Finding, interviewing and choosing the perfect school for you and your family is the most important decision you will ever make in regards to your martial arts training. There are several key steps you simply must take during this process to ensure a long and happy martial arts career.
Here we go:
Depending on the type of person you are, go to your favorite advertising medium and start looking around for a school to call. If you are "Old School", that means the Yellow Pages or mailers that come to your house; if not, hit the web and start surfing.
Several words of caution on the Web:
When you are searching, it does you no good to know about the Killer Death Ninja Dojo with convenient class times in Hoboken, New Jersey – unless, of course, you live in Hoboken.
It is also critical to keep in mind the step I mentioned previously, which is to identify who you are and what you want out of a program BEFORE you start looking for one. If you are simply looking to get into better shape and learn to protect yourself, going to a hardcore mixed martial arts facility – staffed by a bunch of guys with cauliflower ears, no necks, tattoos everywhere and no shirts on – might scare you away.
Narrow your search to a school that is within three miles of your home. Why three miles? If you are in Southern California, where I live, most people won’t cross the I-5 Freeway unless their life depended on it. As populations get more densely packed, peoples’ tolerance for inconvenience and travel drops. That makes it a good idea for your longevity in the martial arts to pick a location that is conveniently located close to you – after you have determined it is worth it.
Here’s a Big Secret in looking for a school: In Southern California, there is a mattress company that has been running the exact same ad since I moved here in 1988. And I mean the exact, same ad – word for word. And it has been in every type of media possible, including the radio. When it came time for my wife and I to purchase our super-deluxe, outrageously expensive California King-size bed, who do you think I called?
Yep. Those guys. I had their number and picture (and tagline) indelibly burned in my head!
If you have seen an ad for a martial arts school over and over again, in a bunch of different mediums, or if a school has a gigantic ad in the yellow pages (and has had for awhile) you can figure that they are probably a decent school. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in business with all the money they are spending on advertising.
For all the “Yeah, buts” out there – you know; the guys who hear something and say, “Yeah, but…” you may be thinking that you might get sucked in to a school that just has a lot of glitzy advertising and no substance.
A martial arts school is geographically limited; most schools are going to pull from a three to five mile radius. If they are scam artists or teach lousy classes, they won’t last long because you know as well as I do that bad news travels fast and they’ll go out of business!
This is the first part – finding out what schools are nearest you and do they look like they might be a good fit. In the next article, I will share with you what to expect when you contact the martial arts school.
Yours in the arts,