August 24, 2023, Destin, Florida, USA
For those of us who have decided to pursue martial arts, or self-defense as a full-time occupation, the question of making a living out of this becomes paramount. Unless we have a trust fund or we inherited a few million dollars, we will have to find a way to combine our passion for sharing knowledge with our need for financial survival.
We need to make a living and we need to keep the dojo-training hall, open. There are many expenses. So we cannot remain quiet and humble masters in our own little village, we must promote ourselves, make ourselves known, and reach more potential students.
This may seem like a terrible compromise of our values and ethics, but it need not be. If we truly believe in what we are doing, and if we believe that we have a more effective method of self-defense, than it is only ethical that we should share this. By sharing this we are helping more people. If you have a great talent, for anything, why keep it a secret? Share it with the world. If you have a method for learning languages, share with those who struggle to learn a new language. If you have a method for developing a new business, teach it to others. Yes, you will earn more money, but you will also be helping others. If you have a good honest product, you will be helping others.
I have made a pact with my creator; I shall remain true to my goals of helping others, I shall remain pure in my path, and I shall ask for Your assistance. I try my very best to keep this agreement, and I feel that the Good Man Above has kept His. But we are sailing in murky waters. Sadly I have come to believe that the true guiding ethic of the martial arts business is greed - a fool and his money shall quickly be separated, and "A sucker is born every day",
I believe it is our task to combat these evil forces by offering true self defense to regular people at prices they can afford.
But there is another issued; good honest people who feel they can do best by entrusting their business promotion to outside "Professional" forces. Now let me be clear, I am totally in favor of martial arts instructors learning the business of martial arts. I am totally in favor of them hiring a marketing team to promote their teachings, (I could use one myself). After all, this is not our forte, this is not our strong point. We are trained as self defense instructors; we are not marketing or business experts. If we don't get professional help, all our martial arts skills may go unnoticed, and we will not be able to help anyone.
I recall one of my first Krav Maga seminar tours, I was lying in bed late at night in a hotel in Colorado, unable to sleep due to jet lag. I turned on the TV and caught a few minutes from a Dolly Parton film, a woman I have come to respect over the years. she spoke words that would impact my life, "Sometimes you have to toot your own horn so that people know your a comin".
Yes, this was true. You can't remain a hidden saint, a recluse in a remote mountain waiting for your true followers to find you. It is ok to toot your own horn so people know you are here, and you have something to offer the world. True words of wisdom.
Now where do some instructors run into trouble? They think they are doing well by hiring a consulting firm, but these firms might not be suited to martial arts. They know "Business" but they do not know Krav Maga.
For example, I recall one seminar of mine, it was being advertised and I looked at the flyer. My name was there sure enough but for the photo was of someone else, a younger more muscular man with more hair. What happened? The instructor informed me that he just hands over the information to his marketing team and they take care of it. They just felt they should a classic Krav Maga stock photo, a proven success.
It is true that I am not a fitness model, but I am me, and this is real, and I am real and my Krav Maga is based on reality, not picture-perfect models. I demanded they change the photo immediately. This is not out of ego, quite the contrary, it was out of a desire to showcase the truth. If my advertising is false than what does this say about my Krav Maga? We are not out to give you a pretty Krav Maga, we are out to give you the brutal, ugly truth.
There is martial arts truth and there is marketing. Again, I understand the need to hire a professional to handle the business side of things, but I firmly believe that all final decisions must be made by the martial artists. I have put my foot down many times to good business ideas because they did not match my martial arts ethics.
Lets' look at another example that I have witnessed many times all over the world. But first a detour. Today I have a very special training session. It is with the students of my beloved teacher, mentor and friend, Professor Arthur Cohen of blessed memory. I will be picked up soon by his student Adam Gordon. When Arthur passed, Adam had been his student for 37 years.
Did you hear that? This is old school values. You stay with your instructor. Loyalty.
So what I have witnessed many times is the business manager decides that it no longer makes senses, financially, business-wise, to host the Grand Master, or even to be affiliated. Hey, Listen Sensei, as you business manager I am telling you, drop the grand master, no one will know the difference. Make yourself grand master, or get someone to bring up a diploma for you. Who cares? Who really checks these things? Sell your own T shirts and cut out your instructor. Print your own diplomas for pennis a piece instead of using the officially sanctioned diplomas of your current association. Stop paying these guys!
Now businesswise this makes sense. After all most of your students come and go. Ask your business manager about the average "student life", i.e. how long does the average student stay with you. It is not very long. Now you already have enough knowledge to keep him or her busy for the 6 months or a year that he will be paying you. The few students who stay longer...you can figure that out, perhaps get some new techniques from Youtube or fork out a few dollars for a new DVD, but there is no need to be affiliated to your current teacher, Save the money! no one will know that you are no longer legit. It is all about dollars and cents, the profit, the bottom line. This is a business! You have to milk each student for everything they have got. Start a sparring class so you can sell them sparing gear. Teach weapons so that you can sell them weapons. Promote them often. This is business.
And so, true self defense is no longer relevant. And this is what happens when the business side of things take over.
With IKI no one is ever turned away for lack of money. In fact, we have sent money to many students who have fallen on hard times. We will never compromise what we teach. Some of our techniques may not look so good, but our bottom line is your safety. Our safety. Otherwise, get out of this business. For us it has never been and never will be a business. We are in the business of saving lives.
Moshe teaching in Costa Rica
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