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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.

Martial Arts Teachers’ Association (MATA) Instructor Certification 

Module 1-Lesson 4

This video lesson from the MATA Instructor Certification course touches on two important areas.

1. The difference between asking a question of the class and asking a question of a specific student.

2. How instructors rescue their students’ answers to questions.

In your martial arts school, when you ask a question to a student or the class, make sure you AND your students know what the minimum acceptable answer is.

In this video, we see an instructor asking the class what is the definition of integrity? It seems pretty clear that there is no established definition so the student who raised his hand is just taking a stab at it with a one-word answer.

This leads to the instructor “rescuing” the student’s answer.

9-SECOND EXAMPLE OF RESCUING A STUDENT’S ANSWER

Instructor: “What is integrity? Joey.”

Joey: “Ummmm. Integrity is when you do something good…”

Instructor: “Right…when you do something good whether or not someone is watching.” Good job!”

Sally didn’t answer the question, the instructor answered it for her and then told her she did a good job.  That is not teaching. That’s called pulling up or rescuing the student. The message to the student is that half-answers are considered “good jobs.”

Teach the exact answer to the question and repeat it enough so that there is no excuse for Joey to only know half of the answer. 

joe lewis graduates the martial arts instructor certification program
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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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