Amber Murphy Owner, Purple Dragon International Karate Jiu Jitsu Association Vancouver


Sensei Amber Murphy has the moves on the mat and a black belt in business

Amber Murphy has a passion for martial arts. She started her studies at 16, and taught Purple Dragon in a church as a volunteer. She decided to turn her passion into a career and now has her own academy, a franchise of the Purple Dragon International Karate Jiu Jitsu Association.

Women's Enterprise Centre helped Amber achieve her goals by referring her to other agencies, who helped Amber improve her business plan.

"I heard about the Canadian Youth Business Foundation through Women's Enterprise Centre," she says. "It made me decide to apply to their business loan program."

During the search for an appropriate location, Murphy focused on the business space itself. It had to be close to all amenities and support a family focus. She found one situated near several schools - a boon for marketing the Purple Dragon Academy.

Murphy draws much of her clientele through word of mouth as well as working hard to maintain the enthusiasm of her students through the hosting of "mini-slam" championships and karate "boot camps." She also performs demonstrations at festivals and community events. Part of her marketing strategy focuses on her achievements as a woman. It is unusual for a woman to run her own martial arts school, and Murphy's qualifications are impressive.

"Since opening Purple Dragon Academy in 2002, I have achieved the rank of third degree black belt, being the first Canadian / Caucasian Sensei in Purple Dragon," she reports. She is also a two-time World Champion in Continuous Sparring (US Open, 2004 and 2005). As in any business, success in the martial arts requires hard work and commitment.

Students come for many reasons: fitness, increased confidence, self defence, or to focus specifically on karate. Her ability to keep them excited about their programs is more than fun and games. Their successes reflect Murphy's talent as a teacher. Her school has produced four World Champions and three new black belts, who surpassed themselves in a three-day Grading Examination in Trinidad, West Indies.

Murphy has also represented young BC Entrepreneurs at business galas in Toronto through the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. Providing a positive role model for others is a skill Murphy developed through working with her mentors, one of which won the Outstanding Mentor Award in 2004.

Murphy is prepared to succeed. "My greatest challenge has been maximizing my time and energy," she confides. "When I started I was teaching three classes a day. Now I can teach up to seven classes a day, not get too burned out and still make time to work on the business side."