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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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Imagine an adult brown belt asking you this question in class. “I live in a gated community. Sometimes, I see these two teenage kids walking down the street at night. They have hoodies on and clearly do not live here. I think they’re casing cars. I don’t want to call the cops and get accused of profiling or anything. What should I do?”

What would you tell him to do?

[HDquiz quiz = “453”]

Choose your answer, click Finish and then scroll down for more.


Let’s go over the options:

Every option but 911 increases the liability to your student. If he follows them, confronts them, or gets a neighbor to help him scare them off, he is opening a massive legal nightmare.

If he confronts them and they turn and attack, his life has just changed. Why?

  1. When the dust has settled, the kids will have a lawyer that may take the case for free. You’ll need a lawyer who may take every dime you have.
  2. Their attorney will say that the adult attacked the kids for no reason. Guess what? It’s two witnesses against one. How do you prove they are lying? Without a witness, you can’t.
  3. They are minors. Assault on a Minor is a serious charge. If one of them is seriously injured by your student, the situation ramps up legally and the costs skyrocket.

You may be thinking, “That’s nuts. They attacked him. He was just defending himself.” Because you approached them, the attorney will probably argue that you “provoked” them. In playground terms, “You started it” and the legal fees to prove otherwise can run well into six-figures and years of massive stress.

The reason I’m taking the time to write this is to help you understand that you are not a self-defense expert unless you understand self-defense law in your state.

That’s why we have designated Cobra-Defense as the Official Self-Defense System of the Martial Arts Teachers’ Association. Cobra is law enforcement based. It’s not technique or military based.

Check out Cobra at SelfDefenseCertified.com.

In the meantime, read and re-read The Law of Self-Defense.

Please comment below and share this.

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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