October 31, 2017, Norway
Martial arts, self defense, Krav Maga is first and foremost a matter of self defense. The business side of things must always take a back seat. When the business side steps into the drivers' seat, you are no longer a martial artist, you are now a businessman. Please note the difference. Your goals change, your methods of operation change, your attitude towards lower income people changes. Your focus changes from self defense awareness to business awareness, from looking for windows of opportunities for self defense to looking for windows of opportunities for more business, from cooperation with other schools to "Joint business ventures", from fighting strategies to marketing strategies.
And yet, we do need to make a living. If we cannot make a living teaching and sharing that which we are passionate about, that which we have the most to contribute, then we must stop working at this full time and go look for a job somewhere else, somewhere we can make a living. I have seen many great martial artists who spend their lives in less satisfying jobs and can only teach their passion nights and weekends. We are all poorer when this happens. I would prefer to see great martial arts instructors devoting themselves full time to this art; the art of saving lives.
We should all do what we do best.
And we should everything possible to be our best. That means investing in ourselves, investing in our training.
My friend, mentor and teacher Prof. Arthur Cohen always stressed investing in your training. When I met him he had more than 40 years of martial arts training, had trained with the best of the best and was a walking encyclopedia of martial arts and yet, he was still a student. He told me, "If I spend $260 on a weekend seminar and come out having improved one technique I consider that money well spent".
He was not a wealthy man but he took his self defense training seriously. As a high school teacher he had experienced the death of a female student. He changed his focus from traditional takkwondo to more practical self defense. He became a relentless advocate of self defense for women. Money was never an issue.
When he was hospitalized and then in rehab, money was certainly an issue. Had he lived much longer he would have been in trouble: I was planning on starting a fund raising campaign for him. This should not be the case.
So while self defense, martial arts, Krav Maga is our passion, we must also make a respectable living. And this is not always easy.
As this month comes to an end I checked my stats. The website shows that nearly 1,100 people visited our IKI DVD page. This means they must have been interested in Krav Maga DVDs. But on line sales for DVDs was a measly 4 DVDs, and all of those came from "the usual suspects" IKI instructors.
So it makes me wonder; why did they not buy the DVDs? Perhaps they were checking out many sites before making a decision, perhaps our page was not so flashy and appealing to the eye, perhaps the price was too high?
And I think if one is interested in content then what difference does it make if our webpage is not so exciting looking? What difference does it make that we do not have a professional web design? And our prices? Is $30 too much? Would you value your life more if it cost $29.99 or $19.99? Do you want the Walmart discount for DVDs from the 1980's in the "has been" bin?
1,100 people took a look and then looked away, and it makes me wonder.
And I think of my dear friend Arthur Cohen, lying in his bed in rehab.
Step by step, easy to follow.