by Jeff Helaney, IX Dan
United States Kido Federation
You have started looking for a new martial arts school. Unless you have some previous experience this can be a daunting journey. The Internet is full of schools and each one has a list of reasons posted on why you should select them. Before too long you feel like your head is going to explode and you wonder why you started looking. Relax, this a helpful guide in aid you in your quest to find the school that is right for you and/or your child.
There is no real way to find the school you want unless you do your homework. Reading this little article is a good start. As frustrating as the search can be there are some universal truths that will help you with your decision making process:
Truth #1 – “THERE IS NO ONE PERFECT SCHOOL FOR EVERYONE”
A good business owner and martial arts instructor does not want to ‘sell’ everyone who walks through their door. If a client isn’t a good fit then it is counter-productive for the school AND the client will leave in short order. It is much better for both parties to discuss goals, expectations, and requirements before a relationship is developed. Ask a lot of questions. If things don’t feel right during your conversations then they probably aren’t.
Truth #2 – “PRICE AND QUALITY ARE NOT RELATED”
Do not base your decision solely on the cost of the classes you are researching. Price and quality do not have an equal correlation when it comes to martial arts instruction. An inexpensive school is not a good deal if the instruction is substandard. An overly expensive school great school is not helpful if you cannot afford to regularly attend classes. While price is a consideration, it should not be your only reason to choose the school you are attending. Find one that fits your goals.
Truth #3 – “NOT EVERY ART IS THE SAME”
When you begin looking for martial arts classes have a defined goal in mind. Children generally benefit most from active martial arts classes. These groups of arts include various types of TaeKwon-Do and Karate. Healthy, active adults that are looking for self-defense classes tend to gravitate towards arts like Hapkido or Ju-Jitsu. Older individuals with limited mobility are often happiest in soft style martial arts like Tai Chi or Qi Gong. The Internet makes it easy to watch demonstrations of different arts, but be realistic in searching out the classes that interest you.
Truth #4 – “INTEGRITY IS MORE THAN JUST A WORD”
It doesn’t matter whether you are looking for a great restaurant, a new doctor, or a martial arts school … all of them have a history. In today’s information age is easy to learn a lot about the school (s) and the instructor (s) that you are looking at trying out. Professional affiliations, the media, consumer advocacy agencies (ex. BBB), and the Internet are all resources that you want to explore to learn about the positives a school has to offer and if there are schools you want to avoid. The best indicator, however; of how a school operates are the students and parents of that school. Ask for a free trial, watch a class, and talk to the people around you. If a person is happy with the service they are receiving then they will tell you. If they are unhappy then they will really tell you.
Truth #5 – “A HARD SELL SHOULD BE A HARD SELL”
There are a number of business models out there that both advocate or discourage the use of contracts. Most schools that are contract based do it because they want to insure they make the rent each month. Month to month schools are more often focused on relationship building. Neither is extremely good or bad, they just are. There are, however; a number of red flags that should go up when an instructor tries to sign you to a long term contract immediately before you have had a chance to do your due diligence. If you feel rushed, pressured, or otherwise uncomfortable stop what you are doing. Get up and politely walk out of the meeting and re-set it (if you are so inclined) after you have had time to process what was being asked of you.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. We hope enjoy your journey into the martial arts. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments. We are happy to discuss your needs and help you find a great school. Write: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.