Part 3 of 4
3) Does style matter?
A common question we get asked is what’s the difference between Karate and Taekwondo and . While there are some fundamental differences between each style, most differences are not seen at the beginner level. An upper block is an upper block, a punch is a punch, and a kick is a kick. What matters most is the school and the instructors. I have seen some amazing karate schools and some horrendous karate schools. The same goes for Taekwondo and any other system. The instructors make or break the system.
4) What to look for in a martial arts facility
The martial arts facility can tell you a lot about the school, and whether it is an appropriate and safe environment for your child to train. Obviously, there is a difference in training in a gym, a garage, or a professional martial arts studio. Below are a couple key questions to ask yourself as you decide whether you are choosing a professional martial arts studio:
Is the studio clean? The floors? The windows? The mirrors? How a staff treats its business is often times indicative of how it treats its students and families.
Does the studio feel like a family atmosphere? Is there a place for the parents to watch? I would be extremely concerned if there is no place for parents to watch, or if watching is discouraged. The studio should feel comfortable.
How does the studio smell? Personally, a studio that smells like dirty socks, sweat, or an old gym is not a place I’d want to come back to 2-3 times per week.
Is the studio well-lit? Are there lights out? A well-lit studio is not important just for safety reasons, but also it shows you how seriously the ownership takes its business.
Is the floor safe? Traditionally you would see lots of wooden or tile floors, but that isn’t necessarily safe for the students. Carpet or mats is the accepted standard for safety these days.
Are there lots of pictures of the ‘Master’? Lots of trophies? Typically this is a sign of ego, which personally, I choose not to be around.
Bottom line, the safest, most professional studio may not be the closest studio to you. But with an activity like martial arts, where safety is a MUST, I would much rather drive an extra 10-15 minutes to feel and be comfortable, than settle for the closest school.
5) Does the martial arts school have a clear, written curriculum?
Imagine you were choosing a Kindergarten for your child, and when observing the classroom, you discovered that the teacher had absolutely no lesson plan. The teacher had no idea what she planned to teach that day, or the day after, or even remembered what they taught last week. Further imagine that the school had no set requirements for each grade and student. It was just a free-for-all. I don’t know about you, but I’d walk away from that classroom and school feeling like they had absolutely no clue!
Sadly, a lot of martial arts studios run the exact same way. A professional martial arts school should be able to show you their lesson plan for the week, the next week, and the week after. In addition, a school should be able to give you a written copy of the requirements and expectations for each age level and belt level. If not, you are in a similar situation as the above-mentioned Kindergarten!