This topic aggravates me for SOOOOO many reasons! Mostly because of the misconception many people, including Taekwon-Do instructors (they are often the worst) have about the combination of martial arts and successful business practices.
Most instructors fall into one extreme or another. They are either focused heavily on the business aspect of the school, are market driven and doing everything they can to squeeze a profit out of the business or they are engrossed in their art and hoping that people will just continue to show up and pay tuition each month.
Sadly there are only a few people out there who have managed to combine the two successfully.
It is possible to run a professional and profitable school while maintaining the integrity of your art.
Let’s break these two ideas down, shall we?
I’ll start off with the art. The good news is that ALL of you should have this aspect down.
I don’t have much to say about this because you are already an expert here. You spent years, maybe even decades training, dedicated to the art of Taekwon-Do. You know what it takes to practice it, teach it and to live it. It’s so much a part of you that you now want to make it available for others!
Now to the business side.
If you take any business class, one of the first things you’ll learn is that the purpose of a business is to make a profit. That may sound harsh or cold to some of you, but that’s only because of preconceived, generalized notions you have about business and/or money.
There are those martial arts schools out there who have sacrificed their art for a buck. They promote students who aren’t ready in order to collect test fees, force you to buy something every month for your training (even when it’s not necessary), have classes that look more like day care than Taekwon-Do, will sell you a black belt “fast track” or find other ways to get money out of you without providing any additional real value.
These are the “McDojos” and they give professional and profitable schools like mine who do the work to maintain the integrity of their art a bad name.
You can even buy a franchise school now that comes with a generic Karate/Taekwon-Do curriculum and great business systems, you just have to stop doing what style you’ve been training in since you were a white belt and start using this system… But you’ll make money!
I’ve had dozens of families who came from local “kick-n-play” schools and were blown away by our program and what discipline, responsibility and respect look like at a real Taekwon-Do school. Not to mention their “black belts” look like our yellow and green belts.
One of the pitfalls many instructors fall into is trash talking about the “McDojos”. This is entertaining and they are an easy target, but this is also a poisonous activity for two reasons. One, that type of gossip is not consistent with the tenets of Taekwon-Do. Two, it generalizes all the activity that goes on in those schools as bad.
It may not be obvious at first, but there are things to be learned from those schools, both good and bad. Many of them do have business systems and strategies that work well and could be applied to your school. The difference between you and them will be how those systems and strategies are executed.
It is possible to have a highly successful school, hold to strict training standards and hold to your principles and morals all at the same time.
What is amazingly powerful is when you can combine successful business with high quality Taekwon-Do training.
There is incredible fulfillment in being able to practice what you love, effectively share it with others, take part in their success AND get paid enough to live the lifestyle you want, not the one you have to.
About the Author:
Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt. He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline, leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world. He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do. He has won numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy. Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children. Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com