Over at martialviews, the latest post points to a collection of old advertisements for martial arts instruction. These ads are pretty old, and pretty hysterical. (I particular like the one that proclaims you will learn: “Karate… Kung Fu… Judo… etc.” It’s the “etc” that got me!)

Advertising your club is an interesting quandry. On the one hand, I don’t want to have to advertise; it feels like I’m cheapening the art that I study. I’d rather just quietly build a club on word of mouth and let the dojo build slowly over time. On the other hand, I’ve seen many martial arts clubs fail because no one knew they existed. This very fate was nearly falling on my own club. I kept hearing from my students that they would be talking to someone about aikido, only to hear someone say: “There’s an Aikido dojo nearby? I wish I had known that!” And we’ve been at our current location for years! Part of the reason we’re moving the dojo is to get it more visibility.

But visibility either requires a retail space, which is very expensive, or a more industrial space, which is harder to find. We chose the latter, because we were able to find a space that was the right size and reasonably affordable. But it has come with a price: I’ve had to delve into advertising. I’m trying to compromise by creating ads that raise awareness of our dojo, without making the art seem to be anything other than what it is. Most of our ads are very simple; when I have time, I’ll post a few of them.

And who knows? If my own ads don’t work, at least I know I have these to fall back on!

2 thoughts on “Advertising

  1. Martial arts author Forrest Morgan once noted that the best martial arts schools don’t rely on gimmicks in advertising. Obviously, the best “advertising” is word of mouth. Good luck on your new location. (And thanks for the link-back!)

  2. John,

    Thanks for your comment! I agree, gimmicks shouldn’t be necessary. My dojo’s advertising contains a few “specials,” but I’ve tried to keep them simple and use them to reduce some of the barriers people have when trying something new.

    And you’re welcome for the link-back! Your blog is always an interesting read!

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