When you set off on the long winding path and the never-ending list of martial arts clubs, where do you start? Most beginners find one club and do little research. There are many clubs now offering different styles and training types. The most important thing about starting martial arts is making the right decision from the outset. – This can be achieved by following a simple set of rules. Take your time, ring a few clubs up from your local directory or martial arts magazine classifieds section. Most clubs who advertise in the Yellow Pages or in well-known publications are more likely to be registered as a business and will more than likely adhere to all the rules and guidelines set out by the authorities, this being in relation to qualified staff, insurance and ensuring higher levels of quality and safety etc.
Below is a simple bullet-point checklist to ensure you have covered most or every element. If you can tick yes to all of these points then you are onto a winner or at least a club that is worth a go! Don’t forget, Try before you buy!
- Find a club through a reputable source.
- Try to look for a full-time martial arts centre, giving more availability of training times.
- Ask if you can go down and watch a lesson, listen to the professionalism of the person on the phone and ask questions.
- The club should be well equipped and have safety as standard.
- The club’s liability policy should be in clear view.
- The club should be affiliated or be part of a governing body.
- The Chief Instructor/s should of be high standing within the martial arts community, do an internet name search and also check out any governing bodies.
- The staff at the centre should be qualified and tested every year. Look out for the first Aiders also..
- Classes for beginners should be available.
- Check out all the styles available, do not jump into the first one you see at the centre.
- Does the centre offer adult-only classes or classes where parent and child can train at the same time?
- Does the centre offer training in martial arts for fun and fitness as well as the serious martial artist who wants to compete at the National or International level.
- Does the club have a good track record, check out its champions past and present.
- Is there the possibility of loan equipment to get you going/ does the centre offer discounted safety equipment sales to its members? In house shop?
- Is there anything compulsory that you may not agree with now or at a later date, such as gradings.
- Do you have the freedom to train and not grade if you wish? Does the club have a registered syllabus.
- Fees are important! The cheapest is not always the right answer. Beware of long term membership contracts. There is still something to be said for paying as you go, if you do not like it you can move on. Non-compulsory direct debit payments offering a discount that can be cancelled at any time are a safe bet if you train regularly and will ultimately save money.
- Accessibility is very important. Is the club easy to get to? Can you park easily?
- Do you have access to other clubs throughout the country by being a member of this club?
- Does the club or Organisation have a members web site and good points of contact such as email and phone numbers readily available?
More important than most, have you enjoyed yourself, do you get on with the instructor/s, is there a good club spirit and the possibility of socialising outside the club and also at events etc.
I hope this has given you the help you need in making the right decision and that you can now enjoy your training within the martial arts to the full.
Written by Master Cris Janson-Piers of the British Freestyle Karate & Kickboxing Organisation BFKKO