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.

I began teaching professionally in 1974 and for the next 30-years, like every other martial arts instructor, I advertised and believed I was teaching self-defense. That changed when, in 2006, I was watching my kids in a karate class at Chris Sutton’s school.

Though his assistants usually ran the class, one day Chris stepped in and taught a ten-minute anti-abduction segment. My jaw hit the floor. I turned to my wife and said, “I could not have taught 1-minute of that. That’s the best self-defense I’ve ever seen.” It still is. She was equally impressed. She enrolled in the COBRA-Defense Academy and is now an instructor with over 100 hours of training.

Chris modeled the COBRA-Defense system after his training in multiple police academies and training as a street cop, sheriff, and maximum security prison guard.

Your self-defense program needs to be based on a real field training designed to protect against violent criminals on a daily basis. There is a massive gap between self-defense and what is taught in martial arts schools.

Eight Signs That You Need to Reevaluate What You Teach and Call Self-Defense:

    1. If you rehearse fight scenes for demos.
    2. If you teach kids that they can defeat a grown man with the standard kick and punch format.
    3. If you do not have weapon disarms as part of your curriculum.
    4. If a technique requires the attacker to hold his punch in a paused manner in order to conduct the defense.
    5. If an escape requires multiple fine motor movements instead of gross motor movements.
    6. If you do not conduct scenario training such as ATM robberies or home invasions.
    7. If it does not include command presence and tactical communication.
    8. If you have never received training from a platform that is used in real life confrontation against violence and criminals as it’s defined purpose.

Find out about COBRA at SelfDefenseBusiness.com

Download the free COBRA app.

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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