It’s an oxymoron: wherever children are found in numbers or where individuals go to learn to protect themselves from predators your will always find predators. Martial Arts schools, unfortunately, fall into these categories.
Then how do you know the “style” really is a style or something some guy made up in his garage?
1. Annual contracts – avoid. These schools are frequently money over art.
2. Go and observe a class first before enrolling your child or yourself. If they cannot let you observe without signing-up because “we cannot reveal our secret instructional techniques passed down from generation to generation…” Don’t walk out . . . RUN! If you can’t run, fly!
3. Get the instructor’s name and the assistant instructor’s names (if they won’t give them to you see the advice in para 2. Take the names and enter them into the sexual predator database. In Florida it’s located at http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/homepage.do;jsessionid=N3dTdZdLXhFDpGejJi5GLQ__ the Department of Justice National Database is located at http://www.nsopw.gov/%28X%281%29S%28vmexqb55eh5riu55spviv355%29%29/Core/Conditions.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1 Sometimes, depending on the state, these records can be expunged, if so the “Internet Archives Wayback Machine” http://archive.org/web/web.php may be able to help (if you’re suspicious).
4. Ask about liability insurance- they should have it.
5. Ask about style and school affiliation – then verify it on-line. NOTE: many good schools change affiliation so look at their history as well.
6. Trophies in the window mean competition not traditional karate. If the instructor says he was the “World Full Contact Karate Champion” it would be verifiable on the internet. If it was “secret” competitions, follow the advice in para 2 above.
7. Talk with current students – not in class but outside of class.
8. Ask if the instructors are all CPR certified and if they have a Automated External Cardiac Defibrillator (AED) on premises. Heart attacks are actually rather rare in dojos but AEDs improve survival percentages significantly.
9. Expect minor injuries. The martial arts ARE a contact activity.
10. If you ask about promotions and they can guarantee a promotion time frame refer to the advice in para 2 above.
11. Martial arts training IS meant to be rigorous, rigorous is NOT the same thing as sadistic.
12. If you are taking karate to learn self-defense, don’t. Buy a gun instead. To become proficient in self-defense in the martial arts takes a minimum of 3-5 years of continuous practice. Anyone promising you differently should be avoided.
13. Any School instructor who participated in a “Death Match” is off his medication and should be avoided.
14. Any instructor who can “kill a man 50 different ways” can also rip you off 100 different ways – avoid.
15. If there are no female students, ask why. If the answer is “Women cannot endure the rigors of our training” leave (even if you or your child is male)
16. Weapons training is normal in martial arts schools but not during the first year or so.
17. Students bowing to the head instructor or a photo the style’s developer is NOT a sign of a cult or replacement religion. It is simple, professional Asian courtesy. Chill out.
18. Bottom line: If you feel like the school is not right or that something is wrong, go to another school . Trust your instincts!