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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14444
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:15 pm    Post subject: Why My Martial Arts School Doesn't Have a Website Reply with quote

Soke Fuyuhiko Saitou Sensei founded Shindokan Saitou-ryu in 1950. Then Soke founded the Shindokan Hombu, early in 1957. Shortly thereafter, during that same year, he founded the Shindokan Karate-do and Kobudo Association (SKKA). Also in 1957, Soke appointed Yoshinobu Takahashi Sensei as SKKA's first Kaicho (President). As one might expect and understand, the various media access that we all currently share, and what we all take for granted nowadays, wasn't even available to Soke back then.

The Infancy of Many Possibilities!

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, print media, telephones and television, as limited as they were, did serve a purpose. Their purpose was to inform and entertain the masses. To avail oneself to that media was, and still is, a costly endeavor - one that not everyone, especially small businesses, could/can afford. This includes martial arts schools, interested in attracting potential students.

Print ads, like phone books, newspapers and magazines, charged per inches. Today's print costs vary. Television network commercials charged per air time. An ad during the Super Bowl can cost up to $4 Million dollars for a 30 second spot. I've not seen a martial arts school advertise during any Super Bowl, nor do I imagine that I will ever will.

Billboards charged per the size of the billboard. Billboard rentals have been around since 1867, and by the 1960s, they've been making a dent into landscapes all over the globe. Still, a costly way to attract new students!

Then, there were other low risk possibilities, like bus stop bench backs, bus interior signage, local business maps, school book cover distribution, banner ads, yard signage, your school's name on the back of student's gi, etc. These can all take a big chunk out of a small business' advertisement budget, if one even exists.

Inflation surely can't be sneezed at, because the business cost of something back in the 1960s isn't close to what it is now. For example, a Corvette back in the 1960s went for about $4,500, and now, a Corvette is about $60,000. The dreaded expectance of any advertisement is that inflation will always challenge any business, small and large.

If you took $100 from 1960 and converted it to the equivalent amount in 2014, you would have $805.21!

Nothing against the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s; after all, I'm a product of the long ago era; the baby boomer generation. But let's be honest, the technologies in my youthful days pale against what's available for today's martial arts school.

The Advent of the Internet!

Then, there's the internet. Wait - there wasn't any internet back when Soke opened the Hombu. Or, at least, not like we know it.

The internet has turned out to be a hallmark gem of advertising. With just one broad stroke of a key from one's computer keyboard, you can reach far and into countless homes and businesses faster than any other form of advertisement known!

Nowadays, a lot of martial arts schools have websites. But, just because your school has one, that doesn't mean you're school is teaching effective martial arts. Of course, it also doesn't mean that you're school is not. That's not to be known via one's website - you have to visit the school of choice to reach that conclusion. That said, I can't argue that the internet isn't an influential way for those who might inquire.

A website is not a requirement for any school, nor should it be. Nor will having a website guarantee that your school will be successful. I can only imagine that there are more schools that operate a website than those that don't. Small, medium or large schools can have all of the website exposure they can afford, but for those of us who choose not to enter this world, for whatever reason, we're lampooned for not being found on the wide world web.

Either your teaching is strong or it's not. All of the advertisement in the world might bring students to the shadow of your school's door. Odds seem to favor that. However, all of the advertisements in the world just won't keep the student from leaving for good.

As Kaicho, I've tried, and I'm still trying to usher our Hombu out of the Stone Age, but each of us within Hombu hierarchy has a different vision as to what our website should be. What should the context be? What font should be used? What background color should it have? What tabs should be included in the navigation? What this or what that? Until we're 100% in agreement, the website will not move beyond the idea/creation stage. It's sad! It appears that we, as a group, couldn't agree on something as easy as what's needed in making something as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If so, I would've starved to death by now - figuratively and literally!!

Still, and beyond all of that, I don't care if we/I have a website and/or any type of advertisement ever because it's not that important to us/me! These things are just decorations - bells and whistles - but by themselves, they're incomplete.

Conclusion

Soke believed in two undeniable ways to advertise: word-of-mouth and demonstrations. "If our karate-do is strong enough," he then believed that any type of advertisement "just wasn't that terribly necessary or important enough" when it came to obtaining students - past, present and/or future!

However one finally decides to advertise, and the ways to advertise are quite unlimited, isn't important; that decision is up to the individual school. What's important for Shindokan is that our karate-do is strong!

It's for certain: the Shindokan Hombu drastically lacks media exposure. But because of Soke's vision, leadership and beliefs, we haven't suffered for not having the type of media exposure that so many feel are needed and required.

Soke's means of reaching the masses was all he knew and his cash flow was dismal, and because of these factors, he chooses to go low-key with his advertisement. All he's ever done through his entire martial arts career, as far as advertisement was concerned, was through word-of-mouth and demonstrations. It had been a proven means - he trusted the methods he had created. They served him quite well - forever! I suppose it can be true to say, "sometimes one can't teach an old dog new tricks!" This is true whenever I think about Soke!

I believe that one should decide if the school's media exposure is a private one or a professional one. Once that's been established, then how one manages either will make a world of difference, both for the good or for the bad. After all, all business decisions, whether they're bad or good, will affect the overall wellness for the school and its student body.

In my humble opinion, anyway. I could be wrong!
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Patrick
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Joined: 01 May 2001
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the submission, Bob.

Patrick
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Harkon72
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Joined: 27 Aug 2012
Posts: 1875
Location: Wales
Styles: Okinawan Karate, Aikido, Ninpo.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yes it's a classic; "You don't have a website so you're not a real club."
My answer; "If you were a real club, you wouldn't need one."
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sensei8
KF Sensei
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
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Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harkon72 wrote:
Oh yes it's a classic; "You don't have a website so you're not a real club."
My answer; "If you were a real club, you wouldn't need one."

YES!! Solid post, thank you for it!!



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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14444
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I don't have a website for my dojo: Kyuodan Dojo, many instructors from my circa don't have a website either.

GM Allen W. Tackett, Kudan in Seidokan under Master Toma, doesn't have a website, nor does he have many video's for others to check out. He has a video of him executing Kusanku, a staple of a kata for Seidokan.

For example!!




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Patrick
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you again for the article, Bob.

When you say that having a website doesn't mean you provide effective martial arts teaching, that is true. But it is also true that refusing to have a website doesn't mean that you do. Plenty of people - and even though I'm not a martial artist, I've certainly been exposed to this - trade on an idea of secrecy and mysticism to bring people to their style. "We don't have a website, we aren't meant for everyone to know about us - our principles are closely held." Stuff like that. I know you aren't doing that personally, but it's something you've heard from other arts before, I'm sure.

It reminds me of a comment someone made to me on another forum many, many years ago. We were talking about forum design and they said something like "I don't care if I have an ugly forum as long as the content is good!" Well, yeah, content is important. But those are two separate, independent things. It's kind of like "If you were a real club, you wouldn't need one." It's not a real answer. Why be defensive? Why not have both?

If you want more people to come to your school, you should have a website. If you want to limit how people come to you, as in you want to control your growth, that's fine and your choice. But if you have a general goal of bringing more people to your school and art, then you should have a website.

For what the average schools needs, you can pay a talented designer to develop an impressive WordPress powered website for between $2,500 and $4,000. If you can't budget for that amount, then you can't be all that serious about bringing new people in. Along with a domain name ($10 a year) and web hosting (varies, but Pagely will keep WordPress up to date and do a bunch of other things for $24 a month), those are your core costs. WordPress will work great for most people and it takes care of a lot of things that will make your life a lot easier.

Even if you don't spend any money on internet marketing beyond simply having a website, you'll get those costs back in return. Having a website isn't just about bringing in the people who visit your website, but also not losing the people who discover you don't have one. When I am looking for a service and I find they don't have a website... it makes me a little uncomfortable.

When you talk about disagreements within the Hombu hierarchy delaying or preventing a website, I have a really simple answer for that. The Hombu hierarchy should not really be involved in those decisions. Just like you wouldn't want a web designer to tell you how to teach the martial arts, you shouldn't tell a talented web designer how to use typography or colors. That is their job and area of expertise and why you are paying them.

If a school owner does not want to have a website, that's totally cool. If you are content as you are, OK. No one has to have one. But most schools who do that will be harming themselves in a major way. And when you talk about older, more obscure martial art styles, I think when you don't work to bring new people into the fold, you increase the chances that interest in your art will simply die out. If you want to spread your message, you have to bring it to the people in the medium they use.

Patrick
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14444
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Patrick wrote:
When you say that having a website doesn't mean you provide effective martial arts teaching, that is true. But it is also true that refusing to have a website doesn't mean that you do. Plenty of people - and even though I'm not a martial artist, I've certainly been exposed to this - trade on an idea of secrecy and mysticism to bring people to their style. "We don't have a website, we aren't meant for everyone to know about us - our principles are closely held." Stuff like that. I know you aren't doing that personally, but it's something you've heard from other arts before, I'm sure.

To the bold type above,

That is true, both! However, as a MAist, I don't subscribe to that mindset because proof is on the floor, and I'll allow my MA to speak for itself. I just don't need a website to define or defend my MA. I've never had one, and while I'd love to join the modern world, I'm not biting at the bit to rush out and have one for myself in any capacity. It's a personal choice!!

Patrick wrote:
It reminds me of a comment someone made to me on another forum many, many years ago. We were talking about forum design and they said something like "I don't care if I have an ugly forum as long as the content is good!" Well, yeah, content is important. But those are two separate, independent things. It's kind of like "If you were a real club, you wouldn't need one." It's not a real answer. Why be defensive? Why not have both?

I don't believe that I'm being defensive on this issue. On the contrary. I believe I've been quite forthcoming on this issue. "If you were a real club, you wouldn't need one." wasn't something I posted, but, I support what it's saying. In that, I wholeheartedly agree when you ask, "Why not have both?"; I support that as well!!

Patrick wrote:
If you want more people to come to your school, you should have a website. If you want to limit how people come to you, as in you want to control your growth, that's fine and your choice. But if you have a general goal of bringing more people to your school and art, then you should have a website.

Have I left an impression that I'm concerned and/or worried about my student body? If I have, I apologize because that was never my intent. If I don't have any new students knocking down my door, then I don't; I'm complete in my totality as a MAist!! Yes, I'd like to see the Hombu come out of the stone age, but, whether it does or not, I've other fish to fry that I believe that are more important than having a website or not.

Sure, I'm in business to make a profit, and having new students helps me meet my bottom line. However, I've been operating the Kyuodan Dojo ever since the late 1970's, and my current active student body is well over 300. Word of mouth and demonstrations and the like have served me well all of these years; without the aide of having a website or the like. As I've stated, I support ALL who have a website and I support ALL that don't have a website because it's a personal choice.

Patrick wrote:
For what the average schools needs, you can pay a talented designer to develop an impressive WordPress powered website for between $2,500 and $4,000. If you can't budget for that amount, then you can't be all that serious about bringing new people in. Along with a domain name ($10 a year) and web hosting (varies, but Pagely will keep WordPress up to date and do a bunch of other things for $24 a month), those are your core costs. WordPress will work great for most people and it takes care of a lot of things that will make your life a lot easier.

Very interesting; I truly like that, and I'll send that information to the necessary departments within our Hombu for them to add to their creative research!!

Patrick wrote:
Even if you don't spend any money on internet marketing beyond simply having a website, you'll get those costs back in return. Having a website isn't just about bringing in the people who visit your website, but also not losing the people who discover you don't have one. When I am looking for a service and I find they don't have a website... it makes me a little uncomfortable.

I can respect that!! Why does it make you a little uncomfortable? I can imagine that there are quite a lot of small businesses that don't have website exposure for their own personal reason(s), but I don't believe that there's a reason to be uncomfortable with them, but of course, I'm speaking on my own behalf.

Patrick wrote:
When you talk about disagreements within the Hombu hierarchy delaying or preventing a website, I have a really simple answer for that. The Hombu hierarchy should not really be involved in those decisions. Just like you wouldn't want a web designer to tell you how to teach the martial arts, you shouldn't tell a talented web designer how to use typography or colors. That is their job and area of expertise and why you are paying them.

I believe that the Hombu SHOULD be involved in every aspect of creating a website; after all, it's what we'd be paying them for. This is the overall consensus of the hierarchy. We don't have any desire to tell any web designer how to do what we'd be paying for. However, since we'd be paying for them to produce exactly what WE want, then we'd tell them what we want and we'd expect them to produce it. Nonetheless, we're in our own way because the hierarchy isn't going forward until we can be in full agreement 100%. If a website doesn't happen on my watch, then the next Kiacho can accomplish what we weren't able to.

Patrick wrote:
If a school owner does not want to have a website, that's totally cool. If you are content as you are, OK. No one has to have one. But most schools who do that will be harming themselves in a major way. And when you talk about older, more obscure martial art styles, I think when you don't work to bring new people into the fold, you increase the chances that interest in your art will simply die out. If you want to spread your message, you have to bring it to the people in the medium they use.

Solid post...through and through!!

I hope that Shindokan will be around for many long years to come whether we have a website or not. We're not the largest and we're not the smallest, but I believe in what Soke created and in what he stood for in many things, including his marketing decisions. They've served him quite well for a very long time!

As far as my own dojo, Kyuodan Dojo, I'm not concerned in any shape, way, and/or form.



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sensei8
KF Sensei
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
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Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, I wasn't born into the internet era like many of you here have. That's not an excuse to not have a website, it's just a statement of fact for me. For change to happen, I believe that I have to want to change in that regards, and I don't want to. Change is inevitable and should be welcomed, but as far as the Kyuodan Dojo is concerned, I'm not looking for change in the website regards, and that's because, I've never had a website, and I'm doing fine in the size of my student body as well as having new student enrollments darkening my door.

The Hombu is looking to join the modern and current times that we all live in, but driving the Hombu's new student enrollments via having a website isn't our goal; old school for us there! Our goal is neither to silence the naysayers that rattle our doors constantly about how we MUST have a website to be taken seriously; old school for us there, as well!

No! The Hombu's goal for wanting to get out of the stone age by having a website is to better communicate with our overall student body; thereby, having a better way to serve our overall student body!! If, the side-affects are that new student enrollments by discovering Shindokan, then, I'm completely for it, and I'll support it.

Either way, if we do, then we do, and if we don't, then we don't!!

As Greg likes to say..."It's all good!!"



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sensei8
KF Sensei
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14444
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
If, the side-affects are that new student enrollments by discovering Shindokan, then, I'm completely for it, and I'll support it.

I meant to say...

If, the side-effects are that new student enrollments are up by discovering Shindokan through said website, then, I'm completely for it, and I'll support it.

Sorry, for that.



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ps1
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Location: NE Ohio
Styles: Chuan Fa, Shotokan, JJJ, BJJ

PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
While I don't have a website for my dojo: Kyuodan Dojo, many instructors from my circa don't have a website either.



I think this statement hits the nail on the head. You've been teaching for so long and have developed such rapport in your community over time, that you probably don't need a website. If someone in your town wants to train martial arts, there's probably a local business owner or teacher or parent saying, "Go see Sensei 8." And this SHOULD be the goal of EVERY academy owner.

However, for upstarts today, having a website is a great and affordable method of letting people know you exist. The world runs on the web and well over 50% of parents do a preliminary search on the web. For people starting today that want to run a school as a full time job...you should have a web presence.

Good article though.
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