When you decide that joining a martial arts club or school is right for you, the next step is not searching for the right one, but rather understanding what you want to get out of the experience. Knowing what you want first will be of great help when finding the club that best fits your needs.
Why Take Up Martial Arts
There are good reasons why everyone should learn at least a little about martial arts, starting with the ability to help defend yourself. But apart from that, there are other good reasons as well;
- Better Fitness
- Being Creative
- Becoming a Master of a Martial Arts Discipline
- Instructor Certification and More
For example, if you want to join a martial arts club that will teach you a few self-defense manoeuvres to better protect yourself when alone, then that will shape the type of club that you look for in your search. Alternatively, if you are looking to become highly proficient in a certain form of martial arts, then you will be searching for the type of club or school that can deliver the best education.
Other factors that you should consider before searching for the right club include the following;
- Fitness Level
- Experience in Martial Arts
- Time Commitment
Basically, someone in their 40s with little time to devote to martial arts is going to have different needs that someone in their teens with plenty of time to master the disciplines.
Decide the Style of Martial Arts
Now that you better understand why you want to learn martial arts and your commitment level the next step is deciding which type of style you want to study. There are so many different styles to choose from that it may seem difficult. However, there are important differences that you should understand before choosing which one is right for you.
High Intensity: Certain forms of martial arts involve intense styles and high cardio, such as Taekwondo. If you have cardio issues or are quite out of shape, then this may not work for you unless cleared by a doctor first.
Low Intensity: Other styles of martial arts, such as judo, for example, do not require the high cardio of Taekwondo. However, even low-intensity martial arts are still a good workout. If you have limitations in mobility or other issues that might interfere with your ability to perform the manoeuvres, then you should consult with your martial arts trainer along with your doctor.
Now that you know the style of martial arts you want to learn the next step is seeking out those who have personal experience. This may be family, friends, or co-workers who can offer first-hand advice about what you should expect.
Remember, a personal recommendation is a great start, but you should not end your search there. Use the recommendations as a springboard to learn about the clubs in your area.
Do the Research
This is going to be the hard part of your search, although it should start fairly easily with the recommendations that you have received. With that, you should start your search for other schools in the area.
Locate All Clubs that Teach the Martial Arts You Want to Learn: Depending on the discipline you have chosen, this may mean just a few clubs or perhaps more. Once you have the list, eliminate those that are too far away or not convenient to visit. That will help considerably in narrowing down the choices.
Read Reviews: Reviews from those who have participated in the club will be invaluable in your research. You can usually find them on third-party sites and they should provide a picture of what each martial arts club is like. Keep in mind that even the best club may have a few negative reviews, so what you are looking for is a pattern of comments that provide clues to how the club operates.
At this point, you should have narrowed down the list to just a few, perhaps three to five schools depending on where you live. Once you have such a list, you should make plans to visit each school personally.
Set Up a Visit
Most clubs will have a free class or perhaps a trial period at a reduced cost to let you experience what happens first hand.
You should take advantage of these programs when trying out to see if they work for you. You’ll also want to meet with the martial arts instructor preferably before the class begins to discuss what you are trying to get out of it
The good news is that most instructors will be honest and forthright in their conversations with you. This is because they understand that working with their clients, even if they have bad news for them, is the best way to keep their reputation.
This means that if what you want is something they do not offer or that when they teach is not going to fit in with your schedule, then they should let you know before you make any commitments.
You will need to be honest and upfront with what you are trying to get out of the classes, so you can get the most direct answers.
For every trial class you attend, try to be there at least 15 minutes ahead of time. This allows you enough time to fill out any paperwork and change before participating in the class. You can also use this time to evaluate the club itself and see what it has to offer.
- Clean Facilities
- Professional Instructors
- See a Class in Progress
All this will help inform you if this is the right place for you. Remember, you are not making any commitment at this time as this is just a trial class.
Meet the Instructor
You should always talk to the instructor at some point, usually before the class begins or at a set time where you can get as much information as possible. You should ask general questions about the club itself, their training style, and discuss your goals.
Other questions include the following;
- How a Typical Class Proceeds
- Experience in Teaching
- One-on-One Training to Teach Specific Lessons
Be sure that the instructor you meet is the one who will be teaching you. By clearing that up beforehand, you can get a feel for how the classes will go and whether it meets your needs.
Make the Decision
Once you have visited all the clubs on your list and have been through at least one trial class, it is time for you to make the decision about which one to choose. There are a few guidelines that will help in case you are having trouble narrowing down your choices.
- Availability of Right Classes for Your Needs
- Location & Time of Classes Works for You
- Teaching Style of Instructor Suits Your Needs
- You Feel Comfortable in the Class
- You Believe Your Goals will be Met
It helps if you talk to a member or two who are taking the classes. Ask them how long they’ve been a part of the club and what they enjoy about it. You don’t have to get too personal, but instead simply judge their responses from what they say. Also, you should eliminate any clubs that have something beyond what you are comfortable in doing, such as an overly high price for their classes or facilities that are poor and seemingly not safe.
Listen to Your Instincts
At this point, you will need to assess all the information you have gathered and then trust your gut. You should know which of the clubs you feel most comfortable, so base your decision on that.
While it is tempting to take the advice of those who you received personal recommendations from, it is important to realize that your goals, attitude, and personality are different from theirs. What worked for them may not work for you and your gut will tell you that after taking a trial class.
So, evaluate everything you have taken in about each club and go with the one that you feel most comfortable in taking as long as it meets your goals, is convenient for you to attend, and is within your budget.
It is possible to do everything right and still make the wrong decision, although that is highly unlikely if you have taken all the necessary steps. You may find after taking a few classes that it is not working out for you. If so, you still have a monetary obligation depending on the contract you signed, but you are not required to attend if it turns out this isn’t what you want.
It’s never easy to make changes once you have made the decision, but if things are not what you expected, then you should be prepared to go somewhere else if necessary. The good news is that you have already done the research, so your second or third choices will be well-known.