The Why - The core of Mann's Martial Arts is based on addressing one thing, and it's something most schools don't tell students upfront. Across the board, only 2-3% of adult beginners make it to black belt, and that's a documented statistic dating back to the 60's done by Black Belt Magazine. School owners accept it, most won't attempt to improve it, and many spin it to their advantage (i.e. "you're special if you get a black belt from me"). However think about this. In what industry is 97-98% customer attrition acceptable?
During his own training and teaching in different styles and schools, Mr. Mann has seen countless adults come-and-go. He'd often reach out to them inquiring why they quit, and kept a list of those reasons, wondering if one day something could be done about them.
In early 2005 Mr. Mann was looking over that list, and he started making detailed notes about many of those problem areas. He listed the pros and cons of both sides, as if he were on a debate team that could require taking either side. He then spent months presenting it to many instructors he'd known from his then 25 years in the martial arts.
From the cloudy fog of it all a consensus arose and the pieces came together to create something unique.
Then in September 2005, Mann's Martial Arts began to validate all that had been theorized by many great martial arts minds. The main objective was simple but the task wasn't - get more adult beginners to black belt and make them real black belts.
The How - If something has a high failure rate and you want a different result, you obviously have to use different methods. First, address adult frustrations. Give adults better and more personalized attention. Bring enthusiasm, excitement, and positive energy to every class. Provide detailed explanations about concepts, drills, what if's, every aspect of what they're doing, so they deeply understand why it's taught. Leave no unanswered questions in their mind. Create a school culture of friendliness. Encourage an environment of interaction so everyone helps each other become better and reach their goals, that way they all rise to the top "leaving no man behind", and in the process all become martial arts leaders. Instructors will attempt to make a personal connection with every student during every class. Operate from the concept of "servant leadership" instead of dictatorship. Create realistic adult expectations, and individually tailor them if need be. Remove martial arts fluff that isn't realistic for the street (no forms, no weird stances, no weird blocks). Streamline what's taught by focusing on fewer punches (just 5) and fewer kicks (just 5). For kicks, if they can't kick to the head, let them just kick to the stomach, and if they can't kick to the stomach, let them kick to the legs. If there's certain kicks they physically can't do, they won't be part of their rank requirements. No splits or extreme flexibility will be demanded for rank promotions. There will be no jumping or aerial kicks to prevent damaging aging adult bodies. Make all 3600 seconds of each class count, and the majority of that time about developing speed, because that's what really matters. To do that, remove all unnecessary warm-ups, stretches, and calisthenics, let them do that 10 minutes before class or at home. Employ during speed drills all 10 of the critical speed components many schools overlook. Only offer 2 classes per week. Do more punches and kicks in 1 day than most schools do in a week. Classes will be challenging yet fun, and something they look forward to rather than dread. Deliver noticeable results quicker than other schools. The school standard - for whatever rank a Mann's Martial Arts student holds, their speed will be 2-3 times faster than students elsewhere.
The What - Mann's Martial Arts is a mixture of various styles and influences, yet individually adaptable. To some it may seem like kickboxing, yet adds grappling, combatives, and dirty fighting. It's designed to give adults every possible tool it takes to end a street confrontation quickly and decisively. Survival is infinitely more important than trophies, especially for adults, yet many schools don't train that way. Training will cover 2 types of proficiency, short term proficiency via a devastating and complete self-defense system that students can become highly skilled at in months, and long term proficiency via a kickboxing format should a confrontation turn into a fight. It's a comprehensive selection of techniques and concepts from every style Mr. Mann's trained in and been exposed too - Taekwondo, Kickboxing, Kenpo, Jujitsu, Judo, Goju-Ryu, Vee Jitsu (a devastating short term proficiency self defense system), Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do, Hapkido, Israeli Combatives, San Soo (Chinese Combatives), Sambo (Russian Combatives - painful foot, ankle, knee and hip locks), U.S. Combatives, every Grappling Foul that exists, and an incredible arsenal of Dirty Fighting techniques from Mr. Mann's personal library of over 100 TRS Direct dvd's (the instructional kings of dirty fighting).
The Result - The best way to know if what a school teaches is good or works, is to put it in front of other martial artists, they'll definitely let you know. During the school's first 12 months that was done in 2 ways, testing and tournaments.
The school's very first rank promotion test was in early 2006, roughly 4 months after it opened. One of the longest active and most highly respected TKD instructors in Dallas, was invited to help grade the first set of students, which were all white belts. During the rank result deliberations after the test he told Mr. Mann, "I don't know what you've done or how you did it, but I'm okay with you double or triple promoting all of them." None of them had any prior training.
Shortly after the test was their first tournament, just to stick their toes in the water, and see how their skill level compared to students from other schools. It was a huge one at LSU in Shreveport. They all won 1st place and the Dallas Morning News even ran an article in it's "Sports" section, page 16C, on 03/20/2006 about it.
They were so fired up when they got back, they wanted to keep doing tournaments. They did and month-after-month they were winning 1st place nearly every time.
Then something really special happened at a tournament roughly around May 2006. Fort Worth's oldest and most respected TKD instructor from the 60's, came up to Mr. Mann during a tournament and said "Your guys look really good." All of the students from Mann's Martial Arts won 1st place that day.
Mr. Mann states his personal favorites happened on 3 different occasions in 2006. There were 3 different instances at tournaments in 2006, in which Mann's Martial Arts yellow belts were asked to spar brown belts, just in an exhibition sort of way. The first was at the LSU tournament and the other 2 at Dallas tournaments. What wasn't expected was all 3 times those yellow belts outscoring and beating 3 different brown belts from other schools. When yellows are beating browns, that seems to pretty well validate Mr. Mann's standard of his students being at least 2-3 ranks better than students from other schools.
During 2006, the school's first full year of existence, every time the school's students entered a tournament, more adult students from Mann's Martial Arts won 1st place than any other schools adults, and that's a documented fact.
After that year the school had achieved the goal of establishing a name for itself, showing the martial arts community it's students could consistently outperform students of the same rank from other schools. With nothing left to prove, the students were getting bored with tournaments, they lost their appeal, and they slowly started to distance themselves from them.
The school succeeded and validated what many great martial arts minds had theorized, the creation of highly skilled students in a short amount of time.