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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.

You will want to take note of your conclusions on any serious accident, since you will have to decide if you are going to settle the case or defend. While we want to focus on avoiding accidents and defending our school if we are sued, we also need to consider our responsibility in some matters.

If you are responsible, tell your insurance company so. Let them know that you really believe that you owe these people, and you would like them paid. This might affect your standing with your insurer, and would probably affect your rates anywhere else you went, but that’s what you pay them premiums to do. If a matter is small and easily within your budget, you might handle it on your own.

Sometimes we make mistakes, and those mistakes can lead to serious repercussions. At times, a matter might even be serious enough to warrant criminal charges. 

During a class, a fairly new student had serious problem with control. The instructor, in an effort to “Teach him a lesson,” unleashed full speed on the student. While none of the strikes were full power, even with protective gear the student was knocked back, hit his head, and had bruised ribs. 

The student took no legal action, but the assault was potentially criminal and could have resulted in civil liability as well. If the family had made a claim, the instructor would have been well-advised to offer to pay for medical expenses.

Sometimes someone else does something criminal, and their ability to do so was a result of our negligence. Consider the case of the young girl sexually molested by the son of the school owner. The son is guilty of a crime, but the school owner could also be found negligent for allowing his son access to the young girls and making a place available to him for such conduct. 

There would be additional factors to consider, such as previous conduct, known tendencies, and the reasonableness of precautions available. Still, the family could sue. The school owner in that situation might want to work out some sort of settlement with the family to cover therapy for the girl or some other form of compensation. 

An attorney should help put together any settlement, since an improperly-worded offer may open the door to all sorts of problems in the future. In fact, a good-hearted, but improperly-done settlement offer could turn something that wasn’t going to be a serious case into a major event. 

A skilled attorney can avoid this situation, but make certain your attorney has some skill at diplomacy and negotiations, since many are overly combative and so focused on being a vigorous advocate for their client that they inadvertently pick fights and turn settlement discussions into Court battles. Some few do it on purpose to collect larger fees, but most simply haven’t got the skill to deal with matters with courtesy and respect for everyone involved. If your insurance company is handling the matter, finding a good attorney is their responsibility.

Your insurance should cover the settlement on the case. If you don’t have insurance, the fair settlement value of a serious matter might be more than you can afford. In that case, you may need to set up a payment plan. Called Structured Settlements, payment-plan settlements allow you to pay over time, and the total amount often does not change, since no interest is applied to the balance. There is also the possibility of obtaining an equity loan, selling a car and buying a less expensive model, or selling some personal property.

The lesson? Have insurance. Period.

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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