“Manna’s Martial Arts has experienced incredible success. We’ve been in business for more than three decades, taught over 9,000 students both children and adults, and had 47 master or grandmaster instructors come here to learn or teach.” These are just some of the accomplishments that owner and Senior Grandmaster Brian Manna shares about his eponymous company.
But as COVID-19 cases began to appear in California, Brian and his team knew quick measures were required to keep both his business and his students active. Research, networking and ingenuity led Manna to a video-based, distance learning solution integrating Zoom and DTEN.
The results: “We maintained over 90% of our student population during shelter-in-place. All because we were able to offer a distance learning solution quickly, the trust the community has in our business, and the power of Zoom and DTEN.”
All-in-one at less than half the price.
“Prior to the shelter in place order, we knew something was coming and started to see our class sizes diminish,” says Brian. “We immediately started to look for feasible ways to keep our student population engaged in our programs.”
“We needed to find a system that would work: video, microphone, sound – you know, lights, camera, action. And we needed to be up and running immediately.” With this direction, Brian tasked his colleague, Senior Master Instructor Chris Brandt, with finding the right technology.
Chris continues, “We realized early on we were going to go with the Zoom platform. I visited their website and I looked at their product recommendations. I found most required a separate camera system, separate speaker system, separate everything.”
Contacting a local AV company, he found, “They could create a system for us, with all the accessories, do wiring and install for us. But it would cost at least $8,000 to $10,000 – and they weren’t quite sure when they would be able to have that done.”
That’s when the Manna team decided on DTEN D7. Chris adds, “We saw what we were going to be spending on a system. DTEN had everything all-in-one and the price was less than half.”
Tremendous success from day one.
To say the Manna team embraced distance instruction – or “interactive training” as they prefer – is an understatement. In addition to purchasing their DTEN unit, they transformed one of their classrooms to be video ready: new electrical wiring, fresh paint and additional lighting.
The payoff was immediate as Brian shared, “When we had our first operational class, we invited masters from around the community as an experiment. It was a tremendous success.”
The Manna instructors felt they were prepared to roll out video-based classes. And their clients agreed. “We had 200 students in the first two days of online instruction,” he notes.
“This is different quality than we’re used to.”
Janet Manna, the company’s Vice President and also a Senior Master Instructor, praises the visual quality of DTEN with Zoom Rooms – and how it helps to engage students. “With DTEN and Zoom, we can actually have every student front and center. And because of the size of the panel, we actually see their movements all at the same time.”
Brian amplifies the point, “One of the comments we’ve gotten from our students, parents and people who have participated in a class is the DTEN sound quality and the video quality is something that they did not expect. And these are from people who use Zoom for their office work every single day. And they’re saying, “Wow! This is different than the quality we are used to seeing every day.”
He continues, “Students can clearly hear us when we’re speaking in a normal conversational voice, whether we’re way up close or on the other side of the training floor.”
More recently the Manna team has put the built-in DTEN interactive whiteboard to use, as Chris notes, “We’ve started utilizing the whiteboard feature: drawing, setting examples, giving grids, showing different diagrams. In one class, we drew a diagram and immediately emailed it to all the students. The ability to do that in one touch was pretty nice.”
Brian concludes, “We’ve become very successful now at teaching online – and it only took us a couple of days to be able to do it well.”
Happy customers, new enrollments.
Reactions from students and parents have been equally positive. Chris says, “We’ve gotten huge feedback, especially from parents and students who say “I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this experience as much as I have. Now I look forward to my classes every single day and I am excited to be there.”
Online instruction is also beginning to attract new enrollments. “We actually have our first student start a brand new, never done any martial arts class before, start with one of our online classes. We began with a short introduction to martial arts class. And by the end of the 15-minutes, the student was engaged, ready and excited to attend the first martial arts class; now he’s already completed a second class.”
See, Hear, Interact – With Ease.
With the success of their online instruction, a new issue arose: capacity. Class sizes were growing and, even though their DTEN D7 was portable on a mobile cart, the Manna team could still only conduct one video class at a time. Brian notes, “We have 2 training floors and only had 1 DTEN.”
The solution: Manna bought another DTEN within just a matter of weeks.
Chris confirms the value of DTEN. “As we were getting started with DTEN, I was at another martial arts studio. They were trying to do a class by putting an iPad on a ladder. All students could see was the instructor’s face. There was no full-body interaction, the sound quality wasn’t great. With DTEN, our students can see us do all the techniques, clearly hear our instruction and easily interact.”
Brian agrees. Having the additional role of Executive Director of an international non-profit for martial arts, he has been sharing his experience with other studio owners. “I’ve already contacted 3 or 4 other key individuals in the industry, so they could see the quality of DTEN. They were blown away, they were overwhelmed by the visuals and the voice quality.”
As businesses slowly re-open, the Manna team continues to see opportunities for distance instruction. Restrictions will remain in place regarding in-studio class size; likewise, students may want to continue distancing and prefer video classes.
And they’ve identified areas for potential growth. One potential idea is expansion of their popular train-the-trainers courses. Brian notes, “This is something we haven’t been able to do before in a way that was cost-efficient for other master instructors. Now there is a new opportunity.”
Janet adds, “Of course, like any business, we have clients and students who move away. They’re heartbroken that we can’t train them anymore and we’re heartbroken they are leaving. Now we can continue those relationships, continue their martial arts training.”