It sounds kind of crazy eh?

What could Disney teach us about self-defence?

However, you are about to learn how you can start adopting a few of the business practises of Disney to become a better self defence instructor and a more profitable one as well

The Giants Of Media

Disney is huge, make no mistake about it but it all started with a mouse and the young animator named Walt Disney, and the company is now estimated to be worth £88 Billion.

They own Marvel, Star Wars and have theme parks and hotels all over the world.

In fact, business leaders from across the globe go to Disney’s business school ‘The Disney Institute’ on a regular basis to learn how they can bring the same practices into their business.

However as you will see Disney can teach us about both physical self-defence training along with business practices.


Let’s do this.

It Is All About The Experience

People come to self-defence classes to learn how to protect themselves?


They train in self-defence to feel safer, more secure, stay healthy and meet new people.

These are some of the most compelling selling points in business today. You are tapping into the human desire to feel connected and safe. But do you make sure this factors into your training experience?

If you have ever been on holiday to Disneyland, you will know that it is very much an experience.

From the moment you buy the tickets you are involved in ‘The Disney Experience.’ A great, interactive website, holiday tips, a variety of options and choices to make your holiday special, even before you have boarded the plane.

They have a process called ‘wowing’ where they aim to ‘wow’ the guests.

So what happens when you manage to get a new student? What process do you use and do you aim to ‘wow’ them?

If you charge around £50 per month, a student is worth £600 a year to your business.  So what did you do to make them feel happier about their purchase?

A huge mistake in martial arts schools is to think that they are selling a service when it is an experience. Yes, you are teaching them to protect themselves. However, the student wants so much more than this.

Here are some ideas for you think about:

  1. Private Facebook group
  2. Membership Pack
  3. Bi-Monthly social events
  4. Enhanced Website Experience (blog articles, videos)
  5. A Club Newsletter
  6. Student of the month
  7. 1 hours free private tuition every month

If you focus purely on teaching self-protection, you will quickly find your students leaving once they ‘feel’ capable. If you concentrate on delivering an experience  that they will talk about to their friends, you take your school to a different level.


Disney thrives on safety.

From the security checks on the way into the parks, to the safety of the rides and attractions.  One accident could be a disaster for the company.

If you were to ask people what they fear about martial arts and self-defence training, then most would say ‘fear of injury.’  People are coming to training to learn and not get severely beaten up. For this reason, you need to ensure that safety is paramount in your training.

At a recent Defence Lab seminar, Andy Norman gave a speech on training safety which went along these lines “Be careful with your partner because they are giving you permission to train on their body.”

In 20 plus years of martial arts training, I have never heard anyone send a message as clear as this regarding safety.

The martial arts can be dangerous, and injuries do occur. However if you focus on making safety a key part of your teaching, this will help alleviate fear and also reduce injuries.

If people are injured, they do not often come back!

If you are a student who is reading this, then you too play an important part in the process of making sure people are safe.


People are lazy.

Sometimes this is not because they mean to be, but in a  world where attention is heavily contested, you need to make life as easy as possible for people.

If you take a look at how Disney structures this approach, you will see the true magic.

Inside the park, you have a system to pay for everything without needing to carry cash or a credit card. The same ‘Magic Bands’ are used to book onto rides and even enter the park.

What can you learn from this?

The role of efficiency is applied to both your business and your training/ teaching.

Look at the customer journey from start to finish and you see a range of opportunities to improve.  How easy is the joining form? Can you edit it online? Can it be filled in on a smartphone? Is your website mobile responsive? Do you have a ‘chat’ feature on your site?

How can people pay? Is it direct debit? What details do they need to give you? Can you send a link to their email which makes the process faster?

Where is the training venue? Is there parking? What are your class times? Would a student hit rush hour traffic getting to your lesson?

There is always a way to make a business more efficient.

But what about your physical training?

This again is an area you need to focus on. Too often classes will be filled with an instructor talking too much, or talking too often about the harsh realities of violence.

On the technical side, we often see, either techniques that are too complicated to learn or too simple to be of interest.

Then you need to consider how the lesson flows. Do your lessons start slow and build up or are they motivating and energised throughout?

Do you even make lesson plans?

Again these are areas for you to spend time and think about.


Hopefully, you will have seen how your self-defence business can be improved if you only focus on a few elements from a company such as Disney.

Now you can do this yourself. However here at Defence Lab, we have a proven system of business that has seen our schools grow year after year.

If you run a self-defence business that you want to see gain better results and for those who want to learn more about the business strategies of Disney be sure to check out their book ‘Be Our Guest’ By Theodore Kinni

Thanks for reading.

The Shape Shifter Team