I have been involved in the martial arts for a long time now and like many of you I find them fascinating. In fact if I won the lottery I would like to spend my entire life studying all the systems and arts that I could so that I could enjoy all the arts out there.
However I have to work and pay the bills, raise a family and as such I only have a very limited amount of time to train and even more so a limited amount of money. This means tough choices, but is there an alternative?
The Modern Financial World
You may be asking how the current financial world could effect our martial arts businesses, however not only does the future of martial arts depend on modern financial climates, it has also become an industry that totally depends on the incomes from a very small group of society. Those who have a natural interest in martial arts. That unfortunately is a recipe for disaster.
The world is at a pivotal point of change. You see after the end of the second world war the men came back from war and it was the women who had been out there working and holding up the home world. This later lead to the creation of duel income families and the money came rolling in. Then the world convinced us that everyone should own their own home, so now people chased that dream. In America they called it the 'American Dream'. The idea that we could all move out of cramped apartments and own a property with a white picket fence and this one idea gave birth to the Trillion pound and dollar mortgage industry.
So suddenly we had more money, our children could all go to university, we could have the best TV's, fridges that were the sizes of phone boxes. and brand new cars every 3 years. However when people couldn't afford to pay for the things they wanted the credit card industry boomed and people borrowed again. In the US credit card debt went from $700 billion in 2005 to $2.5 trillion in 2007!
So guess what happened next. The world suddenly realised that we cant keep spending money we aren't making. Governments realised that there are no more 'booms' coming and places like China and India are leading those changes, and recession hit and the banks stopped lending because they had no money, our banks had to be bailed out by governments and our cushy world changed. We now have computer experts in India who don't go to the USA to work. They stay at home and create companies via their laptops.
This is the modern economy. Its here. Get used to it.
Unfortunately this all has lead to the western lifestyle collapse. No longer are we all 'flush' with money. Instead many people lost their jobs and careers. The family guy got made redundant and is now working a few hours a week at the DIY store. Those jobs that used to be full time now offer contracts for 15 hours a week. Those that are in full time jobs tend to work shifts, or hours which see them up at 6am and then home at 8pm.
So how does this matter to me? How has this changed the way we do business as martial arts instructors? Surely many of you have seen. We now have less people doing martial arts and clubs that once were rammed full with 30 people each session can only manage 8 to 10. people no longer have the time or money to spend an evening at a martial arts club. The bottom line is this, weight watchers, Zumba, SKY TV and a night in with a curry have become preferred to a nights training at the local dojo.
Selling to our Own Industry
With the reduction in student numbers we see that al;ready many martial artists have adapted. If they cant bring in new people we can find ways of making more money out of our existing customers. This gave birth to the now hugely controversial instructors courses where you too can become a 'business' owner and qualify in a few days to teach martial arts or self defence. That too will however run out of steam. There will simply be too many instructors and not enough students.
There is however another way
A New Way of Thinking
When I first decided to create my own system of self defence training I nearly abandoned it because it was just the same as everyone else's out there. Just a range of differing techniques but what struck me was this. We are all scrapping over the same dinner. No one is out there finding a way to bring in more food.
In other words whilst we keep trying to convince each other which style is best, in the confusion people are leaving martial arts and heading for things like weight watchers, zumba, the gym and other activities.
Now I created what I call the Pri-Com movement. It is named after my own Training system called Primal Combatives but the name is not important. What is important is that we now focus our efforts into something that the public will want to do and that I feel will require massive change.
Martial Arts Needs to Modernise
When in Rome, do as the Romans do they used to say. In martial arts we are trying to make a market come to us instead of doing what the market wants. Our mission shouldnt be trying to make people wear suits that have no use (BJJ, SAMBO, Judo the Gi is required clearly). It should be a mission to enhance the lives of people in an accessible manner.
The martial arts and the message of Pri-Com is simple
The primal Movement (Pri- Com) is all about enhancing the lives of people. Improving health and fitness through expressions of human movement which is combat rooted.
I dont care if they wear a t-shirt, jumper or jeans. I dont care if its Aikido you do, ninjistu or MMA. Your art isn't important. Getting people interested in any art is our goal.
We all know that depression is rife, obesity is taking over the world. I say this. Take up martial arts and people will see lower stress, people will lose weight. Its that simple.
I do not have a multi million dollar marketing campaign to back me up, I only have fellow martial artists. However if we get people attention through combining our resources we can show the public that martial arts are important. Yes it may require some change by us, however change is important.
Lets make martial arts big again. Lets create jobs for martial arts instructors and allow martial arts classes to be full again.
For me I dont do martial arts any more. The public have fixed views on martial arts, they think we are a bit nutty, dress up in weird outfits and chant. That is rarely the case but thats what they think.
I do Pri-Com. A modern mix of movement, combat techniques, stress relief and fitness where people are happy. This is a martial arts movement but regardless of what you think of this post its time we put our differences of opinions aside and started to try and focus on bringing people back into martial arts. Like giving medicine to a child, we sometimes have to sugar coat the pill to make it sweet to swallow.
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Founder of Primal Combatives
Trying to make martial arts big again, one day at a time.