Setting up a Dojo, Academy etc

dunc

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Hi
I've seen first hand the benefit of martial arts training for teenagers who are struggling and I want to do something to help. So I've set up a charity and I'm about to secure a venue for a permanent multidisciplinary martial arts dojo in London
The charity provides the venue, kitted out with mats etc on a cost basis to instructors on the proviso that they offer a certain number of classes, or spaces in their classes, for free to folk who can't afford to join a gym (especially the 16-20 year olds)
Ideally it would be a kind of collective with 3-4 styles operating out of the same venue with shared infrastructure
I think that model will also help some qualified and inspirational instructors to get started with their own without having to come up with the upfront costs of setting up their own place
For those of you who run your own academies, dojos etc - any advice?
What would you have wished you knew before you got started?
Thank you so much for any insights
D
 
Dunc, I wish you all the best in this endeavor, I think its terrific.

The only advice Id give is talk to the different instructors and remind them its all about the students and not about the instructors.

My guess is, unless the instructors all came from the same place, theyre going to be doing things differently. Theres probably going to be questions asked by the students, like so and so had us doing this the other day, which seems way different than that.

I dont expect the instructors to belittle each other or say so and so is wrong, but I think its important they think about the best way to answer some questions that are bound to come up.

Because, again, its all about the students.

Please let us know how everything goes. Very exciting stuff, brother.
 
Dunc, I wish you all the best in this endeavor, I think its terrific.

The only advice Id give is talk to the different instructors and remind them its all about the students and not about the instructors.

My guess is, unless the instructors all came from the same place, theyre going to be doing things differently. Theres probably going to be questions asked by the students, like so and so had us doing this the other day, which seems way different than that.

I dont expect the instructors to belittle each other or say so and so is wrong, but I think its important they think about the best way to answer some questions that are bound to come up.

Because, again, its all about the students.

Please let us know how everything goes. Very exciting stuff, brother.
Thanks
 
I think the motivation and reason for the idea is commendable. However prepare yourself for lots of things going wrong and be ready for disappointment. It could be a great success story but it might not be easy.
My recommendation is to think like a professional business. Have regular meetings with the instructors to discuss things like policy on safety, handling parents and new students or expectations for the professionalism of the instructors.
Everyone is going to have their own ideas and standards. Including how they behave and carry themselves. If your the boss then you are the boss. Be prepared to have difficult conversations, but build the relationships too. If your the boss then you hold ultimate responsibility. If the instructor gets sick you have to fill the gap. You have All the legal responsibility, set policy and enforce it. You should know exactly what the teacher is teaching and saying and how he interacts with the students.
When students quit have an exit interview with the student and the parent to find out why, then see if there are corrections to be made In the school.
Think through every facet of the project. Safety, quality, development, engagement, costs. Set expectations and keep track of it and not just for instructors but also students. You don't want bad apples ruining the batch. Bad apples can bring down the entire project.
 
My Taekwondo Master recently moved, and in his new location there's one big difference. Parents watch class through a window instead of directly. This has made it a lot easier to keep kids focused and on-task, and keep parents from trying to backseat coach.

Remember when teaching beginners that they are beginners. Not just in technique, but also in work ethic, attitude, perseverance, etc. This was a hard lesson for me. If you go full drill instructor, they're going to burn out real quick. I believe that as a coach you are helping people improve technically, athletically, mentally, and emotionally. And when they start to get to the limit of any of those, it's time to back off. That's how you prevent physical and psychological injuries.

The US has something called SafeSport. I'd see if there's something similar in the UK. I haven't taken it yet. I should. My BJJ Professor and some of the other coaches have. It's an organization that provides training and awareness for sports coaches in preventing and reporting sexual abuse. My TKD Master had a window in his office, so even if he was having a private chat with a student (i.e. they needed to be scolded) there was still visibility. When I would open up on Saturdays, if the first parent to drop off a kid asked, "Can I just leave her here?" I would ask if they would stay until another parent arrived. They always agreed, never gave me a hard time about it. Even though you'll never abuse a kid, it's a good way to protect yourself from false accusations.
 
There was a book I reviewed on here, 8 years ago, that I've still got my pdf saved for it. It goes very methodically through the steps of building a dojo out of nothing, and creating a following. Here's my review of it, which will do a better job explaining than I will now: Teaching the Martial Arts Review

Beyond this, if you're looking for a place to train multiple styles, reach out to people in your community. Find people who are training but don't necessarily have their own place, and let them know you're up for offering some space. If you do that, and you don't charge, I'm sure people will jump at the opportunity.
 
Thanks for these
Really appreciate it
D
 

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