How to Run a Successful Anti-Bullying Event in Your Martial Arts School

Two smiling kids with hand around shoulder promote anti-bullying

Martial arts schools have the opportunity to play a leadership role in bullying awareness, education, and prevention. Hosting anti-bullying events, including seminars, workshops, and courses, can help reduce the negative impact of bullying in your community, while getting the word out about your martial arts school.

The Role of Martial Arts in the Anti-Bullying Movement

I founded Martial Artists Against Bullying (MAAB) because I believe that no other industry is in a better position to do something about bullying than the martial arts industry. The mission of MAAB is to enlist the international martial arts community in a unified effort to educate, inform, and help eradicate bullying.

Our anti-bullying program is designed to help children of all ages overcome the negative impact of bullying. Since we launched MAAB, hundreds of martial arts schools have hosted events, talks, and seminars with students around the country. 

National Bullying Prevention Month

In 2006, the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) declared October to be National Bullying Prevention Month. The event offers a special opportunity for martial arts schools to raise awareness and education about how our industry can contribute to anti-bullying techniques.

At MAAB, we created a blueprint to help martial arts school owners plan, promote, and conduct a successful anti-bullying event, which we call the Done with Bullying program. The course can be shared with existing students or non-members at your facility, local school districts, or community centers.

What to Cover in Your Anti-Bullying Course

We recommend conducting the MAAB Done with Bullying course in four sessions (one per week) throughout the month of October to coincide with National Bully Prevention Month. Alternatively, you can present all four sessions during a single 4-hour seminar at any time during the year.

Anti-Bullying Event Session Topics: 

  • Session I: What is bullying? Why do people bully? Why is it bad to bully others?
  • Session II: What should/shouldn’t we do when we see others being bullied? 
  • Session III: How should you deal with bullying? 
  • Session IV: “Buddying” & what to do instead of bullying.

Register for free with MAAB to access our full anti-bullying course program, which includes recommended scripts and activities for each lesson.

How to Market Your Anti-Bullying Event

Along with our course outline, MAAB provides a marketing plan to help martial arts school owners get maximum exposure and participation in their communities to take a stand against bullying. We’ve laid out a eight-week campaign plan that includes specific tasks for promotion and member engagement. 

Week 1: Announce your participation in National Bully Prevention Month on social media. Commit to posting about the topic one to three times per week. Set dates for your four course sessions (or your one-day event). 

Week 2: Promote your upcoming event dates via in-class announcements, posters, Facebook Events, email, and online event registration

Week 3: Raise awareness about your anti-bullying event by reaching out to local news and media. 

Week 4: Use every means possible to remind members and prospects to sign up for your first course session. 

Week 5: The week of your first event, make sure your facility and staff are fully prepared. Send out reminders to attendees. Host a great event!

Week 6: Repeat the process for your second event session. Use photos, video, and media coverage from your first event to grow your second!

Week 7: Continue to grow your third session with social media and word of mouth. 

Week 8: After the successful conclusion of your final event, request feedback and testimonials from students and parents. Share a recap of your month-long anti-bullying program with members through email and social media.

Taking a Stand Against Bullying

While anti-bullying events may be a part of the business strategy of many martial arts schools, I believe our industry has an even more significant role to play in the fight against the rise of bullying in our society. If every child had the opportunity to learn about bullying prevention, imagine the difference it would make in our communities. Together we can change the world, one lesson at a time. 

A life-long Martial Arts professional and anti-bullying advocate, Dave Kovar has been teaching anti-bullying strategies to his students for over 35 years.

How to (And How Not to) Run Your Martial Arts and Fitness Events

Two young men sparring, practicing kung fu martial arts

I’ve tried special events. They don’t work. I never get new enrollments from them.”

I’ve said the same thing, but I still run special events. Let me tell you why.

I’ve been teaching professionally since 1993 and started working for my well-known instructor right out of business school.

Light the world on fire. That was my outlook.

In college, I worked on a project in management class: How to run a martial arts school effectively. I produced TV commercials that I wanted to use to bring in new enrollments by the dozen.

I moved to Seattle, lived in the back of my instructor’s school, and was so excited to start to build my empire. Running events was one of the ways I intended to build that empire.

I Handled the Registration Process on My Own

The first special event I ran was a women’s martial arts self-defense program. I promoted it through flyers that I distributed at the library. I gave the flyers to wives and parents of our martial arts students. I spent hours talking on the phone. I got sign-ups.

When the day of the seminar came, no one showed up. You could hear crickets chirping in the background.

On to the Next Event

Undaunted, my instructor had a great open space. Probably about 6,000 square feet of training space. I knew that lots of people were running Parent Night Out events. I figured why not supersize the concept by having a sleepover? A free event. Free to students and free to their friends.

The new approach? Like night and day. I had parents dropping off kids by the vanload. I remember one parent dropped her kid off and out the window she handed me his pullups.

“Just make sure he changes into this before he goes to bed,” she said. Then she closed the window and sped off.

Over 90 students ended up camping out on the floor of my instructor’s school. It had to be the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had. And after everything was said and done, I reassured myself thinking I’d at least get 10 new students from my efforts. Wrong! Not one student signed up. Plus I had to feed pizza to 90 kids!

Fast Forward 20 Years: What I’ve Learned

I’m still hosting special events. Some are home runs. Some are stinkers. But I’ve learned the planning that goes into it — the process through which students register and the follow-up that takes place after — determines the overall success of your event.

Here are some steps to hosting special events and making them something that could potentially pay off to gain new members.

1. Make your special event compelling.

Ideas for martial arts schools:

  • Bring a buddy, break a board, and meet Kung Fu Panda (need to have a Kung Fu Panda costume)
  • Regular buddy night pizza party for Juniors. Spend $60 on pizza. The students have to bring a buddy to attend.
  • Jedi training buddy night
  • Nerf Night (buy a bunch of nerf taggers on eBay, buy the goggles too for safety). This could easily be your most successful buddy event.

Ideas for fitness businesses:

  • Kickboxing class
  • Boot Camps (indoor, outdoor, or both)
  • Kettlebell class
  • Nutritional seminar

2. Use online registration.

Remember how a bunch of people registered for my first event, but no one came to the event? You need to get a commitment from people.Having an online registration process is the way to go.

I use Member Solutions Event Manager online registration software to create online registration pages and collect payments (or I can keep the event free and still collect registrations through Event Manager). Having an online registration page gives me a link I forward l to my students. I also share the link on my social media networks.

I always suggest limiting the number of people who can sign up. Use that as your way of getting a commitment.

Pen and paper are things of the past. Think about it. If you have a paper sign-up sheet and people can see that no one signed up, that can really work against you. When you use an online registration process, no one knows how many people have signed up. It creates an invisible urgency because they do not want to miss out.

3. Follow up and continue to follow up without going overboard.

We need to be careful about how we follow up with non-members. I know that people expect there to be some sort of offer to join your school or gym. I’ve done “get 30 days of classes free and a uniform” limited to certain amount of students. I’ve also offered 6 weeks of classes for $69.

I think an email followed by a phone call is one of the best ways to follow up after a special event. I know there are some people who will email every week until they get the person back into their facility.

Keep In Mind

Here’s something that I did not understand until just recently. It’s very unreasonable for you to think that every person that participates in a special event is ready to join your school or gym. They may be interested but just not ready to raise their hand.

Let’s get something else straight. No matter how compelling, no matter how slick of a persuader you are, there are going to be those that will not join–at least not right away. That is why keeping their info in a warm lead pile is key. This way you can go back to them when you have another program or event to offer.

Let’s be real; let’s be smart; let’s work hard.

About the author: Korbett Miller has been teaching at his martial arts school in Kirkland, WA for the last 17 years. Korbett still actively trains in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and received his black belt from the legendary Saulo and Xande Ribeiro. He’s also won the Brown Belt Senior II World Championships in Jiu Jitsu. He is most proud of his three daughters and 17-year marriage to his wife, Elise. Korbett can be reached at

4 Events That Drive Community Involvement & New Member Enrollment

Group of young adults at picnic outdoor event in city park with skyline

It doesn’t matter what kind of martial arts studio or fitness business you run. The goal is the same: to grow in both size and reputation Networking within your community is a great way to attract new members and build your business. Community involvement is key in creating a positive image.

One of the easiest ways to reach out to your community is to find out where your members are involved within the community. Maybe they are a member of a Parent Teacher Association or part of a local business networking organization. Having the right contacts makes it a lot easier to get your foot in the door.

Participating in events also is extremely effective in getting the word out about your business.

Here are four events that I recommend.

School SeminarsMembership businesses that provide programs and services for children can greatly benefit from hosting seminars at local schools. Primarily done through a Parent Teacher Organization/Parent Teacher Association (PTO/PTA) or school administrations, the seminars you provide could cover a range of topics from bullying prevention to nutrition.

As a starting point, you could contact the PTO/PTA to offer your services with teaching an in-school seminar or an afterschool program for four to eight weeks once a week. our martial arts academy did this. We connected with our local PTO and ran a six-week martial arts afterschool program.

The PTO collected $60 per student for those who enrolled in the afterschool program. We had over 30 students attend, many of whom became members of our school. The PTO promoted the program by handing out our information to each and every one of their 400+ students.

By hosting seminars like this, you show your community your commitment and involvement and open the door for prospective new members. It’s also a great way to advertise your business with little to no cost.

National Night OutMany towns have events planned throughout the year that bring the community together and allows businesses to sponsor, co-host or become involved. Search your town’s website calendar, email city council members, or acquire your town or neighboring town’s newsletter.

Becoming a sponsor and a vendor at these events is great for publicity—and it gives you the opportunity to get involved with the event itself, perhaps by running a booth and a demonstration.

During this event, you can give out prizes, t-shirts, or water bottles that have a sticker with your information and logo on them. This is a great way for individuals to remember your days after the event. During the event, you also can have an email sign-up list where you can raffle off free weeks or months of membership allowing you to have direct contact with individuals who are interested in your programs and services.

Charity DrivesCharity drives are one of the best ways to show your commitment and support of your community. These can consist of toy drives, food drives, and relief drives. Most towns have an event coordinator. Sometimes the easiest way is calling the township and asking for them to provide that information.

With the charity drives, we encourage our students to donate and participate, but more importantly, we make our school a local drop-off zone for the community to drop off the supplies. Once approved by the town, the town itself will help promote your location as a drop-off zone which in turn can help bring prospective new members to the door while helping the community at the same time.

PicnicsAnother way to get involved with the community is to host a picnic. This event brings everyone closer and enables you to connect with community members. Have it at a local park and keep it open to the public. Invite local police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and other community support groups and their families.

During this picnic, you can raffle off different prizes such as college scholarships, monthly memberships, or T-shirts. These picnics show your community your commitment and support. They give you the opportunity to introduce your business to people that were otherwise not aware of your programs and services.

Taking part in events that drive community involvement along with effective networking is a great way to create a positive representation of your business—and it can lead to new member enrollments and more member referrals.

I hope you can use some of these ideas as a way to connect with your community.

About the author: Peter Trikilas is the Owner and Chief Instructor at Master Peter’s Academy of Martial Arts in Dayton, New Jersey. Peter began martial arts training at the age of four and has dedicated his life to the betterment of his students and the martial arts.

5 Ways to Incorporate Bullying Awareness, Education, & Prevention Into Martial Arts Schools

No symbol

Bullying. It’s an all-too-common word we have become accustomed to in our vocabulary. The emotional and physical damages of bullying can leave unimaginable tolls on any and every individual that has been a victim of this grievous act.

All too often, we see news articles and hear countless stories of students who have been affected by bullying. Recent bullying and hazing practices at Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey are just an example of what our children and students face on a constant basis.

As Martial Artists and business professionals, we have a “social responsibility” to help guide, nurture and prepare our students for this inevitable danger.

Here are five ways to make bullying awareness, education and prevention part of your Martial Arts curriculum:

1. Hold Mat Chats that Address Bullying

As we all know, October is National Bullying Prevention Month. One thing that we like to do in our school is to make our members aware of bullying through “mat chats”.

A mat chat can be a general talk with all the students in the beginning of every class, a few-second conversation with a handful of children or a one-on-one talk with one particular child. These discussions help us get the word out, so that people can understand and become more aware of the dangers of bullying.

Through these mat chat discussions, we can help prevent someone from being or becoming a bully, and can also give hope to those who are being bullied themselves.

Mat chats often give children the courage to speak up, which in turn gives us the opportunity to help them even more.

2. Wear Orange on Unity Day

Another event that we have at our school to create awareness for anti-bullying is taking part in Unity Day. This year, Unity Day will be on Wed., October 22, 2014.

We are asking all of our staff and students to show their support for anti-bullying by wearing something orange to class on that day.

PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center sponsors Unity Day. Visit their Unity Day page for more ways to get involved.

3. Run Martial Arts Seminars with School Districts

One of the greatest benefits of Martial Arts is character development. Society has begun to notice that Martial Arts teachers and instructors are not just teaching Martial Arts, but are educating our children in a way that will help them become better members of our society by instilling the value and benefits of the Martial Arts.

Because of this, more and more school districts are hosting and allowing Martial Arts seminars. Facilitating these seminars can create bullying awareness and educate children about the harmful nature of bullying.

4. Add Open Mat Talk Time to Your Martial Arts Program

As with most bullying cases, they must be reported in order for them to be addressed. Most individuals that are bullied are afraid to speak up, and unfortunately face many years of hardship.

Providing an opportunity for students to come and talk about their challenges can help increase confidence levels in our children, which will in turn increase the amount of people standing up to their bullies.

We like to call this Open Mat Talk Time where any of our students can come in and talk to one of our instructors one-on-one with the hopes of helping them overcome this challenge.

By getting in touch with local school districts, and asking them to put flyers up, we can make this program available to the public as well.

5. Make It Your Social Responsibility to Teach Students about Social Responsibility

Social Responsibility … each and every one of us is responsible for the actions within our society.

As educators, it is our job and sole purpose to prepare our children for the hardships they will face in life.

By educating our students of the importance of respecting and supporting their peers no matter their gender, race, ethnicity or creed, teaching them that they are responsible for the improvement and well-being of our society, and teaching them that it is up to them to stand up to bullying … these are the only ways we can truly put an end to bullying.

About the author: Master Peter Trikilas is the Owner and Chief Instructor at Master Peter’s Academy of Martial Arts (MPAMA) in Dayton, New Jersey. He has been training in the Martial Arts since 1985 and opened his school, MPAMA, in 2011 — which has over 500 students to date.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

What are you doing to take a stand against bullying? Check out these articles for ideas:

How to Run a Successful Anti-Bullying Event in Your Martial Arts School

10 Ways to Get Involved & Make a Difference During National Bullying Prevention Month