Iranian Defector: “All I want is taekwondo.”

Iranian Defector: “All I want is taekwondo.”

Iran’s Taekwondo Olympic medalist has announced on Instagram that she is defecting. 

Taekwondo bronze medal winner, Kimia Alizadeh is Iran’s sole female Olympic medal winner. EVER.

She accused the Iranian government of “oppression,” “lying” and “injustice.”

She also wrote on social media, “I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran with whom they have been playing for years.”

How brave is this? Iran is believed to execute more people each year than any other country.

Wikipedia reports that Iran carried out at least 977 executions in 2015, at least 567 in 2016, and at least 507 in 2017. The key words are “at least.”

Treason is an executable offense. 

According to the Daily Mail, an Iranian parliamentarian demanded answers and accused “incompetent officials” of allowing ‘Iran’s ‘human capital to flee” the country. 

Human capital?

Coming just days after Iran admitted to shooting down a passenger jet and killing 176 people, this is a major blow and may be front-page news for the coming week.

I want to help you get in front of this news. You might want to consider reaching out to your local media on social media and suggest that you can provide some perspective as a fellow martial artist.

She said she just wanted three things, “Taekwondo, and a happy and healthy life.”

This assertion will no doubt bring worldwide attention to the sport.

Be careful how you handle this.

Resist the “Taekwondo was more important than her country..” or any similar exploitation.

Instead, share some expert insight that might be framed as, “She showed tremendous courage. Martial arts instills an indomitable spirit and this is exactly what we are witnessing on the world stage. As martial artists, we all admire her courage.”

The combination of shooting down the plane and Kimia’s defection may go down in history as the ultimate 1-2 punch to the end of the current Iranian regime. 

No doubt, Kimia has opened the flood gates for many others to speak out or leave as well. 

Right now, she is the face of the modern Iranian and she will be etched in history forever as a black belt revolutionary. 

However, she is not the first martial artist to defect from Iran. In September 2019, Saeed Mollaei, an Iranian judoka, left the country for Germany.

See Iranian defector and taekwondo Olympic medalist Kimia Alizadeh compete.

Hollywood is Calling!

Hollywood is Calling!

I received an email last week that will be of great interest to you and/or your students. The casting agent at Sarah Finn Casting in Los Angeles is looking to cast a young male in a martial arts oriented role.

Their past castings include, Black Panther, Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King, Jungle Book, Crash, Dora the Explorer, and Fast & Furious.

Here is the letter:

“Hi Mr. Graden,
I am writing to you because we are currently in the casting process for one of our upcoming big budget feature films and would love your help.

We are seeking young (age 7-12) males of Chinese descent who are trained in Martial Arts and have, if possible (though not necessary), some acting experience. Do you know of any talented martial artists who would be interested in this opportunity?”

To submit, please email written responses to the information below, along with a current photo of your child, with the subject “STUDIO FEATURE FILM” to


1) Name, height, and age
2) Your availability & location (just city/state – you don’t need to tell us your address!)
3) Any information you’d like to share about your background
4) Level of Mandarin fluency, both speaking and understanding (i.e. fluent, conversational, basic, etc..)
5) Details of your martial arts experience (i.e. how many years, what type of training/areas of expertise)
6) Do you have any acting experience? (School plays, local theater, commercials, etc)
7) Anything else about yourself you’d like to share

Please feel free to also send us any reference video footage that you have (martial arts/acting) – we would like to see as much as you’re willing to share!

The Easiest Way to Generate Media Coverage in 2019

The media is blitzed all day long with people seeking exposure on their platform. One method that will jump you to the top, or at least near it, is to get out in your community and help with a local fundraising effort.

Whether it’s a need of a member’s family or a local charity, your school can contribute funds or hands-on help.

Take photos, write a paragraph or two about the event and fundraising efforts and send it in to your local media list (You do have a list right?).

Send media releases via email to your list prior to the event. Follow up with a phone call. You may even offer to take video and images to send if the reporter can’t make it.

Most of the time, the media will publish the event information, photo, school name, and charity as a part of a local news snippet. These are often used as a way for the media to share a ‘feel-good’ story or fill a slow news day.

See also:

The New Rules for Pitching the Media

How to Become the Martial Arts Star in Your Town

How To Get Media Coverage

8 Types of Video That Can Help Your School Stand Out

8 Types of Video That Can Help Your School Stand Out

8 Types of Video That Can Help Your School Stand Out

In case you haven’t noticed, video is huge for marketing. Studies show that 3x as many people will watch a video rather than read the same information.

Since virtually every school website uses the same stock images and promises the same benefits, video is where you can make a strong personal connection that is virtually impossible to do with text and/or images.

Here are eight videos to include on your website and Social Media platforms like Facebook and YouTube, to help grow your martial arts school.

1. Promo Videos
Short videos that are less than 30-seconds for Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Sample Promo

2. School Highlight Videos
Everyone has a video camera with them. Each year, ask your students to submit their best clips to you. Combine those with your own and edit a one-minute highlight video that you can share on social media and your website.

These samples are from many moons ago but they have energy. Imagine a highlight reel for every year of your school’s existence.
Sample 1992
Sample 1988

3. You Teaching
Rather than just advertise your trial program, why not show highlights from an actual class? You don’t have to post the entire class, but edit together a 3-minute series of segments that best convey what your school stands for and how it is delivered.

4. Testimonials
Shoot these from the chest up. Make sure there is no ambient sound unless you have a lapel mic on the speaker. Then, it works if there is action around the testimonial as long as the audio is strong.

Edit the full video into short sound bites. Let the subject know that they can do a retake if they feel they stumbled. Some people get really nervous in front of the camera.

  • Here are some questions.
  • Why did you choose our school?
  • What improvements have you seen since starting here?
  • What was the biggest surprise for you once you began training here?
  • How would you describe our school to someone who was looking for a martial arts school?

Sample USA Karate
Sample Tim McCahan After-School Sports

Here are some tips on creating a good testimonial video.

5. Media Coverage
Every school needs to have a PR strategy to keep you in the news. Media coverage is like an implied endorsement. Have a Media section on your site that is a gallery of your media hits.

You can also take advantage of the powerful, “As Seen On” line. Even if you didn’t get on the news broadcast, maybe your press release got picked up by Fox News Tampa. You can then use the Fox News Tampa logo with a link to your article. This positions you as an expert.

How to Get Major Media Outlets to Run Your Articles

6. FAQ
What are the common questions and concerns people have about joining? Answer them in person via video. This helps create a connection and personalize the experience.

7. Overview of Your Program
Without going into detail, you can create a fast-paced, exciting rundown of your various programs. This helps people to visualize the program in ways that text and images can’t.

8. Your Bio
This can backfire if you go deep into your personal martial arts lineage. Which do you think the average visitor to your website will understand easier? You earned your Shidan or you completed and passed the Martial Arts Teachers Association Instructor Certification Program?
Sample John Graden Bio
Sample John Graden Bio 2
How to Write a Bio

Don’t be afraid to use humor. It never hurts to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Here are more tips to improve your video marketing.

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