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.

Many martial arts practitioners dream of one day owning their own dojo. Few, however, actually do end up pursuing this dream, whether they’re afraid of opening a business because of potential failure, or they simply don’t have the means to do so. Those who do, though, don’t seem to regret their decisions. There are many benefits to owning your own business, and especially your own dojo if you’re passionate about martial arts. Here are some of the biggest reasons that people who own martial arts studios love their jobs:

They turn their passion into a career
You know that old saying, “find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life?” Well, many people with their own dojo feel as if their job isn’t really “work.” This is because they don’t spend their days just staring at a computer or making phone calls. While running a dojo does require mundane tasks, they go to a greater cause: Making the martial arts studio as great as it can be. The owner of a dojo will likely never have a typical 9:00 to 5:00 schedule, but he or she will be OK with that because running your own business is truly a labor of love.

They’re their own boss
Nobody likes answering to someone else, which is one reason many people decide to pursue their own business ventures. When you own your own dojo, the space can become whatever you want it to be. When you own your own business, you don’t have to wait for the go-ahead from a boss to purchase something for the space, or to change something around. If you own the space along with someone else, you’ll have to discuss any big changes with your business partner, but nobody will be able to order you around.

They get to spread their knowledge
While working at someone else’s dojo allows you to teach people who are new to martial arts as well, there is just something different about teaching in your own space. Maybe the studio you used to work at doesn’t quite have the same philosophy as you do, or maybe the owner of that studio is very strict about the way the martial arts are taught. When you’re in your own space, you get to be the one who determines how to teach lessons, and you get to dictate how much of your personal philosophy to include. You can be very hands-on with the other instructors, or you can allow each instructor to determine how the craft is taught. The dojo can take on any sort of vibe you want!

They get to watch students grow
The Art of Manliness talked to Jino Kang, owner of Hapkido USA in the Bay Area in California, and master of hapkido, taekwondo, and kyokoshin-kai karate. When asked what his favorite part about owning his own studio was, he said, “Seeing the smiling faces of children after they passed their Belt Exam. Watching an adult member lose 50 lbs from hard training at my school. And when students go away to college, get married and return to my school with their kids and train as a family.”

However, there are two sides to that coin. Kang also said that the worst part of his job was when a student quits martial arts. Since Kang invests so much time into each student, he said that it breaks his heart when someone decides to stop practicing. This goes to show how meaningful it can be to teach martial arts in your own dojo.

Martial arts school owners already know the importance of having a strong website, but sometimes it can be easy to forget about keeping it updated on a regular basis. Not only can this make it difficult if contact information is wrong, but it can also be the reason that several potential students are turned off by the school.

According to a recent from Infogroup, a provider of high-value data and multichannel marketing solutions, 85 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t give a company a second chance in their address or hours were wrong in search engine results. Martial arts school owners need to recognize that making these simple changes can have an influence on new student enrollment.

“Thanks to mobile technology, consumers who are upset about incorrect business listings have no reason to give that business a second chance or to keep quiet about their negative experience,” said Amit Khanna, president of small and medium business at Infogroup. “It’s important that small businesses make it as easy as possible for customers to find them on the first try.”

Contact information isn’t the only thing that consumers value when looking at company websites, it’s also important that businesses have claimed local listings, developed a mobile friendly site and social media accounts are regularly updated. A blog post for Entrepreneur magazine stated that simply reading the school’s website could be a good way to learn what needs to be changed. Martial arts schools are constantly evolving and their websites need to be doing the same.

By keeping prospective students and their parents updated with new class schedules or including more information about why it is a good idea to learn martial arts, owners could see more children signing up for class. Old, stale websites will certainly bring down the school.

One of the most challenging things about opening a martial arts studio is determining what you should charge. On one hand, you want to turn a profit, but on another hand, you want to make sure you are adding martial arts students and retaining the ones you have. The key is to find a fair price that compensates you for your space and your – or your employees’ – work. Here are some tips for determining your rates:

Figure out the structure
Will your studio offer private classes or group classes? Open studio time? Will you offer family rates? Fixed monthly rate for unlimited service? Will you supply uniforms and belts? If so, it may be possible to charge a bit more, since students won’t have to go out and buy their own. It’s important to determine the structure of the studio before even thinking about charges. Not all martial arts services are equal, and there are some that should definitely cost more than others.

Consider nixing the contract
Many martial arts and other types of fitness classes lock their students into a contract. While this can be a good way to get a lump sum of cash up front, it can prevent people who aren’t sure if martial arts is for them from joining. Consider allowing prospective students to pay per class, at least in the beginning. After all, people are much more willing to shell out $10 than $100 for something they may be on the fence about. This is especially true if you’re gearing your classes towards children. Since kids can lose interest quickly, your studio will appeal more to parents than studios that don’t offer trial classes or pay-per-class rates.

Look at studios around you
A martial arts class in Southern California or New York City is sure to be more expensive than a martial arts class in Nebraska. There’s no set price for the entire industry. Look into other studios in the area to find a comparable rate. It’s also important to look at the types of classes and services offered in your area. If you offer private classes, you can charge more than you would for group enrollment without looking like you’re gouging your students.

Stick with what you decide
If you choose a price for your martial arts studio membership, you need to stick with the price for quite a while. While you may be sure that you could make more money by bumping dues up $20 or so, it may not work out that way. If your students and members feel betrayed by a quick spike in prices, it’s very possible that you could lose a lot of business, potentially causing you to make less money than before. If you do decide to raise prices, be sure to give everyone plenty of notice. Your students and studio patrons will also appreciate the transparency and likely stick around despite the price hike.

It's always a missed opportunity when a small business doesn't take advantage of social media to market their services. While there's no replacing professional marketing or public relations, social media is the ultimate way to get the word out about your martial arts studio, for free. If you haven't begun using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat as a business tool yet, here are a few reasons why you should – and how to get started:

Become a recognizable name in the community
The martial arts community tends to be a friendly, tightly knit one. If you find a few people in your area on social media who are active in the community, you're likely to find a whole lot more. If you decide to start a Facebook page, make sure it's a business page rather than a personal one. Begin by suggesting it to a few people you know who are active in or interested in martial arts, like your current students and patrons, through your personal account. After a while, more people who feel the same way will add your organization's page and check out the services you have to offer. It's important to keep the page active, so people who haven't experienced your studio firsthand consider it a reputable business, but you also need to know where to draw the line – nobody wants to see eight posts from one page clogging their news feed every day.

Keep it personal
Don't use stock images or pictures from Google Images when posting on your social media pages. While stock imagery is just fine on your business's website, social media is a place to be a little more personal. Use pictures of your students, your staff and the studio itself. However, it's important to get permission from anyone you photograph before you post their picture on the internet. Share your student's achievements and even news about the community. This is an opportunity to get involved in the neighborhood while also spreading the word about your business.

Consider your demographics
Too many social media accounts can get overwhelming for the people following your page as well as the people running them. Choose one or two to be your business' main online presence. Think about what makes the most sense for your particular business and the people you're trying to attract. Facebook tends to reign supreme when it comes to business social media, so make sure you utilize it often. However, younger demographics also use Instagram and Snapchat a lot, so these platforms can be extremely useful if you're trying to get younger people into the studio. Both of these platforms are very image-heavy as well, which is best for a business like a martial arts studio. While some businesses can effectively use Twitter to promote the business, it may be a bit too text-heavy for martial arts or fitness studios. 

As exciting as it is to practice martial arts, many people want to take their training to another level and pass their knowledge on to others. One way to do this is to open your own martial arts studio. This rewarding experience doesn't come without its challenges, though. While the end result is definitely worth it – especially when you see how much your students love learning from you – there are things you should know before opening your own studio.

It's not cheap
Getting a business up and running comes with a lot of expenditures and a martial arts studio is no different. Before you decide to take the plunge, it's important to research costs, determine your budget and stick to it. According to Champion's Mind, the five biggest expenses to work into your studio budget include:

Consider hiring a lawyer
While most of us don't have the budget to keep a lawyer on retainer, a few consultations are never a bad idea when you're opening a new business, especially if you don't  have any experience. Not only will a lawyer ensure you have all of your permits and licenses, but he or she can also make sure you fully understand everything that you sign – from leases to rent. Your lawyer can also help you write waiver and release forms for your students.

Screen potential employees
Many martial arts studios begin with just the owner instructing classes. However, if you're interested in hiring employees or other instructors, it's important to make sure you're working with people you trust. It's a good idea to make your first employees people you're already familiar with – like family members, friends or people you've trained with. If you're going to look outside your social circle, you need to know what you're looking for. Do you want your instructors to be industry accredited? If so, you may have to pay them more than you would someone who hasn't been accredited. Are you open to hiring people who haven't had a lot of industry experience? How high of a rank do you want them to have? According to Fighting Arts, you should also be suspicious of people who claim to have incredibly high ranks, as an eighth, ninth or tenth dan isn't usually obtained earlier than the age of 35.

Though this may seem like a lot to go through when opening a studio, the sense of pride in having a practice space that people love to be in will be well worth it all.

Beautiful weather is often inspiration enough to get fit. Just think about the summer. It seems everyone is lacing up her running shoes, hitting the links or heading off for a swim. As a martial arts studio, summer is a great time for you to attract new individuals, adding martial arts students to your roster.

Here are a few reasons individuals should sign up for martial arts in the summer:

1. Keep kids busy.
The summer can be a challenging time for parents. Kids are always at home, searching for entertainment and sometimes getting into trouble. Signing kids up for summer martial arts classes not only will help them burn off that pent-up energy (or sugar), but it can also help promote peace of mind and an overall calmer state. And that means, a quieter house for the family. As a studio owner, schools are a great place to put up information.

2. Get in shape.
Summer is high time for activities. With the beautiful weather, though, comes higher temperatures, which can be more strenuous for any individual. Practicing martial arts can help individuals improve their flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and even contribute to a healthy heart. Studios should consider putting up flyers in gyms and doctors' offices (with permission, of course).

3. Avoid the sun.
While the summer is great inspiration for getting in shape, being outside in the heat and beating sun can be dangerous. Individuals risk sunburn and heat exhaustion. This is especially true in areas where the average summer temperatures can sit above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. There's only so much time one can spend on the treadmill without getting bored, so advertise your studio as a fun and unique way to stay in shape, despite the heat.

Pay-per-click advertising can be highly effective for martial arts schools to attract higher website traffic, but owners need to ensure they are not making critical mistakes that detract from the success of these campaigns. In fact, a recent infographic from WordStream found small businesses waste as much as 25 percent of their PPC budgets per month due to simple managerial mistakes.

The most significant areas for improvement were account activity, ad relevancy and maintaining a working knowledge of mobile optimization best practices. By making minor refinements to campaigns, martial arts schools could find themselves with significantly higher website traffic and potentially more students. The infographic noted that based on costs per click and conversion rates in 2013, gyms would be able to sell 218 more memberships in 2014 if they made small adjustments to PPC practices.

While a well-run PPC campaign will produce good results, schools can't start this strategy and then let it run itself. PPC requires occasional maintenance to ensure ads are still relevant and optimized. More than half of small businesses only optimized their ads once per quarter.

How martial arts schools can improve PPC campaign management
Since the PPC landscape is always changing, martial arts school owners can stay on top of new developments if they spend 20 minutes per week in their accounts. Without regular updates, schools could risk losing new students to other studios in the area who take a more active role in PPC management.

Martial arts schools can make improvements by finding their best keywords and utilizing more longtail keywords. This enables you to decrease cost per click and find more qualified leads, since the search terms are more specific. However, WordStream found many small businesses only relied on broad match keywords, which may not drive the same results as longtail phrases. Similarly, 20 percent do not use negative keywords.

By identifying the best longtail keywords that relate to the school and improving ad relevancy, martial arts facilities can better target the most relevant students. Since most small businesses have more limited marketing budgets than large competitors, they should ensure they select the best keywords because it can help reduce costs and improve return on investment, according to Search Engine Land. Martial arts schools should only pay for the most relevant keywords because this will help them drive results. 

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.

As more people use mobile devices to surf the Web, businesses need to ensure their sites display well across a variety of platforms. Martial arts schools can accommodate smartphones and tablets by employing responsive Web design.

According to an infographic from WhoIsHostingThis?, 74 percent of mobile visitors will leave a site if it takes longer than five seconds to load, meaning the stakes are higher as more people conduct searches from smartphones. Responsive Web design is worth considering because the site adapts to the size of the screen, whether it is a desktop computers, tablet or mobile phone.

Nearly half of American adults have a smartphone, and 90 percent of these people use their devices to access the Internet. Whether a martial arts school is trying to target students or provide information for parents of children enrolled at the studio, a significant portion of the target audience could be viewing the website from a smartphone or tablet. In fact, nearly one-third of smartphone owners primarily use this device to access the Internet rather than a computer.

Responsive Web design improves user experience
Mobile sites have been growing in significance for several years, but before responsive design, companies needed to create a completely separate website to target mobile users, Business 2 Community said. Although this was the only option at the time, it could lead to difficulties in user experiences because of different screen sizes. Responsive design enables martial arts schools to maintain one site.

Although responsive design improves the website user experience for smartphone owners on the go, there are also search engine optimization benefits for studios. Instead of needing to optimize two separate websites with keywords and content, martial arts schools can focus on one, which leads to lower design costs.

Responsive sites should contain several key elements to maintain the same function across devices of different sizes. The top of the site should have a simple header, a prominent search bar and logo. However, navigation can be a challenge on smaller phone screens. Martial arts schools can consider a menu that slides from one side or a drop down. The footer should also contain a navigation strip and contact information, the infographic said. At the bottom, a link to jump back to the top of the page can improve user experience further. Responsive websites can help martial arts schools reach potential students from their devices of choice.

There are many martial arts schools teaching karate that will never be noticed because owners don't know how to effectively market their business. Figuring out new ways to sell memberships should be a never-ending process at martial arts schools that are always looking to add to their customer base. 

While content marketing is nothing new, the strategy is growing in popularity throughout the country. In fact, the second annual B2C Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report found 9 in 10 B2C marketers are now leveraging content to generate interest in their company, while 60 percent stated that they are planning to up their spending on content marketing over the next year.

"Best-in-class B2C marketers are far more likely to have a documented content marketing strategy than their less effective B2C peers," said Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute and author of Epic Content Marketing.

Build an effective content strategy
Owners at martial arts schools need to understand how the use of content can help them increase enrollment numbers. Time-tested forms of content such as blog posts, images and videos will still continue to work well for martial arts schools that are trying to attract more students. However, there are a myriad of other options to turn to that can catch the eye of prospective pupils.

A guest post for Social Mouths written by Shanna Mallon from Straight North outlined some of the lesser-used, but potentially more effective types of content marketing that martial arts schools may want to consider. Here is a sampling of some of those methods:

According to the Chinese Zodiac cycle, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, and that's good news for both tricksters and martial artists who study specific forms of kung fu. That's right, monkey-style kung fu is getting a new wave of attention in honor of this auspicious Lunar New Year.

Martial arts and animal forms
Kung fu artists have studied the offensive and defensive movements of animals, and then translated their observations into fighting styles. Different schools each maintain their own list of animal traditions, but in general, the forms include dragon, bear, tiger, leopard, crane, snake, monkey, mantis and eagle. The animal styles were developed at different times, in various regions in China and by different masters, which contributes to the range of forms available.

Monkey-style history
While monkey-style kung fu has been mentioned in manuscripts dating as far back as the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.), according to the Shaolin Kun Fu Institute, the form practiced today is actually relatively young. In the late 1800s, kung fu master Kou Sze was sentenced to solitary confinement for eight years after being accused of committing murder. Sze was fortunate in his imprisonment, as he was able to observe nature from his cell window. In fact, he watched monkeys interact with each other, and eventually incorporated his observations into his martial art.

Monkey style is incredibly demanding, which is why the art has such a short lineage at seven generations. Michael Matsuda is the sixth-generation master of monkey-style kung fu, and he was inducted into the Martial Arts History Museum Hall of Fame in 2004. His command of the challenging and elusive martial art has made him a veritable star, and he's penned books and articles on the subject.

The form
Much like the monkeys that inspired the form, this martial-arts style includes brutal attacks. The artist may at first seem calm but then burst into action on a moment's notice. Additionally, the form requires practitioners to squat low to the ground and use acrobatic movements.

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. 

There's been plenty of hype and attention surrounding the release of the latest film in the "Star Wars" series, and some of it extended to the world of martial arts.

Lightsabers in real life
While "The Force Awakens" found success at the box office, plenty of the themes in the movie made their way outside of theaters, too. One of the most popular concepts that's getting attention outside the film involves lightsabers. Martial arts studios all over the country have taken it all in stride.

Instead of chalking up the use of lightsabers in the films to some imaginary weaponry system, martial arts studios have embraced the practice as a way to encourage more individuals to try out martial arts. Many martial arts schools have started lightsaber classes that teach students how to handle the fictitious, sword-like weapons.

"It kind of started out as a joke when my students had bought a combat dueling lightsaber," Ron Schmitt told KWQC-6, an ION affiliate. "So I started kind of spinning around, doing some moves, and next thing I know I've got a group of people coming around and they're like, you need to make this a real thing."

Sabers as swords
Many advocates of the new lightsaber classes popping up all over the country will be the first to tell you that it's a fun, safe way to practice sword fighting. Although sword fighting is considered antiquated by most, it's still heavily used in choreography on both the screen and stage. Despite the fact that lightsabers aren't real, practicing movements with them can help with other martial arts skills.

In karate, one of the weapons students are taught to handle is called the "bo." It's essentially a staff made of hard or flexible wood that's anywhere from six- to about nine-feet long. The practice of fighting with a bo is known as bojutsu. The Japanese martial art resembles many movements in the empty-handed martial art of karate, which is why the practice of self-defense by bo is so popular in that particular martial art.

It's believed the use of the bo in combat has origins in the Japanese island of Okinawa around the 17th century. You probably didn't realize that the earliest forms of lightsaber duels took place in ancient Japan!

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.

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