Where I Lost My Way

When you are riding the wave of your martial arts career, know who you are, and why you are doing this. When I became a billing client of EFC, I attended one of their seminars in Atlanta. I was doing pretty good, but nothing like some of the EFC stars of the day. Still, it seemed the guys in Atlanta knew my name as a fighter, which was nice. As usual at these events, we shared information about student counts and, when I mentioned I had 245 students, they seemed impressed. They were even more impressed that my student body was mostly adults.

I didn’t know there had been a huge boom in the children’s market at the time due to The Karate Kid. The guys in Atlanta implied that I was missing half the market because I didn’t have a lot of child students. I listened, thought about it, and then made one of my worse decisions as a school owner. I started doing the things they did to attract and keep kids. I started the student creed, message of the week, and had kids screaming, “Yes, Sir!” on cue. In time, my school had totally changed from an adult school to a school full of kids or, as some like to call them, “a family school.” Mind you, this was more the influence of EFC clients than EFC itself.

My income increased. I paid off my house and socked the money away, but I hated it. I didn’t want to be at the school anymore. It was no fun explaining to a mom why her Miss Perfect daughter who gets straight As in school failed her blue belt exam. I had strayed big time from who I was as a martial artist and as a teacher.

Quality of life is a big issue with me and, for the first time in my martial arts career I had a job I didn’t like. Most of the kids were fine, and many were great. But some kids just drove me nuts mostly because of the control factor. Controlling kids and their parents is not a fun way for a control freak to spend time. A lot of instructors like to teach kids, but I don’t.

I had lost my way because I subscribed to someone else’s voice. But I learned something important. Since then, I’ve tried to make it clear that you need to know yourself and what you want to do. This is especially true today, when so many programs are available.

Widely recognized as the man who revolutionized the martial arts industry, John Graden launched organizations such as NAPMA (National Association of Professional Martial Artists), ACMA (American Council on Martial Arts), and MATA (Martial Arts Teachers Association). Graden also introduced the first trade magazine for the martial arts business, Martial Arts Professional.

John Graden’s latest book, The Truth about the Martial Arts Business looks into key strategies involved in launching a martial arts business and includes Graden’s own experience as a student, a leader and a business owner.

Graden is the author of six books including The Truth about the Martial Arts Business, The Impostor Syndrome: How to Replace Self-Doubt with Self-Confidence and Train Your Brain for Success, Mr. Graden has been profiled by hundreds of international publications including over 20 magazine cover stories and a comprehensive profile in the Wall Street Journal.

Presentations include: The Impostor Syndrome, Black Belt Leadership, The Secret to Self Confidence, and How to Create a Life Instead of Making a Living, John has taught his proven and unique principles of success to thousands of people on three continents since 1987.

From keynote presentations for thousands to one-on-one coaching sessions, John Graden is a dynamic speaker, teacher, and media personality who brings passion and entertainment to his presentations.

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