Two boys sparring in martial arts class


16 Student Retention Tips & Tools for Your Martial Arts Kids Classes

Client Question: Could you provide some in-the-classroom student retention tips that work for your school?


At Combined Martial Arts Academy, we implement several techniques and tools within our Kids Martial Arts programs. The student retention tips I’ll provide here are used within our Little Dragons Program (3 to 6 year-olds) and in our Beginners Program (6 to 10 year-olds).

1. Age-specific classes 


All students group themselves by age. This helps with learning and stops bullying. Students’ self-esteem and confidence increases when grouped by age.

2. Achievable curriculums


We set an achievable grading curriculum based on the student’s age.

3. Break it into four


Each class has four stages. This helps with students’ concentration as they are not repeating the same thing over and over again for 45 minutes.

4. Disguise repetition


Changing the order, instructors, and equipment enhances and disguises the repetition of learning.

5. Use students’ names at least 3 to 4 times throughout the class 


This shows the students that you care about them. Above all, I believe this is one of the most important things in student retention.

6. Special Events 


We continually host special events throughout the year. This allows students to show their friends and parents how well they are doing.

7. Take photos and give out awards 


We take a photo whenever a student makes an achievement, such as white belt. In addition, we also present an award. The award says: “a black belt is a white belt that never quits.” We present the award to the student in front of their peers in the class.

8. Stickers 


Stickers provide constant reinforcement and recognition of the hard work and dedication to training.

9. Training certificates 


3 to 4 are handed out in each class.

10. Monthly attendance awards


Students who have not missed any classes for the month receive these awards.

11. Shihan’s Super Star Award 


The student who receives this award exerts effort in each division of school, at home, and in class. The student also receives a special badge that is put on their gi.

12. Birthday cards


Each student receives a card in the mail and they get to wear a black belt for their class. In addition, photos are provided of them wearing a black belt.

13. Report cards


Done on a quarterly basis.

14. Get well soon and miss you cards


Cards sent on a weekly basis to connect with the students, so they are not away for too long.

15. Pizza party


Students who bring the most awards from school receive a pizza party. This encourages students to not only do well in martial arts class, but also other activities, including school.

16. Free birthday parties


All children under the age of 10 can sign up for a free birthday party. We include details of this in our information packet.


Consistency and Persistence Boosts Martial Arts Student Retention


Consistently carry out these 16 retention tips every month if you want drop-outs to stop. At Combined Martial Arts Academy, we try to be as consistent as possible with these retention efforts. I meet with my management and office staff every third Monday to remind them of these systems and to make sure they are comfortable and using the techniques. Every two weeks, I have an Instructors meeting and training, as well to check to see if they are implementing these systems.

Bill Wakefield is one of Australia’s pioneers of growth and success in the Martial Arts industry, He is a well-known and prominent speaker on the subject of Martial Arts business, as well as a Member Solutions Advisory Team Member.

Contact Client Services with any questions you might have.

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