Zen Martial Arts Center

Sacramento Martial Arts and Karate

Friends and acquaintances often ask me, “How do I choose a martial arts school?” I’m not surprised that this is a frequent question. Most people’s experience and understanding of the martial arts are limited to what they have seen in television and movies. Here are some very basic factors to consider when choosing a place to train for you or your child.

Step One – Consider your goals.

Why do you want to train in the martial arts? Are you looking for physical fitness, self-defense skills, a family oriented school for you and your kids? Many people want and expect many things from a good martial arts school and the best schools will train you physically in a safe environment while also instilling some wonderful mental and life habits as well. Many traditional schools that have a basis in the Eastern arts, such as Karate, will also integrate methods for you to express yourself spiritually as well.

At their best, the martial arts are a way of life. If you are looking to use the martial arts as a vehicle to bring balance into your life, you are going to have to train regularly. Make sure the school you choose is close enough so that you remain excited about training. The best martial arts classes are the one that you attend consistently.

Step Two – What does the school say about itself?

Check out the school’s website or marketing material. Pay attention to the kind of people that are in their photographs. Are these the kind of people that you could see yourself working out with? You probably
want to be at a school where the adults look friendly and if you are looking for classes for your child, you are going to want the instructors to look like they have the potential to be a positive role-model for the little ones.

Where does the school focus most of its attention? Do they seem to focus on competing against other schools? Adult self-defense? Teaching kids life-skills? Do they intrgreate the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of the martial arts in their teaching? Take a moment to consider what kind of school you would like to train at and then ask yourself if this school fits your expectations.

Step Three – Visit a few schools.

Take the time to visit a few schools in your area. While you are there, take a mental note about how the teachers interact with their students. Do they bully them or are they supportive of their students attempts to get better. What sort of attitude do the students have? The apple often doesn’t fall far from the tree. In this case, the quality of the teacher and their attitude is often expressed through their students. How do the facilities look? Are they clean and well maintained? Were you greeted enthusiastically by the school’s staff?

Step Four – Try out a class.

Most schools will gladly offer you some kind of free or reasonably priced trial class. This is your chance to not only try out the class, but also interact on the dojo floor with the instructors and students. The training may be very physically challenging depending on the school. Just make sure that if you have some concerns on whether your body can handle the workout or not, that you discuss them with your instructor. A good teacher will have alternative exercises and techniques that you can do if you can’t safely perform the main curriculum.

Step Five – Trust your gut.

This is the best advice that I can give. You should feel excited to be a part of a particular martial arts school and what you are learning there. If, after visiting a karate school, you leave with a uncomfortable feeling in your gut, there is probably a reason why. If you leave excited and can’t wait for your next class or to see your child in their next class, it is likely a good choice for you.

Good luck in your search!

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