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How prepared will you be for martial arts?

Choosing a martial arts school is important to you. Picking the wrong school can put a sudden halt to any enthusiasm you have for learning martial arts. But choosing the right martial arts school can make your journey into martial arts one of the best experiences of your life.

At this point, you have several factors to consider. Everything is important because you won't want there to be any detractors prohibiting you from learning and getting the most from your training, AND from your money.

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Top 10 things to look for when picking a martial arts school

Listed below are 10 important factors you should consider when your begin searching for which school to choose. Read through them thoroughly and you will be better prepared when you start your search.

Factors to consider:

Your needs.
  • Style.

  • Location.

  • Schedule.

  • Price.

  • The instructor.

  • The school's atitude.

  • Other students.

  • Ratio of students to teacher.

  • Safety and cleanliness.

Still Interested?

Don't let your guard down!

1. Determine your needs.

Assess the why

Why are you considering starting martial arts? There are many reasons. From personal experience, I've found the top reasons for starting martial arts are:

  • Physical Fitness

  • Self-Defense

  • Psychological Benefits

  • Interest in martial arts culture

  • Sport competition

  • Recent martial arts popularity

It is very important to set your training goals so that your experience is beneficial for you. Not to mention, that reaching your goals in martial arts is an overwhelming feeling. I only wish that everyone in the world could experience this satisfaction.

But first things first, assess your martial arts goals.

2. Choosing a martial arts style.

**But there are so many to choose from...**

And that's ok. We've gone ahead and done the leg work for you. Researching which style will be best for you won't be hard because socalmartialarts.com has a complete and comprehensive list of martial arts styles that will help you decide.

Each martial arts style's page provides an over-all description, history, videos, and other information that will help you understand each art and make your decision.

3. Location

**Location, location, location!**

The ever-important location factor. Just as location is important to successful businesses, so is the proximity of the studio to the successful martial arts student.

Think about it, the farther the studio is from where you live, the harder it will be to attend when:

  • You are running late
  • You're tired
  • Car trouble

Also keep in mind the added price of traveling to the martial arts school you choose. This is especially true in today's day and age of high gas prices. Location can be an easy excuse to skip class, try your best not to let this happen to you.

If you are enrolling your children into martial arts, you need to consider the location for them as well. Will they be going to practice on their own? How will they get there. If you are taking them, will you have enough time to pick them up and drop them off and not be late?

4. Class Schedule.

**Class availability and value.**

One very important aspect you should consider when choosing a school is the schedule of classes taught. Many martial arts studios are now teaching more than one martial art, or some other type of mixed curriculum. Also, the instructor's schedules will vary depending on the school and certain schedules won't coincide with yours.

The best practice is to find a school that offers classes 5-6 days a week at varying times. It is also more beneficial for the students if there is a separation between the children's classes and the adult classes. Be absolutely sure there are available classes that fit into your schedule.

One other aspect that most students fail to consider is the value of the available classes compared to tuition paid.

Studio A offers: 5 classes a week (20 per month) for $150.00 a month. That's approximately $7.00 a class if you went each and every time.

Studio B offers: 3 classes a week (12 per month) for $175.00 a month. That's almost $15.00 a class.

Obviously, studio A is the better value for money paid. This is actually a case study between two schools that were compared in an actual martial artist student's decision between schools. Both schools offered similar styles and atmosphere. One studio simply offered more classes at a better price.

This is definately something you should consdier when making your decision.

5. Price.

**Shop around.**

Prices will vary widely between different martial arts schools. Typically, martial arts studios base their pricing on the following factors:

  • Area and demographics.
  • Class schedule/amount of classes that are offered and available to the student.
  • Instructor credibility.
  • Length of classes.

Of course there are more factors that are considered when instructors prepare price lists. You will have to shop around and compare prices for yourself and make your own decision. As a rough estimate, socal martial arts schools charge about 150.00 a month--more or less.

If you are involving your family, ask for a family discount. Haggle a bit if you can also. Remember, your not buying a television from Sears. The price is not always firm.

Look for options in pricing. Is a flat rate charged? Ask if you can pay less if you only plan on attending 1-2 days a week. Many will already have options like this, while some schools simply charge a flat rate.

6. The instructor.

**Quality of instruction.**

First of all, many martial arts schools will be named after or be affilitated with popular, well-known martial artist. However, that actual classes are often taught by someone else. This falicy of advertising isn't always detrimental to the quality of instruction. Often, the instructor heading the school is very qualified and has been given the "blessing" of the more popular instructor. But it is still something you should be wary of.

You should also try and guage the attitude of the instructor. Look for things such as, whether they are responsive to your questions, if they dismiss your concerns and are only trying to get you to sign a contract, and their 'general attitude'. Ask if you can attend a class or two for free. Most will allow this and this gives you an opportunity to not only judge the quality and type of instruction, but also the instructor's demeanor and how the other students react to the instructor. Typically, the instructor should be well respected and treated as such.

7. The school's attitude.

Traditional, modern, aggressive, or passive?

Segwaying from the instructor's attitude is guaging the school's overall atomsphere. You should already have an idea of what kind of instruction you are looking for.

Martial arts schools fall into two general categories, and two general approaches towards instruction:

  • Traditional or modern.
  • Aggressive or passive.

Traditional atmospheres typically have more strict rules and focus on tradition and heritage. These schools often teach forms, katas, traditional weapons training, and include certain dress codes and practices known to that style. The interactions between the students and the instructors is often more formal.

Modern approaches of martial arts focus primarily on the combative aspect of martial arts by teaching a mixed curriculum of different martial arts. Generally, interactions between students and instructors are more relaxed. This is also known as MMA.

Also decide if you want to participate in an aggressive or passive atmosphere. Many martial artist are not looking to spar or compete in tournaments and simply enjoy the instruction and tradition of martial arts. Some schools have a passive approach, where the main focus is tradition, physical fitness, or instruction and technique.

More aggressive schools include sparring and contact drills. Much of the technique learned is through application on other students. Live sparring drills are frequent (and should be closely monitored for safety). Typically, these types of schools will be heavily involved in tournaments and competition.

8. Other students.

**How will you interact with other students?**

Make no mistake about it, the other students in the school will have a large impact on your martial arts experience. Not only should you be concerned with the quality of instruction and the instructor's attitude, but you should also consider how well you will interact with other students. This can best be done by watching and participating in a couple classes before joining the gym.

Try to feel out the other student's overall attitude. Are they friendly and welcoming? Or do they treat you with a lack of respect? Are they people you would feel comfortable spending time with? Are they too aggressive or are they too passive? Alot of this will depend largely on exactly what it is you are comfortable with.

Also guage the attitude of the senior students. Hopefully, they are helpful and offer advice and clarification during the learning of new techniques. Be wary of students that take advantage of newer students who see them as more of "sparring dummy" that they can push around. Do keep in mind however, that as a new student, you will have to earn your respect.

9. Ratio of students to instructor.

**How much personal attention will you receive?**

There is a catch 22 here to be aware of, and that is too many students will decrease the amount of personal attention you will receive from the instructor. But not enough students should sound alarms that the instruction isn't the quality that it should be.

If there is an abundance of students, ask if the instructor has assistants to help. Many schools take this approach. They will have senior students or paid assistants helping newer students with technique and offering advice. A school with only a few students may mean that there is something askew at the school and might also have a negative and uninspired impact on the school's overall atmosphere.

10. Safety and cleanliness.

**Be safety and health conscious!**

Last but definately not least is safety and cleanliness considerations. Martial arts instruction involves alot of physical contact with other people. Safety and cleanliness should be of the utmost importance. Things you should look for are:

  • Quality of safety gear.
  • Warm up and cool down periods.
  • Overall cleanliness.
  • Whether the are mats cleaned and treated daily (grappling arts).
  • Cleanliness of other students (pay attention to finger and toenail length).
  • Controlled sparring sessions.

Remember that you have to go home to your family, or to work the next day. Your safety should not be jeopordized beyond normal expectations.

Still interested? Great!

**Well now what?**

martial arts success Once you have picked the right school for you your focus needs to be on the training. Remember, as with most things in life, what you get out of martial arts depends largely on what you put in.

There is alot of information that will be coming your way now. You may feel overwhelmed. You may begin to question whether or not you made the right decision by starting martial arts. Don't let yourself be overcome. There is a lot to expect.

And it will help if you know what to expect, and are prepared for this exciting new phase of your life though. You can definately benefit from reading our martial arts success tips.

Don't let your guard down!

**Don't stop your research there!**

keep your guard up Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, not all martial arts schools follow the traditions of honesty, pride, integrity, and so on...

Some are just out to make a quick buck. We in the arts more commonly refer to them as "McDojos" or "belt-factories".

After picking the right martial arts school for you, there are some other considerations you should be aware of. You want your journey into martial arts to be successful. So, once you've enrolled, keep your eye out for specific activities that may trigger the "McDojo" alert.

It's very easy to get caught up in all the hype. In the beginning you may feel so jazzed about the martial art that you are learning. Heck! You may even go home and practice in front of a mirror or find youself day-dreaming about it all the time,...and this may be your most vulnerable moment. This is why choosing the right martial arts school is so very important.