Check Out the Brand-New Classroom for Our Karate After-School Program!

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

We’re happy to announce that we now have a dedicated annex classroom just for the students in our Karate After-School Program!

This large, bright space on our lower level gives students plenty of room to spread out.

If you’d like a tour next time you’re at the school, just ask us and we’d be happy to show you around!

If you’re not already familiar with our Karate After-School Program, you can read all about it here on our website.

The program includes free school transportation after school pick up and daily karate classes!

We provide free pick-up service from PS 130, PS 139, PS 152, PS 217, and PS 315. If your child goes to a different school but you have a way of dropping them off at Urban Martial Arts, they can still participate in our Karate After-School Program.

Now that we’ve got this new classroom, we’ve got plenty of space so come and join us!

Try our karate after-school program!

After School Programs in BrooklynJust enter your email address below to view prices and details, and to request a free school tour.

Be sure to confirm your request by clicking the link on the confirmation email you’ll receive from us.

5 ways your kids can set New Year’s resolutions they’ll actually stick to

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

The start of the new year is a great time to decide on new goals to tackle.

As adults, we’re used to the idea of setting new year’s resolutions.

But have you ever thought of helping your kids set new year’s resolutions of their own?

Sensei Serge recently wrote a guest post for the blog A Child Grows in Brooklyn in which he shared 5 tips for parents to help their children set and stick to new year’s resolutions:

1. Set resolutions that are meaningful to your child

It’s tempting to let your own priorities dictate your child’s new year’s resolutions. (“Honey, why don’t you resolve to not put your sticky fingers all over mommy’s iPhone every single day?”) But it’s best if you can help your child tap into a reason that resolution would be important to them, not just to you.

2. Break big resolutions into smaller goals with specific time frames

Instead of a new year’s resolution of “I will read more,” try something like, “I will read for at least 15 minutes each day, Monday through Friday, for 2 weeks straight.” After the 2 weeks are over, set another small goal to keep the momentum going…

You can read tips 3 through 5, along with the rest of Sensei Serge’s advice, at A Child Grows in Brooklyn.

Happy new year!

Want free Vitamin Water?

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi, originally published at

Do you have Facebook or FourSquare installed on your phone?

If so, get in the habit of “checking in” to Urban Martial Arts each time you or your child comes to class.

Every 5 times you check in, we’ll give you a free bottle of Vitamin Water!

That means if you take 2 or 3 classes a week, you could be getting a free drink every couple of weeks. Not a bad deal at all!

If you’re not sure how to check in, just speak to Carmen. She’s our resident social media geek and she’d be happy to walk you through it.

Urban Martial Arts featured on Fox Business

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi, originally published at

Fox Business just featured Urban Martial Arts in an article about web design for small businesses.

In the article, Carmen discusses how investing time and money into our business’s website design and search engine optimization was worthwhile:

As your small business grows and expands, it makes sense to hire outside help to develop your website accordingly. Professional Web developers bring a deep understanding of the latest technologies and online marketing practices. But be prepared — you’ll likely need to hire both a developer and a designer, and you should consider this a major business investment.

Although outsourcing website development can sometimes require spending thousands of dollars, the results pay off over time. The owners of a martial arts studio in New York City found an experienced developer to help improve their search engine optimization.

Redesigning the site is bringing many more potential customers through the door, says Carmen Sognonvi, co-founder and co-owner of Urban Martial Arts in the borough of Brooklyn. “We went from getting one or two leads per month through the site to now getting one or more leads per day.”

(In case you were wondering: No, that is not Carmen in the photo. LOL!)

Thanks for making our food drive a huge success!

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi, originally published at

We want to thank all our students and parents for donating items to the food drive we organized for the CAMBA Beyond Hunger Food Pantry.

Hayley Kallenberg, our contact at CAMBA, was so thrilled that she sent us the following message to share with you:

Thank you so much to Urban Martial Arts for all your donations! You collected a total of 183 items, filling up two entire storage bins!

Keeping our shelves stocked is always a challenge and the dedication of the students and families of Urban Martial Arts will help us to keep our doors open. We are so grateful for all the help you provided to our pantry during this holiday season.

Happy Holidays from the staff and volunteers at CAMBA’s Beyond Hunger Emergency Food Pantry!

It’s amazing to see what we can accomplish when we work together to pool our resources. We’ll definitely be doing another food drive next year, and we look forward to working with CAMBA again then!

Sensei Serge Sognonvi profiled as one of “5 Faces of Urban Entrepreneurship”

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi, originally published at

BrandMakerNews just featured Sensei Serge Sognonvi as one of “five urban entrepreneurs you should know.”

In the article, Sensei Serge shares what motivated him to open the school, what obstacles he overcame along the way, and what advice he would offer other aspiring urban entrepreneurs:

What motivated you to start your own business?
“I had been stuck in a dead-end corporate job for nearly 10 years. I knew I didn’t want to stay, but I also wasn’t sure what else I wanted to do. I’d been studying martial arts for over 20 years and had always dreamed of having my own school one day, but it seemed like a silly pipe dream that could never come to fruition. One night, I got into a major car accident. The car was totaled, but I walked away without a scratch. It was a miracle – even the EMTs on the scene couldn’t believe their eyes. As drastic as that was, it was the wake-up call I needed to *do something*. Piece by piece, everything just fell into place and less than 6 months after the accident, I was nervously signing the lease on my new space. About 6 months after that, I was able to quit my day job and work on the karate school full-time.”

What major obstacle did you encounter along the way? And, how did you overcome it?
“A lot of people didn’t believe in what I was doing. When I told my mother I was going to open a karate school, her first words were: “Are you crazy?” Friends and colleagues were also skeptical about my starting a business during a recession. Luckily I’ve never been one to be too swayed by what people think of me, so I stayed focused on my vision for the business. I was fortunate to have my then-girlfriend, now-wife as a business partner. She shared my vision for what the school could be and that helped tremendously. Also, I knew a few other successful martial arts school owners who were great mentors to me. They helped me avoid rookie mistakes and learning from them cut my learning curve tremendously.”

What advice/words of wisdom can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs?
“Be picky when it comes to mentors. Keep in mind that old expression “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” If you’re starting a widget business and you’re getting advice from mediocre widget business owners who are only doing okay, you’re never going to thrive. Find people who have been truly successful in your field and learn from them.”

Urban Martial Arts featured in Yellowbook video series on small business success

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi, originally published at

Build it and they will come?

We wish it were that easy for prospective students to find their way to Urban Martial Arts!

Check out this video in which we discuss what does and doesn’t work for us when it comes to marketing the school:

It’s part of a brand-new video series called Building Success: Small Businesses Share Their Marketing Success Stories that’s being produced by Yellowbook. We shot it over the summer.

You should especially watch it if you’re in our adult class — you might catch a glimpse of yourself in action. Even our daughter Sean makes a brief cameo appearance!

How Urban Martial Arts Got Started: A Behind-the-Scenes Glimpse at Carmen’s Story

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi, originally published at

Carmen Sognonvi of Urban Martial ArtsStarting a business is anything but glamorous. If you thought Urban Martial Arts was an overnight success… think again!

Carmen was recently profiled on author Pamela Slim’s blog Escape From Cubicle Nation in “Side Hustle & Flow,” a series about entrepreneurs who started their businesses while they had a day job.

In the interview, Carmen shares how she juggled a variety of jobs for many years — her day job, her own speaking/consulting business on race and diversity, as well as her role here at Urban Martial Arts — until January of this year when she decided to focus on Urban Martial Arts exclusively.

Here are a couple of excerpts, but you can read the entire interview at Pam’s blog:

How did you know when it was time to quit your day job?

It was getting really hard to juggle everything. I was using all my vacation days for speaking engagements, and it started getting a bit difficult to get the time off that I needed. Plus I was just exhausted.

Towards the end I was also pregnant, so I’d be getting on the train at 6 am with my huge belly, working at the hedge fund from 7 am to 4 pm, then shlepping all the way to Brooklyn and working at the martial arts school till 10 pm. And in-between I managed to squeeze in blogging and doing media interviews too. Thinking back, I’m not really sure how I managed it all.

How did it turn out?

It turned out great!…I’m also really grateful that I was able to quit my day job just as my daughter was born, which allowed me to stay with her almost full-time for the first year of her life. When we weren’t at home together, she was with us while we worked at the school. That’s a luxury many parents don’t have, and it’s a privilege I don’t take for granted.

What advice would you give for others who are working on a side hustle now that you have a bit of distance?

Keep your day job for as long as you possibly can. There’s nothing romantic or fun about being broke, so until your business is generating enough income for you to live off of, keep working there.

Financially speaking, I probably could have quit my day job sooner than I did. But I made a decision to work there a little longer so that I could have more of a financial cushion. Of course, how large of a cushion you need is very much a personal decision.