In every market or every measurement, there is a top third, middle third, and bottom third. Whether it’s weight, height, grades, or IQ there is always a spectrum.

People tend to gravitate and adopt the belief systems of the third they are in. For instance, the worldview of earning money is completely different for people raised in the bottom third of income compared to those raised in the top third.

When kids are raised in the bottom third, they may be taught that rich people are evil and that the only reason they got rich was by stepping on the little guy.

That not only creates a victim mindset, but it implies that you will always be one of the little guys. It’s a message without hope.

This mindset was illustrated in April when I posted the story of how our COBRA-Defense instructors, Joe Robaina of Miami, FL earned $9,500 for ten private lessons.

I shared the story to inspire and educate instructors with, what I deemed, a success story.

When the post hit social media, some of the comments from martial artists were negative. The responses are pretty much summed up in one guy’s comment, “That’s an f******* ripoff!”

By what or who’s standard is that a ripoff? Just because you can’t imagine having that kind of money, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It’s a matter of values.

The client was a self-made multimillionaire with a private jet. He valued time with his family more than money. To save time not money, he wanted to squeeze a 5-week academy into two 5-hour days.

That’s a hard concept to grasp when you’re trading time for money in a low-paying hourly job that you only have because you value money over time.

Far from being a ripoff, the private COBRA-Defense training was a godsend and he was “blown away” by the training. That speaks to the COBRA system and Joe Robaina’s focus on that top third.

While most COBRA instructors charge $299 for a Ten-Week academy, Joe charges $600. When I was in his school on June 7th, he already had 17 people paid and enrolled in his Academy 77 with a week to go.

martial arts wealth

The lesson is that in every area, there is a top third, middle third, and bottom third of wealth and income. Just because you may have been raised in the bottom doesn’t mean everyone was.

Learn how to focus, think, and operate as a successful person and you have a much better chance of becoming one rather than resenting their hard work and good fortune.


John Graden
John Graden

John Graden is widely credited with leading the martial arts school business into the modern age. He is the founder of the first successful professional association and trade journal. MA Success editor John Corcoran first called him a “visionary” in 1995. Martial Arts World magazine dubbed him, The Teacher of Teachers. Mr. Graden’s leadership was recognized in many mainstream media outlets including a cover story on the Wall Street Journal, documentaries on A&E Network, and as a guest on the Dr. Oz Show and many others.