The Business of the Martial Arts

I get many emails regarding my column a few of which I have shared with you in the past. Here is another interesting one for me that I would also like to share with you.

“Dear Dr. Webster-Doyle, I read your column in the MA Success magazine and I greatly enjoy what you have to say. I have learned a lot about the martial arts. But I have a question for you. Since this magazine is about the business of the martial arts what does your column have to do with business? – R. Thompson, Tampa, Florida

“Dear Mr. Thompson, I understand your question. Although I am not directly advising people about the specifics of running a financially successful school I am trying to develop needed programs, like the Bully Buster System™ and the Character for Kids Kit™, that will help school owners enroll and retain students longer, programs that address the most urgent issues facing young people today – bullying and character development. I wrote a column a while ago entitled “8 Ps to Lasting Profit” which outlined by business philosophy. The first “P” is Perspective, which means that martial arts school owners has a vision, a clear sense of what the real needs of society are, especially with young people. With that in mind then the Program follows the Perception, addressing those realistic needs.

It is the Program that will essentially make a successful school and hence a successful business. It is the Program that will give to the community what it really needs to enhance the quality of life for its citizens. This means having to expand our own Perspective of what the martial arts are to first see what the needs are and then to meet these needs. For some people this is difficult because they have become use to the martial arts being primarily a self-defense or tournament competition. I am not saying that to meet the greater needs of society that one has to drop these views. I am only saying to think beyond the box created by them in our thinking.

Thinking beyond the box means that we first recognize the needs and then find ways to tailor the martial arts to meet the needs but without loosing the essence of the intent of al martial arts, the arts of peace and reconciliation. What I am trying to say is that for any business to be successful it has to know its clients needs well especially if what they are offering is in competition with many other after school sports activities. Martial Arts schools need to offer young people a program that is uniquely different, one that meets their needs beyond what the competition offers. And this is what I have been trying to do with my programs on conflict education and character development not only because the competition is not doing it but because it is so very important to do.

Many of the things I write about in my column are also meant to educate the martial arts industry to think about presenting the martial arts in a new and qualitatively better way. This doesn’t mean that I know it all or that I am better than someone else. It is just what I love to do and how I love to spend my time. This is my job. While other people are contributing to the martial arts industry with innovative business insights about marketing, enrollment, retention, accounting programs, self-defense systems and so on I am working on ways to enhance the quality of the martial arts by thinking up new programs that will offer to society what the martial arts can do for its young people in understanding and resolving conflict peacefully. This is my contribution but it is apart of a whole to which many people contribute their expertise.

My column also tries to challenge the conditioned thinking much of the public has about the martial arts, that they are extreme acts of violence fit only for action films. The column tries to “raise the standards of the martial arts,” so that they will be more acceptable to parents, educators, counselors, and the like so they feel assured that their children will not be hurt or learn to hurt others.