A world kickboxing champion and certified fitness instructor, Jim Graden is the creator and developer of the Ultimate Bodyshaping Course (UBC). The UBC is a ten-week Martial Arts fitness Course that combines fitness Kickboxing, resistance training, flexibility and a sound nutritional program to give a fun and fast way to get in great shape. Jim currently licenses the UBC program to over a hundred martial arts and fitness studios worldwide.
Jim Graden is also the developer of Cardio Karate. The NAPMA (National Association of Professional Martial Artists) Cardio Karate certification tour was the largest of its kind. Jim has personally certified over 6,000 fitness instructors to teach cardio karate.
Jim has co-hosted a nationally distributed fitness video, “Kickboxing for Fun and Fitness” which has received outstanding reviews from the fitness community. He also hosted the NAPMA Cardio Karate Video series, a monthly video that was distributed to over 2000 subscribers worldwide, for over five years. He currently is a monthly columnist and consultant for Martial Arts Professional magazine.
Jim is a five-time member of the World Champion United States Karate team that won team world titles in London, England in ‘85 and Munich, Germany in ‘89. Jim Graden won the International Karate League World Heavyweight Kickboxing title in Palermo, Sicily in 1991. Jim has also been the feature cover story in numerous national Martial Arts publications including Black Belt Magazine and Martial Arts Professional.
Jim Graden is also 7th degree master martial arts in the Joe Lewis Fighting systems. Jim trained directly with Joe Lewis for over ten years. Jim credits the training he did with Joe Lewis for making him a World Kickboxing Champion.
Mr. Graden is a certified fitness instructor with the International Sports and Science Association. He is also a certified martial arts instructor with the American Council on Martial Arts (ACMA) out of the Coopers Institute for Aerobic Research Center in Dallas, TX.
The History of The Elite Martial Arts
by Jim Graden
The Elite Martial Arts System was created from my 25 plus years of experience in fitness and martial arts. I have been extremely blessed by those who taught and influenced me:
- Walt Bone, a national forms and fighting champion, who gave me a solid foundation in traditional martial arts, the legendary Joe Lewis, who I give credit for making me a World Champion,
- and Doctor Kenneth Kroll, a Harvard medical trained surgeon and anti-aging export, who became my nutritional guru.
I have also had the privilege of being coached by, and teammates with, some of the very best martial artists in the world, including World Champions, Bill “Super Foot” Wallace and Jeff Smith, who both coached me on the United Stated Karate teams. Jeff Smith also had a tremendously influence on me in the business end of martial arts. Joe Lewis, Jeff Smith and Bill Wallace are considered founding fathers of American martial arts and were the first true World Kickboxing Champions. These kinds of influences, combined with my ten years plus experience creating effective martial arts fitness programming, brings me to what I feel is the pinnacle of my career, the creation of the Elite Martial Arts Fitness System.
This system is the culmination of all of my experiences. I have taken everything I know that works inside the ring from being a World Kickboxing Champion, and everything that works outside the ring from my many years training thousands of people in the martial arts and fitness. Before we get started, let me give you some details about my martial arts and fitness background so you know exactly where I’m coming from.
From the Beginning
My first instructor was national forms and fighting champion Walt Bone. Forms, also known as Kata, is an artistic expression of traditional martial arts. Mr. Bone was a stickler for detail in forms and all aspects of his martial arts teaching. What made him unique was his willingness to embrace modern fighting concepts, but at the same time honor the history and tradition of the martial arts. Mr. Bone was a good friend of my future instructor, Joe Lewis, who is, in my opinion, is the foremost expert in modern strategies and advance fighting theories.
Mr. Bone first started studying martial arts in Texas from a man named Alan Steen who was trained by Grand Master Jhoon Rhee. Because he brought Tae Kwon Do to the U.S., Master Rhee was named by the Immigration Service as one of the top 200 most influential immigrants to come to the United States.
Mr. Bone moved to Seminole, Florida in 1972 and opened the Florida Karate Academy. He, along with his wife Debbie, and his chief instructors, Hank Farrah (my first instructor) and Richard Jenkins, dominated tournament martial arts in the state of Florida in the 70’s.
I began training at the Florida Karate Academy in 1976 along with my brothers Mark and John.
One of the things I will never forget about Mr. Bone was his giving nature. Mr. Bone was someone who put people first. My brothers and I could not afford to pay for our tuition so he allowed us, and many others like us, to clean the school for our tuition. Mr. Bone was my inspiration for creating a children’s charity called the Project Action Foundation along with my partner and friend Kevin Walker.
I knew from the very beginning that martial arts was IT for me. I fondly remember when I took a career test in the 8th grade. The question was, “What career do you want when you grow up?”. They didn’t have martial arts instructor or world karate champion listed so I wrote it in myself.
I achieved 1st degree black belt in American Tae Kwon Do in 1980 at the age of 16 and started teaching professionally at the age of 17 at a local YMCA. Also, at 17, I fought my first kickboxing match which was televised nationwide on ESPN. I was knocked down in the first round with a spinning back fist, a technique I had never seen before. I got off the canvas, dropped my opponent twice and won by a unanimous decision. I was never knocked down in a kickboxing match again.
In 1982, age 18, I was awarded my 2nd degree black belt from Mr. Bone. I was also rated as the number one tournament fighter in Florida by Karate Illustrated magazine. Later that same year, tragedy struck when Walt Bone was killed in an airplane accident.
In 1983, at just 19 years old, I opened my first martial arts studio, the Florida Karate Academy of Largo.
Training with a Legend
In 1984, I began training with the legendary Joe Lewis. In a Black Belt magazine poll, Joe Lewis was also voted by his peers, including Chuck Norris, as the greatest martial arts fighter of the 20th Century. Not only did Joe Lewis dominate competitive martial arts in the 60’s and 70’ but he was considered an analytical giant when it came to fighting strategies and theories. Joe Lewis is the only person to be named to Black Belt Magazine’s Hall of Fame for both competitor of the year and teacher of the year. Joe, who trained with Bruce Lee for two years, is also considered the father of American Kickboxing and was the first professional World Heavyweight Kickboxing Champion.
I trained with Joe for a solid ten years while he lived in Florida. Many of my training sessions with Joe included grueling boxing and kickboxing workouts at the famous St. Pete Boxing Club, which is home to many boxing champions, including World Middleweight Champion, Winky Wright.
After Joe moved to North Carolina, I would visit him and his wife Kim and stay at their house. Joe and I would work out at the local boxing club or in his garage until wee hours in the morning. Those training sessions are the basis for much of what is in this manual.
Becoming a Champion
The workouts started paying off for me. Soon after working with Joe, I won the Florida State Heavyweight Kickboxing title and the Southeastern U.S. Kickboxing title. United States Karate Team In 1985, I was greatly honored by being named to the United States Karate Team. I went on a ten-day tour of Europe fighting in packed arenas all across Europe. The team was made up of some of the world’s greatest martial artists including World Boxing and Kickboxing Champion Troy Dorsey, Ray MaCallum, John Longstreet, Steve “Nasty” Anderson (considered by many as the greatest tournament fighter of all times), Linda Dentley and was coached by Joe Lewis. During the tour, I won the Pasqua Del Budo in Venice, Italy, one of Europe’s largest and most prestigious martial arts tournaments. My record for the tour was 12 & 1, losing only on the last day of competition.
The same year, I was again named to the United States Karate team which competed in the World Kickboxing Championships in London, England. I won a personal silver medal and the U.S. team won the team World title.
Two years later and for a third time, I was named to the United States Karate team to compete in the World Championships.
This time the championships were held in Munich, Germany, which happens to be my birthplace.
In just two days I fought fighters from four different countries: Greece, Yugoslavia, Germany and Hungary. Each fighter was the national champion from their respective country.
With Jeff Smith and Bill Wallace in my corner, I beat the hometown favorite from Munich in front of ten thousand spectators to advance to the finals. But I came up short and lost a close split decision in the finals to the fighter from Hungary. I again won a personal silver medal and the U.S. team won the team World title.
I then attacked my goal of winning a personal world title with a vengeance fighting whoever and whenever I could. Once I even promoted an event, did the TV commentating for the first half of the show, and then climbed in the ring and fought the main event with a guy who was 7-0 with seven knockouts. I dominated the bout and for the next month the fight aired on local TV.
Becoming a World Champion In 1990, all the hard work finally paid off when I won the International Kickboxing League (IKL) World HeavyWeight Kickboxing Title with an eighth round TKO of Bruno Patiglia in Palermo, Sicily. After achieving one of my lifelong goals of becoming a world champion at the age of 27, I then changed directions and focused on building my martial arts school. For over ten years, I had a large thriving martial arts school with over 400 active members, 80% of those students being children. I personally promoted hundreds of students to the rank of Black Belt.
In 1994, I co-founded a “non-profit” children’s charity called the Project Action Foundation. The Project Action Foundation helped at-risk children get involved in the physical arts of dance, gymnastics and martial arts. Since its inception, Project Action has given away millions of dollars to help at-risk kids get involved in the physical arts.
In the mid 90’s I would again change directions in my career. I wanted to find a way to attract more adults into martial arts. So, along with the National Association Of Professional Martial Artist (NAPMA) I developed Cardio Karate.
Cardio Karate was my first attempt at getting more adults involved in martial arts. We had great success with Cardio Karate with me personally certifying over 6,000 instructors to teach it in every major city in the U.S. and conducting certification seminars in Canada, England and Australia. Cardio Karate is a great workout but limited by being just a martial arts workout set to the rhythm of fast paced music. The challenge with Cardio Karate, or any other workout class, is if a student takes the class but then go’s home and consumes a whole pizza, they aren’t going to get the results they want. They are probably going to blame it on the class and not their bad eating habits. The public needed a more complete program that takes all of the guesswork out of what it takes to become fit, along with personal support.
Ultimate Bodyshaping Course (UBC)
I then took all the knowledge I acquired from Cardio Karate and being a martial arts athlete and created the Ultimate Bodyshaping Course (UBC). The UBC combines fitness kickboxing with resistance training, flexibility and sound nutritional program. It takes all the guesswork out of what it takes to get fit. We put students on teams with team challenges because the goal is to make fitness fun, not drudgery. The only problem with the UBC is that it’s only a ten-week course.
Elite Martial Arts System
This is where the Elite Martial Arts System comes in. The Elite Martial Arts System reflects all the knowledge I have acquired during my martial arts and fitness journey. Combining Tae Kwon Do, boxing, kickboxing, nutrition and fitness, the Elite Martial Arts System is a peogram that has students incorporating long-term fitness goals with martial arts goals. It’s a three-year course that is divided into different belt levels that will have you beginning at level one represented with a White Belt and eventually leading to Black Belt. The belt levels are: White Belt, Orange Belt, Green Belt, Blue Belt, Red Belt, 2nd Degree Brown Belt, 1st Degree Brown Belt and Black Belt.
The idea is to help you have a long term (36 month) perspective on fitness by giving you the ultimate goal of achieving a Black Belt. The program is a demanding system that is going to challenge you to be the best that you can be. The Elite Martial Arts System was created with you in mind because it was designed so anyone can participate. It is a safe, effective martial arts system that will improve your body coordination, balance, flexibility, focus and your ability to defend yourself.
You will be judged only on your own effort and ability. The Elite Martial Arts Fitness System will challenge you in a safe and effective manner so you will be able to do things with your body you never dreamed possible.
This program was not designed for people who want to climb into the ring and fight (even though you will be fully qualified to do so) but to bring out the very best in you no matter if you are young, old, fat, skinny, male or female.
You will also be asked to take fitness evaluations every time you test for a new belt rank. The evaluations will test your upper body strength, abdominal strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance. You will be graded on the improvements you have made, based on your age and gender. The goal when achieving your Black Belt is that you are mentally, physically and emotionally the best you can be. So, let’s get started!