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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.

When shopping for martial arts insurance, ask the following questions:

  • What is the annual premium?  If you teach part-time, find out if there are part-time premium rates.
  • Is there a discount for membership to any particular associations?  It may be worth your while to join an association to gain the discount. Martial Arts Teachers Association members get $25 credit and a $590 website for using Sports Fitness Insurance Corporation (SFIC)
  • If you own a martial arts studio, does the policy cover the entire studio or just you as a martial arts teacher?

Read more: Questions to Ask When Buying Martial Arts School Insurance

  • Does the policy cover martial arts teachers-in-training such as Leadership Team members?
  • Does the policy cover your employees?
  • Does the policy cover independent contractors working at your martial arts studio?
  • What is the maximum amount of coverage per claim?
  • What is aggregate annual claim coverage?
  • Are you, as a martial arts teacher, covered outside of the country where you teach?  This could be relevant if you teach seminars or at a conference, etc.
  • Is there a maximum number of students per class that you can teach?  If so, how many and can you get additional coverage (if you class size exceeds the stipulated number of students)
  • Does the martial arts insurance policy cover your style of martial arts?  What if you host an event at your studio where other types of martial arts are practiced?  Be very specific about this inquiry.  Sometimes, aerial, tricking, and acrobatic martial arts styles are excluded.  The point is to ensure all your services and classes are covered.
  • Is the use of martial arts equipment covered?
  • Specifically, does the martial arts insurance policy cover:
    • Professional liability?
    • Advertising liability (libel, slander, copyright infringement, etc.)?
    • Personal injury liability?
    • Product liability?
    • Premises liability?
    • Property damage?
    • Sexual harassment/ abuse/assault (if covered, usually coverage amounts are lower).
  • What is the deductible amount, if any?
  • Does the martial arts insurance policy include payment for legal fees if a lawsuit ensues?
  • How soon must you report a claim?  Know the answer because some insurance policies may breach you and therefore not cover you if you delay too long in reporting a claim.  Typically you must report as soon as you suspect there may be a claim.
  • Are there any notable exclusions?  Read the exclusions section of the policy carefully.

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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