8 Solid Strategies to Increase Martial Arts Enrollment

February 25, 2019

A martial arts school is only as successful as the number of students who enroll for training. Yes, having a nice facility with state-of-the-art equipment and teaching disciplines like taekwondo and karate at the highest level helps, but none of that matters if people aren’t interested in signing up for lessons.

Increasing enrollment is a challenge for many schools. However, there are best practices that will help keep student enrollment numbers from dwindling. Turtle Press, a publisher of martial arts instructional books and videos, offers several strategies that schools can employ to maintain a level of profitability:

Here are 8 ways you can increase student enrollment in your dojo:

“Refer A Friend” Program

Word of mouth advertising is the best marketing strategy there is because of two reasons, free marketing and target market reach. Students who are happy with the level of training they receive, they will more likely spread the word to others interested in training martial arts. Creating a “refer a friend program” that allows your students to receive a free private lesson or some type of merchandise with every referral will create more of an incentive to spread the word about your gym and the programs you offer.

You could also implement a social media post referral where every time they post your free trial offers to their social media platforms, they receive a free t-shirt or an extra 15 minutes on the mats during a private lesson. Boost Fitness Marketing has a great article on a step by step approach to implement a “Refer A Friend” program. 

Work With Schools In Your Area

Offering free seminars to local schools will bring awareness to students about not only the benefits of martial arts but also the special classes you offer. This is your time to shine. Show them why your dojo is the one to join if they are considering training martial arts. A quick 15-30 minute demonstration of some techniques you teach and why martial arts is beneficial to them is a great start! If you can hand out brochures about your gym, that is even better. The students can show their parents what they learned in your seminar in a professional manner and that will double your chances of increasing your enrollment rates.

Host Birthday Parties

This is a great way to show off your dojo and get prospects inside the door. It’s a perfect way for not only kids to get a feel for what your dojo is like but also for the parents to see inside as well. When you host birthday parties, you are bringing in prime prospects for your programs. They are your student’s friends, which makes them your target market. You can be as creative as you you want for birthday parties but ultimately you want to focus the activities around learning martial arts in a fun way. The more creative and out of the box ideas you can come up with, the better. If the birthday party is a success than chances are, word will get around and more students will want to have you host their birthday parties at your dojo in the future.

Here’s a couple of fun activities you can use:

  • Obstacle course
  • Learn martial arts training session
  • Breaking boards contest
  • Pinata breaking
  • Skill engagement with your black belt instructor
  • Kickboxing

Take Advantage of Social Media Platforms

Sometimes it’s hard to get prospects into your martial arts school  to see what you have to offer. Social media is a great tool for marketing your school by bringing awareness to those prospects. Everyone you know now a days has some sort of social media platform, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. Creating an account for your dojo will allow more people to see what awesome things you are doing in your martial arts school.

Adding your students to your platforms can help bring awareness to their friends as well. You can even take it one step further and add an incentive for every time your students posts about your dojo to their social media platforms. For example, if a student posts 10 times on their social media platforms with a picture of your school or a video of a class they have participated in and what they have learned in that class. This is a free marketing tool for your school and it is spreading the word across to all your target markets.

Run An After School Program

Implementing an after school program can do wonders for your business growth. Not only is it another source of revenue for your martial arts school but it is also a chance to advertise the classes you offer in hopes that they become interested in the programs you offer.

Parents will be thrilled to know that their kids are being taken care of while participating in physical activities. If the children enjoy the environment they are in, chances are they are going to be interested in coming back for the programs you offer. So, not only do you increase revenue but you also have the opportunity to grow your martial arts programs.

Incorporate “Bring A Friend to Class” Month

If you gave for all of your students one pass a month to bring in a new friend to see what the classes are all about, just imagine how many students you could have come into your dojo. It is also fun way for your students to show their friends what they learn at their martial arts classes and it takes the pressure off the friend to commit to membership right away. Participating in a martial arts class alone can be very intimidating, especially for younger children. Tagging along with a friend can make them feel more comfortable and will make them want to keeping coming back with their friend who practices on a regular basis.

Lead Capture Forms With Automation Flows

First and most importantly, if you don’t have a website for you martial arts school, you need one. It is crucial to have a form for prospects who visit your site to learn more about your martial arts school by submitting information. It allows you, as a business owner, to see all your leads that come in through your website and their contact information. You could be missing out on a lot of people that are interested in your programs but don’t want to give you a call or send you an email.

Now that you have all their information, what do you do with it? Kicksite, along with other softwares has automated messaging where you can automatically start nurturing those leads. This is a game changer for your business because it takes the dirty work out of sending follow up after follow up. You set up the automated messages once with the frequency on when they will receive the emails/texts and the content that you want them see and you are all good to go. Once they are added into your system via the lead capture form, your prospects will automatically receive the automated messages you have created.

Free Seminars With Local Organizations

This is another way where you can utilize the community around you. Offering free seminars to local organizations can bring awareness to people that have never heard of you before or may be not familiar with martial arts at all. Offering a 30 minute seminar to introduce some martial arts moves as a form of self defense can spark interest with those members. It will also help to engage them by explaining all the physical and mental benefits that come along with training martial arts.

Here’s a couple of different organizations to reach out too:

  • Charity organizations
  • Fraternity organizations
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Girls Scouts
  • Boy Scouts
  • Community outreach organizations
  • Collegiate clubs/organizations
  • Sporting organizations  


Following the suggestions listed here can help any martial school generate more revenue by piquing the interest of potential students and getting them to enroll in classes.