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.

Communication doesn’t occur unless there is an opportunity for it to occur. If you want to maintain a good working relationship with the parents of your students, it is beneficial to create opportunities for communication with them. There are various methods which can be used in doing so.

As discussed previously in this chapter, regularly scheduled meetings may be appropriate and desired by some parents. Other parents may not feel the need, nor have the time for these meetings. You can, however, initiate conversations with them when they drop their kids off, or pick them up from training. Be sensitive to their availability. If they have a few minutes, a pleasant greeting can open a conversation and allow them to express their thoughts, or to ask questions about their child’s training.

Solicit feedback in the form of surveys. Although having these on hand at the school will get some results, mailings with self-addressed, stamped envelopes will allow the parents who only see your parking lot to participate.

Phone calls to parents whom you rarely see can open the door to increased communication. Unexpected phone calls, however, can be a little annoying or anxiety-provoking at times. If you talk with them about the fact that you like to receive feedback from parents, you can suggest occasional meetings or phone calls and gauge their response.

If you do have this type of contact, calendars, tickler files, or databases can be helpful in remembering when to make your next contact. Also, making a few notes when you do talk can provide consistency for subsequent contacts, as well as add to the value and importance of these conversations.

Newsletters can be used to acquaint parents with you, as well as other personnel at your school. Include articles that invite parents to contact you with comments or questions. Newsletters can also alert parents to any group activities, or an open house which you may be sponsoring. Such gatherings may become the forum for increased communication, and enhance the personal, friendly atmosphere of your school. Allow parents to volunteer to help at such functions if appropriate opportunities exist. This type of atmosphere does not detract from your professional reputation, and can be a point of added value for many students and parents.

It is also essential that your school is an inviting place for parents to stay during classes. Adequate seating which allows parents to watch the classes and have conversations with each other is essential. When they do come in, make them feel welcome. The message to them is that you appreciate them being there, and you want to make this a pleasant experience when they do come to your school.

Creating opportunities for communication might require some additional effort and creativity on your part. It does, however, send an important message to parents. It tells them that what they think about and expect in their child’s training is important to you.

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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