5 Methods To Retain And Gain More Martial Arts Students:That Work!


The martial arts are a funny old game. On one hand it is all about the spirituality, being at peace within, however on the other side, there is usually a very physical aspect to all martial arts.  This contrast is loved by some and puts others off for life.

They say the average time for any martial arts student to stay in classes is about three months!

So after around 12 weeks of training most drop out………..

Well, this number can be dramatically reduced if you use these scientifically proven motivational methods to both gain more students and retain the ones you already have.

1.Reduce Buyer Remorse By Constantly Reminding The Students Of The Benefits of Training…..By Using These 3 Words!

I first heard about buyer remorse while reading a book about how Disney run their business.

Just think about it, you have shelled out thousands of dollars on a holiday, and you start to regret it, so Disney use emails and a very interactive website to keep reminding you, the client just how much fun you are going to have, and how many memories you are going to make.

While the money involved is far less, you still need to ensure that the customers/ students in your business do not regret buying their monthly training package, and they need to be constantly reminded of the value of this training.

There are lot of ways to do this.

From posters on the wall that show the students motivational messages:


To regular emails, that support the customer on their journey.

However  the best way to reduce  buyer remorse will directly come from the instructors mouth with these words:

“You are doing great!”

You need to re-enforce the fact that the student is doing well and is on track to achieving this goal.

How To Add Value To This

Get into the habit  of emailing your students regularly and personally (you can create templates to help you )

You should have an automatic joining/ welcome email that you send out to them and….

Make sure that every two months you send them a personal email saying how they are doing. By building a better relationship, you will see more results.

2. Get Rid of Free Trials and Low Price Options: The Customer Appreciates Expensive Items

In 2008, Stanford University undertook an experiment where they gave people two glasses of wine. They were told that one cost $5, and the other was $45.

Guess what…..

Both glasses were filled with the same wine.

The experiment used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance Imaging) to measure the parts of the brain that experience pleasure. The result was that those  parts of the brain became more active when the participants thought they were drinking a  more expensive glass of wine.

According to Baba Shiv a  professor of marketing: a basic assumption in economics is that a person’s “experienced pleasantness” (EP) from consuming a product depends only on its intrinsic properties and the individual’s thirst. However, marketers try to influence this experience by changing a drink’s external properties, such as its price

Shiv was also able to  show:

People who paid a higher price for an energy drink, such as Red Bull, were able to solve more brain teasers than those who paid a discounted price for the same product.

The concept of giving something away for free has existed for a  while in martial arts.

What started as  1 st lesson free has evolved into seven days free, 30 days free, three months free……

Where does this all end?

How To Fix This To Have The Best of Both Worlds

World of Martial Arts Television has met hundreds of martial arts instructors and seen a lot of pricing models, but there is one that will allow you to have the best of both worlds.

I first heard of this from a Krav Maga Instructor named Alan Dennis. I was travelling to a martial arts award ceremony, and I hitched a  lift with Alan. He told me that he no longer gave away trial lesson but instead actually had a trial course. Take a look below:

elite krav

Alan offers an Elite trial class program that includes three classes and a training T-shirt for  £19.99

Why is this good? Well because it produces quality leads for your business. Since when do people give away a product for free?

When was the last time you went into a shop, and they said: “Take any item worth $30 and  leave without paying, it’s on us, but you have to buy from us next time.”

It doesn’t happen does it.

The cool thing about this method is that you can use this in combination with VIP passes……

When you choose to give away a free pass, this does have a qualifiable value to it. So you can offer free classes to those you wish but still retain the ‘perceived value’.

3. Set Goals and Constantly Remind The Students They Are Getting Closer To Achieving Them

There is a big difference between a goal and a grading.

Grades are preset by an organisation or system, and objectives are really what an individual wants to achieve.

This is a key mistake by almost 90% of martial arts schools that focus not on the customer but on the art they teach. Yes, you can use grading, but you also need to use goal setting.

To do this, you  need to sit down with every new student and establish their goals and when they would like to achieve them.

Next is to make them SMART…. Specific, Measurable, Achievable,  Realistic and of course finally set a Timescale.

Then you must remind the student of those goals as often as you can and when they are getting closer to them encourage them.

But why?

In a study published by the journal of marketing research that focused on Illusionary Goal Progress, and Customer Retention.

It was shown that we can be convinced to shift into a higher gear of work and spending, even when the perception of progress is a complete illusion.

Now we are not saying that you should be telling people they are getting fitter, or better when they are not (you are the instructor, so you need to make sure they reach the goals), what we are saying is that it is all about the perception of progress.

The study also states: “consumers may derive pleasure from working toward future goals.”

You need to be telling the students and encouraging them, so they reach their goals, not yours!

4. Ask The Student To Use Stickk To Help Them Commit To Training: The Best Part Is That It’s Free!!!



The issue with achieving any goal is that people just give up. As a business owner, this will be a major stumbling block.

The student just tends to forget that they came to your school to earn their black belt or that they wanted to lose 10 kilos in weight.

So here is a really good way to get them to commit.


It’s called Stickk and it is an online tool that allows the student to commit to a goal publicly, share it on social media and has some kind of public forfeit if they quit or do not reach their target.

It could be a cash forfeit or another kind of giving (perhaps charity work) and even incorporates a referee to make sure they are achieving their goals.

Whatever you choose with your student at sign up you both go through the process and, of course, get them to commit there and then to their goals! This kind of commitment contract and Stickk  was designed by behavioral economics experts at Yale University

It is a great tool for all martial arts schools.

5. Be an Authority and Show Your Students You Are Also Improving

The last method you can use to retain students is to show them that you are an authority and that you too are also on this journey with them, albeit further ahead because you started this journey earlier!

This last method is really simple.

Make sure to tell the students just what you have achieved.

This is not bragging, but if you run a full-time school, display photos of your achievements.  Place your gradings and certificates for all to see and also have a bio on your website.

The next step is to invest in your own training and then pass these benefits onto your students.

Tell them if you are going on a course and how this will help them, talk about the course upon your return and then show them relevant things that you have learned. This evolution of learning will make your classes more interesting and also show how invested you are in their development by adding to your skill base.

So there you have it.

Five things you can do to help you retain more students.

Until next time.