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.

Fitness studios who want to expand their market base would do well to look hard at the martial arts and I don’t mean just fitness kickboxing. Programs like children’s martial arts, self-defense, and tai chi all attract markets that, for the most part, are not in the fitness studios.

Here is a key point. The more of a structured curriculum the program offers, the more the club can charge. Again, this is not fitness kickboxing. Most martial arts schools charge $149 and up per month.

Here are three martial arts markets for fitness studios.

1. Children’s Martial Arts.
This is 70% of the martial arts school student base so the market and interest are there. Parents appreciate that they can get their workout in while their kids are in martial arts class. Studio owners appreciate the additional traffic and revenue the program creates.

This is typically a progressive learning belt based program with the goal of earning a black belt in 3 - 5 years. Clubs will need a smart curriculum that allows multiple belt ranks in the same class to feel equally challenged as they progress.

Contact MATA for curriculum recommendations.

Charismatic, qualified instructor who loves kids and wants to see the program grow.
This will be your biggest expense. The key is to partner with the instructor for a percentage of the revenue that is created. The details of such an arrangement are beyond the scope of this more general article. But, if the interest is there, we will create that information for you. Just comment or Contact MATA.

a. The club should profit from uniform, belt, and sparring equipment sales.
b. Training pads are inexpensive and use little storage space.
c. Mirrors are usually already in place if a studio has an aerobics room.
2. Self-Defense
This is a HUGE opportunity for studios. Learning to teach good, solid self-defense course doesn’t require a lot of time or money. You do not have to take martial arts classes either.

The club owner can learn to teach this class in a weekend.

While seminars like Bully Response Plan, Active Shooter Response Plan, Children’s Survival Camps, and Adult Self-Defense Boot Camps are easy to sprinkle throughout the year, it’s the 5- or 10-week comprehensive self-defense course that is the core of the program.

If properly promoted, this program will attract new people who are not already members of the club. One way to transition them into the club is to offer free training before and during the course. For instance, Sally enrolls two weeks before the self-defense course begins. Allow her to train at the club for the two weeks prior and during the length of the course. Then, as part of her Self-Defense Graduation, she gets a discounted incentive to join the club as a regular member.

Someone has to learn real self-defense and how to teach it to regular people. We have law enforcement based courses that work great for someone who wants to learn how to teach and market self-defense part time.

The Opportunity
Every day in your community, there is media coverage of a violent crime. That means that every day, you have a good reason to contact the media. If there is a car jacking or home invasion, you can learn how to position yourself as an expert that the media will seek out to get a comment, analysis, and tips on how to deal with the crime.

Offering free or paid seminars for teachers, reporters, real-estate agents etc... are all great ways to create media interest. How about the kids that travel to third world countries as part of a church mission? Do you think they could use some self-defense training?
The opportunity is as big as your imagination.

You will want at least one full body set of protective equipment for the instructor. Head gear, forearm, ribs, and shin protector along with MMA style gloves. This is a combination of protection plus shock and awe for your students.

Tai Chi
America is aging and tai chi is BOOMING.
Like the martial arts program, you’ll need to find a qualified teacher. The good news is that most part-time tai chi teachers are really into what they do holistically more than financially.

Same room as the martial arts. Mirrors help but are less necessary than in martial arts or self-defense.


If you have any questions, please leave a comment or Contact MATA.

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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