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Kovar Systems
Business Tips Point to Ponder

The Importance of the Martial Arts Industry

By Dave Kovar

Recently, I attended a Tony Robbins seminar in San Jose, California. During several of the breakout sessions, I partnered up with a very successful divorce attorney that appeared to have everything going for him. He was charismatic, impeccably dressed, financially stable, and an all-around cool guy. However, it didn’t take long to find out that he absolutely hated his job. He told me that every Sunday evening the thought of going to work the next day gets his stomach in knots. He felt he was wasting his life on a career that does not serve people like he intended on serving them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are plenty of divorce attorneys who absolutely love their job and find great value in it. He just wasn’t one of them.

This entire interaction reminded me of how blessed I am to love what I do. Sure, it’s not always easy. However, the pros far outweigh the cons. One thing is for certain, what we do changes lives. Whether it be challenges with bullying, lack of focus, lack of self-control, poor role models, obesity, high stress, you name it, Martial Arts can help. That’s why I am honored to be a part of the Martial Arts industry.

Certainly our industry isn’t perfect. Nevertheless, I am constantly amazed by the high-caliber leaders dedicated to making the world a better place through Martial Arts instruction. We’ve come a long way in the 40 years that I have been running a martial arts school, but there’s plenty more we can still do to raise the standards of Martial Arts and to get more people involved. Here are a few things that I think we should focus on:

Lead by Example. It is very common for well-intentioned school owners to focus so much on the business that they forget to keep up on their own training. For me, being a martial artist and leading by example means that not only do I continue to practice my physical skills, but I try to focus on my lifestyle, my attitude, and my interactions in a way that represents what Martial Arts means to me.

The Rising Tide Lifts All Boats. I find that, with very few exceptions, the most successful school operators share information freely with other school owners, even their competition. It is important for us all to remember that we create our market. If there’s only one mediocre school in an area then very few people train in that area. However, if there are four great schools in a particular community that means lots of people will be training. Although I don’t necessarily want a school opening up across the street from any of my locations, I know that every time they do we just step up our game and get better.

Ease People in to the Hard Stuff. For the first eight years that I was in business, I prided myself in being a hardcore school. I did not have a lot of students but the students I did have were good. As I look back on those days, now I realize that the reason they were good is because I scared away all of the un-athletic students that came into my school. That left me with a group of people that were already tough and talented and ceased to see the potential of martial arts at an early stage of their training.

Over the years, I’ve learned to ease people into my program and this has made all the difference. Rather than scaring off anyone, we make it our goal to teach those students that initially come in fearful and un-athletic to become true martial artists. We do this by setting realistic goals and stepping up the intensity over time.

Constantly Be Trying to Improve Your Program. Tradition is an important part of Martial Arts, as it should be. Tradition is great, but being stuck in the past is not. The phrase “if you are not growing you’re dying“ is especially important in our industry. I believe that we should be constantly striving to improve our program. If you want to stay in business, you have to stay relevant, and the only way to do that is to be aware of what’s going on around you and learning from it. This does not mean you have to jump on the bandwagon with every new trend that comes along. However, it’s good to know what is trending and then decide if that trend has any value for you.

Look for Ways to Serve Your Community. There are many ways you and your students can positively impact your community and there are several reasons to do so. To begin with, it’s the right thing to do. The world needs as much help as possible and we are in a position to do just that. Next, teaching the value of service is a great lesson for our students. Remember the word “samurai“ means “to serve.“ Finally, finding ways to serve your community is great for business. Perhaps you won’t notice the difference in the short term. But if you’re playing the long game, there’s nothing better than being viewed in a positive light in your community.

I don’t know about you, but we are doubling our efforts to strengthen the Martial Arts Community. Will you join us?


ProMAC International ConferenceYOU’RE INVITED to our ProMAC International Conference! Join martial artists from around the world in Denver, Colorado on May 4th-6th for an event that will accelerate your business. Be sure to purchase your general admission ticket ASAP. We will SELL OUT! Click here, to save your spot now.


by Dave Kovar