View Full Version : How to evaluate a martial arts school?

May 13, 2002, 12:11 PM
So if any of you who have some experience with this sort of thing were going to evaluate a martial arts school, how would you go about determining whether or not the school is a fraud/scam or a legitimate place to learn? I'm considering a couple of places right now and would like to hear what you guys think are some good signs and some red flags. Thanks. :)

May 13, 2002, 03:20 PM
I don't consider myself by ANY stretch of the imagination to be an expert, but I know what I like, so:

to me, one of the biggest concerns is the instructor-student relationship. you have to match your goals and personality to the right school and instructor(s). that's a pretty broad area to discuss.

also, and this is a personal pet peeve of mine, I hate hearing anything from anyone about how, "My style is the best and I can kick anyone's a$$ and everyone else is inferior." you know, the ego thing? there's just too much of that, I think.

May 13, 2002, 04:51 PM
I look at, in no particular order, the following:

The level of instruction
The quality of instruction
The tone of the instruction (philosophical, combative, a blend, etc)
The instructor to student ratio
The demeanor of the instructors
The demeanor of the students
The quality of the students (particularly senior ones)
The location of the facilities
The quality of the facilities
Promotional expectations (especially when tied to fees)
The presence of any "cult like" attitude
The presented history of the art (If it sounds like a movie plot instead of accepted history, it's likely that it is, and the instructor trying to sell it to you likely isn't worth your time. Granted, you'll have to do your homework first to know in the first place...)

That's about it, to start.

Where ever you end up at, make sure it's a good fit for you. If not, I advise moving on untill you find what youre looking for.

May 13, 2002, 08:22 PM
Erik makes good points. But I think it totally deoends on what you want out of it. Personally I hate the schools where you spend half the class bowing and reciting creeds. Too much formality and too much pretension. I mean, if you are in the USA and the school is not run or taught by someone who happens to be Asian, why should I learn to count in the language native to the style? Why should I learn their customs and such if I and everyone in the class are American? I think too much time is spent on such trivial and pretensious customs. I like a place where I go to train. And nothing else. I like a place where you make good contact. And you don't stop once someone makes contact. I suggest that you go and observe several defferent classes and styles. Then go and observe a REAL boxing gym. And note the differences. Although boxing may not be what you are looking for. But you can note the way they train. A lot of sweat. A lot of conditioning. A LOT of contact. If you find a martial arts class that incorporates this type of training mindset, then you have probably found a good dojo. Unfortunately it is hard to find in the Martial arts world, so I have found that I have to put up with some crap I don't agree with to get what I want from the class.

Danger Dave
May 14, 2002, 09:22 AM
boris, the main reason I've seen for the counting and naming of techniques in a "native" tongue is two-fold: 1) it identifies the art as "belonging" to a certain culture/country and 2) international standards make it easier to share ideas across the language barrier - which is vital for international competition. I don't have to speak the same language as the referee to know what he's talking about, if everything is consistent (Judo is a great example of how to do this).

May 14, 2002, 11:10 PM
I think Eric said it right the first time.

Other factors that play into martial arts schools are: what do you want to accomplish?

If you want to learn how to fight start checking the full contact places out.

If you want to look pretty check out the Tradititional arts.

Some factors I look for to determine if a school is more Fluff than Tuff.

Number of Kid's to Adults. If kids out number adults it means no contact. (Alot of schools are just another way of babysitting kids)

Number of belts, if each belt has four levels before promotion to the next one, and others follow the same pattern. That's a warning sign.

If there are like 20 black belts in that art for one class that usually means pay us 3 years of dues and you'll get your black belt.

Ridiculously, long Bow in/out Ceromonys (i.e. 30 minutes) usually sign of a cult.

If the head instructor is called "Master", "The Master" it's generally a bad sign.

If you hear Supernatural Stories of "The Masters feats of super human greatness" That denotes cult like status.

Any Martial Art School that tries to blend any biblical or religious term into title of martial arts they practice. I've seen this done with my style of Ju Jitsu. It's very heart breaking for me to see the abuse of my style's founder, for some one elses profit.

If the head instructor is 28 and has a 10th degree blackbelt. Anything, more than 3 rd degree is suspect.

If you get a gut feeling about the place go with it.

If you have to buy a different color uniform for each promotion level. This a definate rip off. We have a school in my area that does this, very cult like. i.e. class assembled looks like a box of Skittles.

Any school that promises "enlightment" if you train with them.

There are changes in you that comes from training, but it's not because the school gives you the philosphy. It's because the changes come from within you,and happen slowly overtime as a by product of training. Not by a Wanna be Guru of eastern philospy.

If the term "unique style" is used this usually translates too:

"I've taken only the moves that work for me very well in my orginal style, and chose not to teach the ones I did poorly or fail to understand with out failing to comprehend the different body mechanics of other people in mind who might be able to use the moves I do poorly in well"

"I trained a month here, a month there,don't hold a belt in anything, and dropped out due to ego, I only teach what ever one move I picked up on at any of the twenty places I trained at in three years"

"I made it up"

This has happened in my area with a guy calling his style "Tai Fi" he's in jail for fraud, and some other charges as well.

Also, alot of the Flim Flam artists will move to areas with no competition, because it easier to make money with no one else around.

Remember, Martial Arts is an unregulated field there is no real governing bodies. Therefore be aware and use caution when selecting a school.