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.

NOTE: There is a link to the curriculum at the bottom of the page.

1. What is easier to learn? A hook kick or a sidekick? I say the hook kick.

Which do you teach first? I’ve always taught sidekick first. Why? Because it’s always been taught that way.

In truth, when you are teaching hook kick, most students are actually doing a low hook kick. Why? It’s a more natural movement.

2. What is easier to learn? A spinning hook kick or a spinning back kick? I say the spinning hook kick.

Which do you teach first? I’ve always taught spinning back kick. Why? Because it’s always been taught that way. The reality is that most kids can do a spinning hook kick on their first day in class.

3. As white belts in your school, do students have to first learn the basic tradition blocks and stances before they move into more applicable strikes and kicks? Why?

Traditional anything is more complex (not more advanced) than most any strike or kick. The application of traditional material is also harder to grasp for the new student.

Do the traditional arts have value? Yes! Absolutely. It’s just a bit of a hard sale to retain a new student when he is hit with this kind of complexity right out of the gate.

For the past few years I have been working on a curriculum that makes teaching and learning martial arts easy.

Rather than spreading practice time over dozens, if not hundreds of techniques, we focus on a much smaller amount of techniques so we can spend more time on each.

The idea is that if you spend 45-minutes practicing a half-dozen techniques in various applications your students will feel much more progress than if you spend that class teaching or reviewing a 24-move kata.

We call a month a Module. Each month the focus of the module changes:

Three Modules  = One Term

Term One

1. Kickboxing

2. Weapons / Ground

3. Martial Arts

Term Two

1. Kickboxing

2. Weapons / Ground

3. Martial Arts

Term Three

1. Kickboxing

2. Weapons / Ground

3. Martial Arts

Term Four

1. Kickboxing

2. Weapons / Ground

3. Martial Arts

 

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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