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Grow Your Martial Arts School

Since 1993, MATA has been the must-have membership for martial arts school owners. Get all the tools, connections, and answers you need to succeed.

The Martial Arts “Teacher of Teachers”

“On his path of inspiration, motivation, and unparalleled success, John Graden has had a profound impact on the manner in which thousands of martial arts are operated worldwide.” — Martial Arts World magazine

WHO ARE MATA MEMBERS?

Black belts working hard to create a great living for their families so they can focus on their passion for changing lives through their schools.

Earn more income

Learn how to create the revenue that you deserve for your hard work and the life-long benefits you provide your students.

Enroll more students

We’ll show you the programs to offer to move a stranger to a student and a student to a black belt and staff instructors.

Become the "go to" school

Learn how to become the school people think of and talk about when “martial arts” are mentioned in your town or area.

Recent MATA Certification Graduates

The MATA Instructor Certification Program provides teachers an effective process
to create and maintain a productive classroom environment.

“MATA is a professional and quality organization. I wanted my Instructors and myself to be certified by the best.”

— Sidney Burns, Blue Ridge Martial Arts

I am continually looking for ways to improve my teaching knowledge and the MATA Instructor’s Certification is one of the finest and most updated courses an instructor can take.

I was impressed by the honesty of the content and detailed explanations of the various issues surrounding the teaching of Martial Arts these days.

Sidney Burns, Blue Ridge Martial Arts Academy

LATEST NEWS AND TRENDS

The Coronavirus and Your Rent

With the coronavirus pandemic blanketing the world, many martial arts school owners can’t conduct group classes for at least the next month or two. This creates beehive of complexity and questions. Our guest, The Lease Coach, gives us the answers.LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE...

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The Coronavirus and Your Martial Arts Insurance

Understanding Your Insurance Coverage From Jennifer Urmston of Sports & Fitness Insurance Corporation “It is important to remember that viruses are excluded from standard Commercial General Liability insurance policies. This means that insurance companies will...

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The Rent Market for Martial Arts Schools

Interview with the Lease Coach Dale Willerton In case you don’t know my full history I worked for landlord’s managing and leasing commercial properties for many years only to realize it was Tenants that needed my help, not landlords.  In 1993 I quit landlords and...

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What Makes a Good Weapon?

Former police officer, sheriff, and prison guard Chris Sutton, the founder of Cobra-Defense explains the 3 Traits of an Effective Weapon. SelfDefenseBusiness.com

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The Coronavirus and Your Rent

With the coronavirus pandemic blanketing the world, many martial arts school owners can’t conduct group classes for at least the next month or two. This creates beehive of complexity and questions. Our guest, The Lease Coach, gives us the answers.LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE...

read more

The Coronavirus and Your Martial Arts Insurance

Understanding Your Insurance Coverage From Jennifer Urmston of Sports & Fitness Insurance Corporation “It is important to remember that viruses are excluded from standard Commercial General Liability insurance policies. This means that insurance companies will...

read more

John Corcoran on Martial Arts Instructor Certification

John Corcoran on Martial Arts Instructor Certification

The late John Corcoran was a significant mentor of mine. I hired him to be the editor of the ACMA Instructor Certification program in 1998, which was a job he had great enthusiasm for. The ACMA has reworked and updated into the MATA Certification Program.
martial arts instructor certification

Click to enlarge

  Here is his Foreword for the ACMA Manual.

Let’s Learn From The Past Lest We Repeat It!

BY JOHN CORCORAN Don’t tell me about training, buster! I’m from the “old school” of martial arts—and I’ve got the injuries to prove it! For years, in fact, you could hear the physical symphony of snap, crackle, pop whenever I moved. It especially terrified my dance partners. It all started innocently enough. One time, when I was young and, in retrospect, astutely foolish, I enrolled in a karate class after seeing the flamboyant use of martial arts in a James Bond film. Most assuredly, I could have used James’ help during my lessons—as a personal bodyguard. For, as it turned out, I signed up for lessons in 1967—at the tail end of that notorious period known as the “Blood-n-Guts Era” of American karate. I was something of a 19-year old skinny runt, standing only about 5’6” and weighing in at 120 pounds. The type of skinflint bullies traveled from out of state to line up for. When I put on my first gi, with its “high-water” pants flagging around my lower knees, I looked like a scarecrow on a popsicle stick. The grueling training regimen of that era, as ACMA and NAPMA founder, John Graden articulates it so well, “Was not so much designed to build strong character, but to eliminate the weak ones.” Most instructors were gungho ex-military types who ran their classes with brutal boot-camp regimentation. But I was gungho myself. I rode a bus five miles each way to get to class, and sometimes also had to walk about a half-mile, even in all kinds of inclement weather, to and from the bus stop to my father’s home where I lived periodically. It’s not like I had much choice of changing schools for a more convenient location. In 1967, there were only about four or five karate schools in my entire hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Ah, the good old days! So scientific were the training methods of that time that, amazingly, I can still feel some of their peculiar lasting “benefits,” 30 years later. How well I remember doing those character-building bare-knuckle push-ups on concrete floors; punching, bare-fisted, straw-wrapped makiwara boards till my fists ached. All while working up a good gi-drenching sweat during mid-winter in cold buildings with minimal heat. We were breaking boards-sometimes with bare-knuckled punches that sometimes didn’t break, resulting in two swollen “egg knuckles” that never returned to normal size. My favorite was performing tens of thousands of repetitions using good old “bounce stretching” which is now called ballistic stretching. Sure, you’re thinking, everyone got hurt back then. And the truth is, only the strong did survive that prehistoric training, and it did forge us into stronger individuals, both physically and mentally. But as we know very well today, there’s a radical difference between self-improvement and self-destruction—a distinction truly lost on old-school beginners and intermediate practitioners. Like gungho automatons, we just did what we were told. Example: Sensei: “White belt, go run head first into that brick wall.” Beginner: "Yes, Sensei!" Bonk! Later, in our intermediate phase, we got smarter. We started to ask why. Example: Sensei: “Green belt, go run head first into that brick wall.” Green Belt: “But Sensei, why?” Sensei: Because it will strengthen your head butt.” Green Belt: “Yes, Sensei!” Bonk! Like so many of my peers today, I have some of those antiquated training methods I’ve cited above to thank for the torn ligaments in my knees, which is practically an industry standard among veteran black belts. As well, most of us suffer from a host of other unnecessary injuries from those early classes. How many veteran black belts do you know that have had hip replacement surgery? My nose, for example, is still cracked from one of my first sparring sessions: Me, a white belt with about three weeks of training, pitted against a bigger, stronger, more skilled green belt, who kicked me squarely in the face so hard I saw stars and my nose cracked and bled profusely. Some kind soul, probably not the instructor, threw some type of rag at me and directed me to wipe the blood off the floor so no one else slipped on it. My nose has been crooked ever since! My second instructor was hardly better, which brings me to perhaps the lowlight of my entire martial arts training. I won’t tell you his name in order to protect the guilty. He had this self~defense thing he did that he called, “Let’s work out together. _ But his vision and execution of this “shared" concept confused me for a long time; most of the time, it just hurt. Our Equal Opportunity Workout consisted of this. I would stand facing him, step forward and throw a simple reverse punch at his face with my right fist. He would block it and then beat the living daylights out of me with any number and all manner of hard contact punches, kicks, and chops tall over my body. Duh! This is definitely where I became intimate with the phrase, "marriage to gravity." The most memorable "Let's work out together" workout led to me, "Ben Gay night of terror!" I came home that night with my then–fiancé, a green belt in the same class, and collapsed on the bed. My instructor had beaten me almost senseless. I was black and blue everywhere from head to feet. I had a brilliant revelation on the way home from the school that night–"Honey, let's buy some of that Ben Gay stuff. The commercials say it's good for sore muscles. I had never before used a muscle ointment. Ignorant of its peculiar effect, I stripped and had my fiancé rub Ben Gay all over my body from neck to toes, both the back and front of me. Double Duh! I quickly learned the science of cause and effect. Cause: Never-rub Ben Gay over your entire body. Effect: When you do, it causes you to alternate between Hot Flashes and Cold Chills. So bad Were the Cold Chills my teeth were actually chattering” audibly and I had to wrap a heavy blanket around me in a futile attempt to stop my body from convulsively. About every 30 seconds, I was introduced to the “extreme” alternative. During the hot flashes, I broke into a feverish sweat and had to whip off the blanket and fight to breathe. I soaked the blanket and three towels with sweat before the dual effects began subsiding. The “Ben Gay Night of Terror ended about a half-hour later. This anecdote sure sounds funny in retrospect, but I can tell you now folks; that I didn't know if I was coming into this world or leaving it. And boy, was I mad at that instructor! Had he and I and a gun been in the same room right then, I know only two of us would have left and it wouldn't have been him! Here's the point behind all of my painful anecdotes. Let's learn from the past, lest we repeat it. There are still, unfortunately, far too many instructors using frightfully outdated teaching methods. Maybe nothing as severe or brutal as in my era, but certainly antiquated compared to other modern fitness industries. The future–the time for change–is now. In my 30+ years in the martial arts field, I've watched our industry rise from a storefront novelty practiced by a few in rooms akin to dungeons, to a popular activity mass-marketed in fine schools to millions of people in all walks of life. I've applauded our victories and mourned our failures over the years. I'm proud of our spectacular strides in so many areas but equally disappointed by areas suffering unnecessarily from stubborn stagnation. One such area, standardized teaching practices, should now be brought up to speed. Many of you, through associations like John Graden's NAPMA, are now becoming black belts at business. So, isn't right now a great time to become a black belt in teaching too? I knew you'd agree. So please read this book and apply its modern principles. Your students will thank you instead of suing you. Now there is a concept! Had I sustained my stupid injuries around the late 1980s or after, I probably could file a multi-million-dollar lawsuit for damages caused by instructor negligence. Heck, the trial for such a case might even air on Court TV. I could become a courtroom star as I sing the blues about my black and blues. Good thing I'm a nice guy. It's also a good thing that I've spent some 25 years around Hollywood and the entertainment business. There I learned how to use "props" not only to look 10 years younger than I am but also hide the otherwise disastrous effects of those numerous martial arts injuries I sustained during the "good old days." Now, at middle age, I'm finally going to have to get my nose straightened too the result of that green belt trying to remodel my face with his foot 30 years ago– since it mildly impairs my breathing capacity. No doubt a good L.A. plastic surgeon will charge me a few grand to help me smell the roses again. Paying for my youthful annoyance has been an expensive education, folks. But–ha, ha–I no longer clank when I walk. And for darn sure I know how and when to use Ben Gay sparingly! Now, if I could just perfect this last technique...BONK!  
2018 Martial Arts Teacher of the Year

2018 Martial Arts Teacher of the Year

Former Concrete Company Manager Grateful for COBRA and MATA

It’s a classic American success story. Sidney Burns of Bedford, VA, has grown from a karate crazed 8-year old to a master instructor with a well-established school and a year-old COBRA-Defense location that has rocketed out of the starting box.

Like many martial arts professionals, Master Burns started out teaching in a YMCA until 2012 when he opened Blue Ridge Martial Arts in Bedford, VA.

Sidney says that the best thing about his business is that he feels as though he hasn’t worked a day at it.

When he compares his current position to his days as General Manager of a concrete company, he can’t help but smile. But, he knows he didn’t get to where he’s at alone. Standing right beside him in full support is his wife of 29-years, Lisa and chief instructor, Lorna Coyle.

martial arts instructor certification

Sidney Burns and Lorna Coyle

Master Burns joined MATA in 2016 and quickly completed the MATA Certification course along with his staff. He says, “MATA is a quality, professional organization. I wanted my instructors and myself to be certified by the best. It’s just easier to follow the MATA program than to jump around chasing fads.”

He also discovered COBRA through MATA and quickly saw an opportunity to lock in the territory. According to Burns, “As with most martial arts schools, we struggled to enroll adult students. COBRA is an awesome program that fills that gap.”

His focused efforts with his COBRA school are already paying high dividends with group and high-end private classes.

Many MATA member schools teach COBRA as part of their school’s programs, but Sidney chose to open a separate location for COBRA. He said, “COBRA is so attractive to adults, that we wanted to expand to a larger town to reach more people. COBRA was surprisingly easy to implement. It gives you all the tools and support from headquarters for us to make that transition.”

As he looks back to his humble beginnings at the Y, he has learned some important lessons. He says to, “Be careful who you listen to and surround yourself with high achievers. Helping others see their potential is a tremendous honor. There is no better profession than teaching martial arts and self-defense.”

Sidney and Lisa Burns have made it a point to be a positive source of support for the community as well. From working with a suicide prevention group to sitting on the board of Bedford Christian Services, they are committed to leveraging their unique skills and talents to help make Bedford, VA a better place for all. It seems to be paying off.

Congratulations to Master Sidney Burns and the entire Blue Ridge Martial Arts team.

Visit BlueRidgeMA.com

How Martial Arts Instructors Miss the Mark in Teaching Confidence.

How Martial Arts Instructors Miss the Mark in Teaching Confidence.

A good martial arts teacher had an educated understanding of self-confidence and what is required to nurture it.

If a teacher treats students with respect, avoids ridicule and other belittling remarks deals with everyone fairly and justly, and projects a strong, benevolent conviction about every student’s potential, then that teacher is supporting both self-esteem and the process of learning and mastering challenges. For such a teacher, self-confidence is tied to reality, not to faking reality.

In contrast, however, if a teacher tries to nurture self-confidence by empty praise that bears no relationship to the students’ actual accomplishments – dropping all objective standards – allowing young people to believe that the only passport to self-confidence they need is the recognition that they are “unique” – then self-confidence is undermined and so is achievement.

We help people to grow by holding rational expectations up to them, not by expecting nothing of them; the latter is a message of contempt.

Self-confidence demands a high reality-orientation; it is grounded in reverent respect for facts and truth. Excessive and inappropriate self-absorption is symptomatic of poor self-confidence, not high self-confidence. If there is something we are confident about, we do not obsess about it – we get on with living.

ISN’T SELF-CONFIDENCE  THE CONSEQUENCE OF APPROVAL FROM SIGNIFICANT OTHERS?

No. If we live semi-consciously, non-self-responsibly, and without integrity, it will not matter who loves us – we will not love ourselves. When people betray their mind and judgment (“sell their souls”) to win the approval of their “significant others,” they may win that approval but their self-esteem suffers.

What shall it profit us to win the approval of the whole world and lose our own?

It is commonly held that among young people the approval of “significant others” does profoundly affect self-confidence, and to some extent, this is doubtless true – but one has to wonder about the reality of self-esteem that is so precarious that it crashes easily if that approval is withdrawn.

How to Teach Discipline

How to Teach Discipline

MATA Certification Excerpt

By Gianine D. Rosenblum, Ph.D.

Module 14 – Lesson 1: “Discipline” can be defined in two ways.

Discipline is: 

1. An action we take to make another person’s behavior conform to our standards, as in: “If you are out of line, I will discipline you to make you behave.”

2. Something an individual possesses within themselves which keeps his/her behavior in line with certain established rules of conduct. As martial arts instructors, it is your goal to help students move from needing discipline from the outside to having internal, self-discipline. 

Module 14 – Lesson 2: What Is the Role of Discipline in the Martial Arts School? 

Discipline is important on many levels. Martial arts instructors have a reputation for instilling discipline and teaching self-control to their students. Many parents bring their children to martial arts schools with the specific request that they learn to be more focused, concentrate better, and have more self-control at home and at school. Adults often come in looking for grown-up versions of the same thing. Through the martial arts, they hope to develop more self-discipline at work or in their commitment to physical exercise, or to develop a way to feel more self-confident and in control in all aspects of their lives.

An atmosphere of discipline is central to the successful functioning of the martial arts school. The school is an environment with a structure and clear rules of conduct. Much of the structure and rules of conduct are handed down from traditional martial arts training systems. Maintaining some of the traditional class structure is important, not for historical purposes, but because the traditional class structure, with its emphasis on external discipline, maximizes the likelihood that students will learn successfully and develop the desired self-discipline. 

Certain elements are important for encouraging discipline. The important elements in a traditional class include: A clearly laid-out structure with well-defined rules and expectations for behavior; clear communication of these rules so that they are understood by everyone involved; role models who conform to the rules and standards; clear rewards for success in following the rules.

These elements are important for fostering a positive atmosphere which is conducive to learning. In contrast, when a student is unclear about the rules of their school, he/she often feels uncertain and anxious. In general, when someone is unclear about what is expected of him or her, they may feel confused. When an individual accomplishes a goal or does what is desired, but receives no reward or recognition, he or she is likely to feel frustrated and ignored. 

Module 14 – Lesson 3: Key Elements For Encouraging Discipline In A Martial Arts Class

1. A clearly laid-out structure.

2. Well-defined rules and expectations. 

3. Clear communication of the rules. 

4. Role models who demonstrate the desired behavior.

5. Rewards for success and for following the rules.

6. Rewards for following the rules are consistently given.

An atmosphere of discipline, even fairly strict discipline, should not be confused with an atmosphere of harsh punishment, intimidation or fear. The most well-focused, respectful and motivated students can and should also be the happiest, most dedicated and least fearful. In a school that encourages discipline in a positive manner, students will learn most effectively and the negative side effects of punishment will be avoided.

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