[Webinar] Increase Retention & Turn Parents Into Raving Fans

Webinar Overview

Increase retention and keep them coming back for more. Join Rich Grogan as he shows us how to grab parents' attention and turn them into raving fans. Boring is simply that, "Boring." During this webinar you will learn how to create an environment that keeps the curriculum fresh and interesting. Stray away from the countless repetitions, basics, and expected. Find out how to make your kids classes new and engaging with these creative approaches.

About the Speaker

Rich Grogan
Master Rich Grogan is the founder of Grogan's Academy of Martial Arts. He focuses his school on character development and life skills. He specializes in teaching positive motivation, practice self-defense and bully prevention. Master Grogan has grown his school from one floor to hundreds of students.

Video Transcript

Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, today we have with us Rich Grogan; the owner, president and senior instructor at Grogan’s Academy of Martial Arts. Rich has an extensive background to compliment his over 35 years of martial arts experience with a degree in kinesiology and exercise science and an extensive coaching experience at the elite level for many different sports. Today, he’s bringing us a topic on increasing student retention and turning parents into raving fans. Now, if you have any questions after the seminar please feel free to direct them to marketing at marketing@championsway.com, and we’ll either redirect them to Rich himself or try to answer them from our end. Without further ado I want to introduce everyone to Rich. Take it away Rich.

Thank you, thank you very much Noah. Well greetings everyone, thank you for taking time to be on the webinar today and a special shout out and thank you to Championsway for making this possible. So, real quick and Noah did a great job of kind of explaining a little bit about who I am. I’ve been in martial arts for over 35 years. I’m a P.E. teacher for 11 years. An athlete, coach and a dad of 3 kids… I have a degree in kinesiology education, kinesiology is the study of human movement in exercise science. I have a major in education and curriculum design. Essentially, I’ve tried to bring all of this together and come up with a good curriculum as far as lesson planning, as far as structure and as far as creating excitement within the classes to help out with retention. I’ve also been over to Korea 4 different times, and pretty much try to bring the Eastern and Western philosophy mixed together to create a great environment with what we teach here.

So, retention as we know, that’s our life source. You know without retention it doesn’t matter how many students we bring in if the backdoor’s wide open and students are leaving out the back we’re never going to be able to grow our business successfully. There’s an old saying and it says that, “kids lose interest and parents quit,” and what that means is the kids they start off excited and the parents are going to bring them to class because the kids are excited. But once the kids lose interest, the parents are inevitably the ones that end up quitting because they don’t want to fight with the child to bring them to class anymore. It doesn’t matter what we’re teaching in regards to life skills and in the values of the program, a parent is only going to fight with a kid so long before the parent just eventually gives up and quits. So as we know, countless repetitions…they’re important as far as developing technical value of techniques and preparing the kids to advance to the next belt rank, but countless repetitions, let’s face it they can be boring. So can basic motions, once again it’s an important aspect of the martial arts training…we have to make sure the basics are in there and we have to do countless repetitions in order to show the students the knowledge and make sure they’re ready to test for the next advancement but at times that can be very boring.

And just as bad, if we’re doing the same curriculum over and over again, that can become extremely boring as well. Yeah, it might be easy for you as far as the planning because it’s already done, but sometimes easy is not always best! And you can kind of look on the kid’s face here…we had to search hard and deep to find a picture like this, but this is a day we were doing basic motions and forms and we were able to catch a snapshot of this and sometimes that’s the look of the kids in class and that’s not a good look. And let’s face it, boring is simply that, boring! Now, you as adults and instructors you don’t like to attend a seminar that’s boring, well kids are no different. Kids, they don’t like anything boring either. They want to stay engaged. They want to be excited about the class, and the same with the parents. If the parents are bored they’re not going to show as much enthusiasm when the kiddo says it’s time that they don’t want to do this anymore, to drive and motivate them to continue. We all heard about being creative and camouflaging repetitions, and yeah that’s great, but sometimes that can be difficult. That can be very difficult, especially if we’re kind of a one man show, a one man band there and we’re doing all of it, it’s very difficult to have that creative side. Especially, if we’re doing this part-time; maybe we’re working a day job and we come here at night and do this, when is there time to come up with you know ideas on how to camouflage repetition, and that’s what this seminar, webinar is all about.

The biggest thing I can offer is to think like a kid and plan accordingly. If you think about, what do we do? We’re martial arts instructors. And primarily the martial arts industry is primarily kids…now we have teenager and adult classes as well, but 90% of our class space is kids. So, if you’re able to connect with the kids and put yourself on their level and think like a kid and then plan accordingly, I promise great success with your retention.


We have a ton of fun at the studio, as you can see in the top picture there like a little Charlie’s Angels/James Bond pose, we’re always having fun and engaging with the instructors. Once again, we’re reminding ourselves we’re teaching kids, so we have to be kids at heart. Now, we’re still the professionals; we’re still the senseis, the master instructors, and by putting our ego aside we’re able to think and plan accordingly. If you think about it, if you’re bored with the lessons, guess what, everybody’s bored with the lessons! I mean you cannot come off energetic and exciting about something that you’re bored with yourself and that boredom you may bring to the class…you may think you’re excited about it, but deep down if you’re doing the same thing over and over again, I promise you it’s not coming across as something fresh, new and exciting that keeps the kids engaged.

So, a couple of things you can do…definitely add variety; do fresh drills and equipment. And we try and go through it, and I understand; it’s difficult especially if you don’t have a huge budget to buy new equipment. Suggestion there, set aside a few bucks every month or every other month and try to make it a point quarterly, every 3 or 4 months you’re going to buy something new, something fresh that you’re going to add to the studio. I promise, the kids they see something different, it makes them light up like that kid on Christmas, “Whoa, some new toy to play with!” Then of course the key is you have to use and play with the toys and equipment. You can’t just have it sitting over there. If you add one new thing a week that will do wonders. And it could be anything new in regards to maybe you change the way you do your kicking techniques and we’ll go over a variety of different ways to enhance that and make that more exciting. Maybe it’s the way you do your forms? Maybe it’s the way you do your sparring, or just your basic motions? Add something different or with the equipment you purchased along the way there do something different with. Anything to create variety, the spice of life…

Take time to plan each lesson and this is a big one. Once again, if you do the same curriculum over and over again, it’s going to become boring. Not only for you but for the students as well; take that extra time to plan the lesson. At first it may take a little longer than you used to, but I promise once you get into a rhythm or a routine of doing it, you’ll be able to knock out a lesson in 5/10 minutes max and the thing is I know a lot of us are like, “Well, I’ve been doing this for years, I can just wing it,” and I’ve been there. When I was teaching during the day as a P.E. teacher, I’d have 9 or 10 classes and I’d come to the studio and I’d teach another 4 or 5 classes. You know, 14 or 15 classes in a day, my mind was a little fried! So a lot of times I didn’t take that extra time to plan the lesson because I’ve been doing this for how many years…I can do this! But each time I did that I always felt like the class could have been better at the end. And of course a key ingredient, you’ve got to have the energy…you’ve got to have the energy to make it fun! And something fresh and new that’s exciting for you, it’s going to be fun for the kids as well.

Something I read not too long ago and this really resonated with me is teach each class like it’s your own reality show. Think and picture that someone is following you around with a camera. This is your reality show. They’re taping everything you say, everything you do, your engagement with the kids, your engagement with the other instructors, your engagement with the parents and then of course you’re going to watch this reality show along with millions of other people…how are you going to feel about this show? Are you going to be proud of the effort? Are you going to be happy with what you did or are you going to be like, “Ugh, man I don’t want to watch this show again?” Well it’s the same thing because it is a reality show. You’re having kids come into your life, into your show when you teach each class. So at the end of this, if you self-evaluation and something I have the instructors do after every class, and something I always did too, you have to put your ego in check and ask yourself, honestly, if I was a student in this class would I be happy with this class? Would I be excited to attend another class? Did I learn something in this class? And if the answer is no, you can fix it! But you have to be willing to fix it!

So how about some ways to increase your retention…the big one you’ve got to make the students feel special every single class. There’s nothing more important to anybody, it doesn’t matter if it’s a child or adult, than when somebody makes them feel special…makes them feel important. Some ways to do that and there’s a good photo here of the high fives; we are high five maniacs if you will! I believe in the kids…nothing more than a high five; one it makes them feel special, it’s that personal connection and contact, and we even…the parents when they leave, high fives, even the younger siblings we always go out and give them a high five. Why? Because it makes them feel good, it’s that individual attention. The big thing, we know each student’s name…each and every student’s name, and I realize that some of you are saying, “There is no way I can remember all of the students’ names.” Well, I’m going to humbly disagree with you and say, “Yes, you can!” We have light of 200 students and we know every single one of their names.


I tell the instructors, “Look, I’m 44 years old if I can remember all of these kids’ names and the parents’ name…first and last, you can remember the names!” So, what we do is a little trick, a little tip on this, how to do that…it’s the old I call it the “3 by 3” rule, now the 3 by 3 rule some people have heard it, you make eye contact 3 times, you mention the kids’ name 3 times, and you make appropriate contact each time. What I do if we’ve got a newer student that maybe their name has slipped my mind I simply say, “Hey little buddy, what’s your name? Jason, Jason give me 5 buddy, Jason I’m super proud of you for coming to class tonight. Hey Jason, you going to do a great job tonight? Alright Jason, I know you are! Give me another 5 buddy!” So, what I’ve done is I’ve said their name at least 3 times and in saying that name I’ve also taken in a visual description of that child, and then I say the name when I move on continuously in my mind and then I look at the kid again. It’s just a way of kind of taking a mental photograph along with the name that you’ve said 3 different times.

As I mentioned we give a lot of high fives. Everybody loves a high five, it’s a great picture, look at the kids! The first one he’s excited as can be, jumping up there and look at the other kids, “Hey, when’s it my turn for a high five?” We bring them PCP, it stands for “praise, correct, praise,” and what that is…so many times when kids are corrected, it doesn’t matter if it’s at school or home or if they’re playing another sport…the coach or the teacher or the parents just tells them what they’re doing wrong. “Johnny sit properly, Stephanie quit doing that!” Whatever the case may be…where they constantly present it in a negative manner. How we can do this in a positive way is go up and say, “Hey Timmy, great job and I’m proud of you being in class tonight. I’ll tell you what little buddy, how about bending the knee just a little bit more…just a little bit more, oh that’s awesome! Give me 5 Timmy, you are the man!” So what I did was, I started off with a praise saying I’m glad he’s in class today, and then corrected or redirected as far as bending that knee a little bit, and then praised him again for doing a great job with it. So, after talking to a child, like that they’re feeling motivated, they’re feeling inspired. You made them feel special, you gave them the high five, you’ve used their name and you corrected them but praised them at the end.

This is a big one we’ve been doing for quite some time; stop the class to praise a great example, and then have everyone clap for that student. What that does is it draws positive attention to someone who’s doing a great job, instead of…we’re doing our mat chats and you’re always going to have a couple of kids that are squirmy, wormy or whatever the case may be, the one thing we say is, “Alright everybody, sit like a martial artist! Criss-cross, karate sauce!” And you’re always going to have a couple that aren’t, and instead of trying to correct each one that isn’t sitting properly, point out somebody that’s doing a great job, say, “Oh man, look over here! Look at William, look at his sitting criss-cross, karate sauce, on focus, and attention, that is awesome! Let’s give him a big hand!” Of course, all of the other kids they want that praise too, so what are they going to do? They’re immediately going to sit properly.

Greeting students and parents at the door, now that’s the extra special touch. Now I realize for some people that don’t have assistant instructors and you’re kind of a one person show, you think this might be tough…well, it’s not. Okay, just at the door when people come in, you greet them, you make them feel once again, special, to be in the studio and be a part of something special. And of course by knowing their name that makes it even better. You can say something like, “Well, hello Jason thanks for coming to class tonight, I’m so happy you’re here! Go on the floor and get going!” And to make it even more special at the end of class we meet him at the door again and tell him, “Thanks again for coming! Have a great day, we hope to see you soon.” Now if you want to take it a step further actually ask him, “Hey, am I going to see you tomorrow night? Or maybe Wednesday night, when am I going to see you again?” And by doing that you’re kind of putting the kid on, “Well, they’re really ready to see me again, well hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow night!” It just plants that seed in their mind when they’re leaving that they’re welcome back and you want to see them again.

Okay, some more ways to increase retention and everything I just mentioned…that’s essential, that’s kind of the icing on the cake. The cake or the main ingredient is right here, you’ve got to teach fun and exciting classes. Without fun and exciting classes, you know, all of the other things, you may get the kids to stay…it’s that extra little boost, I mentioned the icing on the cake but without fun and exciting classes, the kids aren’t going to want to stay with the program and once again once the kids lose interest the parents are wanting to quit. So, here’s some goofy stuff we do with the kids, and I say goofy because we’re thinking like a kid but I also want you to realize this isn’t just a chaotic, unstructured recess time at school or the after school program or whatever the case may be…there’s a meaning behind each thing, but teaching good technique does not have to be boring, okay? It’s a matter of how you address it, your energy toward it and your planning prior to the class.


We use a variety of different equipment as you see at the top, the pool noodles, now pool noodles you can pick those up anywhere for about a dollar, you cut them in half and now you’ve got 50 cents a sword and the kids love it! What we do with those is we’ll go through it, we’ll do some basic motions, or maybe some forms and then we’ll put the noodles in their hands and this is their sword. So, they’ve got to use extra special care and caution not to hurt themselves or each other with the sword when they’re doing their basic motion, but it’s another way of getting repetitions in on their basics and also they’ve got something in their hands. And then we’ll set up a station like you see here where they get to sword fight. So it works on awareness, it works on body control, it works on being able to defend themselves and look at the smile on their faces, they’re having a ton of fun!

Another thing we engage in is scarves, now scarves are little juggling scarves, and by the way you can pick most of this stuff up on Amazon where we get everything else…there are several catalogs that I used to from but to be honest with you, Amazon with that Prime 2-day shipping, boom! Not that I’m throwing a plug in for Amazon, but I’m just saying what we do! Anyway, the scarves, you can throw those things up and it works on hand and eye coordination, kids can throw the scarves up and practice to see how many times they can punch the scarf before it hits the ground. The same thing with kicks, they throw it up and they try to keep it in the air when they’re kicking. Once again it works on the body control, they’re working on some basic motion and you’re camouflaging the repetition, so you’re doing something fun, new and engaging. Bean bags are a beautiful thing as well. With the bean bags, now the older kids maybe throw them up and punch or kick but you’ve got to be careful because bean bags are obviously a lot heavier than the scarves and they’re going to fly all over the place. Some of the drills we do with that we kind of teach the soft hands and the ability to stay loose. We’ll take the bean bags on the back of the hand, and you try to flip it up and catch it on the back of the hand, once again establishing the control.

The Nerf balls, you can see in the bottom picture there the kids run after that and just look at the excitement on their faces there running after the balls. What we do with those we’ve got a little game which I’ll touch on a little bit here that we play to actually help the kids work on their throwing skills. I know some of you are saying, “I’m teaching martial arts. Why do I have to work on throwing skills?” Well, I want you to think outside the box here, because the kids are only in your studio a couple of days a week…you know they’re at school and they’re with their friends the rest of the time, and we’re about developing self-esteem and self-confidence, so if they feel confident now because they’ve worked on throwing a ball and the body control in your studio. On the playground or in recess or P.E. class, they’re going to feel a little better about throwing the ball, so that’s going to help their self-esteem and self-confidence outside the studio as well. That’s kind of thinking outside the box there.

Cones and hula hoops…the cones are a beautiful thing, you get those and you can do obstacle courses, you can run around the cones for agility drills… Hula hoops, we’ll lay those on the ground and you kind of hop through the hoops and it works on coordination and balance. Another thing we do we’ve got these little Styrofoam hoodie things we put on the hula hoops, we’ll stand them up and the kids crawl through those like they’re fire rings, and once again it works on their agility. Foam balance boards which is kind of like a balance beam. Tunnels, they’re a great little thing, and you can get those from Amazon as well; a little tunnel the kids crawl through and they work on getting out of the tunnel quickly and jumping up and doing a kick or punching a hand target or whatever the case may be. To continue being creative with your drills; we have a lot of creative warm-up drills as well. One we call the zombie awareness drill, or avoidance drill and this one you can do with the younger kids, but it’s just a short amount of time. This is more gauged to your older kids, kids that are 10-12 and up. Basically, what you’re doing is you’re having the kids walk like a zombie, and the other kids, maybe you’ve got 5 in a group. One person’s in the middle and the 4 zombies are coming after them, all they do is continue in the turn, it’s almost like an Aikido move because you’re intercepting the circle. They’re coming at you and you’re avoiding them, and the zombies just keep coming and you keep avoiding the zombies.

Another one which is real popular and you can do this with all age groups, is the trip through the jungle, and what through the jungle is the instructor has all of the kids standup in their houses, we call it “Stay in your house,” and they’re going to start running in place and they’re running through the jungle and they’ll say, “A cheetah is after you,” so the kids have to run faster and once again they’re staying in their house in their spot, but they’re running in place faster because a cheetah is chasing them. Then we’ll say something like, “A bear, a bear, a bear,” so we have to lay down and play dead because a bear’s coming. And the next thing we’re back up and we’re running through the jungle and we have to duck because there’s a branch and we say, “Branch!” The kids duck down so they don’t get hit by the branch. Then another one, log, so they’re running and they have to jump over a log, so once again it helps them with their endurance; it’s creative, helps them with their focus, their concentration and the kids love it, and they’re going through and it’s a great warm-up. Animal crawl is another one where the kids just emulate an animal; it could be a frog hop, it could be a bear crawl, it could be a crab walk, it could be a slug crawl…all over the food chain, and they’re just having fun but it’s a great warm up and it’s engaging once again their body control.


Fishbowl, this is a little bit of an older drill probably for your 8, 9, 10 crowd and up, basically you block off an area and that’s like the fishbowl and the kids will go through all of them together and they’re like fish swimming in a fishbowl, avoiding contact with the other fish or the other students as you move through, as the students get a little better with this and as you get a little older with your 12-14 and teenage group, and adults you can pick up the pace on this a little bit, but of course maintain safety. The whole thing is it’s giving them something different and it’s working on awareness of their surroundings. So, the parachute activity and this was always extremely popular when I talked to P.E. classes and so I carried this over to the studio, and this game just like a lot of them…focus, concentration, and the big one is teamwork here and just like anything else following directions! So, what’s the parachute? This is the parachute and once again you can pick this up from Amazon. What we do with the parachute is it’s cooperative team activities. A lot of times this will be done at the end of class, but you can also work in different techniques with this. In other words, they can hold the parachute tight and you can work on your kicks. So, say you’re working on your front kick and everybody kicks their right leg 5 times and then kicks their left leg 5 times, and then you alternate kicking. Now it can be tough, but it works on the balance, the coordination but they all have to work together, and everybody has to do their part in order to kind of keep the parachute up there. You can also turn to the side and do a side stretch kick motion, or even for your advanced students turn to the back and do a back stretch kick or even a back kick and of course that works even more on their balance and control. So I think this is a great activity too when we get the parents on the mat to come out and we do little things like bring it up like the picture in the middle it makes like a giant cloud/umbrella, the kids go in and when it starts coming down they run out and everybody has to get it out before it falls. At the end we do a little tent or igloo and the kids get in there and just have some fun, and they have to be quiet so their parents don’t know where they’re at…little games like that. But it’s a great, fun activity like I mentioned to help with your kicks and even your punches, you can hold on with one arm and throw punches underneath and it’s also nice closure at the end of the class.

I always believe in rewarding the students fun games, so I like the parachute there, at the end of the class because we want to send them away feeling great, and if they feel great going away they’re probably going to be more excited about coming back to the next class! And also with parents when they go away, they feel really good because the child’s excited; the child got a great workout, they’re feeling good and they know the next time coming back to class hopefully it’s going to be a little easier. Especially with those kids that are on the fence there, sometimes kids and we’ll talk about this a little later too, but usually kids don’t all of a sudden just quit coming to class. It’s something that’s been building for a while. So the more you can engage the parents in the excitement of the class, the more it’s going to help them when those kiddos reach that point of, “You know, I’m having a hard time getting Johnny to come to class.” Well, you end with an exciting note you encourage the parents to ask the kids in the car, “Hey, what was your favorite part of class tonight,” and engage them about what they did. Here’s a fun game that we play quite a bit and we call it Wacky Warriors, and Wacky Warriors, and you can see that’s actually my son, he’s one of the assistant instructors there, he’s out there with the kiddos there. The Wacky Warriors we have a blocker bat and a shield, and a lot of times with the Tigers, the younger students, the 4, 5, and 6 year olds, we’ll put them in like line formation. So, you figure even if you have 20 kids in class, 4 lines, you’ve got 5 kids in a line, so they don’t have to wait that long for the turn and they’ll come up and challenge the instructor for Wacky Warriors. Or just as much we’ll put them in a free-for-all, and we’ll put them in a ring with 5, 6, 7 kids and they all get to attack the instructor. They have fun with it, it works on their body control, it works on their awareness and they have a ton of fun with it.

Another one we play and this is another one when we have parents come out, it’s extremely popular; we call it Ninjas vs. Samurais. In Ninjas vs. Samurais, this is another game I played as a P.E. teacher and I called it Oscar’s Garbage Can from Sesame Street, and the garbage can is pretty much the master or what the parents are in, and the kids they would be Oscar who throws the yarn balls and the Nerf balls around making a mess, and then the cleanup committee would be the kids that throw in the trash if you will into the trash can. So, I put a little martial arts’ twist on it with Ninjas vs. Samurais and the Ninjas are the messy ones in the trash can and they’re making a mess of everything! The Samurais are the clean ones, they’re trying to clean up the dojo there, clean up the studio and get all of the trash picked up. So, they’re throwing the trash in and the other students or in this case the parents are throwing the trash out. It’s a great event and kids are having a ton of fun and of course you’re making fun with the parents you tell the parents, “You know, if you accidentally whack your kid with a ball, I’m sure they deserve it, right?” The parents love that and it’s a ton of fun and we tell the kids that they’re not allowed to hit their parents, so it’s a ton of fun going back and forth but it’s a nice, great ending to a class to send them away happy.


Some other ways to increase retention, as we know we have to disguise repetition. That’s huge, and now the way we do that is stations. A lot of times we’ll have 4 different activities going on all at once. Now, once again if you’re a one man band or you’ve only got one assistant or one instructor or whatever the case may be, you can still pull these off you just take one of your senior students that’s been doing a great job or even if they’re a high orange belt or green belt, and they can kind of help out with the station. One they’re going to love it if they’re the one in charge, and it’s also going to help the other kids who want to be that helper to do a little bit better of a job as far as standing at attention and showing that they’re ready for that position. So, what we try and do is with repetitions at each station, but we just do them in a different way. It’s a great way to camouflage the repetition by using equipment and then line drills. The line drills they focus on the kids having to be patient, they have to concentrate, they have to wait for their turn but then they have to have body control, meaning they have to keep their hands and feet to themselves.

Now what we do is we play music just about every class as well, and the music will start and stop the activity. So with the music that creates more energy within the class, so the kids even though they’re waiting for their turn they are still kind of dancing and moving around but they’re still focused on their turn coming up, keeping their hands and feet to themselves and they’re patiently waiting but they’re moving around so it doesn’t seem like they have to wait that long. So here’s an example of some of the stations and we did all 4 of these stations at one time. The top lefthand corner here we took the little dragon on the weight-master base, we’ve got the dice on top, the student kicks the dice off and whatever it lands on it’s an exercise dice…maybe it’s jumping jacks or pushups or sit ups or kicks, whatever the case may be, they have to do 5 of that exercise and then have to run and put the dice back on top and run to the end of the line and the next student goes. The one to the right of that is the “vs” and once again if you can budget for it, try and add some different equipment at least every third month if possible, if more than that just continue to add stuff because it adds fresh excitement to the class there. What they’re doing here is they’re working on their kicks, like they’re working on the round kick kicking the dice off, up here they’re working on sidekick and round kick, so once again get their reps in but we’re disguising and camouflaging just kicking toward the mirrors.

Over here on the bottom left what she did was, the kid took it off the weight-master base, they kick that over with a front kick or round kick or a back kick, whatever they want to do, and they pick it up, and I guess a little marine training drill, they carry the weight-master over their head and they have to run around the line and then go put it back in the place for the next person to go. Bottom corner here they’re going through, and here’s the hula hoops I was talking about, they’re hopping through the hula hoops and at the end there they’ll do a couple kicks, some jumping jacks and then run to the end of the line. So once again you’ve engaged the activity, tonight was your kicking night you’ve done 4 different drills on kicks, but you’ve done it in a different way that’s more exciting for the kids. So, other examples…and some of these we do at the beginning of class and some we do at the end, flying sidekicks across the mats and what we’ll do is we’ll line the kids up on opposite sides of the dojo there and they’ll run and they’ll do sidekicks across the mat. But what we do to make it even more challenging is we’ll put a couple of blocker shields in the middle that they have to jump over. And maybe start off with one and then add two, and for your more advanced students you get 3 or 4 up there, but they’re crossing and doing the kicks and working on their body control and working on their patience but also it’s a good endurance building activity as well.

Basic motions and kicks on the vs. and you’ll see that on the picture above; punches and yells instead of just doing your standard punches we’ll yell something like, “I am awesome,” and get louder and louder and louder, once again making the kids feel good, it gets their parents’ eyes off their phones and in the classroom hearing these kids say, “I am awesome!” And you wouldn’t believe the number of pictures and videos parents take of these little things here because it’s something different and it’s something exciting and they want to share that with others. Another one we do called “kicking with candy,” and kicking with candy what you do is you get one of those little Dixie cups, kind of the little bathroom cups and throw in some M & Ms or some Hershey Kisses in there or those little candy corns, and it works on the kids’ control of their hands because they have to hold the candy in their hands and keep their hands up, but they’re doing their kicks and of course if they’re doing their kicks and let go of their hands their candy flies everywhere. Now, you’re always going to have a few kids that do that on purpose and throw it everywhere, just let them know that, “Look, once your candy hits the floor that’s it, you’re out of candy,” and the kids if it’s okay with their parents, whatever candy they kept in their cup they can have after class. Of course check with the parents and make sure that’s cool but most parents are fine with that, and that’s the reward for doing a good job of controlling their hands.


Another one which is extremely fun and popular is “hand-foot-duck,” you take a couple of hand targets there, you go up to the kids and maybe you can do this in a group of 5 or 6, or if you’ve got enough hand targets you can actually pair them up with a partner individually. But you go up and you’ll say, “Hand technique” and they’ll have to throw a punch or maybe a ridge hand or a pseudo, and you’ll say, “Foot,” and they’ll have to do a kicking technique, a front kick, round kick, sidekick, whatever the case maybe be and then “Duck” you swing the hand target toward their head and they have to duck out of the way. So, it’s extremely fun, it’s engaging, it’s another way of working on your awareness, it’s another way of working on following directions, and they’re getting in some reps with their hand/foot techniques. Another big way to increase your retention that I mentioned a couple of times is get the parents involved. Get their eyes off the phones, you know and get them engaged in class. So, invite the parents on the mat from time to time. This past week we actually had loved ones week, and this year we ran loved ones week all week, every day, every class, all week long we encouraged loved ones including parents, grandparents, the siblings, come onto the mat and do the class with your kiddos there, and you’d be surprised the number of siblings that they decide they want to do this now, so you’ll pick up a few students there. And then the parents the hardest thing and I’m sure you’ve heard this before, “Well, I really want to do class, but…” Well, the more times you get on the mat, they start having fewer and fewer excuses and before you know it you’ve got another one signed up in the adult class which helps keep retention too because if you’ve got multiple family members doing class it takes more than just one I guess student or child to say they don’t want to do it, and if you’ve got more involved there, they’re going to work together about keeping everybody involved. Another way is to challenge the students at parent games; little things, they can have push-up contests or kicking contests, whatever, you’ve got them on the mat so have fun with this.

Some of the things we’ve also done with that on loved ones’ night and parents’ night and other nights we have the parents out there, we give the parents the chance to do some of the self-defense applications on the kids but the little twist is the kids are the parents’ instructors. Now they have to be respectful because it is mom and dad, and also we talk about humility just because you know something, doesn’t mean you boss another person around…you help that other person learn that activity. And I’ll tell you, being as a child there’s nothing more important to a child than being able to teach somebody something, especially if they feel they don’t know. That’s really fun for the kiddos. In the top corner you see the mom sweeping the kid there. He’s smiling and the mom had a bigger smile on her face. At the bottom a good girl showing dad how to get out of a wrist lock when somebody grabs the wrist and she’s really gripping on tight and he’s laughing, but it’s good engagement, the parents love it and I’ll tell you with the posts on Facebook and when talking to their friends it’s a great way to not only increase the retention of your current members but also the excitement of getting new members.

To engage the parents another thing we do is the mat chats. Doing the mat chats, we used to do them either the students would sit in line formation or even standing and now what we do is we get in a little huddle. I think I’ve got that on the next slide here, and to show you how we do that, but we do it right by the parent area, so we engage the parents. We ask the parents questions on, “What’s the theme of the week, what are upcoming events,” and it gets them thinking and gets their eyes off the phone and more engaged in what we’re doing in class. We have the parents judge groups, competitions, like who has the loudest kee-yup, quickest spring-up…and a spring-up is they’ll be laying on their belly like almost after a push-up and they have to spring-up to their feet as quickly as they can with a loud kee-yup. We remind the parents to talk to their kids on the way home about their favorite part of class or what they’ve learned. To take it a step further we tell the kids, “Okay, hey, when you get in the car there I want you to tell mom and dad what was your favorite part of class and what you enjoyed about class tonight and what you hope to do the next class,” and it creates that excitement when they’re leaving and we also use that as a tool for the parents when the child gets to that point when they start saying they’re bored…and the boredom usually kicks in around the springtime. When they get off the school, they get home from school and it’s nice outside and their friends are playing outside, and it’s time for class they’re done. And the kid’s like, “Well, I don’t know if I want to go, I want to stay playing outside,” and the reason kids say that is they’re the present mind focused, meaning if they’re having fun doing something right now, chances are they’re not going to want to leave that fun activity to do something else, even though they get to the studio and I hear this all of the time, “Well, getting them here they have a great time, but sometimes it’s hard getting them here.” I’m telling you, have them talk to the kids on the ride home you’ll build that excitement about the next class, and they can use that as a tool for when their kids are not really wanting to come to class for whatever reason. The parents can say, “Hey, you know remember last time you were on the mat and we did loved ones you got to show me how to do this, or we played Wacky Warriors, or you learned that new form, how exciting is that?” So, it builds that excitement and it’s just another way of getting the kids back in the studio.


Incorporating life skills…that’s another way to increase retention. We talked about the mat chats in each class, and here’s a picture of what I was talking about. Having them huddle around there and look at everybody once to answer the question. We’re all sitting “criss-cross/karate sauce” so you ask the question, the hands are going up, we got one mom that’s engaged and the other dad I’m sure he’s looking up a question we asked on what the theme of the week is and that’s why his eyes are down. That’s what we’re going to say there. Lessons, we base those on the theme of each week and the month and we make them unique for each group, so what I mean by that is like this month our word of the month is friendliness, we’ve got a different kind of a theme each week and this week was all about whatever it takes attitude from the kids. Meaning, going above and beyond, you know if you want to make your next belt you’re going to have to make sure that you make it to class on time, if you want to make your black belt you’re going to have to come to class even on days you may not feel like it…that’s a whatever it takes attitude. We talk about that through our class, and we also talk about…we engage that with at school, if you want to get a better grade in a class, you’re going to have to do whatever it takes to get your homework done and your extra study time…and you can see where you can gauge that for the younger kids all of the way up to your teenage and adulthoods.

Here are some examples of the themes; friendliness, respect, goal setting, confidence, courtesy, thankfulness and you know that’s just a handful of them. You’ve got a different for every month and we move through and we work with themes, and like I mentioned we try and add a different…this main theme here is for the month but a different weekly theme just to keep it exciting and engaging for the kids. Another way to increase retention and we’ve talked about several of these before but make it a family friendly environment. I mean everything we’ve done and showed you so far, boom, people want to be at the studio there. Why? They feel welcome, they feel important, they feel like they’re a part of something and that’s that family friendly environment. You know, make your studio a place that students want to hang out with their friends. They want to be there, and the parents want to be there because of the positive engagement. We offer all kinds of free activities outside of the regular classes. We’ve got gladiator glow night, Nerf wars, summer BBQ, movie night, parents’ night out, Halloween parade, Halloween party and that’s just a handful of them. If you notice the big word there, “free, free,” extracurricular activities outside of the regular class. Why? It’s a way of giving back to the parents and just saying, “Hey, this is for you. Thank you so much for being a part of the studio. Go out tonight, you’ve got an hour and a half or two hours, have dinner and we’ll watch the kids for you!”

Of course the kids are always invited to bring a friend, so they’re bringing friends in, they’re having fun and they’re showing their friends how much fun they’re having as well. So, here are some photos of some of the nights…the top one, the gladiator glow night is always a big, big thing, now you have to do that one obviously at night so the swords glow. And if people ask, “Where do you get the swords?” Be honest, I just went online and Google Searched glow swords and a variety of different places popped up, and we sampled I don’t know how many different companies that we got the swords from, and advice on that…don’t go with the cheapest ones because sometimes cheap is cheap, go with kind of the midrange ones. Now we do charge for the swords. The activity is completely free but the kiddos have to pay 5 bucks for the sword, but if they have their own sword, their buddy has a sword, they can bring that. Now with gladiator glow night I don’t advise sword fighting, because the swords will not hold up and you’ll have broken pieces all over your floor there. But what we did is…if you can see we had a packed house that night, it was a big event and we even had some helmets that glow in the dark like Viking helmets or something there, but the kids loved it! We went through some basic motion and then we paired them up in groups and they had to create their own, you know simulated fight without connecting swords, I guess they’re fighting the ninjas in the dark that you can’t see.

Another event, you see the Nerf wars night and we set up some different stations where they worked on target practice and they worked on accuracy and they also worked on…they had an all-out Nerf war and they got to hide behind equipment and things like that. Make sure you get the glasses for this, because of eye protection and we ordered a couple dozen of those and you know we got them for a pretty inexpensive price. Most kids have their own Nerf gun, but we went in and bought a dozen Nerf guns as well just to make the event popular. It’s a little bit of money up front the first time, but you’ve got those for any time you do those. The studio BBQ at the bottom, what we did there…I rented a pavilion, bought all the meat, and then we did like a potluck so everybody else could bring their special dish, or whatever the case may be. I think all in all I think it cost me like 200 or 300 dollars, but we had over 300 people at this event. So, it was a great turnout. Of course they can bring family members and friends that sometimes aren’t able to come to the studio. Once again, another engagement, another thing to make them feel part of a family and it helps increase that retention and by bringing friends they can also…the friends can see how much fun they have. And that helps with sign ups and new recruit acquisition as well.


So, some keys to remember, and there’s us up there, planning, what are we going to do here for the class? It’s key to go over before class the plan and then after class like I mentioned, do a little review. Was this class a class that I would have been happy to be a part of? Was I happy the way I did this class? And put your ego to the side and write down what could I have done better, and you know also compliment yourself on the things that went well…but things that went well let’s do that again, and things I could have done better on let’s see what those are, but write them down because we’re so busy with everything in life that we’re not going to remember. So anyway, here are some keys to remember, oh I’m sorry let me just back up just a step here. These strategies can be used with any style or any curriculum, okay? I’m not saying that you have to throw out your current curriculum, or you have to convert your style over, or you can only do this…everything we’ve put together here will work with any style and any curriculum. You just have to plan it out in your planning stages of your lesson plan here to make it fun, to make it exciting…now I’ve got to mention at first it’s going to be a little bit in order to get those, not necessarily systems in place but to get used to writing these new lesson plans. But I promise you, it’s going to help with your retention, it’s going to help with your excitement towards class and it’s going to make it a more fun environment to be in. Lesson planning is key… we’ve just discussed that. The big thing about lesson planning is your time management and planning. If you do a good job of planning it out, your time management is going to be so much better, it’s going to be less stressful and you’re going to have a better class. As I mentioned before, I was one a lot of times to wing it. I admit…I did it, and the classes I winged it…I always felt like I left something out, I could have done a better job, or I had a little too much stress because I was thinking about, “Well, I need to get this covered and I need to get that covered.” If it’s written down, you have reviewed it, you’ve looked over it…I promise the classes are going to be much better.

Be specific when you plan your lesson, have your warm ups…5 minutes, 3 minutes whatever the case may be, your lesson encompasses this amount of time, your drills, and then your endgame, mat chats, graduations, build all of that in into timeframes and do your best to stay on it. I promise you’re not only going to get all of these different activities in every class but the transition is going to be smoother, it’s going to be better and of course the end all/be all, you’re going to have better, more exciting, more engaging classes. A little goal of each class and I got this from Kyoshi Dave Kolvar, an extremely wonderful man is the SSL rule. Keep the kids sweating, smiling and learning. Sweating, that’s a big thing. The parents want the kids to release that energy. A lot of times at school if it’s cold out and they don’t get a recess and most school districts they only get P.E. one day a week, so they’re really limited on the physical outlet. And we know with ADHD and kids with ADD they need that release! They need that release. They need to be moving. So, get them sweating and having some fun. Now smiling doesn’t mean acting goofy and losing respect or a lack of discipline. It means even though they’re sweating, they’re smiling because you’ve got the music playing and they’re having fun. And of course just as important as both of those, learning, nothing is more important than learning and it doesn’t always have to be something new, but maybe it’s a new way of doing it. Therefore they feel like they’ve learned something and that really helps on that ride home when their moms are asking, “Hey, what did you learn tonight?” “Oh nothing, we just did some kicks,” not “Hey, I got to kick on the parachute tonight and it was so great,” and the parent says, “It looks like you’re sweating too and you’re smiling from ear to ear,” so you’ve accomplished all three there.

Make sure everyone leaves happy, excited and pumped up and of course that’s a no-brainer! If they’re excited when they live, they’re happy, the engagement in the car is better, the parents feel better about spending the money on the class and it helps the next time when they’re like, “I’m not sure I want to go tonight.” And the parent can use this, “Hey, remember last time how excited you were? You’re going to have just as much fun this time as well!” So, you’re turning those parents in advocates for you to help kind of motivate the kids to continue on. As we know once a child quits martial arts; that’s it! All of the learning it stops there! What we do is extremely important to help out society, to help these kids out with their confidence, with their character development and these are things they don’t receive anywhere else. And just remember every time a student steps in the studio they’re either one step closer to the next rank or one step closer to black belt or one step closer to quitting. Very rarely does anybody just up and quit on a whim. That’s something that’s been building over some time. Now all of us…and we have to be honest with ourselves, we’ve all taught somebody’s last class. Meaning we taught a class and that student never came back again, then we taught their last class and as bad as it makes you feel, think about that student and that parent. Now we’re going to keep everybody. I get that. I mean there’s always going to be kids and students that are quitting at all times for a variety of different reasons. But just think if I could have done one thing differently, I may have still had that student and I still would be helping that student enhance their lives in some way, shape, or form. Anyway, we’ve covered a lot here. Thank you for being on the webinar. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Submit them to Championsway or submit them to me and we’ll get those questions answered. If you want to follow us GrogansMA is kind of our tag for Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, Pinterest and LinkedIn, and we’d be happy to share.