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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.

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Audio Interview at the Bottom

Your class is packed. The school is booming. In the midst of all of the excitement, a 12-year student turns and run across the floor to the water fountain.

As she hits full stride, a 17-year old leadership team member demonstrates a full speed spin hook kick. At full power and velocity, his heel smashes into her face. She requires complete facial reconstructive surgery.

What would you do? What could you do? This accident happened over a decade ago to a school in the DC area.

It’s a prominent school, and it’s still in business today because it was fully insured. Are you? Could your school survive an incident like this?

To help school owners get a better understanding of liability and how to reduce it, we’re joined by Jennifer Urmston, who is the National Account Manager at Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation (SFIC).

Most schools shop for the cheapest martial arts insurance. That could be a major disaster if a school is faced with any of the lawsuits described in this 12-minute interview. When it comes to martial arts school insurance cost, there are some important variables that you will learn about in this series.

Most of us think about insurance for our martial arts school, but what about martial arts instructor insurance? Mixed martial arts insurance or even self-defense instructor insurance?

Jennifer Urmston
National Account Manager
Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation (SFIC)

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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