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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.

When I was a school owner, I was high profile in my area. I had a cable TV show. I was a returning guest on local talk shows, and local reporters would call me on a regular basis to see if I had anything going on. As you can imagine, when a bullying situation made the headlines, I was called for interviews and comments. Of course, always hungry to be the best, I would always schedule an anti-bully/anti-abduction seminar for the community.

These events were packed. In fact, one time, I had to do three back-to-back seminars in one day because over 200 people had enrolled.

There was one problem though. I had no idea what I was talking about. You couldn’t Google “anti-bullying skills.” You had to go to the library or bookstore and even then, there was little material.

So I did what most instructors did then and do now. I simply taught, what I thought were, basic self-defense techniques. There was no plan for the family to follow. There was no strategy for the students to implement. There was no substance to what I was teaching. It was a basic defense against a push and a get to the groin along with a wrist escape or two.

Because I was the local martial arts star, no one questioned it because they had nothing to compare it with. So, I was able to scoot by. Don’t be that guy.

Today, it’s a different world. If you are doing anything remotely similar to what I just described you should be beaten with a shinai.

With resources like COBRA-Defense, there is no excuse for not being the smartest person in the room on the topics of anti-bullying and anti-abduction.

So, let’s take a moment to help you evaluate your bully program.

What is your program’s source of information? Is it based on YouTube videos? Yelling, “Get back!”? Martial arts techniques? You have to ask yourself, “Who deals with bullies day-in and day-out? Teachers? They mostly defer responsibility. Black belts? I’ve met plenty of black belt bullies, but having a black belt has nothing to do with dealing with bullies.

Law enforcement and prison guards deal with bullies of the worst kind daily; Adult bullies who are merciless. Chris Sutton, the founder of COBRA was a street cop, sheriff, and maximum security prison guard for juveniles.

These are bad people. Not only did Chris have to deal with these people, but he had to write out reports on each incident. In time, he started to notice some patterns and solutions that he has included in the COBRA Anti-Bully Program.

That is a solid source of information.

  1. Is the program realistic?

If the title is, “Bully Proof” then you know the program is not realistic. Anyone can be bullied. No one can be bully-proof. You can teach people to become bully resistant, but not bully-proof.

  1. Does the program have specific strategies and tactics on how to inform the school, teacher, and/or workplace employer of the situation in a manner that motivates them to help bring the situation to an end?

If your program just suggests, “Tell the teacher,” that’s not enough. Nor is it helpful.

I could go on but, you get the idea. In today’s world, if you teach a “mouthful of nothing” anti-bully seminar, it’s going viral. People love nothing more than pointing out false and misleading advertising.

You can get a free copy of my book, How to Stop a Bully Without Violence or Confrontation at AntiBullyPlan.com. It’s the COBRA system with my own contributions.

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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