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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.

NOTE: Below this article is an Associated Press news piece from May 8, 2018, illustrating this important information.

I was raised on the Clint Eastwood, John Wayne style of fighting.  Haymakers and unwritten rules that you never hit a man when he is down. Even when the kung fu boom hit, the fighters seemed to follow some ideas of honor and integrity while they gouged out a bad guy’s eyeballs. That’s the movies, let’s talk about real life.

Most hand-to-hand fights are actually three to four fights rolled into one. As self-defense or martial arts instructor, you have to understand this.

One of the five components that make up a self-defense plea from prosecution is an imminent threat. If a person says he or she is going to smash your face and starts to move in ways that support that intention, that could be argued as an imminent threat and could allow you to preemptively act first to protect yourself.

That is fight #1. If, with assertive verbal judo, you can talk down the aggressor or put distance between you, then you have won and no one is hurt. Fight one is over and all is well.

If verbal judo and distance don’t work, fight #2 is on. This is where it gets very dangerous for a martial artist, self-defense expert, or any trained fighter. If you are defending yourself, you have the right to “end the threat.” This is really important to understand. If you knock your attacker out and then jump on him ala’ MMA and smash his face, you have just started fight #3 and you may well go to jail for it. The threat is over, yet you continue to fight. Bad move.

Even though the law says that you must stop at the end of the threat, the fact that you are a trained person can be used AGAINST you. Regardless of training, once the threat is over, you must stop.

Fight #3 will probably cost you every penny you have in legal bills and will most likely be fought from a jail cell.

I am not a fan of the UFC effect on martial arts. Go to YouTube and search for street fights etc… and you will see many videos of people stomping and punching the head of a 100% unconscious person. I don’t blame UFC/MMA for that, but their fighters do exactly that all of the time. These fighters are heroes and role models to young kids. This is where they learn to fight.

Learn more about the Law of Self-Defense. Use coupon code MATA10 to get a 10% discount.

Martial arts expert argues he pummeled man in self-defense

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A Maine mixed martial art fighter is losing his argument that he was defending himself when he repeatedly punched an unconscious victim in the head.

Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court upheld Richard Matthews’s conviction of aggravated assault for beating a man outside a bar in 2015. The judges say the evidence doesn’t support his self-defense claim.

A bouncer testified then-45-year-old Matthews spun the victim around and punched him in the face until he fell to the ground. He says Matthews then sat on top of and repeatedly punched the injured victim.

Matthews says he thought the victim was going to grab his wife’s rear end. Matthews says he wanted to make sure the victim didn’t hurt him and stayed down. His attorney didn’t immediately respond to request for comment Tuesday.

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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