A Parent's Guide to the Martial Arts  p. 4  

You should now be able to determine what it is that you're looking for now that you understand the differences between martial art, combative sport, and martial theatre. In addition, now that you have seen some of the benefits of training in the martial arts and the martial way you are ready to tackle the problem of finding a martial arts school, but how do you go about choosing the right class or school?  What questions do you ask? 

There are many things to consider such as: location, class schedule or time, and cost.  Moreover, who is the instructor and what is his experience level?  What are the instructor's teaching qualifications?  What is the focal point or purpose of the school?  What is taught and how is it taught?  Moreover, it is important to understand what the answers to each of these questions mean and how they will help you make the right decision.  Let's take a closer look at some of these considerations, explore how important each of them is in the context of choosing a martial arts school, and determine what answers we should be looking for.

First, let's talk about the questions whose answers should have the least impact on your decision.  One of the first questions most people will ask is "Where is the school located?" or "Is this the closest school?"  Most people believe location to be one of the more important considerations.  However, location has no bearing on the quality of the school or the quality of instruction.  Thus, you should not base your decision very heavily on where the school is located.  Another consideration that usually ranks high on a person's list is class times.  Obviously, it would be preferable if the school that you choose has class times that fit your schedule but that may not always be possible.  A third consideration that should also have very little impact on your decision is cost.  This is because cost is not a good indicator of the quality of a school either.  As you will see through the rest of this article not all schools are the same. There are differences in the type of instruction and in the quality of instruction.  Therefore, it will always be better to travel farther, pay more, or rearrange your schedule in order to attend a high quality school.  A martial arts school can have a tremendous impact, good or bad, on a child's physical, mental, and emotional well-being.  If you have your child's best interest at heart, minor inconveniences will not deter you from a higher quality school.

So, how do we determine whether the school you’re looking at is a high quality school?  There are many different types of training facilities and the type of facility will most likely be closely associated with the type and style of martial art or arts that are taught there.  However, before we go further, it must be noted that since this article is a guide to martial arts we will continue to focus on that aspect and determine what kind of facility is most appropriate for training in the martial arts and the martial way.  Therefore, we must first determine what kind of facility is most appropriate for training in the martial arts or the martial way. 

Many different types of facilities or schools may come to mind.  There are the ultra-modern facilities with a weight room, sauna, etc.  There are also storefront schools that can be found in places like a strip mall.  Sometimes you may even find a small class in a local recreation center.  However, what we are looking for is a true dōjō.  What is a dōjō you ask and how does it differ from other schools?  Fredrick Lovret in his book, The Student Handbook, states "The Japanese word dōjō may be literally translated as 'Way-Place'.  It indicates a place where the Martial Way is followed.  Note the use of the term followed.  In a school you study the martial arts; in a dōjō you live the martial arts." (Lovret, 4, 7)  As, you have already seen, there is a major difference between these two philosophies. 




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