Choosing a Martial Arts School, part 2: Finding Schools or Clubs


Once you've identified the martial arts you'd like to try, find some schools that teach those arts. Once again, here's the steps in our "Choose the right martial arts school" process:

  1. Choose an art to study
  2. Find schools that teach that art
  3. Visit the schools
  4. Start training!

2. Find Schools or Clubs to Visit

Where do you find a good martial arts school? The rec.martial-arts Newbie Guide has a great list of suggestions for finding schools or clubs in your area; here's a few of them:

Bob Orlando, in his excellent book Martial Arts America: A Western Approach to Eastern Arts, decries the "belt inflation" of instructors in their yellow pages ads. In order to market themselves apart from their competitors, instructors over the years have been forced to show their prowess through ever-increasing belt levels.

Orlando writes that of the 140 or so different martial arts schools in his area, there are "one tenth-degree black belt, two ninth-degrees, four eighths, five sevenths, two sixths, and two fifths," and numerous "Masters, Grandmasters, and Grand Masters". Either Bob lives in a neighborhood where everyone eats and breathes martial arts (lucky guy!), or there's some hokey stuff going on. The tenth-degree black belt used to be reserved for a founder of a martial arts system, and there were maybe a couple dozen or so in the entire world. But evidently not anymore.

Orlando's point is that rank, as advertised in the ad, might not have much bearing on the quality of instruction you'll get from a school. Lots of folks know of college professors who were exceptional researchers but crummy teachers. Orlando writes of a "lowly" third-degree black belt in his area that is an excellent instructor--someone whose focus is on teaching, rather than marketing. That's the kind of teacher you'd want to find.

Next Steps

Once you've found some schools in your area, it's time to visit the schools and check out their classes.

Onward to Visiting the Martial Arts Schools >>

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