Summer can be a rough time of year for martial arts businesses. With school out, families’ schedules change, and parents are often no longer interested in weekly afternoon classes. Veteran martial arts teachers know all too well the summer doldrums – where it seems like all of the hard work you put into grooming new students goes out the window as soon as that final school bell rings.

With fewer prospects for revenue, just getting through the summer in relatively solid financial shape can be a scary proposition. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. The summer is actually a golden opportunity to not only drive more revenue but to roll right into fall with more students than ever before. How? By holding a martial arts day camp.

Why martial arts summer camps just make sense

Day camps are wildly popular during the summer, and with good reason: They give kids a fun, safe place to go to when their parents are at work, running errands or simply getting a little time to themselves. Weekly afternoon classes are so successful during the school year because they fit perfectly into a family’s schedule like a well-placed Tetris piece. You can’t expect to continue that successful game plan when those schedules change dramatically, though. You have to tweak your approach and give parents a compelling alternative to summertime mainstays like swim practice, Little League and soccer camp.

According to the American Camp Association, 14 million children attended camp in the U.S. as of 2013. That’s a big, lucrative market to tap into. Moreover, enrollment rates for camps across the U.S. remain steady. In 2016, the ACA found that 82 percent of camps saw their enrollment either increase or stay the same over the previous five years. In addition, half of all camps were operating at close to max capacity (90-99 percent).

As veteran studio owner Mike Massie noted, martial arts summer camps are virtually recession-proof too. Parents are more likely to look for full-time jobs when financial hardship strikes, and that means they’ll leap at the opportunity to have a safe place to send their kids while they’re at work.

Parents need a place for their kids to go all day during the summer. That's where a martial arts camp comes in.Parents need a place for their kids to go all day during the summer. That’s where a martial arts camp comes in.

Revenue opportunities abound in the summer

Martial arts businesses stand to make a ton of additional revenue by holding day camps of their own throughout the summer. How much extra dough can you expect to rake in? Well, that depends on a number of factors, including potential costs like bringing in seasonal staff to help with the added workload or offering a transportation service to get kids to and from the camp.

Don’t let shouldering additional expenses turn you away from the summer camp business model, though. Keep in mind that your rates will increase commensurately – and as many schools have found, parents are more than willing to pay the extra expense for a full- or even half-day summer martial arts camp. According to the Martial Arts Teachers’ Association, school owners can expect to bring in anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 of extra revenue thanks to summer camps. That’s sure to take the sting out of any attrition from your regular weekly classes. Speaking of which …

It’s so fly when students stop by for the summer

“Offer group rates and promotions for students who sign up friends.”

Summer camps are great opportunities to stave off the dreaded “we’re taking a break” talk with parents. When sketching out their children’s list of summer activities (Little League, swim team, etc.), parents may find that there just isn’t space for weekly martial arts classes. Offering a summer camp lets you get ahead of that scenario by providing the same level of exercise and camaraderie as other summertime sports while also providing the life lessons and personal growth you only get through martial arts.

If you lay the foundation now, you can seamlessly segue into summer by getting current students excited about continuing their martial arts journey all season long. To provide a little extra enticement, consider offering group rates or promotions for students who sign up a friend or two.

Cultivate your next crop of students

You should use your summer camp as an opportunity to reach prospective students who might not otherwise have considered martial arts classes. Once they’re at the camp, you can get them hooked on martial arts so they’re begging their parents to sign them up for classes in the fall. To keep up the momentum, you want to be sure that you balance out more strenuous exercises with fun activities, even if they’re not strictly martial arts-related. There’s no reason you can’t take a break from the action to play a game of kickball or go swimming, for instance.

Another important factor to consider is maintaining a brisk pace of development so new attendees feel like they’re making progress. Accelerated timelines for belt advancement can be helpful here, as are regular skills demonstrations for parents to see how their kids are coming along. When they see how much progress students are making in a relatively short amount of time, those parents will be far more likely to enroll them in regular classes when fall rolls around.

If you want to build buzz about your martial arts school and keep the revenue flowing in all summer long, you should really consider holding your own day camp. There’s no shortage of overwhelmed parents who need a place for their children to go during the day while they work or run errands. It’s a fantastic opportunity to improve student retention from school year to school year and begin filling out your fall classes with a new crop of excited students.

Don’t dread the summer – embrace it. Make the changes in season and family schedules work for your martial arts business by holding a day camp of your own this summer.

It would be great if all you needed to open a successful martial arts studio was a love of the craft. However, it takes a bit more than that to open and run a small business. Here's what you should know before opening the doors to the next generation of martial artists:

You probably won't have days off for a while
Forbes said it best: "You are a business owner 365 days of the year." This is especially true when a business is just getting off the ground. You don't clock out when you lock the doors for the evening. When it comes to opening a business, you're likely spending off-hours networking for the company and strategizing to market it and get it off the ground. It's truly a labor of love, as you also probably won't be turning a profit for a while. Don't underestimate how expensive it is to begin a business – from rent and permits to a staff and equipment. Budget and plan ahead.

Do your research
Just because you love martial arts doesn't mean everyone in an area does. Do some research about the neighborhood where you're planning to open your studio. Have there been a lot of other dojos that have come and gone? Or is there a surplus in the area? Either of those scenarios could be bad news for your up and coming martial arts studio. Don't commit to a location unless you know there's a market for your services. You don't want to have to pack up and move the studio in a year.

Talk to other studio owners 
The martial arts community is incredibly supportive. Whether someone is interested in taking a class for the first time or looking into opening their own studio, there's no doubt that a simple conversation with a current studio owner will allow you to leave with a plethora of information that you never even considered. Don't hesitate to talk to someone who's gone through the same process that you're currently considering.

Stay organized 
Management software for martial arts is an absolute must for new business owners. Even if you worked in a studio before, you're not going to be able to keep all of your student and company-related files organized in spreadsheets. Instead, invest in a quality management program so your martial business runs smoothly, without the headache.

Small organizations that place customer service and loyalty at the forefront of their strategies may be more successful at achieving business growth, and it’s important for martial arts schools to take note of this trend.

Rather than focusing exclusively on growth, small-business owners are prioritizing customer satisfaction because this is often a competitive differentiator for smaller companies, Accordingly, the quarterly American Express Small Business Monitor found 94 percent of business owners consider their ability to fulfill customer needs to be the most significant aspect of their companies rather than organizational size. These organizations can create personalized customer experiences for each client.

“It’s clear that small-business owners make it a priority to put their customers first, and it’s working,” said Athena Varmaizs, vice president and general manager of American Express Canada’s Small Business Services. “They seem to understand that it’s important to invest in growth, but not at the expense of their customers. As such, business owners are using this knowledge to help direct their everyday business decisions.”

How martial arts schools can leverage loyalty to grow
Going above and beyond expectations and delivering an excellent customer experience helps businesses organically attract new clients because highly satisfied people are likely to spread the word. Since martial arts are heavily based on relationships, schools can use this to their advantage.

According to Inc. magazine, attracting a new customer costs five times as much as retaining an existing client. If martial arts schools want to acquire new students, they need to focus on building loyalty among their current students. If students and instructors appear to be disengaged, it may be difficult to retain new customers. Loyalty is the best way to drive business growth.

Loyalty used to describe customer retention, but now it is based on a great experience and high levels of satisfaction, Forbes stated. Loyalty programs, such as coupons and promotions, and convenience factors used to play a role in retention, but customers are becoming harder to please. Many consumers are craving a personalized experience, and martial arts schools have the potential to deliver this. Instructors should focus on connecting with their students and deepening the relationship. This can significantly influence new students’ perception of the school and make them more likely to spread the word about great experiences to people they know.

It’s crucial for martial arts schools to maintain relationships with their students to build customer loyalty. However, some organizations go overboard with several channels of communications to their customers, which can lead to a decrease in the quality of service and alienate clients, according to MarketingProfs. Some technology systems, such as martial arts software, can help schools run more efficiently.

If schools conduct online marketing, students will come to expect speedy communications. If they contact the school by email or phone, they will want a fast response. Additionally, people who visit the website will not have patience to wait more than a few seconds for pages to load. Because quick timing has been established as a norm in consumer society, students will not have very much patience for waiting during any interaction with the school.

Customer service can impact loyalty
Martial arts schools need to be aware of what their students expect and deliver high-quality service. In fact, poor customer service is a major reason why people abandon brands. Loyalty is more important for customer retention than ever before, but it is also harder to maintain when people have more information and a higher number of choices.

Schools need to listen to their students’ preferences and make adjustments to ensure people are not leaving dissatisfied. Owners should be aware of potential customer satisfaction warning signs, Smart Company said. If the martial arts school is starting to have issues with student retention, owners need to look into the root cause so adjustments can be made immediately. Schools can ask for student feedback and make improvements based on suggestions.

Having the right staff members in place is critical for boosting customer loyalty and retention. Instructors should be engaged with students and understand they play a significant role in customers building a relationship with the school.

To meet the needs of students, retain customers and increase loyalty, martial arts schools need to be aware that client expectations are constantly changing. Although customer expectations vary by industry, some norms are universal, and schools need to meet these needs, MarketingProfs stated. A user-friendly management system can help improve efficiency while owners deliver great service.

It takes grit, passion and business acumen to run a successful martial arts school. What separates a prosperous company to a failing business is an martial arts owner's ability to manage personal finances and business cash flow. Personal and business finances are tightly intertwined, according to a survey, "In Search of Solid Ground: Understanding the Financial Vulnerabilities of Microbusiness Owners," conducted by the Corporation for Enterprise Development. A microbusiness​ is defined as having five employees or less, including the owner, Forbes reported. CFED found that 92 percent of small businesses in the U.S. fall under this category.

Small-business owners are tapping into personal cash
CFED's online survey of over 716 small-business owners revealed that 55 percent could only cover one month's expenses with their savings, and 30 percent did not even have reserve funds. Only 17 percent of online respondents had three months' of business savings.

Small-business owners tap into their personal savings when they face a company-related emergency. In fact, 41 percent of the online respondents use their personal savings for these reasons and 31 percent have to borrow on a personal credit card. The owner feels the damaging effects of a small business's pitfalls. The study found that 47 percent of proprietors who have only operated for  one to three years already had a damaged credit history.

Timing of payments and delivery of services is off
Many owners must borrow from their own savings when business expenses rise above cash flow. Part of why owners struggle with expenses is because the timing of delivery of services and payments are not aligned. Cash flow problems affect an owner's household income. In fact, 66 percent of respondents skipped a paycheck in 2013, the study revealed.

Seek advice to prevent further financial damage
Keeping your business and personal expenses separate will ensure you have legitimacy with bankers and the government. Martial arts school owners  can reduce their personal liability by keeping these expenses apart. Forbes recommended addressing these financial issues by seeking advice. With an objective perspective, you may gain fresh insights into your business situation. Either join an association in your industry or reach out to other entrepreneurs. A CPA, lawyer and/or banker can help you sustain financial health.

The Washington Post recommended knowing your cash flow. It may take time to manage invoices. However, many business management software tools can help streamline the bookkeeping process.

Running a successful martial arts school requires a lot of commitment and dedication on the part of the owner. Simply opening a facility for interested students to come in and train won't guarantee the success of the business. When it comes to teaching martial arts disciplines such as karate and taekwondo, there is no shortage of competition that exists. One doesn't have to look far to find a school in his or her area. This is why owners must go above and beyond when it comes to marketing and ensuring that students who sign up see their training through to the end.

However, when it comes to advertising, many schools may not have the budget to spend on elaborate campaigns that will raise the interest level of potential students and draw them in. The reality is that many training facilities are nothing more than mom-and-pop operations that rely heavily on word of mouth marketing from those already enrolled in classes. There are benefits that come with this particular advertising method.

The first is that it's organic, which is always ideal. Satisfied customers generally have no problem singing the praises of a company or organization that they have had a pleasurable experience with. Martial arts students who feel that they are learning a lot about self defense while also having fun, will likely tell others in their circle who will be interested as well.

The second is that word of mouth advertising is free. Owners of martial arts schools with people enrolled in classes who are happy with the level of training they are receiving, likely don't have to invest much money to advertise because their students can be a great referral source that can be capitalized on.

Still, as beneficial as these forms of advertising and marketing may be, there is no substitute for taking the traditional route and making a financial investment to spread the word about a martial arts school's offerings. Thankfully, there are a lot of low-cost methods that will fit inside of any owner's budget.

Inexpensive martial arts school marketing strategies
A recent white​ paper from Martial Arts Mapper listed a number of advertising tactics that owners can use that won't require a large financial investment. Arguably, the most useful suggestion is leveraging the power of technology to attract new students and get them to sign up for classes.

The Internet has become a powerful advertising tool for many organizations. Martial arts schools should consider creating a branded web site that people can visit to answer any questions they may have. In order to make it stand out more, demonstration videos can be used to allow potential students to see the training facility, briefly observe what a class will be like and discover the kind of training that they will receive should they decide to sign up.

Ideally, the website should also include a place where potential students can leave their contact information should they want a representative from the school to reach out to them directly. This can be a great source of leads that can be followed up on that can boost enrollment significantly.

Another low-cost strategy is to offer a free class. On the surface, it may seem counterproductive to allow someone to come in and train without paying for it, but allowing a potential student to have a first-hand experience can be a great selling point. Additionally, if the individual enjoys the teaching methods and feels that it can benefit them, then they will be more inclined to pay for additional classes to continue their training.

These are just two of the many marketing strategies that martial arts school owners can try that will help drive increased awareness and get more students in the door and participating in self-defense classes.

Other helpful marketing suggestions
It should be pointed out that a number of martial arts schools are likely offering free classes and using a website as a promotional tool. Despite the benefits that can be gained from their use, it's important for owners to also think outside the box and develop strategies that no one else has thought of before.

According to Martial Arts Business Daily, owners should look for ways to completely reshape the image and culture of their school to align with what potential students are looking for. Doing so will set one's business apart from the competition and make it more attractive. One of the ways this can be done is creating a narrative that lets people know how your school is different from others.

Everyone likes a good story and this particular method can be used to connect with potential students emotionally and get them to take the next step which is enrolling in a self-defense class. Many owners, who are excellent karate and taekwondo instructors, aren't always strong in the area of business. However following these tips and others can help a school grow and thrive. 

Now that you've made the decision to begin practicing a martial art, you're having a little trouble selecting a studio to attend on a regular basis. Don't worry, it can be difficult to choose one from so many good options. Regardless of which martial art you choose, you can rest assured you're bound to gain all the benefits of practicing martial arts in general. You will get into a regular exercise routine, learn self-defense and even sharpen your discipline and focus. 

That said, there are some significant differences in the different forms of martial arts at different studios. As you begin to research them for yourself, it's a good idea to have an idea of what you are looking to gain by participating in a new sport. Here are three questions to ask yourself as you make a decision:

1. Do you get along with others at the studio?
If you don't like the instructors or other students at a martial arts gym, it's likely you won't often attend classes and seminars held there. Start your research by exploring the people at different studios. You don't have to go in person all the time. Look at reviews online (sites like Yelp are often helpful) to see what past students have to say about the studio. Cross off ones that have a bunch of negative reviews. This will save you the time of stopping by all of them. It's important to have an instructor who is both knowledgeable and personable, especially when you're learning something like self-defense. Having the correct instruction goes a long way in helping you best learn to protect yourself. It's a good idea to sample a class at studios if one is offered.

2. What do I want to get out of this?
Martial arts have quite a few aspects in common. Most will offer some form of physical exercise while teaching you plenty about discipline and self-control along the way. But that said, there are some major fundamental differences between different schools of martial arts. Tai chi focuses more on the breathing side of exercise, which can be especially helpful for demographics a little less inclined to participate in rigorous physical activity regularly, like the elderly. On the other end of the spectrum, sports like boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu involve a lot of grappling, and are sure to keep your heartbeat at a high level almost the entire time. Examine your fitness needs as you decide which martial art is right for you. Additionally, there are competition options at a lot of studios for a few different martial arts. Karate and taekwondo are two of the most practiced forms of martial arts in the U.S., so if you're looking to compete, these may be the ones for you.

3. Is it convenient?
Another factor that should go into your decision is the sheer convenience of taking classes regularly in a martial art. First, take the time to examine your own schedule. Some studios have classes available both in the mornings and evenings, but some only offer classes at select times throughout the week. Make sure the available times and days align with your work and personal schedules so that you can get into the habit of regularly practicing a new martial art. It's also a good idea to look for a martial arts studio in your neighborhood. Long commutes between your home and a studio can be problematic, especially if you live in a region with bad weather in the winter.

Having a great website can significantly benefit your business. As a martial arts studio owner, you're going to want to attract local residents to your business. One of the most efficient ways for you to reach the local community is to have a great website.

Constructing a website for your business can be an intimidating task. Organizing an abundance of information about your martial arts studio can be tricky, but it's well worth the effort.

Here are four characteristics of a good website:

1. Holds the audience's attention
Websites are great tools to strategically advertise because there are so many media options at your disposal. You can post audio and video files, start a blog about your studio or create a social media account to better stay in touch with your clientele. Regardless of what you decide, build a website that will attract attention from its intended audience. Use bright colors, playful fonts and plenty of images or graphics to make your website unique.

2. It's legible
While it's a good idea to get creative with your website's fonts, don't overdo it. It's just as important for your site's visitors to be able to read the material on the Web page. Following the same logic, do your best to organize your site. More organization will help potential clients see all of the products and services your studio has to offer. Try making a monthly calendar that displays classes for each day of the week, for starters. 

3. Everything is accessible
Highlight the most important information. This includes hours of operation and restrictions (if certain classes have age minimums, for example). Besides the basic information, however, it's a good idea to make yourself and your staff accessible as well. Include email addresses and office phone numbers. Potential members of your martial arts studio will appreciate the ability to get in touch with a human being when they have questions.

4. Your name is all over 
Don't forget to advertise your martial arts studio! It's great to design a website that features instructional tutorials and martial arts news, but you also need to make sure you advertise yourself. With technology playing such a vital role in the world today, more people are searching online for studios to join. Make sure that your website encourages its visitors to join your studio! Put the name of your studio on each page at least once.

With 2015 coming to a close, there's no doubt you're already looking ahead to 2016 to see what you can improve upon in your business. Recruiting new students for your martial arts studio can be tough work. That said, here are a few tactics to consider adding to your marketing strategy for the upcoming year:

Reach out to schools
One of the largest target markets for your martial arts studio should be children. Children have the potential to be students at your studio for a number of years, which would translate to continued business for you! Plus, bullying is major problems in schools today. According to the National Bullying Prevent Center, nearly one in four children is bullied throughout the course of the school year. That said, think about advertising classes as a means to fight bullying. If nothing else, you're sure to get the attention of concerned parents.

Sponsor a team
Many children are enrolled in after-school athletic programs. Take the opportunity to advertise your martial arts studio by sponsoring a team. Doing so can be as easy as buying the team's uniforms, and it will give you another chance to plaster the name of your studio on a piece of clothing that other children and their parents will see at every game.

Invite students to bring their friends
Another excellent way to increase traffic in and around your studio is to encourage students to bring their friends. Pick one day out of the month for existing pupils to bring their friends and family to try out a class free of charge. Try to have your best instructors teaching that day, and choose a curriculum that will be both fun and productive. You want to make sure that everyone who attends a sample class enjoys it enough to return for another one! It's not a bad idea to pick the same time of the month for a recurring event. For example, make the free session on the last Thursday of every month. Choosing a consistent day will get the students you have already in the habit of bringing their friends.

Be accessible
It should go without saying, but you want to make sure you effectively communicate with the students you already have, their parents and potential enrollees. It starts by doing the simple things. Have someone available to answer your studio's phones during business hours. If everyone is busy teaching a class, make sure you return missed phone calls promptly. Being accessible to your client base is a good way to ensure it will keep contributing to your business. Additionally, make sure your website is a strong one! Post class schedules and closure dates so your students make your studio a part of their routines.

Host special events
Your studio may be the perfect venue for unique events, like a birthday party. Instead of children and their parents cramming into a Chuck E. Cheese or local arcade, they can have a birthday party in your martial arts studio! Not only will the kids have fun, but it will give you a chance to reach out to their parents about classes and other programs you have to offer.

Don't forget about adults
While it's a good idea for you to focus on recruiting kids to be martial arts students, there's no reason you shouldn't target the older demographic, too. Not only do some adults want to learn about self-defense, but many are looking for new ways to exercise. Advertise your studio as a great way to workout, especially for older age groups. 

Martial arts have long been considered a major part of Eastern culture, but nations in the West have adopted some of their practices into their own culture over the last few decades. Like anything else, one of the most effective ways to make something new more popular is to use technology.

Martial arts have become prominent sports in the West, and that's partly due to their appearances in video games. One of the newest titles making waves is a popular Korean game called "Blade & Soul." Despite only being available in South Korea at first, this massively multiplayer online role-playing game is now sold in both Europe and North America. Though initially launched in 2012, the fantasy martial arts game grew in popularity enough to spread to China, Taiwan and Japan, and is now headed west. 

The game, created by publisher NCsoft, is expansive and considered to be one of the best martial arts video games ever. It features seven classes, 30 dungeons and 45 different levels. Although "Blade & Soul" will soon be winning fans across North America, this is not the first martial arts video game by a long shot. In fact, martial arts have been in video games for decades now, and have helped increase the sport's popularity in Western countries. Here are three video games that have helped shape the presence of martial arts in video games over the years:

1. "Bruce Lee"
This game, which sold more than 1 million copies in the '80s, was one of the first martial arts games ever made and featured an animated Bruce Lee progressing through 20 levels by defeating enemies with the power of Jeet Kun Do. Many in the martial arts world appreciate the game because it pays tribute to one of the industry's most respected icons. As one of the oldest martial arts video games, it didn't have great graphics, but provided another instance for the sport to take root in video games.

2. "Mortal Kombat"
This head-to-head martial arts video game was first made popular in the arcade, eventually making the transition to consoles in 1992. Though there were two "Mortal Kombat" films made, the game series has already encompassed nearly 20 titles, with the latest version being released in April 2015. The game, which was developed as a competitor for the Street Fighter series of martial arts video games, was somewhat controversial because of the gory "fatality" feature available at the end of each battle. Regardless, the game is still popular among gamers everywhere.

3. "Kung-Fu Master"
Like "Mortal Kombat," this title had its origins as an arcade game before being made available to consoles. Players use karate to defeat a series of enemies through five levels to rescue a princess. Popular martial arts moves like spinning kicks are used for the majority of the game.

Games like these are immensely popular, especially among younger gamers. Not only do they appeal to the youth, they give individuals the opportunity to see martial arts on a new stage. As the interest in martial arts continues to grow in the West, video games will continue to feature them.

Since 1.44 billion people are active on Facebook each month, according to Statista, it's important for your martial arts school to have a company page on the popular social media site. This will give you a chance to provide your audience important updates and communicate with them regularly. However, it's not enough to just update your wall every few days and expect people to be hooked to your page. If you want users to come back to your page regularly, you have to keep them engaged. Here are a few ways to do that:

Post photos
According to Social Media Examiner, posting photos on Facebook is one of the most effective ways to engage your audience because images are easier to take in than text. However, you can't just post any old image and expect people to stay engaged. It's important to post clear and captivating photos that your target audience will find interesting. For example, if your students recently competed in a Taekwondo competition, include a photo of your own students competing. 

Ask questions
Questions are an effective way to spark conversations with your audience. When you ask a thought-provoking question on Facebook, your readers will want to respond. For instance, you could ask your audience what inspired them to try martial arts. People will enjoy reading each other's responses and stay on your page longer.

Choose your timing wisely
If you make Facebook posts when most of your target audience is working or doing other tasks, you probably won't get much engagement. According to data from Kissmetrics, the best times to share on Facebook are at noon and a little after 7 p.m

Respond to fan posts
If your audience know that you are actually reading their posts and interested in what they have to say, it can increase engagement. Keep an eye on your Facebook page every day and see what comments are coming through. While it'd be nice to always receive positive comments, you may get something negative once in a while. When this happens, respond to the person in a timely manner and offer to talk about the issue over the phone or via email. It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but addressing your audiences' concerns will keep them coming back to your page. 

At Claremore, Oklahoma's Beaven's Martial Arts Academy, some students wield light sabers, reported Tulsa World. The high-tech, battery-powered swords are a perfectly acceptable complement to the dojo's new course in Jedi martial arts. 

Combined with traditional martial arts instruction, the class requires the same skill and fitness as any other course, according to Tulsa's KJRH. It just so happens that this round of training injects a little more flair and, for its students, a lot of fun. The nine-week class offers a whole new way to attract interest in the discipline. 

David Beaven, owner of the studio, said the catalyst for the class was a news segment about LudoSport International, an Italian light saber academy. And because Jedis are legitimate martial artists, Beaven decided to incorporate the two forms. After initiating a course in Shii-Cho – the first form of Jedi combat – his list of students has grown, and some of them are entirely new to martial arts. 

Other organizations, such as the New York Jedi club and the online Terra Prime Lightsaber Academy, encourage the fusion of light saber form with martial arts. The fun might just kick off a growing trend. 

What is your vision for 2015?  How far will you go?  How high will you climb?

As you prepare to make adjustments to your business for the new year, you want to be assertive and actionable during this process. However, you shouldn't be too aggressive to the point that you lose sight of the prize. Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

As Steve Jobs famously stated, "Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become."

You need to envision what success will look like to you in 2015. Is it seeing that your classes are always consistently full? Is your goal to have fewer students fall by the wayside? Do you want to see an overall increase revenue which, of course, ties into the first two examples? Only you can decide what constitutes success for your martial arts school. 

It's important to remember that when things aren't going well in business, complaining won't change the situation at all. If your school wasn't as successful as you would've liked for it to have been in 2014, now is the time to sit down and take an honest look at your operation and uncover the reasons behind it.

For many owners, this can be an uncomfortable process. However, it's an extremely necessary step to go through if your business is going to attain a higher level of success. According to Forbes, one of the reasons most companies don't reach their goals is due to a lack of vision on the part of the owner. Does this describe you?

Helpful strategies to plan for the new year
Take a look at where you are now in your business and begin creating a path toward the successful vision you have for 2015. Once you've identified what you would like to accomplish, it's important to understand that everything begins with that first step. This is where it all starts. 

However, you must be clear on the direction you want to take before setting out on this particular journey. Know what you want to achieve and the direction you need to travel in order to get there. Push yourself to reach new heights and don't be afraid of failure.

If 2014 wasn't your year, then 2015 can be better; but it all begins with that first step. Are you prepared to take it?

When most people think of martial arts, they typically reference well-known and popular self-defense styles such as taekwondo and karate. Although these two disciplines are widely taught, there are several other martial arts forms that are currently being practiced around the world that receive little to no publicity. Vo Viet Nam, or Vovinam, is one of these.

Vo Viet Nam translates simply into martial arts of Vietnam, Thanhnien News wrote. This particular martial arts discipline was created in 1938 as way for students to learn self-defense strategies in a relatively short period of time. There are already millions of practitioners, and Vovinam has been aggressively promoted in more than 50 countries across the globe. Both figures could receive a significant boost thanks to help from a U.S.-based cable news network.

CNN to help raise awareness of Vovinam
Since 2012, the "Hero to Human" television program has built up a viewing audience that today is estimated at 260 million people who watch the show around the world, Thanhnien News stated. CNN, who broadcasts the programming, will profile Vovinam in its next episode targeting international viewers.

In November, CNN filmmakers visited Ho Chi Minh City to interview local practitioners and film classes to be broadcast to a broad audience base. Doing so should help spread the discipline in a way that has been difficult to achieve since its inception.

Vovinam challenges
In order for martial arts to spread and gain acceptance, it has to be properly promoted. According to Tuoi Tre News, the Vietnam Vovinam Federation has been aggressively trying to bring the discipline to the mainstream.

The organization worked closely with India when the country held a Vovinam tournament in November. Additionally, the VVF is also working to secure a tournament spot in the Southeast Asian Games that is supervised by the Olympic Council of Asia and the International Olympic Committee.

Being featured on CNN will likely be a great boost to making the discipline more popular. The newspaper stated that the discipline contains movements that can be choreographed in a live-action film or TV show and capture the attention of viewer using movements that will capture the imagination of audiences.

Vovinam, while not mainstream, could gain acceptance as those interested in learning martial arts become aware of this innovative art form as a result of CNNs programming and the discipline being introduced at mainstream sporting events and tournaments.

Many martial arts school owners are always on the hunt for ways to streamline their operations. The less time they spend on back office tasks, the more opportunities they have to engage with students and instruct them in self-defense. Many martial arts training facilities use desktop computers as a way to monitor important metrics such as enrollments, drop-outs and average class size.

However, technological advancements, such as laptops and tablets, are becoming increasingly popular with owners for keeping track of critical data sets. Now, oversized computers are no longer necessary, and more practical devices are becoming common within martial arts schools.

How martial arts school owners benefit from mobile technology
The student check-in process is a fairly straightforward and self-explanatory. When arriving for class, individuals will either sign their name on a sheet of paper that is later input into a system that logs attendance, or this process will be done by a staff member operating a computer.

Tablets are a great way to facilitate this activity. Many schools have a tablet located at the front desk that allows students to automatically check in to their class. This is done using an application that logs each student's attendance in real-time, eliminating the need for an owner to make separate entries into a computer program. Owners can later go back and review this data to see how many people showed up for a particular class, as well as chart those who have missed training on a consistent basis. 

This is one of the many ways that martial arts schools can become more modernized and efficient at the same time. Certainly, many people who run facilities that train people in karate and taekwondo are comfortable with the old way of managing certain information.

Technological advancements have created tools that benefit everyone. Owners should strongly consider systems that automate daily tasks.

Kicksite believes in the use of technology to help martial arts school owners run their businesses more efficiently. Because of this, our company is giving away a new iPad Air. All you have to do is click this link and enter the contest using your email address.

On December 26 at 11 AM EST, one lucky winner will be randomly selected in our promotion. If you're interested in realizing the benefits of using a tablet in your martial arts school, be sure to enter our contest today!

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