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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.

Tony Robbins Earns Black Belt
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Tony Robbins Earns Black Belt
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Jhoon Rhee, Tony Robbins, Ernie Reyes, Sr.

From about 1984 – to 1993, I had a cable TV show, USA Karate. In 1992, I drove over to Orlando to interview Tony Robbins, who had recently earned his black belt from Jhoon Rhee.

Tony was conducting his Fear Into Power weekend seminar that concluded with everyone, including me, firewalking on hot coals.

I did the math, and he grossed well over $1-million that weekend. He was gracious and fun as I spoke with him about his martial arts experience on the Monday following the seminar.

He shares some powerful insights as to what he observed while training to make black belt in nine months.

He also sparked an interest in hypnosis and Neuro Lingustic Programming. About a decade later a good friend of mine who trained with Richard Kim told me that Kim had studied hypnosis as well.

I started to research both and have over 100 hours of professional hypnosis and NLP training that has helped to open my eyes to the power of trance and influence.

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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