be different.

jarrod

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my school is far from a commercial giant, but i did want to share a bit of wisdom that has served me well. amp-ryu's thread about his troubles with another tkd school got me thinking about this:

don't try to offer something better than other schools. instead offer something different.

now this doesn't mean quality isn't important; it is. but you can have quality without setting yourself up as a rival to other schools.

for instance, i run a grappling club. as everyone knows, bjj is the most popular style of grappling for mma. so in our area, there are bjj schools with an mma focus, grappling schools that are not bjj, but that imitate bjj & focus on mma. then there is my club. we offer sport & self-defense oriented grappling. if someone wants to cross over to mma, i will train them for that, & i have a few students who compete in mma. but we are not an mma or bjj school. we are a non-threatening, friendly place to learn effective grappling including throws, takedowns, pins, submissions, & breaks.

some schools near me have done a great job of capitalizing on the popularity of mma, & that is great. i chose not to, because i don't care for the culture that has developed around the local mma scene, & i like grappling for it's own sake. others have tried to capitalize on mma, & have not done so well, because they were selling a product. that's okay, they will find another product to sell & people will buy it.

now let's say you run a karate school & have a rivalry with a nearby karate school. what is your focus, & what is theirs? are you both sport-focused schools? traditional? do you both make most of your money off of kids programs? think about it; even if both teach karate, are you that similar? if so, do you need to be?

let's say you are both sport-oriented schools. once again, is it kids or adults? sparring or forms? empty hand or weapons? of course, you'll probably do all, but most likely you'll have a specialty as will the other school. kind of like how we dabble in mma (successfully, i might add) but are not an mma school per se.

for the most part, people have an idea of what they want. & if they don't know yet, no amount of marketing is going to change their mind in the long run. meaning someone interested in bareknuckle karate isn't going to train for long at a point fighting place, just like someone who can't show up to work all bruised up is not going to do bareknuckle. somebody really interested in weapons isn't going to stay for long at a place that doesn't offer them. you get the idea.

this is what i've done with my club. bjj is a good art, & there are some good schools in the area. but bjj usually starts on the ground & doesn't do a lot of leglocks. i have a black belt in judo, & train in sambo, so we do lots of throws & leglocks. both are good approaches, but people will invariably prefer one to the other. & that's fine, i don't want someone who's heart is in bjj to "settle" for training with me. i want students who want to train with me, & i want everyone to find the right school for them. a school can't be all things to all people.

jf
 

hkfuie

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Exactly.

Comparing myself to others can be so insidious!

I was talking with a local Kenpo instructor and he was telling me that at one point he almost quit teaching. He said making the rent and utilities was such a headache and constantly worrying about having enough students, money, etc. just took the love of teaching from him. It was his wife who suggested he give up the building and teach for free. So he did and he says he loves teaching again. He runs a great school and I am so glad he did not quit!

That really changed my focus because I was stuck in the mindset of having to be "successful" according to others' definitions.

Now, I am not generous enough to be willing to give up all my playtime for free, but I did recognize that I am NOT the kind of person who feels good about running a huge school that needs to do alot of commercial things that go against my own concepts of what I would want in a school. That has been so freeing for me!

Now I am making the decisions based on what I would want out of a school and so my school ends up very aligned with who I am.

Great advice, Jerod. Thanks for making me think more about it.
 

terryl965

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Exactly.

Comparing myself to others can be so insidious!

I was talking with a local Kenpo instructor and he was telling me that at one point he almost quit teaching. He said making the rent and utilities was such a headache and constantly worrying about having enough students, money, etc. just took the love of teaching from him. It was his wife who suggested he give up the building and teach for free. So he did and he says he loves teaching again. He runs a great school and I am so glad he did not quit!

That really changed my focus because I was stuck in the mindset of having to be "successful" according to others' definitions.

Now, I am not generous enough to be willing to give up all my playtime for free, but I did recognize that I am NOT the kind of person who feels good about running a huge school that needs to do alot of commercial things that go against my own concepts of what I would want in a school. That has been so freeing for me!

Now I am making the decisions based on what I would want out of a school and so my school ends up very aligned with who I am.

Great advice, Jerod. Thanks for making me think more about it.


Exactly great post and I agree, even though we have added a few things we or I should I have been very pleased that I still have those that want real MA training.
 

hkfuie

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Yeah, I like how you came to a compromise with your family. Your situation, if I understand it correctly, is that the classes you do not want to teach, you have other people to do that for you. That seems to be working out well for you. I'm glad to hear it, Terry.
 

terryl965

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Yeah, I like how you came to a compromise with your family. Your situation, if I understand it correctly, is that the classes you do not want to teach, you have other people to do that for you. That seems to be working out well for you. I'm glad to hear it, Terry.


Yes Hk I have people running those classes and I still have mine and everybody is happy, I did not have to compomised the way I wanted to teach and those other BB and my wife was able to bring in these programs to help the school stay open. It was a win win stituation for us.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Jarrod I like your post and thread. Having some thing different and that you are passionate about is where it is at in my opinion. Sure you could capitalize on the latest fad but would you be happy doing so. I know I would not.
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jks9199

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don't try to offer something better than other schools. instead offer something different.

now this doesn't mean quality isn't important; it is. but you can have quality without setting yourself up as a rival to other schools.

This is something that I think way too many people have lost in our culture. Nobody is satisfied simply being themselves or offering what they offer; they all have to try to offer everything. So we get martial arts schools offering 18 dozen programs with no connection to each other.

Kudos, Jarrod, on bucking the trend!
 

hkfuie

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This is something that I think way too many people have lost in our culture. Nobody is satisfied simply being themselves or offering what they offer; they all have to try to offer everything. So we get martial arts schools offering 18 dozen programs with no connection to each other.

Kudos, Jarrod, on bucking the trend!

Exactly. I remember reading a poem based on the Tao:

"...does not compete, therefore no one in the world can surpass her."

If you are you, there is only one you and nobody can do what you do better. If you are a copycat, there's one of those on every corner.
 
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