Don't Sign Up at Any Martial Arts School - Until You've Read This
6 Things to Look at When Choosing a Martial Arts School

When choosing a martial arts school, use the same approach you would to choose a school for a child. Just because the curriculum is punches and kicks instead of math and English, doesn’t mean that modern day scrutiny of professionalism, teachers and facilities does not apply. Being a black belt, no matter the level, or a champion at numerous competitions doesn’t guarantee that someone is a good teacher or knows how to run a business. Just because someone has achieved a high level of ability doesn’t mean you’ll get your money’s worth from your lessons.

Here are 6 things to look at when choosing a martial arts school:

1. Facilities
The school’s facilities should be clean and organized. If they don’t look professional, their services probably aren’t either. You should also ask to see the school’s first aid kit. If they don’t have one or all they have is a box of Band-aids you might want to look elsewhere for your own or your children’s safety.

2. Instructors
A good instructor will take an interest in why you joined their school and will work to help you achieve those goals. Find the right teacher and you’ll love your martial arts training. If you learn from a bad teacher, it won’t matter what level they are or what style they’re teaching, you’ll miss out on the finer points that make the martial art great. The instructors and staff should be personable, courteous, and professional. During your trial lessons, they should give the attention you or your children need to feel comfortable learning their skills and learning them safely.

Be sure to ask if the instructor is qualified in first aid/ CPR. Accidents do happen and you want to make sure that you or your loved ones will be taken care of when they occur.

Be warned: Not all instructors are honest about their training backgrounds, experience and associations. Learn how to tell if a martial arts instructor is legit.

3. Attitude
If you get a bad feeling off the instructors, staff or students, or they just rub you the wrong way, trust your instincts. If they demonstrate a good positive attitude that makes you feel comfortable and welcome, then the school is worth a second look.

4. Style
Style considerations should be secondary to who is teaching and how the classes are taught. That being said, ask a few questions about the physical skills that are taught in an art you’re considering. If you have a heart condition, then a high-cardio art like Taekwondo might be too much for you. Or if self-defense is a high priority for you, make sure that the school’s curriculum reflects that. If you’re not too bothered about the style that is taught, shop for the best teacher.

5. Students
Check to see if the school has a number of intermediate or advanced students. If it does, then the instructors know how to keep its students motivated. Some martial arts schools prefer to maintain smaller class sizes in order to provide more focused instruction. Talk to a few students or their parents about the school’s training - how long they’ve been there, what they like about it - to get a better sense of the school.

6. Finances
Many martial arts schools will ask you to sign a contract for a certain period of time. As long as you feel comfortable with a club, it’s really up to you whether or not you’re okay with their contractual requirements. Before requiring you to commit to any longer period of time a school should allow you adequate time to experience its atmosphere and classes. Most martial arts schools will offer trial lessons before requiring you to make a longer commitment. Be wary of ones that don’t offer something like this.

If the financial commitment is a major concern to you, be sure to ask how much monthly membership costs outside of promotional offers before doing any trial lessons. There's no point in wasting your time checking out a school if you can't afford their fees. If they won't tell you what it costs without doing a trial lesson, chances are their prices are quite high and they're relying on wowing you with the trial lessons to get you to sign up.

Many martial arts schools offer a pay-in-full option that saves you money on membership. This can be a great option, but be sure you know the dojo well before taking it as it often comes attached with a no-refund policy.

Go With Your Gut!
Trust your gut instinct when choosing a martial arts school. If something's not right, you'll feel it on some level. And when you find what seems like a good one, check and re-check all of the above before committing to their program.