People buy from People. Fact.
Global companies such as Virgin (headed by a person - Richard Branson), companies such as McDonalds (ok so Ronald is a clown but still it is a 'person' we all know!)
So why are you as a martial arts student or instructor not heading out there and promoting martial arts like Mr Branson or Ronald McDonald promoting internet and burgers? I am not endorsing Virgin or McDonalds by the way... but everyone knows about their businesses.
Traditionally, martial arts schools (regardless of discipline) are very close-knit communities. Some small groups operate from small religious venues, others in leisure centres or if you are lucky you might have a purpose built dojang.
Now, regardless of where you teach or train you will have a sphere of friends who you train with. These people you will see week in week out, you will know their fighting style, you might even know their favourite food or be friends outside of class. This is great! One of the great benefits of being a martial artist is having a 'family' unit that nobody outside of your school would ever understand. I have people who I have trained with who I class as non-biological sisters, ladies and gentleman who I have the same respect for as parents. These are people I could call upon at any time of day to help me with techniques or training! If they can help they will and likewise I would return the favour.
So, why are you not networking outside of your school? I am not saying martial artists should turn into network marketers and flood social media every day with adverts on why you should join their club.
Yes, social media is a great tool but have you been networking with 'real life' people?
If you have 10 people in your class (a moderate but respectable group size) I can guarantee they 'might' know one other person interested in martial arts. Network outside of your immediate martial arts family. It is simple but sometimes we forget to network. Ask : do you have any younger siblings who might want to start? Do you have any friends who might want to train too? Is there anyone at work who might benefit from martial arts training? It is simple networking that will help grow your club and give you more people to spar.
Something which can be effective is to hold a club open day. Buy some pizzas or 'salad' if you are being healthy and invite local people to come and chat to current students.
A big tip is to encourage your students to network too. We are an independent club.
What does this mean? It means I allow my students the freedom to train wherever they want to, as long as they let me know of course, to improve their martial arts knowledge.
Why? Because they represent my teaching and my school. They can gain knowledge from others and make new friendships with other martial arts schools.
Students what does this mean for you? An increased sphere of community. More people to call upon for training and a larger network which leads to greater practice of martial arts.
After all 'success attracts success.'
Networking can be as simple as chatting to another martial artist over a cup of coffee. Everyone is accessible these days. Social Media, Linkedin etc mean you can contact virtually anyone!
There are many like minded people who will be happy to arrange to talk about tae kwon do, sparring, training and fitness habits. If you stay within one organisation or indeed just train with one person you might never experience the benefits of training with others who can help you advance and grow.
Remember it is not the belt around the person's waist that matters rather it is the person under the belt you should take note of. You can learn from white belts, you can learn from 6th Degree's. You can most definitely learn from a 9th Degree Master.
So, never tire of learning, network,
and expand you martial arts community.
Claire Southall (3rd Degree Black Belt)