Martial arts are what you make them. Suppose a studio wants to create a hyper-competitive dojo (Cobra Kai style). In that case, the owner and instructors will emphasize fear-based training where the focus is on the ego of the individual students, and their goals include being better than everyone else. On the other hand, a family-friendly and balanced dojo will use encouragement and positive dynamics to elevate training and encourage students in their journey within martial arts. This hyper-competitive training does exist in martial arts. For those seeking to begin their martial arts journey or who have relocated and are looking for a studio to connect with, make sure you have clarity on the teaching style and overall mission of the studio.
Here\’s a hint: If the studio doesn’t have a mission or vision about its purpose, keep looking. It is unnecessary to settle for a martial arts studio that does not have the student\’s best interest in the studio and life.
The Overall Training Experience
Instructors, Instruction, and Instructing
The instructor\’s style and teaching at a high-quality martial arts studio should align with your style. If you are highly competitive, and winning is everything, find a studio to push you to those limits. If your style is more collaborative and focuses on improving your physical and mental health, then find a studio that uses a familiar and friendly approach to training. This does not mean soft training or that students will not yield the same benefits of instruction. It means the direction and focus are different.
Exceptional instructors should emulate what they expect of their students. Instructors should display respect for others and receive it from their students. Classes and training should be organized and structured, and the instructor should show control of the class and demand students\’ attention.
Program Structure Tells A Story
If you are considering training in martial arts for yourself or someone you care about, find a program incorporating several different martial arts styles. The program design should be straightforward for students and families at any martial arts studio. If there is a lack of transparency regarding how students move up in rank, belt color, or expectations for progress, ask questions and ensure these are in place. If they are not, the story is likely that the studio you are considering needs to be organized, and student progress may be subjective or unpredictable.
If you have a black belt in karate, finding a studio that can challenge you in another form of martial arts, such as combat military defense, may be beneficial. Some studios, like SwiftKick Martial Arts, have purposefully mixed martial arts training that gives students an edge in learning multiple techniques from several different styles.
Clarity of Purpose: Mental and Physical Beyond the Mat
Martial arts, by design, is to create better humans. If a student is excellent technically, they will need to balance that with their focus, control and character. Nobody wants a strong martial arts student to be a complete pain. A good martial arts studio will get the students to develop physical and mental strength. Self-control and self-confidence should be natural results of a well-rounded martial arts training program.
Here is a hint: If a martial arts studio weighs heavily more on the physical or mental, it may be time to consider a studio with a more balanced program.
It is critical to begin small children in a quality martial arts program. Young people want to know where they stand, where they are going, and how to get there. A confusing training platform may cause frustration, and students will likely leave and not return. Martial arts have too many benefits to walk away from this incredible training.
In the end, martial arts training is an investment of time and money. It is ok to look until you find one where you feel comfortable, welcomed, and encouraged to continue training. Often, an established studio will offer a free class where students can try out training with an instructor and meet other students. When students begin their martial arts journey at a young age and are in a healthy studio, the journey goes much longer, and sometimes they even become instructors themselves. SwiftKick Martial Arts, with studios in Carlsbad and Rancho Bernardo, is an excellent example of that!
Applying things learned in martial arts training (not just kicking and punching) is an incredible benefit. The hope is that a student would never be forced to use their training in a scary, dangerous situation, but the skills and balance of character taught in the best studios flows into work, home, and social situations. Many people find newfound confidence through martial arts training.
Just remember: Not all martial arts studios are created equal. Some studios continue the hyper-competitive training style, and others work with more training-for-life approaches. Whatever your style, find a studio where you can experience all the benefits of martial arts training.