How to choose a Dojo

When looking for a dojo to learn martial arts you need to decide what kind of training you were looking for. As we’ve discussed, in the martial arts world you have the sport/kids martial arts on the one side and on the other the “war arts”, the real life functional martial arts. -Krav Maga, Bujutsu etc.

So based on your martial arts needs, your personality, your physique, all these things will be relevant when deciding what art is the right one for you. Do you like the striking arts? Grappling? Do you want compete? Do you want to take classes with your kids?

Beyond that you have to look at the individual sensei’s that are offering the instruction. It’s generally best to look for a school for the heads instructor has minimum 15 to 20 years of experience. Instructors generally get better as they gain experience, as they continue down their own martial path. Younger instructors tend to still be focusing on their own martial development, their competitive careers, their own ego-based focus on themselves. They will grow out of this over time. But you’re really looking for an instructor who’s been therye and done that and now wants to focus on helping you to improve. They say in martial arts that “you can train yourself or you can teach… But you can’t do both at the same time”

When you’re deciding on school you also want to look at the types of classes that are taught there, how those classes are taught, see if it resonates with you. Look at the other students and see what sort of development they seem to be manifesting. It can be useful to have an understanding of the rank structure of that particular school so you can see if the students are developing over time. I’d recommend looking for some middle ranked color belts. Generally those are Green and blue belts and see how skillful they are. Because you are very likely to have a similar levels of skill after 1 to 2 years.

They should at the very least be fairly competent at the type of thing that their school teaches. So in a sport based Tai Kwon Do school for instance, middle level people with 1 to 2 years of experience should be fairly confident at performing sport martial arts techniques, they should seem to be gaining some sort of physical mastery over themselves and their technique. Reality-based martial arts students should have a solid ground in self-defense skills. Grappling arts schools like Brazilian jujitsu should sit show functional grappling abilities etc.

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