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.

As 2019 winds down, here is a story about the spirit of martial arts rather than the business of martial arts.

When your face is an asset for your business, competing in karate might seem unwise. Fashion model Sandhya Shetty has had her nose broken twice, among other injuries, but she doesn’t hesitate to climb back into the ring.

With karate set to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo, Sandhya is ready to show what she can do – all while inspiring young Indian girls to stand up for themselves.

Related story: Hollywood is Calling

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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  1. Dusan Drazic

    great article mr. graden
    i think that wushu (kung fu) can offer more for the spectators of the olympics, whereby i respect karate very much. I only mean this from the perspective of the viewers. but i’m curious to see how karate is received at the olympics. Greetings from munich

    • John Graden

      Always nice to hear from you Dusan. I was in Munich for the 87 WAKO Championships as a Coach and Official. My brother Jim won silver. Great memories. Both my brothers were actually born in Munich on the US Army base.

  2. Vijay Saini

    I like Its more and more martial arts, Boxing & Muay Thai….