11 Ways Your Martial Arts School Can Benefit from Kung Fu Panda 3 (or Any Popular Movie)

At the time of the release of Kung Fu Panda 2, I had just returned from a speaking engagement in England and throughout the U.K. Everyone had such high hopes for this movie. Yes, Kung Fu Panda 2 helped some schools grow. Other schools were a bit disappointed. I’m not saying that one school did it right or the other wrong. What I’m saying is that it’s important to take a few things into account when riding the waves of promotional events wrapped around this type of movie release.

Since the SequelSince the release of Kung Fu Panda 2 in 2011, the movie industry has changed quite dramatically. Many movies nowadays have some form of martial arts fighting in it. However, there have only been a handful of martial arts-specific movies made in the last 10 years.

Back in the 80s and 90s, we had many martial art films that were wrapped around the idea of learning martial arts. Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme all kicked and punched their way into the hearts of millions of kids and adults alike.

The Karate Kid portrayed a bullied child—once weak and uncoordinated—who turned into a strong, confident person. The movie did the talking for us, basically saying, “Join martial arts and this will happen. You will learn these traits to become all you are destined to be.”

This is not happening anymore with exception of a few recent films such as Underdog Kids and The Martial Arts Kid.

Even still, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t attempt to leverage movies with a natural tie-in to martial arts to peak interest and to generate new business. In fact, it really doesn’t matter what the film content is. If you promote it correctly, you can parlay it into a great promotion for your schools.

Remember the one golden rule: within any mass group of people, there are going to be those that are interested in what you are selling. Here are 11 tips to take any movie release and turn it into a lead generator (and retention builder) for your school.

1) Run a themed movie night at your school.Rent the first Kung Fu Panda movie and the sequel. Ask your students to bring their buddies to help generate new leads for your school. This can be an excellent income generator and powerful event within your school. Maybe even tie it into something else so you have a cross promotion, such as Kung Fu Panda night and Nerf Wars.

2) Take your entire school to the movies.This one is great for retention, because it builds excitement, energy, and community with your students. Remember the more you do as a team, the better it is for your entire culture.

Consider asking the theater ahead of time if they’ll provide a group discount. Promote the movie night on social media, in your school, and mention during class to get the word out and increase participation.

Encourage your students to wear your school shirts when they attend the movie. Take a group selfie and post it on social media.

3) Host a Kung Fu Panda star search. This one is great to share on social media to create buzz around your school. Ask your parents to film their kids doing a scene from the movie with their friends and share it on Facebook. The winner receives a free trial membership. Most importantly, post the results on Facebook and have the Facebook audience vote. This is a great way to get people to share your post and flood Facebook with comments, likes, and shares around your special Star Search event.

4) Run a coloring contest.Advertise the contest at local businesses and in your school. Ask students and non-students to send the colored page to your school to win a free month or a grand prize of your choice. Of course, reward all non-students that are non-winners with some prize, such as a free membership of some type.

Ask local businesses to participate in posting your coloring contest or handing out the forms at their business. Remember, businesses that work together create a synergy for not only your business but theirs and the others as well.

5) Set up a booth at the local movie theater for any popular movie.Remember, cool movies happen all the time. Don’t look at Kung Fu Panda 3 as your only opportunity but rather as an additional cog in the wheel. Even if the movie is not martial arts-related, get a booth to set up at the local movie theater to advertise there and sell for any popular movie that comes out. You’re bound to get leads. Many people at one point or another are interested in martial arts or know others who are. You just need to be in the right place at the right time to shake enough hands.

6) Rent the movie at your local theaterRent Kung Fu Panda 3—or any popular movie—at your local theatre for a private showing. Give away all the tickets to non-training members of your school at no charge.

Have a booth and ask your students to help pass out flyers and postcards for your school to the movie-goers. The goal is to get your name out there to generate leads.

Consider putting on a demo and giving out free passes to your school or do a mass enrollment at the end of the movie when viewers are at the peak of their excitement.

7) Put your postcards or flyers on every car at every theatre showing the Kung Fu Panda 3 movie or any other popular movie.Be careful not to get yourself in any trouble. It’s better to ask permission first. If that doesn’t work out, weigh your options.

8) Get involved in your community.We are unaware of so much that goes on around us. Read your local papers, search the internet, and check any community events sections for what’s happening. Maybe a local roller skating rink is hosting a Kung Fu Panda roller skate night, or your local school is hosting an event around another movie. Call them to offer your services. Everyone loves free donations and free demos. Be a part of it all.

9) Develop a business partnership with local theaters.You want to be the go-to school for any type of promotion in the marketplace. Developing a partnership with your local theaters is essential.

Get on the phone today to offer your services. Give raffle tickets to all Kung Fu Panda 3 movie-goers (or movie-goers at any other popular movie). Award the winning raffle holder a free membership.

Don’t forget to collect the contact information for each raffle participant so you can follow-up with them afterwards.

This means all non-winners are winners too. Your end goal is to get everyone who filled out the form to come in to your school for some sort of special. Your goal is to gain thousands of leads, not a few winners.

10) Develop relationships with local businesses in your town.Develop what I call local business partnerships. The more you develop these relationships, the better it is for your business. Your goal is to become the most famous martial arts school in your town. Also, the tighter the relationship you have with that business, the better it is for you to block out the competition from doing the same thing in your area.

Ask the local businesses to help promote your school—and any special events you’re hosting—and commit to do the same for them. You may want to offer flyers for the business to pass out on your behalf.

11) Take registrations for events online.Last but certainly not least, make signing up for your events simple. There’s nothing easier, or faster, than promoting your events and taking registrations and payments for them online.

I use Member Solutions’ online registration software, Event Manager. The software comes with lots of simple marketing tools like social media sharing buttons and the ability to send mass emails to get the word out easily. I strongly recommend using it for your Kung Fu Panda events and any events you hold at your school.

Remember, you should be promoting and branding yourself all the time through eventslike tournaments, birthday parties, community fairs, and belt testings. Don’t rely on one movie to keep your business going.

For more marketing tips, visit’s Ninja Marketing Tactics Page for 200+ tips and techniques on finding new students. Become a member today and receive my DVD or book free. I also encourage you to bookmark This site is filled with killer conversations (in the form of podcasts) with successful school owner, Duane Brumitt. Each week we talk about new marketing ideas, sales strategies and more to help you run a low-stress, high-profit school.

About the author: Shihan Allie Alberigo has over 44 years of Martial Arts experience, and over 35 years as a professional full-time instructor and owner of L. I. Ninjutsu Centers, in Long Island, New York. Allie is also a member of the Member Solutions Business Advisory Team and heads the Martial Arts industry’s first step-by-step approach to consulting, Allie can be reached at