Whether you’re totally new to martial arts or just new to the area, it can be hard to find a good martial arts studio near you. It’s not as easy as just going to whichever school is closest to your house—you also want to get quality instruction, whether it’s for fitness, health or self-defense. But with so many locations all over the area, how do you even begin to narrow the field?
Here are our top tips for finding the right martial arts school near you:
1. Learn about the arts you’re most interested in – There are lots of different martial arts taught all over the United States today: some are eclectic, some are traditional, and some have centuries of history while others were developed recently. Each one has its own core philosophy underlying not only the techniques and movements, but also the style of teaching and the ethics behind the art and its use. Obviously, this is a big world to get into but, by learning the basics about common martial arts systems, you can quickly get a sense of which ones appeal to you most. Be sure to do a little digging so you don’t just buy into stereotypes—for example, many people think of Tae Kwon Do as primarily focused on punching and kicking, but it can also teach valuable ground fighting and grappling techniques. By finding out which styles you really connect with, you can narrow down a big pool of martial arts near you to a few schools.
2. Focus on respected national or international organizations – Within a given art, there are many different types of teachers, schools, and practitioners. For example, there may be five or six different schools of one martial art style near you. How do choose the best one? It may help to look at what larger organizations each one is affiliated with. A respected nationwide or global martial arts organization will enforce its standards across all teachers and schools. This can help ensure quality and may also make it easier to continue practicing at a new school if you ever move.
3. Go in and see for yourself – Once you’ve identified those martial arts near you that you want to try, it’s time to go in and see what they’re really like. It’s impossible to tell whether you’ll like an art until you walk into the studio. Ideally, you should feel energized and enthusiastic about getting a chance to go back for more—you should feel challenged, but respected. Many schools will offer a free trial class or tour if you ask.
4. Make the teacher a big part of your decision – Your martial arts teacher will be a major influence and, ideally, a source of confidence for as long as you train. Make sure you respect and “click” with whoever teaches classes.
What martial arts are you most interested in?