Choosing a School
So you've decided to take some lessons in the Martial Arts. What do you do next?
If you were going to buy a pair of shoes, chances are you would try a few on and walk around the store first. The same applies in choosing a Martial Arts school.
After making a list of Martial Arts schools you are interested in, start by visiting the schools and observing the instructor. Take an introductory course to see if you are comfortable with the instructor. The instructor is important not only because he will be teaching you, but also because a school will often take on the personality of the head instructor. If an instructor is too rough, then that school is not for you. If anyone gets hurt – get out.
Being comfortable with your instructor is more important than his or her accomplishments. It's possible to be an excellent instructor and not have won major national titles. An instructor does not need the credentials of Chuck Norris to be a good Martial Arts teacher.
Find out who taught the instructor, how long the instructor has studied his/her particular style and how long he or she has been teaching. You don't want an instructor who is self taught. Find an experienced dedicated instructor.
How long the school has the school been in operation? If a school has been around for several years, chances are it should be around for years to come. Another important question to ask is how many students are in a class. I recommend no more than 20 students per instructor. Learning one on one is also ideal, but will cost more than group classes. Ask if the school has programs that incorporate group and private lessons.
Money is also a factor in your decision. The average price throughout the United States is $110.00 to $170.00 per month for group classes and extra for private lessons. Prices vary a great deal so it is important to see what classes the monthly fee includes. Ask how many and what type of classes are offered per week and what is the length of each class.
Some schools charge more and teach less. Make sure to ask:
- How long does it take to get a black belt? The average is 5 years at our school.
- How long is the lease at the school location? A long lease is a strong indication of the schools dedication and stability. My school has been at its current location for twenty years. We were at our previous location in Daly City for eight years.
- Does the school have liability and medical insurance?
- How long does the instructor plan on teaching? If you reach the rank of black belt does the instructor have the necessary rank to promote you to 2nd or 3rd degree or higher?
- If the school closes is there another school in the area where you can continue training without starting over? Not all schools teach the same kata's or forms.
- Does the school charge additional registration fees, test fees or insurance fees?
Don't be afraid to ask questions. If the instructor is on the up and up he/she will be happy to answer all your questions. Most states do not regulate Martial Arts schools, so you have to do your own homework. Senior Grand Master Alemany has been my instructor for over 40 years, so you could be under your instructor for a long time.
Good luck in your search for a Martial Arts School.
-- Master Professor Bill Grossman