Mittmaster Matt Chapman

I talk to Mittmaster Matt Chapman, a martial artist for 35 years who has a wealth of experience instructing Jeet Kune Do, Kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA.

He provides valuable insights on how nurturing and caring for new martial arts students helps them stick with and become proficient at their desired art. We also discuss how that TLC can transfer over to the development of fighters and how he developed the Mittmaster Pad Training System.

He details how he has applied his martial arts philosophy to that padwork system and how training with Erik Paulson has influenced his style.

Listen To Mittmaster Matt



Welcoming & Greeting Beginners

Matt explains that often when you walk into a martial arts school, the first thing that happens is that nobody talks to you; he’s seen it himself when he has walked into schools people are training, and nobody has come over to talk to him. Then fifteen minutes later, the instructor comes over and talks to him, usually after they have finished beating someone up, when they’re sweaty and a mess. Entering a new environment, like a gym, can be really scary. You should greet and help them get started when people first walk in. If you don’t, they might not come back. So his advice is that you first should expect your beginners to turn up during class and then greet them as quickly as possible. It’s already an intimidating environment for people who are not used to it, so it helps to be as welcoming as possible.

The Two Fears of Beginners

There are two things that beginners are afraid of when they start martial arts: getting hurt and looking stupid. If instructors give them too much to learn at once, beginners feel overwhelmed and think that they can’t do it. They become self-conscious and stop coming to class. An ideal class for beginners would be relaxed and friendly, with less technical detail being taught so that students can work through the basics at their own pace. It’s important not to overwhelm beginners with too much information right away.

Student Safety & Minimising Injuries

Matt explained how It’s important for instructors to avoid having their students get injured as much as possible. He states that if you have a beginner, they’re usually gone and won’t return if they get injured in the first few months. Getting them back is hard if they’ve just started training and haven’t developed the habit or passion for it yet. So you want to minimize the chances of injury by not doing specific exercises, like plyometric exercises, for beginners.

Matt doesn’t do certain deep stretches with beginners and won’t let people hold pads and kick it full force because they have no idea what amount of force will come through the Thai pads into their partner’s elbows. You have a responsibility to your students. If you know a student is not ready for holding pads, then you shouldn’t have them holding pads, or at least you should be monitoring it closely.

Coaching Fighters Vs Hobbyists

Matt explains that out of 100 students, 5 of them really want to be fighters and are determined to do what it takes. The other 95 students might not have the same passion or determination as the five fighters, but they can still be taught the skills and the art. The fighters will learn anyway, so it doesn’t matter if we help the other 95 or not. I believe that helping the other 95 is more important because they need it more.

He states that coaching fighters can be great fun, but after a while, coaches can get tired of dealing with them and their demands. Fighters are physically strong, but they can be quite sensitive, and they take things to heart. Coaches have to babysit their fighters, and after a while, some coaches get tired of it and want to teach regular people who appreciate what is being done for them.

Mittmaster Matt Resources

Mittmaster Matt Quotes

It’s important not to overwhelm beginners with too much information right away.

– Mittmaster Matt Chapman

Mittmaster Matt Links

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