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 my wife and I were driving to our condo on Clearwater Beach, we drove by landmark hotel that was built in the 1920s. It’s a beautiful hotel in a picturesque setting. As we passed it, I saw a sign in front that indicated that the building that displayed the name and logo of the new owners.

Had I been driving, I may have crashed the car. I wasn’t sure what I saw. I said “Holy cow! What did that say?” It was a rhetorical question because I knew what it said. I was just in disbelief.

The property was purchased for $2.8-million with plans for $14-million in renovations and housing development. The buyers are a martial arts organization. They are not fringe Reverend Myung Moon types nor are they Scientologists, who virtually own the area.

My initial thought was that this is crazy. However, it started to make some sense as I thought about it. This is not the ATA or a high profile commercial martial arts association.

The Taoist Tai Chi Society, oddly referred to as a “religious organization” claims affiliated organizations in 26 countries with more than 42,000 participants.

What does this mean for those of us in the martial arts business? Our society is aging. Tai chi appeals to seniors and there are more of them now than ever before. When it comes to anti-aging, baby boomers have plenty of money to spend.

Read the entire story.

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Photo courtesy, Beth Watson, Sachs Media Group


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 Comment

  1. dan

    Wow, who’d of thought!