martial arts south florida karate kung fu kick boxing -How to choose a Martial Arts School

How to choose a martial arts school

To choose a Martial Arts School the first thing you must decide is why you want to study Martial Arts. This will help to narrow your search down to the type of Art that will meet your goals. There are four areas of focus that a system can concentrate on.

These areas are:
1) Self-defense/combat
2) Physical art form /traditional
3) Health/spiritual and
4) Sport.

Arts can have elements of more than one focus in them but there will be one area that the art will primarily specialize in. To add in more of the other elements will make it less effective for the purpose the art was designed for. For example: the simple, effective techniques a combat system emphasizes are not allowed in sport systems because they are dangerous.
Conversely the flashy, intricate moves of sport systems are not used for self-defense because they are too complicated to be an effective defense.

Combat/self defense systems specialize in teaching real fighting skills. These Arts are the smallest Area of Martial Arts study and the hardest to find. Locating these schools is made more difficult because most systems claim that they are effective for self-defense even though this is not their primary purpose.

Functional systems tend to emphasize sparring and live action drills. Techniques are simple and very effective. Some systems in this area are: Our System-Bushido Seishin, Jeet Kune Do, Kali and Pentjak Silat.

The Physical Art Form/ traditional systems emphasize learning perfection of physical movement and form within the study of a traditional discipline. These Arts tend to be very formal and maintain the traditional training methods. This is a very common focus. Some systems in this area are: Shotokan, Washi-ryu, Tang soo do, Hapkido, Aikido and Most Kung-fu systems.

The health/ spiritual Arts focus on developing and maintaining good health and vitality as well as spiritual and emotional growth. Arts in this area include Tai Chi and Qi-gong. Other physical disciplines such as Yoga could fall into this focus also.

The sport systems teach the Arts as competitive sports. These Arts are good for fitness and are fun to participate in and to watch. Common sport systems are: Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, and Judo.
There are also the fitness systems, such as Tai-Bo and Cardio Kickboxing, which are not competitive but are good for getting into shape.

Once you know what type of Art you want to study you need to go and see some schools that offer those Arts. To find schools look in the yellow pages, newspapers calendar sections and get friends recommendations. Also if there is a Martial Arts supply store in your area they will know all the local schools and should be able to steer you to good ones.

After you have a list of schools, phone them and tell them you would like some information about taking lessons at their school.

Questions they will probably ask you are: Your name, who you are inquiring for, the age of the person wanting to take lessons, if you have had previous training and why you are interested in Martial Arts.

Questions you should ask include: What is the cost of taking lessons? Are there any other fees or expenses to start taking lessons? Some school ask for registration fees or require you to buy certain uniforms or equipment before taking lessons. . How long has the school been open? You want a school that has been in business for at least three years, at that point they are more likely to stay open. How many classes a week can you attend and how long are those classes? You should be able to go to classes throughout the week. Avoid schools that only offer only one or two classes per week. Classes should be 1½ to two hours long (except for younger children who will need shorter classes).

Adult classes that are under one hour are too short to accomplish anything, by the time you are warmed up and stretched the class is almost over. Do you start class with a warm-up and stretching routine? To avoid injury you need to be warmed up and have your muscles stretched out. Who teaches the classes? You want to be make sure that the classes are taught by qualified Black Belts and not just advanced students. How long have the assistant instructors been in the Arts? They should be Black Belts with at least five years experience. Look for a school where the head instructor has at least 15 years experience.

Once you have the answers to these questions pick the schools that fit your needs and make an appointment to go in and watch a class. How skilled are the students? Ask about the belt system so that you know how advanced the students are that you are watching. How well do the instructors teach? They should be professional and very smooth in their techniques. See if the instruction makes sense to you, if someone understands something well they can explain it clearly. Also some schools teach in the native language of their Art (for example karate is sometimes taught in Japanese) this makes it more difficult to learn but some people enjoy it. Is the school well set up and well maintained? It should be clean and organized. How comfortable are you in the environment? Make sure you like the teachers and the other students. There should be no cockiness or negativity.

After you have watched some classes pick the schools that you are still interested in and arrange to try a class. This introductory class should be free. See if the class is enjoyable for you and meets your goals. Are your questions answered clearly? Do you like working with the instructors? Are the other students people you will want to take classes with? See if you like the teaching style at the school. Some schools use a very strict, military style, training method. Other schools have a calm, rational approach. Try both and see which type of training works best for you.

Choosing the Martial Arts school that you want to train at is an important undertaking. Be clear on your goals, ask questions, carefully observe the various schools and their students and above all use your common sense. A good school and system will give you physical, mental and spiritual benefits that will last you the rest of your life. Take as much time as necessary to find the right school for you.