Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Credit Where It Is Most Lavishly Due

It's rare that I want to sing the praises of a retail outlet. But these guys are above and beyond:

They're a Sydney based store, supplying gear to martial artists. And they're goddam brilliant.

When I needed to buy a bunch of very expensive mats for the dojo, these people helped me bring the price down to a reasonable level. And they provided valuable advice on which mats represented good quality, and value for money. And they managed to minimise shipping costs by bundling the mats in the most cost-effective way possible.

They've never, ever been other than super-honest and cheerful and friendly. When I ordered a couple of bokken with saya, or scabbards, they sent me an email telling me they'd run out of the model I ordered... so they sent me the next model up the quality chain, at no extra cost.

And this time? Well, on Monday I finally remembered to order a couple of new re-breakable boards for the dojo. I don't really have a lot of time for all that board-breaking stuff, but I will say this: kids love it, and they really get a sense of accomplishment out of it, and they will work very bloody hard and concentrate fiercely to get their technique and form into shape so they can carry it off. You can spend endless hours trying to teach a kid to throw a proper hammer-fist and get absolutely nowhere -- but if you have a rebreakable board, that same kid will do virtually anything to figure out how to smash it.

At about $75 each, they're not cheap. But when it comes to motivating kids to learn how to throw a strike properly, and giving them a super boost of confidence when they realise that they can actually do this, there's nothing to beat 'em.

I had the ultra-beginners board already. It's white in colour, and a good sneeze will break it. I let the five-year-olds work out their kicking techniques on it. It makes 'em happy.

I also had the brown and the black, which are more or less equivalent to pine boards respectively 5cm and 7cm thick. But those aren't much good to kids under the age of fifteen or so. It takes a respectable strike to break those things.

So on Monday, I put in an order for a Yellow, and an Orange - the next two up from White. I put in the order via the Internet.

On Tuesday, the Shogun people phoned me to clarify credit card details, and to ask me if I wanted them to store my credit card details for future use. We had a friendly chat, and passed the time of day.

And today -- being Wednesday -- the boards turned up in the mail just before the regular class.

Personalised service. Overnight post. Total customer care. I am totally not used to this kind of thing... and it's brilliant!

If you happen to want anything of a martial arts sort of nature, you really need to talk to these folks. If they haven't got what you're after, I bet they can help you find out who does.