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ENews Jewels
  September 2006 - Vol 2. Issue 9

3karategirls.jpgKarate and E-Newsletter Categories

This edition talks about why you should separate your list into catoegories.

My daughter Jacqueline enthusiastically practices Kenpo with hundreds of girls and boys at Callahan’s Karate. A year ago, she started out as a white belt – that’s the 1st level for beginners. Even though she’s only required to go twice a week, she has the option to go more frequently if the spirit moves her (and if one of us drives her). It turns out that she loves it so much, that going three times a week is a fairly regular occurrence. And besides that, she often asks to stay so she can watch the older kids who spar, kick and throw their way through more complicated and more powerful punches. Now 12 months into the program, she progressed from white belt to yellow belt and recently she graduated to her orange belt. However, even with a year’s training under her belt, she’s still classified as a beginner. She’s a bit humbled by this (read: she's a frustrated 9 year old) and she frequently has the desire to jump ahead.

Sometimes she asks me if she can participate in the intermediate classes. Who can blame her? There’s a lot of adrenaline and fantastic energy in the more advanced sessions. They are much more intense. And while the more advanced students can attend any lesser class, the earlier belts can not attend the higher level classes. She sees the disparity. And what she wants to know is why it’s not ok for her to go to the intermediate classes. 

I’ve explained to her that at first it’s hard to understand why there are all these levels and categories. I told her that there really is a rhyme and a reason to the system. Each level brings with it certain experience and understanding. Each level knows certain vocabulary and techniques. For e.g. The beginners focus on simple forms, while the intermediates build on that strong foundation adding complexity and intensity. The more advanced groups have the desire to practice forms that have many parts, while the beginning levels would quickly become overwhelmed, both physically and mentally in a higher level class.

Yes, there are times when her karate teachers present a lesson or a message that applies to the whole school. But even when they do that, they take it down a notch for the beginning levels and kick up a notch for the more advanced students. They do a particularly good job of addressing the martial arts mentees. I’m very impressed with their overall communication strategy. I guess that’s part of the reason they were named Business People of Year in 2005.

Kenpo Karate’s belts are like categories of your mailing list. Pick the wrong class and you won’t get onto the mat. Spar with a more advanced belt and you might get you block knocked off. As Callahan’s does for its students (it’s subscribers if you will), you need to create a message for the students of your emails.

If your students are beginners:
  • keep it simple
  • start with the basics
  • break it up into chunks

If your students are longtime clients:

  • give them advice to
    • evaluate
    • improve
    • plan for success

So for now, Jacqueline’s frustrated but understanding. She’s dissappointed yet hopeful. Thankfully, she’s a willing student who’s learning through Kenpo that there are different levels and different categories. So for right now, that’s enough of a lesson. Later on I’ll teach her about how there are even more categories in the world like different personality types (i.e. Enneagram and Myers Briggs), and completely new territory like the categories of boys vs. girls. So I won’t overwhelm her with all that – she is, afterall, just a beginner on her 9th family belt.

Kenpo Categories - Belts/Levels: White, Yellow, Orange, Purple, Blue, Green, Brown 1, Brown2, Brown 3, Black


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