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.


By John Graden

In 2018, Bill Cosby was convicted of a sexual assault from decades earlier. What does that have to do with your martial arts school?

This is an important lesson on the distinction between a martial arts school insurance policy that is specific to a time frame and a policy that is specific to incidents.

Claims Based Coverage is specific to a time frame. That time frame is usually limited to the duration of the policy.

Occurrence Based Coverage covers you for the time period of the policy and it continues to cover you for the legal statute on a covered claim.

This should cover you years later, if the incident occurred during the occurrence period of the policy.

A Claims Based Policy only covers you for claims that are made during that policies coverage period, which could be limited to the current year only.

Cosby’s situation, although in a whole different league, can provide some real-world clarity on this distinction.

An Occurrence Based Coverage probably would have covered him for the claim that occurred while the policy was active, even if it was years later.

It is very important to consult an experienced insurance professional in the martial arts and fitness industry who knows about the coverage on these studio policies.

MATA recommends contacting Cathy Young Potter of Sports and Fitness Insurance Corp. (SFIC) at or directly at 800.844.0536 Ext. 2250

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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