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The Business Side of Martial Arts

Marketing Your Dojo: Part 1 - Know Yourself and Your Market

By Joshua M. Davis

Editor's Note: This is the first of a four part article on marketing your dojo. In Part 1 the author discusses the importance of "word of mouth" referrals, knowing your own strengths and defining your target market. Part 2 discusses the need for an effective web site. Part 3 includes information on submitting your web site to search engines, use of keywords and backlinks, local directory marketing, use of social media and traditional marketing. Part 4 discusses traditional marketing.

I am about to give you my highly prized secrets of dojo marketing! I can sense you are either foaming at the mouth or wincing your teeth at the potential costs of the pearls of wisdom you are about to learn. I have good news for you: I am not selling this information. I am giving it to you for free out of an unnatural desire to help people and talk about dojo marketing online. I am one of those folks who hates talking about money. It stresses me out and gives me anxiety. To me doing a project for money takes all of the fun and creativity out of work. You may say I am crazy, but I have a day job, so I am free to volunteer on the projects I want. Enough about me, let’s get to the good stuff.

First, dojos (martial arts practice facilities) are about people working together. Tradition aside, it is a financial arrangement between student and teacher. The student needs to perceive value for your services and the teacher needs to be compensated for his time.


Your business revolves around your personal relationships with your students and the reputation you build with them. Your active students are the gatekeepers of referrals. Positive word of mouth is priceless. I bet you are thinking “Duh! I know that!”, which I am sure you do. But I wanted to use that statement to point out that of all the websites I manage, the highest hit page other than the home page is the instructors page. Really? Yep, that’s right. They want to see your mug-shot and read about your qualifications and instructional philosophy. The dojo is not the product as some people may think. Rather, you are the product! Not the fancy uniforms or belts, or dreams of being a black belt; all of that is secondary to believing that your instructor will take you to the goal that you want to achieve.


Since you are the product, you need to make sure you know what you are selling and who you want to sell it to. If you are not interested in teaching kids, don’t. If you only want to teach serious adults who are physically fit and offer intense conditioning for mind blowing workouts, do that. If you want to be the community dojo that helps kids learn self-respect and discipline, be that! Don’t be something you aren’t. Be who you are and attract the students you want. This is called target marketing: the right product with the right message for the right audience. You will be happier and more successful selling to your strengths.

Continue with Part 2

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About The Author:

Joshua Davis has over 15 years of web marketing experience and has been working as a web designer and graphic artist since 1995. His career has taken him from working for humble no- profits to Fortune 500 companies.  Joshua came late in life to martial arts after dabbling off and on with several styles before discovering his passion for Wadokia Aikido in 2009. He has immersed himself in the study of aikido and marketing martial arts to help market the 3 Wadokai Aikido dojos in Richmond Virginia.  Since then Joshua has been helping other national Wadokai Aikido dojos and local martial arts clubs.  Joshua offers consulting services through Joshua is a student of Sensei James Golden who teaches Wadokai Aikido in Richmond Virginia.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

martial arts marketing, dojo marketing, growing your martial arts business

Read more articles by Joshua M. Davis

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