First, we must know why we want this activity for ourselves or our children. What’s your goal? Once you establish that, we need to find the school that aligns with those goals. There are many reasons for starting a martial arts class; discipline, goal-setting, better focus, confidence, self-defense, character education, etc.
Once we know why we’re going, it’s time to do some research. Since web sites are designed to show you the best side of the school, I would suggest we turn to social media. Look through videos and comments to get a feel for the school. Make a list of three schools you’d like to visit that align with your goals. Call each school and make appointments to visit all three.
What is the general vibe?
If a school worth it’s weight in salt will do most, if not all of these.
You need to determine 3 things:
1. Do my child and I enjoy the class? Is it the atmosphere I’m looking for? Do they instruct at a level that reaches me, or my child?
2. Talk to other parents about their experience while away from the staff and instructors.
3. Does this school align with my original goals? If for example, you are there because you want your child to have more focus, how is focus specifically taught? In this example, I would tell a parent that at Innovative Martial Arts Academy, we start with a definition. Focus is the ability to concentrate on a task and ignore distractions. We use the Powerful Words program as part of our character education and many of the lessons are on focus! We also teach it in class when we’re doing forms. We make sure the students show focus in their eyes (keeping them where they’re supposed to) when doing forms, in their stances, and even how to keep their eyes on the instructor/parent/teacher while they are talking to them.
Finally, listen to your gut instincts about a school. If everyone seems nice, everyone is all smiles and handshakes, but something just doesn’t feel right, it’s time to move on to the next visit.
Do NOT make your decision until you visit all 3 (or more) schools. Pick the one that best aligns with your goals and values.