Sunday, December 21, 2014

How To Select a Martial Arts School

By John Nottingham

Martial Arts styles such as - taekwondo, karate, jujitsu, judo, kung fu, tai chi chuan, kendo, kenpo and aikido are among the most popular.  While some styles of martial arts trace roots to ancient times, most have been enhanced and modernized to fit today's individual and family needs.  Rather than focus on choosing a style of martial arts, most experts recommend placing greater emphasis on the instructor, school and services provided.

What Do You Want To Get Out of Your Martial Arts Experience?
[  ]  Self Defense
[  ]  Fitness
[  ]  Competition
[  ]  Become a Black Belt
[  ]  Character development
[  ]  Creative expression
[  ]  Family activity
[  ]  Social interaction

Get Informed 
Online reviews can help speed up your research and narrow down the schools you wish to visit and then try.  Both positive and negative ratings online offer valuable information to consumers to lead to a more informed decision.  You can also check out social media such as Facebook, Pinterest and other online sources to get a feel for the martial arts school.  Look for trends, positive and negative, as an indication of the martial arts school and instructors service.
Family Focus
Each school will tend to have a focus or specialty.  While some may emphasize tournaments, others self defense, some schools emphasize the personal -development aspects of martial arts, rather than just the physical aspects.

Most martial arts systems instruct students in the basics of punching, kicking, and stances while others may emphasize throwing or grappling.  Many modern schools integrate several martial arts styles to offer more to their students. 

Full service professional schools often offer additional programs such as Bullying Prevention, Anti-abduction, self defense seminars, demonstration or competition teams and separate advanced training programs such as weaponry, leadership or instructor tracks.

If you are seeking a school for young children or family participation, it is recommended to find a school specifically designed to meet the needs of a family and not only teaches the practical aspects of self defense but develops a foundation for fitness, good habits and personal development.  These life-skills schools can have a profound impact on self-esteem, focus, concentration, and self confidence. 

It is also wise to observe how the martial arts lessons are delivered.  The philosophy of martial arts is usually about development of inner strength, character and disciplined habits that lead to a happier, more successful life.  Most importantly is selecting a team of instructors who lead by example and encourage others through positive motivation.

School Culture
Some martial arts schools offer a more militarized structure, others more school-like, and yet others more relaxed.  One is not necessarily better than another, as it depends on the goals and personality of the student.
Quality schools tend to retain students for longer periods of time and will have a culture of senior ranks who display great attitudes and a high level of focus and physical skill.  They may cost a bit more but tend to be more stable and offer more services and opportunities to students.   
Inspect the cleanliness of the school, the care, quality of safety equipment and the convenience of location.  Mats and parent/guest observation areas are usually good indications.  A better school may be worth the drive, however the distance, parking and convenience should be a consideration.

Here Are Other Things You May Consider When Seeking A Martial Arts Training School:

ü Instructors : This is by far the most important consideration for choosing a martial arts school.  Being a Black Belt is not nearly enough because being a good instructor requires experience, teacher training, communication and leadership skills.  The instructors must lead by example as positive role models for children and adults alike.

ü Curriculum : ask the school to see a structured curriculum, manuals, support materials and opportunities for advancement to master, leadership and competition.

ü Values : most traditionally oriented schools have a memorized student oath, tenets or creed.  It is recommended to see if those values are in line with yours before you choose that school.

ü Observe Class : Look at the professionalism of the instructors, their leadership and communication skills, disciplinary philosophy, and example.  Good instructors are passionate about what they do and connect with students. 

ü Participate in Class : It is best to try martial arts classes for a time before committing yourself to a course of instruction.

ü Basic Safety Considerations : Inquire about First Aid certification, background checks, sparring/safety policies, fundamental exercise physiology, and authentic rank certification from a recognized and respected governing body.

ü Speak to other students and parents : This is best done away from the school if possible to get a feel for what the school is like from the perspective of someone like you.

ü BBB: The Better Business Bureau offers some insight and online reviews with a simple search.

ü Intuition and Gut Feeling: Above all, trust your gut instincts after spending some time with the school, students and instructors.  Intuition is valuable information that has your best interests for safety at heart.

Choosing the right martial arts school for you or your children is an important process that is well worth a little time and research.  Go to several martial arts schools at minimum before making a commitment to enroll on a program.  This is especially true if you want the character, values and life-skills development benefits of martial arts. 

If you do not choose USA Martial Arts & Kickboxing as your home for Martial Arts, kickboxing, Krav Maga self defense training, we will be happy to fully refund your money and help you find a suitable facility for your needs.

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