The main reason most people drop out of the martial arts -- besides life taking them in different directions -- is because they didn't take the time to do any research and found out later the studio they joined wasn't what they expected.
The time you invest researching studios will pay you back a thousand fold. It will also help you find the right studio for you. You'll be more enthusiastic about your training and you'll get more out of it.
Here are eight consumer tips to help you make a more informed decision before starting at any martial arts studio:
1. Belt Rank Isn't Everything. Just because an instructor is a high ranking black belt doesn't automatically mean they're a good instructor. What's important is if they can help you reach your goals and teach you what you want to learn.
2. Size of Studio. Quality of instruction can vary from studio to studio no matter its size or what they teach. A larger studio may have more convenient hours, but may not offer you the personalized instruction you're looking for that a smaller studio may provide.
3. Watch a Class. Don't overlook this step. This will tell you more about the studio than anything - especially when you show up unannounced. Most public studios welcome walk-ins.
4. Visit Several Studios. Just because a studio is close, doesn't make it the best place for you train. Wouldn't you rather train at a place Five or ten minutes further away if it better matched your needs? Visit at least three places before deciding just to be sure.
5. Talk to Students. Students will tell all. They will tell you what to expect and why they decided to train there. This may help you make a better, more informed appraisal of the studio and its instructors.
6. Read the Fine Print. Not all studios require a contract, but if they do, pay particular attention to the terms of any contract and make sure you fully understand your rights before signing on the dotted line.
7. Ask Questions. Don't be worried that you will offend the instructor because you look for clarification. If an instructor or studio owner doesn't answer your questions to your satisfaction, then maybe you should move on to the next studio.
8. Try Before You Buy. If the studio you're interested in offers a trial program, it is recommended you take it. This will tell you a lot about how you will be taught and what you can expect from the studio.