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.


Visit the MATA After-School Program System Page


Beware the lure of those hawking the “easy profits” of an after-school program. History has shown that state laws and their enforcement are more powerful than a Joe Lewis sidekick or a “know it all” upstart.

MATA has been working with Tim McCahan since early 2016 to develop a proven after-school program system. Tim and his family have been operating a successful after-school program since 1997. Tim is a protege’ of the “Godfather” of After-School Programs Jim King. Please use the comment area to submit questions to Tim about after-school programs. Next week, we’ll follow up with his answers.

The Profits

There is no question that a well-run after-school program (ASP) can be a strong source of income. In fact, it can be a great SINGLE source of income. With an ASP, you’re paid a weekly tuition that rivals most schools’ monthly tuition. A well-run, legal ASP can be a cash cow with just one hour to teach per day between the hours you are open, which are typically 2 – 6:00pm, with weekends off. Could you handle that? Ah, the temptation.

The Perils

The danger is that when you start an after-school program, you move into a completely different legal minefield. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) oversees after-school program legislation regarding licensing and statute enforcement. Your state may require you to become a licensed daycare center with pages of regulations and endless fees, if you don’t know how to operate under their legal exemption. If you don’t comply, they will shut you down. It happens all of the time.

State laws may prohibit or restrict your ability to even help kids with homework, feed them, provide snacks or even use the terms, “care” or  “supervision.”

They Had No Idea

What is amazing is that when these owners turn to MATA for help, they claim that they had no idea of the liability. They had no idea there were special laws. They had no idea that they would ever be faced with refunding maybe dozens of families fees totaling thousands of dollars.

The Lesson

If anyone selling an ASP system does not make DCF compliance a major issue of focus, he or she may be leading you off of a cliff.

Visit the MATA After-School Program System Page to register for updates and webinars with John Graden and Tim McCahan.

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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