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.

The Free Power Class drives new student enrollments
for Joe Robaina of COBRA-Defense Miami.

Find out more about COBRA-Defense at

Joe Robaina is a veteran martial artist with a wide range of skills and talent. But for the last few years, he has excelled in the self-defense business. Joe shares some strategies that have helped him to build a successful self-defense business.

During that process, he has discovered some realities about the martial arts business model and how the COBRA Self-Defense business system operates in order to avoid those pitfalls.

Show Notes

Just in time learning vs just in case.

:45 the new world for martial arts

1:15 What people want in a martial arts school

1:40 McDojo?

2:15 Why teach Latin in an English language course?

2:30 Joe Robaina intro

3:30 Why leave martial arts to go to Cobra?

4:30 what people want in martial arts

6:00 Just in Case learning vs Just in Time

7:15 When John Graden took the 10-week COBRA Self-Defense Course

8:10 How COBRA students compare to black belts

8:45 Where does COBRA come from?

11:00 What are the common misconceptions about self-defense?

11:30 The power of asking students what they think they need?

13:00 We don’t offer a bandaid solution to your problem

14:20 Who seeks out self-defense training?

16:00 You can’t just learn how to swim in a pool. The ocean is different.

17:00 Why you want responsible decision makers to at least watch the first class

18:00 What are your best marketing strategies for COBRA?

19:15 The importance of not looking like everyone else

19:40 The Free Power Class

21:00 are the riots increasing the Self Defense business?

21:30 Sheriff, “You should get self-defense training.”

22:00 Defund the Police is creating fear

23:00 How does COVID factor 

24:00 Is more better?

25:00 What the Miami SWAT Tactical Division ask Joe to teach them about riots?

27:20 How to deliver the value to charge top dollar for self-defense training

28:00 The key line that surprises audiences.

29:00 How to explain the victim mentality

30:00 How do people really value self-defense?

31:00 Why self defense doe NOT take a back seat to ANY profession

31:10 The BEST explanation of the value of self-defense EVER!

32:00 What you have to demonstrate in selling self-defense programs.

33:00 Look, listen, and feel where you are at now

33:20 The market is totally different now

33:40 Does your training work on Zoom?

34:50 How do you answer, “What do you do for a living?”
Empower Kickboxing
Past episodes:

Check out this episode with Tony Robbins!

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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