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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.

To learn how to teach an anti-bully seminar, go to my 23-minute webinar, How to Stop Bullying: A Parents Guide

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

how to teach an anti-bullying seminar
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how to teach an anti-bullying seminar
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How To Teach An Anti-Bullying Seminar

If you are planning a bully seminar, please take the time to research the basis for what you are going to teach. 

Recently, someone promoted a webinar where he was going to present the “right way” for martial arts instructors to teach a bully program.

The actual webinar had little or nothing to do with how to teach an anti-bullying seminar.

Like many “bully experts,” he/she taught an academic presentation that was 2-parts statistics and 1-part sidewalk psychologist. 

Where you get your information from is really important.

If you are simply repeating the “Bully-Proof” program your instructor taught you, then you are perpetuating weak information. 

No one can be bully proof. Any can be bullied. 

We see it every day on the news. If someone doesn’t like the political views of another, they hit them in the head with a padlock in a sock or pepper spray them. 

Many of the victims are prominent figures. Wouldn’t you think a congressman would have the resources to be bully-proof? If he can’t, how can your 7-year-old student be bully-proof?

Who deals with bullies every day of the year? Street cops and prison guards that’s who. I’m sure there are others, but I use this example because the bully program MATA uses and endorses comes straight from a former street cop and prison guard.

Chris Sutton was both, and he’s combined that experience into his COBRA-Defense program

Here is why that is important. As a cop and a maximum-security prison guard, Chris dealt with the worst of the worst of bullies. 

Here is the important part. He would have to write a report on each incident.

After a decade of documenting the setup, motivation, actions, and reactions of countless bullies and victims, he started to see predictable patterns that were based in reality, not academic theory.

The program is proactive and prevention-focused, but it also has powerful actions to end bullying quickly once it starts.

This program is part of the kickboxing curriculum, Empower Kickboxing.

Question for you. How does this compare to what you are teaching about bullying?


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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