Chris Rockhold: Sharpening Mind, Body, and Character Through the Specialized Instruction in the Martial Arts

February 26, 2022

Sharpening Mind, Body, and Character through the specialized instruction in the Martial Arts of Tang Soo Do (Korean Karate), Tai Chi (Chinese Martial Arts), Kummooyeh (Korean Sword Martial Art & Korean Traditional Archery) and Archery (Olympic style).

Tell us about yourself?

Started college as a Fine Arts major for a couple of years then switched over to Graphic Design. Had done a little martial arts in middle school, and wanted to try it again when I started college and have been training ever since.

Was well into my graphic design career and living in the DC metro area when 9/11 hit. The aftermath of that event collapsed the economy in the DC area and lost my job on Thanksgiving. Burned and burned out, did some odd jobs, then almost went into law enforcement, but ended up in the real estate arena. Was doing pretty good, and you guessed it, the housing bubble popped, luckily we saw that on the horizon and prepared. My wife and I figured out we made more money as me being a stay at home dad, yes, daycare is that expensive

I had been teaching martial arts for quite some time, but for other people. My wife said I should start teaching karate lessons out of the garage. In September 2007, I created Rockhold Karate, LLC. and did just that.

A couple of years later, started teaching classes at the Cedar Park Recreation Center and a small local gym in Leander. Worked on my business plan while classes were growing steadily. With my business plan ready, went in search of funding to open a full-time business.

I was turned down by countless banks, credit unions, and specialized small business financial groups. I didn’t let that stop me. I cashed out $2,000 in stock I had and was determined to make it work.

Learn the art of bootstrapping real quick. In a bold move, during the fragile economic recovery of the country, I opened Rockhold Karate at retail center in Cedar Park. Six months later, relocated the studio to where it’s been for ten years.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Get online classes started sooner, invest in the market, and don’t rely of the government’s “help”. Utilize my ability to adapt quickly and double down on my creativity.

What problem does your business solve?

Sharpening Mind, Body, and Character is the Rockhold Karate slogan. Using martial arts to help people build a better version of themselves: mentally, physically, and learning more about themselves as they push past their challenges.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

My wife inspired me to go into business for myself and do what I was passionate about, martial arts. Sharpening Mind, Body, and Character through martial arts. If it’s for self defense, getting in better shape, self discipline, or needing an outlet for stress, Rockhold Karate will guide you through.

What is your magic sauce?

Customer service is key. Taking care of people right when they walk in the door. Was surprised to find out a majority of my clients had poor experiences visiting other places. That and I don’t follow the martial arts industry norms, that tend to be stuck in the 90’s. But really it boils down to customer service and being nice to people.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Would like to get more systems in place so I can have another one my instructors run my current location and possibly open a new location or start a different business venture.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

The pandemic was the biggest course change, that caught many way off guard. I’ve know several people in the martial arts industry that lost their businesses because they didn’t pivot quickly enough and adapt to the new situation.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

I created the Rockhold Karate YouTube channel for my students and anyone else interested in martial arts. Ideally would like to collaborate some vendors in the martial arts and fitness industries, as well as other creatives on the platform.

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