Monday, April 27, 2009

This weekend: Sakura Matsuri

This weekend I will be attending Sakura Matsuri - the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botinical Gardens.  Throughout the day, I will offer free introductory Sil Jun Do Bup classes to anyone who might be interested in picking up a wooden sword!  I attend this event every year that I can, and according to the forcast the weather is going to be very agreable this Saturday. 

Let me know if you're going to be able to make it!  I'll update again once I know where I'll be setting up shop for the day.

For more information about the festival, check it out here:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Your first class is free" and other marketing questions

One of the challenges of teaching a non-traditional martial art such as Sil Jun Do Bup (or than the difficulty that many non-Koreans have in pronouncing it) is the question: "how do I market this?" 
Aside from the regular challenges of marketing a martial art class, there are a few unique challenges to marketing a class in Sil Jun Do Bup.  These are:

1. Sil Jun Do Bup is indeed a martial art, but unlike many other arts it is for the most part practiced individually rather then with partners.  One obvious reason for this is that you are using a real sword, and although it is blunted along the edge, you are still capable on inflicting grave injuries if it is handled carelessly or disrespectfully.  

2. New students of SJDB do not usually begin their studies with a focus on self-defense.  Although many of the skills obtained during your study of the form help to make you a more aware, healthier, and more powerful person, most students do not assume they'll be carrying around a sword with them on the street (probably not the best idea...)

3. Many (most) people simply do not know what SJDB is.  When explaining it, I first make mention that it is closely related to the Japanese art of iaido.  Then, assuming I gauge no reaction of familiarity with the latter, I usually go on to explain that it's the art of drawing the sword, cutting, and re-sheathing that the Samurai of feudal Japan studied, "you know, like in Samurai movies such as 'The Last Samurai' and 'Seven Samurai' or even 'Kill Bill.'"  Karate?  Familiar.  Kung-Fu?  Familiar.  Sil Jun Do Bup?  Is that some kind of rice dish?

So given these unique challenges, how can I target my marketing?  To begin to approach this, I need to first identify what kind of audience I am looking for.  When thinking about this, and from feedback I've received from friends and family, I've narrowed it down to a few groups.

People who:

1. want to get into shape.  - This is similar to the yoga-set.  These are people who want to improve their flexibility and overall health but don't want to run for an hour on the treadmill.  
2. practice a non-traditional martial art. - Many of these people study eskrima, kravmaga, or other exotic forms.  
3. have a broad appreciation and awareness of global culture.
4. really like swords. - This was me.  It started with lightsabers, moved to knights, samurai, or anyone who could swing a sword and make it look really cool.

And, arguably the most important:

4. can afford to take the classes. - This is one of the most challenging, not because the classes are expensive, but they do take an initial investment on top of the class fee.  The uniform is $100, and the sword (which doesn't have to be purchased until after the first promotion test - usually 2 months) runs about $350 (and is actually a great deal).  Depending on how long you want to commit to, the classes run for less than $18 each.

So these are the issues in a nutshell.  Here's what I've done to market so far:

1.  Press release - This was the first thing I did, and got some great responses, including the feature run in the Waterfront Weekly.
2. Flyering.  I post these around Hoboken, and although they're gone within a couple of days, I'm hoping that people will begin to recognize them and take notice.
3. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter
4. I've been posting any martial arts sites and discussion boards I can find.

What other ways can I reach out to the local community?  I think that one of the best ways is to actually show people the art, to demonstrate it, but it is not easy to find the opportunity to do so - I can't exactly just go into the park and start swinging  a sword around, right?  So, any ideas?


New Sword Class in Hoboken, NJ!

Hello everyone, I will be teaching a new sword class in Hoboken NJ on THURSDAYS at 7:00PM. The style is SIL JUN DO BUP, similar to Iaido, but focuses more directly on actual cutting. More details are below. If anyone is interested, you can email me at or call me at 201.317.9517

The following is a repost from the Waterfront Weekly Journal, where it was featured as the cover story:

Get moving ... with swords

Monday, April 06, 2009

A new kind of martial arts will soon be coming to Hoboken.

Sil Jun Do Bup is a Korean form of sword practice, which literally translates to mean "real sword training." It is similar to Iaido, a Japanese form of sword practice that focuses on the drawing of the blade from the kneeling or sitting position. Sil Jun Do Bup, by contrast, focuses on cutting and strikes.


But don't worry, the classes being offered by teacher Raab Rashi at Monroe Movement Space are completely safe.

"You begin training with a wooden or plastic sword," says Rashi, 29. But even before the sword is picked up, "we focus on respect."

Rashi began training unofficially seven years ago, later being taken under the wing of Grandmaster Jin K. Seong, a seventh degree black belt from Korea.

"I was always into swords and martial arts, but I never had the opportunity (growing up) to formally train," says Rashi.

He soon took up teaching at Grandmaster Seong's school, The Kendo Academy in Dumont. The school has two other locations in Closter and East Brunswick. Seong was interested in expanding the school, and Rashi thought Hoboken would be a good fit for this unique style of practice.

"It's a community where people are very open to international ideas. There's a real global awareness and consciousness in Hoboken."

During the first class, Rashi will explain the form of Sil Jun Do Bup, the etiquette involved and then begin to introduce basic movements such as bowing, drawing the sword, stance, basic cutting and sheathing.

"(The basics) are things you work on throughout your journey," says Rashi. "Even masters will be working on these things."

And even though the art involves a lot of physical discipline, what is most important is the mental discipline that practitioners of Sil Jun Do Bup will develop.

"You can go into it with some expectations," Rashi says, "but you will find other things in the art that you weren't expecting to find. You can want to improve your stamina and physical well-being, which you will, but you will also improve your mental focus and reaction time. It will make you a more aware person."

For Rashi, who says that studying sword movement has made him more "grounded," he hopes his students will develop "a sense of calm and focus."

Classes in Sil Jun Do Bup are wholly unique to the Hudson County area, which makes it an even bigger draw to anyone interested in martial arts or sword training.

"We're the only program around like this. There's a few wonderful Kendo schools in the area," he says, but none in the county that specialize in Sil Jun Do Bup.

Classes in Sil Jun Do Bup will run Thursdays at Monroe Movement Space, 720 Monroe St. in Hoboken. Prospective students may show up for a free first class, and then sign up for six months, 24 months or a full year. For more information or to register, call 201-317-9517.


Health Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory