I want to own my own martial art school

So, you’re a black belt and want to open your own school. When I was about 18-19 years old I always thought that having my own dojo would be pretty cool. I had already been involved in martial arts for about 10 years and I loved it, there was no doubt that martial arts would always be part of my life. I was content at the school I belonged to so for me it wasn’t about how I could do it better than they were, I knew that I would be moving to a new city and that the opportunity could arise to do my own thing.

A couple of years past and sure enough I did move away and found myself clear across the country and with no jiu-jitsu school in the area. Without getting into a long history lesson, at the age of about 24 I did open a school. Now I had lots of experience teaching classes but I had little experience running a business. Well actually I had NO experience running a business. The school was never financially viable and eventually it was closed. I did however keep teaching in a part time basis for the next 15 years. Last year I re-opened my school somewhat full time and plan on taking it to the next level this year. So why am I writing this?

I have been doing a lot of reading about owning a small business and have discovered that most people who open their own business are really “technicians” who were tired of working for someone else or people who have a skill at doing something and want to give it a go. Just like me and jiu-jitsu. The problem is that all small business should be made up of 3 people, the entrepreneur, the manager and the technician. It is very difficult to be all 3, especially when you have another full time job.

So I am going to take this year to educate myself on small business and how I should be looking at the future of my school. After 20 years I wish I would have starting learning a long time ago.

What prompted you to start your own dojo?


Assess the situation before getting involved

Back in November 2011 I wrote this letter in relation to an unfortunate and potentially fatal incident that happened in downtown Chilliwack. A local resident trying to do good was pepper sprayed and stabbed after approaching a group of young adults in downtown Chilliwack. All he did was ask them not to throw garbage on the ground. This letter was not to point fingers or lay blame but to provide information that will hopefully help people think before they act and help protect themselves.

I took the opportunity to present this incident to the students in my self-defense class. Learning to protect yourself is not solely about punching, kicking or throwing people. It is also about using your brain to analyze potentially dangerous situations before they occur.

I applaud those individuals who try and do the right thing, but prior to intervening they must also understand the potential dangers of getting involved. Hopefully the following will help or encourage people to think before acting.

When deciding to intervene or not there are several factors to take into account. The first area of consideration is the situational factors that exist.

In this case it was 10:30 at night in an area which arguably is known for being a rough part of town. It is dark out and possibly no one else around. There were 4 individuals (3 males and 1 female) described as being in their early 20’s and dressed in such a manner that was described as gangster.

Secondly is your perception of the event. Do you have experience dealing with such a situation? What is your physical description compared to the individuals you are about to confront? Do you have any special training? Have you planned what to do if the individuals react contrary to your thoughts?

In this case the victim is described as 43 years old; he is confronting 3 young males and a female. One of the suspects is described as being 5″11″, so not a small person. The victim is by himself with a small dog. He is obviously a nice guy since he actually picked up the garbage for these individuals.

You should also take into consideration the group’s actions. In this case they were littering. When asked to pick up the garbage what was the group’s response? Where there threats made? Did they circle? People in a group react differently then when they are alone, groups feed off each other creating a pack mentality.

I agree that sometimes we should say something to address the situation but I also think that before saying anything we should analyze the personal risk involved. In this case if nothing was said I would suggest that this individual would not have been pepper sprayed or stabbed. This case is about littering.

I feel bad that he was injured and thankful he is alive but there is a lesson to be learned. There is a time to say something and a time to say nothing. The victim appears to be a nice trusting person which is in direct contrast to the 4 people he was dealing with. These 4 simply don’t care about others and were probably out looking for trouble. There are far too many examples of “nice guys” being hurt or killed because of good intentions. Before getting involved think the situation through and analyze the risk to your personal safety first. There is an expression “What hill are you willing to die on?”

Self-Protection is being able to analyze a situation and if required using your physical skills to defend yourself.

Are you the kind of person who gets involved when you see something or someone being wronged? If so do you think the situation through before getting involved?

Steven Hiscoe
Owner/Chief Instructor
Hiscoe Jiu-Jitsu
Chilliwack, BC