Bullying gets press and screen time on national networks and local papers. There are programs to combat it, and debates on the best way to address it. But if Mike Wegmann hadn’t been bullied back in 1985, a dozen young people wouldn’t have jobs. “I started martial arts when I was 13, because I was getting picked on at school. My parents really didn’t want me to do it, but eventually they let me take a class.”
That first martial arts class many years ago blossomed into a career, a business, and an opportunity to provide jobs for young people. “I had to learn it the hard way,” says Wegmann. “When I started my martial arts club, very few people were really running their schools as a business. Being a martial arts instructor was the only thing I wanted to do, so I figured it out on my own.”
Today Wegmann heads up Vision Martial Arts, a chain of six martial arts businesses located in the suburbs of Raleigh, NC. He employs a dozen full-time instructors, as well as a number of part timers, as young as 16 years old.
“I wanted to give these kids a chance to do what they love—martial arts—as a career. There’s no need for them to go through the hardships I went through because I had no one to guide me. My instructors have someone to show them the way, so that if they ever want to open their own martial arts businesses, they will be well-prepared.”
His instructors are trained to be captivating young leaders who motivate their students, mostly children. While in the past, most martial arts students were adults, today, 60-70 percent are kids under the age of 12. This brings along its own set of challenges.
Peak performance coach and martial arts Black Belt, Tony Robbins, explains. “The kids of today have a completely different experience in life than most instructors had, because they have grown up in a world where the child’s attention span has been conditioned to be extremely limited. Unless you as an instructor can be more captivating than your sensei ever was, you’re unlikely to capture the majority of these kids for the long term, except those who are pressured at home or have the inner desire.”
So how does Wegmann step up to this task? “Training,” he says. “Today it is even more important that our young instructors understand how kids are growing up, and the best way for them to learn. When I was a kid, classes were two hours of repetition. That just doesn’t work today.”
This forward thinking has attracted young people from all over the United States to Wegmann’s mentorship. While a number of his staff started as his students, others joined his team from other martial arts styles.
“What’s most important for our instructors is that they are willing to learn, help, and grow. And that they will be great role models for the children and families that we teach.”
To learn more about Mike Wegmann and Vision Martial Arts, visit http://www.vmanc.com.