Funny thing is, that by really creating this difference, you will have a numbers problem. And not lack of students. Too many. (Imagine that - too many enquiries)
How about teaching your students something that will completely transform their lives to the point that your martial arts academy doesn’t resemble any business in our industry. That the tag ‘dojo’ doesn’t really do it justice.
You don't need to find out what you can do better than the other schools. You need to decide what you will do that the others don’t.
Forget martial arts techniques.
Forget training systems.
Forget the UFC (Please forget the UFC)
Think about how you would create an experience that would re-shape a person’s attitude to the world. That would give them the confidence to step away from bad habits and be a role model for all others.
For a start, here is an experience I had this year with a buddhist teacher.
Respect from a Monk
For three hours I listened to a Buddhist monk talk on the teachings of the Buddha.
We practised sitting in meditation again, trying to internalise the teachings that go back 2500 years. At the end of the session, we all lined up to shake hands with the grey-haired man who had spent his adult life immersed in Buddhism. At that point he draped a piece of red cotton around my neck which, tradition has it, you keep for three days.
This is to internalise his teachings and is also used as a sign of respect for the time he has devoted to you.
I like that. He gave me three hours of his time and I kept his string for three days.
Our world needs more people giving their time and more people showing respect.
Keeping a string for three days isn't much to ask.
Side note - 30 years ago my martial arts instructor asked me to wear my new black belt for 24 hours for the same reason. To internalise the teaching and to show respect for the time he put into teaching me. This tradition was a great reminder of what I had learnt. As a sign of respect I wore my new black belt for 24 hours. The truth is, I was proud to wear it. To not do it would have been disrespectful.
To not show respect means the teacher and the student have failed in their relationship. Either the teacher has failed to put in the time or the student has failed to show respect.
Now back to your dojo and next year.
Start now with your decision about the shape of your product. By ‘product’ I mean your student.
- How should they think after spending years with you?
- How should they eat?
- How would they speak in public?
- What would they know?
- What would their fitness habits be?
- Who would they look up to?
- What would their attitude to further education be?
- What would their attitude to themselves be?
- How would they attack problems?
Actually, all these things should be taught in your program. Fighting skills is only what beginners learn. Advanced students develop themselves.
As an instructor, you teach fighting skills.
As a role model you teach much more.
Enough said. Go get ‘em.
Final note - In Tibetan Buddhism a scarf is presented and the string is inserted into the scarf. The scarf is kept so that the wearer or owner owns the teaching.
I like that.