Martial Arts Instructor News and Articles

John Graden

John Graden

Executive Director

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

Congratulations Josh Waltzing, Empower Boxing Alexandria, MN

Two locations.

Alexandria and Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

Enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and dedicated are just some of the positive words to describe Josh Waltzing, the 2019 MATA Instructor of the Year.

Josh is a unique instructor with plenty of rank in tae kwon do in addition to a Bachelor’s Degree in Education From St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. 

What makes Josh’s career path even more unique is that he didn’t earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Education so he could be a better tae kwon do instructor.

He enrolled in school after teaching TKD for about five years because he learned that he loved to teach and made the decision to teach in the secondary level school system about the time he earned his 3rd degree in 2006.

Still, one aspect of his martial arts career rings true to many of us. He was bullied as a kid.

Josh says, “I spent much of my elementary school years being bullied, feeling like I was being overrun, threatened and overpowered. I tried a few things to try to get more powerful. I started wrestling in third grade. I wrestled through all of elementary to high school. And that was really good for me. When I was 15, 16, I started off with taekwondo in my hometown and I haven’t stopped since.”

Though Josh had trained a bit when he was around 8, this class seemed more organized and long-term oriented.

He says, “The belt systems really reinforced goal setting and that we were part of something much bigger than just ourselves. We could move forward and achieve more power, more control as the higher the rank that we got. If you were a brown, red, black belt wow! You had everything. They were looked up to as amazing people.”

His instructor was a former US Army sniper. He taught Josh’s school for about two years before a new instructor replaced him.

Rather than be discouraged, Josh increased his training time, “I would train twice a week in my hometown and then drive an hour to go train in Alexandria twice a week. I was training four days a week and really, really enjoying the more competitive aspect of martial arts.”

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Eventually, Josh’s enthusiasm for training led his instructor to pull Josh into the office for a quick chat.

Josh recalls, “A few months after I earned my black belt in 2001, he took me into his office and said, ‘Josh, you’re going to take over this school.’ It wasn’t a question. It wasn’t a request. He said I’m taking over and I agreed. I was a little afraid because I’d run a school before. Once I got going, I really liked it. So much so that I decided to get a degree in education so I could be a school teacher. I went into education because I wanted to teach in high school and I loved the process of learning and learning about being a teacher made me a better martial arts instructor.”

Though Josh graduated, he returned to his TKD school where he would apply what he learned in school. He says, “I went into education because I wanted to teach in high school and I loved the process of learning and learning about being a teacher made me a better martial arts instructor.  It was the planning, the lesson planning. So much of what we focused on within education was lesson planning.”

Josh took some key processes and procedures from his college education and applied it to his martial arts classroom. 

As he explains, “What I saw in education were assessments of learning and assessments for learning. So you have something where you are trying to assess a student’s progress, but it’s part of their learning, it’s for them learn to learn how to do something better versus where we often think of us having a test as of what they learned. But most of what we did in education, it was all about assessments and tests for learning so that they learned how to learn and how to be successful. So that’s where we have taken a lot of our martial arts. Part of the process is we have eliminated almost all of the tests of learning during their colored belt training period. We assess them, but it’s assessment for their learning, not of what they learned because of what they learned assessment happens at their black belt level when they’re ready for it. We have colored belt ranks, but we don’t have exams. We have graduations where they have completed the requirements. They’ve earned their stripes. And then they graduate to the next rank.” 

Josh sees many similarities between his Bachelor’s Degree in Education and the MATA Instructor Certification program (MATACertification.com).

He explains, “The MATA certification program could have saved me $50,000 in college tuition. The lessons taught are the same or very similar to what I learned in college without the added baggage of additional required classes like history.”

In addition to teaching Empower Boxing for the past seven years, Josh also has a parkour program along with with his traditional tae kwon do program.

He is a local leader in combating human trafficking and has held special classes and programs for homeschooled children.

From a top-down vantage point, it’s clear that Josh Waltzing highly values education and continuous learning to improve your instructor skills.

Through Empower Boxing and parkour, Josh is also committed to meeting his students where they are at rather than where he wants them to be.

Congratulation Josh Waltzing for being the 2019 Martial Arts Teachers’ Association Instructor of the Year. 

 

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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