How to choose a martial arts school...

As you search for martial arts schools you will find that it is difficult to locate useful information.

 

What you will learn? What are classes like? Where was the instructor taught? 

 

Many websites, preloaded with generic text and photos don't even represent the actual school you are looking into!

 

How can you make make an informed decision without information?

 

This page can help you sort through things!

At least do this!

What are you hoping to achieve?

First of all, fitness, discipline, respect, flexibility....these can be realized in most schools. But what else do you want?

Some schools, like Kodokai, focus on self-defense. Many others focus on sport martial arts. Sport training is not self-defense training. If competing in tournaments sound like something you would like then sport-focused schools are the way to go. If self-defense matters to you then skip the sport schools.

Every school claims to teach 'self-defense' so this can be confusing.

 

It is my guess (based on 40 plus years of experience) that many instructors are not deliberately dishonest when they claim that sport and self-defense are the same, they just have limited, or no, self-defense experience and don't have a practical understanding of what works.  

Check out Facebook and YouTube

It isn't practical to physically visit every school but take an afternoon and browse through the media pages of the schools you are looking at. 

 

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 belts are important to that school. If there is talk of tournaments you know the school teaches sport martial arts. If everything is geared toward little kids and you aren't one, well...

As far as YouTube goes, you can often see parts of classes, instruction and other activities of the school. Do you like what you see?

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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. Really.

You have to take a good look at the teacher, the one who will actually be teaching you day to day.

An instructor should have substantial training and there should be ample evidence of this. Who did the teacher learn from? How long did they actually study with their teacher? Is there any evidence of their history? This is where you will learn what style the teacher has studied (and hopefully the style the teacher is teaching you).

You don't have to settle for a teacher with dubious credentials.

And don't be impressed by "Hall of Fame" claims. These are just a gimmick where you pay a fee to be included in a make-believe hall of fame. Why would anyone do this is beyond me.

And don't be impressed by claims of being regional, national or galactic champion.

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Location

Some people merely choose the school closest to home or the one their friend goes to. This is the worse possible way to pick a school. The best locations provide a high volume of students but quantity and quality are are not the same. Popular doesn't mean good.

It is far better to drive a little out of your way for something that can make such an impact on your life.

Cost

Martial arts isn't cheap like it once was. Commercial rent, insurance and other costs keep going up. You are investing in an education. The important thing is to know what you will be paying 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 usually don't end after you join. They are a sign of things to come (constant pressure to upgrade your membership).

 

Ask if you will be required to sign a contract (don't do it).

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Check us out, ask questions, get answers.

See you soon!

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