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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.

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The old adage is that if someone likes your business, they will tell a friend. If that person does NOT like your business, they will tell four friends.

That has changed BIG TIME. Today, the average person on Facebook has 200 friends. A negative post about your service is seen by a whole more than just four friends today.

This is why you must have a system in place for monitoring and managing your reputation.

Here are six quick tips to help you with your reputation management for your martial arts school.

1. Audit Directory Listings

It is a mistake to assume that all of the directories listing your school are accurate. Audit all of your current listings in legal and business directories. Profiles should create confidence and trust.


Secure your personal name and office name as a domain names. Protecting your name starts with gaining control of your

3. Optimize Your Listings

Optimize all of your current listings in legal and business directories.

a. Label images with your keywords

b. Write a keyword rich description

c. Include as many videos and images as allowed.

d. Include links on your website and emails to these directories so students can post positive reviews.

e. If permitted, have a separate profile for location.

4. Monitor 24/7

a. Create a Google Alert with your name, your school’s name, your top competitor’s name, and your staff member’s names at

5. Be Responsive

Respond asap to negative reviews and false reviews. Ideally, you could work something out that would satisfy the student and have the review removed or edited.

6. Try to Turn a Negative into a Positive

If you get a bad review, do your best to keep the emotions out of your response.

a. Keep your ethical parameters in mind at all times.

b. Be extra cautious not to reveal confidential case or student information in your response.

c. Keep your response brief and professional. The larger your response, the more creditability you are giving the review. Less is best.

d. Look at this as an opportunity. Assure the writer that you are concerned about the situation and have commenced an investigation or at the least, looking into it.

e. Make it clear that in order to protect your student’s confidentiality and the school, you are not comfortable discussing this on a public forum and invite them to contact you directly.

f. Make sure you do respond. Ignoring a bad review undermines your professionalism and image. If you don’t answer it seems you don’t care.

g. Make any response positive or neutral. Make sure it’s not negative and a counter attack against the writer.

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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