The martial arts aren’t something you can effectively learn simply by watching YouTube or other instructional videos and tutorials. You need someone to guide you through your training, and correct you at all times. And then you need to practice over, and over, and over again, with that guidance and correction, on a regular basis, in an environment that promotes the development of your abilities.
There are tons of Martial Arts schools out there, but not all of them are good. So, how do you know which one to choose? What should you look for? Here are four points to consider while performing your search.
1)Research and Visit A School
Make a list of the martial arts schools within travel distance, and note down your preferred style (if you have one). If a school offers free introductory classes, take one. If you have never trained in a martial art before, and you have never watched martial arts training, it may be difficult to correctly interpret what you are watching.
The first step should be to just venture into a gym and feel things out. Take a few classes and run a few sessions. Your dedication to the training will be influenced by the kind of people you’ll be surrounding yourself with for a long time. If your teammates and trainers inspire a sense of camaraderie and family, then you’ll find it easy to learn and improve alongside them. Otherwise, you might just be dragged down.
Next, make sure that the sparring is well-handled. A gym that holds everyone back too much will not help you improve, but on the other hand, if the sparring culture involves letting fighters beat each other to a bloody pulp, and don’t care about injuries, you may find yourself too hurt from training to get into real matches. A careful balance is needed to ensure learning and safety go hand in hand.
We suggest finding someone you know or a friend to take you to his or her dojo. You should watch the students to see if they’re having fun, and if it looks like they respect their teacher. Talk to some of the students and find out what they like and don’t like about their school. Talk to the instructors too, to see if your goals are in line.
2)Look For A Good Instructor
Your ideal Martial Arts instructor is someone with whom you will be able to form a close student/teacher relationship. Is he (or she!) knowledgeable about The Art? Do they make you feel comfortable enough to ask questions? Are the exercises being given reflective of their teaching? Do they correct students’ mistakes or leave them to fend for themselves? Their skills and ability to teach will determine how good you become at that gym.
Avoid a school that claims to teach a long list of arts. You will be better off learning from someone with a serious focus. If you want to study aikido, it would be wise picking an actual aikido dojo, not a school where aikido is one of forty subjects all taught by a High Grandmaster.
3) Be Wary Of Contracts
Some schools require that you lock yourself into a contract before you even begin a class, often without offering a single trial lesson beforehand!
If you hear things like “just sign this contract promising to pay us for X months” or a school that makes promises of guaranteed black belt in 2 years, say thank you and leave. Those are signs of places whose primary interests are staying in business, or growing their business, and not in training proficient martial artists. It is in your best interest to find a school that allows you to pay month-to-month.
4) Location, Location, Location!
A school’s proximity to your home or work area is very important and should be taken into consideration prior to signing up. Although an hour commute to class might not seem too bad at first, keep in mind that you will be doing that drive or commute two-to-three times a week for the next several years.
Find a school that fits your needs, but that is also within an acceptable driving distance.
In short, whether you are just there to work out, or you want to learn how to actually perfect an art, the right Martial Arts school will demand excellence from you, but will focus on helping you to achieve it. A good Martial Arts school will have rigorous standards for earning a black belt. A good school will also typically be more expensive; a classic case of getting what you pay for!
This short list is by no means all-inclusive. Are any of you currently training? What criteria did you use to choose your school?