Martial Arts Business Associations: A Quick Look

Discussion in 'Articles' started by SifuPhil, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    Having been a member of the National Association of Professional Martial Artists for a brief (6 months) time back in the ’90’s I was wondering what the state of the industry was for the martial arts business advice racket.​
    I’m happy to say I’m not disappointed. See, I quit NAPMA because I disagreed with some of the business techniques they advocated using in a martial arts school. High testing fees for belts, passing on Association fees to the students (“You can be a Member for FREE!”), getting them trapped in long-term contracts … I just had a bitter taste in my mouth when I saw these practices being advocated.​
    I wanted to learn the deep, dark secrets of running a martial arts school - even though at the time I had already been running them for over 15 years. I thought that these guys knew something I didn’t.​
    I don’t think they do. And so I’m happy that they’re still in business, because it proves that my general mistrust of business types isn’t totally misplaced.​
    Here’s a quick peek at 8 martial arts business associations, whatever pricing info I could find (without sending them all my info) and my overall impressions.​
    Martial Arts Industry Association​
    Offers business consultations, resource library, seminars, curriculums, Success Kit, marketing material​
    • Success Kit $99/mn - CD’s, DVD’s, newsletter, management guides
    • Success eKit - $79.99/mn - same but online
    • Edge Membership - $199.99/mn - Success Kit plus online “virtual school” access
    • Instructor eKit - $29.99/mn - video, weekly lesson cars, newsletter
    • Elite - “call for price” - includes all above plus 2-30 minute phone consults, teleconferencing, attendance at Elite seminars and discounts at Century Martial Arts supply
    MAIA appears to be just another entry in the MA business-advice field. Some nice touches, such as the teleconferencing and the “virtual school” angle, although these aren’t unique in the field. They host the annual “MA SuperShow” in Las Vegas and claim to be the “consulting arm” of Century Martial Arts.​
    Pretty darned smart of Century, huh?​
    National Association of Professional Martial Artists​
    Offers business consultations, seminars, resource library, curriculum, marketing material​
    • Maximum Impact: $399/yr - Cds, DVDs, newsletters, plus “free” materials worth over $2,300, including 1-on-1 business analysis
    • Peak Performers: No prices listed - need to contact them.
    • Inner Circle: No prices listed - limited to 20 members
    Enroll Students: Little Dragons and Black Belt Club fees​
    # of members: members in more than 20 countries, but no given number​
    Very confusing site - doesn’t advertise prices properly - no transparency. They’ve gone to a blog format in lieu of the old static website I remember when I was a member - a bad move, in my opinion. It used to be a very functional and easy-to-navigate site.​
    Current CEO Stephen Oliver bought the business from founder John Graden in 2007. He’s a Jhoon Rhee black belt with an MBA with a focus on Marketing - a very dangerous man.​
    They appear to have added a few bells and whistles since I was a member, but nothing Earth-shattering.​
    Institute of Martial Arts Professionals​
    • Enrollment Maxx package - videos, audios, worksheets for $147 (one-time fee)
    • Curriculum Pro package - 12 DVDs, wall charts, School owner’s manual - $497 (one-time fee)
    • Success Club - marketing materials, low-level biz materials, etc. - $39 / mn
    • Life Skills - children’s program emphasizing “feel good” benefits - 12 sets of posters, scripts and marketing materials - $299 (one-time fee)
    • Internet Marketing - 5 videos on setting up a Net presence - $97 (one-time fee)
    • Blogging Kit - 10 articles on Child Issues - $97 (one-time fee)
    The “Success Club” membership is on par with most of the other association’s basic packages - some marketing material, a newsletter, a Drill-of-the-Month idea or two and most importantly gives you the “right” to purchase the other packages.​
    It IS nice to see these materials being sold for one-time fees, though; they could easily turn them into separate membership programs with monthly tuitions like some of the other associations do.​
    The site is a little too “markety” for my tastes, though - it’s the standard “Long Sell” page.​
    Tom Callos claims complete transparency on his site regarding membership fees, yet nowhere could I find a listing of them - only an invitation to a 1-week free trial membership​
    Very disappointing for someone who sells himself as an ethical businessperson and martial artist.​
    Site is also very confusing, like NAPMAs. It s in the form of a blog - very difficult to navigate, no Help or About links, no site map. Lots of words, not much information unless you spend a few hours looking through everything.​
    Tom first came to my attention when he joined with John Graden’s NAPMA to offer specialized children’s curriculums. At the time I respected his fresh views on ethics in the martial arts business, and I still do - but until I learn what the prices are for his memberships I’m going to reserve judgment. I’ve never liked being forced to join something, even for a “free trial”, in order to find out what it would ultimately cost me.​
    The Martial Arts Teachers Association​
    Owned by John Graden, creator of NAPMA (before selling out to Stephen Oliver). I guess he wants to thumb his nose at NAPMA now. J​
    Thankfully John has made his memberships quite transparent and easy to compare.​
    • MATA - $37/mn
    • Ultimate MATA - $147/mn
    • Pro Star (6-month auto renew) - $177/mn
    • Pro Star (month to month) - $247/mn
    Packages start off with basic materials and work up to complete school/Net packages.​
    Again, his site is in blog format - you have to scroll down an immensely long page to read everything, only to discover that there are 11 more pages just like this one.​
    It also appears that John has discovered the profit in offering insurance for sale…​
    Mixed Martial Arts Conditioning Association​
    Designed specifically for MMA schools and instructors. Offers certification as MMA Conditioning Coach for $497 (one-time fee). Average 70 hours study time. All online instruction, including final test.​
    Fail test (100 questions) twice, can retest twice for additional $97.​
    Wow. Really?​
    Upon graduation you are eligible to join the Inner Circle level, but the link is broken so I could not discover the price.​
    Fairly good, comprehensive curriculum for an online course. Covers biomechanics, kinetics, training science, drill creation, safety and injury, nutrition and a few business topics. More business info is supposedly contained in the Inner Circle membership.​
    Finally! Someone who sticks with the WEBSITE format instead of a blog! It’s SO much easier to navigate this site, everything is clearly labeled, the layout and colors are perfect - the other sites could take a lesson from these guys in web design.​
    As to the validity of a MMACA certificate, I suppose it’s as good - or as useless - as any other online certification; it depends who accepts it and what you do with it. They also offer traditional degrees in association with Wexford University at the Associate, Bachelor, Master and Doctoral levels so in my mind at least this adds some legitimacy to their association.​
    Martial Art School Alliance International​
    $24.95/mn - join for $1 LOL. Articles, marketing plans, business form downloads, forum access, marketing blanks.​
    Store with a few ebooks from $10 - $107 dollars - marketing, drills, clip art, etc.​
    Basically you’re paying for access to a website and the “network” of fellow members.​
    Mike Massie - never heard of him, but he seems to be genuine enough. It appears he’s the little kid on the block that gets to the game late, and has to compete with all the big kids. His niche is small and independently-owned schools, though, so maybe he’s got something on the ball after all.​
    284 members on the forum - at least 60 articles (all written by him) on the blog.​
    American Martial Artists Association​
    Offers kyu certifications for $20, Dan for $100-$500 (1st-9th)​
    Student membership for $30/yr, includes “permanent record of achievements and rankings” and a lot of other silly benefits. Also includes a “premium black and gold membership card” (!), a coupon book for local businesses (?) and a free 30-minute private lesson at an affiliated school - one of the 13 member-schools in North Carolina. So, if you live in that state you might consider joining, otherwise at this point your joining would most probably be considered a charitable donation.​
    Also offer a MA Business Management Certification course in Clemmens, NC (obviously the World Headquarters of AMAA) - no prices listed.​
    The certification course lasts 4 hours. L​
    They offer 8 “programs” - not sure if these are curricula at member schools or separate seminars or what - very confusing once again.​
    “Section 8 Martial Arts” is listed as one of the AMAA schools. I couldn’t wait to see what this was, but the domain is parked at I want to think it’s a school in the laundry room of some Section 8 apartment building …​
    Master of Nothing likes this.
  3. Master of Nothing

    Master of Nothing Psychotic Pacifist

    Sir, having appreciated your posts on this forum. My guess is that you don't need any of these money machines. I met John Graden and Callos at the 2002 NAPMA Convention in Clearwater. Although Tom seemed likea "nice guy"-his thing is "feel good" training. Which is great for making money or demo artists. Not so much for combat. John was Commercial-nothing more. At the after party at his "compound" as it was titled. There were no Training conversations. He Always referred to a "special program" or money based interaction. "If the student really is "loyal" then they should have no problem spending a few extra bucks to their instructor. Our special program....blah, blah, blah." I started to wonder if he trained at all.
    From what I gathered you have knowledge and experience that will speak for itself. If you desire to join an association for something like tournaments to benefit student experiences, cool. But, these things are just "marketing companies" for thew most part.
    Another example: When Century back MAIA. They tried to by Every domain name they could thinkn of so they could charge a small school out the ass for the privilege to use alike same named domain.
    (,,,, & so on.)
    I can't speak for every group. I'm sure there has to be a couple that are motivated by honor over money. I just stopped looking at them after dealing with all the "Act Now While Supplies Last" types.
    SifuPhil likes this.
  4. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    Thanks, Master!

    Your description of John and Tom are just as I envisioned them. I had a long phone conversation with John many years ago and I came away even more confused than when I started - his lust for the business aspects of martial arts instruction was something new to me and partially responsible for me joining NAPMA, if only to discover what the attraction was.

    Turns out it was money ... just money.

    Century disappoints me. I always respected their association with Chuck Norris and their seemingly ethical practices, but now it seems they've created yet another profit center to funnel their customers into. I can partially understand the buying up of domain names, from a business standpoint - to prevent competitors from using your name. But to buy them all up just to charge your own members a small fortune is just wrong.
    Master of Nothing likes this.
  5. Master of Nothing

    Master of Nothing Psychotic Pacifist

    True. Even worse. Their goal tactic was for as many street names & numbers, Nation Wide. I don't know if they achieved it. But, they did stack up a crapload. At the 2002 convention, I also met Joe Lewis. He was associated with Century MA for a quick second. Then nothing. He said they were in violation of contract but, had the lawyers. Other than that. For his age (& "mileage"), he was still in really good shape and could still move with a seriousness. Crotchety as all hell. But, I respected his frankness.
  6. Aaron

    Aaron Shadow Warrior

    I have fond that most of these organizations are ran more like a pyramid scheme. Like you guys have stated they are only interested in the money, not the level and quality of training.

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