How One Martial Arts School Pivoted To Thrive During COVID-19

How One Martial Arts School Pivoted To Thrive During COVID-19

Right now, many small martial arts schools are struggling to find ways to stay in contact with their students, and continue teaching classes remotely. Sensei Jason Wenneberg, the head instructor at the American Marital Arts Academy in Fullerton, CA, outlined how his martial arts school turned everything around and found success even in unknown territory. Here, he shares his approach to handling a crisis, and how to come out on top.

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We had to close the doors of our studio in the middle of March, and we immediately launched a three-pronged attack to keep students active, engaged & paying for our classes:

running-an-online-martial-arts-school

#1 - Online University

We started using videos and documents to help our students train at home. These classes worked for all ages, all belt ranks, and more. As well, they include challenges from Shihan, such as instructing children to create 'karate' art & send us a picture of it, completing a 'gratitude' list, motivational messages, success training, teaching them how to tie your belt, and so on. Now, we have a full library for all of our students to access, which cover all aspects of our teaching.

Consumer Spending In Recreation

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#2 - One-On-One Private Lessons

Our students can schedule several private lessons per week, and each one lasts about 15 minutes each. We use Zoom for our private lessons, which allows the students to participate as well.

COVID-19 & Martial Arts

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Even though we are all separated, we are still able to host special classes with video conferencing. We started doing belt testing via zoom, and have done both group (by rank) testing and individual, 15-minute belt tests. Students invite friends and family to jump on and our black belt instructors jump on as the audience. After email them a rank certificate, we let them know we will to present their belt in person when they're back in class (we keep it safe at the studio 'til then).

#3 - Live-Streaming Classes 

Using Zoom, we have been able to host regularly scheduled classes. Our classes run for the regular amount of times, which are 30 minutes for 2 to 5-year old students, 45 minutes for 6 to 11-year-old students, and 60 minutes for teens/adults).

Martial Arts Industry Performance

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Since we've started livestreaming classes, we have taken note of a few tips that help our classes run successfully on Zoom, and boost our student turn-out.

  1. Spotlight the instructor, so that they are always featured on screen as the presenter

  2. Mute all the other participants while the instructor is actively teaching

  3. Use breakout rooms when you have multiple instructors to split up the groups (you can do this by checking the 'move participants automatically to room' box in Zoom)

  4. Be creative with the online training by mixing in themes, weapons training, magic tricks, etc..

teaching-martial-arts-online

Standing Out Against Distractions

Right now, you will be competing with Netflix, Nintendo, iPads and even just playing outside to stay at the front of your students' minds, so your classes should be fun and engaging for your students. Parents are stuck at home with their kids 24/7 right now, and are struggling with everything; not just to mention school, but also work and other extracurriculars. If they start having to fight with the children to jump on for karate classes, it'll be the first thing to go. 

With that mind, we wanted to make online classes approachable for our students. So, we promoted free online karate classes to all our prospects—and many former students, as well. In addition, we're also working on a reactivation campaign for students who went on hold during this crisis. By sending hand-written notes, explaining that we miss them and how excited we are to have them back when we can reopen our school, we're staying in touch with our former students in a personal way.

Martial Arts Consumer Ages

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Attracting New Students

In addition to everything listed above, we launched an aggressive campaign to attract new students through our digital format, so we have expanded our reach to students all across the country. We updated our pricing so that it reflects—and doesn't undercut—our current paying students.

Which Martial Arts Forms Are Driving Revenue

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We offer three tiers of pricing for our online university, private lessons, and livestream classes. Or, students can get all three for a set price. This made it easier to keep our current students paying and allowed us to offer simple, straight-forward options for prospective students to sign up for.

virtual-martial-arts-classes

Heading Into The Future

As we had into the unknown, we are starting to brainstorm marketing campaigns for new students and celebration events for our current students to participate in when we can fully re-open. One of the most important things to remember right now is to take things one day at a time, and keep in contact with your students. Remember: we're all in this together, and we'll get through this together!

 

Watch PerfectMind's Webinar With Sensei Jason Wenneberg:

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