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.

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.

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.

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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