5 unshakable guidelines to choosing a martial arts school
You now know that not all schools are created equal. It’s very important to make an educated decision when picking a school.
I’m going to urge you to never join a school or program unless it meets all five of the following criteria:
1. Their instructors are qualified.
What are the instructors’ credentials? Unfortunately there aren’t any “industry certifications” for martial arts — but have they competed? What is the reputation of the organization that they represent? Do they just “sell belts” or are they committed to producing high-quality athletes?
2. The school must have a written curriculum.
Is there a method to the madness? Most schools don’t follow a step-by-step program—so neither the student nor the teacher knows where they are going, how they’re going to get there, and how far along they are.
3. The school must produce winners.
Ask yourself, has this school produced any national champs or winning teams? No matter the credentials of the instructor, it does you no good if he can’t pass on that expertise. So what levels are their best athletes competing at? Also, if they have produced winners, find out who they are—are they all Div 1 athletes, or are they “normal” people who have been trained up to a championship level?
4. The school should have a diverse group of students.
Some programs are attended only by casual non-competitive fighters who just want a place to hang out and shoot the breeze. Other programs consist only of 18-25 year old tattoo-covered wannabe MMA fighters. Whether you want to be physically fit, learn self defense, train for the World Championships, are a man, a woman, out-of-shape, or an Olympic athlete…the school should have a program for you when you start—and a program to progress toward.
5. The prices are not unbelievably low.
Remember that you get what you pay for. Lots of places offer grappling and MMA training just like many restaurants have steak on the menu…but there is a biiiig difference between getting a steak at Applebees and ordering one at Ruth’s Chris, right? These “bargain” schools usually have dirty facilities, unqualified instructors, and limited schedules (and they won’t meet most or any of criteria 1-4 above). Make sure you distinguish between affordability and value if you are forced to consider training at these kinds of places.
Of course, it’s a given that the school should be clean and well-maintained, and the staff are courteous and professional.
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