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John Graden

John Graden

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John Graden led the martial arts into the modern era by creating the first professional association, trade journal & instructors certification program.

Former Concrete Company Manager Grateful for COBRA and MATA

It’s a classic American success story. Sidney Burns of Bedford, VA, has grown from a karate crazed 8-year old to a master instructor with a well-established school and a year-old COBRA-Defense location that has rocketed out of the starting box.

Like many martial arts professionals, Master Burns started out teaching in a YMCA until 2012 when he opened Blue Ridge Martial Arts in Bedford, VA.

Sidney says that the best thing about his business is that he feels as though he hasn’t worked a day at it.

When he compares his current position to his days as General Manager of a concrete company, he can’t help but smile. But, he knows he didn’t get to where he’s at alone. Standing right beside him in full support is his wife of 29-years, Lisa and chief instructor, Lorna Coyle.

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Sidney Burns and Lorna Coyle

Master Burns joined MATA in 2016 and quickly completed the MATA Certification course along with his staff. He says, “MATA is a quality, professional organization. I wanted my instructors and myself to be certified by the best. It’s just easier to follow the MATA program than to jump around chasing fads.”

He also discovered COBRA through MATA and quickly saw an opportunity to lock in the territory. According to Burns, “As with most martial arts schools, we struggled to enroll adult students. COBRA is an awesome program that fills that gap.”

His focused efforts with his COBRA school are already paying high dividends with group and high-end private classes.

Many MATA member schools teach COBRA as part of their school’s programs, but Sidney chose to open a separate location for COBRA. He said, “COBRA is so attractive to adults, that we wanted to expand to a larger town to reach more people. COBRA was surprisingly easy to implement. It gives you all the tools and support from headquarters for us to make that transition.”

As he looks back to his humble beginnings at the Y, he has learned some important lessons. He says to, “Be careful who you listen to and surround yourself with high achievers. Helping others see their potential is a tremendous honor. There is no better profession than teaching martial arts and self-defense.”

Sidney and Lisa Burns have made it a point to be a positive source of support for the community as well. From working with a suicide prevention group to sitting on the board of Bedford Christian Services, they are committed to leveraging their unique skills and talents to help make Bedford, VA a better place for all. It seems to be paying off.

Congratulations to Master Sidney Burns and the entire Blue Ridge Martial Arts team.

Visit BlueRidgeMA.com

Notice Tyson’s hand is by his face, not his hip.

His chin is down instead of up.

His shoulder is up instead of pulled back.

His body is sideways to his opponent instead of squared off.

His legs are under his body not spread apart like he was riding a horse.

With this kind of form, he would fail his orange belt exam in most schools. 

How does that make any sense?

Sensei Tyson?

If Mike Tyson or a world champion kickboxer came to your school to teach your black belts. What do you think he would work on? Double punches, square blocks, and keeping your chin up?

I’m pretty sure he would emphasize head movement, how to snap your punches and a defense that does NOT include pulling your punch back to your hip.

I’m sure the students would learn advanced applications to adjust for different fighters. Notice I said advanced applications, not advanced strikes.

When you focus on application, you can apply that to almost any technique.

For instance, if the drill is about how to fight a taller fighter, the answer is more about footwork to stay on the outside until you can secure quick access. My brothers are 6′ 3″ and 6′ 4″ so I know something about fighting a taller opponent.

Drills that teach that application do not require complexity. They require simplicity.

The more complex a skill becomes, the less chance it can be used. Have you ever seen a double punch? Only in kata and here:

If you eliminated all kata and traditional skills, you could devote that time to drills and conditioning that would give your students a true advantage in sparring or self-defense.

Imagine teaching fewer skills that are easy to teach and learn than traditional skills and kata.

You could spend more time on the application of those skills rather than stepping up and down the classroom and holding blocks and punches out in the air, which leaves you wide open for a counterattack.

Rather than spending student’s time with the complexity and frustration of spending years perfecting the bad habits of pulling their hand back to their hip, keeping their chin up, aiming and holding a punch in the air, and blocking with power while stepping forward, your retention will improve. Your student quality will improve. Your curriculum consistency will improve.

This is the core of our white to black belt curriculum Empower Kickboxing.

It’s an old saying, but true. “Less is best.”

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