Martial Arts for Dummies: What should a beginner look for?


White Belt
Sep 13, 2006
Reaction score
What should a beginner or someone returning to the Martial Arts after a long hiatus look for in a school?

I want my above statement to be the focus of this thread, but I also want to interject a little personal stuff:

I've only been in one school, and I really liked it a lot. I got hurt, put on weight, moved away, ect., and am working on getting back into shape and starting to take some kind of martial arts again. Personally, it doesn't really matter to me what style, but I'm kind of turned off by tournaments/trophies, ect. (that's not what I'm looking for in a MA).

Again, what should a beginner or someone returning to the Martial Arts after a long hiatus look for in a school? What are some red flags to look for, and good things? I'll gladly accept both vague and specific things here.



Master of Arts
MTS Alumni
Jun 10, 2004
Reaction score
You should look at what you want to get out of your training. You already know on thing you don't particularly care about, trophies/tournaments. Start by listing the things you do want and compare that to what's in your area. From there once you find some canadite schools go shopping. Poke around each school see if it is a place you would be comfortable working out, talk to the owner/head instructor(s) and students if possible. Flat out if you arent comfrotable with the school you wont get much out of it. Find a style/training that meets your needs then find the school that meets your personality.

Just my $.02

Best of luck on your journey


PS: Almost forgot. Welcome to MartialTalk. Be sure to stop by the 'Meet and Greet" forum and tell us a bit more about yourself. Happy posting.
Jul 28, 2006
Reaction score
If you can view the classes at the school(s) you are interested in do so. Even better try classes if you can. That way you get to see the instructor(s) in action, and can see if you like them.


<center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR
MTS Alumni
Apr 9, 2004
Reaction score
Grand Prairie Texas
First write down what is your personal reason for getting back in the Arts and then visit those school you have on the check list ask the question and check off what you liked and dis-liked about each school from there, narrow it down to two and stop in for a class if they let you and see what best fits your needs and then your choice is made.

still learning

Senior Master
Nov 8, 2004
Reaction score
Hello, Also look for a person who is a excellent Instructor and person.

Someone you can talk to and get feedback. Someone who cares. It may take a few classes (sitting in) and watch there style of training.

Always trust your instincts for the best Sensi.

Try JUDO? .............Aloha


Mar 1, 2003
Reaction score

Speak with the trainer at the studio where you wish to train. Ask who his instructor is. Ask who is his instructor's instructor. Ask how often these up-chain instructors visit the school. Ask if you will have access to these more senior instructors. Ask how much of the systems original curriculum is taught. Ask if any material from outside the system is taught. If any, how much?

The only requirement for opening a Martial Arts school is one months rent. There are no certification boards. There is no universal accreditation organization. There are few State Regulations. Nothing prevents me from purchasing a big fat Black Belt, printing a certificate on my home computer, and opening a school in Roast Duck Foo. And for 100 bucks a month, I'll help you work up a sweat twice a week.

And five years from now, you may find out that I have shown you a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and a whole lot of nothing else. And there you are having to choose whether to empty your cup and start over, or maybe take up scrapbooking or beading.


Good Luck.



Crazy like a...
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Jan 16, 2006
Reaction score
Welcome, KrunchyFrogg!

Great to have another Python fan on the board. :)

Congrats for wanting to get back in to training. In addition to the other good suggestions that were made, you may want to consider this....

* How well do the instructors listen to you, and how do they respond? You have goals you want to achieve from your training. When you share these goals, what is their reaction? Do they simply nod and say yeah we can do that now sign here? Do they tell you HOW they can help you obtain those goals? Do they mention other students that have started from similar starting points and obtained the same goals?

* How professional are the instructors? Do they return phone calls or e-mails? Are they polite? Do they listen? Are you given a hard-sell for the school? Is the school both insured AND bonded? Are all of the instructors trained in First Aid as well as CPR and are their certifications current? If the instructors claim to be a particular rank, are their rank certificates on display where anyone can see them?

* How sound are their business practices? When it comes time to talk about money, are you pressured to sign up? Do they explain everything to you up front or do you uncover hidden charges such as belt test fees or association dues? Do they explain to you how much cash you will need to outlay, or do they wait until you've signed to tell you that you will need to pay $60 for a uniform and $200 for sparring gear?

Visit the school, and watch a class.

* How disciplined are the instructors in their presentation? Are they professional in class, and proper with the students? Do they give their time equally throughout the class or can you clearly identify the "class favorites" that get the bulk of the instructor's attention? Do they speak clearly and understandably? Do they look alert, focused, and on-message? Do they explain the material in detail, r do they speak in vaguaries such as "Ya gotta just do it ya know?"

* How focused is the class? Is class time spent doing martial arts? Or is there class time wasted to socializing. Is the discussion on the mat about martial arts or....not? How many students are jabbering away when they should be training or listening? Is the attention of the class broken at any time? Do you see displays of egos? Bad attitudes? Narcisism?

* Do the instructors teach without embarassing the student? There is a BIG difference between having a student hear "Why don't you do [this] and see if that works better." and "Ya know what I noticed about women? They don't do [that] very well. So they gotta do [this] instead."

* How focused are the individuals? MA students come in many shapes and sizes. Watch the student's faces. Are they focused and intent? Frustrated? Struggling? Stressed? Excited? Calm? Do they do their class work with intent and purpose? When they train with a training partner are they committed?

* How well equipped is the school? Does the school have the equipment needed for class? Does it look safe and in good condition? Do the students look happy to be using it? Is there enough of it? Will you have to buy any equipment of your own? Do they tell you this up front?

It's natural to get really pumped about training after visiting a school for the first time. But don't rush in to a decision. Think about how you feel after visiting. If you have doubts or hesitations, wait before joining, or join on a no-commitment basis.

This is a bit of a brain dump but....I've been looking for a new school of my own for the past couple of months and these are many of the voices, I mean questions that have been in my head. :D


Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Jul 16, 2004
Reaction score
It's natural to get really pumped about training after visiting a school for the first time. But don't rush in to a decision. Think about how you feel after visiting. If you have doubts or hesitations, wait before joining, or join on a no-commitment basis

Carol says it best..Don't make your decision based on one visit..Obey where your heart bids you stay...


May 17, 2004
Reaction score
The Canuckistan Plains
Training methods and contact level should be a consideration. If you're looking for something applicable, you'll want to ensure that the school embraces contact and resistance. If, on the other hand, you seek something more esoteric, then perhaps the risk of injury will outweigh the relative value of that type of alive training.

Also, value needs be a consideration. Do you get out of it what you're paying for? Ask yourself: What am I willing to pay for? How much am I willing to shell out?

I was training under a fantastic instructor who offered me two 2 hour classes per week with a bonus hour per week of privates for a very, very reasonable price ($60/month). Contrast that with other schools that will charge upwards of $150 - $200 per month for 4 hours per week of lower quality (IMO) group instruction.