Trial Program Overview

Trial Program Overview

The trial program in its many configurations has been a staple in the martial arts school enrollment process for a very long time. A trial program invites the prospect to come into the school to try anywhere from a single class to a month of classes for free or a small fee.

Free lessons often bring shoppers not buyers and people interested in martial arts who do have the means to pay, so I’m a fan of the paid-for trial program.

When people called our schools, we closed the appointment for taking the trial lessons and used a visit to the school as a fallback if they wouldn’t commit to taking the trial lesson course. This has worked hundreds, if not thousands of other schools and has multiple benefits.


How to Maximize the Trial Program Process

A Trial Lesson Engagement Process

This is a great strategy for converting your trial lessons into students. Part of your goal during the trial is to take steps to make prospective students and parents excited to be part of your school.

IMPORTANT: Return information calls immediately. Odds are the prospect is calling around. Make sure you respond before the prospect can call the next school.

Once they’ve enrolled in your trial program, send the parents a text about an hour before the first class.

“Hey, Lisa, this is Sensei Grant from USA Karate. I just wanted to let you know that we are so pumped to have Joey come and try out our school. I’ve already told his entire class that they have a new friend. We are excited to see him.”

The mention of “friends” is a powerful tool to help overcome any nervousness or concern about taking the class. Now the parents and the child are comfortable knowing that they will be welcomed as friends rather than strangers or prospects.

It also creates a family dynamic that they don’t want to let the other kids down now that they know Joey is coming.

If you send the text too early, they might forget about the class. But that 45-minute to one-hour window before class starts is the sweet spot.

Write “Welcome, Joey Smith” on a banner or whiteboard.  This lets the parent know that, their child is welcome in the school and that you’ve been thinking about him starting tonight.

After class, be sure to get a picture of the child with the instructor. Both should be smiling with thumbs up.

Also, get a shot of the entire class with Joey in it. Everyone should be smiling and enthusiastic.

It’s a good idea to set up a spot in the school for these kinds of shots. Think of the red carpet for movie premiers. Have a place with good lighting and your logo visible in the back behind the subjects of the photo.

That same evening as you’re getting ready to shut the school down for the night, send the parents the shot with Joey and the instructor with a message, “I know it’s late, but I just wanted to let you know that we enjoyed having Joey in our class. We know he’s going to be a great fit for our program.”  Include a smiley emoji and send it.

Parents will think of how thoughtful you are for thinking about Joey after the class has already taken place.

Now you’re going to use the group shot in a text that you send an hour or so before the next trial program. This one reads something like this, “Hey, Lisa, all of our friends are super excited to see Joey tonight. We’ll see you soon.” Big smiley face emoji.

Even if Joey enrolls after the first trial class, still send the follow-up group shot the day of his second class. 

This helps to confirm to the parents that they made the right decision to choose your program. If you enroll them on that first night and then they don’t hear anything else from you, then it looks like all the excitement was fake just to get Joey to enroll. 

But when you follow up after the sale has already happened, the parents will realize that this is the place that their child is supposed to be.

If you have their permission, post the photos on social media and tag the parents.

Make the Decision Easy for the Staff Member

Imagine the pressure a newer staff member without much sales training would feel if they had to enroll students into a one-year program without being able to offer a trial program first.

If they don’t get the one-year program sale the prospect walks and all the money spent marketing the program to get that person to inquire runs down the drain.

On the other hand, selling a simple trial program for $20.00 would be much easier for a newer sales person to handle both mentally and in reality.

It’s pretty easy to teach someone to offer the trial program with a sample script like this:

“Class times for beginning adults are Monday & Wednesday at 6:00p.m. or Tuesday & Thursday at 7:10pm.

On Saturdays we have a karate fitness class that an extra class that a lot of students enjoy.

All new students go through our introductory course. The course would have you take either the Monday & Wednesday class at 6:00p.m. or the Tuesday & Thursday at 7:10pm. The program includes both classes and your uniform.

It’s a $20 course that’s really that’s designed to give us a chance to evaluate you for placement in our program, and of course it gives you a chance to determine what your interest might be.

We’re starting new people this Monday night at 6:10pm or Tuesday at 7:10; which would you prefer?” (This is the closing question. It must be delivered at the same pace and tone as the rest of the script.)

Kids close: “Our next group of children start this coming Monday at 5:10 and we have room for one more if you would like to get him in there.”

“All of our new students go through our trial program. It’s a one-week program that includes two semi-private lessons and a uniform for just $19.95. This is a great way to have your son try the program to see how interested he is, and for us to make sure he’ll do fine in our classes.”

“The next two opportunities for him to try it tonight at 6:00 PM or tomorrow night at 4:30 PM- which works best for you?”

Not only do you want your program to be successful, but you want your staff members feel confident as they’re learning to present your programs. By offering a short-term trial program, you’ll help them experience success.

Make the Decision Easy for the Prospect

I have always advocated a two lesson trial program for $19.95 that includes a uniform.

Essentially, I’m selling the uniform for $19.95 and providing the two 20- minute lessons as a bonus.

People who will pay $19.95 to take a two-lesson trial course have already pre-qualified themselves for joining.

By offering the trial program, we’re making it easy for the prospect to say “Yes.” After all, they’ll receive a uniform that retails for $40.00 for $19.95- and get two complimentary lessons.

If you can afford $99.00-$149.00 a month for tuition, then investing about $20.00 won’t take a great deal of thought.

A parent also gets to see if their child is really interested in the lessons without spending a lot of money.

A Traditional Trial Lesson Makes Little Sense

Very little of a traditional trial lesson makes any sense.

1. You learn to square off to your opponent which exposes your most vulnerable targets (groin).

2. Hold punches in the air instead of snapping them back to guard.

3. Pull the other hand to your hip instead of your jaw.

4. Cross your arms first before you block.

5. Block with power when no power is necessary, just deflection.

6. Step towards the weapon that is coming at you.

7. Get into a deep stance which hinders mobility.

Lesson One Script

How To Teach The First Intro Class
A Framework for the Introductory Course

This is a hybrid script. You will have to replace your commands for ready position, ending, bowing, resting, etc., with your system’s commands. Also, this is a mixed presentation. The language is more adult, but you will see references that apply to children. Again, adapt this framework to your situation.

This is about a 15- 20-minute lesson, as is the second lesson. This can also serve as the core of a demonstration at a school. Rather than breaking boards and simply being entertainment, this is and excellent way to get your audience involved in the martial arts.

This class is best taught in a private or semi-private scenario, with the parents sitting right there and watching.

This lesson does not have to be taught by a black belt. Anyone can learn to teach this well with some practice.

Prior to this lesson, you will have interviewed the student and/or parents to determine what they want out of the martial arts. You will see many areas where you can adjust this lesson to directly address those areas and clearly demonstrate how the martial arts at your school will benefit them.

This lesson can be sold as a $20 Introductory Course that includes a “free” uniform. We prefer there be a charge for the course as that works as a qualifier and is a major buying signal from the student.

This first lesson uses the practical jab and front kick as the techniques. Students respond directly to these as they are clearly effective and pretty easy to do. 

We do not suggest you go into deep horse stances and forward walking stances in intro lessons as they are not clearly effective nor are they easy to do.

Notes to the instructor are in italics

Lesson One of the Introductory Course

Welcome to our school. The style of martial arts you are going to learn is a very exciting system that originated in (your style origins).

It emphasizes a balance between mind and body. That balance is critical to every aspect of our training here. You will learn some very effective self-defense techniques, which we’ll balance with a strong sense of personal responsibility so we never abuse or misuse our training.

Our goal for every student to earn his or her black belt. That is an amazing accomplishment to be very proud of. These two classes will help us evaluate you to make sure you fit into our program and for you to determine if earning a black belt is something you want to do.

A black belt to us is not just about being able to fight and protect yourself. That’s very important, but the best thing about becoming a black belt is how it helps you in every part of your life.

Black belt is a standard of excellence that everyone recognizes. You will often here us say to do something “like a black belt.” That may not just be a kick or a punch but, since black belt is a standard of personal excellence and always doing your best, how would a black belt treat his parents? How would a black belt listen to a teacher? How would a black belt clean his room? That’s what black belt is all about and that’s why we want our students focused on achieving their black belt.

I’d like to start the class right off by teaching you the two most important techniques in all martial arts – and probably in all areas of life. These two techniques are Respect and Focus. Repeat that with me; Respect and Focus. Remember that.

Not showing simple respect for each other causes much of the stress and problems in the world. In our school, we demonstrate respect in many ways.

For starters, we believe that it’s not enough to have respect; it only works if you show it. All adults are addressed as Mr. or Ms.. If you don’t know someone’s last name, just ask. Everyone is very friendly here.

Also, all questions are answered with a “yes, sir” or “yes, ma’am” or “no, sir” or “no, ma’am. We’d like you to practice your respect everyday with your parents and your teachers.

So instead of saying“yeah” start saying “Yes, Ma’am” Got it? (They might nod or say yes or Yeah) Oh! There we go. I think that was a good place to show respect by saying “Yes, Sir” loud and proud. Let’s try again. Got it? YES, SIR! That’s better. You are officially on your way to black belt.

The next way we show respect is very important and that is the bow. A bow is very much like a handshake. Each class begins with a bow to show respect for the instructor, the school, and our martial arts system.

Here’s how we do it. When the instructor says“Joonbee,” we snap to this ready position. Let’s try it together. Put your feet one shoulder apart with your feet pointing straight ahead. Bring your hands across and snap them down to this position with your knuckles about two-inches apart from each other.

When the instructor calls the Joonbee command, it’s a command. It’s not a request. You get your entire mind and body ready for what he is going to have you do by snapping to joonbee with lots of intensity. Let’s try it. I want to see joonbee like a black belt! JOONBEE! Good.

Let’s try one more time, JOONBEE! That’s it. When the drill is finished the instructor will have you return to this position. You return to this position very quickly. The instructor will either take you into a new drill or tell you to rest. If he says rest, turn around, straighten your uniform and then return to the front and put your hands behind your back in an at-ease position.

I said earlier I was going to teach you the two most important techniques in martial arts. What were they? (They may or may not remember. Usually they get Respect, but not Focus)

Hmm. This is interesting. You remembered Respect but you didn’t remember Focus. That’s exactly why focus is so important. Good focus skills are critical to your success in the martial arts, in school and in your career.

Focus is when you put all of your attention and concentration on one thing at a time. I would not be a good teacher if I were not focused 100% on teaching you. It’s also important that you guys are 100% focused on me, your parents, or anyone else who is teaching you.

It will be a while before you can kick and punch like a black belt, but you can begin to focus and show respect like one starting right now.

One way we show focus each class is when we are at joonbee, we have our eyes focused straight ahead. No matter what happens, we don’t move our eyes away from straight ahead. Focus like a black belt.

Let’s try it. JOONBEE! Rest. You guys can snap to Joonbee with more intensity than that. You don’t get a black belt by accident. You have to work at it. JOONBEE! That’s it. Eyes straight ahead. (Walk around students. Wave your hand in front of their face. Snap your fingers.) No matter what happens, you are locked and loaded. You are focused. Nice job. Rest.

Remember, on rest, out of respect, you turn away from the instructor to straighten your uniform and then return to an at-ease position with your hands behind your back. Good.

This is when the teacher will be explaining what comes next. When the teacher is speaking we show him that we are focused by keeping our eyes on him.

Mr. Graden is an 8th-degree black belt and what he teaches is very important. He’s worked very hard to get the knowledge he is sharing with us, so it’s important that we show him, or any other instructor, that we respect him and that he has our full attention.

We show the instructor that we are focused by keeping our eyes on him at all times when he is talking.
Got it? ‘Yes sir!’

In martial arts balance is everything. All of your techniques will be executed from a specific stance that is designed to keep us in good balance at all times. 

The first stance is “Guarding Stance.” Sometimes we call this fighting stance, but we like you to think of guarding yourself rather than fighting someone else.

The most vulnerable areas of your body are the ones you want to protect or guard the most. These are all right down the center of your body. They are your eyes, throat, solar plexus and groin. 

One good shot to any of those areas can cause you a lot of damage, so we have to protect them. Guarding stance is designed to help you protect them and stay in good balance.

This is what it looks like. My feet are about one natural step forward and a little less than one shoulder apart with body turned to the side.

Turning to the side helps me protect my centerline. I bring my elbows into the sides of my body and raise my fists up to my chin. Try to get your forearms parallel to each other rather than a triangle and turn the bottoms of your fists towards your opponent. 

Tuck your chin down to protect your throat a little more. As you can see, my weight is 50/50 so I can rock forward or back and can kick or punch with either hand.

Let’s try it. Come to JOONBEE! Rest. Let’s hit that Joonbee like we are black belts who are excited to learn. JOONBEE! Good.

Bend your knees. Bring your left foot halfway in. Take a natural step forward with your left leg. We always step with the left leg first because our heart is on the left side. That’s part of the spirit of the martial arts.

Turn sideways. Bend your knees a little so you’re 50/50. Good. Bring your elbows into your side to protect your ribs and raise your fists up by your chin. OK.

Let’s sit forward a little on the front leg so you can begin to feel the stance. Back to center. Let’s sit back a little. Good. Back to center. Now, let’s drop straight down a little.

To get you to the other side the instructor will command, SWITCH! When he says this, you quickly switch legs to the other side and get into your stance as fast as possible. Don’t jump up, stay low and fast.

Ready…SWITCH! SWITCH! SWITCH! DON’T SWITCH! (they will switch anyway) Ah. You must focus.

Remember to end the drills, the instructor says to return to ready and then rest. Let’s do that, ‘return to ready.’ (walk to the side. Their eyes will follow you.) Eyes straight ahead. Black belt focus. That’s better, now rest. Any questions?

Our first strike is called the jab. This is one of the fastest strikes you have, so it’s very important.

First, let’s talk about how to make a fist. In the martial arts, we strike with the first two knuckles. These are the strongest two knuckles and the bones in your forearm support them.

By using just two knuckles we are concentrating all the power of the punch into a smaller area. This makes it a more penetrating strike.
It’s very important that you keep your wrist flat, like this, so it doesn’t buckle and sprain or break.

The reason a small person in martial arts can hit with the power of a much bigger person is because all of the power in your strikes comes from your body weight not just the weight of the arm or leg. 

Your arm may weigh five pounds but your body weighs 30 times that. (estimate based on student size) So, we get the body power into the strike by turning our body when we punch. Watch.

In my guarding stance, with my hands up, the jab comes straight out from the chin. As it’s moving, I keep my elbow down and behind the punch for power. At the last quarter of the punch I push with my back leg and turn my body into the jab.

Notice I am tucking my chin down and raising my other hand up to protect against him punching back at me. Then I snap the punch right back to my chin in a straight line. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line and the jab is a straight punch. Let’s try it.

JOONBEE! Good. Let’s move into our guarding stance. Left leg in, a natural step forward, turn sideways hands up. Let’s start the jab.

The jab is always a front-hand strike. Keep your elbows down and begin to extend the jab out, now push a little off the back foot and turn your shoulder into the jab. That’s it.

Your hands have only two jobs. They are either attacking or protecting. Look at your right hand. Its job is to protect you right now so make sure it stays up by your cheek with your elbow in to protect your ribs.

Tuck your chin down. Good. Let’s try the other side, remember to switch on the command and get right into your stance. SWITCH!

Watch me as I snap the jab back and return to my guarding stance. Now you try it. Snap it back! Good. Let’s jab again.

This time, let’s do the whole jab, but I don’t want you to push it out. I want you to snap it! Try not to muscle it like this. Instead, snap it like you were snapping a towel. Watch. Jab! Jab! See? Your turn. 

When I say Jab! You fire and snap it back. Ready…Jab! Jab! Jab! SWITCH! Jab! Jab! Jab! Nice work. Return to ready! Rest.

To keep you focused during class the instructor might ask you, ‘Eyes on who?’ and you respond loud and proud, ‘Eyes on you!’

In martial arts, breathing is a big part of how we create power; how we increase endurance; and how we stay calm in tense situations. When we fire a strike, we breathe out with a short, sharp breath from low in the stomach.

This gives us more power, more snap, and helps protect us by taking the air out of our lungs so you are less apt to get the air knocked out of you since you have already pushed it out.

Let’s try the jab again but with the added snap and power of good breathing. It looks like this. (show three snapping jabs). Ready to try it? ‘Yes sir!” Good. Let’s breathe out like a black belt.

Joonbee! This time, when I say, guarding stance-step! You will step right into your stance just like this. (demo) Ready… guarding stance-step! Good. Body sideways and hands up. Jab with some snap and power, ready 1! 2! 3! 4! 5! SWITCH! 1! 2! 3! 4! 5! Good. Return to ready. Rest.

That was the jab. The jab is the fastest punch you can throw. When we move into drills, the jab is referred to as the number 1 punch. You will learn a number of combination sequences that use numbers instead of punches so remember the jab is number 1.

Your first kick is one of the most effective kicks in all martial arts.

The front kick is great for self-defense because it’s pretty easy to keep you balance when you fire it. One critical element of every kick is how your foot is positioned. You want your foot locked in a powerful position so it won’t get hurt when you hit something. This is called the ‘blade’ of your foot. Every kick has a ‘blade.’

Let’s have a seat to learn how to blade your foot for a front kick. Have a seat and extend your legs straight out from your shoulders. Turn your legs slightly in.

Point your toes and your foot like you were going to punt a ball. This is a point blade. Now, without moving your foot, just pull your toes back.

See how the foot is straight and the toes pulled back? That is a front-kick blade. When you strike with the front kick you are hitting with the ball of the foot and pulling your toes back so they don’t get smashed.

Pull your foot all the way back. Point. Toes back. (Repeat five times). Good. Let’s do the kick now.

Every kick has four parts. They are:
1. Chamber
2. Kick
3. Rechamber
4. Return to balance.

For the front kick, they look like this:
From my guarding stance, I bring my knee forward into a chambered position. Notice my foot is under my knee and not behind it. I want the foot to be moving towards the target at all times. Now, as I extend the kick watch my hips thrust into the kick. That’s the body power we talked about in the jab. It’s the same thing. I want my full weight and power behind the kick.

Notice I blade my foot on extension. To keep my leg from being grabbed, I snap it back and then return to my stance. So it’s:
1. Chamber
2. Kick
3. Rechamber
4. Return to balance.
Note: Take them through the front kick in the same sequence as the jab. Demo. Walk them through it. Have them solo slow and then faster.

(You may want to add a wrist escape here or a simple self-defense move.)

It’s important to remember that it takes time to master these skills. The lesson is to learn patience. Keep coming to class and practice 20 minutes a day when you don’t have class, you’ll get. 

Remember, in order to get really good at anything, you have to practice.

Do you have any questions? Let’s review:
1. What are the two most important techniques in martial arts? (Respect and Focus)
2. What system of martial arts are you learning? What is the name of your school?
3. What is the name of the punch we learned? (Jab)
4. What is the name of the kick we learned? (Front kick)
5. What stance did you learn? (Guarding stance)
6. What is my name?
7. What is our master instructor’s name?
8. Eyes on Who? (Eyes on you)
9. What is the goal of our students? (Earn a black belt)
10. If you want to do something really well, you do it like a (Black belt)

Great. Your next class is Thursday. Between now and then, I want you to practice your stance, your jab and your front kick.

Practice only in an area where you won’t hit anything or anybody like your little sister. Do ten jabs and ten front kicks each day on each side.

On Thursday, you will learn another punch and another kick and take your gold belt exam, which is pretty exciting. But, we can’t teach you something new if you have not practiced what we taught you this class. 

So you have to practice and practice like a black belt. That means with focus on the correct form. That’s the practice for your body.

We want to practice with our minds by showing focus and respect every day in every way. 

Keep your eyes on your teachers and parents when they are speaking to you and always answer any adult with yes sir or no sir. Got it? YES SIR!

Good. Class ends like it began. We will come to joonbee, bring our feet together and then bow. When we bow out, we say, thank you very much! I thank you for working hard and you thank me for teaching you.

Then we give each other a round of applause and you are dismissed. Let’s bow out. JOONBEE! Feet together. Bow! THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Applause….

Lesson One Outline

  • The two most important techniques (Respect and Focus)
  • Bowing in / Silent meditation
  • Ten Push-ups
  • 20 Crunches
  • Distance Control
  • Fighting stance
  • Step in footwork
  • Blocks 1-4
  • How to punch (straight line, body weight)
  • Jab
  • Front kick
  • Elbow One
  • Review what was taught
  • How to practice
  • Bow out
  • Enrollment conference if signals are good

Lesson Two Script

The Second Intro Lesson

 The goal of the second lesson is to enroll the student in the school, so it has to be a pretty powerful lesson.

In addition to teaching back kick, a headlock escape, and reviewing the first lesson, we conclude the lesson with a White or Gold belt test. There are two options for dealing with belts.

1. Have them wear a gi or gi pants and a school t-shirt but without a belt.

Explain, “At our school, we don’t give any belts away. They all have to be earned and at the end of this introductory course, you will take a test for your white belt.”

2. Have them wear a gi or gi pants and a school t-shirt with a white belt.

Explain, “At our school, we don’t give any belts away. They all have to be earned. You earn your white belt for coming to class and doing your best.  At the end of this introductory course, you will take a test for your Gold belt.”

The Test

The belt test the end of class two, is a three-technique test and each technique has a number.   

Number 1 is the jab

Number 2 is the reverse punch

Number 3 is the front kick. 

We stand in front of the students and call the numbers out. Their job is to fire the combinations. For instance, “One-two. One-one-two. One-three. One-two-three.”

We make it just hard enough to be a little challenging, and they usually make a couple of errors. 

We want them to make a couple of errors, because at the end of the exam, we salute, come to an at-ease position, and say, “That was not a test of your physical technique; it was a test of the development of your Black Belt Attitude. You see, you’re always going to make mistakes, but we’re more interested in how well you recover from the mistake than the mistake itself.

In other words, the time I called, ‘One-one-two,’ and you went one-two-one, I noticed you repositioned yourself, refocused your mind, and prepared for the next combination. That is the Black Belt Attitude. 

In other words, when you made that error, you didn’t drop your hands, you didn’t get frustrated, and you didn’t lose your focus. You stayed future-focused, just like a black belt would. So it is indeed my pleasure now to present you with this Gold belt. 

This Gold belt represents tremendous courage, because it takes a lot of courage to come out to USA Karate and get started. 

And if you work very hard and continue to come to class, in a couple of years Mr. Graden will have the honor of tying a black belt around you. In between now and then the rest is up to you.”

 That’s a very powerful finish to the introductory course. We’ve seen parents cry during that period. 

You have no idea how powerful that is, if it’s done correctly. From there, of course, we move on to the enrollment conference.


Lesson Two – Outline

Lesson Two – Gold Belt Exam

  • Bowing in / Silent meditation
  • 10 Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Review Fighting stance
  • Review Blocks 1 – 4
  • Teach Blocks 5 – 8
  • Review step drag jab
  • Teach reverse punch
  • 1 – 2 combination
  • Review front kick
  • Teach back-kick
  • Gold Belt Exam & Presentation
  • How to practice
  • Bow out
  • Enrollment conference 

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