Looking For The Right Place To Train?
Answer these questions first:
You put your money with a certified financial planner, you wouldn’t just give that money to a buddy and ask him to play around with some investments – right?
You take your car to a certified mechanic, you wouldn’t just ask your neighbor to help you fix a major car issue- would you?
So why then would you ever just randomly put your mental, spiritual and physical development in the hands of just anyone.
Martial Arts is a skill set that can potentially help you defend yourself and your family. A skill set that can save your life. Transform your personal perspective. Provide a spiritual journey. Give you the gift of strength, health and longevity – BUT only if it is taught correctly, and by the right academy.
Not all martial art programs are created equal.
Despite the countless ‘gyms’ and ‘studios’ opening up today, a martial art can not be taught in a bag-work class, a cardio class. And it surely can’t just be taught by anyone that has taken a few years worth of training, or won a medal or two.
6 Things You MUST Look At Before Joining An Academy
1. Ask For Lineage
It pains me to say this, but countless people lie out their history and even their rank. Remember being impressed by a move someone can do is not enough to intrust that person with your personal, physical and mental development. Any of our intermediate Phase 1 JKD students or Bluebelt JiuJitsu students can impress you- does that mean they can and should teach you?
When I train in any of our arts I know that I am training under the legacy and family tree of some of the greatest martial artists of our time. Bruce Lee, Helio Gracie, Dan Inosanto, Grand Master Atillo. I can be proud to trace back my belts, my ranks and my lineage. The worst thing that can happen is you spend a year or two at a gym or a school and then you realize that that time did not give you the ability, the knowledge and the lineage you worked so hard for.
2. If the school has only fighters- RUN! Look for diversity.
The true skill of martial arts instruction is to be able to teach anyone, even the most unlikely individual. Teaching a young male athlete is far easier then teaching a middle aged housewife. But a real academy can and will teach and develop both to be great.
3. Is there a curriculum in place?
Even in a boxing gym there is a curriculum; a system of training and developing students that far surpasses a ‘bag work’ class. All martial arts training involves methodology; a developmental science of the mind and body. How can you reach Everest without a plan? A school without a curriculum is a clear indication that they have not developed their teaching and most likely have a limited amount of resources and martial skills. Even in MMA (mixed martial arts) there is a curriculum of training. If you are thinking of joining an Academy- ask them, do you have a curriculum your students follow?
4. Partner work is a must!
If your ‘martial arts’ school/ class only hosts bag work classes, and you are never taught how to work with partners, hold pads and feel peoples energy then (we are sorry to tell you) – you are NOT learning martial arts.
One of the most essential developmental tools in all martial art training (from grappling, boxing to weapons) is partner work. You can feel pretty ‘bad-ass’ hitting a heavy bag all you want, but the bag has no counter timing, energy, tension, motion. Partner work is essential, without it you will never be able to learn how to move properly, adapt to range and energy and of course fight and defend yourself in a real life situation.
5. Newer is NOT better. Avoid brand names and gyms.
Looking for a martial arts academy is NOTHING like looking for a gym. In a gym you want shiny new equipment. In a martial arts school time and tested training is what you look for. Academies with too much gym equipment and as many fitness classes in a curriculum as martial art classes are simply already looking to ‘make-up’ for their lack of martial development. Especially in a place like New York City, you should be looking for the best most experienced martial art teachers, not new gyms. If you want to learn the arts and be able to use them, you MUST train in a real martial arts academy.
6. Are these arts right for you?
You might have heard about an art and you might love the history, but is this martial art right for you? You must ask yourself: What do I hope to accomplish? What are my primary goals? What are my interests? Strength? Weaknesses? The arts you are looking at can not be an extension of your weakness; if you are not athletic, young and have injuries, why would you be looking into a highly acrobatic martial art that requires back flips and high jumps- is that probable? You must look for a martial art that is compatible with you. Weapons is an ideal form of training for anyone that is not highly athletic and is older and smaller- a weapon is an ideal equalizer between yourself and a much stronger opponent. If you are looking for self defense you should be looking at an academy with weapons, empty hand and ground arts.
Your one-on-one introductory lesson at the academy should answer mots of these questions for you.
And lastly – whatever academy you chose- make sure that it’s more then a gym, a class, a school, a place you go… make sure that it’s a family.