How to succeed in the martial arts business

by Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

July 14, 2020, Israel  

How to Succeed in Martial Arts Business, or any business, an Incomplete Guide.

I want to business school. I graduated with honors. I scored a perfect score on the Econometries midterm and was the only student that year to be exempted from the final. In case you were wondering, Econometrics is described as "Mathematics and Statistics as Applied to Finance and Economics", or as one young woman said to me at the time, "all your worst nightmares combined into one course". 

I am not telling you this to brag, but to guide. 

Now my martial arts career; without going into detail I have succeeded where the vast majority of people have failed. I have seen colleagues, stronger and more gifted than myself, fall by the wayside. I am not going to go into details and tell stories of glory, I am just saying enough to set the stage for the advice I will offer.

When I first starting teaching seminars my dear friend, guide, and mentor dear Prof Arthur Cohen of Blessed Memory came with me to a seminar I held a Jewish Community Center/Synagogue in New York. He watched me, he took notes, he observed me in action. After the seminar he made several comments, gave me pointers that would guide me. I will share just one with you know.

Arthur: Moshe, you never introduced yourself, you never told the participants who you are and what you have accomplished.

Me: Well Arthur, we had limited time, why should I waste this time talking about myself. That time would come off the allotted time for training. I am being paid to teach, not to tell them my life story.

Arthur : Moshe, listen, imagine I am in the group. I know nothing about you, why should I listen to you? Why should I care what you have to say? I need to hear a little about you so that I am motivated to pay attention. I always tell about myself, I have an entire skit. I began with, 'Who is Arthur Cohen', I make it funny, I show a photo of Mr. Clean, a cartoon character that looks a like me. I say Who is Arthur Cohen and then gradually I educate them about my experience and why I am qualified to teach them today.

So now I have told you a little bit about my martial arts and business career, and now for the advice.

I want to point out that my advice does not come from my eight years of university, it does not come from my study of Milton Friedman or anything I learned from text books, it comes from life. And you do not have to be a university graduate to understand any of this. I am writing this down in no particular order, only as it pops into my head. 

1. Show Enthusiasm  - When someone contacts you about a business relationship, i.e. a client, a student, someone who wants to join your dojo, purchase a damn T shirt, attend a seminar, anything, show Enthusiasm! Show you are interested. This is the beginning of a dating process, a courtship. If you show a lack of interest, so will they. Enthusiasm is contagious. When someone writes to us about Tour and Train we respond with....Can't wait to meet you in person!

2. Be Sincere - This above mentioned advice is not a tactic, not a trick. Enjoy what you do, be happy with your work or find another job. When someone writes to me about coming to train I am exited about meeting them, I am excited to teach them. When they come to train I am waiting for them like an honored guest is arriving. I want to meet them.

3. Treat them as you want to be treated - When I arrived for a course in Milano, Italy I was given poor incomplete directions. Soon I was lost in a strange land without being able to properly speak the language. I was billeted in a house with no English speakers and no internet. I learned a great deal, I learned what not to do. And so when you arrive for Tour and Train in Israel, we will arrange that you will be met at the airport, INSIDE at the Arrivals Gate, by a friendly person, who speaks English. He or she will take you to your new home. You will stay near other students so you can hang out with them at night. You will be taken to exchange currency at a reliable change place, you will be taken shopping. We take care of you. We put ourselves in your shoes.

4. Respond on Time - I can't emphasize this enough. Respond on time!! I learned this from my dear father, may he rest in peace. A letter arrived, before the day was over a response letter had gone out. And that meant taking pen to paper, envelope, stamp and going to the post office, no e mail, no WhatsApp, no easy short cuts. You respect the other person by responding on time.

When I have asked students, clients, what drew them to me as compared to other Krav Maga organizations, the number ONE answer was my prompt reply. This has proven consistent over many years. So when I write to you about a seminar or a membership renewal and you do not reply, well, that is not good, not at all! When I write to you about an inquiry, when a student writes to me and asks for a school in their area, and that is you, but you fail to respond to this inquiry; I look bad, our organization, IKI, looks bad, and the student will go elsewhere to train.

When an order comes in, one T shirt or a hundred, that order is taken care of within 48 hours at most, but usually within 24 hours. That is why it is frustrating to me when people write to me, Hey, did you forget to send it out?

Forget to send it out?? Sure, I was watching cartoons and had a beer and fell asleep and forgot to send you the T shirts. Really?!? Do you know whom you are talking to! No, I did not forget, but most likely some lazy postal worker in your country is not doing his job, or the system is failing because the country is a bad way. 

I treat you with respect, I know you want that T shirt for your nephews' birthday or whatever. 

Respond on time!! 

5. Work Hard, Always - As I pointed out at the beginning of this article I did rather well in university. Why? because I am smarter than the others, no, not likely. I worked hard, I devoted myself completely to my studies. The same is true of martial arts, I worked hard, devoted myself. Itay would say much as I know that the sun will rise tomorrow I know that Moshe will be on the matt. And I treat IKI, as a business, the same way. I have spent many days lately in the hospital with my dear mother, but I still answer all e mails on time. 

6. View the Business as a Relationship - I remember my father. He was a rabbi and part of his income came from conducting funerals for Jews who were not affiliated with any synagogue. i.e. a person dies, wants a Jewish burial, the family is referred to a mortuary, and the mortuary hires a rabbi of their choosing. So my father cultivated these relationships. As my brother pointed out to me, there was never an outing without a mortuary guy. If we went to watch the Dodgers play in Los Angeles, Dad always purchases an extra ticket for the "Mortuary Guy". My brothers would often say...Let Moshe sit next to the Mortuary Guy, he can carry on a conversation with door knob.

My father cultivated these relationships because these men provided him with work to feed his family. He did this for us. My father took it further, he went to interview the family, to learn about the deceased, to get to know him. When my father eulogized the deceased, people felt my father knew the individual although my father never met the person during his lifetime. My father was a hard worker. 

The relationship meant that it was not just about "making a sale", it was caring, honestly, about the person, knowing about his children, his wife's name and being there as a friend when needed. Not every aspect of a relationship is financial. And again, this is not a gimmick, this must be sincere; care about the people you work with, it is a total relationship.

When my father ended his work at the synagogue he applied to work as a financial broker. I remember the day well. He told us the interviewer said to him, Sir, you are over 50 years old, there are a bunch of college graduates out there half your age, eager to work, why should we consider a man like you?

My father replied, "Because I have four teenage sons who like to eat!"

What he was saying was, I am hungry to work, I will work harder than those young men, I will be your man!

And he was. He earned many awards, took my mother on cruises around the world, built my mother the home she still lives in. He did all that after the age of 50, because he had the passion, the desire, the drive. And now my last point.

7. Pure - I have a little sign in home, a book mark that I found years ago. He sits on my self, he simply says PURE. It is a reminder for me, remain Pure. Do not compromise who you are, do not compromise your integrity, do not let life corrupt you. Do not let anyone or anything change you. Remember who you are. Remain pure, remain true to yourself. 

When you became a teacher, a doctor, a social worker, whatever, you did so because you believed in that calling. Years pass and you find doctors performing surgeries that need not be done, social workers running scams to cheat the government etc. Do not let that happen, remain pure. 

Working hard, earning second dan black belt, many years ago

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