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How to Choose a Martial Arts School

Master Richard Leasure

Karate is an ancient and well-proven method of self-defense and physical fitness. Many forms of karate exist. It is necessary for people wishing to begin karate instruction to choose the type or style of karate that is best for them.

Karate is taught from the perspective of the instructor. Karate has many origins but most instructors will agree that all forms of karate will eventually fit into two categories, hard and soft styles.

Its powerful, quick, and often intimidating straight-line attacks and blocks define hard style. Soft style karate is not exactly the opposite of hard style but does demonstrate circular and unimposing blocks and attacks. Both approaches to karate will develop good muscle control, strength and fitness.

Often the method of instruction will define how a student will progress in karate school. Some instructors practice karate from a very stern point of view. “Physical Discipline Builds Character,” remains the motto at the Leasure Brothers Martial Arts Academy.

On the other hand, a more relaxed approach to discipline is practiced in many organizations across the country. “I expect a lot from my students but I cannot do the work for them. Students must be allowed to perform at their own level,” (.John Wingert). Students must apply themselves to their training in order to receive the benefits of karate. The individual will determine which approach is best.

The instructor’s personality will be a primary factor in a student’s success. A good instructor will be able to encourage the student to train harder and to surpass their limits. The physical skill of the instructor is not a major concern, but his ability to teach the student is the most important.

One way to quickly judge if an instructor has the skill to motivate new students is by observing their current ones. Students can only learn what they have been taught. When evaluating a new school, ask some senior students questions that will demonstrate their knowledge of technique and their understanding of the principles involved.

Another indication of the instructor’s ability is his or her martial arts education. Nearly all instructors can produce some type of certificate to prove their knowledge and skill rating. A certificate is only as good as the training required to obtain it. Many organizations require instructors to not only pass the physical requirements but academic ones as well. For example, the Japan Karate Association will require advanced instructors to complete a three-year program, which instructors are required to submit written reports on over forty subjects and must write a thesis before they graduate. (Jack Anderson)

After a new student finds a good instructor, in the style of karate they prefer the next consideration is the learning atmosphere. Generally speaking, students will progress faster in an organization in which they are comfortable. When other students do not enjoy orientating those people mew to karate, or if the building itself is not attractive and safe the beginning student will often become discouraged and discontinue karate practice.

Another part of the learning aspect is the size of the organization. The beginning student will often find comfort and motivation by understanding his or her place in the organization. Master Okazaki reminds us that the larger an organization gets is becomes easier to view karate a just another form of physical education. The purpose of karate is to develop human character.

Developing human character comes from understanding ones beliefs. Only then can it be determined that a program will encourage development in areas acceptable to the student. One example might be that an instructor may teach inner peace through the Zen Philosophy. These methods are not always acceptable to the Protestant Christian. Beginning karate students should discuss religious teachings with the instructor to avoid incompatible training methods.

Financial considerations are also important to karate students. Club membership should be set at a price that is reasonable for the service provided. One example is that group classes will often cost more than private lessons. The school in which you decide to train may offer both. Equipment and uniforms are usually not included in the basic const of training. Rank advancement fees are also required in addition to basic club fees.

 Rank advancement is, hopefully, on the minds of all students. When students at any level of training expand their physical and mental skills in the art of karate promotions are soon to be in order. A promotion in karate is when a student rises to a new level of training. A new colored belt often accompanies this advancement. It is understood that the student has absorbed all previous material. At this time some very important factors come into play. In many schools the instructor can issue rank. Although it is not necessary it can save the students lots of time and money. When your instructor cannot issue rank all of the testing students must report to an instructor who can. Students should, however, make certain that advancement testing is available and that their instructor is comfortable seeing students advance. “When a student receives another promotion I feel as if I have been promoted myself. I work closely with my students and share in the joy of their accomplishments.”

 Choosing a good karate school is mostly dependent on the students needs. A karate program that develops physical fitness requires constant dedication to training. “Once you have found an organization that inspires commitment encourages advancement, and corresponds with your personal beliefs then you will undoubtedly achieve the summit of your personal success,” (<Michael Leasure)

 

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