2015 Instructor of the Year

2015 Instructor of the Year

Glen Gross tells his story

In 2012 I had been teaching traditional Taekwon-Do (TKD) for 21 years. My training for my 6th degree test had just come to a stop as accumulated injuries, from years of patterns and sparring, had taken their toll.

My son Jeffrey was turning 7 and I had promised to teach him the martial arts. John Graden had just introduced his new curriculum “MATA-MA”, promoting it as “a blend of the best, most basic, easy to learn and effective techniques from many forms of martial arts.” I took an instant interest in the program as I looked at the legacy that I would be passing on to my boy.

For months now, I would slowly hobble down the stairs in pain, preparing for a new day. The repetitive motions of my complicated traditional 24 patterns and sparring style had produced torn hamstrings, strained knee ligaments and worn out hips.

I decided this would not be my son’s inheritance. My wife Katie and I were planning a trip to Disney with Jeffery and my daughter Genna, and I wondered how I would even be able to walk with my children.

During the day I sit at a computer as Brandon University’s Distance Learning Specialist with a Master’s in Education. In the evenings however, I am a part-time martial arts instructor, only teaching three nights a week for two hours.

I also have instructors who teach a children’s program (Ninja Tots) for ages 4 to 6 twice a week, but that is the extent of my program. I was enjoying my teaching less and less, due to the pain, and I knew I had to make a change.

Ultimately the decision to add MATA-MA to my program came from a very persuasive argument.  Mr. Graden pointed out, and I had to agree that I hadn’t started taking my style martial arts for the patterns or style of sparring.  I joined for the benefits I believed I would receive. 

He professed that the new curriculum would provide all of the same benefits without all of the complicated, hard to teach techniques. I realized this was the only thing I needed to hear.

In September of the same year I decided to offer two different belt rank programs for ages 7 and above. In the first hour, I offered the new MATA-MA class, and in the second, the traditional TKD style.

When I explained the difference to the new inquiring students, 19 out of 20 chose the MATA-MA class. The one student was Korean and his family was specifically looking for him to take a Korean martial art.

By December I had finished teaching the one month introductory Jiu Jitsu module to the MATA-MA class. It is a simple module and I openly tell anyone I haven’t earned a single stripe in traditional BJJ.

One night I decided to try an experiment in the TKD class.  As some students were taking both classes, I decided to add grappling to the standup sparring. Within 30 seconds I saw a White Belt in MATA-MA take down a Red Belt in TKD. The Red Belt had no clue what to do.

This happened again and again. Students with relatively little grappling closed the distance and took to the ground senior belts.  After that, I began to phase out the traditional style and focus on the new curriculum.

On May 30, 2013 I would teach my last class of traditional TKD. It was a bitter sweet class based on a decision I made with mixed emotion. My son would have his first martial arts class that June in the MATA-MA class. It was fast paced and kept his attention. Subsequently he has attained his Black Belt in what has become rebranded as Empower Kickboxing. He has suffered no injuries in his training.

On June 3rd I would begin teaching a new cardio class Empower Boxing. I pre-sold “spots” on Facebook and within two weeks had a full class of 20 students (I only had 20 heavy bags). MATA built me a website and I promoted it with Facebook Ads at $15 and $35 a set. 

Within two weeks I had pre-sold all of my spots and found out that women really like to hit a heavy bag to get into shape! My success has attracted the attention of four different imitators have come and gone since I’ve establish my program.

Next Week: How He Gets Hundreds of Leads Per Month!