Opening a martial arts school? Here’s some thoughts on change fer ya….


Opening a martial arts school? Here’s some thoughts on change fer ya….

Can’t change this:


I know of schools in towns as small as 2,000 people (Rob Pushard in Maine!, Sarah Burkel in Wisconsin) that are successful, but that of course ain’t the norm. The fact is more people=more chances to enroll more people into your school. But…there’s also the fact that more people=more MA schools. Would you rather open in a city of 100,000 with 12 schools or in a city 25,000 and you’re the only show in town?

Median Household Income

As much as we know the value of great martial arts classes, the fact is it’s paid for with discretionary income (not like After School or Summer Camp) and if people have to choose between keeping the lights on or paying for karate lessons, karate’s coming in second (I know some schools in Utah, low income and everybody has 8 kids, though sell!)


Here’s one for you: The better you are, the less you think about the competition. The biggest danger of competition is them screwing up and giving martial arts a bad name. But if you’re a start-up and looking to build, you probably don’t want to open in Issaquah, Washington since the population is only 37,000 and Randy Holeman has a 1000 of’em in his school….

Ya can change this:

Work ethic

Call it work ethic, self-discipline or passion, but you’re going to need to bust your ass to get to the top of the mountain, and there will be a thousand little friggin’ problems and challenges trying to stop you every inch of the way. Success is for bad-asses, if you’re not one, then go to work for one.


Any business model can work for a while, even bad ones. If you live in a big enough market, or one that has a high enough move rate, then maybe bad service (think airport food and prices) will work. But if you run a poor service business, abuse students through building and  levering relationships for the sole purpose of running cashouts, it will catch up to you, and it should.


There’s around 15,000 schools in the US, and I swear half of them are consultants. Hell, There’s people with schools in their basements teaching people how to run schools. So if you jump on every new shiny program that comes out (think fat guys teaching fitness kickboxing and promising people they’ll lose weight…) then you never going to stay focused long enough to be successful, and yes, I was one of those fat guys teaching kickboxing...was being the optimal word here…

So. What’s the point here? If you’re going to open up a martial arts school, you have lots of options for places to open, find a good one. And if your town has few people and those people are broke, you’re going to need to manage your expectations, or you could just become a consultant….

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I’ve dedicated myself to finding and sharing the ways and means to balance success and personal goals; learning to “play to your strengths” and follow your heart. And the journey has been truly amazing.


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