Which is more different, our art or our philosophy?
The last time that I counted, there were about twelve martial art schools in Muncie. That’s a lot, don’t you think? The purpose of this blog is to tell you what I think of the other schools. There are several ways for me to speak here: as a martial artist, as a business owner, and as a man who wants the people in his town to be happy, healthy and strong. I’ll use all three voices before I’m done.
First, what kinds of martial art schools are there in Muncie? There is traditional Okinawan Karate, American Karate, Korean Tae Kwon Do, American Tae Kwon Do, Jujitsu, and of course Kuk Sool Won. In addition to Asian martial arts, there are even some people who practice and teach the revived Western Martial Arts of fencing and combat swordsmanship, and of course wrestling is in all of the high schools, not to mention gymnastics (which began as strength and agility training for Greek martial artists).
Historically, martial art school owners have not been on friendly terms with each other. You may have seen the old kung-fu movies where there are rivalries among different schools and they end up fighting in the streets. That might be an exaggeration of our situation, but it is kind of the way things used to be in Asia. And of course, the different cultures (and countries) have some prejudice towards each other. By and large, these prejudices are alive and well in the martial art world.
As I mentioned last week, all of the other schools in the area teach arts that are very different from mine in their content. I also mentioned that many (probably the majority) of them focus on tournament competition, and we do not. However, that aside, it may be surprising that I do not consider myself to be in competition with the other martial art schools. I choose not to compete for the same small “piece of the pie” that martial art school owners typically vie for. My marketing efforts are spent inducing people to look to us for fitness training, family activities, life-lessons, and camaraderie. I do not just focus on those who might be looking for martial art training.
Even so, Muncie has about 66.000 people. If all Asian Martial Art Schools in Muncie had 100 active students in our schools (probably more than any of us have at the moment) then that would be only about 1.8% of the population engaged in martial art training. If that’s the best that we can do as an industry, then we should just pack it in and go work at McDonald’s. No, we have lessons to teach in awareness, fitness, self-defense, compassion, and confidence that everyone can benefit from. I think if we had 25% to 40% of our city’s population (24,000 people) actively training in martial arts, things would turn around drastically in our society.
Can that many people train at my school?No.
Would they all be happy with my marital art and teaching style?No.
Do I want to personally have 24,000 people as students?Heck no.
Am I willing to do the work necessary to train that many people if no one else steps up.Absolutely.
The truth is that I need the other martial art school owners in town for my vision to be accomplished. Regardless of how they see the situation, they are my allies and I will continue to treat them as such and value their contributions. My conviction and belief is that if we stand together collectively to combat the ills that our society faces, we can teach people to change their lives. If we can put aside the prejudice and bickering that are endemic to martial art practice (and I suppose to humanity as a whole) we can accomplish so much more than one small school by itself.
So, if you like what you read from me, and are interested in training, we’ve just started a ONE FREE MONTH NO-COMMITMENT TRIAL PROGRAM. That’s eight entire classes, free of charge, to see if you like what we do and how we do it. If so, choose a package and sign up. If not though, please take a trial class at another school in the area (they should all have them). There is so much to be gained from martial art training that it would be tragic to choose not to train because you didn’t like the atmosphere or style taught at a particular school.
I have more to say on this subject, but it will have to wait until my next entry. Take care and train hard my friends.