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.

A State Supreme Court jury has awarded $980,000 to a woman for her pain and suffering after discs in her neck were damaged during a workout at a local gym.

The total award was $1.4 million, including $400,000 for past pain and suffering and $1 million for future pain and suffering. The woman was found 30% responsible for the damage, leaving the gym to absorb 70% of the award.

The woman’s attorney said that after his client underwent a cervical fusion to remove degenerated discs in her neck, doctors instructed her to stay fit and active to help avoid any future neck issues.  She hired a personal trainer at the gym after explaining her surgical history and restrictions.

The trainer designed a workout that involved a series of three strenuous exercises performed back to back with no rest said the attorney. His client questioned the workout, and the trainer assured her it was safe.

The woman awoke that night in excruciating pain and has never recovered, claiming the workout caused permanent damage to the discs above and below the original fusion, requiring an additional fusion as well as the installation of a titanium plate and titanium rods.

The woman’s surgeon testified that there is no surgery available to address all of the damage caused by the workout or to relieve all of her pain.  As a result, the attorney said, she will have headaches, chronic pain in her neck and radiating arm pain for the rest of her life as well as severe and permanent restrictions on the range of motion in her neck.

SFIC INSURANCE EXPERT COMMENTS…

The claim outlined in the attached article is a professional liability claim based on the professional services rendered by the personal trainer. All independent trainers need to carry their own professional liability policy to protect themselves from these types of claims and all fitness facilities need to make sure that their policies carry full limits for professional liability.

If you employ independent contractors in your studio, they must carry their own insurance and name your facility as additional insured. You should also verify that your trainers are certified by a reputable licensing body and are current with their continuing education requirements.

This claim is severe because of a pre-existing condition and question of the appropriateness of the workout to the client’s medical history. In your facility, you set the rules for how your trainers should work with clients that have pre-existing conditions and how they should respond if a client expresses concerns about the safety or appropriateness of a workout. Make sure all your trainers follow your guidelines even if some (or all) of your trainers are independent.

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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