and pioneered the methods that today's successful dojo all use. Had 500 students with a beautiful one block long dojo in downtown Boston.
Wish I had known then, what I know now!
I was probably one of the first "karate teacher burnouts" in the industry.
Truthfully, I never really wanted to teach karate full time. I was kind of forced into it by circumstances beyond my control. I suspect there are many others out there who probably feel the same way.
To be a successful. . . and I mean really successful dojo operator, you must be really dedicated and more importantly, you must really love to teach. Not just a couple times a week, but three-four classes a day, six days a week!
Anyone who is really successful operating a dojo, may be earning $100 - $300,000 a year. Now before you become overly impressed with the potential in the karate business, let me throw another gem-fact your way: That same person is easily capable of earning twice that amount in another industry, with far less work, stress or aggravation!
But this forum isn't about how you can become a millionaire karate magnate; rather, it is for people like myself, who are gainfully employed or semi-retired and would like to open up a commercial, medium sized facility, geared to 50 - 100 students.
There are so many really bad schools out there, anyone with credentials, teaching skills and knowledge, should have no difficulty accomplishing this.
To begin the discussion, I am posting a 20 minute, kind of entertaining clip of a karate demonstration I did last Saturday for a friend who was hosting an open house at her family's horse ranch. I was assisted by members of my Community Center club. Two green belts and the rest white belts.
Our club has been growing slowly, by word of mouth. It is now at the stage where I had to decide which direction to take. . . Stay at the Center and cut off enrollment or listen to my students, who want to open a commercial dojo for me. Well, since I created this new forum, I guess you know which option I selected!
This brings me back to the demonstration. This was the first opportunity to reach a small audience of around 60 people. . . many who came primarily to see the publicized demo. . . and possible be the first step at building membership for the new dojo. (Opening in February)
So what kind of demonstration should I put on?
1. Do I beat up my white belts, to show the audience how tough I am?
2. Do I break a bunch of boards and bats to show how tough the training will make you?
3. Do I try to "reach" the audience and show them that I am capable of taking average people and provide them with a interesting and enjoyable activity that has a couple of fringe benefits?
I've seen hundreds of demos and put on hundreds myself over the years. Generally, the demonstrators would attempt to "live up" to the reputation they feel karate has and would do things to "impress" the audience.
My demo teams used to do the same thing. Then afterwords, I would go into the audience, answering questions and trying to get a feeling for who might be interested in joining our school. Invariably, we would do a great job at "entertaining" the crowd, but when we would ask them: "Are you interested in taking lessons?", we would mostly get... "You must be crazy to think I'd do those things!"
Over the years I gradually wised-up and stopped entertaining and begun to educate the audience. And, over the years I learned that the best students to use for the demonstrations where the object was to recruit new (and normal) students, was white to black belt students. Not only were the demonstrations great experiences for the newer students, the audience could more readily identify with them, than the black belts.
In critiquing this demo, which is the first one I've done in quite a few years, I see much room for improvement. However, nearly everyone there took a brochure and six people came up afterwords asking when they could join. Not a bad percentage for a first effort.
So, as a "kickoff" for this forum, I give you my first suggestion for building a medium size, successful and commercial dojo. . . Conducting an educational and entertaining basic demonstration of what you are selling.
I welcome all constructive comments and hope to see helpful suggestions from others who will help me and others build our dojo membership.