Advice and Tips
Finding the Right Martial Arts Studio
Choosing the right studio for you and your family is a very important task. Your instructor will have a strong influence on your personal training and overall enjoyment of the martial arts. Children will quote their instructor at the dinner table. As an adult you’ll share personal situations and obstacles with your instructor. Do your homework and visit some potential studios. Ask this simple question, “How does the martial arts program actually do what it advertises?”. Most studios advertise the development of self confidence, self esteem, discipline, respect, self defense, weight loss, etc. Just sit and watch and see if the atmosphere of the studio delivers on its promises.
Here is some general information about choosing a martial arts studio, but remember not all programs are right for everyone. Even if your friends recommend it, you must decide what’s right for you or your family.
- A studio advertises that they teach confidence and self esteem.
What is actually being done to empower the students? It could be as simple as higher levels of fitness, or a quick little self defense trick. The bottom line here will come from watching a class. Try and watch a couple classes, this will give you an idea of the atmosphere in the studio, how classes begin and end, and what some of your future training partners are like. Are students trying new things and getting better? Is it an environment of positive learning?
- A studio advertises that they teach discipline.
Discipline is performed when a student actually controls their technique. Technique could mean a physical move, mental thought, spoken words or feelings and emotions. Understanding and developing this kind of self control is inherent in any quality martial arts program. Discipline is not punishment, punishment is done out of anger and frustration. Watch out for punishment being disguised as discipline.
- A studio advertises that they teach respect.
Respect is a two way street. A quality instructor deeply respects their students, and recognizes the commitment it takes to attend martial arts classes on a regular basis. A quality student trusts their instructor’s guidance, even if the technique or drill feels awkward at first. Ask yourself this question, “Does your instructor have your best martial arts interests at heart?”. If the answer is “yes”, then congratulations you’re in a respectful place.
- A studio advertises that they will help you increase your fitness level.
This one is simple, does the instructor look healthy? Can they perform the moves appropriate to their age? Sometimes there will be a real wise old instructor, they normally don’t perform all the latest jumping moves, however, they’d have a younger instructor who can perform all the neat, highly advanced techniques that everyone loves to watch. Don’t buy into the “We stand and fight, this isn’t a runner’s club.” Any instructor who doesn’t openly discuss fitness levels and healthy lifestyle should be avoided.
There are plenty of different and fantastic studios out there, take the time to find the one that’s right for you. And remember, your instructor should be someone you can look up to and hold in high regard.
Changing Martial Arts Studios
There are many different scenarios that can occur to make a student of the martial arts look for a new studio. Usually it is a case of moving to a new area, and your old club is now too far away. Sometimes, your instructor may change and so has the atmosphere. There is also the chance that your studio just closes. These are just some of the many different reasons that a student may change studios. The bottom line is you still want to learn martial arts, however, you’re not going back to your current studio. I hope I can be of help with this sometimes awkward transition.
Let’s start with the Student’s role:
Do not look for the exact same studio, you’ll never find it. A martial arts studio’s atmosphere is directly linked to the personalities of the instructors, and since everyone is different, the environments will be also.
Do not get hung up on the terminology. For instance, a high block, head block and rising block are all the same block, there may be a slight difference to the chamber and name but it’s all the same stuff.
Most importantly, never let anyone tell you that you’ve wasted your time in your previous studio. You’ve invested time and resources to learn what you know, and this knowledge will help you become a well-rounded martial artist. Practice on your own the techniques you wish to remember and enhance. Also, try and be realistic about your belt level, this will help the transition into regular classes.
Watch a class or two. This will let you see how the instructor interacts with the
students and help to calm any nerves you might have about what will be
expected of the you in class. Ask to try a class, if you feel great afterwards then you’re on the right track.
Now your Potential Instructor’s role:
First, and foremost, your instructor should be proud of you for being a martial artist. A quality, professional teacher will not put down other studios or styles.
A good instructor will not be threatened by any knowledge or techniques that you know that they do not. (This happens often when switching styles, your instructor may be absolutely excellent in one style and one style only)
A professional studio will let you take part in a class to allow you get a good feel for what is to come.
A great teacher will also tell you if you’re in the wrong studio (you’ve found a wonderful person and study of the martial arts, they’re just not right for you).
Be excited about searching for a new instructor and studio. You should have an idea of what you want and don’t want. You also are an experienced buyer of martial arts lessons, use your experience. You are completely in charge of the studio and instructor you pick. By the way, there’s no rush to make a decision. Enjoy the adventure.
Quitting the Martial Arts
Actually, quitting the martial arts is not possible. The martial arts help develop who we are, and they can help shape us into the person we want to be. The lessons and techniques you learn are yours to keep and they will stay with you for the rest of your life. To stop going to your club is another thing, and relatively easy, yet can cause anxiety if not thought through properly.
A martial arts program will be very exciting in the beginning, as all the moves and culture is usually very “new”. This excitement will wear off and should be replaced with a much deeper satisfaction of the knowledge being attained. If this deeper satisfaction doesn’t happen, then either you’re in the wrong club (see Changing Martial Arts Studios), or the martial arts is just not for you.
Can you remember why you started the martial arts in the first place? This is important, as you may have fulfilled your initial reasons, and do not have any more for continuing. This is important for parents to understand, as many children start a martial arts program to help build confidence. As the child’s confidence grows, so does their desire to try other things. Then, with all their new activities, there becomes less and less time for martial arts class, and eventually an end to training altogether. In this case, the martial arts program did its job. The student used the martial arts as a stepping stone to other activities — becoming a black belt was never the goal. A good instructor will understand.
“Great teachers help students to fly, and they can fly higher when the teacher lets go.” –Blake Paterson
A great teacher will be one who is happy for you to continue on your journey. They will understand your desire to do something else with your time, and be proud of your accomplishments.
Ask yourself this question, “Do I usually see things through?” If your desire to quit is part of an ongoing behaviour pattern, then you may want to rethink your decision. Set a short term goal, i.e. next belt level, one more month, etc., and achieve it. Then re-evaluate whether or not you want to stop.
The best thing to do is take an official break from training. If your studio is open to this, congratulations, you’re in a wonderful place that is easy to join, easy to quit, and easy to come back to. This way, later, if you are left wanting more, it is easy to return. If your studio is not open to this, then it’s in your best interest to leave at once. Everyone deserves a break.
And by the way, you should stop paying.