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Martial arts are based on core values that dominate the practices and teachings. One cornerstone of most martial arts programs involves teaching and learning respect for yourself and those around you. While the sport is about self-defense, it also embodies certain characteristics such as confidence, control, focus and respect. There are many reasons why martial arts teaches respect, including learning the value of self and others. As such, respect and martial arts go hand-in-hand.

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Aleksandra Knepper: 3rd Degree Black Belt, Sensei

As you read in Part I of this series, it's important to double down on weekly virtual interaction with your student base to foster engagement and to stay top of mind. Our material and 'bonus' videos were important but providing consistent communication with a black belt a student respects and admires is equally as impactful, if not more so.

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Aleksandra Knepper is a 3rd degree black belt and sensei with over twenty years of martial arts experience.

The start of the new decade provided promising hope for what the '20s would and could be—excitement, growth, and accepting the challenge of making this year better than the last.

Then COVID-19 rocked the world as we know it.

As martial artists, instructors, and studio owners, our entire professional landscape has changed. How we attend or instruct classes, if at all, look vastly different than anything we've known before. If you can't teach classes as usual, what are your options? How do you not only retain your student base but keep your students engaged? What about advancing in rank, and how would exams be structured?

There are hundreds of questions to be asked. Quite frankly, it's overwhelming (like the world in which we live)—but with so many unknowns, I believe there's one constant: it's our job, as instructors and studio owners, to continue to provide a safe, positive and encouraging space for our students.

So, the real question is, how do we continue to provide that space for our students while not being present in the dojo?

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I've operated a martial arts school full time for 45 years. I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I'm still in business, I believe, is I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this column, I'll point out key mistakes I made in my career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. And I'll share the solutions I used to overcome them.

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