Thursday, May 5, 2016

Authenic Profits - A guide to runnning a martial arts business (Five Stars)

Ashley Read is the author of Authentic Profits: Run a Part-Time Martial Arts Business You Can Be Proud Of which can be obtained from Amazon on Kindle.

Reading my biography to the right you will see I have extensive qualifications and experience in business and the martial arts. In addition, I have direct experience of the martial arts industry having assisted in the running of the Jan de Jong Self Defence School which included the development and implementation of a business recovery plan which proved to be highly successful. Thus, I am uniquely positioned to opine on Read's book.

The books is based on theory and experience, however, the theory is only used to inform practice in a practical way. The advice, based on my qualifications and experience, is sound and will assist all in the martial arts industry no matter their motive.

Some of the advice is counter-intuitive and contrary to popular wisdom, however, based on experience it works. Some of the principals espoused by Read were featured in my business recovery strategy that successfully turned the fortunes of the JDJSDS around after nearly two decades of decline in a highly competitive industry.

I cannot endorse the book nor the advice provided in the book more enthusiastically. In particular the focus on relational practices rather than transactional. Transactional is a leaky bucket whereas relational attempts to plug up the holes in the bucket (business) so less water (students) have to keep being poured into the bucket.

The only thing I would add to Read's book, and which supports his advice anyway, is the effect of focusing on relational business can be quantified through a KPI known as 'life-time value.' If you can increase the life-time value of a student then you increase profits and decrease costs. L-TV is calculated as the average time a student spends at the school multiplied by the average membership fee. I focused on this KPI within the recovery strategy for the JDJSDS and it helped in turning a two decade decline in student numbers and income into an upward trajectory.

Read uniquely combines business, psychology, and martial arts. Read is a qualified psychologist and thus provides interesting insights into instructors (or teachers, you'll understand the difference by reading his book), students, marketing, and motives.

The only criticism I would have is that he uses so-called American-English, although, to his credit, he does explain to the reader that his school, Spirit Defence, is spelt 'defence' instead of 'defense' because that is the way English-English speakers spell the word. Okay, he doesn't exactly put it like that but he does inform the reader that others in the English speaking world do not use so-called American-English spelling. Okay, maybe he doesn't exactly put it that way as well, but you get my drift.

Highly Recommended. Five stars *****.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Kaizen - Latest Blitz Article

The following is the latest article published in Australasia's largest martial arts magazine written by moi: Kaizen.

Monday, March 28, 2016

What is Courage?

I am continuing to study the concept of courage for an article that has been requested and am thankfully now able to write one that I am satisfied with. It is tentatively titled, 'Do The Martial Arts Teach Courage?' I will be submitted a draft to be published very soon, however, the below is an insight I've gained based on my study of the 'enigma of courage,' as General Sir Peter de la Billiere refers to it.

What is courage? That has mystified people since Plato wrote Laches nearly 2500 years ago and probably even before. Books continue to be written about the subject which is exemplified by William Ian Miller The Mystery of Courage in 2002 (well worth the read if not to study). It remains a mystery today.

The image to the right contains a statement regarding the relationship between courage and fear. An understanding and appreciation of this relationship is extremely important when considering action in violent encounters.

Was Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith act that earned him the Australia Victoria Cross courageous? It was only a courageous act by definition if Roberts-Smith was scared. If Roberts-Smith was scared but acted anyway, the next question might be how much was he scared. Is there a quantity of fear that qualifies an act as courageous? Terrified and acting would qualify, but does mildly nervous and acting?

With regards to fearlessness (which by definition is not courage even though some medal recipients are described as exhibiting 'fearless courage' which is an oxymoron by definition), Miller explains,

It is striking how many of those uses of the word 'fearless' do not pretend to describe the inner state of the actor. They are meant rather to register the awe of the observer.

The same can be said of courage. We often do not know the inner state of the actor when we describe them as courageous but are in fact expressing our awe at their actions. But what actually made them act in the face of danger is of immense interest to those teaching and training to engage in a violent encounter. That is the real question. One that the enigmatic, mysterious, and ambiguous concept of courage does not answer.

Maybe more on that later.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fearless Courage

I'm writing an article for publication on courage and fear. The part of the article I'm currently working on is to do with 'fearless courage.'

The phrase 'fearless courage' is often used. Many recipients of military honours are awarded their medals for fearless courage and exalted as examples of fearless courage. One of the members of St Kilda's hall of fame is described as possessing fearless courage.

'Fearless' and 'courage' are often used synonymously, so is 'fearless courage' a redundancy?

If courage is defined as acting in spite of fear, how can you have fearless courage when 'fearless' means to have no fear?

William Ian Miller in The Mystery of Courage says that 'it is striking how many of those uses of the word 'fearless' do not pretend to describe the inner state of the actor. They are meant rather to register the awe of the observer.' The same can be said of the word 'courage.'

How many recipients of bravery awards have been asked if they were scared at the time of their 'brave' act?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"It's also taught me that I have to think before I act."

There is a wonderful article published on the ABC news website today about how police officers are engaging with 'at risk' youths through boxing.

The title of this post is taken from the article.

I've been working on an article to be submitted to martial arts magazines on courage and fear, and as part of that article I describe how emotion (fear) enables courage through the decoupling of stimulus and response. It is considered one of the most important adaptive features of emotion as it allows other responses to be considered in response to environmental stimuli other than the instinctive response.

That is, it allows us to not punch the fella when our appraisal of the fella elicits the emotion of anger whose action tendency is fight. Courage and restraint are both enabled through emotion which was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Articles published in Blitz Magazine

Blitz magazine is Australia's premier martial arts magazine.

I have just received a list of my articles that have been published for inclusion on my CV. Decided to do so given that it has transpired that it is not a one-off affair.

The details are:

Use the Force, 27:7, p 72, July 2013.
Fight or Flight: Have We Got It All Wrong?, 27:10, p 72, Oct 2013.
The Evolution of Power, 27:12, p 72, Dec 2013.
Fighting Fear Part 1, 28:1, p 70, Jan 2014.
Fighting Fear Part 2, 28:2 p 68, Feb 2014.
Wax On, Wax Off: How Essential is Blocking in Martial Arts?, 28:5, p72, May 2014.
Combative Breathing: Controlling Breathing to Beat Fear, 28:7, p 78, July 2014.
The Art of Learning, 28:9, p 46, Sept 2014.
Questioning Your Self-Defence?: (The Haddon Matrix), 28:10, p 72, Oct 2014.
What is Jujutsu? Part 1, 29:6, p 76, June 2015.
What is Jujutsu? Part 2, 29:7, p 78, July 2015.

I have been advised that another article will possibly be published in the next edition. That article has to do with Shihan Jan de Jong OAM 9th Dan and his legacy.

I have been hampered in the articles I can submit due to photographic and illustration constraints, however, those may have been resolved and thus further articles which are more technical in nature will be submitted (and published) along with my first book.