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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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During Class

Warm ups are tailored to the theme of the class. If the class will spar, have them do movement drills and combinations in a loose, free form manner. Do not have a group of students with their sparring gear on execute horse stance punching, basics or forms.

Remember, stretching is part of the workout, not the warm up. Students should get a little sweat going to insure the muscles are warm and ready for stretching.

During class you will want to learn to, “read the instructor.” If the instructor is demonstrating a technique, then, with permission, you can wander and correct as the students try to model the instructor.

Then, if the instructor stands up and starts to wander, you can jump into the demonstrating position. If the instructor is wandering, you can provide a visual example for the students. If the instructor is demonstrating, you can wander and make corrections.

Always position yourself so the students can see you. If you have a Leadership Team partner, then one of you would work the front and the other would work the back. Then, when the class turns around they have a model to follow.

Corrections while wandering should be very brief and not as much commanding as suggesting. For instance, as a blue belt, you may have less success with a sharp, “blade your foot!” than you would with a kind but firm, “don’t forget to blade your foot” or “let me help you blade your foot.”

It’s very important to allow someone to maintain his or her dignity when being corrected. This is not the place for power-hungry egos.

Your tone is one of stern encouragement and always with a positive attitude. In their enthusiasm to do a good job, new Leadership Team members tend to over-explain and over-correct. Less is best in the beginning or, for that matter, at any time. Choose your words wisely and they will carry more weight and power.

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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