The most important step in your martial arts journey starts at the very beginning. Some of us may have a limited selection due to location, but many aspiring martial artists have a wide array of academies to choose from. Knowing which one is right for you is imperative to your growth and development as a martial artist.
Step 1: Get out there and start looking.
I have noticed a trend during my 9 plus years of training. There are so many people I have encountered that say they want to train, but always think of an excuse not to go out there and find a good academy. Empower yourself to start looking today. Don’t start tomorrow; don’t start next week, start right now. Don’t let any excuses get in your way, you won’t regret it.
Step 2: Know what you’re looking for.
What kind of fighter do you want to be? This is an important question that you need to ask yourself right from the beginning. This thought should ultimately dictate what kind of school, and style of martial art, that you choose. Are you looking for self-defense, are you training to be a competitor, or are you training to get in shape? These are the questions you need to ask yourself before committing to any one gym. Some gyms form their academies around a certain style of training, and you will be subject to that style. So make sure the gym you choose accommodates all of your needs.
Step 3: Do your research and try it out first.
When you walk in to a martial arts academy of any kind the instructor is trying to sell you a product. Each one will list the accomplishments and positive aspects of their school. Be respectful, but take everything they say with a grain of salt. Do your research and make sure the instructor is who he says he is; you want to learn from someone that is looking out for your best interest. Make sure he is telling the truth about his lineage, and ask if you can try a few free classes before you decide if it is a right fit for you.
Step 4: Find a family, avoid the politics.
I can’t put enough stress on the importance of this step. You want to find a group of team mates that want to grow together as a family. Avoid schools that are obsessed with the political aspects of martial arts. Find a school that doesn’t practice cliquing; you want a school that works together so that everyone can reach their goals and schools that form cliques hinder the advancements of newer students.
Following these steps should set you up for success. The academy you choose will shape what kind of martial artist you become, whether it is becoming a fierce competitor or shedding a few extra pounds.