How to choose a school

Martial Arts can be a very healthy and exciting addition to your life but be sure to choose wisely. When selecting a martial arts school for yourself it is very important to find a place that you will meet your needs. Choosing to become active in martial arts means knowing you know “the package” that comes with it along with the responsibilities; starting martial arts means, more than anything, respect for others and for yourself.
Many academies offer many different styles. Some may focus primarily on self defense and competition while others focus more on personal development and character building. Be sure to know what you hope to gain from your experience and don’t be afraid to try out several schools before choosing one

However, the style of martial art should not be your primary criteria in selecting a martial arts school. Instead, you should consider what is emphasized in the martial arts program.

The Appropriate Martial Arts Emphasis for Children and Families For children and families, martial arts instruction should primarily be focused on the personal-development aspects of martial arts – rather than the fighting aspects.

All of the martial arts develop self-esteem, self confidence, focus and concentration, self discipline, physical fitness and self-defense skills. An emphasis on these benefits of martial arts is what you should look for rather than seeking out a specific style of martial arts based on the techniques used for kicks, punches and/or throws.

You should also consider how the martial arts programs are taught. The practice of martial arts is largely about the development of  self-esteem so you want to find a martial arts program where the instructors emphasize the effort as well as the result.

Self-esteem comes from having real successes in doing something you care about. For many children and adults, martial arts can be an important activity that helps build self-esteem, but only if the martial arts instructors acknowledge, recognize and reward the efforts of the martial arts student, as well as their accomplishments and successes.

To summarize – the most important criteria in selecting a martial arts school should be the level of emphasis on personal development and an approach towards teaching that is focused on building self-esteem.

How long has the school been in business? Has it been owned and operated by the same Chief Instructor the entire time?

It seems that new martial arts schools are “popping up” everywhere, all the time. Not only do new schools open up, but many times, schools that appear to have been in business for some time change hands without the students being forewarned. Instructors come and go. The longer a school has been in business under the same owner/Instructor, the greater the chance it will stay in business.

There is a major difference between attending a school that has several Instructors teaching different arts and a school that has a dedicated, full time staff, there to assist you every step of the way.

Are the Chief Instructor and Staff of Instructors qualified to teach martial arts?

Martial arts training is a life long pursuit. The more time and experience and the more investment a teacher makes in himself and his ongoing, life-long relationship with his Instructors, the more qualified he or she is going to be as an Instructor.
First, be sure that the Chief Instructor is somebody that you respect, an individual that exemplifies the traits of what you consider a true martial artist to be. The Staff of Instructors should be courteous, articulate, well-educated and there to serve you and your family. Upon first meeting the Instructors staff, it should be apparent that the training they have received has shaped their character and personality, as well as their physical body. Simply put, the Instructors staff should be “walking the walk and talking the talk.” After all, they are the role models for students and must be held to the highest level of your individual expectation.

Do a little investigating on your own into the Instructors’ experience in martial arts and training history. Take a few minutes on the Internet and search the Instructors name. Find out where he has been, with whom he is affiliated, and what type of recognition he has received for his years of study and efforts. Look to see if he is just a “big fish in a little pond,” recognized only in his school or if he is integrated into the larger martial arts,  community outside of just the local neighborhood.

Other Criteria To Consider in Choosing a Martial Arts School


  • Is there a structured curriculum?
  • What are the opportunities for leadership? For competition?


  • Many martial arts schools have a student creed that students must memorize. Does this creed agree with your personal values?
  • What is the school’s reputation in your community?

More Class Considerations

  • While watching a class, observe the interaction between students and instructors very carefully. The atmosphere should be formal and professional, but the students should be having fun as well. Evaluate if the students seem happy and motivated.
  • A good instructor can instruct 50 students with control and ease, but for an inexperienced instructor, five students might be too many.

Martial Arts Instructors
Find a qualified instructor. Research their credentials and make sure that you feel comfortable with this person. Remember also,
“world champion” does not always equal “great teacher”.
The teacher that takes his time with you and helps you to understand the lesson will be much more helpful than the undefeated grand champion of the world who just boasts about how great he is. Even if you have to drive a little further or pay a little more for training it will be well worth it to know that you are getting great instruction.

  • What kind of training do the instructors have? Just because the instructor has a black belt does not mean he or she is a good instructor.
  • The martial arts instructors at the school you select must be positive role models for the students and should be able to establish an immediate rapport with your child.

The School and Safety

  • The school should be welcoming and comfortable for both students and parents.
  • Is the facility clean?
  • Is there a large matted area where students can train?
  • Is there a viewing area for parents?

Selecting the right martial school will have a positive influence on your child’s development.
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