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Saturday, September 19, 2009

How to visit a martial arts school

From: Examiner


  • Call ahead. Schools sometimes shut down for special occasions, have instructors call out sick, or run into other logistical issues that make it difficult for them to accommodate visitors. Some schools just like to know you're coming. Before you make the trip, make sure it's going to be worth it.
  • Watch a full class. It's worth watching from the outside before you dive in. You may see things from the outside that you won't notice on the inside.
  • If you can, take a free lesson. Just as there are things you cannot notice without watching, there are things you can't feel until you experience them. Yes, this may require two trips. It's worth it.
  • Watch the students move. It's very easy to get wrapped up in watching the instructor's performance, but remember that you are not the instructor. While the instructor may be amazing, if she can't impart that amazing skill to any of her students, she may not be the instructor for you.
  • Pay attention to the instructor's teaching style. Is it inspiring? Abrasive? Gentle? Strict? Abusive? How would you feel about learning under this kind of coaching? (Note: strict training does not equal bad training. Some people learn very well in under tough, strict, coaching. Just know if you are one of them or not.)
  • Ask questions. Not just of the instructors, but of the students, and the staff. Now is the time to get down to brass tacks about whatever concerns you have.


  • Sign up sight unseen. Experience as much as possible before you sign on the dotted line. A good sales person will sell you on the first school you visit, but make sure you check out all of your options before you make a final decision. Buyer's remorse is awful when it's over something like a gym membership.
  • Challenge anyone. Asking questions is fine, and appropriate. Telling the instructor about how you think you could beat him up, or how his technique isn't as good as that guy you saw on youtube is needlessly antagonistic. If you like what you see, great. If you don't, keep it to yourself, be gracious, and leave.
  • Just watch the instructor. Again, the instructor should look good at what they do (barring some sort of physical impediment). Watch the students. You may want to move like the instructor, but the students are the ones you're going to move like first.
  • Interrupt the class. Save your questions until either before or after the training session. If someone comes to speak with you during the training session, that's fine, but don't interfere with other people's training time.
  • Stay longer than you have to. If you see something that you find so off putting that you don't want to stay any longer, then just go. But again, do so politely. Don't make a scene about it.

Basically, pay attention, ask questions, and be polite. You are a guest, but you're also a business prospect. There should be enough respect on both sides to go around.

~武德为首, Martial Art Virtue comes first

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