In today’s society anybody can open a martial arts school. Although some schools are certified it is not a requirement. You do not need to pass any exams to teach nor are you required to have a license. As a matter of fact very little is needed to open a school.
This is why it is of utmost importance that when you look for a school you are asking the right questions. After all it is your safety and learning which is the most important thing because in real life you do not get a second chance to protect yourself.
After many years of practice, not only as teachers, but most importantly as students we have compiled a list of helpful questions that you may wish to consider before you begin searching for that perfect school! We hope these may be of use to you.
Why are you looking for a martial arts school?
This is an important question to ask yourself. Is it for self-defense? For recreation? For health and fitness – or a combination of everything. Think about your goals and what you hope to accomplish by studying a martial art system.
Know the difference between a martial art and a martial sport!
Many people do not realize that a majority of martial arts are relatively new and have been around for the last 30 years or so. There is a big difference between a martial sport, such as one featured in Olympic competitions, and a martial art. Many techniques that are learned in a martial art could not be done in competitions because they are meant to disable an opponent in such a way that they cannot continue to attack you. On the other hand martial sports can be very rewarding and are performed in a safe, controlled and competitive environment. For more information about this please see Martial Arts Today.
Take a moment to investigate the martial art you are interested in!
Find out about the history of the system. If a school is telling you that their style has been around for over a thousand years then ask questions! Ask what it was used for and how this history was recorded. Ask how the martial art system has evolved over such a long time and what its applications are. Don’t be afraid to ask questions from your perspective school and do not just assume that what you are hearing is correct. Do research on your school as you would do research on any product you were planning to invest in.
Observe the students and instructors!
See how people are interacting in the school and how the instructors are. Find out how long people have worked there and how long people have studied there. There is a big difference between a student who has been at a school for fifteen years and schools who only keep students for a couple of years. Ask the instructors why they are teaching or volunteering at the school!
If you want a black belt go out and buy one!!
Be careful of schools that offer you that magical two year black belt program. Ask yourself – are they interested in my learning or getting my money? Although advancing in rank is a very satisfying and rewarding accomplishment please keep in mind that the most important thing is that you are learning correctly and safely – regardless of what style you are studying.
Trust your instinct.
Remember to trust yourself! If something doesn’t feel right or you are getting injured where you are studying it is probably not right! If somebody is showing you that special defense against a gun where you grab the guys hand and force it away – and you are feeling at that point that the gun could go off and shoot you – it is not a bad idea to trust your instinct at least to the point of asking your instructor some questions about what you are learning. Many people feel uncomfortable about asking questions, but please keep in mind that you are a client at the school and you are paying the school to teach you. This should be a professional environment where you have the right to ask questions and the right to feel safe and comfortable about what you are learning.
Good luck in your search – we hope that we have provided you with some helpful advice about what to look for in a school.