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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.

Traditional Karate First Lesson    

Click the image to see the Traditional 1st Lesson

This video is smaller because of the notes.

Empower Kickboxing First Lesson  

Click the image to see the Empower 1st Lesson

There is a massive disconnect between what students enroll into a martial arts school for and what they get.

Students enroll because they want to improve their fitness, confidence, and ability to defend themselves.

Students DO NOT enroll to learn KATA. Most have never heard of kata prior to enrolling. Why do you still teach it?

Here are two videos. In one, I’m teaching what I taught for two decades as part of a students’ first lesson. Front stance, downward block, lunge-punch. 

Video one takes 7-minutes to teach front stance, downward block, lunge-punch. 

Video two takes 6-minutes to teach fighting stance, downward block, cross, hook, and uppercut.

The differences could not be more clear. 

As you look at each one these points ask yourself, “Why?”

Video 1 Traditional Karate

Important Questions to Answer

  1. Keep shoulders squared and expose your center-line to your opponent. Why?
  2. Keep shoulders back and upright for form. Why?
  3. Keep hands on hip. Why?
  4. Leave block out. Why?
  5. Aim to punch. Why?
  6. Leave punch out. Why?
  7. Keep chin up. Why?
  8. Cross your arms before you block. Why?
  9. Step forward and block. Why?
  10. The deeper the stance the better. Why?
  11. Block with power. Why?

Video 2 Empower Kickboxing

Important Questions to Answer

  1. Turn your body to the side to protect your centerline. Why?
  2. Keep hands up to protect your face. Why?
  3. Snap punch back quickly. Why?
  4. Do not telegraph your punch. Why?
  5. Tuck chin down. Why?
  6. Raise shoulders to protect your chin. Why?
  7. Block quickly and recover. Why?
  8. Keep your legs under you. Why?
  9. Minimalize the block. Less is best for quick recovery. Why?

If you are honest with yourself, the Whys of the first video are MUCH harder to answer than the second video.

So here is my why. Why do you still teach the video one system? If you want to be a museum curator and preserve the traditional styles, I totally understand and appreciate you for doing that. 

However, if you want to teach your students an efficient skill set that matches what they are enrolling for, the second video clearly demonstrates how that would look. 

Empower Kickboxing is full white to black belt curriculum that is designed to be easier to teach and easier to learn.

 EmpowerKickboxing.com

 

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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