New Year, New Goals, New Students

With the start of a new year, there are also new goals, new opportunities, and new students.

Many karate schools start to prepare for the upcoming tournament season in January. Students order new uniforms, weapons, and sparring gear. Dojo heads map out the tournaments that their students should attend. Tournament fever starts to fill the air!

I believe that you should work a new kata, empty hand or weapon, for at least three months before performing it in a tournament. The complexity of the kata and the skill level of the student weigh heavily in the amount of time needed to practice. January is a great time to start preparing for those spring tournaments in earnest. It’s also a good time to set goals for the new year. Our dojo has new membership goals, student retention goals, and student motivation goals, to name a few.


Many dojos offer free class, free uniforms, or reduced tuition to attract new students. Reflection about the reasons why some students left the program in the previous year can identify the program improvements that will foster improved retention in the new year. No dojo likes to lose students and sometimes we have to tweak our programs, without compromising our core values, to keep students of all ages invested in their goals and interested in the discipline. We want all of our students to remain in the dojo and to be successful in their journey.

Some dojos see a flood of new students in January, just like fitness centers get the most memberships with New Year’s resolutions about people wanting to ensure better health. There are many reasons for starting in January. Some receive karate lessons as a Christmas gift or holiday promotion. Others have new fitness and weight management goals that they want to start. While others watched so many martial arts movies during the holidays that they just have to give it a try. Some just want the challenge of learning something new. Regardless of their reason, all new students are welcomed with open arms. During the cold winter months the dojo is a good place to come workout and sweat. Hard working new students will start to see the fruits of their labor by spring. Perhaps they will experience the accomplishment of a belt promotion, participation in a tournament, or representing the dojo in a spring or summer demonstration.

Yes, the new year is an exciting time in the dojo. New people, new goals, new opportunities, and new memories.

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