Updated: Apr 26, 2021
Before Joe Lewis’s passing, he asked me to help create a White to Black Belt curriculum for the Joe Lewis Fighting System. Since that time, I have dedicated myself to developing such a program, using Joe Lewis fighting strategies and Combat Sequences to create a traditionally structured belt system. The program I created is called World Champion Martial Arts - featuring Joe Lewis Fighting Strategies.
World Champion Martial Arts breaks down Joe Lewis’s most famous, but also most advanced fighting concepts, like broken rhythm and indirect angular attack into easy to learn drills that can be applied to any style of martial arts. The system also includes all of Joe Lewis’s Combat Sequences (Modern Kata’s) like the Matador, Shotgun and the Brown Bomber.
You may wonder "why me, Jim Graden, should create such a program, a lot of people trained with Joe Lewis?" Good question. I can honestly say with confidence that there is no one that trained as long and as directly with Joe Lewis as I did.
I know that is a bold statement, Joe has trained many great martial artists over multiple decades. Including both my brother John and Mark. But I'm sure they would both agree I was just at the right time to take full advantage of the tremendous opportunity Joe Lewis presented to us.
You see I started training with Joe Lewis when I was only 20 years old. I was already running my own school and was considered one of the top tournament fighters in Florida. Joe had just retired from fighting and came to Florida to work with Mike Anderson and my brother John to help him promote seminars.
Part of my brother Johns compensation for promoting Joes seminars was that Joe Lewis would train and teach John, this did not include his younger brother, me.
So in the beginning I hired Joe to teach me private lessons. But when my money ran out and I could no longer afford to pay Joe, he said and I quote "forget the money, let’s just work out" those simple and kind words changed my life forever.
In the beginning, it was Joe training both John and I, usually at the St. Pete Boxing Club in Saint Petersburg, FL. A famous boxing club that has put out multiple world boxing champions including, Winky Wright, Antonio Tarver and Keith Thurman.
This was an incredibly special time to grow as a martial artist. Joe Lewis had just recently retired from competing, he was in his early forties and still in great shape. The workouts were grueling, in Florida with no air conditioning and lots of heavy sparring with Joe!
The first major event Joe Lewis prepared us for was the Pasqua Del Budo in Venice, Italy. The Pasqua Del Budo was Europe’s largest and most prestigious martial arts event. The day after the tournament, as part of the US Karate Team, we started on an incredible ten-day tour, traveling, and competing in every major Italian city.
Day after day, traveling, sight-seeing, fighting then partying to the early hours. Get up the next day and do it all over again. It was a glorious time, training and making friends with such great martial artists.
I won the Pasqua Del Budo's heavy weight division, five fights, and came close to going undefeated in the following ten days. Only losing on the last night in Naples. Troy Dorsey was the only team member to go undefeated.
From there Joe then trained John and I for the 85’ WAKO World Championships in London, England. John and I both won a silver medal, but his was much more heart breaking.
He clearly won the title fight, but John always used counter fighting style. Hitting his opponents as they came forward then moving so he did not get hit back. A classic Joe Lewis style of fighting against pressure fighters.
John clearly beat and out pointed his opponent. But politics sometimes play out in sports. The US Team dominated the World Championships and John, not being the aggressor, gave the judges a reason to vote against an American. At least that is how I saw it.
After the London World Championships, Johns desire to continue competing faded, his focus was now on changing the business world of Martial Arts, as he did, with the creation of NAPMA years later. Where I was just getting started in my fighting career.
I started fighting on any fight card I could get on. Many times, with Joe in my corner. This led me to compete in the 87’ WAKO World Championships in Munich, Germany. Again, I would take a silver medal.
This time it was my turn to get the bad decision. A slip in the final round, that was called a knocked down, cost me the World Title. We did win the team world title with one of the most impressive US Karate Teams ever assembled.
I came home and continued to train with Joe and fight whenever I could. Joe was also traveling a lot at the time teaching seminars all over the world. Many times, we would have lunch together after a workout. He would write down exactly what he wanted me to work on, while he was gone, in preparation for an upcoming fight.
This is where the 7-Champion Rounds, in World Champion Martial Arts, Comes from. Joe would always break down strategy drills into rounds.
Each round had its own purpose, round one lead off techniques, round two- lateral movement, round 3- Combination angular attack, Round 4- broken rhythm and so on.
In 1990 I got an offer to take Jerry Rhome’s place in a world Title Fight in Polermo, Sicily. The challenge was the 10-round title fight was only 4-weeks away. Joe was the first person I called after getting the offer, to get his advice.
Joe’s advice was to get my butt up to North Carolina so we can start training! You see, around this time, Joe had recently moved back to North Carolina, with his wife Kim.
The fight was four weeks away and I spent the last two weeks staying with Joe and Kim. We would wake up, run, breakfast, then go to the local boxing gym in the afternoon. Come back, have dinner, then go to his garage to train and discuss the fight till late in the evening. (check out the video below. Joe, in the garage, going over how I should approach each round of the upcoming title shot.)
This was the greatest thing anyone has ever done for me! Joe trained me all that time and all he ever asked from me was to call him first when I won. And I did!
I knocked out Bruno Caompiglia in the 8th round in Polermo, Sicily to become the PKL World Kickboxing Champion.
So when I say I trained longer and closer to Joe Lewis than anyone else you now know why. Joe and I stayed close, up until his passing in 2012. He would come down to Florida and stay with me at my townhouse on the beach and train at my school. I think he liked the fact that,
when I was in the middle of my Ultimate Body Challenge (UBC) success, my school was full of really fit athletic women instead of sweaty fighters. Joe was always a big part of my school and my life; I even threw him a 60th birthday party. I deeply miss Joe Lewis.
I am now making available to everyone the knowledge that Joe pounded into me, literally over all those years. A structured, easy to follow, step by step approach to what Joe Lewis taught me and made me a world champion.
I am starting live stream World Champion Martial Arts class Tuesdays and Thursdays morning at 9:00am. The class is only 30-minutes in length and focuses on Joe Lewis Combat Sequences and Fight Strategies.
First two classes, Starting May 18th and 20th, and will focus on the Combat Sequence THE SNAP BACK and round number (4) of the Seven Champion Rounds BROKEN RYTHEM ANGULAR ATTACK. I am personally inviting you to join me, No Cost No Obligation, just an opportunity to learn what I learned form the great Joe Lewis.
Just email JimGradenMartialArts@gmail.com or Message me and I will make sure you are sent the link to the two classes.
Be careful, World Champion Martial Arts might just might completely change the way you think about the martial arts. I know Joe Lewis Changed mine.