Sunday, June 5, 2016

Five More Criteria for Choosing a Martial Arts School

Bejtlich w/Curtis Abernathy (left) and Ed Parker Jr (right), 2001
Need more than five criteria for choosing a martial arts school?

As I continued looking at Tae Kwon Do programs for one of my daughters, I realized my original post needed a second part.

Therefore, here I feature criteria six through ten for choosing a martial arts school.

6. Curriculum. What does the school teach? When I first stepped into my Krav Maga school, I noticed a series of flyers sitting on a place to stow shows and clothing. The flyers listed the requirements for passing the Krav Maga Global ranks of P1 through G1. I could see what was expected of a student and what I could expect to learn at each stage.

7. Class Composition. Does the student mix, for the classes you wish to attend, match your expectations? Some students, or parents of students, may not care about this element. For example, they may not mind that six-year-olds are training with sixteen-year-olds, or twenty-six-year-olds. In my case, I wanted my daughter to at least train with kids of similar age, and ideally, of similar skill level.

8. Class Management. How does the instructor, or how do the instructors, manage the class? What is the instructor-to-student ratio? In many schools I visited, one instructor managed each class. In one school, I saw four instructors divide the class evenly among themselves. On a related note, how is the class run? One school I visited contained many drills involving the sole instructor holding pads while the students individually kicked them. This approach left the rest of the class waiting in line for their turn. This seemed boring to me and most of the students. Also, does the noise level match the student's temperament? My daughter in particular doesn't want to train in a school that features blaring music. I was surprised to encounter this at two schools.

9. Facility. Does the facility match your expectations? Bigger schools do not necessarily mean better results or a superior training environment. However, a school that is essentially an empty rectangular room, with hardly any training equipment, may be lacking compared to a facility with more space and plenty of training equipment. The school I mentioned in item 8, where the single instructor held pads for each student, may have found itself conducting that sort of drill because it didn't offer much in the way of training equipment.

10. Schedule and Location. Does the school provide classes when you can attend, and is it close enough to not be an undue burden when visiting it? Location is probably the number one criteria for casual martial arts students. However, I am much more interested in a quality school over a nearby school. My Krav Maga commute is 35-40 minutes one-way, but it's worth it to me to get training that exceeds my expectations. However, that's at about the limit for a school I visit at least three times per week. Finally, if you find a great school, but the class times just don't match your availability, you won't be able to train there, or bring your kids there.

I still plan to report back with news on my daughter's experience.

What criteria do you use to choose a school?

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