Learning any kind of martial arts takes time, but I’m one of those people who believe that anybody can learn and become a martial artist, barring any physical problems. More often than not, it’s not about the lack of talent but poor teaching. Finding a good martial arts school can be tricky. So, how can you tell if a school is any good?
Before you commit to a school, check your instructor’s credentials and experience. Also, ensure that the atmosphere among students and instructors is friendly, not hostile or aggressive. If you feel comfortable at the training facilities and feel improvement over time, you’re in a great school.
Let’s dive a bit deeper to see what makes a good martial arts school good and how to know if your martial arts instructor is as good as they say they are.
What Should You Look for in a Martial Arts School?
The Atmosphere at Training Is Friendly
A friendly atmosphere is very common in martial arts gyms. That is if they are any good. There’s a common misconception that martial arts and its practitioners are aggressive and hostile, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Martial arts teach you how to defend yourself in a do-or-die situation, but you should never use your skills to the detriment of others, especially not if you’re the aggressor.
If you get into a school and feel a bad vibe, you might want to look for another school. Some “instructors” are bullies, and they teach their practitioners to be aggressive bullies as well.
One time, I came to a new gym since I moved to another city, and in the first three training sessions, every practitioner came at me like I was their worst enemy. What’s even worse, the instructor encouraged them to “pick on the new guy.”
That’s not a healthy environment to train martial arts. Every martial art requires focus, dedication, and respect, but most of all, it requires encouragement and help from fellow practitioners.
If you feel a hostile atmosphere in a gym, if you don’t see any smiles or see the practitioners and the instructor have an aggressive instead of a friendly attitude, it’s time to search for another school.
The School Teaches Respect and Control
Every martial art requires self-control and respect, especially after you leave the gym. However, that respect in control starts inside the gym. The only place where you should be aggressive when learning martial arts is in training and competition.
If the school encourages aggressive behavior outside of that (for instance, being a bully among less-skilled practitioners), steer away from that school and find a new one.
In the school I’ve mentioned earlier, the instructor never preached respect and self-control to his practitioners because he believed “you need to have anger” if you want to be successful.
That’s not true. Guys were doing sparring, and it turned ugly pretty quickly because they were taught they aren’t friends but rather competition.
If you can’t control yourself and your skills, then martial arts aren’t for you. When you learn how to fight – regardless of thy style – your skills become a weapon. You should never use it to the detriment of others.
If you get to a school and see that the instructor preaches respect and self-control, and if you see that the practitioners share mutual respect towards one another or the teacher, you got yourself a keeper.
You Can Feel That You Are Improving
Improvement takes some time, so it might be hard to judge a school quickly based on your improvement. However, if you’re in a gym for some time now and still feel like you’re not improving, you should look for another gym.
To see if you improved or not, it’s not enough to learn new techniques. You need to be able to utilize them in combat. So, put on some sparring gloves, and square off against another practitioner.
If you feel like you still get hit more often than you hit them or that you can’t utilize any new technique you’ve learned for a long time, it might be time for a new gym.
Even if your instructor is dedicated and willing to help, that doesn’t mean they have the required skills to take you to the next level. So, if you see a lack of improvement over time, the school you’re in isn’t that good.
The Instructor Is Dedicated and Experienced
I’ll keep this short because the entire next heading is dedicated to finding a good instructor. So, the most important thing you want out of your instructor is that they’re dedicated to what they do. If they just stand around in training, give you drills and then talk to somebody instead of watching what the team is doing, they aren’t a good instructor.
Even if they have all the martial arts experience in the world, that doesn’t make them a good instructor if they don’t have the will and passion for transferring that experience and knowledge to you.
Let’s see how to determine if your instructor is the real deal or a fake.
How to Know if Your Martial Arts Teacher Is Good?
First of all, your martial arts teacher can’t be any good if they don’t have the credentials and the experience required to teach. Knowing how to perform a move isn’t enough – you need to know how to utilize it in combat, in a combination, or special situations.
You can’t learn the proper mechanics of a technique without having experience in utilizing it in combat. So, check their martial arts background and experience. Also, check their credentials.
I’m saying that because being a black belt doesn’t mean much on its own. Some gyms give out belts as long as you pay the fees, so ensure they went to a great school and learned from real masters of the martial art you’re practicing.
Next, you need to feel like they are dedicated to your improvement. That means walking around the gym when you’re performing drills, correcting wrong postures or execution, giving you advice, etc. Bad instructors just stand around, not really caring about how you perform.
I’ve had instructors that only cared about a few practitioners that were already on a high level. Well, you can’t get to that level if you don’t get the same dedication from your teacher.
Finally, if your martial arts teacher has the credentials, experience, and dedication, the only thing left is encouragement. If they’re telling you “you’re not good enough” or “you’re not talented enough,” say goodbye and search for another gym.
You want a teacher that encourages you to get better, even if you’re not the most talented fighter in the world. As in any other sport, if the atmosphere around you is good and encouraging, you’ll have a much higher chance of success.