Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stream-of-Consciousness Teaching for the Matial Arts School Owner

Martial Arts School Business Advice –Coming at You From the Future, From Left Field, and Made of Things You Will, Most Likely, NEVER Read About in a Martial Arts Business Publication

Stream-of-Consciousness Teaching By Tom Callos

First things first:

Value. BUILD VALUE. Sell value.

Benefits. BUILD BENEFITS. Sell benefits.

Perceived value and actual value; perceived benefits and actual benefits.

Build them, sell them.


  • Make a tool; find out tool serves more purposes, has more value that originally perceived. Tool with many uses is valuable.

  • Teach self-defense; discover that people are hurt and/or killed by a LOT of other things besides round kicks and back-fists; learn what these things are –and integrate them into your curriculum.

  • Abandon the pursuit of business, become a martial artist committed to enlightenment and service; suddenly realize that this IS the business –and that you now have something (more)valuable to sell that serves you (spiritually) serves your students, serves the community, and serves the world. Realize that’s why you came here in the first place.

OK, with all of that out of the way, I am here to talk to you about your business –and what it’s going to be like in the future.

First off, recognize that our business is life-coaching, not teaching self-defense/exercise.

Exercise is self-defense from ill health. A healthy diet is self-defense from food-related health issues –and the food we consume has a direct effect on the planet, so consciousness about food production and what it does to the world is a form of global self-defense (like it or not, your consumption has a ripple effect far beyond your dinner table).

Practicing meditation is a form of perspective self-defense. Developing a positive and healthy perspective about things like defeat, food, consumerism, relationships, competition, death, impermanence, detachment, and compassion (the short-short list) is mental self-defense. Mental self-defense is the ability to use your mind to create understanding, happiness, health, connection and compassion as opposed to pain, suffering, jealousy, envy, lust, addiction, and hate (another short list).

Community involvement is self-defense from selfishness, narcissism, disconnection, and isolation. Practicing forgiveness and compassion is a form of spiritual self-defense. Spiritual self-defense is the ability to understand, feel, and put to use the idea that we are all of the same family, that we are all more connected than we are disconnected, and that there is nothing more important than love, kindness, compassion for others, and non-violent solutions to our problems. Spiritual self-defense is the idea that we would behave the way, now, that we would if our maker, our God, our _______ (name the person, place, thing, or idea that you would do and be your absolute best for) were here –and watching us.

Now, let me reiterate:

Recognize that our business is life-coaching, not teaching self-defense/exercise, not teaching a complicated skill-set of maneuvers and movements designed to prepare us for hand-to-hand combat. It is not found in the selling of belt programs, of contracts, and of retail gear. Our business is not about simply building self-confidence –we are in the business of LIFE and COACHING and COMMUNITY and UNDERSTANDING.

Now, understand this:

The purpose of your training is to be an example of the benefits derived from the study and practice of the martial arts. This is the best thing you can do for your school, for your students, for your community, and for the world. Getting your own poop together –makes it a LOT easier to help others get theirs together too. And on the other side of that note that helping other people get their stuff together is part of the way you get your own stuff together.

It’s a real give and take, isn’t it? That’s a good thing.

About Your Business

You’re only going to teach people to expand their skills to the place where you have expanded your own. You might fake some of that for awhile, but it won’t fool people for very long. The plan is to expand your own skills, your own awareness, your own level of compassion, understanding, your own sense of humanity, your own wisdom, your own centeredness, your own sense of community connectedness, your own inner-Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, or _________ (name your favorite spiritual person, place, or thing here).

Do this and you have something of real, deep, meaningful value. You can then give something to your students that they take with them into their life, something wise, something needed, something that will serve them and protect them better than any technique.

Let me break, here –to make a point:

Which of the following things cause more pain and suffering in the world?

Jabs and right crosses or emotional isolation?

Arm bars or anger?

Side and/or round kicks or unhealthy diets?

Foot sweeps and take-downs or bigotry?

Wrist locks or ignorance?

Knife hand strikes or greed?

Knee attacks or depression?

Our business is the business of making the world a better, safer, more compassionate place. We should go about it methodically, our first step being the introduction of a kind of practice, a physical/mental/emotional/spiritual exercise that helps us battle the ego, helps us see more clearly, helps us deal with the fear, helps us to find our center.

This work is harder than learning a kata, harder to do than mastering a technique, more challenging than running a successful business, but more fulfilling than just about anything else in the world.

A Request and/or Suggestion

I’d like to ask something of you. Consider it a request and/or a suggestion:

  • I’d like to ask you to ask more of yourself, this year, than you have in the last 10.

  • I’d like to ask you to renew your study –with a new perspective and a new idea of what you/we are here to do.

  • I’d like to ask you to re-craft your school’s mission statement, your curriculum, your goals, purpose, and intent to reflect a new understanding of your purpose here.

  • I’d like to ask you find a group of spiritually evolved people, not necessarily in your neighborhood, who you respect enough/so much, that when they speak, you will listen.

  • I would like to ask you to look very carefully, very deeply at who you’re hanging out with.

  • I’d like to ask you to step out of the current methods and intend of martial arts school management advice –and see if there isn’t something bigger, more valuable, and more relevant to today’s world just waiting there for you to embrace it.

I don’t know how to plot your course, exactly, from this place –but I do believe that this is the best work, the best contemplation, the best beginning for your school, your career, your business, your students, and the world.

Tom Callos

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