How to choose a martial arts school...
Learning martial arts can be a fulfilling and enjoyable pastime. In some cases, it can change lives.
Since there are many different types of schools it is worth taking some time to understand some of the differences and how they will impact your experience.
Schools are like colleges or restaurants....some are fast food, others are fine dining. Some colleges are just okay, others are excellent.
On this page I will briefly discuss some of the more important things for you consider to help you select a good fit for yourself or your child.
What are you hoping to achieve?
Martial arts can be a great value as they can often deliver in any ways. Improved fitness, discipline, respect, flexibility....these can be realized in most schools. But what else do you want?
If self-defense is important to you then you need to be much careful about what school you choose. Some schools, such as Kodokai Dojo or schools offering Karv Maga, focus on self-defense. The majority of schools, however, focus on 'sport' martial arts.
Tournament karate (competing for trophies), Brazilian ju-jitsu and Taekwondo are sports.
If competing in tournaments sound like something you would like then sport-focused schools are the way to go!
Every school claims to teach 'self-defense', but there is a substantial qualitative difference from school to school. If you want confidence in your abilities you won't get it at a substandard school.
At least do this!
Check out Facebook and You Tube
With Covid restrictions it isn't practical to visit every school. But take an afternoon and browse through the media pages of the schools you are looking at. This will give you some excellent insight.
Instead of a sales pitch you will get a glimpse of what is actually going on.
If the Facebook page is all about rank promotions, you can be assured that this is a major part of their focus (stay away). If the talk is primarily about tournaments that is also useful information. If the page is all about little kids and you aren't one, well...
If there is nothing of substance on their page you can safely assume there is nothing of substance going on in classes.
As far as You Tube goes, you can often see parts of classes, instruction and other activities of the school. Picture yourself in the video. Do you want to be in the group you are watching? Do the students have the type of skills that you want? Do you like the instructors approach?
The Style and The Instructor
Styles are not always as advertised. You might be told that a school teaches the style of Bruce Lee, or 'traditional' karate, when in reality, you are learning nothing of the sort.
You have to take a good look at the teacher, the one who will actually be teaching you day to day. Of course any teacher should be friendly supportive and approachable, that's simply good salesmanship (don't join because they seem friendly, its their job). Take a look at their teaching method, the level of physical contact in the class, the way students are treated and the type of skills they are learning.
An instructor should have substantial training and there should be ample evidence of this (Not just a list claiming rank. Rank from where?). Who did the teacher learn from? How long did they actually study with their teacher? Are there pictures or any evidence of their history?
You don't have to settle for a teacher with dubious credentials.
Martial arts isn't cheap like it once was. Commercial rent, insurance and other costs keep going up. You are investing in an education (again think of the differences in colleges). The important thing is to know what you will be lying up front. Find out before you step foot on the mats.
Some schools are notorious for being elusive about fees. This should be a big red flag. If you can't get prices without first having to try a class walk away. High pressure sales tactics are often an indicator that you will be later asked to sign a contract (don't do it) and harassed for test fees, equipment, uniforms and upgrades throughout your time at that school.
Some people merely choose the school closest to home or the one their friend goes to. This is the worse possible wy to pick a school. Do not confuse a schools business success with the quality of their instruction. The best locations provide a high volume of students but you might prefer a school that is more interested in quality rather than quantity.
It is far better to drive a little out of your way for something that can make such an impact on your life.
Check us out, ask questions, get answers.
See you soon!