The stock market is a closed system, somebody makes a dollar, someone loses that same dollar. It’s a pie and as they say, you can get bigger or smaller pieces of it, but it only becomes a bigger pie if more shares are issued by the companies in the market.
Us folk in the martial arts tend to act as if we are in a stock market, with students as stocks. There is only a finite supply of students and so we all compete for our bigger piece of the pie. Nothing could be further from the truth, we don’t issue students like companies issue stock, we have a vast pool of potential students that we can draw upon, and we need to switch our thinking to use this to make ourselves a bigger pie.
What we should do is make sure that anyone who shows any interest in the martial arts, finds a place. If it’s not with us it ought to be with the guy down the street. This way the guy down the street sends a guy our way and there are two more folks in the arts who will tell their friends what a good idea budo is.
What we want to avoid is telling students who aren’t going to join our club that the guy down the street is a dangerous fool, thus not having a student, and creating the impression in yet another person that the martial arts are dangerous things full of fools.
Got so many students that you have to turn them away? Find them a home with a nearby club or make one for them. (Students will not wait for your next intake session, they’ll go take up aerobic-ropeclimbing or some such). Got lots of teacher-rank students? Kick them out to start another club. One of my buddies was a bit worried about opening a club a couple of blocks away in a large city. The result? No particular encroachment at all, as Tim Horton’s has found out, you really can be on every other block and as long as there is enough of a population you can support all your franchises. People like finding what they want just down the street.
Check out dance studios or yoga classes, I suspect any town would be able to support as many martial arts clubs as it can support yoga classes, and if we had as many people in the arts as are in dance we’d be a happy bunch.
There is no way that we have reached saturation in numbers of people who would enjoy the martial arts, and until we do, the resource that we call students is not finite. Go make a bigger pie.