Planning A Successful Krav Maga Seminar
By Moshe Katz, Krav Maga Instructor, Israel


Success can be measured in many ways. An event that draws only one person is usually viewed as a complete failure, but what if that one person was so changed by the event that he or she went on to make dramatic changes in their life, or in society?

For a Krav Maga seminar fewer participants means less money coming in for the host, but it also means more individual attention for the local instructor (host) and the students. This of course has great value. After all you are bringing in the instructor so you can learn, not to make money.

Remember your Krav Maga seminar goals..

Attitude: Is important. I have had hosts tell me, “We lost money on this event; I had to pay out of my own pocket”.

Let me put this bluntly; this attitude will get you nowhere and every host who has said this has eventually left IKI. Others have admitted that they did not cover all their expenses but viewed it as an investment in themselves, in their careers, and in their students.

Your expenses are your business, not mine. Telling a visiting instructor “You cost us money” is the same as saying “You have been a burden on us; you have taken food out of our children’s mouths”. In such a case do not expect to see this instructor again.

Each seminar is a learning experience, not just the Krav Maga training but also learning how to plan and host a successful seminar. Consult with other instructors, find out how they succeeded. If you did not cover your expenses the first time, learn from the experience, make adjustments.

I never understood how anyone can say they “lost” money. Did you “lose money” when you went to college? Or did you invest in your future?

I invested tens of thousands of dollars in my Krav Maga and Martial Arts training. I traveled abroad when I could not afford it. I flew to California to train with world champion Benny the Jet Urquidez. I flew to New York to train with Sifu Chun Kwok Chow and Professor Arthur Cohen. I attended every seminar my teacher Itay Gil ever hosted during those days. I never missed an opportunity to train with my teachers. I went all the way! I invested my time, my money, my blood sweat and tears.

Today I am reaping the rewards of my investment; I never “lost” money.

Part of the success of the event is the result of the hard work of the staff or event planners and part is the result of the skills and abilities of the guest speaker or teacher.

I will deal with the speaker first, from the point of view of the event planners, as this article is intended for the benefit of event planners and not for speakers. Being a successful speaker is a whole other topic.


THE SPEAKER

Before you bring a speaker, do a little research. Read his website, see where he has spoken before, look into the content of his program. If he is from another country make sure he has sufficient command of the English language or the local language.

Being an expert in his field does not necessarily translate into being a good teacher, you can be a great warrior but have no clue how to train a group of students. Don’t embarrass yourself by bringing a speaker who cannot handle the crowd.


Helping the Speaker


How Can you help the speaker be at his best?

1. Make sure someone picks him up on time, or if he is arriving on his own that he has clear directions and time frame. Arriving late and frazzled is not the best way to begin an event. It is best to arrive early and have some quiet time to relax before the event.

If the speaker is flying in from abroad take that into account; sleepless night of travel, jet lag etc.

2. Make sure all hotel arrangements have been properly arranged - Sometimes problems happen, this cannot be avoided, but do your best to make sure the hotel is ready. There is nothing like arriving at a hotel after a long international flight, or a long drive, only to discover that you have no room. Nothing like being stuck outside a hotel, with all your luggage, trying desperately to contact your host. Yes, this does, and has, happened.

3. Ask if he wants something to drink before the event. After a long flight or train ride a cup of coffee or an energy drink can go a long way.

For Moshe Katz seminars - Coffee is an absolute must! No, I am not kidding. Make arrangements for coffee.

4. Avoid Bad Surprises. Pay on time.

Being told upon arrival that the host forgot to ask the bookkeeper to write you a check is a sure way to kill the speakers' spirits. A speaker deserves to be paid on time. Planning in advance improves everyone's spirit.

If there is a financial problem the host should notify the speaker before leaving home. I can tell you from personal experience that being told on the day of the seminar that..."we have no money to pay you" is a real downer. Not paying the instructor is not an option.

Sometimes the event does not cover its own expenses, as my grandfather would say to my father, "Ribbe gelt" - Learning Money, i.e. you did not lose money, you spend money at the school of Hard Knocks and you learned a lesson. The money is never wasted, it was a learning experience that you had to pay for.

5. The room should be suitable for the event.

If you are teaching martial arts it is somewhat demoralizing to walk into a room full of tables and chairs and tiled floors. It is best to try for an empty, spacious, carpeted room, if not a gym.
Safety must be our first concern.

6. Planning:

Walking into a building and seeing fliers’ announcing the event is like a rush of energy. It makes you feel that the students have put a real effort into this event and are excited about it.

Make no mistake about it - How you treat the speaker will affect how he feels and how he performs. Remember the speaker is away from home, he is your guest!


PLANNING THE EVENT - Getting Out the Numbers

You never have complete control over the number of people who attend but there is a lot you can do to increase the odds of a large turnout.

1. Co - sponsorship:

There are many benefits of co sponsorship.

Funding :  (This is for college campuses, not for private dojos)

More funding means more resources. More exposure:

Each group will notify their members, more people will hear about it.

Steve, a former Hillel director with an outstanding record of successful events, adds the following, “More sponsors means it is more interesting, more people are endorsing it. This will cause more people to talk about, more word of mouth.”

2. E-mails:

In today’s world we have the benefit of e-mail lists. These are useful but not enough. Many organizers rely on this too much. They send out an announcement to all those on their lists and feel their job is done. This is not true at all. As Steve says, “It is true that it is easy to send out e-mails but it is also very easy to delete them”. This is very true. I met a guy on the subway, he noticed my martial arts gear and we began to talk. Turns out he was the leader of a pro Israel group on a major campus. I told him I would like to give his e-mail to Hasbara Fellowships, the group that sponsored me that trip, so in the future he would know about my events. He said he was already on their list and most probably received an announcement but gets so many of these from so many organizations that he often deletes them without ever reading them. This brings us to the main point.

3. Word of Mouth:

Steve says there is no short cut; you have to get on the phone and call people. If you don’t call your student leaders they will know that this is not a major event. E-mails are not enough; you have to speak to a live person.

“There is simply nothing as effective”as talking to people directly.

Sending out a e- mail without follow up is like leaving a message on an answering machine; it is ineffective, easy to delete and easy to avoid. If you want to get someone’s attention you have to speak with him. Clearly you are limited in how many people you can speak to; speak to your activists, spread the word, create a “buzz”.. Steve pointed out that even if a particular student cannot make this event, now he knows about it and he might tell his friends. There is no short cut; you have to get the word out.

4. Don’t count on Promises:

Some organizers said to me “Fifty people replied that they are planning on attending Krav Maga”, yet only ten showed up. I got news for you; if fifty people e-mailed that they plan to attend you are very lucky to get ten.

“I plan to attend,” means “maybe”, while a “maybe” means no chance. Don’t ever rely on these sorts of promises; people are just trying to get rid of you. Many times organizers said I should expect 100 participants, I have learned not to have expectations. If fifty people say they might come do not by any means feel your task is done, you still have a long way to go.

5. Flyer's :

Fliers are important but they are not enough. Steve says you must have fliers; they will bring a few new people but only small numbers. David Katz, a Public Relations expert says, “Fliers are important, even for those who plan on attending it reinforces their commitment and it keeps you in the public eye.”

When I arrived at the University of Hartford, I saw that the organizer's car was covered with Krav Maga fliers, inside and out. Nataly Battash was a human dynamo. The Flier was so exciting that I felt it was an event I would like to attend myself, until I realized the flier was about me! Nataly said to expect about 75 people, I said to myself, 'yeah sure Moshe, don't count on it!'. Wherever we went, there were fliers, big ones, and small ones.

At the cafeteria every single table had one in the napkin holder, every single bulletin board had one. There were fliers taped to her car. And Guess what? We counted 82 people. Not surprising she was offered a job as an event organizer upon graduation. This girl knew how to work! She wanted success and she made it happen.

I taught at Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr, two colleges with about 1,200 students each, tiny by any standard. When I walked into Bryn Mawr I saw five different fliers announcing my krav maga event, I could feel the excitement, and guess what? About 25 students showed up. I have been to schools with 30,000 students were we had only 10 or 15 show up. Swarthmore also drew about 25.

6. Use The Press:

Steve says that getting an article about it in the press before the event is best, although this is difficult. Having the press cover the event will help with future events. Craig Hoovler has organized several very successful Krav Maga events in Richmond, Virginia. He used a combination of fliers, word of mouth and advertisements in local media. We drew over 60 participants for the event at VCU and it was covered in the press, a front-page article about Israeli self defense.

Newsletters:

write about it in your monthly newsletters, post in on the Internet, and spread the word through Face Book. If your group has other events around this time, make sure to announce it at these events.

Use all these methods together, gain wisdom from your personal experience and become a super event organizer. Most important; you have to want it to succeed. You have to feel the adrenaline. Excitement is contagious.

7. Pre registration - The best way, if at all possible, is to have students pay in advance. Without advance payments they can decide at the last minute not to show up. Paying is confirmation. If they pay in advance they are making a commitment and are much more likely to show up. If they do not show up - you keep the money. You made a commitment to the speaker and they made a commitment to you. Commitments should be honored.


Helping the Participants


If all the seminar participants are locals then they have a place to stay and they know where to buy lunch etc. However if they are from out of town, or in some cases such as with many of our Europeans seminars, from out of country, they must be taken care of.

This means;

Provide them with recommendations for hotels at prices suited to their needs.

Arrange lunch for the participants. Serve and Armanda in the Netherlands prepare a list of several options, at fair prices, and the particiapants can choose which meal they like. This is then brought to the seminar and we enjoy lunch together. Of course each participant may choose to bring his/her lunch.

Remember, when someone comes from out of town, they are a bit lost and, they are your guest. Take care of them.


IKI Seminar Policies


All flights must be paid in advanced.

Until the flight is paid - the seminar is not considered booked.

Last minute cancellations by the host involves losing the cost of the flight (if it is not refundable) plus a 50% seminar fee.

Fees:

For daily seminar fee please contact IKI directly.

Flight - I fly El Al for all flights leaving or arriving in Israel. For connecting flights other airlines are fine.

Taxi - There is a $150 fee for the taxi in Israel. This is the cost of the round trip taxi from my house to the airport and back.


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