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How To Chose The Right Martial Arts School

There are a lot of things you should consider while choosing a martial arts school. At first, why do you want to practice martial arts? For self defense? For sport? To get in shape maybe? That should influence upon your decision on which system (style) to get involved in. Being determined with the goal of your future training and the specific martial arts style to learn, you can start choosing the school to train at. Location of your training place is important – try to find a school situated not far from your home, otherwise sooner or later you will be tired of a long travel times to and from classes and thus will decide to stop your education. Ask your friends, may be they can recommend you good, time-proved school. When looking for a new place to train, first of all make sure that you’re going to enjoy yourself at practice. The atmosphere in classes and surrounding people (your companions) play important role in training process as well as instructors. See how things run and who teaches in the class. If the atmosphere is unfriendly, try to look for another school.

You should be prepared to ask an instructor lot of questions when visiting a new school. Beware of schools offering unbelievably easy programs, where “anyone can progress quickly”. Promises of quick rank and skill motivate new students to join and keep members from looking for other schools. They will say anything to make you join. Ask how long does it take to get a black belt, if they say anything less than three years, go somewhere else. It will be also quite suspicious if they award black belts to children under fifteen.

Check the qualification of teacher. Lots of degrees and certificates won’t evidence his mastership. There are no universal grading standards in martial arts, and ranks may be simply purchased in a modern world. What is important to know about your instructor?
– Who was his (or her) primary martial arts teacher?
– How long did your instructor study martial arts with his (her) primary teacher?
– How long has he (she) practiced this art?
– Does he (she) have any experience as a teacher, or is he (she) simply a skilled martial artist? Great martial artists are not necessarily great teachers.

There are lots of martial arts schools attracting people by claiming that their style is the deadliest, greatest, etc. Don’t yield to these persuasions and evade such schools – most probably they are ruled by non-professionals who actually can’t teach. The most skilled practitioners in such schools usually have nothing to prove. Remember that some styles are better for certain situations than others but no style is the best.

Pay attention to the practitioners’ skills. Students with high rank and low skill show that the instructors have little to offer. Never be impressed by the instructor’s skill, if it does not reach the students, it does not help them. Good instructors only care about the student’s ability.

Don’t get fooled with “gurus” who claim that they created their own unique style. Many “masters” believe they are so skilled that they can improve upon centuries of accumulated knowledge. Most of them are self promoted and have created “new” styles because they could not master existing ones. Many legitimate martial artists study more than one form and create and teach “hybrid” forms. They however know the difference between a combination of styles and new undiscovered techniques.

Phone the schools and ask whether they’re affiliated with a larger organization, such as the International Tae Kwon Do Federation or the World Karate Association. If not, standards and methods for advancement may be inconsistent.

Determine your martial arts goals. Are you interested in tournament forms or self-defense? Do you want to become a black belt or to attend classes simply for the exercise?

Stop by several training halls to watch classes. Many schools have an observation area, so you can watch during class. Ask permission first.

Ask for permission to talk with students and instructors. Find out how students’ experiences have been with the school and whether the instructors’ styles will support your goals.

Assess the quality of teaching. What is your impression of the head instructor? Do instructors expect and show respect and courtesy? What is their experience?

Determine the school’s emphasis. Does it advocate control or heavy contact? Does it stress tournament competition? How formal or informal are the classes?

Ask friends and work associates whether they’ve heard anything about a martial arts school you’re interested in joining. Also check with the Better Business Bureau and your local chamber of commerce.

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