In today’s Brands for Good, we feature Jonathan Yoo, Head Master at Yoo’s Authentic Martial Arts. This is not your typical martial arts studio. This is a family and a movement driven by a contagious passion to serve kids and families around their community. Check it out! 

About Yoo’s

In 1976, Grand Master Jun Saeng Yoo and his wife immigrated from South Korea to the United States and opened up a martial arts studio in Alexandria, Virginia. Over the past 44 years, Yoo’s Authentic Martial Arts has been considered the premier martial arts studio training hundreds of national champions and even athletes on the U.S. Olympic Team. 

We chose to highlight Yoo’s studio as an AchieveUnite Brands for Good because the passion for their students and the community is the driving force behind their success. As an organization, their ultimate goal is to help people achieve human optimization both mentally and physically, and to serve as a resource and to support their students and community as much as possible. The instructors emphasize in-class interaction, and especially since the pandemic, actively use social media and phone calls to check-in with their students and families to make sure their students know they are there for them.

How has your studio utilized technology to stay connected with your students and the community?

When COVID-19 hit, we changed from running a physical studio to literally almost being movie producers overnight to produce content for our students. We knew what we wanted to do, to find an avenue for people to stay active, have a physical outlet and additionally being there to help with their mental strength and mental health as well. So the question was how are we going to go about it. we quickly started with pre-recorded classes the day we were ordered to physically shut down and started to build our online curriculum. We’ve consistently added value from there. It’s not about selling or the bottom line right now, but supporting people, so that’s why we switched over to Zoom to add the interactive component to make it as close to being in class as possible.

We now run 25 interactive classes a week with close to 2,000 student logins and consistent attendance, and that continues to go up so we know we’re on the right track. 

This face-to-face virtual interaction has been critical for the growth and well-being of our students and has allowed us to continue to cultivate the student-instructor relationship. 

Instructors are also able to conduct virtual testing so students can continue to progress toward a black belt and beyond.

How is your studio providing value to your community during this time?

During these unprecedented and chaotic circumstances, kids and adults need consistent activities and ways to interact with the world. Martial arts serve as a physical outlet and avenue for self-improvement and growth. It also teaches self-responsibility and accountability. With our consistent virtual classes and testing, we are giving kids and adults a sense of normalcy and structure to their days as well as providing people with a purpose and physical and mental well-being.

We are also working on ways of using our community-driven approach to give back to Alexandria, outside of our Yoo’s family, including free martial arts-inspired workout classes open to our community at no charge three times a week to allow participants to stay active and stay fit during these unprecedented times.

What is the overall morale like in your studio?

We have a very rich family-based culture which is truly our foundation and competitive advantage. It has been the reason why we have continued to thrive over the last four decades.

The passion of our team has shined brighter than ever during this time. Our instructors proactively stepped up and immediately started looking for ways to virtually support our students and community. Even though COVID-19 has shifted some of our responsibilities, we are consistently making sure that any new tasks align with the passions of our instructors. When our instructors are passionate about what they do, it builds excitement and commitment throughout the entire organization.

What advice does your studio have for those organizations trying to figure out how to connect?

Communication is key. Early on, we were consistent with our messaging and deliberately overcommunicated to our students and community across all platforms. We created a Facebook page where our students are able to interact with one another, where our instructors can post homework and assignments, and where we can communicate with and share important updates and information. 

In order to build strong relationships, it’s also important that you understand the audience you are serving. Every week our team evaluates our client base so that we can release the most useful, relevant, and valuable classes and information.

While it is our responsibility to ensure that our business will be financially sustainable, right now, we want to provide value and support to our community of students and the larger community of Alexandria, Northern Virginia, and the DC-metropolitan region. We believe in martial arts because we have seen it powerfully transform students in every way – physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

What is Brands for Good?

AchieveUnite is an organization built around deep expertise, and therefore we are at our core curious, active learners that constantly look for inspiration from other organizations doing great things. Our Brands for Good series came from our desire to share the impressive work we’ve seen organizations doing to build impressive businesses while giving back good into the world. 

We hope you enjoy their stories and best practice strategies as much as we do, and find some inspiration for your own personal and professional lives along the way.