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.

This particular episode is for everyone, not just martial artists.

If you use words to interact in your daily life, then you need to learn Tongue Fu.

This a universal system for dealing with words from other people either face to face, online, or via gossip.

As someone who has been teaching public speaking for three decades, I often hear people refer to a study from the 1970s that determined that communication is 55% body language. 38% is the tone and sound of the speaker’s voice. And the remaining 7% of communication comes from the words spoken. The conclusion? Words are only 7% of communication.

The study has been debunked as junk science. If it were true, we would not need the politically correct language police that has stifled communication over the past decade.

Interestingly, those obsessed with “offensive” language often describe their hurt with the most vulgar words in the English language.

The truth is that words matter. Words are essential, and your grasp and ability to use the right words will have a massive impact on your ability to communicate.

As martial arts instructors, we use words to motivate, inspire, correct, and discipline students. We use words to sell our programs. We carefully use our words when dealing with parents upset because you failed their child on a belt exam.

What most of us DO NOT teach is how to use words to avoid confrontation in daily life from family interactions, schoolyard dialogue, or a serious threat that could lead to a fight.

This is why I am so excited to introduce you to Tongue Fu. Tongue Fuis the brainchild of my guest Sam Horn. I’ve read Verbal Judo, The Gentle Art of Verbal Defense, and Tongue Fu. Tongue Fu was by far the most effective, easy to learn and easy to teach program.

The principles of Tongue Fu is an intricate element in the Empower Kickboxing curriculum. 

Get Certified in Tongue Fu!
Online courses and certification program.

1. Tongue Fu!® Full Course

2. Tongue Fu!® I

3. Tongue Fu!® II

4. Tongue Fu Certification Course

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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