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.

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MATA Executive Director John Graden

(Clearwater Beach, FL/CHICAGO, IL, April 20, 2016) – The Association of Fitness Studios (AFS) today proudly announced the addition of world-renown John Graden, Founder and Executive Director of the Martial Arts Teachers Association (MATA) to the AFS Advisory Council.

The author of many bestselling books, including The Art of Marketing Without Marketing and The Truth About the Martial Arts Business, Graden is widely credited with leading the martial arts school business into the modern era.

“We are thrilled beyond belief that John Graden has accepted a position on ourAdvisory Council,” said AFS founder and CEO Josh Leve.  “John brings an incredible expertise in both the martial arts discipline and how to channel one’s martial arts passion into a successful school.”

AFS research has shown that martial arts has become a mainstream component of the fitness studio environment over the past 20 years.  Thousands of studios have added varieties of martial arts programming and equipment, and thousands more martial arts aficionados are aspiring school owners.

 “I’m honored to join the AFS Advisory Council,” Graden said.  ”I’ve enjoyed working with Josh and AFS.  They’re really sharp.  Together, we’re finding that martial arts is an ideal fit for fitness studios. I’m excited to help AFS clients and the fitness industry in general tap into the huge potential martial arts programming creates for expanding their market share.”

To say Graden is a legend in the martial arts world would be putting it mildly.  After his seemingly never-ending competitive accomplishments in the ‘70s and ‘80s, John transitioned to entrepreneurship through associations, founding the National Association of Professional Martial Artists in 1993, and the American Council on Martial Arts in 1996.  MATA was created in 2003.

In 1995, John founded Martial Arts Professional magazine and in 1998 he authored How to Open and Operate a Successful Martial Arts School.

“We couldn’t be happier that John has accepted our invitation,” said Leve.  “He clearly brings an expertise to AFS that will help a large number of our members be more successful.”

About AFS

The Association of Fitness Studios (AFS) is the only membership community dedicated solely to the business of fitness studios.  AFS provides studio owners and developers a wide array of business-specific products, services, and benefits that enable them to more effectively manage and grow their businesses, building on the passion, compassion and courage they’ve already shown. www.afsfitness.com

About John Graden and MATA

The Martial Arts Teachers’ Association (MATA) is the world’s largest online professional association for martial arts schools and programming.


For more information on John Graden, you can check out his bio at -

https://vimeo.com/153046434

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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