Martial Arts First AidAs an instructor you will need to be first aid trained. This will be a requirement of your insurance and is possibly also required by your venue and/or your association. Even if it was not a requirement it makes sense for you to know basic first aid. You will be responsible for a group of people when running your classes and it will be you that they look to if an emergency situation occurs or if somebody suffers an injury. It is also a useful life skill to have for outside of the training studio.
First aid is emergency treatment given to an injured or sick person before professional medical care is available. This means that you are making the injured or sick person comfortable and attending to any immediate injury until paramedics arrive. For minor injuries there may be no need for further medical care or if it is required, but not immediately, you can fix the casualty up in such a way that they are able to leave the studio and attend a casualty department or visit a GP surgery themselves.
Courses
There are many different first aid course providers which offer a whole variety of courses which can range from the very basic to extremely comprehensive. These can range from a few hours to days long and the price can vary a lot too. It might be worth you talking to your employer to see if they would be willing to send you on a first aid course. It is a legal requirement for workplaces to have a registered first aider and it could be an opportunity to get sent on a course without having to pay from your own pocket.


One of the biggest suppliers of courses nationally in the UK is the St John Ambulance and this is who I did my training with. They offer a number of courses that are suitable for Martial Arts instructors two of which I have summarised below. Check with your insurance, venue and association if there are any specific requirements with regards First Aid training but if not then pick the one which you think suits your needs most.
Sports First Aid – This is aimed at anyone involved in sporting activities – from referees and coaches to players and gives training on the types of injuries or medical emergencies that can occur whilst doing sport . So it is ideal for a martial arts instructor and will give you the necessary first aid skills to deal with a whole range of sporting injuries. The course includes coverage of the following;
• Asthma
• Bleeding
• Bone, muscle and joint injuries
• Burns and scalds
• Chest pains
• Choking
• Communication and casualty care
• Emergencies in public
• Head injury
• Extremes of heat and cold
• Primary survey
• Resuscitation
• The role of the first aider
• Sprains and strains
• The unconscious casualty.
This is a 6 hour course and can be more expensive than some of the less comprehensive courses but it does specifically cover most of the types of injuries that may unfortunately occur in the training studio.

Basic First Aid – This course teaches the very basic everyday skills required to give first aid when minor accidents happen. This course does not cover resuscitation.
• Communication and casualty care
• Looking after yourself and the casualty
• Treatment of minor bleeding and minor burns
• Treatment of an unconscious casualty
• Priorities of first aid and managing the scene
• Treatment of a choking casualty
• Treatment of fainting, bites and stings, sprains and strains.
This is the least expensive option but still gives you enough skills to be able to treat you students should they have a minor injury in the training studio.
Others – Other courses offered include essential first aid, basic and essential first aid and activity first aid. These courses all offer elements that would be useful for a martial arts instructor with a group of students.
First Aid Equipment
If your venue has a well-stocked first aid box then ask the owner if you are free to use the items in it if a situation occurs. Make sure you know where to get the box from and if it is under lock and key make sure that you have access to the key. If you do not have access to the venue’s first aid equipment then you will need to get a hold of one yourself. This should contain sticking plasters, adhesive tape, bandages, antiseptic wipes and possibly heat and ice packs for muscular injuries. A good example of a well-stocked box can be seen by clicking here. You can get these from Amazon, Ebay, high street chemists or even supermarkets.
Details
Make sure that you know of any pre-existing conditions that your students may suffer from. For my club I have a new student data sheet which I use for anybody coming to train with us. On this sheet I have a question about medical conditions so I know about anything I need to right at the start. This could be things like asthma, allergies, diabetes etc. For younger students you will want to get consent from their parent or guardian to administer first aid to their child. An example of my new student data sheet can be found by clicking this link. New Student Data Sheet template

If you get yourself trained up, have the right emergency equipment on hand and know of any potential issue with your students then you should be well equipped to deal with most emergencies that could occur in the training hall.

Image courtesy of cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Karate Club Website ContentThe website that you set up for your martial arts club is used for multiple purposes and so the content must be created to reflect this. The website is a 24/7 advert for your club, it is a showcase for you and your students achievements, it is a hub of information for new and existing students on the art, it provides details of events, maps of venues and contact details for the school. It can be used for all of these things and more. Below I outline some of the pages and content for those pages that can be included on a successful martial arts club website.
Home Page – This is the header page for your whole website and generally the first page that site visitors will come to. This should include you club name prominently displayed along with your logo and a short introduction about the club. An example of some introductory text would be
“Welcome to the website for . We offer martial arts training in the traditional art of . We are a family run club who aim to train in a friendly atmosphere to give children and adults alike the many benefits that come from learning a martial art”
It is also a good idea to put a contact number and email address on the home page so the visitor does not need to go searching for your details should they want to get in touch. You should make things as easy as possible for the visitor so they don’t become frustrated and leave your site before deciding to contact you. You must also make the website visually pleasing with a complimentary colour scheme that does not hurt the eyes and with suitable fonts etc.
You may want to include some pictures to break up the page. A good idea might be to include a photograph of your students looking happy.
This page should also contain a navigation bar, that includes buttons to access each of the other pages on the site or at the very least should include a list of hyperlink text to link to other pages.
If you are on Facebook, Twitter etc. you may want to include buttons to link to those sites too.
Instructor Details – This is the page where you tell the world all about you. This is no time to be too humble. You need to sell yourself to prospective students so that they have a reason to want to come and train with you. Include your rank and years of experience. Mention any competition successes you have achieved and any specialist training with well-known martial artists or masters/grandmasters. Don’t lie about anything or make things up, if you are caught out you could be humiliated, just make sure anything you have achieved is written about in such a way to make it sound great. As the instructor you are the major selling point of the club so sell yourself.
Include a photograph of yourself. You decide if you want to look friendly or scary. You will know whether you are attracting families and children or if you are catering for cage fighters etc. The image you choose should reflect your clubs demographic. The photo could be of you in action, performing a kicking or hand technique, or it could be from a press cutting from one of your successes or it could be a traditional pose. Decide what will work best.
This is also the place to mention that you are fully insured, hold a first aid certificate and that you are DBS checked (formerly known as CRB).

 


Information on the art – Most martial arts have a rich history going back to their origins. On this page you need to give a brief history of the art including the date it was founded, in which countries it was practised, the founder of the modern form of the art and details of the association that your club is a part of. Describe what is involved in the art, whether it relies heavily on kicking or throws or locks, for example. Mention any weapons used in the art. Include details of any famous practitioners of the art and statistics such as how many people practice the art worldwide. Include pictures, to break up the text. The pictures can be of the founder, students performing moves, historic pictures etc.
Master Details – If you are affiliated to an association then this page would include details of the grandmaster and senior master of your association. Include photographs and details of their rank, experience and successes. This will be similar to your instructor page but at a higher level.
Class Details – This is one of the most important pages on the site as without any class details how will anybody find you?
This page should include the days and times when your class is held as well as the type of class at those times. So, for example, if you have classes for under 10’s on a Monday evening and for adults only on a Tuesday then make this clear on this page. Include details of the venue such as the address, transport links, disability access and whether there is parking available. If possible also include a photograph so that they can easily find it. You can get widgets from Google to add Google Maps to web pages so add a clickable map to your page with your venue highlighted.
News and Events – This page is where you can write about any latest news with the club. It can also be used as a noticeboard for upcoming events and to impart messages to your students. You might use this to give details of forthcoming testings or competitions or maybe to advise on any class time changes or cancellations. Any success that the club has had should be highlighted on this page too. Again, this is an opportunity for you to show off what is good about the club.
Student Information – This page can be used to display information that the student may need to learn as part of attending the class. It could include codes or tenets of the art they are studying, terminology in the origin countries language, rules on etiquette etc.
Galleries – This page includes photographs of students and instructors. These can be general photos of students in class or can be from competitions, testing or other special events. My website also includes a gallery of scanned press cuttings about the club. The galleries page will be a big hit with your students who want to see pictures of themselves performing techniques etc. but it will also be proof to prospective students visiting the site that you have a thriving club. Seeing your students having so much fun in the pictures and reading press cuttings about the clubs success will make then eager to join.
Links – On this page you can add links to other websites. You may link to other clubs in your area or to your official Association website. You may also want to link to the website for your venue. Also add buttons to link to your Facebook page, twitter and Pinterest accounts. You may also link to the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of your association and of other clubs. If you are adding links to clubs then ensure that you ask the webmaster of those clubs to add your website link to their site too as this could improve the SEO of your site.
Contact details – You will have already included some contact details on your home page but it is worth having a dedicated page for all of the contact details. This page could include:

  •  Your contact telephone numbers; both mobile and landline.
  •  Email address
  •  Postal Address
  •  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest buttons

This is by no means an exhaustive list and there may be more content that is relevant to your club or art that you can include. You don’t have to include everything above or present it in the same order. This post was just to give you some ideas of what your site could have on it. Ultimately the site is there to promote your club and to give a sense of community to your existing students so create content with that in mind.

 

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Karate insuranceReasons why you need martial arts insurance

It is a sad fact that in life accidents happen. In a martial arts class where training is putting strain on the body and where potentially dangerous activities such as weapons training, breaking or even locks and throws are happening then the chance for injury increases. There is also the chance that property or parts of the venue could be damaged. The insurance is there in case the injured party or owner of the damaged property wants to pursue you for compensation and although you may not be specifically at fault you could still be liable to pay costly legal fees and damages. Unless you have deep pockets it pays to have an insurance policy in place to cover any of these unforeseen circumstances. It may, in fact, be a requirement of your venue or association that you have a valid policy in place before you are ever allowed to teach your first class.

Types of insurance for Martial Arts instructors

As a martial arts practitioner you may already have personal accident insurance cover but as an instructor there are many different types of insurance that you can take out such as; Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, Loss of Earnings, Personal Accident, Sports Equipment insurance.

Some examples of what each insurance type covers are below;

  • Public Liability – If a pupil injured themselves while training in one of your sessions they may bring a claim for compensation against you and this would be covered under Public Liability insurance. This insurance would also be used to cover you for a claim from the owners of your venue if one of your students damaged the venue or equipment within the venue. Policies offer various levels of indemnity, usually in the millions, your level of cover depends on where you need it for, some venues will insist on an ‘at least’ value.
  • Professional Indemnity – If a student suffered an injury that resulted from your advice or instruction then that specific instruction may be brought into question. Professional Indemnity insurance can guard against this.
  • Loss of Earnings – If you were to suffer an injury during one of your training sessions which means that you could not work (i.e. earn) for a period of time then cover for loss of earnings would ease that time.
  • Personal Accident – If you were to injure yourself in such a way that you would require physiotherapy, for example, then having personal accident insurance could help meet the cost of that treatment. Insurers offer differing levels of cover with policies available to cover physiotherapy, hospitalisation, broken bones, emergency dental, loss of limbs, loss of sight and even death benefits.
  • Sport Equipment – The equipment that you need to aid your teaching could be damaged, lost or stolen. Having sport equipment insurance can mean that you get the money to pay for new replacement equipment or for older equipment you may get back the current market value of the equipment.

There are many insurers out there that specialise in martial arts insurance so shop around to see what policies and cover will suit your club. I use a company called Insure4Sport which I found very easy to set up the policy with. I had an email within minutes of completing the online form with instant cover.

The cost of insurance varies depending on the level of indemnity required, the number of add-ons you select and the amount of excess that you are willing to pay. Excess can be applicable to things like Medical Expenses, Physiotherapy, Loss of Income and Sports Equipment replacement. You should end up paying between £60 to £200 for an annual policy. I have not found any insurers that offer monthly payments so you will need to pay for the insurance in one lump sum once a year. This means that you should keep an eye on renewal dates so that you are not caught out and left without insurance should it expire. Most companies will send reminders close to your renewal date anyway.

Eligibility for martial arts insurance

To be eligible for insurance most insurers will have minimum requirements and expectations of you.

  • Persons applying for insurance should be a UK resident.
  • Persons applying for insurance must be in good health.
  • Persons applying for insurance must be qualified to a minimum standard by a recognised body
  • Persons applying for insurance must hold a valid first aid certificate.
  • Your insurer will expect you to maintain an accident book to log any injuries no matter how minor.
  • Your insurer will expect you to have carried out a risk assessment and have written evidence of this. This should cover use of equipment and especially safe use of weapons.

Remember that you must notify your insurer as soon as possible of any change in circumstance that may affect your insurance.

Hopefully you will never have to make a claim on your insurance but having a good policy in place gives you peace of mind if anything ever did go wrong. Ensure that you have cover in place before your first class and then you can get on with teaching.

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Martial arts club website designIn an earlier article I wrote about the absolute necessity of having a website for your Martial Arts club. Now I want to talk about how to create that website, how it should look and what information and content you need to put on there.

Where to Start

The prospect of creating a website can feel daunting to a beginner; after all you are a martial artist and not necessarily an IT expert. However with a bit of thought and creativity you could have a great website out there promoting your club 24/7 and you may even have fun building it.

Methods for creating websites

The easiest option for getting your website out there would be to pay a web design company to produce the site for you. There are thousands and thousands of companies out there that offer this service. Prices and quality will vary so compare a number of companies before making your choice. You can expect to pay anything between £100 to £1000’s for a website. By doing this you could end up with a very professional looking website and won’t require so much work from you. However there is the added cost for this convenience and remember that you may have to pay more every time you want to update the site, which could be quite frequently.

If you have a bit of coding/web design experience you could try and create yourself a website from scratch. It is not too difficult to teach yourself basic html skills and you can always follow online tutorials or buy some books to help with this. There will be a learning curve and you can’t expect your efforts to look as good as a professional web designer at first but if you have the time and inclination to learn then this could be a good way to create your site and it puts you in complete control of how and when you update the site. Common languages to create websites are listed below, note that lots of websites use a combination of languages to take advantage of different features;

  • HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language
  • Java Script
  • JSP – Java Server Pages
  • AJAX – Asynchronous JavaScript and XML
  • PHP Hypertext Preprocessor

Other than coding, another way to build a website from scratch is to purchase a WYSIWYG editor (What you see is what you get) such as Adobe Dreamweaver or Xara Web Designer. I use the latter for my clubs websites and I am pleased with how easy it is to use while giving great looking results.


Dreamweaver on the other hand is slightly more expensive but is feature rich and is used widely by web designers to create great websites. These editors allow you to drag and drop content and lay the website out using drop down menus and simple interfaces that act like word processors or desk top publishing packages. Most people should find these fairly intuitive to use.

Another option is to use an online website builder site such as Wix or WordPress. These are easy to use and offer templates that can be customised to fit your needs. I have used both for creating my websites and in fact this site is built using a simple theme in WordPress.

Technical Details

Domains

Once you have decided on how you are going to build your martial arts club website you need to start thinking about some more technical details. You need to select a domain name for your site.  This is the name of your site and will be what visitors will type in and see in search engine results when searching for you. Try to make it easy to remember, easy to spell and not too long so that you can be easily found. It should contain your club name if possible e.g. www.CoventryShotokan.com. See my article on picking a name for more details discussing this. You also need to think about your domain extension, see some examples below:

.com

.co.uk

.co

.info

.net

.org

I would recommend trying to get the .com and .co.uk versions of the domain at the very least but you may want to get the other extensions too to prevent others from registering the same domain with a different extension that would contain information that you cannot control. There are lots of places where you can buy domain names. I use GoDaddy.com to buy mine but there are many places that offer this service for various different deals. Shop around to find the best deal for you.

Hosting

Once you have built your site you need to make it accessible via the World Wide Web. The way to do this is to add you website files to a web hosting service. The hosting service provides space on a server that allows internet connectivity and can store web pages, images, videos etc. Again there are many, many different hosting companies that offer varying amounts of storage, reliability, connectivity etc., shop around and compare to find the best one for your martial arts club. My websites are hosted on GoDaddy.com and I find these reliable for a decent price. I found it convenient to have my domain registration and hosting with the same company but this is not necessary.

Email

When setting up your hosting for your martial arts club website you should be able to take an extra option of a customised email address. GoDaddy.com definitely offer this and this then allows you to set up an email address related to your domain name which gives you a professional look. I have an email address like enquiries@mydomain.com which I put on all of my posters, business cards and website which looks far better than Joe.Bloggs@hotmail.com in my opinion.

Hopefully this gives some basic information on how to start building your Martial Arts club website. In the next article I will discuss what kind of content you need to include on your website.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Karate Club WebsiteUnless you are a seasoned web designer, you may dread the thought of having to set up a website for your martial arts club. You either have to figure out how to do it yourself or hire a web designer to do it for you; it may seem like either too much work or too much money. There are many good reasons, however, for having a presence on the web. It is a simple way to build your student numbers and to keep in touch with existing students. Here are five reasons you should set up a website for your club:

1. It’s the First Place People Go
There was a time when only large, established businesses had websites; most small business and indeed sports clubs promotion was still done through ads, brochures, leaflets and posters etc. In today’s world, the Internet is the first place people go when trying to find a little information about local clubs. Almost every successful martial arts club has at least a basic website, where potential students can find out all about the club details and contact information. If you’re not on the web, you are invisible to a large portion of your potential new students and if someone cannot find information about you, they might think you are not a credible school or are not experienced enough as an individual and there is a great possibility you will lose a potential student.

2. Projects Your Clubs Image
Your relationship with your students is one of trust. To feel comfortable enough to come to your classes to try you out the potential students want to know how you operate and what services you offer. Viewing a website is a non-confrontational way for them to get a feel for who you are and what your club can do for them. They can read about other happy students and about your philosophies on martial arts training or see club achievements; it’s an important way for them to get to know you and your club.


3. Makes Comparison with Other Local Clubs Easier
Potential students often look at multiple clubs and even martial arts styles, in order to choose the one which is most closely aligned with their needs. The easiest way for a person to do that is by comparing different clubs’ websites. If you don’t have one at all, you are at a disadvantage from the beginning. Having a site with basic brochure-style information on it is better than nothing, but, if you have a vibrant welcoming site with pictures of happy students, helpful information, articles and easy contact information, you are more likely to catch the eye of a new student.

4. Sense of Community
A website is a great place to keep your current students engaged with the club. Use your site to display club photographs, lists of student’s achievements, articles on philosophies, schedule of upcoming events etc. Keep the content fresh and up to date and your students will visit often to keep up to date with club information. Having students visit the site should help with the website ranking in search engines and you could also allow comments and testimonials to be left by your students. All of this will look good to a potential student that stumbles upon your site and sees the great community spirit that the students of your club have.

5. Potential New Students Can Find You 

Your website is a 24/7 online advertisement for your club. While some potential students will already know your name before they look you up, some will search for local clubs on the internet to see what is available. If someone does a search in Google or another search engine, finds your website and is intrigued by your site and its content, then there is a great possibility you will receive at least an enquiry from just having this online advertisement on the Internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with minimal overhead. An experienced web designer understands how to make your site prominent in online search results and it is well-worth the investment to hire one. Ranking high in search results also gives your club an established look.

The Bottom Line
Having a strong web presence is no longer an option for your Martial Arts Club; it is as important and as basic as putting out posters. Your website stands in for you and represents you to both students and potential new students.

To read on about how to create the website for your martial arts club click here.

 

Image courtesy of idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Instructor decision.

Decide if you are up to it.

Qualities of an Instructor

The first, and maybe the most obvious, question to ask yourself is; are you good instructor material? It is worth taking a pause to consider this. Not everybody is cut out to be a karate instructor and those that are not up to it would be better off staying as a student rather than inflicting bad teaching on a new generation.

Experience and Ability

An instructor should have experience in the martial art that they are proposing to teach and be knowledgeable about the techniques that the art is comprised of. Students will be coming to you as an expert and a teacher. You would not expect to pay for guitar lessons from somebody who had never played the instrument and the same applies with martial arts.

Not everybody believes in the belt system but it is usually a good indicator of the proficiency of the martial artist so in my opinion an instructor should at least hold a black belt that has been awarded by a reputable association. This should ensure that the instructor has undergone a minimal amount of instruction and has demonstrated that they can perform the required techniques.


Apprenticeship and Certification

A lot of martial arts associations are protective of their reputation. They don’t want bad instructors representing them and so they have their own conditions for becoming an instructor. If your new club is going to be affiliated with an association then you need to find out what the requirements are. Some associations will expect you to have completed a minimum number of hours teaching within another class. This is a kind of apprenticeship where you have the opportunity to lead parts of the class under the supervision of another instructor. Even if this is not a requirement of the association I would recommend you ask your instructor if you can do this anyway. If nothing else it will give you a flavour of what teaching will be like and help you decide if it is right for you. Some associations may even have a formal instructors certification program with tests (both physical and written) required before you can call yourself an instructor. If this is required then take the test and get the certificate as this will give further proof to any of your prospective students that you know what you are doing.

Keep Training

If at all possible you should continue to be a student under your instructor while running your own club. This will ensure that you continue to learn and grow within the martial art and have new things to show your students. It also means that you can progress your own rank and maintain your fitness levels and flexibility. Teaching can be physically demanding but nowhere near as demanding as training as a student. I would suggest that if you teach once a week you should try and attend another class twice a week. If you teach twice or more a week I would still suggest that you train once a week with your instructor if possible.

© Pixbox | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

In the post on marketing your martial arts club I mentioned registering your clubs details with websites. A list of some sites that allow you to do this is below.

openakarateclub.com/register-your-club

www.dojolocator.co.uk

www.martialartsregister.co.uk

www.martialartsclubs.com

www.martialartsclubs.co.uk

www.bearmartialarts.com

www.martial-arts-schools-register.com

www.sportfocus.com

www.classfinder.org.uk

www.118.com

www.netmums.com

www.misterwhat.co.uk

www.linkedin.com

www.yell.com

www.thompsonlocal.com

www.dojolocator.co.uk

www.martialartsregister.co.uk

www.martialartsclubs.com

www.freeindex.co.uk

www.hotfrog.co.uk

www.clubbz.com


www.schoolofeverything.com

www.touchlocal.com

www.plings.net

www.ukb2.com

www.mylocalservices.co.uk

www.gumtree.co.uk

www.upmystreet.co.uk

Unfortunately this is not the movie “A field of dreams”. If you build it they will not necessarily come. You need to let people know you are there. You are not a club until you have some students so promoting your new club is one of the most important things for you to do. Even once established you should view promotion as an on-going activity to ensure you have a steady stream of new starters. The unfortunate reality of martial arts is that there is a high dropout rate so you need to keep new blood coming through the doors. Even if you have the best club with high retention rates, unless you continue to get new white belts joining the club you risk ending up with a top heavy club with only senior grades which can make it very intimidating for new students to join.

There are some very obvious ways of promoting a club and some you may not have thought of. The list below is not exhaustive but should give you plenty of ideas to think about.

Talk about it

It may seem obvious but the first thing to do to promote your new club is to talk about it with the people that are close to you. Get a buzz going between your family and friends. Setting up your club will take some doing so it will undoubtedly be in your mind a lot of the time. Share your thoughts with people and get them talking and thinking about the club too. Encourage them to mention it to people they know. You can not underestimate the power of word of mouth when promoting a club. A recommendation from a friend will be far more effective than even the best advert. Talk about it at work. If your employer allows send an email out to your colleagues with details of the club. They may want to join or have people they know that would join. If you have young children and do the school run then talk about it with the parents at the school gate. They may want to get their kids involved or might want to get into a class themselves for fitness.

Basically talk, talk, talk about it and then talk some more. Let everyone know you are there.

Posters

Posters are a great way to promote your karate club. For details on how to create the perfect poster for your club click here.


I would aim to get around 50 posters done initially and then head out to blitz your local area. There are many places where you can put posters. You definitely want one at your venue so hopefully there is a notice board or window where you can display a poster. Then you need to visit local shops, post offices, community centres, hair dressers, sports halls, doctors’ surgeries etc. and put posters up in these locations. Be prepared to have to pay a small sum of money to some of these places so have a pocket full of change on you when going out. Keep a look out for community notice boards and try to put posters up where people will gather. If there is a chance to put a poster up at a bus stop or train station that will be great. You may see posters attached to telegraph polls and lamp posts while you are out. Personally I avoid putting posters up on these. If I don’t have permission then I won’t put a poster up. I don’t want my club creating a bad impression before it opens by littering the street but you may find the odd poster on a lamppost works for you.

Another idea for your posters is to attach one or two to the back windows in your car.  That way you are advertising your club everywhere you park up.

Leaflets

The design and production of leaflets is similar to the poster section. In fact your leaflet could be just a smaller version of your poster. There are two main things to do with the leaflets;

Leave piles in strategic locations – take a handful of leaflets to different locations and ask if you can leave a little pile of them somewhere where the customers can pick one up if they are interested. This can work if they are left in hair dressers, doctors or dentists waiting rooms and can also work in libraries or school reception areas. If someone is sitting bored waiting for an appointment they might just pick one of your leaflets up and have a read. They may stuff it in their pocket or handbag and there you have a new potential student.

Deliver door to door – Sometimes the only way to let people know you are there is to put a leaflet through their letterbox. This may go against most peoples thinking as we all hate junk mail but local businesses do this all the time. How many window cleaner, landscaping or pizza shop leaflets are delivered through your door on a monthly basis? Most are chucked straight in the bin but some are kept and acted upon. A lot of this is luck. If someone is thinking about starting a martial art and then your leaflet lands on their mat then you have a good chance of getting that person as a student. They may even think it is karma.

Unfortunately it is not easy to have your leaflet delivered at the exact time that somebody wants it. However you can use a couple of tricks. At certain times of the year people’s minds turn to fitness and bettering themselves. A perfect example is after an over indulgent Christmas a lot of people make a resolution. Now if their resolution is related to fitness or starting a new hobby then the arrival of your leaflet in the first week of January could send them your way. The same principle can be applied after Easter or leading up to the summer holidays when people are thinking about their beach bodies. If you tailor your leaflet to play on this fitness aspect your leaflet drop may be more successful at those times. Another trick is to deliver your leaflets on non-postal days i.e. bank holidays or Sundays. On a postal day the leaflet will get caught up with the normal post and can be easily ignored. On a non-postal day when the letter box opens and shuts the occupant is immediately curious and will most likely go and investigate. They may just bin the leaflet anyway but if they have got up to go to the door they may at least read it on the way to the bin. I don’t mean to be too negative about leaflets being binned but the truth is that is where most will end up. Door to door leafleting is a numbers game and putting out a thousand leaflets may only result in a handful of students or even enquiries. I still think that it is worth doing when trying to grow your club.

If the thought of hand delivering 1000 leaflets puts you off then try to recruit some of your students to do it for you. You can always offer them a couple of free lessons to compensate them for their time or they may just be happy to be helping out their club.

A further alternative is to go out with a handful of leaflets wearing your training uniform and stand on a high street or busy thoroughfare. Hand the leaflets out to passers-by and try to engage members of the public to talk about your club. This may be a little scary but you are going to be standing in front of a room of students soon enough so this may be good practise for you as well as a method to get new students.

Venue Advertising

When I first opened my club I made an A-Board out of an old wallpaper paste table and attached posters to it. I then tied this up outside my venue with a sign on it saying “Club Here Tonight”. This was a great way to advertise the club to foot traffic that is walking past the venue or even cars driving past. It also served as a marker for new students so that they could easily find the venue. You can buy professionally made A-Boards and large poster prints from many online stores or high street stationers or an alternative is a printed PVC banner which can look very professional and serve the same purpose.

Business Cards
This may not be something that you think of but you will look far more professional when talking about your club if you can hand over a business card with your details on rather than scrabbling around for a pen and paper. You can also pin cards to notice boards and leave little piles of them in waiting rooms etc. instead of leaflets. Lots of companies offer cheap business cards and allow you to fully customise them to fit your art. I use Vistaprint for my cards and they usually have offers on.

Local Press

Find out what newspapers, newsletters, parish magazines etc. are delivered or are on sale in the local area. If you live local to the club then you will be able to collect these for yourself otherwise if you have students that live local to the club ask them to help you. There may also be online editions of these publications so try some searching on Google to see what you can find. Try to find out how to submit articles to each of the ones that you have found. Somewhere within them there should be contact details for the editor.

Prepare an article that describes your club and get some pictures together to go with the text. Try to think of an angle to make it interesting to the editor so that they want to publish it. For example if you had to overcome some kind of adversity to become an instructor or had some good achievement then that could form a general interest story that leads onto to talking about the club. Things such as being a very young or very old instructor, large weight loss, overcoming illness, winning a national trophy etc. could be used as a springboard for the story. Make sure you include contact details in the article for people wanting to find out more about the club. Hopefully you will get some column inches out of it and if this could be delivered to households right across your catchment area. This is a very effective and cheap way to mass market your club. Keep the editors onside and you might get a story printed every so often when the club has achievements such as competition success or gradings etc.

If the editors are not printing your articles then it may be worth looking at paid for adverts in these same publications. A lot of local papers depend upon advertising for their survival so they will happily accept an advert from you. The advert needs something to grab the reader’s attention, give some details of the club and a contact number or email. The costs can vary between different publications so you need to decide if this route will be cost effective for you.

Offers

Creating a special offer can entice some students to join your club. In my club we always offer the first class for free with no obligation to join. This allows the prospective student to get a feel for what we do and how we run the class to see if it is a good fit for them. We make sure we collect some details from the person such as their contact details and we always ask how they found out about us, as this helps with our marketing. At the end of the free class it is important to try and get a commitment from the student to come back. This is a tough act as you don’t want to put the hard sell on them but you do want them to come back. Having worked with the student through their trial lesson you should have a gut feeling whether they were enjoying it and if they are likely to come back. Make sure you answer any questions that they might have and find out if there is anything that might put them off returning to see if you can assuage those fears.

Another idea is to offer 2 months training for the price of one. A BOGOF offer if you like. It may cost you in the short term but if that student stays with you until they are a black belt and beyond then taking that hit at the start will pay for itself many times over.

Some clubs offer a starter package where for a one off price the student gets a training uniform, a number of classes paid for, insurance, association membership and a student manual. These can be a good idea as the student gets everything that they will need in one go and once they have paid out a larger financial amount they may be more motivated to come to training to get their money’s worth.

Bring a Friend

Encourage your students to bring a friend along to class for a trial lesson. Some students may do this naturally or be willing to do it to try and help grow their club. For those that are shy or reluctant to do this you can give them an incentive such as free lessons or maybe pads or other equipment if they bring someone along and they then join (and stay at) the club.

Demonstrations

Why not show the world exactly what you can do and what you can offer them. Most schools have a summer fair on the school field, many churches and community groups have similar events and lots of villages have their own festivals on the village green. Find out what is going on in the area local to your club and see if you can contact the organisers to see if they would allow you to do a demonstration. I think a lot of these will be happy to give you a slot on the day when you can show off your stuff.

Plan what you are going to do in advance and make sure it looks impressive. You want the crowds to be wowed and wanting to find out how to do it. Things such as board or breeze block breaking , high jumping kicks and use of weapons  will definitely impress. Make sure anything you are doing is flawless. Practise, practise, practise. It will not look good if you fail to break, stumble or fall while displaying techniques. Get some of your students to help you on the day and ask them to wear their training uniforms. Take along a batch of leaflets and business cards and have your students hand these out. Walk around in your uniform while the fair is on and be ready to answer any questions interested members of the public may have.

As well as doing an outdoor display at a fair it is also an idea to put together a demonstration class that can be offered as a taster session. You can then contact local schools or even other youth groups such as Scouts and offer them a free taster class. You would then go to the school or club venue and run a modified class for say an hour making sure that it has all of the fun elements to try and hook them in. Again make sure that you have leaflets and business cards for interested parties to take away with them.

Community Initiatives

Keep an eye out for any local initiatives in your area for fitness or weight loss. There are sometimes drives to get kids active or local NHS groups trying to tackle obesity. If you can get involved in any capacity with any of these then you may have individuals that are actively looking for a way of getting into fitness coming to you through referrals from these schemes.

Adult learning

Most colleges offer adult learning on a term by term basis in subjects such as photography, computing, cake baking, car mechanics, decorating etc. Why not visit your local colleges to see if there is any possibility of offering evening classes in self-defence? You can devise a program of say 10 classes that takes the student from the basics of self-defence through to some more advanced techniques. You will be paid by the college for these courses and they will provide the venue so that is good in itself but once you have the students there seeing what you can do and getting a bit of the martial art bug you can start talking about your regular classes and the belt system etc. There is a good chance that you will get some students from this.

Workplace Self-Defence

Approach local businesses to see if they would like to send their employees on a basic self-defence course. Some businesses offer this to their female employees. This would be maybe a half day or one day seminar to teach some basic techniques and strategies for staying safe. Of course mention your regular classes and have leaflets available for them to take away.

Promotional Items

These days with digital printing you can get your design on almost any item you can think of. Many companies such as Vistaprint offer a wide selection of different products and allow you to upload your own artwork to be printed on the items. If you have a logo for your club then upload this to the sites and have it printed on products such as pens, mouse mats or mugs. Then you can use these items in the office or at home to spark conversations when people ask what the logo is. You can also use branded products to give away at demonstrations or other events to help promote the club; branded pens are an ideal item for this. Another idea is to give branded products away as part of an incentive program within your class. Students that work hard or students that bring along new members could be awarded a branded product. Whenever they use the gift your clubs name and logo will be seen.

Register Your Club details with websites

One of the first places prospective new students will look will be the internet. Hopefully your club will have its own website but as well as that I recommend that you register with as many websites as you can find and add the club details to them. Some of these websites will rank very highly with search engines so your details have a good chance of appearing on page one.  There are websites set up specifically for martial arts and fitness clubs and then there are more generalised local sites like yellow pages or Thompson directory. These usually allow you to give class details like location (sometime including a clickable map), opening times, contact details and other club information. If you have a website then make sure you include a link to it on these sites as the links from these sites could help with the SEO of your website. A good list of links can be found by clicking here. This is by no means exhaustive so keep a look out for other sites, especially local ones that you can also add to. I suggest doing a search for martial arts, karate, MMA etc. in the search engine and then note down the sites on the first few pages of results. Repeat the search including your town name and then do it again with your county or region. This should give you more sites that allow clubs to advertise on them. Note that some of these sites will charge for registering but may offer advanced listings, higher ranking in their own search results or added features. Weigh these up and decide if you want to pay or just stick with the free ones.

Note that Yellow pages and Thompson directory also still produce hard copies that are delivered to homes in your local area so you could explore having a paid for listing in those too.

Email Footer

Include your club details in the footer of your email messages. Most email programs will allow you to add a signature to your emails which means that you set the details up once and then they will be added to all of your emails. You definitely want this on all of the emails that you send on club business but you could also include the footer on your personal emails and even business ones if your employer allows and it is not inappropriate.  In my email footer I include the following;

<Add club name here>

Proud members of the <add association name here>

Tel:    00000 000000

Mob: 00000 000000

Email: enquiries@yourclub.co.uk

Web:  www.yourclub.co.uk

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn

Add your email address, web address and social media connections as hyperlinks so it is easier for people to simply click them to follow the links.

Google

Sign up for a Google account and then you can register with Google places. This will allow you to enter your club details, contact details, opening times, photos, logo and your venue location on a map. When people search for your club in Google the results will include a map with a red arrow pointing at your club venue on the map. When this is selected your club details will be displayed. The best thing about doing this is that the map result normally appears on the first page and right at the top so it is a great way to get noticed on Google.

When adding your details make sure you are careful that you get them right first time as it takes quite a long time for changes that are made to your listing later to appear in the results. Also notify people at your venue that you will be putting them on Google places. Google send a postcard to the registered address with a pin code that needs to be entered before your listing goes live. If you let the venue know then they can pass the postcard on to you. Once you have entered the code your listing should start to appear within a couple of weeks.

Youtube

Another idea for promoting your club is to create a video to be published on Youtube. We have all seen videos that have gone viral like Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and “Charlie bit my finger” but you don’t need to be getting a global audience in the millions. However you can use Youtube to get your club details out there in a visual way that is easy for your potential students to digest. You can include links to the video on your website and in your emails to promote it. Your video can have a link back to your website to help with the SEO of your website too.

To create the video you can go as low budget as a slide show or give it the full Hollywood treatment. I have seen some successful videos which have been created in Powerpoint with information on slides which also include images and animations. You can set all this to an appropriate soundtrack. I have seen lots of videos that have the track Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas playing over them. Alternatively you can whip the camera out and start filming your masterpiece. A club in my association created a very professional looking short film that showed a choreographed fight between two of the senior black belts. When doing a film you may want to think about scripts, costumes, locations, lighting etc. basically anything that your average Hollywood director needs to think of. Once the filming is done it is time to edit the footage to make it into a coherent piece of work. Also think about adding graphics, text and music to the video when editing.

To submit your video to Youtube you will need to have a Google account. Once you have that it is a fairly intuitive straight forward procedure to upload the video from your computer to their server. Larger videos or HD may take a little longer to process. Once your video is up there you can put links to it in your emails and on your website or you can even embed a Youtube widget so the video can play directly in your website too.  One consideration is to think about disabling comments on your video. It would be nice to get praise for your efforts but it could look bad if a troll starts putting negative comments or abusive language.

Anyone can design a basic poster but for your poster to really work you need to follow these simple guidelines;Uncle Sam Poster

  • Clear layout – The information on your poster should be separated into sections and organised logically so that the information flows across the page in either rows or columns. Bullet points are a great way of organising the information. A good technique to perfect your layout is to cut out each section on pieces of paper and try re-arranging them until it becomes visually pleasing. This process may also help you filter out any information that may not be necessary on the poster.  Try to leave plenty of “White Space” between your sections to make the layout easy on the eyes.
  • Information – The job of the poster is to attract passers-by to read it. It doesn’t need to tell them everything, too much information could have the reader bored before they get to the crucial information, it just needs to give enough to get them interested enough to make contact. Include basic class information such as venue and times etc. and don’t forget to include your contact details. If you have a website then include the address so that if they are interested they can go there to get more information.
  • Font – Pick a simple font that is easy on the eye. Try to avoid comic style fonts or italics as they are harder for the brain to process. Also avoid using Capitals as these are harder to read. Use a font such as Times New Roman or Arial in mixed case with bold formatting. Think about the size you use too. An effective poster should be able to be read from around 5-6 meters away so the font needs to be big enough for that but not too big so that you can’t fit much information on. Try to make the headings and sub heading larger than the body text to differentiate them.
  • Colour – Keep your colour scheme simple with only 2-3 colours involved. When it comes to colour on posters; less really is more. A rainbow palette will be hard on your reader’s eyes and will turn them away from it. Try to pick colours that complement each other. A dark colour for text on a lighter background colour is best.
  • Visuals – A good picture or photograph will be what draws the eye of passers-by to your poster and can be the image that they take away in their mind. Try to pick a picture that is relevant for your club and is good quality. A pixelated photograph or clipart will look terrible on a poster so if taking your own photographs try to use a quality digital camera and tidy up the picture using software like Photoshop or Gimp. One or two pictures are all that you need. Too many pictures will clutter the poster and cloud the message. I suggest a photograph of the instructor and/or a picture of the association insignia is all you need.

One you have your wonderful poster created it is time to print it out. If you have a quality printer at home then you can print your own posters. If you don’t have a printer then it may be time to invest in one as it will come in handy with a lot of the admin documents that you need for your club. Printers are fairly inexpensive these days and you can get a decent printer for this from Amazon or PC World for under £100. You are going to need colour ink cartridges too. These can be quite dear but if you get non-branded or Tescos own versions then it can be considerably cheaper. It also pays to get some quality paper for your posters. Again this can be found at Tescos or Amazon or Staples.

You don’t need to do this but I laminate some of my posters to allow them to be put up outside. You can get laminators and laminator sheets from Amazon and they do give a professional look to your posters. The laminator also comes in handy for other club related documents that I want to protect.

Another option I have used is to outsource the printing. If you search on Ebay for poster printers there are lots of people offering a print service for various prices. Professional printers also now offer poster printing services such as fileprint.org where you can upload your poster image and get posters printed in various quantities and sizes.

Time for TrainingAlong with your clubs location the time and day(s) that you run your club can play a major part in how successful it will be and the kind of students you will attract. The availability of venues in your area may limit your choice of days and time or you may find that some venues are cheaper at certain times and that could influence your choice. If the choice is completely up to you then there are some things to consider when deciding this.

Are you free? – One of the most obvious things to consider is what days you can make a commitment to instruct on. This is going to be the same days for every week for the foreseeable future. Consider your family and work commitments as well as the nights that you currently train. You want teaching at your new club to be a joy and not a hassle so pick a day that is convenient for you too.

Other local groups – Check out your local newspaper or parish newsletter and do some web searches to look for local groups in the area to see what days other clubs operate on. If you are looking to run a martial arts class for children and you find that there are already successful Brownies, Scouts and Ballet classes running on a Tuesday night in the local area then perhaps you should avoid that night. By doing this you are not excluding all of the potential students that are already doing other clubs.

Mondays –On the face of it a Monday evening looks like a good choice of day for a class. It is the start of the week and hopefully your students will have lots of energy. However in the UK, Monday is the day when most bank holidays occur. There are 4 Bank holiday Monday’s in a typical year; Easter Monday, two in May and the summer bank holiday in August. Your venue may be closed on holidays but even if it is open your students may take the advantage for a long weekend away and miss training anyway. Maybe you can afford to miss 4 classes a year but if not then think about looking for another night.


Daytime Versus Evening – The makeup of your class is going to completely change depending on whether you run it during the day or on an evening. By running it during the day you are excluding school age children and people that work a normal 9-5 pattern. The type of people that can train during a normal week day will be stay at home parents, unemployed, retired, students, shift workers etc.

If you want to have a children’s martial arts class then the time of day can be quite crucial. If you have a class that starts not long after the end of the school day then you may get a lot of kids doing it as an after school activity. The parents they may view your club as a cheap way to have their children looked after for a couple of hours. This may not be the best motivation for students to start but once you have them it is up to you to engage them and get them excited about training.

If you want to include adults in your class then you need to be thinking of a later start time. Some people will be happy to go training straight from work but a lot like to go home first, have something to eat and see their family before going training. With this in mind you would be looking at a start time no earlier than 6pm and probably 7pm or 8pm would be more appropriate. However the later your class starts the less appealing it is for younger students that need to be in bed at a decent time. It is a tricky balance and you may lose potential students based on the time so it is important to try and get it right.  If your venue is flexible then your times don’t have to be set in stone and you can talk to the students to see what works for them. If a change of time would make it easier for them or people they know to come to class then consider changing it. Just don’t do this after you have posted 10000 leaflets with the old times on.

Another option is to run multiple classes on the same night with an earlier junior class for younger children followed by a class for older students. You could overlap these if that helped so that the older students come in for the last half hour of the younger class and then start their training later.

Weekday Versus Weekends – With all the considerations around weekday times it may seem like a good idea to have your classes on a weekend. People are free from work and study and you can have a morning class or afternoon class when students will be more alert. Unfortunately there are downsides too. Venues such as sports halls will be busier at weekends and may charge a premium to hire a room. Students may not be around every weekend. People take long weekends away, attend weddings and other family functions, go to football matches and other live sporting events for example. Basically there are lots of competing things to do on a weekend. On top of that your association may organise gradings, competitions and seminars on weekend days so you may need to cancel classes when these clash.

Regular Intervals – If offering more than one class a week then you need to think about how close the classes are. I think it is beneficial for students to have a gap between training sessions of a day or two. If you offered training on a Tuesday and Wednesday, for example, but then nothing else for the rest of the week then the students are getting an intense two days but a large gap before the next session. This doesn’t give chance for the students to recover from any aches and pains from the first class and the longer gap will make it harder for the students to remember techniques.

Take all of the above point into consideration and come up with a day and time that works for you that will bring in the volume and types of students that you desire.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net