Today was a day of meditation and as always the time I spent on that activity brought me more questions than answers. The first thing that crossed my mind was the popularity of the martial arts and the way our present culture selects the school for their children.
The interesting fact is that if you ask anyone the chances are that they have taken classes at one point in time or another. Another interesting point is that most parents consider that martial arts training should be and may have been at some point in time part of their child’s life. Looking further into this matter you will see that they want their child to learn how to defend themselves. They also like some of the core basics of martial arts like discipline, leadership, commitment. Quite a few want their child to become a black belt.
I will say all of that is positive and great news for the martial arts schools, yet reality may be otherwise. On a daily basis I struggle to maintain the values of our school and the quality of the instruction. I put my students first and don’t compromise their growth or their development for something as simple as a piece of cloth (belt) they wear occasionally. We do need the money to operate and survive but I will not sell our principles and refuse to give in to the temptation of the all mighty dollar.
Sadly to say the same is not true for every school and every Master. I see now black belts that reach their rank in a few years yet they don’t know how to get loose from a single grab. I see school owners and senior instructors that don’t even know the history of their style or the applications of a simple form. Worst of all, I have observed classes where there is hardly a work- out for the students.
It is almost funny how things are changing. For example, I have had kids that had many years training in other schools and have moved to ours. Normally parents are quite demanding as their expectations of their kids are justifiable high based on all the money and time invested in martial arts. However the trend I see is that these kids cannot keep up with our warm-ups, don’t know how to kick and have no idea of self-defense.
So my point is that not all schools and “Masters” are created equal. I hate to say it but the market has been diluted and not all schools and classes are the same regardless of the style. The good news is that there are still some of us around that still hold our values high and care for the spirit of the Martial Arts. We may not be the best salesmen nor put on display our skills for everyone to see how great we are. Yet we embody the spirit of our art and care for our brothers, sister and more than anything our students.
Consequently if you are shopping for martial arts training consider the following:
1. What are you looking for;
2. How long has the instructor been in the martial arts;
3. How long has the instructor been training;
4. Quality of the students;
5. Comments from other students and parents;
6. Class size and ratio of instructor to student;
7. School emphasis;
8. Last but not least; ask the instructor if he was to recommend another school which one will he/she recommend.