The Black Belt Business Podcast

Why And When Should I Implement 3 Levels Of Classes?

Oct 02, 2023

As a martial arts academy operator you’re no doubt used to brand new students coming in off the street with little to no previous athletic experience, let alone any martial arts experience.

However, not all students will come in fresh with no former experience. You’ll encounter people with a range of experience, from many years at an academy with no ranking system to experience accrued alongside military time, and of course you’ll always have transplants from other academies, cities, states and even countries.

This is why it is important to offer a variety of class levels. Offering up to three levels of classes will make it so that you can cater to students no matter their skill levels, or previous experience, and you’ll be better positioned to attract a diverse range of students along all points of their martial arts journeys.

Just as you’ll find it hard to attract and retain more advanced practitioners if you only offer beginner-level classes, you struggle to sign up new students with no experience if your classes only cater to advanced practitioners. In order to attract a diverse range of students it helps to have classes geared towards a variety of skill levels. 

Rather than throwing new students into the deep end of a vast pool of knowledge, they’ll receive bite-sized, digestible pieces they can work through bit by bit. 

Depending on the size of your academy, it may be time to consider implementing a three-tiered approach to your class levels. Call them what you want, but the levels essentially break down to fundamentals (beginner level), intermediate, and advanced. 

Beginners can join the introductory level class, where they can learn the basics and build a strong foundation. Intermediate students can participate in a class that challenges them with more advanced techniques and training methods. Advanced practitioners can benefit from a specialized class that focuses on refining their skills, exploring advanced concepts, and engaging in high-level training that often includes sparring.

This tiered approach ensures that students receive appropriate instruction and can progress at a pace that suits their abilities.

Enhance the learning experience

Implementing three levels of classes allows for a more tailored and effective learning experience.

In introductory classes, instructors can provide focused attention to beginners, ensuring they grasp fundamental techniques correctly. Once students begin to show a solid grasp of fundamentals, they are ready to step into intermediate classes.

Intermediate classes can provide a balance of reviewing basics and introducing more complex movements, helping students refine their skills. This is also a great level to begin introducing students to live training and sparring. Now that they have their fundamentals down, they should at least have some idea of how to be a good partner and keep themselves safe in live, controlled training rounds. 

Advanced classes can offer specialized training, allowing experienced practitioners to delve deeper into advanced techniques, tactics, and strategies. These classes are for students who have been training for more than a year and who are ready to take the next step in their development by studying more advanced concepts and solving complex riddles. Of course, live training is still a fundamental part of advanced level classes.

This segmented approach optimizes the learning process, maximizes student engagement, and enhances overall skill development. By breaking down classes into three levels by skill and experience, you’ll enhance the effectiveness of class and the learning process for everyone involved.

As you develop your curriculum, you can dig deeper into concepts at each level and really explore them from all angles with specially designed class time. The more bite-sized and comprehensive the concepts are, the more success your students will have picking them up and confidently applying them in practice. In this way, students can learn and progress at their own pace as long as they need.  

Improve retention and progression

It’s hard to keep paying for a membership where you’re not feeling any progress. That’s why implementing three levels of classes to keep students at every level challenged and engaged, and offering a clear progression path, will enhance student retention and progression. 

Beginners often feel overwhelmed when placed in classes with more advanced students. However, having a dedicated introductory level allows them to gain confidence and gradually adapt to the training environment. 

As students progress and demonstrate proficiency, they can move up to the next level, experiencing a sense of achievement and motivation. 

As with a ranking system, this clear structure provides students with tangible goals and a clear pathway for advancement, increasing their commitment and likelihood of staying in the program.

Along with providing attainable goals for students, class levels also set a rudimentary standard for safety measures. By mastering a certain set of skills or a chunk of the curriculum, you can ensure your students are ready to progress to the next class level without hurting themselves or each other.

Efficient time management

On the operations side of the academy, implementing three levels of classes allows for better time management and class organization.

If your academy is relatively new, you’ll know you’re ready to add additional class levels when your students have covered everything there is to know at a certain skill level, or when you suddenly have a bigger range of skill than class offerings. 

If you have people with prior experience coming in to try out your academy, and you don’t challenge them, they likely will opt for an academy that does. By separating students based on their skill levels, instructors can focus on teaching appropriate material without compromising the learning experience of any group.

Coaches will have an easier time selecting and pacing technique for a specific level’s skill set, and students benefit from more time devoted to what they need help with. 

Splitting curriculum into various class levels, with entry determined by rank requirement, helps organize the content so coaches can teach it effectively, cumulatively and really break down the material. They can get into the nitty gritty of the technique without worrying about one person getting bored and another feeling left behind. 

Each class should have a designed curriculum and training plan that aligns with the specific needs of students in that level. This efficient organization optimizes class time, ensures that students receive targeted instruction and maintains a cohesive training environment.

By offering a structured and progressive system, martial arts academies can effectively meet the needs of their diverse student population and create an environment conducive to growth and development.

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