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.

Which is More Important?

I was on a consulting gig yesterday with a fast rising nutritional company. I was meeting with the 24 year old video producer. He said two things that I found interesting and worth sharing with you.

1. When he goes to Walmart, his eyes are on his phone. “They are wasting money with their Jurassic Park displays. That should be popping up on my phone or I’ll miss ‘em.”

2. A video should not last longer than a red light. Why? Because that’s when he watches videos. He hits play until he hears a honk behind him.


To me, this supports the evidence that young, hungry, web-raised school owners are running circles around some veterans simply because they “get” that their martial arts website design is MORE IMPORTANT than their school design for attracting and enrolling students. 

Your grand master titles and belt ranks mean nothing to a student body with an average age of 10. Your school and style history mean nothing and your championships mean nothing.

Yet, most martial arts school websites are full of information that means nothing to anyone but the school owner. The best martial arts websites keep the spotlight on the benefits the school offers and testimonials from happy families.

Here is a short video, though it’s longer than a red light, explaining why your website is more important than your storefront for attracting new students.

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.”

You May Also Like…