Choosing a school

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Martial Arts School

Choosing a martial arts school to train yourself or your child is an important decision. There are many factors to consider when selecting a place to train such as:

  1. Location
  2. Instructor
  3. Price
  4. Martial Arts Style or System
  5. General Fit to Your Needs

This guide is unique in that it will not only help you explore issues to help ensure that you find a school with quality instruction. The guide will also help you find a good “school situation” in terms of the customer relationship and business interactions that will be healthy and enjoyable for you. This will enable you to stick with classes over the long term, receive a quality training experience and a positive customer experience so that you can become an avid martial artist and maintain peace of mind throughout the multi-year experience of your martial arts journey.

This information will assist you in choosing a school regardless of the type of martial art that you are interested in learning such as a Tae Kwon Do School, a Tang Soo Do School, a Karate School, a Kuk Sool Won School, a Jujitsu School or a Kung-Fu School.


One of the most important aspects of selecting a martial arts school to train at is the location. Most students attend a class with in three miles of their home. An ideal school is one that is located within one to two miles of your home. If the school is a short distance from your home, there is a greater chance that you or your child will be able to attend classes regularly. Depending on the age of your child and your preferences as a parent, attending a school within walking or bicycling distance of your home may eliminate the need for you to drive your child to class. Additionally, if the school is located close to your home, you will still be able to get to class if you run late during the work day and avoid traffic, etc…

While location alone is not the most important factor in selecting a school, it is the factor most likely to affect your ability to regularly attend classes and the likelihood of your attending classes for the long term. Driving merely 15 minutes to class results in 1 to 1.5 hours of commute time per week, which is 75 hours per year! Because of this broad reach and affect, you should weigh location seriously in your decision for selecting a school.


The instructor is one of the most important things you should consider in your decision. The head instructor of the school should be knowledgeable, experienced, capable and most of all a good teacher. The head instructor should actually teach a significant portion of the classes the school offers. There are several factors you should explore with a potential instructor.

You should look for a school with a head instructor who has attained sufficient rank to understand the martial arts system taught at the school thoroughly. Most people will tell you that Black Belt is only the beginning of a martial artist’s journey. A 1st Degree Black Belt has just learned the basic curriculum for his art. The black belt ranking system is sometimes compared to the education system.


Price is a strong factor in any purchasing decision. While price is important, you should also consider value. Does the school have a large amount of fixed costs such as an overly large facility or amenities that do not add value directly to your training, such as an aerobics room, or large meeting rooms? While these items may be “nice”, they inflate the amount of tuition charged unnecessarily. In the end analysis, the school should have sufficient space to accommodate the student base and the proper equipment required for training.

Full Disclosure of Costs and Fees

One of the things you should strongly consider is the school’s willingness to discuss the cost of training with you. When you call and ask about the price of classes, will they tell you over the phone? Do they disclose the full price and other associated fees? Do they disclose this information the first time you ask or the fifth? Things you should ask about are:

  • What are the belt test fees?
  • What are the association membership fees?
  • Are long term contracts required to start training? Are they required to progress past a certain rank?
  • Are there required programs (such as Black Belt programs, Master programs, or Leaderships programs) and if so what financial and time commitments are associated with them?

Martial Arts Style or System

Another key factor is the martial arts style or system. There are many different martial styles and all of them have great things to teach. You should consider several factors in choosing the style that might be good for you. Is the style a reasonably established system that is readily taught? If you had to move as a result of a new job, could you or your child find a school to train at in your new location? Does the style meet your need for self-defence, exercise, or practicality?

General Fit

Lastly, you should explore the school for its general fit with your needs and your comfort level with the school. Are the students friendly and helpful to other students? Does the instructor’s style of teaching seem like one you’d be comfortable with? There are many different philosophies that instructors may use in running a school such as a militant style, a competitive style that is focused on tournament competition, an Asian philosophical style or a general style that has different aspects of all of these previously mentioned styles. You should look for a school that has a style you’re comfortable with and will enjoy. Be sure to talk to the students and get their experiences as well!