Choosing a martial arts school should be something taken as seriously as what academic school is attended. Sounds strong but is true. The school will create people of the same character as the teacher.

Things that you should check out and look for are:
1) Will they let you watch a class. If not, what is so secret? How would you know if you like the style?
2) Who did the teacher learn from? Provides the chance to verify that they really learned that style. Anyone who tells you that certificates don’t mean anything may never have trained formally. Anyone can go and buy a black belt, then open a school. There are no governing boards or required registration.
3) Are ranks recognized Internationally, nationally or just within the school.
4) How are the teachers treated.
5) How are the students treated
6) Are contracts required. If so, how do they handle issues like injuries preventing training? This probably isn’t a good idea for a young student. Interest may wane before the contract is fulfilled.
7) What equipment is required and what are the costs.
8) Does the class schedule fit yours.
9) Do you have other opportunities to train (i.e. attending a sister school).
10) Are “outside” events required (i.e. tournaments).

If the style doesn’t fit you, that’s fine. There are plenty of styles and at least one will fit. Remember that if you like the style, all schools are still not created equally. If you like a particular style, then check out several schools of the same style to find the differences and check how you fit in. You may likethe style but not agree with the teaching methods or structure. Just because its the same style doesn’t mean its the same. You should also check out a variety of styles. Since the style still exists, it does work. There is “one best art”. There is only the best art for you. Each style has its own personality and if your personality doesn’t match, then you won’t like it.

I have been training since 1981 and these are several of the items that I check on when I visit other schools. Since the martial arts are a journey of personal development, I like to work with other schools with similar beliefs. “Playing nice” will provide a great deal of learning opportunities. The journey is long.

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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