How to Use a Martial Arts Character Development Program to Increase Your Retention

martial arts character education to increase student retention

Teaching a Martial Arts Character Development Program is Just the Beginning…

As you’re probably already aware, my book on teaching martial arts character development and life skills gets rave reviews on Amazon.martial arts character education lesson plans for children Martial Arts Character Education Lesson Plans for Children provides you with a complete 16-week, 32-lesson life skills and character development curriculum that you can easily implement and teach in your martial arts school.

No complicated lesson plans, no need for handouts (although you can create your own based on the materials if you like), and most of all… no monthly subscription fees! Just a simple, easy-to-implement, straightforward character education program, that’s it.

Plus, you can download it to your iPad or smartphone, and take it with you out on the floor… or study it and prep for the day’s lesson while you’re getting coffee, on your lunch break, or sitting at work dreaming of the day you say, “I quit!” Convenience and simplicity are the keys to this program’s success, and I purposely wrote it and honed it over twenty years so it is as easy to use as possible.

But even though my book makes it super-easy and inexpensive to teach character values in your school, there’s a lot more to using a martial arts character development program for improving your retention than just giving mat chats. In fact, if you want to get the most out of using my curriculum (or any other one – if you want to spend that much), than you need to know how to become a character education expert in your town.

And I’m about to tell you how to do it.

Step #1: Use the Curriculum and Teach Mat Chats in Every Kid’s Class!

Look, I know I said there’s more to it than just teaching the lessons, but I really have to emphasize that if you’re not teaching character development lessons in every class, you won’t reap the benefits of the program!

So, start by reading the program, familiarizing yourself with it, and then teaching the lessons as written in all your kid’s classes. Every class, every single day you teach. Yes, every one.

Step #2: Live It

You simply can’t be preaching character values on Monday and dancing on the bar top on Friday. I guarantee you, some parent will see you and your credibility will be shot. Once you start teaching it, you have to live it, period. So, from now on if you feel the need to cut loose, fly to Vegas and make sure you don’t take pictures. Speaking of which…

Watch what you say in social media! I don’t teach kids right now, so my personal Facebook page tends toward the opinionated. However, the minute I start teaching kids again, that’s the minute I clean up everything I post online. You need to go back and erase anything that could be misconstrued or that’s plain offensive, right now. And, stop posting that stuff online from here on out.

Remember, these kids are going to find you online. A lot of them have Facebook accounts, even though they aren’t supposed to. So, keep it clean online.

Step #3: Mean It

Now that you’re making an effort to live up to what you’re teaching, it’s time to start meaning it too. This isn’t an attack on anyone’s character; I’m just suggesting that if we’re teaching these values they had better actually mean something to us. If they don’t, it’s probably time you started looking for another line of work (I hear they’re hiring politicians right now).

So, use it, live it, mean it, and…

Step #4: Reinforce It

Just teaching a lesson at the end of every class isn’t enough to make it stick with kids. And, making it stick is the key to getting the best results from your martial arts character development and life skills curriculum. That means you have to find a way to integrate it in the other 40 to 55 minutes of your class, and you have to find ways to get kids to take it outside of the classroom, too.

I explain how to do this very simply and easily in Martial Arts Character Education Lesson Plans for Children. It’s not as hard as you might think, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be printing out 100 handouts each week. That gets old quick, and trust me parents have enough homework to keep up with, without you piling on more stuff they have to help their kids fill out.

So, find ways to reinforce the lessons that don’t create a burden of extra work on you or the parents of your students. Do this and parents will love you for getting results without making it “one more thing” for them to do.

Closing Thoughts

martial arts character education lesson plans for children ebookLook, the whole reason I ever started teaching character development lessons in my martial arts studio was because I really wanted to help kids. As some of you already know I grew up very poor, in a violent household, and I suffered years of abuse and neglect that had some very long-lasting and negative effects on me growing up. Even so, martial arts training was a bright spot in my life during the latter part of my childhood.

Because of this, I wanted to pass on to my own students those martial arts life lessons that I felt helped me the most. And, I wanted to create the program that I wish my instructors had taught me when I was taking classes as a young teen. And, that’s what this program is.

So, remember to keep your eyes and your heart focused on helping kids through teaching character values and life skills in your program. By doing so, your sincerity in what you do will shine through, and that alone will endear you more to your students and their parents than any amount of acting ever could.

That, my friends and fellow instructors, is the best advice I can give you for using a martial arts character development curriculum to boost retention in your school.


  1. Andrea Carbon on October 2, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Hi Michael, I don’t know how to contact you in any other way other than in this way and I have left you a message through the contact form but I’m not sure if you are getting my messages? I would like to purchase your Martial Arts Character Education and Rotating Curriculum e-books but as I live in the UK I don’t have access to them via Kindle. only deliver via kindle to US residents. Is there some way that I can buy copies from you directly via digital download? Or maybe there is another way. I have purchased things from you in the past. I bough ‘Small Dojo, Big Profits.’ Please let me know how I can purchase these books. As a small dojo owner that runs my school single-handedly, I would find both books invaluable.


    Andrea Carbon

  2. Mike Massie on October 3, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Hi Andrea,

    I answered your questions on Facebook. Let me know if you have any additional questions!

    – MM

  3. Heather on October 27, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    “How to Use a Martial Arts Character Development Program to Increase Your Retention | Martial Arts Business Daily” was indeed in
    fact compelling and helpful! In the present day world honestly, that is quite hard to manage.
    Thank you, Carmine

  4. Mike Massie on October 31, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Thank you, Carmine. I’m glad the article was helpful to you. If you get a chance, check out the book I wrote on the topic at

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