The FESPAR model for learning martial and marketing techniques

At the dojo

When I teach the white belt class at the Boston Martial Arts Center, one of the models I use for ensuring that a class runs smoothly is called FESPAR, which stands for:

  • Form: learn the way the technique is supposed to look and work
  • Endurance: practice the technique with rapidity to condition muscles and nerves to move that way rapidly
  • Structure: put the form of the technique under duress to fix structural issues
  • Precision: practice the technique against a wide variety of targets to learn effective distances and timing
  • Agility: practice executing the technique with very narrow windows of opportunity
  • Reaction: practice the technique along with rapid decision making under pressure

For example, last night’s class looked at a basic step-through punch.

We started off doing the exercise in the air, ensuring that we understood the basic form.

We did speed drills to do as many as possible for endurance.

We used soft padded targets to apply pressure to the finishing form of the punch to figure out where our bones were out of alignment.

We hit padded targets being held in different positions, different heights, even in motion to improve precision.

We hit moving targets that were only available for two seconds in order to learn agility.

Finally, we learned to hit a target that was approaching us while our training partners shouted at us and walked towards us threateningly, to apply the basic technique under pressure.

What this model of learning does is showcase how a technique functions under all kinds of different conditions and gives a student the ability to prove that the technique works without the associated boredom that often accompanies spending 45 minutes on just one technique. The goal at the end of the class is to have a student who has increased skill and confidence in that particular technique.

When you’re learning any skill, having this kind of deep investigation into the skill is essential. For non-physical skills like learning web analytics or social media, the exercises would look different, but you can still see powerful parallels between the martial arts and your business and marketing skills. For example, let’s say you wanted to get better at using Facebook to drive business.

  • Form: learn the basic best practices for an effective Facebook post
  • Endurance: get good at crafting posts at high volume, generating content
  • Structure: A/B test the daylights out of your posts until you find the 4 or 5 recipes that work best with your audience
  • Precision: post on Facebook against a wide variety of personas to learn what resonates with them
  • Agility: learn to post in real-time, crafting messages that resonate in the moment
  • Reaction: learn to post and handle negative feedback and social media PR crises

The framework gives you a chance to learn how to use a simple Facebook post under a variety of contexts so that you gain proficiency at it.

The next time you have to teach yourself or someone else how to use a technique in such a way that they learn it and get practical value from it right away, try the FESPAR framework.


If you enjoyed this, please share it with your network!


Want to read more like this from ? Get daily updates now:


Get my book!

Subscribe to my free newsletter!


How to create an extra trillion dollars (Ken Robinson TED Talk)

Of the many speakers I watch regularly, few are as engaging and impactful as Sir Ken Robinson. Give this one your full attention for 18 minutes as he discussed how standardization of education is setting America back, and how we could recover an extra trillion dollars of economic growth over 10 years:

Over the next week I’ll be doing a fair amount of travel and as such, getting caught up on my TED Talks stockpile.


If you enjoyed this, please share it with your network!


Want to read more like this from ? Get daily updates now:


Get my book!

Subscribe to my free newsletter!


How can I do X on a shoestring budget?

Hands down, the most popular question I’m always asked at conferences and events is, “how do I do X on no budget or a very tiny budget?” (where X is social media, marketing, SEO, etc.)

The answer is simpler than you think. Most of the time, when you pay big money for top talent or the best tools, you are paying for expertise. The talent you hired costs a lot of money (assuming they’re worth it, of course) because they have expertise and experience to get you great quality results in a timely manner. The tools you bought cost a lot of money because developers had to take a set of practices developed by those with expertise and codify them into a working tool that others could use.

Thus, the principle thing that costs you so much money is expertise. So what if you have no budget? The answer is obvious: you then have to develop the expertise yourself. Want to do SEO on a shoestring? Get really good at it. Read all of the gajillions of guides out there, watch Google’s entire video library that they provide, learn to use all of the free tools yourself, do a whole lot of trial and error, and become an SEO practitioner in your own right. Want to learn social media? There’s no shortage of information on that front, either. In fact, for most areas of marketing except paid advertising, the amount of freely available information and tools can feel limitless. Paid advertising information is equally easy and free to come by, but learning it does require money to make your own ads.

It won’t be easy, and it will not be quick at all – expect it to take at least a year of intensive work (at full-time pace, 40 hours a week) to become competent and work through all of the trial and error you’ll need to do. But the end result will be good, and it will cost you very little money (but a whole lot of time).

Of course, about half of the time, that answer is deeply unsatisfactory to people, because what they’re really asking is, how do I do X on no budget but get the same results in the same time as someone who has a big budget? The answer there is equally simple:

Fast Cheap Good

Fast, cheap, and good are impossible when it comes to developing or acquiring legitimate expertise. That’s just the way the world works.


If you enjoyed this, please share it with your network!


Want to read more like this from ? Get daily updates now:


Get my book!

Subscribe to my free newsletter!