Mission, Vision and Values Signpost

Creating a positive club culture with a shared Mission vision and values

Your club has a culture. You may not have constructed it consciously or even have any guiding documents describing it, but it’s there. Documenting your mission vision and values will not only help you lay the foundations for your culture but also serve as a guiding light for all the decisions you make in your martial arts club. 
Think of your club as a boat. Your mission is where you want to get to and your vision is what it will look like once you are there. Your values are the moral compass you will use to identify what you are unwilling to sacrifice to achieve your mission and vision.
The mission vision and values are not only important to guide your members but as soon as you start to add members of staff, it ensures that everyone is pulling in the same direction. That said, to have these guiding documents and not make them visible is like not having them at all.

Creating your mission statement

Your mission describes your club’s reason for existing while also summarising what you and your club are striving for. It should be brief, clear, direct and convey what is important to your club. If possible, try to keep it to one sentence. This will make it much easier for you, your staff and the students to remember. 
Just like some of the other guiding documents, you will probably tweak your mission statement over time as you and your club become clearer on your purpose. Don’t feel you have to nail this on the first attempt. In may take quite a few iterations until you feel that your mission statement is in line with your purpose.
The mission for our own clubs is to “Develop good health and wellbeing through person centre martial arts coaching’. It sounds simple and it is. Everything we do leads right back to our students. Putting them at the centre of our mission makes many other decisions much easier.

Documenting your vision

The vision for the club is what the mission would look like if it was achieved. It describes the future of the club while motivating and inspiring your members. A strong vision statement should establish direction, empower/motivate people and create a sense of community.
The vision for my own clubs is “Warrior confidence and self-discipline for all’. This is not only for the members but for the staff too. Our logic behind our choice of vision is based on how many new students come to us wanting to develop confidence, self-discipline or both.

Identifying your club values

Your club’s values highlight core principles that inform and guide the decision-making process of your members and staff. These core values will help form the culture of your club while also establishing the standard of behaviours expected. 
A good way to decide what values your club will adopt is to organise a brainstorming session, either on your own or with staff if you have them. Try to come up with as many values as you can think of and get them down on a whiteboard or flip chart. Once you have exhausted all the possible values you can think may be appropriate for your club, get each person to write down their top 5. From here you could be able to list 5-7 of the most popular ones.

Top 10 values

  1. Honesty
  2. Integrity
  3. Humility
  4. Professionalism
  5. Discipline
  6. Toughness 
  7. Work ethic
  8. Enjoyment/fun
  9. Passion
  10. Respect
Our club values are:-
  1. Growth mindset
  2. Self control
  3. Perseverance 
  4. Teamwork
  5. Modesty
  6. Responsibility
  7. Effort
James Kerr, the author of Legacy that documented the culture of the New Zealand All Blacks wrote “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare”. The All Blacks are one of the most successful teams of all time and to enforce the club’s values they created a list of 15 mantras. These are:-
  1. Sweep the Sheds – “Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done.”
  2. Go for the Gap – “When you’re on top of your game, change your game.”
  3. Play with Purpose – “Ask ‘Why?’”
  4. Pass the Ball – “Leaders create leaders.”
  5. Create a Learning Environment – “Leaders are teachers.”
  6. No Dickheads – “Being of Team”
  7. Embrace Expectations – “Aim for the highest cloud.”
  8. Train to Win – “Practice under pressure.”
  9. Keep a Blue Head – “Control your attention.”
  10. Know Thyself – “Keep it real.”
  11. Invent Your Own Language – “Sing your world into existence.”
  12. Sacrifice – “Find something you would die for and give your life to it.”
  13. Ritualise to Actualise – “Create a culture.”
  14. Be a Good Ancestor – “Plant trees you’ll never see.”
  15. Write Your Legacy – “This is your time.”

I like the idea of creating mantras that reflect your values as they bring the values to life and are much more relatable. One thing to bear in mind is that the NewZealand All Black are a high-performance team. While many of their mantras could be appropriate for a martial arts club heavily focused on coaching children, you may not want to include the ones that talk about dying for your cause or performing under pressure (until they are a little older at least 🙂).

New Zealand All Blacks Winning Culture

Infographic produced by Inner Drive

Your mission, vision and values - not just for the wall in your office

So, how are you going to use your mission vision and values to create action? Here are a few suggestions:-
  1. Put them on your website so people understand what drives you as a club before they even consider booking a trial session.
  2. Include them in your ‘New student’ pack so the parents can read them while their children are taking park in their first session
  3. Have them on a banner in your training room so you can point to them when you need to highlight the WHY of the club and how you operate
  4. Put them on your outdoor signage so everyone in the local area knows what you stand for
  5. Put them on your social media banners so they are front of mind for visitors and members
  6. Include an abbreviated version in your email signature 
  7. Use them on pull up banners that you use for internal events such as gradings
  8. Include your values in  the requirements for your grading syllabus
  9. Make sure they are included in your job descriptions if you have staff
  10. Include them in the training courses for your Martial Arts Leaders
If your club is just starting out you will probably end up writing your mission vision and values yourself, but think of this as a starting point. Defining these documents and building your club culture is a long term journey that needs revisiting occasionally. As times change and your club grows, it’s a good idea to get staff and some representative members together to make sure your guiding documentation is still in line with your practice and purpose.
 “What you permit, you promote. What you allow, you encourage. What you condone, you own. What you tolerate, you deserve.”
This quote by Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin emphasises the importance of preserving your culture and values. If you don’t nurture and prune the behaviours in your classes, you are leaving your culture to chance and you may not like where it ends up.

Want tips to help build great engagement and retention? Sign up for our wEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Model your values

In a few of my past articles I have talked about the important of congruence between what you say and what you do. If you read any of them, you will already know that it’s not enough to just tell someone to do something, you must model it too. Almost every day I see martial arts coaches posting comments on social media that contradict the values at their clubs. You are the same person whether you are at your club or sat at home. Don’t just prescribe your club values, live them!

Club objectives

While you are in the process of documenting your club’s mission vision and values, it may also be worth creating a set of actionable club objectives. 
At our club, we even go as far as creating a set of objectives that are in line with our mission, vision and values. This allows us to create a list of tangible outcomes to enable us to have a better chance of measuring our performance. Here is a list of our current club Objectives:-
  1. Build and maintain rainy day fund of 3-6 month expenses
  2. Operate at 90% of capacity with <3% monthly dropout
  3. Maintain clean, tidy, innovative training facilities 
  4. Run a staff development programme and payment structure that motivate and retains great staff
  5. Only use theory/research-backed training programmes that produce measurable results 
  6. Build a reputation for a friendly and professional service
  7. Be known as an authority for martial arts and personal development in the local area
  8. Generate at least 25% of new students through recommendations 
  9. Leverage technology to maximise efficiency 
  10. Maximise the benefit of the clubs ’not for profit’ status


I feel like this article is probably a little longer than I intended while I first started writing it. At the same time I also feel like I am only just scratching the surface of this subject. 
One area that I want to look at in future in our own clubs is adopting something similar to the All Blacks mantra ‘Be a Good Ancestor – Plant trees you’ll never see’. I mean this from both a ‘contribute to your club to help build a better future’ and ‘do what is within your ability to help preserve the planet for future generations’.  

4 thoughts on “Creating a positive club culture with a shared Mission vision and values”

  1. Good article Phil and a lot of people don’t realise the hard work and effort that goes into just getting your average class on for the students behind the scenes. Ki has had a couple of statements over time “Making better martial artists – Making better people” or “Everything is Ki (energy) – Everyone comes back to Ki” tying in with our Ki arrow logo which shows the arrow pointing back. Here’s a thought for you that you may be able to write about – What about a mission statement, values or objectives for senior instructors in a larger group setting that perhaps want to convey their thoughts or get across things to a broader base than their own club to enhance the martial art knowledge or even sport for the benefit of the country etc – tying the art & the sport together that is mutually beneficial and compliments each other without losing the benefits of both is something that would be good to strive for…

    1. That sounds like a great idea Stephen but that would mean getting a group of martial arts instructors to agree on a general direction 🙂

      I think that all we can do is create an organisation/group with a mission, vision and values and then find others who want to go on the same journey.

  2. Some thought provoking stuff there Phil, all very interesting. I for one find that its a constantly changing dynamic as to what people want and their expectations of the club.For example we have never had so many SEN students as we do now. Despite not deliberately targeting this audience, it seems to have developed of its own accord and I have had no formal training in this area.

    1. We have many as well OZ. To be honest I am not sure if we have more than we used or if more are just diagnosed.

      It would be interesting to dig out a few studies to get more information.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *