You have the skills. You have the teaching experience. For some reason, though, you're debating whether you should make the next move. Here are 13 reasons you should take the plunge and open your own dojo.
1. School owners often say, "I stopped working the day I opened my own business." And they're right. You'll get to do what you love: teach martial arts. No matter how many hours per day you may spend at your new school, chances are you won't regard it as work.
2. The dojo will be yours. You can run it the way you want, and you'll have to answer only to yourself. You'll have the freedom to set your own schedule and your own hours. You'll get to choose all the people who help you run the facility — which means you can set up routines and procedures just the way you want.
3. You will enjoy being economical when buying inventory to resell in your pro shop. Of course you'll also need mats, heavy bags, striking shields, a few BOBs and some training weapons for the dojo floor, but you can acquire everything for much less than it would take to buy just one machine in an auto-repair shop, for example.
4. Running a dojo is one of the most honorable ways to make a living. You'll be serving your fellow citizens by teaching them the way of the warrior, which will enable them to defend themselves, as well as their family and friends.
5. You'll be helping them acquire what you have: better health and skill at self-defense. The only way to get those benefits is in the dojo — so you might as well make it your dojo.
6. You'll be able to do martial arts as much as you want. You'll be getting paid, in essence, to train, teach and work. Furthermore, you'll be able to attend martial arts seminars and shows while writing off the associated expenses. The same goes for trips to train with an out-of-town instructor or master.
7. You will enjoy a health and fitness boost. These are the real necessities in life because you have nothing without them. As a dojo owner, you'll be immersed in an environment where being healthy is encouraged. Similarly, it will be a place that lets you evolve mentally and spiritually. You won't be in the rut that most people find themselves in, where they're surrounded by folks who don't seek enlightenment or self-improvement. This is why most people come to your dojo, and you can follow the path right alongside them.
As a dojo owner, you'll be immersed in an environment where being healthy is encouraged.
8. It's good for the self to be creative, and owning a dojo will inspire you in this area. You can create as many of your business and promotional materials as you wish: brochures, posters, signs, T-shirts, teaching aids and so on.
9. Everyone is into social media these days; running a dojo will serve as the impetus you need to get up to speed on the technology. You'll also enjoy knowing that your social media posts will carry your positive message to masses far larger than your student body.
10. A good dojo will make an impact on your community. Opening one also will give you a platform to have a positive effect on the people in the community. When you see kids who were raised in your dojo go on to live happy and productive lives, you'll take pride in the part you played in their success.Operating a dojo can be a boon to your family. If you're married and your spouse is into martial arts, your marriage can become even better. (Conversely, dojo life can be a good test for your marriage.) Do you have kids? If so, know that raising them in your dojo is a unique experience. There will be plenty of upstanding people to help out, and all of them can impact a child's life in a positive manner.
11. If you still enjoy competing — like a high percentage of any dojo's youth population pro-bably does — you'll be in luck. Owning a martial arts school will give you many chances to participate in tournaments, not to mention help organize and officiate.
12. You will enjoy creating something from nothing — life doesn't get any better than that. In no time, you'll be making a good living for your family while you go about building your legacy in the martial arts. As rewarding as this can be, it's even better when your legacy entails fostering enlightenment and happiness through martial arts.
13. You'll never have to stop. You can be 63 years old, like I am, and still go strong. If you wish, you can reach out and touch the stars well past the typical retirement age. In essence, you can work right up until the end, if you so desire. Few people, even those who love their work, are fortunate enough to be able to say this.
Floyd Burk is a San Diego–based 10th-degree black belt with 50 years of experience in the arts. To contact him, visit Independent Karate Schools of America at iksa.com.