Never Stop Learning

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.


It's so easy to get caught up in the everyday life of running a martial arts school that we often forget the key components of our success in the arts. When operating a business, certain issues rise to the top and get our attention. It's easy to assume that these are the important issues. In reality, the things we let sink to the bottom are often the ones that make or break us.

In the early days of owning my first dojo, my instructor used to say, "You can never make money when you need it the most, and you will always make money when you don't." That was his way of telling us that when we're struggling, we tend to focus on the suffering, but that only makes things worse. He implored us to "Never quit," and "Always continue learning." His advice was incredibly practical and turned out to be completely correct.

In hindsight, I can say that the most important step for martial arts school owners to take is to work hard on continuing our education. When we're working to improve ourselves, we're always moving in a positive direction. When we stop learning and cruise through our days, teaching classes and repeating the cycle, our students can see the lack of passion.

Remember the last time you learned something and brought it back to the dojo to teach to your students? The excitement you felt at being able to pass along the new knowledge was likely communicated to your students and spread throughout your school. When you're a school owner or instructor, it can be hard to remember to schedule time in your day to learn new things. However, it's so much easier now than it used to be.

One of the best ways to rekindle passion and spread excitement in the dojo is to attend continuing-education events. The Martial Arts SuperShow hosts a wealth of seminars and networking opportunities. All the gold nuggets of knowledge we pick up there can provide enthusiasm for months to come.

The SuperShow is by far the biggest and best option for continuing education, but it's not the only one. There are many resources for learning right at our fingertips. I recently took an online course to help me understand better marketing procedures. I've also spent time on YouTube watching videos of fun drills that can be used in my classes. In my early years, I found it incredibly important to devote an hour a week to a pre-arranged workout with a friend.

So if you feel stuck on the road to success — like you just can't get beyond a certain point no matter how hard you try — it may be time to look where you haven't been looking. Stop focusing all your effort on resolving the issues of today and start creating a long-term path for your future by expanding your knowledge base.

When you teach something new in class, it will inspire your students. When you inspire your students, they will talk to their parents and friends. When they talk about your school, your business will grow. Everything you do to improve yourself professionally will affect your business directly or indirectly. In contrast, if you make every day a repetition of the day before and effect no positive changes, no one will talk about your school. It's as simple as that.

This week, I want you to take time to learn something new. Read a book. Watch a video. Take a seminar. Enroll in an online course. Schedule a workout with a friend. Practice that form you've been meaning to improve. Create change for yourself — and for your business.

To contact Kathy Olevsky, send an email to kathy.olevsky@raleighkarate.com.

Introducing Martial Arts School Listings on Black Belt Mag!
Sign Up Now To Be One Of The First School Listed In Our Database.
SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the worlds largest magazine of martial arts.
Photo Courtesy: Dawson Holt via Instagram

The 2021 Diamond Nationals took place on October 8th and 9th, the first time the prestigious event has been hosted since 2019. World class competitors gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota to test their skills in forms, weapons, point sparring, and more.

In the early 2010's, Ken Warner (otherwise known as ZenInc on YouTube) always shared his "Top Five" on Facebook after major sport karate events. Reflecting on these posts has inspired me to write a top five article of my own for the Diamond Nationals, and I plan to continue writing these articles after each tournament I attend. Special thanks to Ken Warner for his contributions to documenting sport karate history. Without further ado, here is Jackson's Five for the Diamond Nationals.

Keep Reading Show less
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases of the airways of the lungs. In developed countries it affects 7- 10 % of population, and it has got an increasing tendency. In 2014, around 300 million people globally had asthma, mostly in North America and Europe and with lowest rate in Africa.
Keep Reading Show less

Bruce Lee Birth Anniversary: Looking Back At 'Way of The Dragon', And Why It's the Most Underrated Movie Of This Martial Artist

Bruce Lee's Back Exercises for Explosive Punching Power and Speed

Did you ever wonder why Bruce Lee was so focused on training his back muscles?

The back is like the core. It stabilizes the spine and shoulders. It also connects the power of your hips and arms to push, pull, rotate, and punch.


The force of your punch relies on your body, not just your arm. The power of your punch is generated by moving the mass of your body. The tension your muscles can create will determine the force and speed they can produce. There are many factors involved in developing your punch. However, strengthening your back is a good place to start and you will see instant changes in speed, power and explosiveness of your punching technique.

Keep Reading Show less