Choosing the best martial arts school for yourself or your child is important if you are taking your search seriously. If you want to approach your martial arts learning from a serious perspective, you do not want a laid-back, amateur school. It is essential to know what to look for when choosing the best martial arts school. So, how do you do it?
I had previously written about how to find a preferred style when you are looking to get started. Basically, the best style came down to 3 criteria:
- Is there a place within a reasonable distance that you enjoy going to?
- Can you afford it?
- Do you like the people and are you having fun?
Those looking for a little more, read on to learn how to choose the best martial arts school. There are several factors that should influence your decision, based both on your personal goals and the mission of the school. The best way to find the martial arts school that works best for you or your child is by noting attributes you deem worthy of your time. Find out how to do this below.
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Research Martial Arts Schools in Your Area
Before taking any further measures, you must first find martial arts schools in your area. The chances are that you would prefer a school nearer to you than the one you have to drive an hour to reach.
However, a farther school might have qualities that appeal to you more, so it is best to expand how far you are willing to go.
Maybe you have seen martial arts schools while driving around. This is a good start. If you know of martial arts schools in your area, it is easy to look them up and find out more. Still, there could be hidden gems that you are unaware of. Going online and researching different available schools will give you a solid idea of what to expect.
Talk to Friends And Family Involved in Martial Arts
A useful approach you can take is to talk to those you know who are involved with martial arts. Whether they had their kids in a school or are currently taking classes themselves, talking to people close to you is a great way to get an insider’s perspective on how a martial arts school runs.
Keeping in mind that you may have dissimilar interests, talking to friends and family with martial arts experience is still a good way to get an overall grasp of various opinions. When you have experience at your disposal, it is important to take advantage of the opportunity. You can learn several things from friends and family who know about martial arts schools.
Tour Different Schools
Once you have an idea of the schools in your area and the opinions of people you know, you should visit different martial arts schools. Immersing yourself in the environment is one of the best ways to formulate your own opinion of the school.
There are several aspects to keep in mind when touring a martial arts school, and each is of equal importance.
What is the School’s Level of Professionalism?
You must find a school that promotes a professional environment. If you walk into a school with nonchalant teachers lacking credibility, that is a huge red flag. On top of that, as will be discussed later, the curriculum should be both organized and inclusive.
A martial arts school should revolve around a serious atmosphere with fun qualities mixed in. Above all, you want to find a school that feels welcoming and appears to be well-versed in martial arts. Gauging the professionalism of the school is a good way to do this.
You also want a clean school, both in terms of organization and hygiene. When you walk in, unused equipment should be neatly placed aside, and it does not hurt to see related equipment grouped in similar areas. The mats should be evenly aligned, and different stations of martial arts training should be clearly mapped out. Basically, the place should look presentable as a high-quality classroom for martial arts.
In addition, the martial arts school has to be clean from a hygienic perspective:
- Employees should wash mats and other equipment regularly.
- Windows should be smudge-free.
- The bathrooms have to be in order.
This is not only a health necessity; it also shows that even small details are important to those running the martial arts school.
A Strong Reputation Carries A Long Way
Going back to the initial research you do on a martial arts school, the schools you tour should have a good reputation. This could be from testimonials from people you know or reviews you read online. Either way, if the martial arts school has a good reputation, it is worth visiting. The chances are that the reviews are backed by solid opinions.
It is still encouraged that you are aware of reputation being objective from your perspective. Just because other people love a martial arts school does not guarantee that it is going to work for you or your child. That is why touring the schools personally adds to the effect of learning about different places.
Consider The Teacher–What Are Their Credentials? Reputation?
At the top of the list of aspects to consider when choosing the best martial arts school is your view of the teacher you or your child will be working with. Aside from a professional attitude, it is important to note other valuable qualities in the teacher.
Below are some of the things to pay attention to when getting to know the teachers at different martial arts schools.
What Is the Instructor’s Personality?
For first impressions, are they likable? It is a good sign if the instructor is:
- Easy to talk to
- Willing to tell you everything you want to know about their school
You want a teacher that seems readily available to teach you.
If they are not motivated to do their job, you might not want to consider them.
A teacher that loves their job is the best teacher you can find. This is evidence that they have a carefully planned method to help their students perform to the best of their abilities.
You do not want someone who takes it too seriously, but a lackluster attitude is one to stay away from. Finding a teacher with a good balance between the two is an excellent approach.
Skill Level Must Be At a Level That Will Benefit the Student
Another thing to observe is the skill of the teacher:
- How experienced are they?
- Are they well decorated from competitions?
- Do they really know what they are doing?
If you can check these boxes off, the teacher is likely well-versed, well-respected, and capable of teaching any type of student. That is if the other aspects line up as well.
In saying a teacher is well-versed, you should try to see how good they are at their craft.
Firstly, they must know about martial arts and have the experience to back up their claim. Also, it is important that they are familiar with the mental side of martial arts. Much of the sport relies on mental focus, which should be expertise the teacher demonstrates. If they actively include exercises in their curriculum to help their students with this, they are on the right track.
Do They Use a ReliableTeaching Method?
Building off of the mental aspect of martial arts, you want to find a teacher with an inclusive, effective teaching method. It is not all about punching and kicking pads, though these exercises are necessary.
Along with the physical side of things, your teacher should have an organized curriculum involving mental exercises to teach fighting spirit for martial arts and useful life lessons outside of the school.
When you talk with different martial arts teachers, ask them about their method of teaching. If they are readily available to tell you about their specific techniques and how they implement martial arts practices into daily life, this is evidence that they are prepared to teach you more than just self-defense tactics. They will show you their passion for the arts if they are as reliable as they claim.
Have You Assessed Your Financial Situation?
In an ideal world, you would not have to weigh the pros and cons of different schools based on their price. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Along with finding a martial arts school that fits your preferences, you have to consider the costs of being a student. The best martial arts schools will be transparent about costs, with no hidden fees or prices unaccounted for.
If your finances play a large role in your decision, make sure to find out how much you will have to pay as a student at the school. It is also beneficial to find out if they require a contract to hold you to cover a certain amount of time. Another thing you could try is asking if they offer free classes the first couple of times around to see if the martial arts school works well for you. Free trials can help you get a broader idea of the schools in your area.
Take Note Of The Specific Martial Art
This step is not entirely critical, but it can be useful. In most cases, beginning martial artists might not know which specific martial art they would like to learn, so it can be good to get a broad idea of different categories. However, if you are interested in certain aspects of martial arts, finding a school that appeals to those interests is not a bad idea.
You may not have as wide of a range of options that you are looking for in your area, so it is not always easy to find a school that is specific to a single martial art. As mentioned, it is okay to gather a variety of knowledge about different practices, especially if you are a beginner. The only time this step might hold more important is if you are changing from one martial arts school to another. In that case, you should base most of your research on your experience.
What Are The Goals Of The School?
Equal to your personal preferences are the goals of the school you choose.
You do not want a school that does not care about its students. They should have a mission to teach you just as eager as you are willing to learn. If you can find a school that is as excited to have you as you are to be joining them, you are in good hands.
As said before, mental strength is just as important as physical skill. The school you choose needs to be geared towards the development of a sound body, including both the mind and the physical aspects. If it is only focused on fighting tactics with no attempt at self-defense, fighting spirit, and becoming one with yourself, this may be a sign of unprofessionalism and lack of motivation.
Pay Attention To The Talent In The School
You can learn a lot about a martial arts school based on the talent of its students. If the school has students consistently earning higher ranks and progressing in their skills, it is a good sign that the school’s environment is well-attuned to providing necessary training for their students.
Walking into a school where children and adults alike look enthusiastic about the martial arts they are practicing is a great way to see the environment you or your child will be immersed in. This is one of the easiest ways to tell if you will fit in at the school. If there are like-minded, talented students, you can bet that their developed skills are due to the success of their martial arts school.
How To Know When You’ve Chosen The Right School
After reading through these steps and figuring out the approach you need to take in finding a martial arts school for you or a loved one, you might still be wondering if it is the right fit. If you have done everything above and are ready to try out a school, go back to see if they offer free lessons at the start. By participating in regular classes, you can see if the school works for you or your child.
You will know if the school works for you. Once you have experienced the teaching style, environment, and classmates, it will not be difficult to decide if that martial arts school is for you. The work may be tough, but the enjoyment should come naturally. If you trust that you find the right place, stick with it and continue progressing your martial arts skills.
There are several things to consider when choosing the best martial arts school for yourself or a loved one. If you follow the advice above, you will be well on your way to deciding which school is a good fit.
Based on your personal preferences and the environment of the martial arts school, finding even ground on which you, your teacher, and your peers stand is of the utmost importance.