Tien Lung

How to Choose a Martial Arts School

It’s hard to know which Martial Art school is the right one for you. It is especially difficult if you are not an experienced martial artist yourself. It is VERY important that consumers shop around because finding the right school can make the difference between an incredible journey and life changing experience that can last for many years OR something that turns out to be a disappointment and a dream unfulfilled.

Poor reasons to pick a particular Martial Arts club:

...it was the first school you heard about.

Don’t experience buyers’ remorse, there are hundreds of options. Martial arts incorporates flexibility, strength training, aerobic, anaerobic, agility training and more…Finding QUALIFIED instructors is vital to a safe and positive experience. Having a Black Belt does not make somebody an instructor.

...it was the closest.

People travel across the city for quality gymnastics, ballet, music and golf instruction: be prepared to do the same for martial arts. Once you start with the school next door, it is almost impossible to move your child to another facility if you discover problems (Instructional/Financial etc), as they have already bonded with the instructors, or have already been turned off of martial arts.

...because my friends go there.

This is a BONUS, but if the friends quit…will you? You are going for yourself, not for someone else.

...it seemed the cheapest.

As in all things, you get what you pay for…. cheap ice skates that don’t fit and HURT your feet will not encourage you or your kids to want to take up skating. In addition, some schools will lure you in with low initial rates then fees increase when they have you or your child hooked, or “penny” you to death with extra fees, etc.

What you SHOULD consider when looking into a martial art school:


Do the monthly fees increase the higher you progress in the belts? Do they charge fees for belt exams? Do the exam fees increase for every belt level? How much do they charge for a Black Belt exam? Are there any extra mandatory classes you have to pay for to earn a black belt? Is the sparring gear included?
Are all of the belts that students earn applicable in other schools if you decide to transfer at a later date? Is the school a member of an international federation?
Are there there specialized programs to keep students excited and motivated as they progress? Do they have a competitive program with coaches that are internationally experienced?
How are their instructors certified, trained, or educated? Being a Black Belt does not automatically make someone a good instructor. Do they have a set curriculum? Lesson plans?
You are going to have to trust them with your personal information. Do they have a Privacy Officer who actually knows the law? Do the forms conform to current financial institution standards?
Cameras and contracts are there to protect students and the school alike. Both of these prevent misunderstandings and can answer questions if an issue arises.
What if this turns out to be you/your child’s THING? Do they have actual separate programs for those who want to become Competitors? Demo team members? Instructors? Does the school have a successful history of training World class athletes?
Improperly maintained training facilities and the sharing of safety equipment can be a health hazard. What are their policies and procedures?

What to look for when you visit a Martial Arts school:

They can tell you all kinds of great things about their school but they may or may not be true. We recommend you drop in and watch a class. Don’t try to tell good from bad technique because most people can’t.

Instead, look for:

  • How they interact with each other prior to class, how they talk and treat each other.
  • How they talk to and treat the parents and staff.
  • Fitness level, effort and level of enjoyment.

If you like how they look and behave, and if you are thinking to yourself that you’d be happy if YOUR kids behaved, and looked like that when they get to that age……well then…..you’re in the right club.

The other thing to look for are the parents in the viewing or waiting area.  If they seem normal to you, the kind of people you’d be comfortable around, chatting with like a good neighbour, that’s another good sign.

If, however, the kids are rude, sloppy, etc or if the parents are, or if the students and parents are not your kind of people, then it’s not the club for you.

One final thing to watch for in martial arts schools are the instructors. Remember they will have a profound affect on you/your children for possibly many years.

  • Are the instructors in control of the classroom?

  • Are they teaching in a manner that you like?

  • Are they fit and do they demonstrate the moves?

  • Do they interact with the students or stand with arms crossed at the front of the class?

  • Do they seem like the role models you want your children to emulate?

No one regrets being a Black Belt