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.

Could This Be The Accidental Death of Your School?

Imagine teaching an everyday, normal class with no crazy cardio demands or dangerous drills. Suddenly a seemingly healthy teenager collapses and passes out cold. You call 911. They arrive 11-minutes later (national average response time). The student dies on the way to the hospital.

What did you do during that 11-minute wait? Comfort mom? Take his pulse. CPR? Call your insurance company?

Maybe a better question is, “What could you do?” While you don’t have to be trained to perform CPR, training would certainly help. What if you weren’t even present? What could your assistant instructor do?

Even though you did nothing to cause the collapse, your liability will be in your response to the collapse. I don’t have to tell you that an aggressive personal injury attorney is going to come after you or that no family with an attorney believes in “accidental death.” Without good insurance to pay for the defense of your school, this could be your accidental death.

In a case like this where you did nothing to create the damage, the lawsuit will claim you did nothing to mitigate or reduce it. This is where CPR training and MATA Certification can help a great deal. Any training that will improve safety for your students will most likely work in your favor in litigation. You can be sure the opposing attorney will research the options that an owner has for safety training and use any failure to take advantage of them again him or her.

That said, here are two cases where neither CPR training nor MATA Certification could help the situation. Like the story above, this is a rare instance. The difference is these stories are true.

If you are like most martial arts instructors, you may not even know what an automated external defibrillators (AED) is. An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. AEDs are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest. This is when the heart unexpectedly stops beating.  The cost for an AED device is between $1,200 and $3,000. reports that a school teaching a Krav Maga like class had a teenage student collapse and die. The school was sued for not having an AED and had to settle for $1-million. Regardless of what they did on scene, the school didn’t have an AED.

In Texas, Kickstart was teaching in a public middle school when a 12-year student collapsed. The Kickstart instructor called the school nurse. Though they had an AED, she did not use it. The boy died of cardiac arrest.  Under the law, a school nurse is protected from lawsuits.  So the family sued Kickstart and won.

Are you required to have AED in your state? In addition to having an AED, there is the issue of getting your staff properly trained to use it.

After some research, we think this website might have the best information on whether or not you are required to have an AED in your facility. We make no guarantee of the accuracy of this, but it seems like a good starting point.  

Our suggestion is:

  1. Get insurance for your school.
  2. Get CPR training.
  3. Get MATA Certified a no cost thanks to Sports Fitness Insurance Corp (SFIC).
  4. Find out if you’re required to have an AED on these two sites.

AED State Law Information 1

AED State Law Information 2

News Stories:


Krav Maga:


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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