What is a Day in the A Life of the Career Martial Artist?

Bob Hubbard

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I've been wondering this for a while. I know several individuals who teach at schools. Most have a "day-job". I know a few school owners, who also have "day jobs".

So, what does it take to make a living from Martial Arts, and once you do, whats an average day like?

Many of us fantasize "Gee, it would be cool if we could do this all the time..." but most of us have no idea of the realities of that career path.

Please, enlighten us. :)

When do you find time for your own training? How much is the "mundane" stuff?

How long did it take you to get there, and how much hard work did you put into it before it finally seemed like it was "real"?

Many thanks in advance!

:asian:
 

Klondike93

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Hello, is this thing on?
Nobody has a response for this?
So we all work and just do martial arts as a hobby?

:asian:

Chuck
 

tshadowchaser

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I work but I have known two people who made teaching their job.
The first charged you for uniforms, patches, privates, floor time, etc. In addition he sold coffee cups, shirts, jackets, watches, mouse pads, and anything and everything else with his school logo on it. At least once a month he would have something new that everyone just had to have. At christmas the silk jackets, and more expensive items hit the school. I always felt sorry for the people who where only barely makeing their monthly payments, he most have made them feel like lower class students because they were not a walking billboard for his school.
The other was a grandmaster who had many schools and a large personal school. He charged a resonable rate to his students and charged a resonable rate for his weekly siminars(the ones he traveled hours to get to). However if you where not a student (lets say a big city buisness man or group) and you wanted private lessons( maybe to learn a form or selfdefence) you paid and paid highly. I remember him makeing one form into three separate sections and charging a group of NY city people 1500 a section.
Shadow
 
R

Rob_Broad

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A day in the life of a martial arst instructor can be quite interesting.

Wake up like everyone else, and do all the neccessary stuff to get you out the door. Open the school, check answering machine, go over the day before's reports. Run all over paying bills, taking care of advertising, and checking in on any on going promotions. Noon hour class. Schedule lessons for next week, followed by evealuating students performances for up coming gradings. Hopefully a private lesson somewhere in the afternoon. Quick cleaning, and then back to some more paperwork. Kids and parents start arriving, hopefully you have an assistant or two to help getthe kids going, because there will always be some parents wanting to discuss something with. After several kids classes, yo may get a small drink just in time for a couple of adult classes. You now get to deal with beginner adults which mean a lot of people with no coordination and think heavy exercise is finding the remote under their own butt. As the belt levels go up the classes get a little easier to teach with the adults. Finally the last class is done for the day and you have to clean the school, and do some more paperwork.

You also have to track down delinquent payments, order supplies, deal with people wanting more information about what you teach, shoo away some form of charity wanting your hard earned dollar, and somewhere find time for your own training. That is the typical day of a martial arts instructor. And if you have a family you also have to find time for them. Don't expect your children to want to train that would be too easy for you to spend time with them that way, because the more you want it the more they will fight it.

Usually on the way home from the club once a week you buy a bottle of advil because you know tommorrow Mrs. Smith will ask you the same question she does every week, "Why isn't my Bobby a Black, Belt, you can clearly see he is the best one in his class". Meanwhile the child trips over shadows you have to be polite, and endure it.

But then you see the smile on a person's face when they earn that first belt and you know you would never want to anything else.
 
F

fist of fury

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Rob have you ever hd a parent really argue with about thier child getting a black belt? or even and adult student get upset that they don't have a black belt? how did you handle it?
 
R

Rob_Broad

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I had a senior of mine tell a parent that her child would be a black belt in another couple months. he only saw the child at special functions like gradings so he didn't knwo what the kid wa really like. I finally sent the kid to the instructor for a month, and he agreed the child was not ready to a Black Belt. The mother accused me of holding her kid back so that I could make more money. at this time her son was suspended from school for beating up a kid. She complained so I refunded the tutition and told the to go to my competition(let him deal with the pain in the...) I have had others complain about it but I told them that will respect themselves and their rank more if they do it right. The problem usually starts when a person has a friend in TKD that rapid goes through the ranks and it doesn't happen that fats in my kenpo program. I can usually make them see the light, especially if tey ever get to spar with one of their friends with the nflated rank.
 

Klondike93

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Bet that hurt having to refund, but from the way you describe it, I would have done the same. The school I teach at had a similar situation and was told to take the child some where else.

:shrug:


:asian:

Chuck
 

Chris from CT

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Rob Board:
From your first post, I got sucked into your story and I thought I was listening to a friend of mine.

Good post.

Take care :)
 
OP
Bob Hubbard

Bob Hubbard

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Those of you who missed this one way back when MT had 100 members.....What's your thoughts? :)
 

Dusty

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I will take a shot at this. i run a full time school in southern ontario.
got up at 7:15, helped the wife get the kids off to school.
i also have a three year old, so i get to spend my mornings with her, so it is awesome in some respects.
phone are forwarded to my cell phone in the mornings, so no one goes in until 2pm. we get very little walk up traffic during the day, so it isnt really worth it, so i work from home in the mornings.
8 am, turn on the computer and cell phone.
8 am until 12 pm, paperwork and fielding information calls.
at 12:30 i go to one of the public schools i run a lunchtime program out of and teach that with one of my assistants until 1:30. go home, grab a quick bite and then go to the martial arts school for 2:30. i run an after school program, so i make sure that the drivers pick up sheets are set up. we pick up 120 kids every day after school.
2:30 until 4, making sure all the kids get there in one piece.
4 to 4:45 teach the first after school class.
4:45 to 5:30, teach the second after school class
5:30 to 6, deal with after school parents on whatever issue.
i have two other full time instructors who work for me, so they help with the after school classes and teach the bulk of the evening classes. i teach the high belt kids and adults and the specialty classes.
6 pm to 7:30 teaching classes
7:30 to 8:30 private lesson
8:30 to 10pm deal with any adults and their issues.
10 pm to 11 pm, go for a run
11 pm to 12 am, met with the landlord over rental issues (i am lucky as my landlord owns the variety store right beside me and works the same sort of hours i do
12 am to 12:45 am, do my evening workout and then head home.
1 am until now, eat my dinner and unwind on the internet. i still have about another hours worth of work before i can go to bed. most nights i dont get to bed until 2 or 3 am. i guess i have conditioned myself to go on 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night.
its funny, because you think as an owner, once i am huge, life will be so easy. i am almost huge and it aint there yet. i have an active count of just under 400, so i am able to afford the help in a lot of aspects. a cleaning service cleans every night. i have full time and part time instructors, but yet still, i am working 18 hours a day. would i change it? never! i have the best life i could ever want. i deal with a lot of crap every day, work insane hours, but i get to do what i love every day, make a good living at it, spend the mornings with my daughter. i wouldnt want it any other way.
Dusty, kj
 

wade

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Wake up,have lots of coffee, stagger to bath room.

Teach first class and try to look like I care.

Teach second class, sparr with advanced students and hurt a couple just for fun, also to keep them from killing me.

Go home, drink and get ready for tomorrow.

BTW, I really love this, uh, stuff.
 

zDom

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My buddy has been doing martial arts full time for a couple years.

From what he tells me:

marketing, marketing, marketing.

GOT to get people coming in for "intros" (introductory lessons) because the more intros, the more sign-ups, and the more sign-ups, the more students.

There will always be some attrition, so you have to keep new ones coming IN the doors faster than they quit.

So: market to keep the leads coming in; schedule leads for intros; sell intros on signing up.

The teaching/time on the floor/private lessons -- all that is the GRAVY.

I mean, we ALL love to be out on that floor training and teaching, neh? Heck, most of us do it for FREE :)

As for the billing part: he subcontracts all that headache to a company that specializes in martial art school billing — he says it was the best thing he EVER did.

Billing/collections can suck the life out of you. ANY question about tuition payments, he simply gives them the 1-800 number :)
 

Brian R. VanCise

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For full time martial art's instructor's (which I am not) based on personal experiences with friends, the biggest draw back is a loss of desire to train and improve. My friends who have gone full time were almost all gung ho to train but over time lost some of their own personal training enthusiasm. One individual commented that he would rather go for a bike ride, run, swim, etc rather than train and that this was his job. That is the biggest hurtle I think for professional instructor's that teach for a living. They have to find a way to keep their interest going and balanced against the needs of their students and the business. (this has to be very challenging)
 

terryl965

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Well here goes I own and operate a school fulltime and trying to make it.

First thing update all files on a daily basis, what student has got down and what they still need to get before testing.
Second always marketing the school you can never get enough marketing.
Third try to find places that will let us do demo's to attrack more students
Fourth teach teach and teach some more
Fifth get everyone ready for tournaments and make all the proper arrangements for every students.
sixth try to make a dollar every single month hard luck stoies about no money but they love the classes ans seeing what I can do to make ends meet if I do not charge some of them for the month

Last thing is finding time to train, the funniest thing iswe all know we need training all the time but finding quality time is almost for certain gone, so once again it is five minutes here and five minutes there.

I have been blessed to own a couple of other businesses and things but I would love to see the school start to make 10,000-25,000 a month but in reality it is lucky to cover the bills every month.
 

ArmorOfGod

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You know, I would never want to be a career martial artist because I have children of my own.
If you are teaching every weekday afternoon and Saturdays, when and how often would you see your children?
What, maybe an thirty minutes a day to an hour tops? They get home from school around 4 and you are leaving at 5 to go teach class. You get home and they went to bed at 9:00, so you only got an hour tops with them and that would have been a hectic hour, with school just letting out.
Sounds terrible to me.

AoG
 

PictonMA

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I've been training in the Martial Arts for ~25 years and teaching for ~10 (2 1/2 in my current location) I have about 100 students at my dojo and another 100 or so in afterschool programs. Not a huge dojo, but not small either.

A typical week for me:

Monday / Wednesday / Friday - get up 730 or so as the wife is getting home from work (she works full time nights as a Registered Nurse).

Get the kids up (22month old and 39month old) get them dressed and make breakfast.

Work from home via the laptop / VOIP / Cellphone as I play with my kids from ~9am - 12noon.

Put the kids down for a nap, head outside and work out (calisthenics, cardio intervals, core training, kata etc) and / or do physical work - cut / split firewood, yardwork etc.

Leave the house around 230-3pm to teach afterschool programs.

Meet my wife and kids at the dojo between 5 and 530 for dinner.

Teach 2 kids classes, 1 adult karate class and 1 Jujutsu class. Leave for home around 10pm. (My wife is the assistant chief instructor so we get to train / teach together and we have a play room at our dojo where we pay someone to watch our kids while we teach but they are right there with us).

Wife heads to work and I do some work on the notebook or watch a movie / read and hit the sack sometime between midnight and 130am.

Tuesday / Thursday - get up 700 or so as the wife is getting home from work.

Get the kids up get them dressed and make breakfast, drive them to a babysitters.

Get to the dojo ~9am and do paperwork / bookwork until 1130-1145.

Teach a noon hour adult class.

Do some cleaning / phonecalls / emails / paperwork until I leave ~3pm to teach an afterschool class.

Meet my wife / kids at the dojo for dinner.

(Tues) teach a beginner kids class and then a senior belt class (1 tues a month only) (thurs and some tues) go to my inlaws for dinner and then the wife and I go to work out on our own, kids spend time with their grandparents / aunt and cousins.

Saturdays - get up and spend some family time, teach a family karate class from 1030-1130. Have lunch as a family, some weekends my wife and I drop the kids off at the grandparents / aunts so we can go workout together and then do some shopping etc, other weekends I take the kids for an hour or so that she can work out then she takes them for an hour or so in order for me to do the same.

Sundays - sleep in, church, family lunch and family time in the afternoon / evening.

It's a bit hectic and highly regimented but in an average week I teach 20-25 classes, workout on my own 2-3 times and participate in another MA 1-3 times. Additionally I get to spend mornings at home with my kids, my wife gets some time with them in the afternoons, they are with us in the evenings and we get a fair bit of time as a family on the weekends.

All in all I consider myself blessed.

The day it stops being fun and starts feeling like a job is the day I hand the keys to the Dojo to a senior student and go back to training for myself again, until then I wake up excited every day.
 

Lynne

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I will take a shot at this. i run a full time school in southern ontario.
got up at 7:15, helped the wife get the kids off to school.
i also have a three year old, so i get to spend my mornings with her, so it is awesome in some respects.
phone are forwarded to my cell phone in the mornings, so no one goes in until 2pm. we get very little walk up traffic during the day, so it isnt really worth it, so i work from home in the mornings.
8 am, turn on the computer and cell phone.
8 am until 12 pm, paperwork and fielding information calls.
at 12:30 i go to one of the public schools i run a lunchtime program out of and teach that with one of my assistants until 1:30. go home, grab a quick bite and then go to the martial arts school for 2:30. i run an after school program, so i make sure that the drivers pick up sheets are set up. we pick up 120 kids every day after school.
2:30 until 4, making sure all the kids get there in one piece.
4 to 4:45 teach the first after school class.
4:45 to 5:30, teach the second after school class
5:30 to 6, deal with after school parents on whatever issue.
i have two other full time instructors who work for me, so they help with the after school classes and teach the bulk of the evening classes. i teach the high belt kids and adults and the specialty classes.
6 pm to 7:30 teaching classes
7:30 to 8:30 private lesson
8:30 to 10pm deal with any adults and their issues.
10 pm to 11 pm, go for a run
11 pm to 12 am, met with the landlord over rental issues (i am lucky as my landlord owns the variety store right beside me and works the same sort of hours i do
12 am to 12:45 am, do my evening workout and then head home.
1 am until now, eat my dinner and unwind on the internet. i still have about another hours worth of work before i can go to bed. most nights i dont get to bed until 2 or 3 am. i guess i have conditioned myself to go on 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night.
its funny, because you think as an owner, once i am huge, life will be so easy. i am almost huge and it aint there yet. i have an active count of just under 400, so i am able to afford the help in a lot of aspects. a cleaning service cleans every night. i have full time and part time instructors, but yet still, i am working 18 hours a day. would i change it? never! i have the best life i could ever want. i deal with a lot of crap every day, work insane hours, but i get to do what i love every day, make a good living at it, spend the mornings with my daughter. i wouldnt want it any other way.
Dusty, kj
I'm trying to catch my breath just from reading that!
 

tsd

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I am the full time MA, 1 year into our own school so far this is the drill

Wake up at 5 am if you are really good and train
Home by 6 to get rest of family to work and school
Admin: Emails, bills, planning, phone calls
Marketing, Marketing, Marketing
Noon Class
Afterschool program classes
Home for nap and or food
Evening Classes
Home, laundry and relaxation

so far 80% of the time I end the day feeling positive. 20% of the day I think it would be easier to go ack to being a digit-head at a big company.....but I know that is not true.
I am the luckiest person in the world, getting to do what I love as a job.
 

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