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There's a facebook page, Freestyle Judo, where someone posted my article from here on the www.Dollamurmartialarts.com website titled Judo's Decline. Is it Your (Our) Fault? The Business and Art of Tea....
The piece has added to the probably-never-ending discussion about what to do with judo, how to promote judo lessons, and teaching for money, running a school, etc.
The question that stands out for me? Can you teach judo and run a profitable school without selling out?
But before I give my thoughts on that, here's my absolute favorite comment, from site member Rob Thornton. Rob comments on my piece:
Even though he spends too much time tooting his own horn, he's right. I wish he'd spent more time pushing some marketing ideas.
I love that! Rob, tooting your own horn IS marketing. It's how you toot it, where you toot it, and why you toot it that makes it good tooting or useless tooting. Note too, tooting is like getting the right grip in a judo match, that is you do it, change it, and try again until you get the grip you need, for the moment. If you try a grip (or toot your horn) that doesn't do it for you, you forget it and move to the next one. The problem, in part, with why judo isn't more popular and that judo schools aren't very populated --is that judo people don't know how to talk about the benefits of judo practice. They don't know how to toot judo's horn.
In a "perfect world" I won't always simply talk about marketing --I'll just show how it can be done --and in a 1000 simple, real, methodical, and consistent ways.
Selling out is a construct; my idea of selling out, his idea, and her idea are, I'd bet, much different than yours. Selling out isn't a thing, it's an expression meant to represent doing things that we don't want to do, doing things that lack integrity, and/or doing things that take the shine off of our shoes. My suggestion? DON'T EVER SELL OUT. If you don't sell out, if you always do things to help, to lift, to enhance, to cultivate wisdom, peace, value, and compassion, I don't think you'll ever feel like you've sold out.
Selling out isn't an option. Promoting kindness, using what you know to lift people's consciousness, promoting a health and fitness based lifestyle, cultivating compassion in practice, and all the other things a good, aware, participative, compassionate (judo) sensei has the potential to promote and encourage in students ----that's what we're about. That's what we "sell."
Can a Judo School Produce Enough Income to Support Great Teachers?
Sure it can. Absolutely. Without a doubt. We've all heard the expression, "When the student's ready, the teacher appears," yes? Well, the secret to making a judo school --or any martial arts school --fly, without resorting to tactics that smell of short-sightedness and/or stupidity, resides in a variation of the idea.
When the teacher's ready, the students will appear.
So, in my mind, the question is, what can we do to get the teacher ready to promote judo's essence, to find and keep students, and to manage his or her expenses (the "business") intelligently (in today's world)?
I don't think the issue is about the idea that "people" don't understand the value of judo ---it's an issue of the teachers not, yet, communicating the value and importance of martial arts training to the general public. If people only knew what martial arts training, judo included, could do for them --well, they'd already be in our classes. Our job is to communicate the value of what we do --in as many ways as we can --and for as long as it takes.