Ten Rules for Opening a Martial Arts School
10. When I started my school I had a framework for a traditional taekwondo system which I thought needed to be fleshed out. I wasn't trying to come up with my own system. I wanted a program that would help beginners through the training, and come up with some standard and consistency. I didn't want to have to think about the system again and again, so I made sure to write down everything and draw my sequences out. Now I've got a fantastic program that helps me teach others. My advice is to do your homework and prepare instructor notes or a program that will make your job easier in the long run.
9. In a previous life, I spent years and years as a national representative in another sport and years and years coaching other people from club level to national level. Any martial arts instructor should do some research into sports science or psychology or coaching in order to understand what makes an instructor and what makes a good coach. I would also seek to rope in at least two other senior students or assistant instructors at least - so you've got some backup in class or if you can't make it because of other commitments.
8. When I grade my adult students I am not obliged to pass any of them. Mostly white belts pass to yellow belts. But unless you do sufficiently well during the grade, the grading is only going to be a coaching and feedback session, and in the end .. you might receive a retained-in-current-grade result. I have never regretted this failing of people. I have however regretted passing people. This is something to ponder as a martial arts owner -- your students will reflect you. So teach them less techniques. Teach them better. Drill them more. And make sure your expectations are clear. Make your gradings fair to help promote quality, but don't compromise. Note - I don't teach children classes. This approach might not work for young children.
7. Make time for your own traditional taekwondo training. Get all consumed to provide good training and you might forget yourself. Make sure to work in with your students. They will benefit from your experience. This keeps you in shape and helps you learn how to deal with non-trained opponents and opponents who are taller or shorter. Make sure you warm up before you strain yourself - or you'll injure yourself easily. Keep mixing things up to keep classes fun.
6. Revenue - when I started a commercial operation I kept my martial arts group small and catered to organisational clients. Each half day or lunchtime gig I sold was fantastic revenue. If I had a regular martial arts class I would have had to work like a dog to get the same dollars. The lesson here is that there are different ways to earn money yet provide a high level of satisfaction for your students and yourself. Open yourself up to organisational courses, birthday parties, public speaking, motivational courses, etc. I saw myself as a broker for other martial arts instructors. Can you believe that? I would help other martial arts instructors earn money for commissions. Now who would think of such a cooperative? If you open up a school, this is what you've got to do, think as a business owner and expand your pie first.
5. I have derived great satisfaction from the number of martial arts friends I have. From previous experience, martial arts practitioners are difficult people and I tend to stay well away from them. But I have now changed my mind. There are those martial arts practitioners out there who are beyond self-indulgence, ego, and arrogance. I personally have met a good number of them and I am proud to call them my friends. You can too. Take the first step and be friendly. Network! It doesn't hurt to meet people who share the same interest as you. (Stay away from the a**holes.)
4. Martial arts training changes a person. Pushing students to the limit and giving them newfound skills strengthens them. These people draw inspiration from you beyond the physical lessons you provide. Recognize this and don't be afraid of pushing your students to reach out to their potential. Share your passion. Guide them correctly. Even knowing that you have made a difference to one student's life will be a profound revelation to the martial arts instructor.
3. The IAOMAS or International Alliance of Martial Arts Schools is a non-profit student support organisation that helps instructors and supports travelling students. Reach out to them and join in like-minded instructors who are confident in themselves to allow students who travel the ability to train at 600+ locations worldwide.
2. Quality, quality, quality. How do you provide maintain and improve a quality service? This question begs to be asked again and again. How do you maintain standards? Improve on service delivery? Evaluation methods? Consistency of results? Customer satisfaction? Knowledge retention? Grow human resources? You are a service provider ... time to act like one and manage indices that can be used to measure your worth!
1. Don't be afraid to grow with your students.
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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