How to Choose a Martial Arts School for You or Your Kids
In the Martial Arts business, not all schools are created equal. Karate instructors generally do not have to answer to a state agency or even have specific training. Some schools require all Karate instructors to become certified prior to owning or operating a martial arts school, and keep their national certifications and qualifications up to date.
Certifications such as the following might be required:
- State and Federal background check
- Class management skills certification
- Physical skills certification
- Child safety skills and drills
- Bullying prevention techniques
Below are some key steps, questions to ask, and tips when choosing a Karate School:
- Research on the internet. Read Martial Art articles, stories, testimonials, and learn as much as you can about your local Karate schools.
- Make an appointment. The school should offer a free introductory class, take it and experience the class, academy and instructors. This should be a positive experience with class structure and a personal rapport with you and your family.
- Gauge the attitude of the instructor and the students. This can serve as an accurate indicator of school spirit. Respect goes both ways, you should see both the instructor and students showing it at all times.
- Does the class have structure and self control? A Karate class should include a warm up, specific training material and cool down. Many schools encourage the students to arrive early to their Karate class so they can stretch before the class to prevent injuries.
- Consider location. The school’s proximity to your home or work should seriously be taken into consideration prior to enrolling into a program.
- Inspect the equipment and facility. Martial arts schools vary in the type of equipment and amenities they offer. Does the school appear clean? Are the Karate students required to wear safety gear?
- Evaluate the class sizes and schedule. Many new students prefer to be part of a larger class, rather than a small class as the energy levels of the class are higher; however, the benefits of a smaller class should not be overlooked. You will also want to ask when classes are offered, how long are the classes, and can your class schedule be flexible if needed.
- Determine the quality of instruction. Is the instructor certified? What rank does he or she hold? How long has he or she been in Karate? Who is his or her senior instructor and how often they train together? Are they certified by a reputable national Martial Arts organization?
- Check the class ages and groups. What age can my child start? Are the classes separated by age and/or belt level? Are you looking for a family class?
- Learn their ranking/belt system. How often do you test for rank? What are the requirements? Is my rank nationally recognized? Can you transfer out of the area to another academy with the same Karate style and curriculum?
- Know the price of instruction and other required fees. Prices vary depending on the program. Ask about paid in full options, many times this will not only save you money, but it will also include free gear or a considerable discount. Be sure to ask questions, the instructor should be receptive to your questions and answer in a clear matter. Is everything discussed, well documented within the membership agreement?
- See if they offer a variety of Martial Arts programs. Search for a school that offers multiple programs for the entire family from pre-school to adults, or offers multiple disciplines or styles that you might enjoy.
It’s always smart to do your research prior to enrolling at a school. Seeing what the school has to offer will give parents and potential students a better understanding of the commitment and guide you in making your decision for the right Karate academy.