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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.

Empower Boxing Testimonial Video

See the Dojo Karate Testimonial Video at the bottom of the page

Smart schools use video testimonials. Why? Because when prospects see everyday people talking about your school, they can relate. Video builds the trust factor much faster than text or imagery. It provides content that is engaging, human, and relatable.

When recruiting students and family members for video testimonials, understand that some will be nervous about going on camera. It helps to let them know that you can start an answer over so they don’t feel they have to be perfect.

A good structure is for the person to describe:

  1. Who they are.
  2. What benefits they were seeking and why.
  3. How your school helped them.

For instance:

I’m Nancy Smith. I have two boys who are 8 and 10. We were looking for something that they could do that would help them with their self-control. They were getting a little wild. My husband suggested martial arts so we looked around and picked USA Karate. It was a great decision. The boys are much more respectful and disciplined. That’s HUGE for us. Plus, they’re learning how to defend themselves, which I think every parent wants their kids to be safer, so we’re really happy with the program.”

A good question to start with is, “If you were telling a friend about our school, what would you tell them?” A variation might be, “If a friend was thinking of enrolling her kids into an activity, what would tell them about your child’s experience here?”


You can use an iPhone to shoot these. Here are some things to remember.

  1. Keep the light behind you, not the subject.
  2. Be aware of backgrounds. You don’t want anything to distract the viewers.
  3. Listen for ambient sounds that the mic may pick up. Air conditioners, cool drink cases, and fans are typical culprits. You hear them so often it just becomes part of the white noise, but that noise can ruin the audio.
  4. Use a lapel mic when possible. You see in these videos, everyone has a lapel mic which is why the sound is so clean.


While you want to show the subjects face at the beginning after about 5-seconds cut away to “B-roll” video. B-roll is footage that shows and supports what the speaker is describing.

For example, “I’ve lost 20-lbs since I started…” You might cut away to footage of the speaker sweating in class.”

“My child has better concentration and focus…” Cut away to a shot of him or children in general focused on what the instructor is saying.

At the end of the video, cut back to the speaker.


Since you’ve made it this far, I’ll give you one of my secrets. Increase the speed of the video by 10%. This makes everything faster but not to the point of distraction. It makes the video more engaging, especially when there is only a face to watch on the screen. The Empower Kickboxing video above was sped up by 20%.


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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