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.

The business of Martial Arts Schools and the business of Health Clubs and Fitness Centers takes a huge step forward with this collaborative relationship designed to benefit members of each organization.

Benefits to MATA and AFS Members Coming Soon Include:

Cross membership in both organizations. Increased Vendor Discounts for Members due to higher volume. Event Crossovers like the Evolution Expo.

Collaborative Agreement Announced
The Association of Fitness Studios (AFS) and the Martial Arts Teachers Association (MATA), today announced a collaboration relationship designed to enhance the value of membership in both organizations.

Similar to AFS’ offerings for fitness studios, MATA specializes in helping to enhance the profitability of smaller martial arts schools on a tight budget. Among MATA’s primary benefits is helping such schools find new students and keep them longer with proven martial arts school systems.

“This was a no-brainer for us,” said MATA founder and CEO John Graden. “The people behind AFS are like the Steve Jobs of fitness. They have created some of the most successful programs and organizations in the health club industry. We’ve been traveling parallel paths and the combination will be a winner for everyone involved.”

MATA reaches a network of thousands of independent martial arts school owners who, like AFS members in fitness, are learning new skills, making better business decisions, applying new tools and improving their financial results.

“John Graden is THE expert in the martial arts school field,” said AFS co-founder and President Josh Leve. “We are honored to partner with him and his organization. By working together we can leverage the expertise of both associations, our collective memberships, and the industry experts working with us.”

That collaboration will have a near-immediate impact as Graden has agreed to be a featured presenter at AFS’ business education program at the Evolution Sports Expo [], June 27-28 in Santa Clara, CA, an event annually attended by over 13,000 fitness and martial arts trainers, competitors, and facility owners.

“While we both agree the basic business principles are identical regardless of disciplines being taught, there are nuances and differentiations from activity to activity,” said Leve. “When it comes to business practices in martial arts schools, there’s no higher authority than John Graden. We’re fortunate to have him and our attendees will profit tremendously.”

About MATA

The Martial Arts Teachers Association was created to help those passionate in martial arts to start, run and grow their martial arts school. Understanding that these people need to be as competent in business as they are in teaching good classes, MATA provides a variety of products and benefits to help develop these skills.

About AFS

The Association of Fitness Studios (AFS) is the only membership community dedicated solely to the business of fitness studios. AFS provides studio owners and developers a wide array of business-specific products, services, and benefits that enable them to more effectively manage and grow their businesses, building on the passion, compassion and courage they’ve already shown. []

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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