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MATA Founder John Graden Bio


[text_block style=”style_1.png” align=”left”]The Martial Arts Teachers’ Association (MATA) is a professional association for martial arts instructors world-wide. We offer the latest and most effective information on marketing, managing, and growing a martial arts school.

MATA is also the home of the ONLY universally recognized and respected Martial Arts Instructor Certification Course.[/text_block]

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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.

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

2021 – Named Editor-in-Chief of Real Self-Defense magazine

2020 – Launches The Truth About the Martial Arts Business Podcast

2018 – Launches the Martial Arts Teacher’s Association Certification Program

2016 – Author, The Martial Arts Teachers’ Certification Manual

2015 – Author, Who Killed Walt Bone?

2014 – Founder, Empower Kickboxing

2012 – Founder, Empower Boxing

2011 – Author, The Art of Marketing Without Marketing

2008 – Author, The Impostor Syndrome

2004 – Founder, Martial Arts Teachers’ Association

2003 – Author, The Truth About the Martial Arts Business

1998 – Author, How to Open and Operate a Successful Martial Arts School

1996 – Founder, The American Council on Martial Arts (ACMA)

1995 – Founder – Martial Arts Professional Magazine

1993 – Founder – National Association of Professional Martial Artists

1987 – Host and Producer of the USA Karate TV show in Tampa Bay, FL

1986 – Opened USA Karate – Prior Fighter, Coach, and Official for many World Champion WAKO USA Teams



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Joe Lewis the greatest karate fighter

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

[text_block style=”style_1.png” align=”left”]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[/text_block]

Cover Story Wall Street Journal



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