Choosing a School

Whether you call us dojo or gym we are more then a facility you drop into.  This is community.


Things to Consider

When choosing a martial art school, people often end up with the right questions, but think of them in the wrong order.  Often the questions are thought of after being a student for a period of time.  That is why asking yourself the right questions can save you valuable time and money.


What Do You Want?

As mentioned in the style section visualize what you want in the end.  What physical ability do you want in the end?  Make sure you see that in the students at the school you are considering.


Don't Weed Out Schools Before Investigating

People sometimes restrict choices based on location and prices too early.  These are important factors, but don't start comparing all schools by this factors before separating them by what they offer first.  You wouldn't call around for price on a car or house and purchase sight unseen, and your commitment to martial arts deserves at least some brief legwork to understand your choices before adding these filters.


Understand the Value of Rank

It is less than you think.  The belt systems for martial arts were developed little over one hundred years ago. First created for Judo as a reward system for students to set a personal scale of their development in the sport, it quickly spread to other martial arts.  The colors and requirements are not universal.  An 8th degree black belt in one style is a white belt in another.  Ranks aren't equivalent and are typically not transferable. 


Higher rank does not imply better instruction.  For many schools the ranks are hierarchal, and students are rewarded for staying around, or developing some specific requirement.  That does not always translate into an ability to teach you.  You will need to see if you connect with the instructor and can inspire you to achieve your goal.


How to Investigate

Go visit all of the dojo in your area within a reasonable driving distance and observe a few classes at each of them.  Never go by the "reputation" of a dojo alone. Watch how the teacher interacts with his/her students. Watch how the students interact with their teacher. Watch how the students interact with each other. See if you feel comfortable with the way all of these interactions play out. It's often said that you can tell the quality of any kind of school by its students.  Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask about the school's history and affiliation. Ask about the teacher's history. Ask about the teacher's philosophy in doing martial arts. See if any of their answers feels "different" than what you see being practiced and taught.