Customer Focus: MSD – Evolution

About MSD Evolution

MSD (My Self Defence -because once you learn martial arts or a skill it is yours, you own it) Evolution is an academy that teaches traditional Karate, Kickboxing and Judo. We have classes for children from 3 years of age, all the way up to adults of any age that want to give it a go.

Teaching traditional Karate, Judo and Kickboxing to children and adults gives the academy a great feel as it encourages different goals and targets in a student’s chosen style/art.

Going back a long time ago our classes were taught in village halls and sport centres. I remember driving a van full of pads and kick shields to the hall, unloading the kit, setting up, then training/teaching, then putting it all away again, night after night. It tests your commitment, but when you love what you do, you do it.

We built up membership numbers to around 100 and I knew a full time location would be possible. It took a while to find the right place, but when I walked into the unit in Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham, I knew it was perfect. I was so excited not just for myself, but for all the students as they would all have somewhere to enjoy the training even more and really develop.

Once we opened the full time academy MSD just got busier, so much so that four and a half years later we had to relocate just around the corner into a larger unit. We now have a large training area, including an 18ft boxing ring that is suspended from a winch hoisted in the roof space which can be lowered in less than two minutes, keeping all the floor space available for karate classes.

We have a padded floor, punch bags, wall pads for jumping kicks, shower in men’s and ladies, sauna, toilets, upstairs coffee area for parents, free parking right outside, free Wi Fi.

MSD Evolution has expanded and now has a franchise club in Evesham.

With the help of NEST, we also have an Instructor Training Programme (ITP) in development for up and coming students who are looking to advance towards instructing.

About Mike Bennett

As a kid, I think I was 5/6 years old, I remember wanting to start karate, but back then there weren’t any clubs local to where I lived, in a small town in the Cotswolds.  I pestered my parents about it but there wasn’t a lot they could do, so I took it on myself to join the local library and get some books on karate.  Just imagine it, a scruffy, mischievous looking 5 year old kid walking into the library back in 1975 and asking the lady behind the counter for a book on karate.

So as the lady signed me up and got a selection of books on traditional karate.  A typical kid I looked at the pictures mainly as all the wording was boring except for this bit “if you practice a 100 roundhouse kicks a day on each leg, you would be able to kick over a fully grown adult.” There was a picture of a Japanese guy in a Karate suit practicing a kick and that was it, I was hooked on karate. I’m 43 now and love it even more.

Now with the guidance of Gerard and help from staff at NEST, my partner Andree and I have expanded yet again – adding a Gymnasium in a separate building close to our premises in Bishops Cleeve.  We have called it Zest Fitness and it has been open for a year with a growing membership.

With NEST behind us I can see the possibility of opening further academies and gymnasiums in the future.


I travelled up to SENI (Martial arts exhibition) from Cheltenham on my own, not really knowing what I needed but I knew I needed help to move forward in martial arts business.

Walking around the stands at the show trying to get as much info as I could I stopped at a tuition collection agency to ask some questions about what they offered besides the collection of tuition fees.  It all seemed great in principle but like most martial arts instructors I was dubious and unsure – it just didn’t feel right!

Then I went to the NEST stand and spoke to Joy, I was offered an orange juice and made to feel very welcome and relaxed.

Then Gerard came over and asked what I was looking for. It was this conversation that helped me to choose NEST over the other companies.

Gerard and all of the staff at NEST are there to help you in any way they can, even if you don’t know what that is they have answers/suggestions that can point you in the right direction, NEST are not there to tell you how to do or teach martial arts.

I was spending half an hour collecting cash for lessons and juggling my time chasing up students who didn’t come to training. NEST have online tools and systems that allow you to contact students with ease and they collect tuition fees and missed payments without you having to stress about it.

NEST have also helped us with franchise options for our instructors and guidance on CITP (certified instructor training program) and other academy growth issues like student tracking via the Pro Attend app which is helping to fill classes to the max!

It is extremely rare in business that you can ask a question of a company and get an answer that helps you as opposed to being fobbed off, but with NEST you get a straight and satisfactory response every single time, without fail.

What I enjoy more than anything about NEST is that they are always there for you.  The staff are very friendly and helpful and nothing is too much trouble.  We continue to use NEST because they deliver an outstanding service overall.

They provide support and advice in all aspects of the business, offer online management systems which are constantly being improved and the App to take and track student attendance is fantastic.

As well as all the added value services that NEST have provided and business issues they have helped me with over the ten years I have been with them, one of the biggest benefits remains the tuition fee collection – it frees up so much of my time to focus on other parts of the Academy.

(Interview from February 2014 )

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