View Full Version : Birthday parties
I get alot of request for Karate birthday parties.
So far I havent done one.
Anybody doing them in a good way?
Id like to hear how you go about it.
Its something I wouldnt mind doing if it could be done in a good way.
I dont want to do anything Mc Dojoish.
But there is $$$ potential in both the event and the free advertising.
Would be good for our demo team in development.
What the hell is a Karate Birthday Party? A free class for the party goers after they spill juice, drop pizzas, and fling chocolate cake onto your mats?
Are there ponies?
For a few years now I have had parents of students ( even people who just knew about our school) ask us to do a karate birthday party.
I have never done one because I really didnt know where to start and didnt want it to turn into something silly.
I always used the excuse that we only rent the space for karate time.
With the new full time space the request have come up again.
But I thought about running a little class and demo.
Fightgrrl found a party theme supply place online that has MA them stuff. And we can get cheap kid gis ( $10 -$12)
With the new space I have the dojo area and a large enough waiting area ( no food or drink in the dojo).
It could be a extra source of income as well as advertisment.
Its not something I would normal consider but being as we work alot with kids its a kid topic.
Sundays has only 2 AM classes the rest is open gym time.
I dont want to be a Mc Dojo but I dont want to bite off my nose to spite my face either.
If we do it I want it to be a good thing.
I think that attitude, more than anything defines "McDojo"... You work with kids, to inspire them, though karate... right? Well, If you can come up with a method of doing this in a party setting (sorry I got no ideas) and approach it with the attitude of opening your school for a child and his/her friends to come and have fun on their birthday at a place they want to be, doing something fun, as well as physically, mentally, and emotionally stimulating, I think it would work out OK.
I do however think I would limit parties only to current students, their friends, and family. Otherwise you might as well be a Chuck E. Cheese.
I agree with Sgathak. My gut response is that it sort of takes away from the dignity of the art - unless like Sgathak says, current students would like to invite a few friends for a free lesson and cakes, etc.. to celebrate their birthday. Then you still get the advertisement, but you don't open it up to just anyone off the street who wants to have a cool party. Then the friends of your student get a feel that it's just not all fun and games because the person that invited them is a serious student.
That could work, if it's current students who invite only a few friends. Many poeple in MA's have a hard time explaining what it is that keeps them involved as many "outsiders" (for lack of a better term) just don't get it.
You could also do the party as strictly a demo for outsiders and give each of the kids a gift certificate for a free week of classes after the fact.
Originally posted by De_Franza
Many poeple in MA's have a hard time explaining what it is that keeps them involved as many "outsiders" (for lack of a better term) just don't get it.
That's so true!
At my Kung Fu place, every year we have a Christmas party. It's basically, just we all get together, eat potluck style and watch kung fu movies. It's not a big deal, but people can bring wives, dates, or significant others, it builds the comraderie among members of the school, but I don't feel that it cheapens the art or our training.
I don't know if you could do something similar in your off-mat space. Set up a big TV, put on The Karate Kid, serve some food, hook up the Playstation, and relax amongst friends. However, I should also mention that there weren't any kids at our school and only children of students at the party, so I don't know how this set up would work for a kid's party where they may not be so content to sit and socialize.
We do a group party at Chinese new year.
I was think only regulars...at least at first to get the swing of things.
I was also thinking a week free class pass as a party gift....besies they will already have gis.
too much work for a possible loss. and still if there is no loss tell them " this is karate, not basket weaving!"
Well after lots of thought about it we had our first birthday party today.
I was worried cause its not something have done before and it was all little kids ( mostly around age 6).
It went GREAT.
We let them play around in the space for awhile and then did a little Karate demo.
Had them do some kicks on the pads,some rolls off physio ball ( a kid favorite) and break a rebreakable board.
Then they did there cake a gift stuff in another room.
We did make alot of it but we didnt charge them much cause the mom an daugther both take classes with us.
Besdies the small profit it brought in almost 30 new people to see the space.
Some asked about classes for their kids an some about adult classes.
All thought we did a great job so we will probably have more party request from them in the future.
The publicity was something I was really hoping for.
Good use of a day that would have been mostly unused open gym time.
Still had plenty of time for am Tai Chi pm yoga and 3 privates and sparring.
Well even though my gut response was leaning against the idea, it sounds as though you did a great job at finding a nice balance with it. (Not surpisingly ;) ) Sounds like something that could work in your favour and in the favour of all concerned. :)
Yeah initially it went against some of my gut instincts.
But the school is new and the $$$ and publicity are needed.
I didnt want it to turn into Chucky Cheese in a gi....and it didnt.
Besides MA classes we have yoga and pilates.
Sundays we only have am Tai Chi, sparring and pm yoga.
We are also going to let another local non profit use the space for their meetings ( N.E.A.D. North End Against Drugs).
They rented the space and did all the fixings, so it was all profit.
Another group wants to rent the space as well...a Salsa class.
Not sure what to do about that.
Help with rent sounds good and it lets more people see our other programs.
Dude - Salsa?
Id do it.
A) Hot mamacitas dancing around
B) More people checking out the school
D) Rent help
D) Hot mamacitas dancing around
E) May be a good cross training opportunity for all involved. Dancing and MA are NOT mutually exclusive. The only difference between the two is the way you feel about your "partner".
F) you wernt sure about birthday parties and look how that turned out?
Apparently Salsa has a huge following in Boston.
The above mentioned benefits are all good.
Also its something I might like to do myself.
I often refer to Tai Chi as "its like a waltz...only...you dont like you partner".
And I have been note as saying good dancers often make good fighters.
We apy the rent for 24/7 so Id like as much of that time to be profitable as I can.
I had restisted doing birthday parties for years.
The first time I was asked "do you do parties" I was insulted.
Im really happy at how well it went, especially considering it was young kids who are not Karate students ( the birthday girl does yoga and her mom does yoga an Tai Chi). I know my karate kids are well behaved for me in a short period of time. ( something that gets us lots of praise).
Some of the parents asked about rented the space out during the day time as its too cold to take their kids out to play.
Currently many of them drive 1 hour 1 way and pay $20 for 45 minutes for their kids to play at a indoor kids play ground.
I would like to use all the time we have available and there are popular down times ( day time when people are are work or school).
The mats a physio balls made great fun for the kids so they want more.
IF I do it will be in small manageable #s.
Currently I fill some of those hours with private lessons / personal training.
Mostly stay at home moms or those who can make their own schedule.
I would rather fill the time with more of that as it fits in with what I do better.
But having a open gym time for kids could bring us in more youth and adult students.
Again let me mention our main program is K.I.C.K. Karate Inspires City Kids.
The money we make off other programs goes to them.
It keeps regular fees down, offers many full and partial scholarships for kids from needy families, pays for ALL their tournament cost and allows us to not have to charge for rank testing or make people sign contracts or pay initiation fees or have to hand out rank to keep customers...which is the heart of the Mc Dojo problem IMHO.
As many of you know the first year of a bussiness is often the hardest and Im no bussiness expert.
And lets not forget all the hot mamacitas dancing around.
Jeff, I used to hate the idea as well, until about a month ago when I was asked to assist at a birthday party. We just got our own space in June (moved out of a health club). The party was for the brother of a child who was already a student. One of the guests at the party was also a student. We did some stretching with them, kicking targets, a very basic self defense technique. They did a tug-a-war, and ran a few races. Then we did demostration for them. Me and one of the other girl who came to assist did downward kick breaks, and our instructor did 7(or at least I think 7) board knife hand strike. Clean up wasn't too bad either.
We did get paid, $30 each, and there were three of us(we didn't know we were getting paid). We got some pizza too. Jeff, perhaps some of your students could be used a party assistants, for cleaning and helping the kids. If I remember correctly you charge them based on what they can afford to pay, so perhaps they could offset their costs in that way.
My students did help.
I wanted them to get some demo practice.
As far as help with clean up I dont have to ask...my guys KNOW.
That's good. We did ours on a Sunday when we wouldn't normally be open. So, we were asked to come in specially for this party. If we're there and something needs to be done, it gets done, as it should be. You shouldn't have any problem finding a few willing students to come in and help, I was just commenting that you could make it more uhh.... substitute your own word, because I can't think of the one I want, for them.
Well salsa starts next week and apparently they do have a large following cause the phone is non stop.
Id much rather have some martial art based class in that time slot (Im away teaching at another location at thet time).
But hey it will help with the bills and probably bring us some more martial arts students.
We just opened so we need that financial help an exposure.
If MA classes continue to grow I will eventually get rid of the salsa.
I haven't been on the forums for a while, but it's good to be back.
As for this topic and the replies Jeff's been getting... kudos to you for being supportive and constructive in your posts.
My two cents and-then-some on this topic is:
Making additional *profits* by doing "extracurricular" activities at your studio does not equate with being a "McDojo" or "selling out." If you as a student enjoy training at a nice studio, with good equipment and facilities - then you have to give your instructor some leeway when it comes to earning money to pay the light bill every month. If he or she wants to entertain some kids for an afternoon to make some additional money, who cares? It's his school, not yours, and ultimately his butt is on the line for paying the bills and not going under financially.
As for the "McDojo" thing - before you start passing judgment, go open a school and try to earn a living sharing what you know - you'll soon realize that a martial arts business must be treated ***as a business*** in order to succeed. I have seen it time and again - school owners that are unable to make their primary income teaching almost inevitably burn out and shut down. So, adding services like birthday parties and sleepovers in order to pay the bills can be a good thing, something that benefits the entire school because it helps keep the doors open.
(BTW, I agree, "fast-food" MA schools are out there, but not every successful school is a sell-out - think about the Gracie Academy, Fred Degerberg's place in Chicago, the Inosanto Academy, etc. - I dare you to go tell Helio Gracie he's a sell-out because his school grosses $1 mil+ a year...)
As for Jeff's original question: e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you some stuff to get you organized for that type of special event. Like Sgathak suggested, there is a way to do it while maintaining the dignity of your studio, and it is an easy way to make some extra $$$ for the dojo owner.
My youngest daughter had her 8th and 9th birthdays at our school. All of the kids had a great time. Mostly they played the games that our instructor uses in the kids classes and then there was some free time where the kids did a variety of activities including setting up limbo bars, shoulder rolls over bars etc. We are very fortunate that our school floor is covered by 2" mats so it is a very safe and soft environment for the kids to roll around on.
When one little girl was being picked up by her mom I asked her if she had a good time. She looked me straight in the face and said "yeah it was fun, only he (the instructor) doesn't like when you wipe your nose in his shirt! :eek: I d*mn near fell on the floor laughing!
She looked me straight in the face and said "yeah it was fun, only he (the instructor) doesn't like when you wipe your nose in his shirt! :eek: I d*mn near fell on the floor laughing!
No I don't! :laugh:
We've done five birthday parties. Two for students and three for non-students. Fortunately our school has three distinct areas so it's easier to keep it clean after a party.
We set up tables in one area, where all the eating and drinking will be done. We do the serving, pizza and drink, so we have it all under our control. The party is 2 hours long. We have a price for 10 children and charge per child above this number. People start arriving, we designate an area for them to wait until everyone or most of them arrives.
This gives the excited children time to chill a little, and gives you more control, keeping them from wondering around the school until you have a chance to give them an orientation. And since quite a few arrive late, this cuts into their 2 hours. We do start on time, or within 5 minutes-10 minutes.
First thing that happens at our party, is a quick orientation. We ask the kids to come to our second room which is matted. We talk about disicpline, what we expect for behavior, respect- what we expect regarding how they treat us and our school, equipment and so on, including self control, and what we mean when we say "Break" or "Attention" - which means cease all activity immediately and stand at attention waiting for the instructions. This takes about 10-15 minutes. We have them practice the attention and when they stand there like statues, we are ready to begin.
We find this works great. Since most of these children are not students we want to make it clear up front what is expected of them. They have fun practicing attention.
Then class begins. We go to the main training area. We teach them how to bow. We then show them blocks in the air and then put them in a circle. We get out our foam blockers for them to block against.
Then, kicks first of pads, then on the wavemasters. Then how to rolls properly, somersaults, ect. If the group is a little older we add breakfalls.
We then go to coordination games, use your imagination on this one. I'm sure you have some great martial art games or drills. All this takes about the same time it takes to run one of our regular classes. 45-55minutes. We yell out attention several times during the session to keep them focused and move them to the next activity.
We line them up and bow out. Now for the food and drink. First they wash their hands and get seated. I start serving pizza and pop. When they are almost done eating, especially those that have finished early, we want to keep their attention and keep them in their seats until they are all done. So we do a little demo. My son is great at hacky sack and they love watching that, or a weapon's demo, ect. When they finally finish we ask them to look under their chairs and some of the kids get prizes. the birthday child gets a gift from us depending on what his parents have selected from our list.
If there is time they open gifts, if not, we bundle the gifts in a box and they can take them home. Everyone gets a free pass for our classes. We are done.
A couple of things I've learned. Moving the kids from area to area is effective. Using a second instructor to lead a different drill or two gives the kids someone new to focus on and keeps their attention. And keep the age group at about 6-11. Kids at this age have already had experience with teachers in a school setting, they are much more manageable. I did one for a five year old, and some of the kids were actually four (not pretty, hard to get them to focus).
I decorate only the area where the tables are with streamers and balloons. Economical and the kids all get a balloon when they leave. We supply the pizza and the drink. Some parents want it, some don't. I base my price on what is requested.
Hope this helps, sorry if I wrote too much.
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