We originally published this is 2015! After some recent discussions with parents, we decide to revisit this topic as we want students to LOVE the martial arts. Getting off on right foot is crucial to a proper martial arts education. Do your homework! It will be worth the extra effort in the long run.
How do you choose? Taekwondo, Karate, Hapkido, Jui Jitsu……it can all be a little overwhelming. There is certainly no lack of martial arts schools out there. If you are in a big city, there is literally one on every corner. However, not all martial arts schools are created equal. It is important to do your research before committing to any school. You’ll be happy you did. This is especially true when children are involved. Choosing the wrong school can turn the child off the sport forever. With that said, there are many reputable schools out there that practice what they preach and have an excellent program in place. Here are a few tips when looking for a martial arts school.
1) Decide what you would like to gain from learning martial arts. Are you to improve your physical fitness? To learn Self Defence? Would you like to compete in Tournaments? Are you interested in the philosophy/character building part of martial arts? Or go the long haul and get your black belt? These are all important considerations when deciding on a school. Writing down your goals can help you tremendously when searching for the right school. When you call/email for information, have these ideas in mind and ask questions. It is important to know this up front before committing.
2) Shop Around. Look at a number of different schools in your area, if possible. If the school offers a free trial class, go check it out. Was it fun and enjoyable for you? Also, check out reviews online. What are people saying about the school? Do they participate in social media – check out their pages. The school that most closely aligns with your goals and values is your best bet.
3) Find a qualified instructor. Take the time to read about this person’s credentials. Ask questions: how long have they been teaching? How long have they trained in the martial arts? How often does the head instructor teach? Just because the head instructor is an accomplished martial artist themselves, it does not mean they are a good teacher. A great instructor takes time to explain why and how the techniques they are teaching are important. Moreover, how those techniques can be applied in real life situations. One key point is to make sure the instructors correct improper technique. This is especially true in the case of children. If you are going to pay for someone to teach you, make sure they teach you right the first time. Sometimes paying a little more or driving 5 minutes longer are worth it. You come away being a better and more well rounded martial artist. Quality instruction is worth it.
4) Does the school have metrics for progress? Do they have a written curriculum? Are there belt grading guidelines? Do they participate in mandatory belt grading? Or is it earned through mastery of skill and attendance? Does every student who grades pass regardless of their proficiency? A martial arts journey should be unique to the individual. A school who is invested in teaching proper technique will not be handing out belts simply for showing up. Ultimately, martial arts is about protecting yourself. Giving children a false sense of skill by handing out belts only does them a disservice.
5) Some final things to consider: take a look at class size – is the class size capped? what is the student to teacher ratio? Do they use student assistants? Do they have age appropriate classes? Take a look at the students in the class. Are there a number of intermediate and high ranking belts? This may indicate that the school motivates students to stay. If the students are all beginners, that may say something too. Or are there an unusually high number of black belts? Or Dan rank black belts under the age of 12? This could speak volumes about the program.
6) Goal Setting. A good instructor invests in YOU and is interested in YOUR goals.
Watch a class, is the instructor motivating? Or preaching? Sit down, talk about your goals, ask questions. Find out if they have a written curriculum. You deserve the best instruction available.
These are some general tips on how to choose the BEST school for you and your family. The RIGHT school is out there – do your research, be diligent, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s your money. It’s your time and effort. You deserve to get the most out of your martial arts education. It’s a great sport for the entire family.