Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water.
– Bruce Lee
The year was 1959 and Bruce Lee boarded a steamship to make his way to America. Let’s just say things in this country didn’t go as he planned. He was stereotyped, frequently made fun of, and even outcast among other martial artists.
Did Bruce Lee turn and head home? Nope. He adapted.
In speaking to crowds he was routinely heard stating, “pliability is life, rigidity is death”. What’s even more impressive is that Lee formed many of his philosophies on life and martial arts during a time when he was practically bed ridden, a condition which influenced his thinking regarding one’s need to be flexible, both physically and mentally.
Consider how being forced to stop, think, assess and evolve shaped his mindset. It’s about time we learn to channel our own inner Bruce Lee and use our circumstances to our advantage.
See Your Glass Half Full
There may never be a moment like the one now where we as martial arts business owners have needed to adapt and change. The stark fact is that we too are on our proverbial backs as states continue to impose COVID restrictions and the general public continues to deal with limits to life as we knew it. It’s time we forget about our losses and focus on our opportunities.
“Did he really just say opportunities while we are in the midst of a pandemic?”.
Yes I did and I’m here to challenge you to see the current opportunities that exist for your business and how you need to position it in the minds of a scared and uncertain population.
While COVID is wreaking havoc on the health of many, we’re learning some things. And this knowledge is the secret to modifying the way you’ve always provided value (more on that in a minute).
We know this disease has the most severe impact on those with underlying health conditions and this time we can’t just take a pill to fix things. We need to take action.
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, not exactly.
While we have a population more motivated than ever to do something about their health, restrictions, fear, and isolation are making it more difficult than ever for a person to take action.
“Yeah, I know I need to get healthy, but where do I start? I don’t want to go into a gym right now? Thanks, but no thanks. Please pass the Doritos.”
Unfortunately, people looking for options may draw those conclusions and slink right back into the same approach that got them where they are in the first place. Now is the time to send a roundhouse kick to the problem by positioning martial arts training as an ideal solution.
Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t martial arts just like any other fitness training used to get healthy?”. Not exactly and that reality is where you have a competitive advantage. Be Like Water my friend and prepare to transform your business with a new approach.
Know Your Audience
I’m going to ruffle some feathers here, so I will apologize in advance.
Now is not the time to be promoting confidence building, leadership skills, or bullying prevention. I’m not saying those aren’t noble benefits to martial arts, but that time tested approach is going to fall on deaf ears.
I can hear your audience saying, “I don’t care about leadership skills, I care about staying out of the hospital if I get COVID!”
It’s a harsh reality, but true.
If we want to grab the nation’s attention, we need to speak their language and that language is about wellness.
And you know what else?
We believe martial arts training offers 3 distinct competitive advantages that most other businesses cannot.
Do I have your attention? I should because if you’re not thinking of these things, your prospects and students aren’t either… but they should be.
Advantage #1 – Physical
While this may be obvious, many people may not realize the extent to which even moderate exercise can help.
Physical activity has strong relevance for limiting the harms to human health and well-being due to the coronavirus pandemic. Active muscles produce chemicals that improve immune functioning, which in turn reduces the extent of infections, and decreases inflammation, and these are the main causes of lung damage from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection.
Yes martial arts has physical benefits, but here is where it offers advantages over other methods.
It’s an activity that has no age, gender, race, athleticism, or body type limitations. It’s something we’ve shown can be done anywhere and at any time. Finally, the typical length of a martial arts class fits right into experts’ proposed immune boosting time frames.
And there’s more physical benefits to martial arts that might not exist elsewhere. Want proof?
2016 study compared the fitness level of individuals in martial arts training versus a more general fitness program. The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group practiced martial arts twice a week for five months. A second group did traditional fitness activities twice a week for five months, including running, strength training, gymnastics, and other activities that build coordination, balance, strength and body awareness. A third group (control) just continued their normal activities. Only the martial arts group showed improvement in attentiveness, reaction time, and resilience under stress.
Another study published in 2014 in the journal Societies, showed that individuals in martial arts training had greater strength, balance, flexibility, and aerobic capacity and less body fat than those in other groups. They had stronger quadricep muscles, and could perform more sit ups and pushups.
Am I gaining traction with you? Great, because it gets better!
Advantage #2 – Mental
The United States had a suicide rate higher than most countries prior to 2020 and COVID is pouring gas on the flame. Studies show that one of the quickest ways to depression is isolation and this pandemic has forced us into separation like never before. Talk about a recipe for disaster!
From the National Alliance on Mental Health
We’re social beings, and we are not meant to live in isolation. Community is critical for us to thrive by providing a sense of belonging, a source of support, and a feeling of purpose. Community is all about connection. It’s not just an entity or a group of people, it’s a feeling. It’s feeling connected to others, feeling accepted for who you are and feeling supported.
“Did you just say Community?” Now I’m speaking our language! This is where our industry lives, it’s where we shine, and this is where we will find another significant advantage.
Did you know that studies are showing that martial arts businesses are surviving to a greater extent than other fitness based businesses during this pandemic?
Is it because we’re awesome, right? Absolutely. But there’s more to the story.
Martial arts schools and gyms foster a community approach to training. Individuals training in martial arts feel a bond to the owner, the instructors, and their fellow students as they progress through their training and belt ranks.
If ever there is a time where individuals need to be a part of a larger group, to feel connected to others with similar interests, it is in the midst of the pandemic.
Being a part of a martial arts family was always something “nice” to promote. Now it’s mission critical!
“Ok, I’m following you so far. Get healthy, check. Join a community to train, check. But I’m still freaking out about going into a public space and maybe getting COVID!”
Advantage #3 – Safety
Bet you didn’t think safety was going to be a competitive advantage, did you? Well this is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, so let’s hit it square in the jaw.
Let me set the record straight. Nobody can guarantee safety from COVID. What we can do is highlight the ways our business is enforcing the guidelines that have been proven effective at protecting oneself. I’m here to say, the martial arts school is arguably the single most conducive place for practicing the preventive measures necessary.
Don’t just take it from me. Let’s look at the facts.
As stated on the Centers for Disease Control site regarding risk with team sports like soccer, football, baseball, basketball:
When assessing risk consider the physical closeness of participants, and the length of time that participants are close to each other or to staff. Evaluate the amount of necessary touching of shared equipment or gear (balls, bats, racquets, protective gear). Assess the ability to social distance while not actively engaged in play. Review the nonessential visitors, spectators, and volunteers. Finally, monitor travel outside of the local community.
To maintain healthy environments we must clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, limit shared objects, modify layout and procedures to allow for adequate social distancing and avoid communal spaces.
If you consider these recommendations, the martial arts school or gym checks almost every prevention box.
Promoting the COVID friendly measures you have taken and the advantages your facility offers over almost any other activity is precisely the message you need to be shouting from the rooftops.
“Great, I see what you’re saying, but how in the heck do I even begin to share this message when I’m too busy keeping up with all of the new demands placed on me?”
Well, we’ve got you covered!
Start to WIN Again
As was the case from the beginning, our team at Kicksite is in this battle with you and we’ve already started preparations to help you WIN.
Two weeks ago we formally announced our WIN Initiative which is our way of helping you change the narrative and, as a result, open our industry up to a whole new way of providing value to our communities.
Let me explain…
WIN is a mindset, an approach, and a mission to combat COVID in a proactive way. Let’s stop hiding from the pandemic and let’s start WINNING. Let’s WIN as a business, as a community and as a nation. It starts with our well-being. We’ve already covered what wellness means across the three areas above, but now we intend to equip you with the ammunition to go into battle against COVID.
Over the next weeks, months and into next year, Kicksite will be producing content that you can share with your community. We are launching a multi-faceted attack to arm you with plenty of resources across a variety of channels. Be on the lookout for blog posts, videos, podcasts, webinars, all designed to educate you and your audience.
Ready to WIN with us? It’s simple. Go to: #WIN Initiative and get ready to receive the materials you’ll need to get started. Share these materials with your members and prospects to highlight the ways your business offers advantages never considered prior to COVID.
Bringing It All Together
1. See Your Glass Half Full – COVID stinks, but it’s also presenting new opportunities never before seen. Let’s open our eyes to them.
2. Know Your Audience – Right audience, right message, right time. The age old messaging won’t work right now. Speak their language and show the unique value that exists for your business during these challenging moments.
3. Join the Win Initiative – join now at https://bit.ly/2EBttyO
We are in unprecedented times with no road map for guidance. We walk, run, trip, fall, get up, and have this cycle set to repeat. It can feel overwhelming and, quite frankly, demoralizing. Don’t quit, adapt. Make mistakes, fail, try again, and continue to remain nimble.
Bruce Lee reinforced the importance of adaptability, to avoid being rigid. Being Like Water also means having an open mind to changes, to opportunities, to the need for evolution. And remember, Water can flow, or it can crash. Be formless. Shapeless. Be water, my friend.