Impact Martial Arts

That one time I tried to “QUIT” the martial arts business.

Posted: September 19, 2018

The one-year anniversary of me officially purchasing ATA Chanhassen is quickly approaching. So, this week I thought I would share a bit of the story about how it all came to be.

In 2007, I got the best job ever. I was teaching martial arts and getting paid for it. My life was made… right?

One small problem, I was young (and possibly naive), and my main hobby turned into my dream job. I never realized until later, but the minute I took that job, despite all my wants and desires to be a “success” in the martial arts world. I immediately lost all ambition. Many people work their whole lives and still don’t know what they want to do when they “grow up”. For me, I had achieved what so few do and much too soon.

Though I did try to learn to get better at the various elements of the job, improving communication, having a great looking school, growing our business and of course, teaching great classes, I still thought of it as what I did versus who I am. Over the next year or two I was beginning to feel like some of my friends who were out there trading their time for money. Teaching was starting to feel like WORK.

In my mid-twenties, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life (still to this day), to leave my dream job and pursue something else. I worried I would make people upset, and I did. Afterall, these people had invested in me. I feared looking like a failure to my students, their parents and my colleagues and peers. But I owed it to myself, the future Mrs. Hoops and any children we would have, to make something of myself otherwise.

To save readers the story of what happened over the next seven years ago to today, I’ll just fill in the important details.

A couple hard years later of working two jobs, starting over and moving my way up in a company that was going downhill, I remember hitting the glass ceiling hard. I remember how empty I felt walking into work one day. Thinking, “is this really going to be the rest of my life?” But I lucked out when I ran into a student that very same day. While getting caught up in conversation, he mentioned that the school had recently changed ownership and he wanted to know what I thought about the new owner. “Mr. Knight is a wonderful guy,” I said with excitement in my voice and a twinkle in my eye for the first time in years.

The minute our conversation ended, and without consulting my wife (something I genuinely don’t recommend), I immediately pulled out my phone and contacted Mr. Knight and said, “I just heard the good news. Whatever you need, I’m in.” He replied with a hopeful sound in his voice, “Good, because I don’t intend on doing this forever.” And I knew exactly what he meant.

I think I was back on the floor teaching classes within a week. Dreaming and once again igniting the passion of being an instructor and one day, hopefully, the owner.  I began gradually trying to escape my full-time job, balancing being the best husband and a new father I could.

Side note:

I thought I was a good instructor before having children, but here’s the truth, being an Instructor made me a better father, but becoming a father, without a doubt, made me a better instructor. Everything changes the minute you know and understand why that parent has you teaching their child.

So, with new found purpose and confidence, I had regained the ambition I once lost. This time it was for good. Even better, we were no longer trying to be like every other school or school owner. We have truly honed our craft. We know who we are, we know who we’re for and more importantly who we’re not a good fit with (people with a fixed mindset, whiners, complainers, people looking for participation awards, excuse makers - believe me, I could go on).

The result: Happiness (and enough to share)

We didn’t just build a Martial Arts school. We built a community of likeminded people (who also happen to enjoy martial arts). Our students are accomplishing amazing things too. We have several Eagle Scouts, academic all-stars, local small business owners & influencers, mom-preneurs, doctors, and leaders of all ages who are achieving success socially & academically/professionally and empowering other people within the community.

The sense of joy and gratitude I have for my work these days is abundant to say the least. Our team is equally as ambitious to help and care, so that we can continue to serve our students and their families and continue to watch them succeed on and off the mats.

What a blessed year it has been!

Ken Hoops


P.S. - If you ever care to join us, we’d love the chance to know you better. Just click the link & read the page. Trust me, you’ll know if we’re right for you.