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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.

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Five minutes before a kid’s class, you would like to be interacting with the students and getting a feel for their mental state. Are they excited or tired? This will tell you a lot about the warm up you will do.

Help the less excited by taking their mind off the day’s challenges. Maybe you could ask them if there is anything you could help them with before class. Another very good question is, “How do you feel about your next exam?” Or, “How did your test go?”

Not only does this show interest and caring but it gives you a great opportunity to follow up with some quality one-on-one by reviewing the techniques they may be concerned with or struggled with on the exam.

Two-minutes before class, you can start lining them up with the shorter students up front (have the kids sit down for the last minute or so to insure they stay in line). This time can also be spent collecting cards and talking to the students about their martial arts and previewing the exciting class they are about to have.

Caution, do not talk down to students regardless of age. With kids, you may watch your vocabulary level but have fun with them. They want to have fun with you, so it’s OK to joke a bit as long as you don’t allow things to get silly.

Class should be fun but not funny. A little fun works as comedy relief but should not be your theme nor should the laugh be at the expense of another person.

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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