Star Wars themed class to draw new students

jumpin_12

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Hello again everyone! I thought I'd post some info about the recent Star Wars themed classes that we offered at our school, as well as helped many other ATA Taekwondo and other martial arts schools do too. They all had great success using these methods, and I thought I'd share them with other school owners looking for unique promotional ideas to get new students in the door. All of the info below has been pulled from the GlowWeapons.com website. However, all of the downloadable files, you'll have to go to the site for.
Starting Off: The General Idea
With the upcoming animated "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" coming out in theaters on August 15th, kids are going to be more excited than ever to learn the ways of the force. Any animated movie is naturally going to draw a younger audience, which makes up majority of a martial arts school. You will need to rent a Star Wars character costume to wear in front of the theater, take pictures with kids, and hand out cards promoting both your class, and to pick up FREE pictures of them with the Star Wars character. Kono magazine is also promoting the movie in this month's issue, so at $1 each these magazines make great handouts and help in generating interested in the movie, your school, and martial arts in general.
Towards the beginning of the week following the opening movie, you will schedule a night for "Light Saber Training Classes." There will be two seperate classes this night, each about 1 hour long. At 5:30pm, this class will be for non-members only, which will be the ones that have signed up from your promotions at your local theater. At 6:30pm, this class should be over and will give you plenty of time to get sign ups and uniforms done before your next group of people come in. The next class will start at 7:30pm, which will be ran as a buddy night for your existing students. A sign up sheet is placed in your school for your members to sign up ONLY if they are bringing a friend who is not currently a member.
Every aspect of your marketing should be geared towards filling these classes up. Click here to check out the light sabers we produce, which are actually rated for impact. (The price you see is retail price, not wholesale) The light sabers that we offer use "snap & glow" sticks, which last for many hours. Be sure to order all of the materials that you need at least 2 weeks in advance and remember to orders spares or extras for staff members, etc. We anticipate that we will get backed up by a few days as it gets close to the movie opening. But by hosting both the non-member class and buddy night in the same night, you will be able to re-use the sabers again for both classes. The students will only borrow these during the class and both of these classes should be FREE since you are looking for sign ups immediately afterwards. If you decide that you don't want to do light sabers for the class, you can do that as well. But think of it from this perspective. What kid that just seen the movie would pass up a chance to use a real glowing light saber??? For all of these classes, you should have your Star Wars character make an appearance in costume. You can even have a couple of Star Wars characters choreograph a short demo routine with light sabers to show off in these classes. After they've learned some of the techniques in class, you can even have them battle some of the bad guys!
During your initial introductory "Light Saber Training Class" the students will only use the sabers for a portion of the class. No more than 1 month after the initial release of the movie, you should have a dedicated Light Saber class that the students will pay for to attend and be able to keep their light sabers. Replacement glow sticks will be needed at this time if you are re-using the same light sabers to give away for this one. This class will be for members only and will be ran as more of an actual weapons training class in the dark, rather than a mass introductory class. The whole class should be dedicated to learning more aspects of using a saber such as choreographed routines. New members that were generated from your initial classes only got a taste of the light saber training, so will be likely to sign up for the specialty training class. Also remember that any of your pre-existing students that werent able to attend buddy night would not have had a chance yet to use the sabers, and will love the opportunity. A charge of $20-$25 for this class is recommended.

Before the Movie Release
There are a number of things that you must do before the movie even comes out to begin drawing attention to your upcoming "Light Saber Training Class." First of all, find a costume rental store near you. You are going to want to rent a Star Wars costume for your promotions at the theater and the class. Click here to search for costume rental stores by zipcode in your area. BlockBusterCostumes.com also has a good selection online that you can buy. You may want to start promoting your class by having someone in the costume outside of your school or the theater several days before the movie comes out. Pick up some light sabers or staffs from us with spare glow sticks too for your evening or night time costume promotions. You will need to talk to your local theater to see if they will allow you to do this in front of their building or inside. Some theaters may not want to allow you to do it. But most will understand that having a Star Wars character in front of their theater will only help their business. Prior to the movie release, justing having someone in a Star Wars costume in front of your own Martial Arts school with a banner behind you advertising the class will work too. Its nearly impossible for someone to pass by without seeing a Star Wars character with a light saber. Thats just not something that you normally see. You will also want to start hanging up promotional flyers around town. A lot of places take these down on a certain day of the week, so make sure to put more up on the movie release weekend again too.
The Sign Up Sheet
First, you'll need to figure out how many people you can fit on your workout floor with light sabers. For the first class of the evening for non-members, you will not need to have a sign up sheet out in your school for this, but keep one in your office for keeping tracking of new prospect students calling in to register for the class. So what happens if this fills up and you've only got so many light sabers? There are a few options in this scenario. First, for the ones that are pre-registering for the intro class, once the class is full you can start scheduling the same setup for a different night. Remember spare glow sticks will be needed if you do this. The second option would be to just take as many as you can possibly fit into the first introductory class, and then have them take turns using a light saber. The third option is that very likely you will have a lot of walk-ins that didnt pre-register for the class. In this case, if your buddy night class is not as full, you can allow some of the walk-ins to spill over into the buddy night class. Make sure that you have the sign up sheet out for your students plenty in advance, at least 2 weeks before the movie comes out. But you may be asking why two seperate classes? Because I guarantee that if you do everything right, you'll have more new students in the door that you'll know what to do with!
The buddy night class is the one that you will need to put out into your school. In order for your existing students to attend, they MUST bring a friend who is not currently a member at your school. Start giving out handouts for this class to your students to give to their friends. Be sure to add the day and time of the class, as well as your phone number. If you'd like to put other information, this can always be printed on the opposite side.

At the Movies
This is where you are going to get the big numbers in prospect students here. If you can set it up with your theater so that you can be out front during the movie show times, that is the best option. Start your promotions outside of the theater 30 minutes prior to the movie start time and you will be able to hit all of the people going in to watch that movie. If there are a lot of people going into the theater or some are running late, they may not have time to do pictures before movie, but may want to do it afterwards. So plan on being there both at the start and end of the show. If you can't do it at the theater, find another area very close to it, or another high traffic area such as fast food restaurants, etc.
In either case, you will need 3-4 people for this operation. One person is of course in the Star Wars costume with a cool light saber. Remember to get spare glow sticks for your saber. You will then need a second person that will be taking pictures of kids with the Star Wars character with a digital camera. The best approach to this is to have the person in the costume as friendly as possible, going up to kids and giving them high fives, and then your second person will ask if they "Would like to have a FREE picture taken with ______? (whatever the character is)" Use the word free because a lot of people may assume there is a charge for this. Now, your 3rd and 4th members of your team have the cards that you will be handing out to the parents after you've taken the picture with their kids. You will need to tell them that you "Are doing a free Light Saber Training Class on whatever date, and they can pick up their free pictures after the class. Just call this number to register." Of course even if they dont get their picture taken, still be sure to give them a card. You arent actually gathering their info at this point in time. Asking them to fill out any information seems more like you are trying to get something FROM them, as opposed to doing something FOR them. Once they call to register for the class, then you'll get all of their info. Not having your school address on there will actually cause most of them to call first rather than just showing up. This will help you maintain the class attendence levels where you want them. Just add the class day and time, as well as your phone number to these and you're set!

Before the class
The night before your classes you should have all of your decorations and everything ready. As far as setting the mood and tone for your class, any sort of Star Wars type decorations you can do will generate more excitement. We currently carry a 6ft Darth Vader Cardboard Prop as well as a 6ft Cardboard Prop of C3PO & R2D2. But there is a lot of other Star Wars type decorations out there.
Next, how in the world are you going to do this with 50 brand new people that just walked in the door? After they fill out a general information waiver for you school, give them a name tag. The white sticky labels that are made for printing off of computers work great, and come 30 per page, in packages of 300 for about $5 at any store that carries a little bit of office supplies. Knowing their names during class will help you, as well as after class so that you know just who in the world you are actually signing up.
During the Class
Once everything has started and you are 5-10 minutes into the class, you or one of your staff members will need to go around to all of the parents and pass out a short explaination of what Martial Arts can do, along with a special offer for that night only. The special offer should include 2 weeks of classes and a uniform, with the price being about what 1/2 a month's class fees would cost. The reason for doing this about 5-10 minutes into the class is that now they've had a few minutes to watch whats going on before you try to sell them something. And they now also have the next 50-55 minutes to see the value of what they will be doing for their child. This also gives them a little notice of paying a little money at the end of the class versus springing it on them right before they walk out the door. Just fill in the two prices on this sheet. The first one is the price at which you will offer your 2 week special. The second price you'll want to fill in is the average monthly dues. Most people will want to know an approximate cost before doing a 2 week special to know that they can afford to do it after the special is over.
After the Class
With high volumes of people, you obviously cant go into program details and costs with everyone that night. So when they pay for the special that night, just tell them on their first class night you will schedule a private orientation to go over all of those details with them. This keeps things moving fast and ensures that you get a lot of sign ups. If they had to wait an hour to pay, they'd probably leave. So you want to keep everything moving fast. Have one person taking payments, and then another person giving the students the appropriate uniform size so that they can take it home with them that night.
Now for the free pictures that you have taken at the theater over the past weekend. Have them already seperated into folders on your computer by the day and showtime to make it really easy for you. Basically what happens is they will pick out their picture from your computer and you can rename the file with their name, so now you know who it is. There's three options now as to what you can do with the picture. The first option is that you can email it to them. The second option is that you can print it off from your own computer, but make sure you have a good quality printer, lots of ink, and photo paper. The third option is the one that we used during our kung fu panda class. We actually have a great print shop across the street that agreed to stay open during our class and we just emailed the pictures over and then they walked over and picked them up right after the class.
Another thing that is a must is adding a border to the picture that has your business name on it. That way when they hang their picture up when they get home, your Martial Arts school name is always right there too.

Let me know if you have other ideas on this sort of scenario, I'm always open!
 

jks9199

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Creative and well thought out approach -- but I do have a few critiques.

If you're wanting to teach "lightsaber" techniques, remember to be sure that what you're teaching is sound. If you're style includes a reasonable analog, like kendo/kenjutsu/iaido/gumdo or other long sword techniques -- or even reasonable baton techniques... Great. But don't repeat the 90s "ninjamania" crap where TKD or whatever was instantly converted to "ninja turtle" stuff.

The other issue I can foresee involves copyrights. You need to be careful; any new profits would be easily destroyed by a single lawsuit... A lot of the time the movie studios can be very strict in controlling how their images are used, and demand licensing fees, etc.
 

Jimi

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Personally, I think its just a sales gimmik. Star Wars to sell TKD? Do it to up the enrollment and you will have more money flow I guess, but kids & parents will both have an askew view of what TKD or other arts really are. "do you play karate here too? When I used to teach at a commercial TKD school outside of DC, our owner manager (Not a Black Belt) wanted to up enrollment he went to a costume rental and got several Power Rangers outfits. Instructed the Head Instructor and others to dress up and kick around in front of the school by a very busy street near the mall. People paid no attention to them. The manager then told the costumed instructors to go around the corner to the Chucky Cheese to get kids to drag their parents checkbooks into the managers office. The costumed chucky saw the Power Rangers and knew the grand opening of our new location was around the corner. Chucky proceded to kick the Power Rangers out of the Chucky Cheese and back to in front of the school. This in my opinion made the school look like someone trying to bait children with candy. Do what you feel is best for your school. When does master Yoda teach the flippy kids light saber class?
 

ArmorOfGod

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Wow.
Even being the fanboy that I am, that is blatently selling out.
That is hands down the tackiest tripe I have ever read regarding martial arts promotions. I remember the Ninja Turtles and Power Ranger programs, but this is even worse.
If I walked in to learn a martial art and the sensei was wearing jedi robes and tried to sell me the "Star Wars package," I would have to walk out in disgust, then tell everyone I know to avoid the sell-out joke dojo down the road.
What does this lead to: Godfather Part 4 Karate Packages? Grey's Anatomy Taekwondo Kicking Program? Ugly Betty submission classes?
This is disgusting.

AoG
 

jarrod

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do you know why i don't like this? because i'm tired of telling my new grappling students that TKD is NOT crap, & that i've met plenty of tough, skilled individuals who were TKD based. then TKD schools start hosting light saber events, & dressing in costumes outside of the theater. people like you make my job very hard.

you, sir, have no honor in your art.

jf
 

jks9199

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I think the folks making a leap that he's a sell out or anything like that are being rather unfair. There's nothing here suggesting that he's doing anything but marketing -- and he is in business. If he doesn't do some marketing, he won't be in business for long...

This is a detailed plan to tie into the movie, hopefully to draw some new students into his school. Is it very different from doing a demonstration at the theater or hyping Olympic TKD possibilities? It says nothing about what he regularly teaches...

I do have some problems if he's teaching sword/stick without any real training in the weapon, and I have some concerns about teaching contact with hard plastic weapons to kids without very careful supervision and planning -- but that's really in the hands of the individual instructor.
 

Nolerama

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Isn't there a video out there on a Star Wars-themed MA class? At the end, Darth Vader shows up for a seminar and unleashes his Dark Side on the class. Could someone send me the link?
 

tshadowchaser

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great sales gimmick for kids but I must ask:

what is a ATA Taekwondo school doing teaching any saber techniques and what training and background do the instructors have in this field?
Costumes are great but do they allow practical training?

Once the kids go through this will they want to do the training offered by the classes or will they only want to do Star Wars
 

terryl965

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My problem is a simple one we do not teach light saber or anyone else for that matter, they are made up pieces of props for the movie. This is why so many have a problem with the Art I love and train people in. I do not have problem with saying come learn the sword or knives or even a Bo staff but to bring in little Johnny on the sense of him learning a light saber is a dis-credit to any Art let alone TKD. Why not promote the Tenets and the Self Defense aspect and bring the right types into a class. Have we lower our standards so much that cheap palor tricks is the only way to bring in students.
 

kroh

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I think this is the greatest idea ever! Will this be something I can buy tickets for?

My personal favorites at the moment:


  1. THIS STAR WARS THING IS MOST DEFINITELY IN THE RUN FOR FIRST...
  2. Martial arts uniforms that look like they belong in NASCAR. Nice patches....
  3. People walking around MAKING their students call them "Master" and then they get told by a fifteen year old working at the local market they have to "wait their turn"
  4. Martial Arts School owners who run their shop for profit and are more concerned with the "enrollment, retention, and business," rather than offering A QUALITY EFFIN PRODUCT!!!!!
  5. Martial Arts School owners who run their shop for profit and are more concerned with the "enrollment, retention, and business," rather than offering A QUALITY EFFIN PRODUCT!!!!!
  6. Martial Arts School owners who run their shop for profit and are more concerned with the "enrollment, retention, and business," rather than offering A QUALITY EFFIN PRODUCT!!!!!
  7. Martial Arts School owners who run their shop for profit and are more concerned with the "enrollment, retention, and business," rather than offering A QUALITY EFFIN PRODUCT!!!!!
  8. Krotty Birthday parties and "buddy day"
  9. Instructors who get caught up in the Latest fads...
  10. People who fail to check on what they are learning because the like the school or the "fantasy" it offers.
The ones I feel for are the students who don;t know any better or the parents. Maybe they will get lucky and will be exposing this mess to more savvy parents and folks who are going to laugh them out of business.

I know some quality TKD and TSD folks who are going to roll when they see this. All I know is when one of these schools pops up in my area... I will let it ride for a while and then dress up as Darth Maul and run in and see if these "Jedi" are up to it.

Sorry for the rant... I am going to go crawl back in my hole and curse morons and the internet.

Walt
 

Lynne

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I think a Star Wars theme would be more appropriate for a one-week summer camp.

I don't how you would manage the light saber techniques. Shim Gumdo, etc., are serious sword arts. If you arranged for a Shim Gumdo instructor to come in and teach that might be fun for the kids.

Someone above mentioned a video where Darth Vader came out at the end. That would be a good way for the kids to practice the sparring and sword techniques learned during summer camp (sparring Darth Vader one or two at a time).

(I was actually thinking of the Star Wars theme for kids already attending the school. I realize you are thinking of marketing. It could be a way of pulling in kids but sounds risky. Good luck to you.)
 
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jumpin_12

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Hello again, I'm here with a follow up. I'm always excited to see how negatively everyone in martial arts becomes on the internet, haha. If you are a school owner that is looking for new marketing ideas, please visit the website and check out the planners as well. In no way are we seriously training kids to become jedi masters. The class planner accurately shows that we are teaching all of the life skills associated with martial arts in a star wars themed class, that is all.

We have done the same scenario with kung fu panda as well. We had a panda in costume, its just a way to grab anyone's attention. When they come into our school, they will also be doing regular classes for 2 weeks before they decide if they are to join. Most people are smart enough to understand that we do not dress up in costumes every day.

Businesses are either going to grow or die. It is up to a business to draw the eyes of the public to their business in order to continue to get more students. We have 20 new students that have enjoyed every bit of regular taekwondo classes since the star wars class, because they understand what we do. I would rather make a difference in 20 people's lives than just 1 person that happens to randomly walk by and stop in. Drawing new students is a must, there arent any rules for this. We've found that a LOT of the smaller schools are set in their ways and arent willing to go outside their comfort zone to draw new students, and thats why they stay smaller. I was once set in my ways too, but things change. And yes, we DO have training in sword. But if you guys would like to read the planner, its on our website. We do about 6 diff techniques with it, very simple in the intro class.

I assure all of you that what is taught at our school is the best in the country. We've produced nationally recognized instructors and world record holders. We are the best at what we do. Having martial arts tie in with a movie will not hurt martial arts or the business. Other schools that have done this same scenario have been very successful as well. School owners that would like to use this info, we put our stuff on our website for free. If you dont like the info, dont bother posting, there's no point... Are any of you school owners?
 

kroh

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Hello again, I'm here with a follow up. I'm always excited to see how negatively everyone in martial arts becomes on the internet, haha. If you are a school owner that is looking for new marketing ideas, please visit the website and check out the planners as well. In no way are we seriously training kids to become jedi masters. The class planner accurately shows that we are teaching all of the life skills associated with martial arts in a star wars themed class, that is all.

We have done the same scenario with kung fu panda as well. We had a panda in costume, its just a way to grab anyone's attention. When they come into our school, they will also be doing regular classes for 2 weeks before they decide if they are to join. Most people are smart enough to understand that we do not dress up in costumes every day.

Businesses are either going to grow or die. It is up to a business to draw the eyes of the public to their business in order to continue to get more students. We have 20 new students that have enjoyed every bit of regular taekwondo classes since the star wars class, because they understand what we do. I would rather make a difference in 20 people's lives than just 1 person that happens to randomly walk by and stop in. Drawing new students is a must, there arent any rules for this. We've found that a LOT of the smaller schools are set in their ways and arent willing to go outside their comfort zone to draw new students, and thats why they stay smaller. I was once set in my ways too, but things change. And yes, we DO have training in sword. But if you guys would like to read the planner, its on our website. We do about 6 diff techniques with it, very simple in the intro class.

I assure all of you that what is taught at our school is the best in the country. We've produced nationally recognized instructors and world record holders. We are the best at what we do. Having martial arts tie in with a movie will not hurt martial arts or the business. Other schools that have done this same scenario have been very successful as well. School owners that would like to use this info, we put our stuff on our website for free. If you dont like the info, dont bother posting, there's no point... Are any of you school owners?

Do you even care that you are infringing on some one else's copyright and intellectual property and the people you are selling this idea to can be charged for using this property without permission (or did you actually get George Lucas to sign off on this...).

In any case... My opinion follows: I really don't like this form of blatant commercialism and as such would never attend a school that practices it. The martial arts I train HAVE to work. It is very possible they have to protect against a real live VIOLENT threat . If some one tries to tackle me and steal my side arm or rifle while out in some god forsaken no where I am not going to have time to throw on the jedi robes and flip the switch on my lightsaber. Stuff like this is just dress up. Nothing wrong with that if that is your fantasy. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and if some folks do this without breaking the law... cool... whatever. At least I don't have to pay for the therapy bills for these folks later in life.

Regards,
Walt
 

jarrod

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yes i run a school, yes it is small & not a financial giant. some things are more important than money. if you post something on a public discussion forum, you are inviting both positive & negative feedback, so don't be shocked when you hear from people who don't like your ideas.

the question that all school owners must eventually face is whether they are martial artists first & businessmen second, or vice versa. formality & tradition are not everything, but there is no way i'm dressing up in a costume to sell enrollment. i don't run a pizza shop.

jf
 

kuntawguro

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I personally think it is not the image I would like to see my school in. We recently had a local TKD school advertise for his club. Who was shown- a 79 year old "black Belt" lady doing obviously crappy punches and lousey kicks. Not an image easily shaken out of my brain.
 

Kacey

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I know another instructor who works at a movie theater - and yes, when Kung-Fu Panda came out, his class held a TKD demonstration at the theater, and yes, he gained new students from it - but they were in their regular doboks, using only the equipment they used in class; they were not dress as characters from the movie.

You are welcome to market however you wish; however, I choose not to use such "gimmicks", as I find them misleading for prospective students - yes, most people are smart enough to figure out that you're probably not teaching light saber work, but a fair number don't know which MAs use weapons and which don't, and may think that you're teaching sword work - and not realize you're not until they've already signed up. The concept of "truth in advertising" comes to my mind.

The copyright issue has already been raised, and I find it to be valid.

If it works for you - congratulations. But simply because it works for you doesn't mean that all people will agree with your methods, any more than posting on the internet is the reason people disagree with you.
 

kroh

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I would have to disagree about the copyright issue. Gaining students to teach lightsaber jedi skills would be profiting from a derivative work. Unless you have Lucas' express permission, if you are making loot off of teaching Star Wars derived content and using "product identity" then it is a copyright violation.

Best Regards,
Walt
 

Kenpo_85

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Remember one thing:

The student who is recruited by a marketing gimmick (whether it be half naked women, a movie, a fantasy, or the sort) is also the student that will leave the minute he gets a bloody nose. But that's probably not an issue at your school, since I'm sure that physical contact between students is most likely highly discouraged. :rolleyes:
 
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