Martial Arts Business: My Teaching Evolution of Thought and Outcome


The (My) Martial Arts Teacher’s Evolution:

Level 1. I’m a good teacher, because I can whip you up. I can beat you, so, of course, I’m a good teacher.

Level 2. My students are winning everything, so…obviously, I’m a great teacher.

Level 3. Look at my school, look at the size of my student body, look at my gross income, look at the car I drive, look at my house, obviously —I’m a good instructor.

Level 4. (The Awakening) My skill as a teacher is only measured by the actions of my students, out of my dojo, in the world, in our community, that having nothing to do with kicking, punching, and/or choking others —and that directly effect the quality of life of others (including places and things); this is the only true measure as to whether I am a great teacher or not.

Level 5. I am not the teacher, I am the student.

Tom Callos of

We, the “the martial arts teacher’s community,” often want to claim we teach “self-defense.” It’s in our advertising and a part of our course of instruction, and/or there is a general inference that we know and teach “self-defense” —- but the way we go about it is haphazard, if not downright negligent, at best.

The way we teach self-defense, today, in the US and abroad, is both a travesty and a bold opportunity for improvement.

Take, for example, the following stats, using knife attacks, deaths by knife, and knife defense in general —-and a real self-defense concern that is rarely, if ever, addressed in the majority of martial arts schools today:

Deaths by stabbing, in the us, in 2012, was recorded at 1589 deaths.

Diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2010, with 69,071 death certificates listing it as the underlying cause of death, and a total of 234,051 death certificates listing diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death.

If you do not know what is killing people in today’s world, how can you possibly teach a kind of self-defense that is relevant and useful?

Part of the way I teach school owners to market, promote, and operate their schools is to have them (us) look boldy, to look deeply, not at HOW they “market” their schools, but in what they have to offer their communities, what they really know, and how they can/should go about building genuine value, versus sales-guided bullshit.

If the “consultant” you look to for help with your business is only giving you ideas about how to market your work, but not asking you to look deeply at what you know, what you’re cultivating, and/or what you’re doing to add more genuine value to what you offer your community —and the world, then you’re not getting the help you really need.

We / you don’t need new ads, more advice on social media marketing, or the clever new website guarenteed to generate xx number of leads. We need to look deeply and candidly at what we’re teaching, how we’re teaching it, and what we really know.

If you want to be a teacher of self-defense, if you want to make self-defense instruction something you own in your community, reach out to me. I will help you rechart your course —and connect you with real self-defense teachers and the kind of self-defense thinking needed in and for today’s world.

In 3 to 5 years you could be 10 times the teacher you are today —-but the study must begin, again, today. The call? It’s time for self-defense instruction to grow up and get real.

Tom Callos 530-903-0286

The Martial Arts Teacher’s Most Difficult Work (Any Teachers). Martial Arts “Business” from Tom Callos

My most difficult work is not found in helping my friends, teachers, students, peers, and members of the 100. in how to better manage their martial arts schools, it’s found in the staggeringly difficult work of getting people to do things outside of their comfort zone. 

Imagine having a school where 100 people pay tuition, but only a handful of those 100, say about 5, actually show up to train. 

Some might say, “Well, as long as I make my money, I don’t care.” 

But most of us, I think, would find the situation ultimately heartbreaking —as we don’t teach for the money, we teach for the joy of seeing people become empowered —and thru this we cultivate skills and our own knowledge in ways we might not have under any other circumstances. 

I’ve often been accused of asking too much from the people I work with; but I must remind you: My work is the job of cultivating and encouraging mastery, masterful teaching, masterful leadership and engagement, from people who seek to be master teachers like the world so rarely sees. 

Due to this intent, I ask my friends to show up, to engage at 100%, to tackle difficult concepts, to study, to try, to experiment, to live a life of deep meaning, and to deal with social issues of importance. 

I think this is the hardest work I have ever done; but as hard as it is, I can’t find anything else that asks so much patience from me, that requires me to be more resourceful, driven, and persistent. 

The lesson? Paying your dues, in money, is NOT enough payment. Participation is the real cost of growth, wisdom, and empowerment. 

Tom Callos

Martial Arts Business. Fice Reminders for The Master Teacher and School Owner, from Tom Callos

Self-Defense isn’t only the kick, the escape, the arm-bar, or the punch. In today’s world self-defense is diet, food production, pesticides, pollution, diabetes, heart disease, war, violence as problem solving, hyper-masculinity, racial discrimination, bullying, issues of social justice, apathy, ignorance, conspicuous consumption, disconnection, anger, deforestation, the destruction of our oceans, the depletion of and/or extinction of animal life, and the other issues that cause untold suffering and destruction in today’s world. To teach self-defense without addressing the things that cause suffering, pain, and death in today’s world (and tomorrow’s world), is parallel to trying to teach someone to swim —in the shower. 

You progress, as in move forward and evolve, best —with things you make a practice of. If you make a practice of letting days, weeks, or months go by without effectively telling the stories of your work, it becomes your “way.” In contrast, if you make a practice of looking deeply at what your work is a catalyst for —where it affects change, what its intent is, what it brings about in the lives of people —and in your community, and you tell those stories with the 4 methods of storytelling (1. The spoken word; 2. The written word; 3. Images and modified images; and 4. Video), you then make a practice of instigating, cultivating, and sharing the stories of how your work is relevant, valuable, and powerful. It’s all about “The Hero’s Journey,” which is: A. The exodus; B. The epiphany; and C. The return. 

Do not make the mistake of being a promise-based school or teacher. Learn to be an evidence-based school —a teacher who creates evidence that what he/she does is effective, relevant, and important. 

Connect, do not disconnect. If you intend to be a master teacher of any importance, then your stage, your work, is not contained to the mat you teach on or restricted to the district your school happens to be located in. Your work radiates outward —and your potential and power comes from uniting with the international martial arts community for the purpose of bringing light, healing, wisdom, and compassion to the world; the entire world. That would be “the ultimate.”

Quickly understand, absorb, and embrace the methods for “doing business.” Make these things as automatic as is getting dressed, practicing good hygiene, and driving your bike or car to your place of business. Don’t mistake putting on your pants, brushing your teeth, or operating a moving vehicle as your life’s work or as what is truly important in life. DO SOMETHING Noble. Be a hero. Find your tree and climb it. Stand for something. Be a part of the tribe that makes a difference in the world. Collect your heroes, keep them close, let them instruct you, follow their examples, be selfless in your mission, and be oblivious to the dominant paradigm and to obstacles. Be a master of masters. 

I’m writing these reminders for myself —if they serve you too, then all the better. 

Tom Callos

The debate is: Can or should a school owner offer complimentary or otherwise free-of-charge lessons to kids whose parents can genuinely not afford tuition?

I say that every school can and should have a class, at least once a week, in an off hour or two, that they can invite young people to who can’t, for whatever reasons, afford lessons. It could be taught at the main dojo or at a rec center, Y, or at a Boy’s and Girl’s club, but every teacher has it within his or her power to reach out to kids who might simply need someone to step up on their behalf.

You/we are not SO busy, so stretched, so desperate to squeeze a dime out of every interaction, and so blind to the fact that some parents are simply not capable of paying for martial arts lessons amid their other obligations, that we can’t donate an hour or two of time each week —-or orchestrate the teaching of a couple of hours of lessons using our team / friends and/or connections. 

Helping kids, with no strings attached, isn’t what causes pain and suffering to school owners (financial, emotional, or otherwise). What causes school owners pain and suffering are other things, partially addressed in the suggestions below:

Things School Owners Should / Could Do, Instead of Debate Whether to Help Kids in Need:

1. Super-Organize the calendars and schedules of all team members. HOURS are being wasted that should be spent on program research and development, producing compelling social media as to the actual benefits being delivered on your school’s mats, and connecting to change-makers in your very own community. 

2. Produce undeniable, real-time, compelling evidence that what you’re doing on your own mats is affecting the behavior of your students OFF your mats —-and that this behavior is making a profound and measurable difference in your community. It can’t and should not be SELL, SELL, SELL, SELL, PROMISE, PROMISE, PROMISE ——it should be EVIDENCE, EVIDENCE, PROOF POSITIVE. Most of the teachers concerned about who’s getting over on them (taking advantage of discounts and/or free services), haven’t produced even 10 compelling examples of the POWER of their work —in the last 10 weeks (or 10 months). HOW CAN YOUR COMMUNITY judge your value or appreciate what you do if they never see, hear, experience, or FEEL what it is you really provide and do?

3. Empower your staff and student body to come together to dramatically affect one compelling social issue in your community —-diligently and with “black belt focus” —-until you and yours actually make a measurable impact on the issue. 

4. Empower one of your students, just one —say…under the age of 18, to do something, anything, that can stand as a showcase of what it is you really do in the world. Get your muscle behind this person and really empower him/her to stand as a representative for your work, its true value —-and tell their story with 10 to 100 pieces of media. Show and tell WHY you’re worth investing in —and tell it not thru clever marketing but by actually showing how your work manifests itself in the lives of others.

Tom Callos is the head of

I can help you in subtle and not-so-subtle ways with your school, its management, your marketing strategies and daily marketing / promotion action, staff training, curriculum development, and problem solving. 
I can help you produce more income.
My advice is based on our dialogue about your wants, needs, and areas of interest. I offer you the opportunity to work with me one-on-one, via phone and video conferencing, to help you improve your work, in general. 
All of my work is straight-up honest, ethical, and healthy. I don’t offer one-size-fits-all strategies, but seek to hear what it is YOU want to do, what you’re good at, and what you believe your mission and work to be. 
Respond from this e-mail and I’ll give you a 3 month 50% off trial consulting membership, access to the 100.’s vast library, and membership in what is THE most progressive martial arts school management group in the world. 
My phone: 530-903-0286
Skype: tomcallos
You’ll spend $5 a day with me during your trial. You can’t lose, if you play full out. 
Martial Arts School Business, w/ Tom Callos


"Independent Study"

In the 100. Method ( I promote hundreds of ideas, practices, and methods that aren’t currently a part of the martial arts “industry.” One of those ideas, simple and direct, is the idea of independent study done by all staff members / helpers of a martial arts school. 

Independent study is a practice. It’s 10 minute investment of time, minimum, per every working day of the year +, where staff members go out and hunt for info, stories, anecdotes, and ideas found thru their own investigations —-each staff member reaching out into the world to collect resources the school can use to improve itself. 

That’s the 100’s members only library —a 10 min a day (minimum) PRACTICE of independent study for owners, teachers, and staff members. 

Bring ME new ideas, don’t wait for me to deliver them. Tell me who YOU are talking to, networking with, and learning from. Bring me well thought out projects, whimsical notions, half-baked ideas, bring it to our table to see what might come of it. 

To find out just how progressive, smart, sharp, and valuable any school is, one form of measure, for me anyway, would be to look deeply at what the staff is reading and looking for —and how they bring those ideas to the work.

Martial Arts Business. Instructions for Masters of the Art of Making Change

The work we do (and/or have the potential to do) as teachers of the martial arts. Unsolicited advice about business and career, from Tom Callos: 

We can be master change-makers (my/the new word for “warriors”). But we can’t be change-makers if we don’t own the language and actions of change-makers. This is why we don’t let others write our ad-copy or populate our info-websites and brochures with made-for-you sales content, images, sales jargon, and off-the-shelf curriculum. We’re not here for the purpose of sales and “elite wealth,” —we’re here to represent the idea of MASTERY. 

Mastery over negative emotions and action; mastery over the foolishness of thinking you are what you own or can afford; mastery over apathy; mastery over disconnection, prejudice, and ignorance; mastery over the pitfalls of a diet without discipline, of a body let go, of a mind left unused.

When the pursuit and practice of mastery drives your work, for real, sales jargon and formulaic sales junk smells like meat gone bad. 

The Transcendence of Your Brand Name (Style)
You are not Taekwondo (TKD), as TKD is a mess, a brand, a political quagmire, a useless, empty facade. TKD, like BJJ, like MMA, like Aikido, like whatever it is you call what you know and don’t know, is a CAR. It might be pretty, it probably has some value, but the car is not the journey; a car is made to take you on a journey. 

Advertising your style is 1% of your message. What you really know, what you really teach, what isn’t someone else’s work you’ve adopted, is what you do, what you have done, what you intend to do, and what you know ———AND, all of these things applied to those you work with (staff) and your students. Honestly my friends, my master-teacher friends, if you aren’t doing amazing things in the world, change-maker things —and if you aren’t inspiring people to take what you practice on the mat and put it to work in the world, then you aren’t doing your best work. For some, certainly, that’s enough; that’s all they can imagine or hope for. For some of us however, it’s not enough. It wasn’t enough for our heroes —and by way of their examples, it’s not enough for us. 

To work on your work is not a program you buy, it’s not a class you attend, it’s not a seminar or convention or reading thru the latest trade mag. It’s not your disconnecting, your inability to work on things you don’t yet understand, you inability to join and contribute. To work on your work is a concentrated, purposeful, uncomfortable, empowering DAILY PRACTICE. This is the approach I take in my work and consulting at 

It’s hard work, it makes you dig deep, it leaves you, at times, confused —but, like the practice of the martial arts, there is no way to master the work without showing up and practicing, mindfully, and with unrelenting focus.

Why I Love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Why I love Jiu-Jitsu: 

I love jiu-jitsu for the way it grounds you / me, literally. For the 40 some odd years I’ve practiced stand up arts, I’ve only, most often, had my feet on the ground. Jiu-jitsu, however, requires you to lay, roll, grind, slide, move, and otherwise get REALLY well acquainted with ground-to-body contact. It’s “getting grounded” —and in a way that connects, grounds, discharges, stabilizes, and allows me to appreciate what that brings to one’s life. 

I love jiu-jitsu for the body-to-body contact —as I’ve come to appreciate how much of it a jiu-jitsu player / wrestler has —and how very little most people live with. It makes giving a hug to someone a thing of ease and authenticity, as you’re not afraid or shy of contact. I don’t know if most jiu-jitsu practitioners think about it or would admit it, but embracing and rolling and struggling with other human beings is, in my opinion, therapeutic. We live in a world where so many keep their distance, so I fully and deeply appreciate what contact with others does for the brain, for one’s mental health, and for breaking down barriers to closeness and friendship. I am, I think, more “human” and compassionate from the practice. 

I love jiu-jitsu as it requires one to throw a good deal of their bullshit right out the window. In BJJ things get uber-real, uber-fast —and no stripes on the belt, no grandiose martial arts titles, no bank balance, and no ego’s going to help you when that big dude or that very talented little bastard of a fellow or that gal with twice your skill grabs you and then lays their vengeance upon you. 

I love BJJ for the influence that all of these men and women from South of the Border bring to the practice of the martial arts. I prefer “my friend,” to “yes, master.” We live in a world, says I, were we need a good deal less militarism —and lot more smiles, relaxation, and embraces. 

I love jiu-jitsu for the Japanese DNA it still contains. For the warrior spirit, for the damn push and pull of it, the give and take, the yin and yang. I love it for the philosophy you have to embrace to do this thing that is so hard and so rigorous and such a mix of pleasure and pain, comfort and discomfort. I love it, especially, for the way it affects one’s thinking about the struggle of life and relationships and everything done out of my gi and off the mat. 

I love Jiu-Jitsu because I have one son who is, presently, one of the best BJJ competitors on the planet. I have another who is also a world-class practitioner. For all the opportunities I missed to be wise, to be compassionate, to show tender loving care, to support, and to be or do all the things a parent might (or, most certainly will, later) regret, I know that thru the influence I had with both of them, early on, I have passed on something of great and enduring value. I know too that they will pass it on to others. For this, I am eternally grateful.

(Photo of Rickson Gracie and I courtesy of Fariborz Azhakh of

How to Teach Kids the Martial Arts, That is, How to Teach them to USE It All

When you teach the martial arts, whether it be Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Karate, Taekwondo, Aikido, or what have you —you stand a very good chance of teaching young people.

And when you teach young people, when you “put on the uniform” of the teacher, the leader, the “one who knows,” the one who gives directions, the one, for what ever period of time you’re given, is asked and/or expected to “teach the lessons,” I think it’s one big whopping whale of an opportunity to do some of the best work our particular, odd, left-of-center, often goofy, all too self-serious profession sets in front of us. 

And while teaching little Johnny and Sally how to punch people in the face, choke them, and or defend themselves from the same —might seem like the mission of the “martial arts” teacher — from my point of view it is not the most important work, not the work that really matters at that age, that might really bring about the change we have the potential to play a role in, or that might actually make these little people more powerful, participative, engaged, compassionate —and thus happier and more connected to that which it is best to be connected to. 

I treasure, however, the teacher, the smart, connected, awake teacher, who uses the martial arts, no, who uses the time they are gifted with to be an influencer, as a tool to provide experiences and viewpoints that speak of a better, more compassionate, less violent world. So Dan Rominski's canned food drive work —and the work so many of you do where you're creating these experiences of doing for others —I'd just like to point out the obvious: 

This is one of the jobs of the martial arts teacher/citizen. I’d like to suggest you get the (expletive deleted) into it. Embrace it. Take it to level 10. Do it better or as good as anyone in your town, in your sphere of friends and peers, maybe as good as anyone in the nation or the world. Why not? You have something better or more important to do?

The environment. We’re really doing a terrible job of teaching people how their actions, our actions, and consuming without thought, brings about chains of suffering. 

Food. My god, we’re letting food that isn’t really food at all, kill millions —and contribute a dead-fish string of consequences that’s like a disease in and of itself. 

Hyper-masculine fear inspired posturing and violence and the way the media constantly distorts, for gain, the female persona and image and what that’s doing to the values and actions of so many women —and men too, and the conflicts, and the disconnection we have, from their suffering, from the sense of our responsibility to others and the power of community engagement…

The worship of things. The buy-in that those advertised things, with their perfectly crafted pitches to our fears and lusts and selfishness and sense of entitlement —and what that means for the world. 

These things are at the core of the core of the core of what “self-defense” is, today, for real, on a global scale. So, to think globally and act locally —to use our period-of-influence to engage young people in acts of kindness, in the importance of little actions of good, compassion, care, connection —and what doing for others does for ourselves; this is our work. It is in my opinion.

Being and/or Pursuing Your Black Belt in the Martial Arts, by Tom Callos

What a black belt used to mean, matters less, far less, than what you make your black belt —or your quest to earn your black belt —mean today. 

(Some of) The Rules:

1. There’s no hurry. A black belt earned as fast as you can earn it isn't something to brag about, it's a statement of impatience, of confusion about the potential of the training to deeply and permanently empower you and those around you. Your black belt isn't fast food, it's the slow food movement, where the process of finding, preparing, and savoring your food, enjoying the company you're eating it with, and paying close attention to the details, the celebration of living it, is far more important than hurrying through it all. Join the slow belt movement. 

2. Being a “great martial artist” is nearly, if not completely, a monumental waste of your time. Being a martial artist is a very small slice of the pie of your potential; it is easy to be a great martial artist and/or to be a “master” of the martial arts, look how many of of them there are. The challenge isn’t to be a great martial artist, the hardest work is to be a connected, compassionate, engaged, forgiving, participative human being. You learn the martial arts so that you may take what you practice so diligently on the mats —and then apply it to things that genuinely matter in the world. 

3. The higher your rank, the greater your responsibility to lead —and to follow; to both respect tradition and to innovate, to hold onto and to let go of. The higher your rank, the more connected you should be; a peace-maker, a change-maker, a creator, a supporter, a fountain of enthusiasm and patience and drive. The higher your rank, the more you should feel the value, the deep spiritual value, of being engaged with others, with seeking out and solving problems, with joining forces to do, with many, what might never be done alone. The higher your rank the more you respect the novice, the process, the conflict, the hardships, and the simple pleasure of stepping on the mat, working on yourself, helping those around you, and finding meaning in the effort.


Because we haven’t put ourselves through all of this training, all these hours on the mat, talked all this talk about “the journey” and being “warriors” and about our “philosophy,” to be self-absorbed, superficial, disconnected, ego-maniacs. Because we haven’t done all of this training not to have it ground us, to have it really mean something more than just our ability to fight or perform handsome routines or make money in our schools. Because we have to be smart enough to look beyond the reward, the name of our style, our political affiliations, our desires to line our own nests, our petty conflicts, and our need to look and feel important and valuable. We haven’t done all of this training, dedicated all of this time, and put in all this practice to be any less than we’re capable of —and we’re capable of a lot, despite the fact that we so rarely see people take their practice to that place.

The Dumbing Down of The Martial Arts School. Martial Arts Business from Tom Callos

The Model was / is / has been this:

The path to wealth is found in running multiple schools. The model for the wealth building multiple school is to keep the expenses as low as possible, profit as high as possible. Staff the place as cheap as possible. Simplify the work to the point where the smallest crew, 1 or 2 people, can do everything. 

The result is a kind of curriculum that can be taught by someone with the least amount of experience. Insure this person has as tight a non-compete contract as is possible, as there’s an expected turn-over. Keep all extracurricular activities, tournaments and other events, in-house, to maximize profits. Design the curriculum to include required items for sale, make these retail items mandatory, require members to buy these items from the company. Maximize all profit centers. Design the curriculum so that the more interesting aspects of it require an upgrade of membership. Sell large membership contracts for cash, as turn-over is expected. 

Close the doors to all other organizations or people, build brand loyalty. Establish a test fee strategy to maximize testing as a profit center, require quotas. Award rank contingent on the recipients student body size and his or her ability to run multiple locations. Build a hierarchal, autocratic form of leadership, with the “grand” or “supreme” masters having complete authority over those underneath them. 

Systemize operations to the point where someone with the least amount of training can make sales and turn a noteworthy profit. Model McDonalds and other multi-location operations for their exacting operational specifications. Think profit or go home. 

One franchise of schools seeks to entice non-martial artists to buy into their chain of schools, offers 1 whole week of training at their corporate office, suggests the new “owners” hire hungry martial arts teachers (style doesn’t matter, just the need to teach the curriculum they’ve laid out) —and promises a noteworthy and convincing “return on investment.” They “brand” their approach to bully prevention or other aspects of curriculum, to try and legitimize the work. 

The disservice this has done to the martial arts community is due, in part, to the industry’s trade mags, billing companies, and associations profiling profit-mongers as visionaries and advocating their policies as sound and smart. Impressionable instructors have adopted many of the sales, marketing, and management strategies for their own businesses, thinking them smart. 

Easier curriculum that requires little or no training on the part of the teacher to pass on. Lower testing standards. 2 and 2.5 year black belts —and nobody even blinks an eye. Less, or nonexistent, substantive educational training for teachers / staff, except for sales training. Fifth, 6th, 7th, 8th, and even 9th dan black belts who are young, inexperienced, and honestly unqualified to represent the martial arts as senior members of our leadership. 

Every association decision contingent on its ability to be “monetized.” 

Now in fairness, organization and systemization are good things, unless they’re not. There is a balance to be struck. By over-systemizing and looking for profit above all other things, the martial arts industry has, in general, become a creatively-limited field of work. Real teacher training is the exception, rather than the rule. Isolationism, homogeneous curriculum, creeds, and methods abound, new ideas are looked upon with suspicion, unless they are obviously profitable, and hyperbole and inference of knowledge rule out over actual education and experience. 

By knowing and recognizing these things, we can avoid being sucked into idolizing school owners and/or methods that are heralded as “successes,” due mostly to quantity of ad space bought, the size of their billing account, or the quantity of retail items purchased. The pendulum of martial arts practices swung to the right in the 1990’s and thru the 2000’s —and everything went “the system.” Now we’re swinging back to the left, where innovation, individualism, experimentation, and authenticity rule the roost —and conformity, the Wal Mart / McDonalds mentality, the dumbing down of the curriculum and practices, goals and ambitions, and the corporate suit and tie attitude represents the opposite of real success.

Martial Arts Business. The Potential of The Martial Arts Teacher to Make Change - in the World

Master Teacher (of the Martial Arts) Direction Given, Unsolicited —and Only My Opinion, of Course:

If you are a martial artist, then what you do, for yourself and others, is a part of your practice. That’s a no-brainer, yes? Your actions speak. 

Beyond yourself, a part of the practice of the martial arts is our collaboration and cooperation with a partner, often many partners —and the way you / we work together can greatly / significantly increase the quality of our work, our practice. 

As a member of a school / group, how you behave, participate, support, and contribute, can add up to and/or become something bigger, more significant, and more powerful than what you can do or accomplish or stand for as an individual. Many can be what 1 or 2 cannot.

Beyond the school, is your connection to other individuals, partners, and schools —a network of people beyond the walls of your own school. And just as powerful and telling as the actions of the individual, the partnership, and the school-as-community, how and what you can do, could do, have the potential to do as 10 or 50 or 100 or 1000 schools, connected and doing what a group of that size might do, is a completely different animal —but no less important than the actions of an individual practitioner. 

For those of you who consider themselves MASTER teachers —or who aspire to be master teachers, I put on the table the idea that if you don’t actively participate in linking our large network together, for the best of reasons, reasons far, far beyond commerce, beyond the preservation of “brand,” beyond the tournament ——-if you don’t play on an international level, then not only do you NOT help do what so many could do —in and for the world, but you miss all the lessons and learning and growth that come with seeking to make contribution on a national or global scale. 

And what are “the best of reasons” to unite?

The destruction of our natural environment —which threatens the well-being of the next generation —and the livability of our planet. 

Hate, prejudice, war, anger, misunderstanding, apathy, bullying, violence, and ignorance. We could be —must be —a player in the work of battling the destruction caused by fear on a scale that transcends what we, ourselves, as individuals believe and/or practice. Many could do what one cannot. 

Health, fitness, and the well-being of our processes for the production of food. In that the top 10 killers of men, women, and children on the planet don’t include “death by rear naked choke or side-kick,” but do relate to the consumption of food —and that we are the holders of the flame of preventive self-defense training, we could and should be advocates for mindful eating and mindful food production. 

Conspicuous consumption. While consumption might fuel our economy, only “living simply, so that others may simply live,” offers us the truly spiritual path. If others go without as we consume far more than what we really need, we are not connected —and thus contribute to suffering on a global scale. 

Education. In that children “defend themselves with their heads,” we could and should be significant proponents of equitable, affordable, and non prejudicial education for all. 

Yes, there are other reasons, of course. But the question is, here, are you engaged or disconnected? Are you participating and joining forces, or standing back, content with you and yours, but forgetting or ignoring the opportunities we have in the here and now —to be change-makers on a much, much larger scale?

Martial Arts Business. A Curriculum and Intent to Create Change Makers.


Virtually every day of the year I stand up at the front of my classroom, stand in the circle of my students and friends, and / or speak from my position as teacher / student / citizen ———and suggest that you, we, can make this work about something truly, genuinely, and authentically noble and important. 

More important than the trophy, than the color of our belts, than our bicep or waist size, than our billing service, association, or political org., than whether we can —or cannot —“handle” ourselves in a street fight, whether what we do came from this country or that one, this teacher or the other. 

I seek to produce CHANGE-MAKERS. And this is not a bullshit statement; it’s not something I throw out there to sound better, to create an illusion of value; it’s not like saying “I am a martial artist” —and then having that mean almost nothing of value, nothing that means much of anything on the worlds (or even a community’s) stage. 

You want your business to take off, to fly? You want to see your bank balance look like you’ve got your game on? You want to blow people away? It’s about VALUE my friend; it’s about doing what is valuable to people, to a community, the nation, and to the world. 

It’s not about the black belt. It’s not about the tournament. It’s not about fighting and violence and fear and isolation or inactivity or apathy or “the bottom line.” I feel like my teachers, every one of them, were teaching me how to use what I was learning, doing, to be a change-maker. In The 100. (—I urge, compel, coach, cry, cajole, shout, whisper, instruct, and drive members to think bigger, to act bigger, to do the hardest work, to transcend the dominant paradigm of the “industry,” and to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. Grand things. Perfect things. Beautiful things. Meaningful things. 

In turn, I seek to inspire instructors to turn to their students and ask for the same. Why on Earth would we ask ourselves for anything but our best effort? 

I can’t make martial arts teachers do more with their art that what their brain can wrap around; more than what their intelligence allows; more than what their courage incites; more than what they believe is possible —————-but I can (and do) urge them on. I can seek to try and show them how it can be done. I can bring them examples of regular people, like them, like me, trying / doing extraordinary work.

Some of my peers in the industry work to help you get your gross up with birthday parties, clever websites, VIP passes, sleepovers, after school child care, school talks, and what have you. And while these might all be tools of the trade, they don’t inspire me to action the way solving problems does; the way getting a group of young people together and showing them exactly HOW they can use what they have to facilitate positive change in their own lives, in the lives of others, and in their communities.

If the members of the 100. aren’t solid-state, 100%, dynamic, focused, participative CHANGE MAKERS, of a sort more rare than not, then I’m not doing my job. If my students don’t understand, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this IS NOT about the martial arts, not about the technique, but something far, far more valuable, then I am failing to get across the point. 

There was a time when I wanted money; a time when I wanted trophies; a time when I wanted superior technique; a time when I wanted a big school; a time when I wanted lots of things ——but now, now my only goal is to cultivate change-makers —in a world where we must change and adapt to thrive and survive and contribute.

Martial Arts Business: 1 Student, a Million Dollars in Revenue, and The Importance of Student Service and Tracking

Let’s say one student, a good one, is good for 2 students referrals a YEAR (that is, they recommend other people to the school, who actually join and participate). And let’s say you charge, for your lessons alone, $100 a month (my fee in 1994), and add to that a conservative estimate of $200 in income yearly for special events, equipment, etc. 

This makes one single student, income-wise, a provider of $1400 per year, alone. We might then, just for thinking, add the $1400 per year, times 2, for this students two referred members. 

1 member + 2 others = 3 x 1400 per year = $4200. 

With this thinking about school revenue and operating budget, every student gained is a potential $4200 a year, more or less, and every student LOST is a loss of at least $4200 per year. 

For the sake of argument, I’ll use these numbers to help you think thru the issues. 

20 students gained is a potential gain of $84,000 over a year (or so) of enrollment time. 20 students each month, for 12 months, then equals 1 million, 800 thousand $$. 

You lose thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars of operating capital in your school ——and much of it is due to not understanding how to increase student service and focus for the purpose of retaining them as students (and for enough time to genuinely gain benefits from the training). 

You lose money because you fail to understand and implement systems and tools designed to catch drop-outs BEFORE they drop. You lose money due to a poorly understood or implemented set-up to your coaching, due to a failure of coaches to understand how to deal with attrition on the floor, before issues arise. 

On my seminar tour, info here: I will be coaching members in the ultimate attendance / retention system, which is inexpensive to implement —and works to help you micro-manage your student body. I’ll show you how to do it far, far beyond “adequate” or “good.” I’ll show you how to use it to better serve your students and increase your schools revenue dramatically, thru attention to detail, proper intent, delivery of promises, and straight up in-your-face honesty. 

I’m often shocked at how little smart money school owners spend on help; but then, I recognize they simply don’t know how much sloppy student tracking costs them; as if they knew, they’d be shocked into action. 

I also work on these issues, with school owners, teachers, and their staff members 365 days a year (a PRACTICE of the knowledge), at

Making more money in your school, making it a viable vehicle of damn fine stuff, isn’t, in my opinion, found in the implementation of the latest craze, but in attention to details and follow thru.