Martial Arts Instructor News and Articles

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.

It’s been made clear across the country the liability waivers that members and students are required to sign for studios and  your martial arts school are really not holding up in court like we all think they should and hope they should. It’s just an unfortunate truth that in today’s society people can sue for anything and they can claim that the school was negligent which nullifies a waiver. You’d then have to prove that you were not negligent and that costs money, so it’s more important than ever to carry martial arts school insurance, and not rely on waivers.

In one scenario, if a family can convince an attorney to take the case, he will file the suit. Then you have to hire an attorney to defend that, which could cost you potentially hundreds of thousands just for the judge to say ‘Oh this is covered by the waiver, there’s no liability here.’ In the end is it really worth all that stress and all that money?

Nothing can stop someone from filing a lawsuit. Costs really start around twenty thousand dollars and go up from there and can be significantly higher, so it is very, very important to have your martial arts insurance.

Typically, there’s some kind of mediation or motion that essentially goes to the court and says the claims are invalid, and that it’s covered by the waiver. If you’re lucky, it will get thrown out and you will only be out five or ten grand, but in many cases, the judge is going to want to hear the entire case and that means you’ll be entering trials and pre-trails.

You’re also paying your attorney by the hour to take depositions and paying an independent investigator to take photographs, interview and even document that you did everything right. That’s why claims get expensive, because there’s so much more to it.

In the event of a child injury, it’s absolutely important you always show that you did everything you could to take care of that child and contact the parents accordingly if they weren’t there on site.  The next thing you do after that critical moment is to document everything that happened and that means your eye witnesses including the instructor, any other adult that was present, their eye witness account, and the names of the other children that were present. You would want to go ahead and pull up the liability waivers that the parents signed and have them at hand. If a piece of equipment wasn’t involved, or it didn’t involve a slip and fall on a mat, there might not be anything to take pictures of. Obviously, the child’s injuries will be photographed at the emergency room, so those eye witness accounts are going to be important. Make sure they know what they’re supposed to be doing every day when they’re in class. Those would be included with the copies of the waivers that the kid’s signed as you put together the information to pass along to the insurance claims adjustor who’s going to be assigned to the case. Much of the time claimants are looking for reimbursement of medical bills, unless there is some kind of more permanent damage, such as a permanent scare or disfigurement. That’s the kind of thing that can get an attorney involved and asking for more significant amounts of money and all of your documentation will come into play.

Believe it or not, martial artists and fitness devotees are the least likely to file a claim if they do bust up their ankle or blow out a shoulder when they’re in the studio. Because they do this every day, they understand that accidents happen and that they have some responsibility for their own actions. You don’t see claims from the folks that are there all the time that are into it. They will suck it up and take this on as their own responsibility.

Something to note is our society has become more litigious and people’s medical insurance is not “as good”. They have higher out-of-pocket maximums and higher deductibles. If they don’t have the money in the bank, they’ll come looking for it.

It’s no doubt deductibles are high and that health insurance really is becoming almost ‘catastrophic insurance’ because you have to pay so much just to the get to the point where it kicks in.

The cost of an MRI versus the cost of an X-Ray are thousands of dollars versus hundreds of dollars, so these are the reasons insurance rates have gone up and these are the reasons we are seeing more lawsuits filed. It is less affordable to pay for big injuries theirselves, so they come looking for you when they might not have in the past.

Use your MATA credits for Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation

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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