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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.

Maintaining a good working relationship with the parents of your students brings on its own challenges. Some parents can be quite busy. They may simply drop their kids off in the parking lot at the beginning of class, and return when class is over to pick them up, vanishing as quickly as they came. In essence, your contact with these parents may be limited to receiving a monthly tuition payment. Their child may be performing adequately in class, so you see no reason to have more communication with them than you do at present.

Although the above scenario presents an advantage in that these parents do not take up your limited time, there is a disadvantage in that you lack an understanding of how they view your school and their child’s training. You might assume that as long as you get a tuition payment every month, things are okay. If, however, this is your only form of communication and contact with the parents, you may be missing out on some essential information.

There are some things you would benefit from knowing about these parents’ perspectives.

– Are they satisfied with the school, and committed to keeping their child in training?

– Do they see their child as making adequate progress toward the goals which were discussed at the outset of training?

– Are they supporting your efforts with the child at home?

– Are there changes coming up in their family situation, schedule or other areas which may cause them to pull the child out of your school? These considerations, and others, can have an impact on the child’s progress in training, as well as how long he/she remains at your school.

These parents also need information from, and contact with you. Some parents may not understand that training in the martial arts is not just “participating in another sport.” If their kids disappear from your classes after six months, you may simply see this as a lack of commitment on their part to follow through with the training. It is important, however, that you assess your own commitment to maintaining a working relationship with parents which may preempt their departure. This includes helping them to understand that this training is more than a hobby or simple recreation.

There are some important considerations in this regard.

– Do you spend time talking with parents, reminding them of training goals and benefits, and reinforcing the commitment to keep their child in training and at your school?

– Do you talk with them about your efforts with their child, and check to see if there are problems with the school or training, of which you must be aware?

– Do they know how to support your efforts with the child at home? The point is that if you, as the child’s instructor, have this communication with the parents, you can do a great deal to maximize parents’ commitment and support for their child’s training. You also minimize the number of students needlessly terminating training at your school and thus enhance retention.Working with the Parents of Students – 6 

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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