I Love Kickboxing! And martial arts instructors around the country should as well. In recent years, traditional martial arts schools have found it increasingly harder to attract adults. There are a lot of reasons for this change in trends, but the important conclusion is that the adult market is simply no longer attracted to the mysticism or elitism of traditional martial arts. Today’s adult market is looking for fitness and concrete, appreciable results. Considering they are already skeptical of the claims of most traditional martial artists, they are also reluctant to wear uniforms, practice forms or engage in things like one-step sparring.
Unfortunately, the word “kickboxing” makes a lot of traditional martial artists cringe. A few even use it like it is a pejorative. Frankly, that’s just stupid and short sighted and I will tell you why. Does your martial art include kicks? Does your martial art include punches? When you were training, you know back in the “good old days”, did you do push ups, sit ups, squats, lots of physical conditioning?
Well, my friend, take a deep breath, because that makes you a KICKBOXER! I don’t know why people have so much trouble with this concept. “Kickboxing” means a system composed of kicks and punches. That pretty much describes 85% of the martial arts being practiced today.
Do you think the clothing matters? Well, I’ve been in Karate Gi, Korean Taekwondo Dobook, snazy Chinese kung fu uniforms, etc and I’ve done plenty of kicks and punches in ALL OF THEM. Are you finding it hard to convince adults to dress up in a uniform? Especially women? Has anyone ever just told you outright that they feel silly in a uniform, or that it isn’t comfortable, or that they are concerned how they look in one? Isn’t it hard enough to get them to sign up, without adding the extra obstacle of trying to convince them that in addition to paying you money, they also have to buy some funny looking clothing from you and wear it every time they work out?
A class that is fitness based, focuses on teaching the basic kicking and punching on equipment, where the results are quickly apparent, and which allows people to wear whatever they are comfortable working out in is easily marketed to the adult market and is in fact what they are looking for. The “kickboxing format” attracts both men and women. Most importantly, it attracts people who normally would never consider a martial arts program.
At a business summit, I told a Taekwondo instructor who was having a little trouble with converting his school to kickboxing exactly what I just wrote above. I asked him what he taught people in his Taekwondo school? He taught them front kicks, side kicks, round kicks, back kicks. I told him that he’s still teaching those things in his “kickboxing” class. He’s just letting people wear what they feel comfortable in and putting them in front of a bag. I pointed out that when I was doing Taekwondo, under 9th degree black belt Pong Ki-Kim (who was a direct student of Moo Duk Kwan founder Hwang Kee) we had heavy bags in our Dojang and we certainly used them!
In fact, people are HAPPIER hitting and kicking bags than they are doing stuff in the air. And they can more quickly see results. Seeing results and being happy equals a happy student who is going to stay longer. They are also likely to tell their friends and refer a lot of new students. This isn’t rocket science people.
The kickboxing format also has strengths no other martial arts based format can boast. Despite the growth of Mixed Martial Arts, the public perception of martial arts is still kicking and punching. Kickboxing is also already established in the mainstream, i.e. women can and will do the classes. Finally, the kickboxing format not only produces readily apparent results, it is flexible enough to support a large and growing program.
While I still teach a complete martial arts system, including preparing students for fighting competitions, I use my kickboxing program as the entry level program for all my students. The program not only gets them in shape in an enjoyable way, it stresses basics. They are the same basics students need to advance to contact. However, since the basic level kickboxing class is non-contact it is appropriate for those who are simply looking for a great workout.
Why would I not want to have a class that lets everyone join, have a great time and allows me to sign up 45 to 65 new students PER MONTH?
Sound good to you?