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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Make it part of your weekly To Do list to look for any opportunity to get in front of audiences to speak, teach, and demonstrate your art. My personal record is 52 demos in 30 days.

I’ve done demos in bank lobbies, in cinema in front of the screen, and at parties where I stood up on a chair and asked everyone to quiet down so they could enjoy our demo. They did and I scored at least 3 long-term students out of that gig. One of them actually bought my school two-years later when I created NAPMA.

Last Friday, I taught two-hour a seminar on Presentation Skills to a group of estate planning attorneys.

When you teach a special class, appear on a media program, or even do a demo, always ask for a testimonial from the host. To make it easier on that person, write the testimonial for him or her. 

Here is what I wrote to the host attorney. “Would you be so kind as to provide me with a testimonial? To make it easy for you, I thought something like this might work…” I followed with a testimonial from him that I wrote. What I submitted is in lower-case below. He added the ALL CAPS test himself.

“John Graden’s presentation skills workshop was excellent. I loved it as did the other attendees I spoke with. He made learning fun with a great mixture of education and entertainment.  I HAVE ATTENDED OTHER SUCH WORKSHOPS, AND HAVE RECEIVED ONE-ON-ONE COACHING, BUT JOHN’S WORKSHOP ADDED MUCH TO MY CONFIDENCE AND FUTURE ENJOYMENT OF SPEAKING, AND INTERACTING WITH OTHERS. I MORE THAN HIGHLY recommend it for any professional.” Alan Gassman, P.A. 

When you write a testimonial to submit, go easy on the adjectives. After the event, the host sent me a note saying, “Great job! I loved it and so did the others. Come back and do an NLP seminar next time.”

Because, he used the words, “loved it” and “great” I was comfortable feeding them back in his testimonial. Had he not used used those words, I would have not included them.

Another martial arts business leader who uses demos and community outreach to grow schools is Greg Silva. He has special strategies to recruit new students on the spot at these events.

This is all part of his Pillars of Marketing program and it works. Listen to Greg explain it here:

Greg Silva Interviews

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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