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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Community and an easy way to access it is if you just go to the domain name martialartsmedia.group. So martialartsmedia.group. G-r-o-u-p. There's not dot or anything. Martialartsmedia.group. Then we'll take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

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


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

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

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

2. Join the Martial Arts Media community.

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

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

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

4. Work with me and my team privately.

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

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

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: You recall much about growing up in Jakarta?

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

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

MATT: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: Yeah, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: Students, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: Yeah, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: The value.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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!

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

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


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

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


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

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

ADAM: Yeah, a year ago, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: The population, yeah.

ADAM: Yeah.

GEORGE: All right.

ADAM: So, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADAM: Hahaha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADAM: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADAM: No worries.

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

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

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

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

Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top, smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group. It’s a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – thing that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it’s called the martial arts media community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialartsmedia.group, G-R-O-U-P, there's no .com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

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


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!

61 – Cat Zohar – Simple Member Engagement Tips For Martial Arts Student Retention

Cat Zohar shares simple martial arts student retention tips that any school owner can master.


  • Cat Zohar’s martial arts life, being an innovator and a visionary
  • How to establish rapport on the online platforms
  • The benefits of relationship marketing
  • The challenges in building relationship within large martial arts schools
  • Cat’s proven techniques for improving customer retention
  • And more

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


Of course, you can. If you can take your hand, putting it in front of you, look at it and then give yourself a direction to smile – smile. And be able to do that, you can great somebody when they walk in the door, I promise. You can train anybody to do that. If you are able to handle that little interaction right there, you can train someone to be friendly.

GEORGE: Hey, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. Today, I'm joined by Cat Zohar. I didn't check – Zohar, am I pronouncing that right?

CAT: That's correct!

GEORGE: Alright, awesome. So Cat will be joining me and about 11 other also martial arts instructors and business leaders at The Main Event and that's in San Diego, 26th to 28th of April, so that's next month. Depending on when you're watching and listening to this. So we’re going to have a bit of a chat and Cat has some amazing things going on in the industry. She got started when she was a 6-year old and I'm here to learn about what Cat does and have a great conversation and of course, bring great value to you. So welcome to the show Cat!

CAT: Thank you so much for having me George, I'm happy to be here! And hello everyone!

GEORGE: Awesome. So, let’s start right at the beginning – who is Cat Zohar?

CAT: Well, I think Cat Zohar is a martial arts innovator, martial arts visionary for the industry. I started martial arts practice when I was 6 years old in Cleveland, Ohio where I grew up. And it's something I've been most active in my entire life, so this is just the continuation and the next chapter of Cat Zohar, I guess you would say.

GEORGE: All right. So you mentioned innovation and visionary – can you elaborate a little bit on that?

CAT: I've done a lot of firsts in the martial arts industry. I started girls only martial arts program, designed just for young girls between the ages of 3 and 10 and we set up the Karate Princesses Program, which was designed specifically to teach real martial arts techniques and skills for protection – princess protection more appropriately referred to. But actually, giving them a base to take part in martial arts. When I was a young girl starting in my martial arts classes, my mom used to be like, girls don't do karate. So our motto and our tagline was, girls do karate too and that was really a big focus.

This was actually pre all of the pink belt stuff that you see today, so we actually had to make our own karate princesses belts out of cool princey pink fabrics and things like that. So we had a whole bunch of ways for the girls to earn bling for their belt by participating and doing princess like behaviors around their community as well as their household too and school.

So there was a bunch of things like that I've done over the years that have been… well, innovative for the industry and I've seen many different trends come and go over the years as well, but a lot of the things that I like to visually express to the people that I connect with is we’re taking what it is that they want to see happen and sometimes giving them the steps to be able to make that happen and how to be able to market what that is. Or maybe help guide them a little bit where I could see the direction developing or progressing fast for the people that they service.

GEORGE: Ok. And you mentioned you've seen a lot of things come and go: what's been the cool thing that you feel has stuck around over the years?

CAT: Well, here's another way where I feel that I bring that vision to the martial arts industry, where I actually coined the phrase that came into the industry is member engagement and one of the big things that I really focus, the most part of my recent career on has been developing and building those relationships with our students and parents. And if it comes down to it, the one thing that I feel will always be here, the personal connections and the relationships, despite the era of digital, websites and connecting and not answering phones and stuff like that. I still believe that that personal element and that interaction has got to be there. And not only does it have to be there, there are so many ways to be able to make it by design, so it works.

Not just for a school owner of multi-locations, but also a single school owner, or a single operator. And a lot of times, that's something that they have but they don't necessarily recognize what they have. They want to try and make your marketing, make them look super big, whereas their greatest marketing effort is actually just harvesting and nurturing those relationships that are small or that are intimate to them and that's some of the greatest ways that they're able to grow. What's interesting to me is, you'll see a lot of great big organizations trying to appear smaller, so that way they have that personal bond and connection. So it works both ways.

GEORGE: Very true, because that's been, just looking at the shift of the internet over the last few years: I think it really came to a point where everybody wanted to automate. Automate and how can you separate yourself from being connected, where now it's becoming, you can see all the changes happening in Facebook, especially – the focus is really, how do you facilitate more relationships? How do you facilitate more one to one type of relationships and connections? So how would you go about that? So if you wanted to create member engagement and you wanted. I assume you're talking through online platforms, right?

CAT: Yeah, it could be anything though. I mean relationships that I specifically refer to though is the actual connections that they have with the parents in the martial arts school and the kids that take part in their program. Or breaching that gap, it's for me what takes place. A lot of parents will drop their kids off to the martial arts program and then for a lot of times, they have even nannies or sitters that bring them to the classes and the parents don't actually get to see what their child learns, or what they do. Maybe it's with the exception of when they come to a belt promotion, or testing or grading.

So these are the types of things that when they do show up, they're like, oh, I didn't even recognize this was here, but the interaction with the instructor and the parent may not be that strong. But how can we actually make it that even an absentee participating parent is still involved with the school, where they feel like, oh, yeah, that's where my kid goes to martial arts, this is what we do. And where they feel a connection with it as well too. Which is not that foreign thing, my kid does that, it's his activity, it's whatever. It’s Tuesday night at 6 o'clock – no, it's more about how they actually can make that relationship grow stronger with the parents, so that way their parent is the ally. I hear so often martial arts school owners say, oh, it'd be great if it weren't for the parents.

Well, it's because they don't build that reform with the parents! They connect with the kid or they get the kid to like it and then they get hurt when the parent says, we’re going to pull him out, or we’re going to do another sport or we’re going to do another activity. Where one of the biggest things then that I see from a martial arts school owners perspective is, why would you do such a thing, you don't know! It’s because the school owner didn't communicate with them, or I told them, or it's because the parent doesn't see. Well, if the parent doesn't see, how do you show them? How do you tell them, how do you get them to be able to recognize that? How do you get them to see something bigger than just your sport, or your martial arts school as an activity for them? So these are the kind of things that I like to dive in on.

GEORGE: All right. And I can hear you're really passionate about that and it gets me thinking, that's really the.. It’s sort of the elephant in the room, right? Because you've got the student and you see the student every day, so you're building a relationship with the student, but the student is not the one that's paying the bill. So it's much easier for the parent to say, well, soccer is cheaper. Or easy to make that shift, because they're not part of the relationship. And I mean that most transactions, people might get started with the idea and for the skill set, but then they hang around because of the community. So I can see the value in that really involving them in the community and getting that happening. So the question is, do you have sort of a checklist or a process that you go about to facilitate that?

CAT: Yeah, actually there are several different tactics that we use, but the strategy that we overall build is developed on day one, is actually sitting the parents down and when we have our first lesson, letting them understand just how important it is to keep that communication going, but more importantly, to actually stop, take a minute, have a one to one conversation with them – not just, fill in this form and I’ll be right back, but instead, hey would you mind filling our permission slip to get them started and then we can take an interview together and see if this is a good fit and actually discuss what they want to see their child gain from the program.

And get them to open up about some of the things that they've seen or experienced in their child's behavior or mannerisms that may be concerning to them. And probe a little bit to actually get them to expand a little bit on why they feel for themselves their child needs either things that we deliver: better focus, better confidence, better self-esteem, stronger relationships with their classmates, better friendships – any of the millions of things martial arts can provide. Get them to actually have an experience, where you're discussing this with them and then from that, actually deliver that to them through your lesson.

And a lot of it just comes down to listening and most of it is that the processes and the things that we use really come down to just communication. You know, so often, we’ll hear a parent wants to pull their kid out and typically, not listening to the reasons that they say at that point is the reason why so many people don't return back to martial arts. I was always in the unique position, because I've had so many former students come back to the training after three months, after six months, after six years, after breaks or periods of time that they wanted to return back and it's because I never stopped treating them as a member, even after they weren't there. So we continually kept in contact or connection or random phone calls here or there out of the blue, where I wasn't doing anything more than just being like, hey what's going on? Missed you, how have you been? You know, or getting to be able to keep that contact going.

And now with social media, so we talk about what are some of the strategies we could specifically use. If you're using a closed space group for your members to be able to communicate anything that goes on in your classes, stop communicating so damn much about your classes! Nobody cares about the curriculum videos of the week and the month and posting all the videos and all the pictures of all these silly things, it's Greek to them. But instead, host conversations that actually spark a discussion, that get them to say, hey, this is what we do, this is how we handle this, or even as simple things as what's for dinner on Tuesday night? You know, giving them the chance to actually open up and build connections, so they feel they're connected to your martial arts school in a greater way than just that place they drop their kid off two days a week.

GEORGE: Alright, cool. That's perfect, that's awesome. So what do you see as the biggest obstacle here? Because I mean, there's this big transition right, if you're a small school, then it's very easy for you to facilitate this one to one relationships. Also, obviously, I mean, things like Facebook groups and so forth make it a lot easier, which is a real soft way to build that community feel. But then what if you start to scale and you're in the position of, all right, school number two, number three is opening up – how do you facilitate that through your staff and making sure that they are on track with the same strategy?

CAT: They have to be trained. People say, oh but I'm not a people person, or they use excuses like that, like, I can't teach charisma or anything like that and I think all that's bs! Of course, you can! If you can take your hand, putting it in front of you, look at it and then give yourself a direction to smile – smile. And be able to do that, you can great somebody when they walk in the door, I promise. You can train anybody to do that. If you are able to handle that little interaction right there, you can train someone to be friendly.

They might not have the personality of highness and warmth but you can condition them and practice through training and rehearsal and performance and reality and videotaping them and getting them to actually see themselves. And get them to be able to say, hey, welcome to our martial arts school! I'm so and so, I'm so glad to meet you and actually get them to learn these processes. And when we follow different types of pre-written scripts or material that we’re able to actually rehearse in training with our staff members and our coworkers and things like that and go over these things, well then, when we actually do it for real, it's not as awkward.

It might be a little bit at first, but here's the truth: everybody at first has awkwardness. It's like a first competition in the tournament, then by the time you've done a hundred of them, it's no longer awkward. In fact, you're like, can we get this stuff over with already! You know, I mean, I competed for 18 years, I know what that game is all about. So I mean, when the repetitiveness at first, you get that anxiousness, but the more they do it, the more comfortable they get at it, the more second nature it becomes. So you don't have to be a people person, but you have to at least care. And I wouldn't hire anybody that didn't care.

GEORGE: Awesome, I like that part. I was speaking to a client last week. We run a program called the Martial Arts Media Academy, where we help with marketing and facilitating all the connection, but I also really try to simplify the online space and really leverage programs. And it's something that came up in the conversation was, really trying to scale and having this problem where you're talking about member relationships and engagement, but the problem was that they found that most of their instructors are introverted. And they just don't have that very outgoing personality to really connect. And that was a big obstacle, or is currently a big obstacle for them is, how do they take that introverted personality to scale and be that outgoing person, or do they need to completely shift gears and train someone else, get someone in from the outside to take that front enroll.

CAT: You know, it could be both. One of the schools of thought that I subscribe to is, not everybody is engineered to do everything. Some people just naturally gravitate to certain areas. Bunny rabbits will never be able to swim, OK? That's just the way that they've been engineered and made, they're not going to be climbing trees either. So I mean, if we’re going to ask a bunny rabbit to climb a damn tree, he's going to fail. He's not going to do very well with that. You ask a monkey to climb a tree and then be, oh my god, you're a black belt at this stuff, how did you get so good? Oh, he's natural, right? Well, yeah, because some of us are actually naturals at certain things.

As far as communication, I believe with training, if they're able to get up in front of a group and be a martial arts instructor, they can just as easily be the martial arts instructor to the parents in the lobby and build those relationships the same way. When there's a disconnect is that they think that the parents are no longer their students too.

So when they take a different approach and a different lens through which they're seeing their martial arts school crew and actually recognize that the parents are there to support their children, so thus, the parents need the training to be able to better endure that role. The parents don't know how to do that necessarily unless they're taught and trained how to be able to do that.

So the person to teach them, who would that be? Well, the martial arts instructor, because what's their job? Their job is to teach! So if they see it not so much as, this obstacle or this barrier, but put it in terms of what they're already naturally selected and gifted for, hey I want to be a martial arts teacher, understand though that who we teach isn't just the person on the classroom floor, but it's everyone within the walls of our school.

And I think when we start viewing our martial arts school not just as a place that begins when we bow on the mat, but instead actually from the front door for whoever walks through, it's no different then. If you say you want to help people, or you want to change lives, or you want to be a martial arts instructor, we can be picky and choosy about the people… let me reshape that: yes, we can be picky and choosy about the people we take and the people we help; however, we have to recognize who are people that need our help.

And sometimes we think, well, the parents don't need our help – sometimes the parents need your help more than that kid on the mat, you know? They're the ones that actually are signing up, not just to be able to give their kid an activity, but also to learn how to better handle and parent their child. And to be able to do that, a lot of times it just comes down to better training and better practice with communications and drilling scenarios, both on the practice floor and how to be able to handle those announcements with the parents too. So making sure that the lobby is never a part of their martial arts school that isn't under their control. If that makes sense.

GEORGE: Yeah, for sure. I think to make it really practical, I like what you said, if you can look at your hand and smile, that's a really, really good start. Just a smile can do wonders. And I think I'll add to that, it's just really being present. Really being present in a situation is, if you can do those two things, and really smile and be present, understand where people are at, I think that's a good stepping stone. What would you add to that?

CAT: The only thing that I would add specifically is when they are given an opportunity to build a connection or a relationship with a student, understand that the student in front of them isn't just maybe the child for the class, but it's the parent or the guardian or whoever brought them to this practice as well. And be inclusive when you're teaching and let them recognize, let the instructor specifically recognize that being able to teach martial arts is part of the job, is also being able to enroll them and being comfortable with talking to them and having that connection.

Because if they want to help that kid that's going to be doing their classes, they have to have communication with that parent. Because if there's ever going to be a situation, that kids going to tell their mom or their dad first. And if the parent has enough respect for you and the program and what it benefits them with, they're able then to go back and relay that information to the instructor. Because the first person that's going to hear about the kid wanting to give up classes, or stop or runs into a challenge, maybe because they stubbed their toe in sparring or something silly like that, that we don't even give consideration, but could be very much a factor of why somebody doesn't want to take part or continue – if that's explained from the beginning, parents are heck of a lot more prepared for it when it does happen.

And we just kind of have to stop hiding the fact that there might be a time when they're going to say, I don't want to go to karate tonight, or I don't want to do martial arts or anything like that. Or I'd rather go out and play with my friends when the weather gets nice and that kind of thing that it's going to make a huge difference if they understand that and they know how their job as the parent is to support their kid in becoming a black belt, or becoming a martial artist I prefer to say, as opposed to just setting an end goal on it. Like get your black belt and then everybody wonders why they got one. They did it, that's what you told them they had to do! But yeah, get the parents to recognize. The first person they go to when there's a challenge is going to be that martial arts instructor to help them with it and see it through.

And the job of the instructor is to teach the parent that that's what they have to do. If that means they have to call them when they first get started, or if they have to keep that path of communication flowing – text messages are great right now, because if a parent wants to shoot you over a message about something that took place. But more importantly, if you want to shoot over that parent a video or a selfie, or something going on from class, especially if they're not present – it's the best way to be able to interact, engage and connect.

GEORGE: I like that, I like that. Quick selfie. This really reminds me  – and I don't know who I'm quoting yet, it could either be Dean Jackson or James Schramko, but the story comes from experiences, customer, experiences. And the stories about, if I walk into a coffee shop or a restaurant for example and they treat me bad, I get bad service and I just feel bad about the experience – that's 100% of my experience with that company is negative, 100%. But on the reverse side, if I'm a regular and I walk in there every morning to get my coffee, I get treated with respect, smile, all these things that we just spoke about and about my 10th trip to the coffee shop, they slip up and make a mistake – that's 10% of my experience with them that's bad.

So when it comes down to that, you have a bit more understanding and you feel a bit more, OK, well, they slipped up, it's OK. Because you've got that relationship and understanding. And I think that relates to a lot of what you're saying here because a martial arts journey is going to have its ups and downs. And it's coming, the bad experience is coming, the “I don't know if I want to do this anymore” is coming. So if you have the relationship to back all that up, chances are you're going to be able to save that relationship, save that student and keep them back on their path.

CAT: George, amen – that was exactly it! One of the big things they say is the difference between customer service and member engagement, because people say, oh, it's the same thing, it's customer service, and I'm like, you're so wrong, I want to say something else, but I remember I'm a martial artist and I don't do those kinds of things. Instead, though, I say to myself, well, you know, customer service is dealing with problems. If you ever have a customer service – I laugh when somebody says customer service department is going to return the martial arts student calls, and I'm like, you have a customer service department? What do you need that for? That's like where, what does that mean? That means problems and that you're just expecting to have lots of problems to have to deal with if you have a whole ton of staff doing customer service.

Member engagement though is pre-empting that, recognizing oh, we've been doing this for this many years, we recognize it – hey, this is a common occurrence and it's going to happen. It's not if it does – if you're the unicorn that this doesn't happen to, no! It's not going about it that way, it's expecting that, hey you know what, this is part of the game, this is just what happens. It's going to come in time, and when it does, this is what we're going to do about it. But member engagement is recognizing that. The kid who has floods and you don't teach an Okinawan system of martial arts, where their pants are up to their knees.

Their parents are not buying them a new uniform – you think that's because they have plans and aspirations for him to stick around another 5 more years? I mean, I probably would disagree. But giving that kid a new uniform, making the kid feel more comfortable then, forgetting about the $30 or the $20 or the $50 or the $100, I don't care how much your uniform is, but whatever that amount is, and saying, I care more about the relationship than I do about the uniform and I want to see this person stay – you make that gesture, you push that forward, hey: if we can give a new uniform to a new guy that we don't even know, why can't we give on to a kid who does practice in our program and doesn't have a proper fitting uniform.

Talk to the parent, it might be a budget thing. It might be not a high priority thing, but I’ll tell you who it's going to make a difference for that kid on the mat. That's member engagement, that's recognizing, man, that kids got to be embarrassed by the way he's getting a wedgie in the middle of his class. And it doesn't allow him to do anything because his mom won't buy him a new pair of pants, I mean, let's be real here, you know? I mean, this is what's going on, I mean, in the day where we have over… I don't even know what the correct word is, but just so much abundance of bullying going on, throughout the world.

This is real life crisis, it doesn't matter where you're at, but that's definitely something that… let's make sure that this doesn't become a zone where the kid is going to get bullied because some other smartass kid says something to him and says, your uniform is too short, or doesn't your mom love you enough to buy you new pants or whatever. Give them the respect of saying, hey, I recognize this. Because any parent is going to appreciate that, so it's just a matter of saying or recognizing where you see a situation, let the light bulb go off and say, that isn't right, let's do something about it.

I mean, everything gets triggered. We know this, right? Somebody misses a class for two weeks, chances are, you're going to get a phone call, or you're going to get a notice from the billing company, or you're going to get some kind of information, or a credit card payment isn't going to go through. And then another two weeks, so you know what's coming. So you can either pick up the phone or here's something better: what if we knew that was coming right on the same day they were supposed to be there and they weren't there? If I would date somebody and they say, oh, that was a great first date and then I don't hear from them for like a week or two weeks later and they send me a text, hey – they're not getting a response! Please! If you want to actually build a relationship with anyone, you have to have communication.

You've got to show that you care, you've got to recognize that, oh – this person actually does have my best interest in mind. And if you can convey that, you're not going to have a problem then when that parent has a situation they want to… or like you've mentioned: when you drop the ball. I ordered you the wrong size belt, I got you your belt, but unfortunately, it came in 5 sizes too big and all this. Well have another one for you in the next 4 or 5 days, but here – use this one for now. They're going to overlook those kinds of things. It's definitely in our benefit as martial arts school owners and operators to make sure that we get to know our people and connect with them and recognize when these things happen. Because customer service is too late, that's overcoming objections and that's like, it's such a buzzword. It's such a sad way of trying to build things around something that's already gone, so see it before it happens, you've got to catch it before it happens.

GEORGE: I like that. Awesome. What I really like about that is really, you eliminating the objections. And looking for the opportunity to build relationships is really what it is. And I like what you mentioned about the bullying part because there's always so much focus in advertising, we’re always fighting the bullies and build the confidence and build the fun, but then sometimes there's a disconnect on the actual mats. That was the ad, but is that what you're really doing in your school? Are you really paying attention to that, because as you've mentioned, bullying is a big thing and in Australia right now there's the no bullying week, so there's a lot of promotion and things going on about that. And I don't know if that's in the States as well, but a big thing about that is, is there an opportunity to be bullied right there in front of you? Or just feeling adequate, or not in place? Because of the social pressures.

CAT: I think it's more responsibility than ever. Any teacher, any teacher, any educator, not even in martial arts; a dance teacher, a music teacher, a school teacher has to recognize those things and recognize why someone might be getting singled out, or pushed out the same way and making sure there's a stronger connection with them, because you might be that only connection with them.

GEORGE: Awesome. Cat, it's been awesome speaking to you. And I'm looking forward to seeing you speak at The Main Event.

CAT: I’m looking forward to it!

GEORGE: Yes, and that's going to be awesome. Just a few last words: if people want to connect with you, find out more about you, how should they do that?

CAT: Send me a friend request over Facebook. I love to be able to connect with people, especially if you're in Australia or some other part of the world where I want to travel to one day and get a chance to vacation, I would love to connect with you and be your friend.

GEORGE: Is that what this podcast is really about? All right, awesome.

CAT: Find me on the Facebook, that's the best way to connect with me. And send me a PM if you have any questions about what we talked about today, I'll be happy to talk to you more.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Cat, it's been great speaking to you and I will see you in San Diego soon.

CAT: Pleasure is mine, thank you, George. Have a great day mate!

GEORGE: Thank you.

Awesome – thanks for listening, thanks, Cat Zohar. Great energy, great content. If you're enjoying the show and you're getting great value from it, please, let us know! A good way to do that would be to give us an awesome review, like a 5-star review on the iTunes platform, or Stitcher if you're listening to this on an android mobile device. So for the iPhone, I know you can go, there's a little purple icon, the podcast app and you can just go through the show there and give us a review. Stitcher, probably just follow the instructions, or wherever you're listening to this – just give us a feedback. We’d love to hear from you, I can see you are listening because I see the numbers, but podcasting being a very one-way communication platform, it's hard to get the feedback.

So it would be great to hear from more guests – that would be awesome. And if you need any help with your marketing, with marketing your school, especially on the tech side, the digital platforms that are forever going and changing, then get a hold of us. Get a hold of us on martialartsmedia.com we would be happy to chat with you and I look forward to bringing you another interview, another lady! And it's kind of ironic, four ladies in a row. It’s just pure coincidence. It's not because it's been a women's week, or anything like that, depending on when you're listening to this. It’s been pure coincidence and I'm hoping you're enjoying the change in perspective and change in energy and viewpoints, which is what this show is really about. How can we create good content, good things, good insights that you can apply to your business and that way we all learn and grow.

Awesome, well that's it from me. I will be back next week with another show and speak soon – cheers!


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

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


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

Test Multistep in popup

Step 1 of 2