Rushing Success

I was reading a Facebook post by John Danaher recently in which he talks about the factors of progressing rapidly in skill development.

If you would like to read the post you can find it on his page.

I brought this up today because one point that Danaher made about one of his most famous and well known students really struck a cord.

I’ve been preparing for my first world championship at black belt.

It’s hard preparing for most tournaments, but this is the big one.

Friends and family unknowingly put stress on me to compete well, perform to my potential, and above all, win.

But the point that Danaher makes and one that I seemed to overlook is that success takes time.

Improvement takes time

Skill development takes time

Everything takes time

It’s my first year at black belt and I already feel a lot of pressure to win. But then I really thought about it.

And you know what?

I’m in this for the long haul. As long as it takes.

I didn’t get to where I’m at overnight and regardless of the results I will still be practicing in class like everyone else the Monday after the tournament.

So if you’re worried about preparing for a tournament, or when you will be up for your next promotion.

Just remember that if what you’re working toward is really worth it, that the time it will take to achieve is not as important as the small improvements that will get you to your goal.

It’s pretty cliche but Jiu Jitsu really is a marathon.

Quick Update:

I will be in California for a few weeks training for Worlds and possibly a few weeks afterwards.

If anyone is interested in private lessons or weekend seminars I will have a small number of openings .

For more details please email me at alecbaulding@gmail.com

Is 50k enough to open your own academy?

I recently had a good friend of mine, a purple belt (soon to be brown :)) ask me if $50,000 was enough to open up his own martial arts school.

My jaw just about dropped off….

A little bit about myself, I helped to start a martial arts school at the age of 23 along with a friend and business partner, with a hand full of students and modest loan from an investor. What I would have done for 50K!!!!

It was probably the hardest thing that I have ever done, but I understand that for a lot of guys this is their dream once their prime competitive years are behind them. Just make sure that you are informed and realize that blind passion won’t help you open up and run a martial arts school, and not everything about the instructing life is as it often appears.

4 Things you need in order to open up a martial arts school
Desire
Skill
Funding
Marketing

I ordered my list in terms of ease of obtaining and implementing.

Desire

Starting out, having the desire for having your own school has to take place before you even attempt the other three steps. Make sure that you really want to teach and that you have the ability to teach. If you lack experience teaching, you can always volunteer to help out a few classes where you train.

Also learn the business side of running and operating an academy. This includes learning how to run the front desk, doing introductory lessons, how to sign up new students, billing, etc. Again, if you have no clue what I’m talking about you can always volunteer your time at your academy in exchange for learning their systems.

I really push this point not to be pessimistic, but as a learning aid. I’ve personally seen a lot of people who really wanted to open up their own school because they thought it would be fun, but they did not put in the time to learning how to run a school, and they unfortunately did not stay in business long.

Skill

Along with the desire, you really need to have skill to go with it. Preferably you have a black belt and at least six months to a year of teaching experience before opening your own academy. Instructing new students, you will need a solid foundation in fundamental techniques as well as self defense since the majority of people starting martial arts do so in order to learn how to defend themselves.

Funding

If you are like my friend and plan on saving up 50k in order to open up your academy, then you will really have a good head start. If you’re smart and treat your school like a business and not a hobby then that money will give you the leverage to acquire a nice facility, hire staff to work for you, and invest in gaining/retaining students.

If you don’t have 50k to throw around, don’t worry. Many famous schools started off with a lot less. As far as getting funding, you can always save money yourself. This is the easiest route but it is also the slowest.

I personally suggest that you do not borrow money from family or friends as it can be weird and add more stress to succeed.

Many of the top schools started with private/ angel investors. Again, having an investor just like starting with 50k will allow you a lot more freedom from worrying if your school will be successful and focus on making it successful. The better your amenities and facility, the more value you will bring to your students and it will show in your pricing.

If you have 0 money, you can still start your own school it will just take more time and you will have to do a lot of the work yourself at first. With no money, your best bet is teaching out of an existing facility such as gold’s gym or local rec center. Getting paying students at first might be hard, so start by offering free classes or self defense seminars in order to get the word out about your program and if you find a few really dedicated students, let them train for free in return for helping out or referring their friends.

Marketing

This is the area that a lot of martial arts schools either hit or miss. Even schools that have been established for decades sometimes neglect the power of marketing their school. If your goal is to have a small “club” level school, then marketing will not be a major focus of yours, but if you have larger aspirations for your business then this is one area that you will really need to invest yourself in learning or paying someone well to manage for you.

Starting with little or no money, don’t worry about big marketing pushes, instead focus on generating leads and contacts from your existing students. Word of mouth is often the best way to grow your school since its grassroots and will allow you to connect with people that are already invested in your program through their relationships with your students . Once you are making money and can afford to pay yourself, that’s when you should invest in other forms of marketing like mailers, facebook/google ads, etc.

Listen, no ebook or video is going to teach you experience. It will be up to you to learn and keep learning in order to make your school a reality.

White Belt to Black Belt

“A Black Belt is a White Belt Who Never Gave Up”

Teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 10 years and having the pleasure to work and train with so many great students over the years. Retention of students and maintaining interest in this martial art is a hurdle that instructors and more importantly school owners are faced with no matter their location, student base, or facilities.
Reaching the black belt is no easy task, it takes years of focused practice, sometimes injuries and often times life is the biggest obstacle keeping students from moving on to the next level. I have been lucky enough to work with some of the best instructors in the world and a few things that I think set them apart from the rest of us is their approach to the martial arts, it is more than what they teach but how they teach.
Great instructors can teach to any skill level
They know how to motivate
They emphasize the importance of jiu jitsu

Great instructors can teach to any skill level

An instructor that can teach a new student right off the streets with no knowledge of martial arts, and then teach advanced students is worth their weight in gold. This means that they have a solid understanding of fundamental techniques but also have a base in more modern techniques as well. Also realize that an instructor’s ability has a lot to do with their personality and their natural level of patience. I’ve seen many world class competitors try to teach to a room of white belts and it’s not pretty. From my own experience, it’s best to remind yourself that you were once a white belt and someone had to have a lot of patience to help you out, so it is important to do the same for others.

They know how to motivate

If you want to make it to black belt, or want your students to one day become black belts, it is really important to keep motivating them. I’m not saying give out belts every 1-2 years to keep students interested, but to motivate your students to try new techniques, work on their weaknesses or improve on an undeveloped skill (for instance takedowns).
Many students will get burned out along the way and it’s best to remind them that no matter what life throws their way, they will need to continue on their journey because it never really stops. Even at black belt, there are skills and techniques left to master because jiu jitsu is constantly evolving. So keep motivating your students to compete, or if they don’t like competing they can still train hard in the academy.

They emphasize the importance of Jiu Jitsu

One of my favorite online writers, Sam Yang, wrote that as martial arts instructors we have to do what we teach. If jiu jitsu has played an important role in your life, as I’m sure it has, then you are the best representation of the importance of jiu jitsu in the lives of your students and training partners. Again everyone goes through ups and downs during their training. There was a time when I was completely burned out on competing so I decided to take a break that lasted almost 2 years. After this time away I decided that I missed training hard for competitions and traveling, so when I was ready to come back I was able to pick right back where I left off.
If you are able to convey your love of jiu jitsu and how important it is to your students then it will also grow to be important to them as well.