It’s exciting to think about starting something new, and for many adults, that includes finally starting those martial arts classes they’ve always dreamed of taking. But, sometimes, actually getting started is the hardest part. What was just a vague idea is suddenly a chart of decision-making… or lack thereof.
It can be a bit overwhelming as you look for a new martial arts school near you. In this article, you will learn some of the key questions to ask, both of yourself and of the schools you are interviewing — and yes, you should be interviewing several schools before making your selection.
How to Choose a Martial Arts School
For most people, the selection process starts with opening a web browser and typing in “Martial Arts Schools Near Me.” This is a great starting point; you will quickly get a feel for the available options.
But, making the right choice should go beyond selecting the first listing that shows up on Google.
A few key considerations will help you find the best martial arts school for your adult needs.
- Know whom you are shopping for
- Know what you want to get out of training
- Learn about each school’s focus
- How much do classes cost?
- Visit the school and learn about the culture
Know Whom you Are Shopping For
When searching for a martial arts school, it is important to consider who will take classes. This article will focus on adult classes, but many people search for their kids, spouse, or family member.
Every school has a unique focus, and trying to sign a child up at an adult-focused school can lead to disaster. Similarly, trying to enroll in a family-style or child-focused academy might lead to frustration for an adult.
By finding a martial arts school that fits the age and goals of the student, you’ve taken a great first step in finding your new home.
Know What You Want to Get Out Of classes
Assuming you are looking for a school for yourself or another adult, it is vital to consider what you hope to get out of your time on the training floor.
For example, some adults want to learn how to defend themselves. They might work in less-than-savory areas or maybe live with domestic violence. A student looking for self-defense classes wouldn’t be happy in a sport-oriented school.
Similarly, a student who just wants to get in shape while making new friends might not be interested in hardcore hands-on self-defense classes.
We recommend taking a few minutes to think about what excited you about martial arts. And it’s ok if you simply don’t know! Many schools will offer free classes or even host a YouTube channel that might give you a look inside their classes. The more you know about what you want, the easier it will be to narrow down your school selection.
What Does the School Focus On?
When searching for a martial arts school, all of the different martial arts styles can be confusing, especially when more traditional schools that include cultural aspects use words from other languages.
While many people think there are only two options — karate and BJJ/MMA — there are thousands of martial arts styles from dozens of different cultures. Subsystems, variations, and differing ideologies can exist within a style like Taekwondo.
So, what does it all mean?
When searching for a school, be sure to look at their social media, website, and advertisements and chat with a school representative to learn more about their focus.
The style being taught, while certainly important, is secondary to your goals for training. Two schools advertising “self-defense” might have completely different classes, with one focusing on the fun aspect of choreography and cultural exploration and the other working on knife drills and firearms training.
By doing some research, you will be able to discern what the head instructor’s vision is for his teaching time, and finding a school that matches your goals, regardless of style and vision, can lead to a long and rewarding journey in martial arts.
How Much Do Classes Cost?
As adults responsible for our bills and budgets, the question of price is important. In fact, one of the most common questions a martial arts school gets when the phone rings are, “How much do martial arts classes cost?“
While many instructors groan when hearing this question (we’d much rather talk about the benefits of training), it is important when considering a new line item on the budget.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer, and pricing from one school to another varies widely.
Community programs are hosted at parks, church basements, and other multipurpose venues that are completely free. The benefit of these programs is the low cost and often casual atmosphere.
There are also full-time professional schools that charge $300 or more per month. The benefit of this type of martial arts school is the singular focus of the professional instructor and often the fact that there are higher quality training areas and equipment.
Many other business models are in the middle, from part-time schools to college courses. A good national average is between $150 and $250 per month.
The next question is: what’s included?
In addition to monthly tuition for martial arts classes, some schools will keep the monthly rate low by also having add-on expenses. Things to ask about include:
- Testing fees – some schools choose to charge for rank promotions; others roll it into the monthly tuition.
- Organization fees – some schools belong to national or international organizations that charge monthly or yearly fees to “certify rank.”
- Insurance fees – while most schools consider this a cost of doing business, some charge an annual fee to cover their cost.
- Additional equipment can range from buying a sparring gear package or uniform to monthly upsells like patches and books.
- Upsell programs – some schools will have higher-level programs you can join, such as leadership classes, fitness kickboxing, Black Belt clubs, etc. In some schools, these are optional; in others, they are built into the sales process, and you will be pitched to upgrade every few months.
None of these things is good or bad; they are just different business models. The key is understanding all the costs upfront, the cancellation policies, contract/membership agreement terms, etc.
While all of this can be intimidating initially, the biggest consideration is whether the value offered matches or exceeds the price being asked. While price is important, value is even more so.
Learn About the Culture
When all is said and done, and you have checked off all of the considerations above, it is vital that you remember one thing: when you train, you should feel good.
Every business has its own culture, and martial arts schools are no different.
Dungeon dojos smell like stale sweat and dirty feet, and the uniforms are yellowish and blood-stained because being hardcore is more important than self-care. There are crisp, clean, and sterile schools with a military feel. There are schools where everyone is family, and students smile through sweat. There are schools that adhere to strict cultural guidelines in which you will learn as much about foreign cultures as you will about self-defense. Some schools focus on tons of contact, and some hardly ever spar.
Again, none of these models are wrong, but they will determine whether you enjoy your time training or not. A domestic abuse survivor may not thrive in the dungeon dojo but may do well in the family-style school where interpersonal support is foundational.
Spend some time observing a class. Again, many schools offer trial classes, like the Test Drive at Resilient Martial Arts. If they do, take advantage of a few before deciding on the school that leaves you feeling good after your workout.
If you’re interested in martial arts, or you are looking for a way to take control of your life and your level of success, why not check out our program:
RESILIENT MARTIAL ARTS
6911 Chital Drive
Midlothian, VA 23112
Email: [email protected]
About the Author
Eric Rangel-Ribeiro is the proud owner alongside Joshua Fracker, Bernard Robinson, and Barbara Robinson of Resilient Martial Arts in Midlothian, Virginia. With a background in traditional Martial Arts, Psychology, and Child Development, Eric is an active advocate for today’s youth. His passion for supporting and nurturing students of all abilities and ages resonates through all he does as a parent and business owner.