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.

Here are three important areas to review as the year ends.

1. Review your Retention

How many students did you have on January 1, 2018?

How many students did you enroll in 2018?

The sum of those numbers is your full potential student body.

Below is an example.

1-Students on January 1, 2018140
2-Enrollments in 2018100
3-Total Potential Student Body240
4-Current Actual Student Count150
Retention= 4 ÷ 3 =62.50%

A good, steady 20% year-after-year growth rate is the goal. For that to happen in the above example, your current student count in this example needs to be 192. That will give you an 80% retention rate.

2. Review your Profits

That 20% growth rate also applies to your profits. If your profit on $150,000 last year was $30,000, that is a 20% profit. This year you would look to gross $180,000 and profit $36,000 for a 20% growth rate.

What Factors Affect Your Retention?

Curriculum – Most schools teach a terribly dated curriculum that serves the style or the association the school belongs to. It is not designed to serve the students. Dump it!

Teaching Skills – Earning a black belt does not require learning professional teaching skills. That requires additional education. That’s also why we have the MATA Instructor Certification Course.

3. Review Your Insurance Policies for #ME TOO Protection

What does the #Me Too movement mean for your school? More liability than ever. According to, the #Me Too movement is making a major impact on small businesses.   

You can end up paying thousands of dollars to attorneys just to prove nothing happened.

A 2018 study by SourceMedia found that respondents at organizations that employ fewer than 100 people are more likely to say that sexual harassment is highly prevalent in their industry than those at larger firms.

Get your insurance plan reviewed today! Just send an email with your name and phone number with a message, “I want an insurance review!” to

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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