Adult Martial Arts Students

 in Bradenton - Ancient Ways Martial Arts Academy

On a Facebook page today, some of my martial arts colleagues started debating the attention yoga gets and why they get all the adult students and we get all the kid students. Here was my response:

You want adult students? It's not hard, quit treating them like kids or recruits in the military. So, let's think about a typical adult's first experience in a typical martial arts school. We teach them military style commands and ask them to refer to us by our title and use the "Yes Sirs," and "Yes Ma'ams." They have to wear this white uniform that reminds them of some terrible shows from the 70's like the Flintstones, Bewitched and Gomer Pyle.

From their standpoint, we are talking down to them and treating them like children. I once observed a superstar instructor at a big martial arts event as he taught other school owners how to setup and run a demo team. Personally, I wouldn't be comfortable talking to adults like he did, and I especially wouldn't tolerate being spoken to like he did. I am stunned he has many adults at all.

My adult and teenage program is huge, it's my biggest demographic and it's because we treat them like adults. Do they bow when they come in? Sure, most do, if they don't, that's ok. Do they use my title? Yes, but we don't tell them to. Humility is in my code, I tell my students that I would never be so presumptuous as to tell someone how they should refer to me. I ask that just not call me "late to class."

How does your school look? Does it look like the inside of a circus tent with garish colors and cartoon figures? I personally would be embarrassed to train in that studio as an adult. Adults love the earth tones and living room feel of a Starbucks or a book store. Decorate for the adults. Parents will be more comfortable to sit there for 4-8 years and the kids don't care. At Ancient Ways, we have leather furniture, a fire place and a free little library as well as a comfortable cafe area.

So how about our kid’s classes? Do kids want to be treated like adults or like kids? We treat the kids like adults and set that expectation. We are known in our area as the school with structure and for having control over our classes. The other schools are often referred to as "chaotic."

The adult market is out there and ready for us. Adult students are looking for four things. 1. functional self-defense, 2. a good workout THAT ISN'T BORING! 3. Great camaraderie and sometimes, 4. feeling like a successful and focused warrior.

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