Remember when you had to sleep at your teacher’s doorstep for days before you were admitted into the training hall? Or worse yet, you had to fight everybody in the club in order to join?
Well neither do I. Those days are gone. Now you join, you pay and they teach you. At least, that’s the idea.
Which method is better? I’m actually not sure. We could have a whole conversation about that point. Still, times have changed. Now we have choices. Imagine that. How do I pick a good school?
I’ve been in the martial arts for 30 year and I’ve had some great teachers along the way.
Here are three elements you should always consider when searching for a school. In reverse order, just because I have a flair for the dramatic:
NUMBER THREE: What do you want?
First thing you should consider is what you’re looking for. Is it a traditional school? Do the students compete? Was the instructor a professional fighter? What does the style specialize in? Is it geared towards self defense, meditation, competition, prize fighting, stage combat? Who goes there? Who teaches? Where did they learn?
All of these are good questions. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Don’t just choose a school because your friend goes there, or because they have a lot of trophies in the window or because they have a picture of Bruce Lee on the wall! That’s not good enough.
What do you want? You’re paying for it so you might as well get it.
NUMBER TWO: Accessibility
This is important people. Do you have to drive? Can you walk? Is it a safe neighborhood? How long does it take to get there? If it’s raining, am I going to want to go? What’s the schedule like? Does it fit mine? All of this matters.
We all have lives. Some of us have kids, wives, husbands, jobs, second jobs, hobbies, etc. Don’t make it extra hard to get to your training. It’s an obstacle you don’t need.
AND NUMBER ONE: Most important thing – PASSION
There’s nothing more crucial when choosing a school. Does the instructor love what they do? Martial arts are passed on from one person to another. There’s no other way of doing it. Books and videos are not the same.
The relationship between teacher and student is the backbone of every great school. A passionate instructor will teach better and be better understood. They’ll be more patient. They’ll instill in you a desire to learn, explore, train, work hard and improve yourself. That’s priceless. When a teacher can inspire you, that’s when you know you’re getting your money’s worth.
And remember, people change, go through funks, rediscover inspiration, all of that. Finding the right match is key.
That’s it. My list is short because I’m a-straight-to-the-point kind of guy. Want more? There are tons of articles about this online. Here’s a much longer one from one of my favorite websites: 24fightingchickens.com
Also, “give them to me early and they’ll be mine forever,” said the martial arts teacher. Here’s a little video from a school that does it right, The Satori Academy of Martial Arts in NJ.
Have fun, be safe and train hard.