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5 Mistakes YOU Could Easily Make When Selecting Martial Arts Classes

Written by Michael Speights. © 2015. All rights reserved.


Selecting a martial arts school is a choice that should not be taken lightly. Despite the vast differences in methods and appearance, all martial arts do share the same fundamental objective: to effectively use the human body to protect yourself and neutralize a threat. Since we are all born with the same weapons (arms, legs, head, etc.), it makes sense that all martial arts have a lot in common.  Still, there are qualities that make each style unique.  Each system has its inherent strengths and weaknesses. No one art is better than another, instead each system is only as effective as the person who is attempting to use it. So with so many potential options, how do you choose the right style for you? 

Below are 5 criteria that most people use to narrow down your options and select where you will sign up for martial arts classes. Each of these factors are definitely worth consideration.  However, if you aren't careful your efforts to make a thoughtful choice could easily result in you choosing the wrong place for you, or - even worse - a place that doesn't deliver the quality, practical martial arts instruction that you are seeking.


1. Choosing your preferred style.

There are so many martial arts systems and yet many people feel drawn to a particular art.  Sometimes the reasons are very clear. Other times, it's just a gut feeling. Regardless, there is nothing wrong with being partial to a particular style.  We all have preferences. We like what we like.  But here's where things can go wrong.  You may love what you have seen, heard, and/or read about a particular art, but seeing and doing are totally different things. You should start your search by checking out the particular system you feel drawn to but you should look at other places as well, especially those styles you are unfamiliar with. Opening your search will at the very least make you feel confirmed about your preference.  However, it could also lead you to a place that feels like an even better fit for you. 


2. Seeking a convenient location. 

You have a lot on your plate; no time to waste.  Also, getting from one place to another costs money. Therefore, location is certainly a legitimate factor to consider when selecting classes. One of the biggest mistakes that people make when selecting a martial arts school is exclusively looking for places nearby.  Unless you've trained martial arts at a few places before, you should accept that you really don't know what to look for to determine if a place is worth your time and money.  So, the best practice is to take your time and explore your options. 

Even if you are completely sold on the first place you visit, you need to have something to compare it to. After visiting a few other places, you may find that what you thought was exceptional was just the standard for your area.  Another tip:  Don't think about the commute time or pricing at all when you decide which places to visit.  Yes, I know this sounds crazy.  But what you are looking for now is not a place to train (not yet).  Instead you are looking for a more informed view of what is available and more clearly identfying your expectations and preferences. So cast a wide net and visit any place that interests you within, say, a 1 hour commute.  It is not at all uncommon for people to change their minds about commuting long distances once they find "the right place".


3.  Searching for affordable classes.

Instead of looking for classes that you can afford, try asking a different question.  What is the cost in my area for quality martial arts training?  You may find that the YMCA down the street has a solid martial arts program for just $50 per month.  You may also find that a local studio has an outstanding program that you feel is a great fit for you for $200 per month.  Sure, the latter may not be in your budget but maybe you'll decide it's worth it to save up instead of going with another option simply because it costs less. You should make the decision on what you are willing to pay based on real information, not just an arbitrary budget line. This is an investment in your growth. 


4. Looking for a facility with ammenities.

There's an old saying "if you want to find the best shoemaker in town, start by looking for the one wearing the worst shoes." Sure, this person could just be bad at his job.  But the point of the proverb is that it is quite common for a person with a high level of skill to be humble and deeply dedicated to their craft. This kind of person is often not very concerned about appearances. Of course you want to find a place that feels safe, but - assuming the place doesn't look like it should be condemned - focus more on how people interact with you and each other. You only need 4 things to train martial arts: 1) a person able and willing to teach you 2) a location to train 3) training partners to help you test and refine your skills 4) and the right personal situation (enough time, money, and drive) to train. Anything else is bonus, but not needed. Think of any boxing legend and go look for photos of them training. You will likely see images of  them working out in a dark, tattered facility full of duct-taped equipment. Or consider Shaolin, the birth place of countless martial arts systems, where monks trained outdoors or in modest concrete buildings.


5. Selecting a school based on its reputation.

Selecting martial arts classes is a very personal choice. Outside of a referral from someone that you know well and trust, you shouldn't make any decisions based solely on reviews.  Reviews (good or bad) and testimonials can offer you insight into the training environment of a particular school, but what works for others simply might not work for you.  So don't be too quick to judge based on the words of others.  Also, if a place has little or no marketing presence or solid reputation, this doesn't mean that they aren't offering quality instruction.  Many martial arts schools/gyms spend a great deal of time and money on marketing and promotion in attempts to build "buzz" around their business. Others do not.  Some places don't have to market as much due to the growing popularity of a particular sport.  For instance, with the growth of UFC, schools that offer Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes have automatically gained an heir of legitimacy. 

Wing Chun MD has 5-Star Yelp reviews posted by members and visitors.  We also have Member Testimonials on our website.  BUT is it the right fit for you? The only way to get a clear sense of whether any place is a good fit for you is to schedule a visit and see for yourself. 

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Wing Chun Fist Art House
909 Fairview Ave
Takoma Park, MD 20912
 Open Visit Day: Thursdays 7:30pm
For Other Days: Make an Appointment 



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