With so many martial arts schools out there, it can be daunting trying to find a good one that will suit you or your children. If you get it right, you can look forward to years of great training experiences ahead of you. If you get it wrong, it will not only cost you money, but it may also put you off martial arts for life. Here are our top ten tips to finding a good school.
1. What type of training are you looking for? Different styles of martial arts focus on different types of training, so it is a good idea to think about your training goals and aspirations. For example, are you looking for a hard physical workout which emphasizes competitive fighting or sparring or are you more focused on learning self-defence and the personal journey of developing your body and mind? Do some internet research on the types of martial arts offered in your area to narrow down your options.
2. Do they get back to you? A good school owner will get back to your initial inquiry quickly. If they don’t, then they probably don’t have the best communication and people skills.
3. Do they make you feel welcome? A good martial arts school should be a welcoming and friendly place. Does the instructor introduce him or herself when you walk in the door, Are you made to feel welcome, and are the students friendly?
4. Are they upfront about all of the costs? Many martial arts schools will sell you on a low monthly fee, only to hit you later with extra costs for gradings, belts and uniforms. These can be very expensive. A good school will be upfront about all of the costs of training so you can make an informed decision.
5. Do you get to try before you buy? It is important to try some classes before you make a commitment, to ensure it is the right martial art for you or your kids. At our schools (Kuk Sool Won™ of Pukekohe and Onewhero), we offer two free classes, with the first involving a one-on-one session with an instructor to learn the basics. This gives you a good opportunity to see if you like the martial art, the instructors, and the school environment.
6. Is it a respectful environment? A good martial art is built on a platform of respect, irrespective of rank or position in the school. Importantly, a good instructor will treat all students respectfully. There is no place for bullying behavior in a good martial arts school.
7. Is it a safe place? The school and its activities must be safe. Are there well maintained and clean mats? Is the training hall clean? If the students are sparring, are they required to wear safety gear? Are the activities well supervised and controlled by the instructor to ensure no one is getting hurt or becoming aggressive?
8. Is the school part of a regulated international association? Anyone can set up a martial arts school with little training or regulation. When a school is part of a recognized and regulated international association, you have a degree of assurance that the instructor is properly trained and teaching quality is controlled. For example, all Kuk Sool Won™ schools are licensed by the World Kuk Sool Association, which is governed by one Grandmaster. All schools are required to teach to a set curriculum and the Grandmaster oversees black belt testings around the world. This maintains quality and oversight of schools and instructor teaching standards.
9. Have you checked out other schools? We recommend that you check out more than one school before you make a commitment, so that you can make an informed decision on the school that is best for you.
10. What is your gut telling you? Your gut instinct is fundamentally the most important factor in finding a good school. If it doesn’t feel right, you don’t feel welcome, or it doesn’t feel safe, trust that gut instinct and go somewhere else. If though, it feels like a safe, welcoming place, with friendly people who are happy to answer all of your questions, then it is probably the right place for you.
JKN Jane Hurst
First degree black belt and school owner
Kuk Sool Won™ of Onewhero
Caroline is a 5th degree black belt and Jane is a 2nd degree black belt in the traditional Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won™ . They run 2 Kuk Sool Won™ martial arts schools in New Zealand.