martial arts schools

As I write this column, I reflect on the past year: where we started, where we came from and where we are now. For most of us, the year began second to none. Business was booming, and the future looked bright. Then the world stopped turning. In March, we witnessed the fragility of the world's economy, not to mention life itself, as the pandemic took hold and forced a shutdown the likes of which we have never seen.
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I am an outdoor enthusiast. Hiking, biking, climbing, training — it doesn't matter. If it takes place outside, I love it. Some time ago, I went on an intense mountain-bike ride with two friends. We picked a challenging course near Forest Hill, California. I do a decent bit of cycling on the road, but it had been years since I pushed myself on a mountain bike on a hard trail.
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All martial arts school owners should make the most out of selling merchandise to their students.

To do that effectively, you need to have a school merchandise program in place, one that's designed to steer customers away from acquiring their gear elsewhere. The program should include an official equipment policy, the creation of branded merchandise (uniforms, sparring pads, gear bags, etc.) and an enforcement policy.

I know — you don't like to think of your students as customers. That's understandable. What you do is a higher calling. You teach a way of life. It's a noble ambition that precludes you from looking at your students as parts of an income stream. I'm the same. We have to get past all that if we want to stay in business and continue to change lives.

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Every martial arts school owner I know is suffering right now — some are in dire straights and some are just "in a pickle." In my 40 years of running a dojo, I've never seen anything like what's happened to our industry since March of this year.

When I started writing this column, we'd just passed the 100-day mark since residents of California were last allowed to provide on-site martial arts instruction, whether at a commercial school, a rec center, a YMCA or any other facility. Fortunately, we just got the "go" signal from our county. Now, businesses like mine can reopen.

The first thing we did was post on our Facebook page: "Classes at the dojo begin this Friday!" That was the easy part. The hard part is ongoing. It entails confronting the fact that because the coronavirus is still with us, we all face unprecedented restrictions that vary according to our state and even our county.

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