Talking With Master Michael Mertens on TKD Professionals

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February 12, 2019- On April 5-6, 2019 Taekwondo Professionals will be holding their annual Taekwondo Leadership Conference and Development Seminar in Buffalo, NY.   I attended this event, several years ago, on behalf of Taekwondo Life Magazine.  Our inaugural issue featured a story about this unique and dynamic educational event designed specifically for Taekwondo Dojang owners.

Last week I reconnected with Master Michael Mertens to find out what is in store for participants of the upcoming installment of Taekwondo Professionals.

Master Michael Mertens

Master Michael Mertens is the executive director of World Class Tae Kwon Do Centers 
and the Co-Founder of Tae Kwon Do Professionals, along with his mentor and teacher of 35 years, Grandmaster Sun Ki Chong. He is a former national level competitor, multi school owner, and frequent lecturer at martial arts conventions. A graduate of Cornell University, Master Mertens is known for his skill at developing systems, building teams, and providing effective business coaching to Tae Kwon Do dojangs in both the U.S. and Canada.

(Interview by Marc Zirogiannis)

TKD Life:     Hello Sir, What is “Taekwondo Professionals”?   

MM:     Tae Kwon Do Professionals is a business coaching program for Taekwondo school owners and their staff. We provide proven strategies and tools for successful marketing, effective classroom instruction, and staff development.  Our members enjoy live webinars twice per month, a private facebook group, a members only resource website with hundreds of  marketing, special event, and operations documents, as well as hundreds of instructional videos on every aspect of running a successful dojang. 
Once a year we also host the Taekwondo Professionals National Convention, which provides an opportunity to learn from successful owners, network with Taekwondo Masters from the US and Canada, and get inspired with new ideas. 

TKD Life:     How did “Taekwondo Professionals” get started?
MM:  TKD Professionals was founded by Grandmaster Sun Ki Chong and myself, Master Michael Mertens. We have worked together for over thirty years and operate five successful dojangs in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY. In addition we have coached over 25 members of our staff to open their own schools, and they have had great success as well. We realized there was a need for other TKD Masters and school owners to benefit from our philosophy towards business and teaching, Currently we work with approximately 100 schools across the US and Canada. 

TKD Life:     Can you tell me about your event happening on April 5-6th in Buffalo, NY?
MM:      The Taekwondo professionals convention is two days of educational seminars on topics that directly impact the operation of your school. We have presentations scheduled on marketing, sales, teaching, student retention, and staff development.  It’s the perfect scenario to massively improve your knowledge and skill in these areas. It’s also a very welcoming and non competitive environment. Everyone is respectful, encouraging, and willing to help one another. 

TKD Life:     Who should attend this event?
MM:      This event is ideal for school owner and their staff at any level. If your school is newer or smaller, we can help you to get started on the right path and avoid common mistakes. If your school is established or even operating in multiple locations, we can connect you with other successful owners to share ideas and get you the answers you need to take your school to the next level. Whatever you are looking to achieve, it’s likely that someone within our group has already done it, and they are willing to help you!
If you have employees, I highly encourage you to bring them.  They will become more skilled, more motivated, and more committed to achieving your goals as a team. 

TKD Life:     If you have attended a Taekwondo Professionals event previously is there still some value for you at this event?
MM:     Absolutely! We use an entirely new agenda of topics each year, so the information is always new and relevant to what is truly working right now. We also invite a brand new panel of speakers, so the content and style is different as well. 

TKD Life:     What can an attendee hope to take away from this weekend?
MM:     I like to say that it’s the one weekend that can impact your business all year long. You will gain ideas for new marketing methods to help you generate more leads. You will learn to communicate the benefits of Taekwondo in a more powerful manner which will help your sales, you will increase your ability to educate your students and your staff which improves the culture in your school and leads to greater retention and referrals. 

TKD Life:     What can attendees expect following the event?
MM:     The ideas we provide work! But you do need to apply them. The best thing an attendee can do after the convention is stay connected with the colleagues they met so that they stay motivated and take action.  

TKD Life:      Who can Attendees expect to hear from at the event?
MM:     As the hosts, both myself and Grandmaster Chong will be presenting our own seminars. Grandmaster Chong will have an in uniforms session on both sparring and Taekwondo fundamentals, specifically designed to demonstrate how these topics can be made appealing and exciting to today’s students. It’s the perfect opportunity to see for yourself how it’s possible to teach traditional skills and values with a modern perspective. 
I will be discussing both staff development and student retention, and I’m excited to share the principles of creating, motivating, and developing your team. Too many TKD masters struggle in this area! Yet, working in Taekwondo should be one of the mostly enjoyable and rewarding careers an individual can have. 
Regarding student retention, I’ll discuss how to create a Taekwondo community. There are specific strategies that you can follow to increase how students bond with their instructors and classmates that will motivate them to train to Black Belt and beyond. In our Buffalo locations alone, we have over 500 actively training Black Belt students! 
Plus we have a full roster of incredible speakers from the US and Canada who will be taking the stage as well. Every one of them is a highly successful school owner as well, so they will be sharing their proven formulas that they use on a daily basis. The full roster of speakers and their topics is available at

TKD Life:     How is Taekwondo Professionals different from other Business Development organizations available to Dojang Owners and Managers?
MM:     We work exclusively with Taekwondo schools. While we respect all martial arts, we made a conscious decision to specifically help Taekwondo schools to grow and thrive. Why? Because this is the art that we know and love. In addition, our focus is of great benefit to our members. It means that everything from our terminology, to our sales process, to our classroom methods is easier and faster to apply to their dojang. Because we are focused only on running great Taekwondo schools we can help them to do the same more quickly.

TKD Life:     What else can you tell our readers about “Taekwondo Professionals” and your April Seminar?

MM:     I have personally experienced that investing in your professional education always come back ten fold. All Taekwondo masters and instructors are passionate and determined, but just like with your students, you get better results when you have a teacher to show you how to apply a better or proven technique. 
Regarding the investment, attendees who register by March 4th will receive an early bird discount. Also, we are certain that this information and experience will help you to grow your dojang, so we want to take any feelings of risk out of the situation. Therefore,  we offer a money back guarantee,  if you attend the two days and you did not find it valuable, we will refund your tuition. We are that confident in the value of what we have to offer. Don’t miss this opportunity!


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