MATA Founder John Graden Bio


John Graden and his brothers are all world kickboxing champions, which proves that everyone and his brother can earn a martial arts title. 

However, not everyone can create the first professional associationtrade journal, and universal instructor certification program like John Graden did in the early 1990s. 

Widely credited with leading the martial arts school business into the modern age, John was first called a visionary by MASuccess editor, John Corcoran and dubbed the martial arts Teacher of Teachers by Martial Arts World magazine. 

John is also the author of many of the best selling books on martial arts business and personal development. 

Now the Executive Director of the Martial Arts Teachers’ Association (MATA), John’s renegade leadership style has landed him on the Dr. Oz Show, the Wall Street Journal, the A&E Network and many more international media platforms along with many small podcasts that only his wife listened to.

A Tampa Bay, FL resident, John Graden is married with two children.

–Dr. Oz – Host, “The Dr. Oz Show”

“John Graden’s was an excellent guest on my show. His information is valuable. I look farward to working with him in the future.”

— Brain Tracy, Personal Development Legend

“John Graden is a proven leader.  He will show you how to succeed in the martial arts business.”

— Joe Lewis, Martial Arts Legend

“I’m asking all of my black belts to join MATA. Having worked with all the top professionals in this field. John Graden reputation stands alone as the leader above all others.”

— Frank Shamrock, MMA Legend MATA Board of Advisors Member

“When I Wanted some help with my school, John Graden is the guy I turned to. MATA is great for school owners.”

Mr. Graden is Not a Paper Tiger

For those of you who think he is all about the business, his WAKO World Championships with the USA Team and legacy as a Joe Lewis protege might change your mind. In fact, Black Belt magazine did a cover story on Mr. Graden and his brother Jim’s relationship with the late legend. The story was called, “Passing the Torch” and it was Joe Lewis saying that when he passes on, he was passing the torch to the Gradens.

John Graden’s Career Timeline


Launches as a digital agency for schools.


Launches The Truth About the Martial Arts Business Podcast


Launches the Martial Arts Teacher’s Association Certification Program


Author, The Martial Arts Teachers’ Certification Manual


 Author, Blood and Guts Dojo


Founder, Empower Kickboxing


Founder, Empower Boxing


The Art of Marketing Without Marketing


Nominated for Martial Arts
Hall of Fame
by Joe Lewis


Martial Arts Teachers’ Association (MATA)


Author, The Truth About the
Martial Arts Business


Author, How to Open and Operate
a Successful Martial Arts School


Founder, The American Council
on Martial Arts


Founder – Martial Arts Professional Magazine


Founder – National Association
of Professional Martial Artists


Host and Producer of the USA Karate TV show in Tampa Bay, FL


Opened USA Karate – Prior Fighter, Coach, and Official for many World Champion WAKO USA Teams

The letter below was submitted by Joe Lewis nominating John Graden to the Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

To the Official Martial Arts Hall of Fame Members of the Martial Arts History Museum

Dear Fellow Members,
It is with great pleasure I ask for your support and endorse the nomination of a great martial artist who I believe will make an exceptional addition to the Hall of Fame.

He has made historical contributions to the martial arts industry during his internationally acclaimed career and provided professional martial artists from around the world with the necessary tools to provide high teaching standards. He is widely known as “the teacher of teachers,” Mr. John Graden.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could please select John Graden as nominee for appointment to the Hall of Fame.

Cum Corde Et Animis,

Joe Lewis