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.

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 switched over to Team-Tenant as The Lease Coach now 27 years.  The difference between The Lease Coach and traditional commercial brokers is they get paid hefty commissions by landlord’s while often making it seem like they are helping the Tenant. (clear conflict of interest to most people). 

While The Lease Coach only works for Tenants and only gets paid by the Tenant. I’ve written 3 books on the subject and speak to Tenants about 30 times per year on the subject, including some martial arts shows.

Because The Lease Coach has 8 offices across North America we have the good fortune to work with Martial Arts school owners ALL over the country, not in just one region.  So I don’t think it would be universally accurate to say the economy is booming and rent is skyrocketing.

The truth is it’s mostly a Tenant’s market and always has been.  My point is if a Martial Arts school closes there could be many reasons, but high rent is not normally one of them.  Yes, that is correct.  Martial Arts schools close because their sales are too low, not because the rents are too high. 

When a martial arts school owner comes to me to negotiate his lease renewal I ask what capacity the school is running at.  Most are at less than 70% capacity and many at 50% capacity. So there is plenty of room for more students and more revenue to offset the rent.

Don’t even get me started on the poor locations they select.  The best retail plazas were built for “retailers” not the martial arts industry to occupy.

I really enjoy working for Martial Arts school owners.  The vast majority of Martial Arts school owners are extremely hardworking honest, good people, but lacking in some business skills. 

Most of them are notoriously bad at selecting the right location for their school. They are terrible at negotiating the lease deal terms.  And they are equally poor at marketing their classes (hence the lower enrollment). They are not lazy. They simply lack the tools, contacts, experience, and training they need to do better, to excel.

80% of the lease renewals The Lease Coach negotiates for Tenants result in a rent reduction.  Most new lease deals we do are below market rents with generous free rent periods and Tenant Allowances. 

Nobody does their own dental work or makes their own shoes but everybody thinks that they can suddenly hold their own negotiating a real estate lease.  Not once did I give my kids a martial arts lesson but I paid thousands of dollars for other professionals to train them in the various arts, through the years. 

Want to pay lower rent, want a better lease – get professional help from someone who is an expert and who is only working for and being paid by you. So let’s not blame the economy and rents, let’s do what we need to do to make your business profitable.



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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