Martial Arts Instructor News and Articles

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.

It’s a common occurrence in martial arts schools for a buddy of yours to say ‘Hey! I’d like to teach a seminar for x amount of dollars’ and you promote the seminar and you bring the guy in. There have been schools that rent their space out in the mornings to yoga or tai chi or aerobics and on the weekends, sometimes even to churches on Sunday’s. This is a common occurrence, and there can be serious repercussions if you do not take the proper steps to structure this arrangement.

The question is does the person wanting to come and use your facility to teach their class, regardless of what kind of class it is, carry their own martial arts school insurance? Are they requiring their participants to sign a liability waiver? I recommend to every martial arts school to get proof of insurance before you rent space to anyone, teaching any kind of class, whether it’s yoga, tai chi or kickboxing or self-defense. It doesn’t matter, make sure they have their own insurance and make sure that they are having their members or their participants sign a waiver. It’s important that the school owner has proof of it before letting the people come in and it can be a buddy that they’ve known a long time or it can be someone that they just found driving by. No matter what, the instructor really has to carry their own insurance or if you want that instructor to work for you, you can hire that instructor and have their participants sign your own waiver and you can just pay that instructor whatever your wage is. But in the end, if they don’t have insurance, any injury with their students could be coming back on you and your business with you not having a signed waiver in your businesses name and you not getting the appropriate remuneration for those people participating in your school and being on your insurance.

You can get Individual Instructor Insurance Policies placed by SFIC for less than two hundred dollars a year, which would cover that Instructor, no matter where he goes to train or to work with people.

There is coverage out there for instructors who do not own their own facility and who either work on a rent basis or on a 1099 contract basis. They can have their own coverage and if they are teaching a class in the church rec centre or they are teaching it at the Boy Scout Hut or they’re teaching it at a women’s club, they would be covered everywhere they go. So, it is absolutely crazy for the instructors to be walking around without their own coverage, but an individual school owner needs to say ‘Hey! Buddy.  My Insurance isn’t going to let me, you know, let you be here without getting proof of your Insurance and I need to make sure that you’ve got your participants signing a waiver, otherwise, I want them to be signing my waiver.’  They need to sign a liability waiver, understanding they could be injured in a class.

Whether it makes sense to use your after hour times, or maybe it’s during the day or on a Sunday, or after your kids are done and you’ve got an adults class of some kind coming in there, it makes a lot of sense to get some revenue out of your down time, but you still want to be on site and enroll those people. It’s highly recommended an owner be on site or have an employee on site when an outside party is coming in to use their facility, just to make sure that the facility is properly treated and the classes are safe.

Here’s an interesting story in which a school owner did allow a buddy to come in and teach a self defense course and there was a significant life threatening injury to a person and the buddy of the school owner did not have his own martial arts insurance. It’s going to come back on the school’s Insurance and you the school will have a major claim which could impact their ability to buy insurance in the future and their ability to stay in business. A student got hurt with a guest instructor on duty, who used the space and didn’t have their own insurance, that wasn’t going through the school, it was going through this outside instructor that he just let come in and use the space. So, it’s important to make sure these outside instructors, have their own Insurance because the claim would go against the instructor and not against the school. It’s important to not risk your business by letting someone come in and use your space. Just take a quick minute and say ‘Hey! I need to make sure you have insurance and I may need to make sure your participants are signing waivers’ and feel free to blame it on your insurance company, you’re not trying to hurt your buddies feelings, it’s not that you don’t like him or want him using your space, it’s that you really have to and it’s smart to protect your business that way.

Realistically that poor decision could cost this guy his business and if the corporate shield is penetrated, which it usually is pretty easily, he could be facing some personal liability as well.

Everybody gets asked for a buddy to use a facility. It’s not a good decision to let anyone use the facility without insurance and then find out. Again, supervise what they’re doing.

When it comes to protecting your martial arts school, your best defense is insurance with Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation at SFIC specializes in insuring Martial Arts and Fitness facilities. Go to today and tell them John Graden sent you.

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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