhere faster.


  • Why do you even need a martial arts business coach
  • Beware of martial arts business coaches who coach what they can’t do
  • How to not get burnt by a martial arts business coach
  • How to choose the right martial arts business coach for your business needs
  • And more

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


But the problem is, that the people that are actually doing the martial arts business coaching, have never actually done what they are coaching.

Hey, George here. Nice, sunny day here in Perth, having a quick walk with the baby girl.

So what happens when you hire the wrong martial arts business coach? I was on a call yesterday with a great school owner, really doing everything well, when you look at their marketing front. Great content, great with video, sharing a lot of value and there's a lot of give happening. But unfortunately, just not enough take, not enough coming back.

So looking at their Facebook page and their ad account, I could see there are just a couple of tweaks that would make a world of difference, but unfortunately, with the frustration of not getting things right, is the frustration in business coaching. And in investing, I think he mentioned up to $50,000 in coaching with top industry icons and just not getting the results with the coaching.

Now, if you're a professional and serious about your business, then the first thing you'd probably say is well, you know, it's 100% your responsibility, you know, to make things work. 100% true and that's exactly what this gentleman had to say. He knows it's 100% his responsibility and his job to make it all work.

But then here's the problem with martial arts business coaching, and sometimes you see people that have a high profile and they get praised within the industry for all the great things that they do, but the problem is that the people that are actually doing the coaching have never actually done what they are coaching.

So within the coaching session, you get very surface level type answers and not really getting help to actually move the needle and move you forward. So they might be trying to teach you how to run Facebook ads, but they're not the ones that have been running the ads, so I mean, they are a great coach to tell you how to run other parts of the business, but they're not actually specialized in getting the leads and getting traction on platforms like Facebook, Google, you know, whatever it is that you use for lead generation.

And going back to the client, the big problem was just the frustration of being told the same old thing, over, over and over again and not being able to plugin into real frameworks, real frameworks and real strategies that can actually get results. And yeah, marketing is never simple. There's always ups and downs, but if someone hasn't walked that path and run ad campaigns and done the lead generation for multiple schools, or for multiple locations and different demographics, then it's going to be very hard for them to coach you and give you a strategy that's actually going to work and move the needle for you and your business.

So what to do? Well first up, I mean, hire a specialist. Hire somebody that's actually done, walked the path that it is what you want to do. And in our case of what we are talking about here, that have run successful ad campaigns and have an actual framework, something that you can plug into, that you can model with a couple of tweaks, pulling in a couple of things, pulling a couple of strings and being able to make it work for your school.

So yeah, make sure that you get someone on board that can help you, first that obviously has the expertise and second of all, actually have the time and the resources and the infrastructure to be able to help you. I mean, maybe they get a good result, but are they actually going to be a good coach for you? Do they actually have the time to work on your business, instead of just work on their business at the end of the day?

So if you need help with actual lead generation, not how to run the class, about the curriculum and so forth – that's definitely not our cup of tea. A lot of people in the industry that can teach you that. But if you need help with actual lead generation, then it's worth having a chat with us. Seeing if what we have can be an option for you. If you need help, reach out to me. Just click on my profile or leave me a comment wherever you see this and we’ll just have a quick chat and see if what we have is a potential option to help you with your school.

Awesome – I'm wrapping up the walk. Still singing along – see you in the next video. 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 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

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

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

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

3. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

Podcast Sponsored by Martial Arts Media Partners

76 – Practical Tips On How To Grow Your Martial Arts School

Robbie Castellano from IMC Australia shares practical tips on how to grow your martial arts school.


  • How creating a 5-year plan grew Robbie Castellano’s school from 135 to 500 students
  • How local and international martial arts tournaments improve their student retention
  • The ultimate test for turning over your school
  • The importance of having an effective leadership program
  • How finding a strategic school location completes half of your marketing
  • And more

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



GEORGE: G'day, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. I have today with me Robbie Castellano who is actually a returning guest. We won't get into the details why. He'll probably be a returning guest again, but this is the first actual official podcast we're doing together. So, welcome to the show Robbie.

ROBBIE: Thanks George. Glad to be here.

GEORGE: Awesome. So, just a bit of introduction. So, Robbie's based in Sydney. They run IMC Australia. And also looking at the website now, I'm seeing number one rated martial arts center in Australia as rated by ISKA. So, yeah, we're going to have a bit of a chat and hear what Robbie's up to. So, welcome to the show Robbie.

ROBBIE: Thank you George.

GEORGE: Cool. So, just give us a couple of minutes intro, just your background, what you've got going on, etc.

ROBBIE: Yeah. So, basically started as a kid. Went to a local karate school which is in Western Sydney. Started at the age of four, five. Trained up until I was a teenager and then started working part time for my instructor, teaching. Always loved teaching. So, it was always good to teach the kids and then eventually teaching adults. And then got to my twenties and decided I wanted to go and see the world, so I went traveling around the world for about seven years and I still came back home every now and then to teach a little bit, travel again before eventually settling and managing the school for my instructor and then eventually buying it out 100%.

GEORGE: Excellent. So, in the travels, were you actually instructing as well?

ROBBIE: Na, not really. I was always training, like I was in Thailand and Belarus and England and Colombia. I eventually stayed in Colombia for a few years where I eventually met my wife, but it was always just training, it's hard to teach in a different language.

GEORGE: Got you. I've always wondered if that's an opportunity for young kids if they are learning martial arts and they can instruct if there's an opportunity for them to actually travel abroad and just plug into different schools and instruct for a while.

ROBBIE: Yeah. I'm sure there would be, but I didn't do it, no.

GEORGE: Okay. So, from teaching to owning the school, how did that journey evolve?

ROBBIE: Yeah. So, basically I was in Thailand to do a bit of training with my wife and my instructor had a … he gave me a call saying that he's had a few problems with his current manager and basically asked me if I want to take the reins and manage the school for him. So, I did. I got on the first plane back and started managing the school. We sat down and had a chat, worked out a five year plan. So, I would manage it for five years and then eventually buying it out which I now own. Yeah. So, when we took over, it was up to about 135 students when I managed it and we built it up to about 500 mark now. So, it's going well.

GEORGE: Got you. So, how do you feel that helped, as in having that five year plan and having a good structure and sort of knowing, alright, this is where you're going and I guess, maybe easier to make the purchase as well, sort of.

ROBBIE: That's it. I'm pretty fortunate that I had an instructor, Paul Zadro, as a good mentor. He already did all the hard work of going to the conferences overseas and learning the dos and don'ts. So, we basically sat down and it was like an apprenticeship. The five year plan was to learn the ropes, how to run the floor, run the business side and yeah, to help me eventually to buy it out. So, without that five year plan, I probably wouldn't have been able to do it. So, we've designed that now in our whole IMC organization for the rest of the generation to come through and do the same thing.

GEORGE: Okay, fantastic. So, how does that look then? So, you've got the sort of five year structure where you know how to groom and educate and train people to take over location. How does that look? Do you … are you looking for that within instructors who can take that role or are you looking at that as more sort of an expansion type …

ROBBIE: Yeah. Look, a bit of both. We've got our leadership program and those youngsters that want to come through to eventually open up their own school, we tell them, this is what you have to do. They've got to go through all the reins of being an instructor and then floor manager, program director and then a school manager and then and then the system is to buy out, if they want. We pay our managers fairly highly. So, if they’re happy to just keep their wage and that's fine. If they want to go bigger and more responsibility, we've got a plan to buy it out as well, for them to buy it out.

GEORGE: Got you. How many instructors have taken up that role, taken that path?

ROBBIE: Yeah. At the moment, myself has done it. We've got another instructor Mitchel who runs the IMC Wetherill park school. He's doing it at the moment. He's on the five year journey. We're about to open up another school in the West of Sydney, a young girl and she's going to start the five year journey as well.

GEORGE: On the five year mark, so, does that take 100% ownership or do you still sort of run under a type of franchise model or?

ROBBIE: Yeah. Look, the deal that I had was, I'll take over 100%. Okay? That was always the plan. My instructor always wanted that for me. I've been with him since I was a kid. So, he helped me out. I would want the same for my juniors that have been with me forever too. So, yeah, I was to buy it out 100%. It was still under the IMC organization, but our schools are separately owned.

GEORGE: Got you. Okay. So, when it comes to … so, you have … you mentioned how many locations again?

ROBBIE: We now have four.

GEORGE: Four locations, all Sydney based?

ROBBIE: All Sydney based, yep.

GEORGE: All Sydney based. Okay. So, when it comes to things like marketing and the bigger picture, how do you guys go about that? Is that a team effort or do you still operate individually?

ROBBIE: Yeah definitely. Look, we're big on our organization with team effort. Be individually owned but we all work together. So, every Monday we'll come in, do a team meeting and we all throw out all our different ideas, marketing strategies, statistics, everything, and I think it's … it works in our favor because we've got a lot more heads together, create different ideas and to grow our schools all together. We swap and change instructors sometimes too. I'll send one of my junior instructors over to a different school for a week so they can pick up some new stuff and vice versa.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's super powerful. So, you almost have this whole mastermind group within your own organization and everybody can come from different angles and different perspectives.

ROBBIE: That's right. 100%. Yep. 100%.

GEORGE: So, how do you then take those … let's say, if we had to walk through it, you guys have your Monday meeting, somebody comes up with an idea, then what sort of a process of rolling it out within the schools? Would you trial something first at one school or would you just roll it out and run with it and access the results after?

ROBBIE: Yep. Look, every Monday we'll come through statistics, that's usually the first thing on the agenda, where we've lost, where we've gained and then we'll do our marketing for the month, what we're doing and then we always close the meeting with an idea. If someone's got an idea, we'll get that person to try it in their school, see how it goes and if it's successful, then we'll try it in the other schools. If it fails, then the other schools don't do it obviously.

GEORGE: Got you. So, can you say a bit more just about sort of that structure of that Monday meeting? So, you mentioned you've got statistics, you talk marketing, etc, is there anything else that you cover within moving the organization forward?

ROBBIE: So, we always talk about what we're doing that month. So, whether it's a life skill project or something like that, gradings or if we're doing seminars, how to organize that. But pretty basic standard meeting. Nothing too drastic. But it works. Everyone turns up and everyone is on the same page. That's important. If one ball drops, then the rest will crumble in the end. So, it's important to keep it all together.

GEORGE: Got you. Okay. So, let's talk a bit more about … so, you're based in Liverpool right?

ROBBIE: Yes. Western Sydney. Yep.

GEORGE: Western Sydney, got you. I believe that now that we're talking about it, Paul Zadro, I did see him on the news taking on the political role. Is that right?

ROBBIE: Yeah. I think he's got to that stage in his life where he needs another challenge. He's a very successful man, so I think he wanted that next challenge. So, he worked for the local Liverpool seat. Unfortunately he didn't win, but I'm sure he had a good experience. He made a lot of contacts as well. It was actually good for us to watch it so it all works.

GEORGE: Got you. Actually, I did another podcast interview yesterday with Jim Morrison in Canada and he was mentioning their 15th birthday this year and the mayor’s coming along. I was like, hang on, you can't let that story just rest. How do you get the mayor to attend your birthday?

He said, no, okay, they actually train together, but it was interesting that he mentioned how much community evolvement that creates, because of having the … obviously having the mayor and the kids train there, but just getting really involved with projects that they do with kids with autism and sort of being on the forefront. Would that open different avenues for you within the martial arts school with having Paul in that position?

ROBBIE: Oh yeah, for sure. Look, it's just another way to get your name out there. You know what I mean? We had the New South Wales Sports Minister come to our school with this campaign and he came to see what we do in school, how do kids train. We did a couple of demonstrations for him and that goes all over social media as well. So, it's just another avenue of marketing and getting your brand out there again. So, yeah, it definitely helps.

GEORGE: Got you. Okay. So, let's talk about Liverpool. So, we were just chatting about it earlier just … IMC Australia number one rated martial arts center as rated by ISKA. So, what's a big focus for you? Is it just … I guess let's start from the beginning. What styles do you teach?

ROBBIE: Yeah. So, basically we're a multi-style school. We teach karate, kickboxing, MMA, jiu jitsu. Our main clientele is kid's karate. Probably makes up 70% of our school. MMA, jiu jitsu is just sort of an extra thing for people to come and kickboxing program is pretty big as well, but our basic main focus is kid's karate.

GEORGE: Got you. And then the competition component with that is?

ROBBIE: Yeah. ISKA a good organization that has multi-styles, so you can do from kickboxing to middle ninjas, five year old kids competing. So, we always start on the ISKA circuit. It's probably the biggest in Australia as well, covering all the different states and we've always had a strong tournament team going into these martial arts tournaments and most of the years, we always rate number one. That helps our students with retention as well. Sometimes kids get bored in their normal training, so they want an extra bit of push, so they join the tournament team and they'll compete.

GEORGE: Got you. Okay. So, is that tournaments and things happening locally? Do you give students the opportunity to travel abroad?

ROBBIE: Yeah, pretty much. There's always a tournament nearly every month. Some are in Sydney, some are in the country. There's tournaments in Queensland, Melbourne, even in Perth where you are. I think Graham MacDonald runs the ISKA in WA. Every couple of years we take a team over to the US Open, compete over there. Last year we actually went to Jamaica for ISKA World Championships there which was awesome. I love traveling and when martial arts and traveling come together, I'm very happy with my life. Any opportunity to go overseas and take a team, we're onto it.

GEORGE: So, how did that help the team? When they go to a place like Jamaica. I spent a lot of time in Jamaica when I was in my young travel days when I was working on cruise ships. Crazy place, but it was always good fun. Just beautiful beaches and friendly people. So, when a team goes and they travel to a place like that, how does … what's the effect on just the culture and the team when they get back?

ROBBIE: Yeah. Well, you know yourself. If you're traveling and you go overseas, it's a whole new experience, you know what I mean? They get to see people from different countries, different styles, different ways of life. So, any type of traveling is good for anybody. You always come back a different person and I think it brings a team together as well. You spend a couple of weeks with somebody overseas on those tours, and it brings back a closer relationship too. So, it always works well. There's never a negative experience on these trips.

GEORGE: Got you. So, where are you guys headed as a … and you personally, you're part of the IMC group, what's the path forward for you?

ROBBIE: Yeah. So, look, we've designed our leadership program to keep growing. All that school was of course anyone's goal is to also keep growing. My personal goal is to open up another school which we're in the frame of doing hopefully this year and then, yeah, just keep going. Do as much as possible and the sky's the limit.

GEORGE: You mentioned your wife trains as well. So, is it just you in the business? Is it family business or?

ROBBIE: Yeah. It's just me and my wife. She mainly does all the admin for the school which I'm pretty lucky because that's what she studied in university. So, it all planned out and worked together. She stays at home, I pretty much run the school. I've got my manager of the school, so I don't have to always be there. I try to have at least a couple of days off in the week to spend with my family, but it's all about the system. You've got to design those systems, then you've got to stick to them and make sure they work. As soon as one of those systems kicks out, it all falls apart. So, I think it's so important that you have those right and stick to it.

GEORGE: I'd love to ask you about that. So, you're mentioning, obviously you're preparing to go for a second school, so yes, your systems have to be in place and you mentioned, okay, you've got your wife involved, but you mentioned she doesn't really come to the dojos, just working at home.

ROBBIE: Behind the scenes, yep. She's not behind the scenes.

GEORGE: You've got family, you've got kids, right?

ROBBIE: Yeah, I've got two little kids, five and two. My son who's five, he trains and he's one of those karate kids that pretty much lives at the school and he loves it. So, I'm very grateful for.

GEORGE: So, how do you manage this and moving forward? So, you mentioned you're really clear about your systems and then your family time. So, how do you create that balance and especially knowing that you've got the new location coming as well?

ROBBIE: Yeah. Well, it all comes down to the right person, right? If you can open up another school, you wouldn't do it unless you had someone that you believe in that could do it. So, that's where our leadership program comes into place. So, we have a person now that's ready to step up, she's pretty much been managing my school for the last couple of years. I sort of stood back a bit to see how she runs it all by herself and she's proven that she can do it easily. So, we sat her down and asked her if she wants to move forward and open up another school and run that one and she agreed. So, she's in the process now of training somebody to replace her which is awesome. All about the systems.

GEORGE: So, let's say you're starting the systems, what are the core systems that you have to have in place before you feel that you're ready to open that extra location?

ROBBIE: I think, well, my instructor always told me as a test, if you go on holidays for a month and your school grows by that person that you've left in charge, then they're capable of running the school on their own. If it fails and you lose students while you're away, then maybe that person isn't. So, that's one little test we do. We make sure everyone's trained up.

Okay. So, we've got our leadership program like I said and we have different levels in that leadership program and if someone isn't up to standard in a certain area, we make sure that they need more training. We do our staff training once every couple of months, a big staff training or we make sure everyone's up to speed because there's always new casuals and new leadership members. We just make sure our standard's high and up to date.

GEORGE: And sort of the core system? Like the system of systems that the … the one thing that kind of steers everything and puts everything in place, what would you say that is?

ROBBIE: Yeah. Look, it's pretty straight forward like every other school. You know what I mean? There's so much information out there now. You can go on Facebook and see a whole lot of stuff even for free. It's funny because, like I go to the ISKA tournaments and I speak to so many school owners that are trying to do martial arts full time and I tell them all the different stuff, they like to go to an EFC conference for example.

I tell them they should go if they want to grow. And then they don't do it. You know what I mean? It's simple stuff that you can follow and they just don't do it and then they wonder why they don't grow. You know what I mean? So, yeah, just all the basic normal stuff that's out there. Follow the system that everyone has created. There's plenty of information out there.

GEORGE: Okay, cool. So, Robbie, you're well established, you guys have got … you tick all the boxes, you've got the systems, you've done your ten thousand hours and beyond in business. So, if you had to break it down, what advice would you give to someone going from zero to a hundred, a hundred to two hundred, two hundred to three hundred students, etc?

ROBBIE: Yeah. Look, first of all, if I was … first thing I'd do is find the right location. All our schools and even our future schools, we open up on a main road. So, that's half of our marketing already done for us. You can try to beat the rent and get something a little bit cheaper in the back alleys, but you're going to pay more in marketing. So, all our schools must be on a main road. So, that's one thing I'd be looking at. The next thing is, is I'll be trying to find the first person that walks into my dojo with leadership skills and I'd be starting to train that person to help and eventually put them on staff. That would be my first things.

GEORGE: So, location, super important, and then really identifying that leader from the get go. Anything else from that point?

ROBBIE: From there, if I started to grow my school, the next thing I would a hundred percent put in would be a leadership program, whether it's kids or teenagers, because that's going to be your core of your school of who can run your school for you while you can concentrate on other things to grow. So, I'll be a hundred per cent be all for leadership programs straight away.

GEORGE: That's gold right there. Good location, half your marketing's done, find your right leader and start focusing on the team building.

ROBBIE: Straight away. Yep.

GEORGE: Anything else you would add to that?

ROBBIE: From there, the school would grow because you would've trained your staff to how you want it, to follow the systems, I'll probably sign up with, if I didn't have an organization like I do, I'd probably sign up with … I mean, there's plenty of companies out there that help you, I'd kind of like to stick with the Aussie groups. I'd be signing up for that straight away as well because that's going to help you grow your school. These guys have got it all in place for you.

That's what I keep saying to these guys that I was talking about. It's already done for them. They've just got to sign up and follow it. They don't do that. That's why they don't grow. So, if you're serious about going to school, find a good mentor that's done it before and follow the system. It's not rocket science.

GEORGE: Do the work, right? Okay, awesome. So, one or two more questions. You mentioned your location in Liverpool, right? So, you're on a main road. It's also probably, on a wild guess, reckon that Liverpool has the most martial arts schools per square meter in the whole of Australia. So, what's your take on that, on the competition?

ROBBIE: It's true, there's so many martial arts schools right where I am in … I remember telling my instructor about it when he offered me the job. I said, oh, but there's so many schools around here, how are we going to compete? He pretty much said if you do the things that I tell you to do, you'll be the biggest and you won't worry about them. That's what we did and now we are the biggest. I've got a school that's 200 meters down the road from me and he's still successful. He's got I think about 400 students and I've got 500 students. It doesn't matter.

Would I be bigger? Probably. I probably wouldn't be able to fit everyone in if he wasn't there, but it doesn't affect this really any way. As long as you keep your school professional and provide a good service, people always come. Know what I mean? So, it hasn't bothered us, no.

GEORGE: Thanks for being … I'm going to ask one question and I've been contemplating whether I should ask this question, but I think it's worth talking about it, because it's a … I've got my take on this word and question and a lot of people do. I'm going to keep my appointment back, my appointment, my opinion for now and I'm going to ask this question on a few podcasts and see how it goes. So, here it is. McDojo. The word McDojo. What does that mean to you?

ROBBIE: What is a McDojo? What even is a McDojo? I've heard the concept before. People say if you're big and you're charging quite high fees that you're a McDojo, I reckon it's all crap to be honest. Okay? Because, I mean our standard hasn't dropped and I challenge anyone who hasn't got a big score or has a smaller score and think that their standard is higher, then bring that student in, and see if they can keep some of our students. I'll bet you they can't.

So, just because we're large and we charge a higher fee, doesn't mean our standards drop. If anything, I think our standards rise because if we don't provide a good service and keep a higher standard, then they'll leave and they can go down to the road to the $10 a week school, that's fine. So, I think it's a load of crap to be honest.

GEORGE: Love it. Awesome. Robbie, it's been great having you on. Where can people go to connect with you or find more about you?

ROBBIE: Yeah, you can see our website, www.prestonskarate.com.au or you can add me on Facebook at Robbie Castellano. You should find me on friends of all the high profile martial arts in the country. So, yeah, add me, I'll be happy to help you if you have any questions.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Thanks a lot Robbie.

ROBBIE: Thanks George, really appreciate it mate. You're a legend and it's awesome what you're doing, I love it.

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!

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. 


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!


The Martial Arts
Fb Ad Formula

Please fill out the form and we will send you the free guide via email

General Website Terms and Conditions of Use

We have taken every effort to design our Web site to be useful, informative, helpful, honest and fun.  Hopefully we’ve accomplished that — and would ask that you let us know if you’d like to see improvements or changes that would make it even easier for you to find the information you need and want.

All we ask is that you agree to abide by the following Terms and Conditions. Take a few minutes to look them over because by using our site you automatically agree to them. Naturally, if you don’t agree, please do not use the site. We reserve the right to make any modifications that we deem necessary at any time. Please continue to check these terms to see what those changes may be! Your continued use of the MartialArtsMedia.com Web site means that you accept those changes.


Restrictions on Use of Our Online Materials

All Online Materials on the MartialArtsMedia.com site are Copyrighted and all rights are reserved. Text, graphics, databases, HTML code, and all other intellectual property are protected by US and/or International Copyright Laws, and may not be copied, reprinted, published, reengineered, translated, hosted, or otherwise distributed by any means without explicit permission. All of the trademarks on this site are trademarks of MartialArtsMedia.com or of other owners used with their permission. You, the visitor, may download Online Materials for non-commercial, personal use only provided you 1) retain all copyright, trademark and propriety notices, 2) you make no modifications to the materials, 3) you do not use the materials in a manner that suggests an association with any of our products, services, events or brands, and 4) you do not download quantities of materials to a database, server, or personal computer for reuse for commercial purposes. You may not, however, copy, reproduce, republish, upload, post, transmit or distribute Online Materials in any way or for any other purpose unless you get our written permission first. Neither may you add, delete, distort or misrepresent any content on the MartialArtsMedia.com site. Any attempts to modify any Online Material, or to defeat or circumvent our security features is prohibited.

Everything you download, any software, plus all files, all images incorporated in or generated by the software, and all data accompanying it, is considered licensed to you by MartialArtsMedia.com or third-party licensors for your personal, non-commercial home use only. We do not transfer title of the software to you. That means that we retain full and complete title to the software and to all of the associated intellectual-property rights. You’re not allowed to redistribute or sell the material or to reverse-engineer, disassemble or otherwise convert it to any other form that people can use.

Submitting Your Online Material to Us

All remarks, suggestions, ideas, graphics, comments, or other information that you send to MartialArtsMedia.com through our site (other than information we promise to protect under our privacy policy becomes and remains our property, even if this agreement is later terminated.

That means that we don’t have to treat any such submission as confidential. You can’t sue us for using ideas you submit. If we use them, or anything like them, we don’t have to pay you or anyone else for them. We will have the exclusive ownership of all present and future rights to submissions of any kind. We can use them for any purpose we deem appropriate to our MartialArtsMedia.com mission, without compensating you or anyone else for them.

You acknowledge that you are responsible for any submission you make. This means that you (and not we) have full responsibility for the message, including its legality, reliability, appropriateness, originality, and copyright.

Limitation of Liability







Links to Other Site

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

Termination of This Agreement

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

Jurisdiction and Other Points to Consider

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

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

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

Any other disputes will be resolved as follows:

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

If it proves impossible to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution through mediation, we agree to submit the dispute to binding arbitration at the following location: Perth . Judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitration may be entered in any court with jurisdiction to do so.

MartialArtsMedia.com may modify these Terms of Use, and the agreement they create, at any time, simply by updating this posting and without notice to you. This is the ENTIRE agreement regarding all the matters that have been discussed.

The application of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, as amended, is expressly excluded.

Privacy Policy

Your privacy is very important to us. Accordingly, we have developed this policy in order for you to understand how we collect, use, communicate and make use of personal information. The following outlines our privacy policy. When accessing the https://martialartsmedia.com website, will learn certain information about you during your visit. Similar to other commercial websites, our website utilizes a standard technology called “cookies” (see explanation below) and server logs to collect information about how our site is used. Information gathered through cookies and server logs may include the date and time of visits, the pages viewed, time spent at our site, and the websites visited just before and just after our own, as well as your IP address.

Use of Cookies

A cookie is a very small text document, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier. When you visit a website, that site”s computer asks your computer for permission to store this file in a part of your hard drive specifically designated for cookies. Each website can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser”s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a website to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

IP Addresses

IP addresses are used by your computer every time you are connected to the Internet. Your IP address is a number that is used by computers on the network to identify your computer. IP addresses are automatically collected by our web server as part of demographic and profile data known as “traffic data” so that data (such as the Web pages you request) can be sent to you.

Email Information

If you choose to correspond with us through email, we may retain the content of your email messages together with your email address and our responses. We provide the same protections for these electronic communications that we employ in the maintenance of information received online, mail and telephone. This also applies when you register for our website, sign up through any of our forms using your email address or make a purchase on this site. For further information see the email policies below.

How Do We Use the Information That You Provide to Us?

Broadly speaking, we use personal information for purposes of administering our business activities, providing customer service and making available other items and services to our customers and prospective customers.

will not obtain personally-identifying information about you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide such information to us, nor will such information be sold or otherwise transferred to unaffiliated third parties without the approval of the user at the time of collection.

We may disclose information when legally compelled to do so, in other words, when we, in good faith, believe that the law requires it or for the protection of our legal rights.

Email Policies

We are committed to keeping your e-mail address confidential. We do not sell, rent, or lease our subscription lists to third parties, and we will not provide your personal information to any third party individual, government agency, or company at any time unless strictly compelled to do so by law.

We will use your e-mail address solely to provide timely information about .

We will maintain the information you send via e-mail in accordance with applicable federal law.

CAN-SPAM Compliance

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime.

Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.


Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime. Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Use of External Links

All copyrights, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property rights in and on our website and all content and software located on the site shall remain the sole property of or its licensors. The use of our trademarks, content and intellectual property is forbidden without the express written consent from .

You must not:

Acceptable Use

You agree to use our website only for lawful purposes, and in a way that does not infringe the rights of, restrict or inhibit anyone else”s use and enjoyment of the website. Prohibited behavior includes harassing or causing distress or inconvenience to any other user, transmitting obscene or offensive content or disrupting the normal flow of dialogue within our website.

You must not use our website to send unsolicited commercial communications. You must not use the content on our website for any marketing related purpose without our express written consent.

Restricted Access

We may in the future need to restrict access to parts (or all) of our website and reserve full rights to do so. If, at any point, we provide you with a username and password for you to access restricted areas of our website, you must ensure that both your username and password are kept confidential.

Use of Testimonials

In accordance to with the FTC guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, please be aware of the following:

Testimonials that appear on this site are actually received via text, audio or video submission. They are individual experiences, reflecting real life experiences of those who have used our products and/or services in some way. They are individual results and results do vary. We do not claim that they are typical results. The testimonials are not necessarily representative of all of those who will use our products and/or services.

The testimonials displayed in any form on this site (text, audio, video or other) are reproduced verbatim, except for correction of grammatical or typing errors. Some may have been shortened. In other words, not the whole message received by the testimonial writer is displayed when it seems too lengthy or not the whole statement seems relevant for the general public.

is not responsible for any of the opinions or comments posted on https://martialartsmedia.com. is not a forum for testimonials, however provides testimonials as a means for customers to share their experiences with one another. To protect against abuse, all testimonials appear after they have been reviewed by management of . doe not share the opinions, views or commentary of any testimonials on https://martialartsmedia.com – the opinions are strictly the views of the testimonial source.

The testimonials are never intended to make claims that our products and/or services can be used to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. Any such claims, implicit or explicit, in any shape or form, have not been clinically tested or evaluated.

How Do We Protect Your Information and Secure Information Transmissions?

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

may use software programs to create summary statistics, which are used for such purposes as assessing the number of visitors to the different sections of our site, what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications, and identifying system performance or problem areas.

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

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

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

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

Policy Changes

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

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


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

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

Email: team (at) martialartsmedia dot com

Add Your Heading Text Hereasdf