The MATA Rank Advancement Program

The Hall of Fame, Passing the Torch, and John Graden bio sections are included to help you get a sense of the history, prestige, and recognition this rank promotion represents.

Joe Lewis Promotes John Graden to 8th Degree Black Belt

In 1982, John Graden was "orphaned" at 3rd degree when his instructor died in a plane crash.

Joe Lewis moved to town in 1984 and the two started training together for the next decade. In that time, Joe Lewis promoted Mr. Graden to 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th degree black belt before his untimely passing in 2012.

Mr. Lewis inducted John Graden into his prestigious Honor Roll in 2009. He also nominated Mr. Graden for the Martial Arts History Hall of Fame.

  1. Are you an orphaned black belt?
  2. Would you like to advance in rank without the politics of a rank association?
  3. Would you like to join this family tree? Bruce Lee>Joe Lewis>John Graden>You

Click to enlarge

The Obvious Questions

Who is this for?

The MATA Rank Advancement program is ideally set up to provide black belts who no longer have an instructor a path to advancing in rank.

Why should I advance in rank?

There are a number of good reasons to advance.

Students love it when they see their instructor working hard to advance and getting the prestigious recognition MATA brings.

How does this work?

The MATA Rank Advancement program is based upon video review of the requirements. Mr. Graden will review the videos and provide feedback. In some cases, he will require a "Do Overs" to improve a skill. There is no additional charge for "Do Overs."

What style is the rank for?

There is no style attached to the MATA Rank Advancement program. The rank will be from The Martial Arts Teachers' Association. Odds are, your students will understand and appreciate that more than an Asian name they can't pronounce.

What are the requirements?

  1. You must provide proof of your current rank in your application.
  2. You must successfully complete the MATA Certification Course.
  3. Black Belt exam requirements can be found here.

 

What rank(s) can I test for?

Since Mr. Graden was promoted to 8th degree by Joe Lewis, he can promote as high as 7th degree.

Can I get a rank confirmation instead of advancement?

Yes though the process is the same.

Can I skip a rank?

In rare occasions, this can be done. Contact Mr. Graden to explore your situation.

What if I fail?

Mr. Graden will provide you with ongoing feedback on any area of evaluation that is not up to his standard until you get it right.

How soon can I test again?

It depends on the rank.

Is everything done via video? Can I have a live exam in my school?

Yes. You can bring Mr. Graden to your school for a full test or just the graduation. This presents the opportunity for him to teach seminars, train staff, and present your rank certificate at a big event in your school.

INTERESTED?

Click to send an email to Mr. Graden with your questions and/or to set up a phone call to explore your situation.

 

Joe Lewis Nominates John Graden into the
Martial Arts History Museum Hall of Fame.

This section, the Passing the Torch, and John Graden bio are included to help you get a sense of the history, prestige, and recognition this rank promotion represents.

Click image to enlarge.

John Graden and Joe Lewis

Joe Lewis and John Graden

John Graden and Joe Lewis

Jim Graden, Joe Lewis, John Graden, Mark Graden

Janet Graden, John Graden, Dr. OZ

John Graden Bio

John Graden and his brothers are all world kickboxing champions, which proves that everyone and his brother can earn a martial arts title. 

However, not everyone can create the first professional associationtrade journal, and universal instructor certification program like John did in the early 1990s. 

Widely credited with leading the martial arts school business into the modern age, John was first called a visionary by MASuccess editor, John Corcoran and dubbed the martial arts Teacher of Teachers by Martial Arts World magazine. 

John is also the author of many of the best selling books on martial arts business and personal development. 

Now the Executive Director of the Martial Arts Teachers’ Association (MATA), John’s renegade leadership style has landed him on the Dr. Oz Show, the Wall Street Journal, the A&E Network and many more international media platforms along with many small podcasts that only his wife listened to.

A Tampa Bay, FL resident, John Graden is married with two children.

Mr. Graden is Not a Paper Tiger

For those of you who think he is all about the business, his WAKO World Championships with the USA Team and legacy as a Joe Lewis protege might change your mind. In fact, Black Belt magazine did a cover story on Mr. Graden and his brother Jim’s relationship with the late legend. The story was called, “Passing the Torch” and it was Joe Lewis saying that when he passes on, he was passing the torch to the Gradens.

John Graden’s Career Timeline

2018 – Launches the Martial Arts Teacher's Association Certification Program

2016 – Author, The Martial Arts Teachers’ Certification Manual

2015 – Author, Who Killed Walt Bone?

2014 – Founder, Empower Kickboxing

2012 – Founder, Empower Boxing

2011 – Author, The Art of Marketing Without Marketing

2008 – Author, The Impostor Syndrome

2004 – Founder, Martial Arts Teachers’ Association

2003 – Author, The Truth About the Martial Arts Business

1998 – Author, How to Open and Operate a Successful Martial Arts School

1996 – Founder, The American Council on Martial Arts (ACMA)

1995 – Founder – Martial Arts Professional Magazine

1993 – Founder – National Association of Professional Martial Artists

1987 – Host and Producer of the USA Karate TV show in Tampa Bay, FL

1986 – Opened USA Karate – Prior Fighter, Coach, and Official for many World Champion WAKO USA Teams

Joe Lewis passes the torch to John and Jim Graden.

Black Belt magazine article where Joe Lewis officially claims that my brother Jim and I are his choice to carry the torch of his legacy. What an honor...

John Graden, Joe Lewis, Jim Graden

John Graden and Joe Lewis

Crushed again...

Click Image to Enlarge

Painting commissioned by John Graden by Emmy Award Winning artist, Bob Mueller

Click Image to Enlarge

John Graden and Joe Lewis

and again...

MATA Black Belt Rank Advancement
Areas of Evaluation

The exam is video based. You MUST have clear audio and video.

You shoot the segments and we will send you instructions on how to deliver them to us.

Notes:

 1. The rank would be from the Martial Arts Teachers’ Association, not a style.

 2. If you do not spar, that’s OK. Just let me know and I’ll adjust.

Areas of Evaluation

  1. Teaching
  2. Sparring
  3. Form not kata (Skills instead of routines)
  4. Self Defense Knowledge

Option One - Long Distance Exam

Video Submission (Audio is critical. I have to hear you clearly.)

Teaching

  1. 10 2-minute rounds of 2 students sparring and you monitor and coach them. This should be in class with fellow students watching.

  2. Three examples of you teaching intermediate skills to class.

  3. Three examples of you teaching advanced skills to class.

  4. Explain to a beginners class how to create power in a strike.

  5. Deliver a Life Lesson to a class in your words.

  6. In front of class, explain, “How to assess your sparring opponent.”

  7. In front of class, explain, "What should you focus on each class? Each sparring session?"

  8. Five examples of you watching different students hitting the heavy bag and coaching in one-minute rounds.

Sparring

  1.  Five examples of you watching different students spar while you coach. Sit class down and bring up two fighters at a time for a one-minute round. The class is watching as well.

  2. You sparring your toughest guys. Five 2-minute rounds with 30-second rest. Rotate the fighters so each is fresh.

Skills

 1. 2-minutes punching and kicking the heavy bag

 2. Target kicking - Round kicks, Side kick shield etc… Five different kicks, 10 - each side

 3. Target punching - 1-2-3-4 drill 2-minutes

Self-Defense Knowledge

  TBD

MATA Black Belt Testing Fees

Since the MATA Certification is required, that $297 fee is credited towards the testing fee.

After payment is processed, you will be taken to an application form to complete.

Testing for 2nd or 3rd Degree Black Belt
$495
Order Now

  • Beautiful 11 x 14 Certificate for Framing
  • Web Version of the Certificate for Your Website
  • Press Release Crafted Announcing Your Promotion
  • Listing in the MATA Recommended Professional Instructors Directory
Testing for 4th or 5th Degree Black Belt
$595
Order Now

  • Beautiful 11 x 14 Certificate for Framing
  • Web Version of the Certificate for Your Website
  • Press Release Crafted Announcing Your Promotion
  • Listing in the MATA Recommended Professional Instructors Directory
Testing for 6th or 7th Degree Black Belt
$795
Order Now

  • Beautiful 11 x 14 Certificate for Framing
  • Web Version of the Certificate for Your Website
  • Press Release Crafted Announcing Your Promotion
  • Listing in the MATA Recommended Professional Instructors Directory

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