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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.

Martial Arts Management Starts With Prioritizing Your Day

Believe it or not, we’re 25% finished with this year. Freaky, I know. 

No doubt you ended last year with high hopes for for the new year. How is that going? Congratulations to those of you who are on target to hit, or exceed your goals. For the rest of you, here is a martial arts management suggestion to help you gain more control of your day.

Start each week by determining the five most important, high return tasks that must be completed or moved forward that week. 

List them in columns, then list, in order of importance, the steps you must take to accomplish the task.

Some steps will require you while others can be delegated.

Task 1 Task 2 Task 3 Task 4 Task 5

step 1 step 1 step 1 step 1 step 1

step 2 step 2 step 2 step 2 step 2

step 3 step 3 step 13 step 3 step 3

Here is the powerful part. Each day, block out time to ONLY attack whatever steps are next for your most important tasks on the list. Turn off email, tell your team you are not available, close all browser windows and make whatever you are working on full screen. 

Stay with that task ONLY for the allotted time. You may only have time to attack one or two tasks each with this method, but you will move closer to your goals much faster.

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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