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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.

Risk / Reward Ratio – The Most Important Perspective Lesson You Must Learn as a Business Owner

Does this seem familiar? You hire a student or student parent because he or she is so nice and really needs the job. 

In time though, you realize this is not a good fit. But, because of your good heart, you keep that person on because, “Sally is a good person and if we fire her this, this, and this will happen to her.” What you fail to address is that, “If we keep Sally on this, this, and this may happen to our school.”

Let me share with you a story from an interesting lunch my wife, and I enjoyed on a beautiful spring day in Dunedin last year. Janet and I met up with my brother Jim and a long-distance student of his. 

It think his name is Steve. Either way, he had a thriving business. Each year, he rewarded his top staff with a month-long trip to Florida which included training with Jim. Nice perk.

We enjoyed our lunch chat, and I won’t bore you with the details, but he had one employee strategy that he has used long before that Trump fellow’s TV show. 

Simply put, everyone on the staff knew that one person will be fired in October or November. Regardless of the overall success of the team, one guy is gonna go, and everyone knows it. They just don’t know who that person is.

While I’m not advocating or disagreeing with this approach, I think it keeps the focus on the purpose of the business. That is to keep the company profitable. 

As I know only too well, the owner takes all of the risks. It’s one thing to lose a job. People lose jobs all the time. It’s a completely different experience to lose everything you’ve built and saved for  because you, as the owner, has been sued into the ground for some infraction, real or imagined, that your employee did.

I had multiple employees earning over $200,000 a year. Where are they now? Living their life, of course. Their risk was only that they might lose a job I created for them. 

My risk was that their actions might spark a massive lawsuit; which is exactly what happened. There was no skin off their back, but mine was laid bare.

My point is simple. You can’t afford to carry someone whose only risk is finding a new job if you let them go versus you losing everything for their lapse of competence. 

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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