How to Choose the Right Martial Arts School

When it comes to choosing a martial arts school, many people simply call the studio that’s closest to their house, or has the slickest ad, or shows up at the top of a Google search. However, in the martial arts business, not all schools are created equal.We suggest you do careful research before enrolling in a martial arts program. Seeing what the school has to offer before enrolling gives you, the parent or potential student, a better understanding of the commitment, and will help you choose the school that is the best fit for you and your family.Below are some key steps, questions to ask, and tips to remember when choosing a martial arts school:1. Research on the internet. A school’s web site is a great place to start your investigation. In our current, web-based culture, businesses that are serious about delivering a quality product will have a web site. The quality of this web site says a lot about the studio. A professionally-run studio will have a well-designed web site that can easily be found by an internet search and that contains up-to-date information. In addition, read martial arts articles, news stories, testimonials, and learn as much as you can about the local studios. (Be careful of on-line reviews, though–they’re often written by the schools themselves!)2. Make an appointment. A well-run studio should offer a free introductory private lesson. Take it and get to know the school and the instructors. Observe a beginner class in session. Can you see yourself on the mat with the students?3. Overall positive attitude of the instructor and the students. Do the instructors and students seem enthusiastic? Are they courteous and respectful? This can serve as an accurate indicator of a school’s culture. Positive attitude goes both ways–you should see it from both the instructors and the students at all times.4. Does the class have structure and self control? A class should include a proper warm up and cool down. The instructor should be well-prepared, and the training should have specific goals that are communicated to the students. Students should be focused on the training instead of horsing around or being disruptive.5. Studio Location. You should take into account how close the school is to your home prior to enrolling into a martial arts program. If it is a 15-minute drive, that is a half-hour of your time over and above time spent on the mat. That kind of time can add up over several months. On the other hand, closer isn’t always better. The studio that’s closest to your home is not your best choice if it’s a bad fit in every other way.6. Equipment/Facility. Studios vary in the type of equipment and amenities they offer. Does the school appear clean? Is the training floor properly padded? Are the students required to wear safety gear?7. Class Sizes and Schedule. Many new martial arts students prefer to be part of a larger class, rather than a small class; however, the benefits of a smaller class should not be overlooked. You will also want to ask when classes are offered and how long they are, and if you have a choice as to the specific class times you can attend.8. Quality of Instruction. Are the instructors certified? What rank do they hold? How long have they been training in martial arts, and are they actively training at present? Who is their senior instructor, and how often do they train with him/her? Are they certified by a national martial arts organization?9. Class Ages/Groups. At what age can you or your child start martial arts training? Are the classes separated by age and/or belt level?10. Ranking. How often do students test for rank? What are the requirements? Is the rank nationally recognized? Can I transfer out of the area to a studio with the same martial arts style and curriculum?11. Price of Instruction. Tuition prices vary widely between schools. However, don’t rely on price as your main point of comparison. The quality of instruction can vary as widely as the price. The old saying, “You get what you pay for,” is especially true for martial arts training. Some schools appear to be cheaper, but will hit you with hidden charges later. A legitimate martial arts school will tell you the entire cost of training up front prior to your signing on the dotted line. The school’s staff should be receptive to your questions about cost, answer them clearly, and not promise you anything they can’t (or won’t) put in writing.© 2010 Spotsylvania Martial Arts

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