Pros and Cons to Becoming a Competition-Focused Martial Arts School

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No two academies will ever be the same, and that is a good thing! Variety is the spice of life and our differences are what set us apart from one another. As a school owner you must embrace this and know that the school down the street might teach the same art, but your schools will always be different. Embrace this by ensuring you know what defines you and the competition around you.

One area that can really separate martial arts schools is their focus on competition. This could come from the intensity of training, a curriculum focused on competition scoring or the amount of competition success the head instructors have had. In this blog we will evaluate the areas that help define your school as being competition-focused or not.

Experience Discomfort 

From heartaches often comes growth, with competition this could mean the training camp before a competition or the discomfort while competing or even the feeling of losing. These are all lessons with potential to shape us to better deal with this discomfort next time around. On the flip side, competing and training for competition can be stressful and, for some, it is not positive stress. That goes for school owners and students. Be aware of this and decide if this is a pro or a con for your school.

Potential Marketing for your School

Most competitions you see the same faces and get to know the schools that always bring a team. This is a great way to get your school’s name out there especially if your students podium at larger events and are wearing your school’s logo. In an extreme case, the negative here is if your school is not successful at competitions it could reflect poorly on your reputation. Your students will be a reflection of you during their time in the limelight, so hopefully they act in a sportsman like manner.

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Hard Training 

The majority of the work is put in prior to the actual day of a competition and one of the many reasons students come to your school is to get a great workout. Providing “comp” classes will certainly ensure that they get a good sweat. Conversely, hard training could lead your classes and students down a road focused on the sport side of your art. When your technique is focused around points, learning how to defend yourself in a real life situation may go by the way side.

Medals and Trophies gabe competition

Trophies and medals displayed in your school enable your school sell itself. Anyone who walks through your door can see that you build champions. What you need to think about is if this can foster an intimidating environment for prospective students. Now it is up to you to decide which student aligns with your school, the student wanting to be a future champion or the one that is already intimidated at school and needs their confidence built back up.

Team Bonding

Win, lose or draw, there are endless bonding and coaching opportunities that naturally come from winning and losing in front of an audience. The bonding of course comes with the price of time. Weekends, travel, long training sessions, cross training, the list goes on and on. While this will require a significant time investment both for you and your students, it’s important to analyze if this is outweighed by the benefits of building a strong, unified team and ultimately, a stronger overall community at your school.

Clearly all of these points come with pros and cons. Where your school lands in regards to being a competition school or not will always be a bit blurry. Some students will never compete and others will even if you don’t encourage or focus on it. The takeaway should be that you are clear with where you stand as a school. This way your marketing, culture and classes can align with your stance. All of this will set expectations from the get go and increase your culture and student retention.


Looking for additional marketing tips? Get your copy of our free 10-Step Marketing Guide for Martial Arts Schools.

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Gabe Anderson, Marketing Specialist

Zen Planner

Gabe is a native Coloradan, passionate skier and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt who feels most at home in deep pow or training on the mat. Gabe comes to us with over 10 years of experience running a startup clothing brand and is currently a Marketing Specialist at Zen Planner.

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