How to Select a Karate School

My cousin asked me what she should look for when selecting a karate school for her seven year old boy. I had trained in the martial arts for over twenty years and had good experiences and bad. I recalled the schools I trained in. Fortunately for me the last one was an incredibly positive experience.

Here are five east tips to remember when selecting a karate school for your child.

1. Ignore the Trophies

One of the first things a karate school may show you is their stack of trophies. While this may seem impressive at first, it is misleading. Many times these schools hold their own tournaments and of course many times their students win those tournaments. For the commercially focused karate schools, this is nothing more than a marketing tactic. I equate it to self-publishing. Anyone can self-publish a book, but that doesn't mean they're the next Hemingway.

2. Watch the Interactions

Without any of the instructors, or school owners trying to sell you on a long term contract, ask them if you can just observe the class without interruption. If they don't want you to, thank them for their time and leave. If they do allow you to, then look for a few things. How focused is the instructor on student safety? How receptive is the instructor to the children's questions? How large is the class? What is the tone and feel of the class? Most reputable karate schools focus on discipline and correct technique at a young age. If this is ignored, you will likely just be paying for an expensive babysitter, three times a week.

3. Do Your Homework

After you visit the karate school, look up their owner and school on the internet. Any negative comments or feedback should send up a cautionary flag. Ask to speak with other parents from the school to get their feedback. Check with the Better Business Bureau on their rating and any complaints. Check into the biographies of the owners and instructors. You're looking for anything that could potentially signal an unstable environment for your child.

4. Curriculum & Procedures

A reputable karate school will have a set curriculum. The instructor or owner should easily be able to produce an outline of what is covered with the adults and children. If you find a school that is reluctant or unwilling to disclose their curriculum, leave. That is a sure sign the school may solely be focused on making money as opposed to true karate instruction. Remember, karate is a contact art, even when it is not intentional, children will end up making contact. Find out how emergencies are handled during class. These could be anything from a bloody nose to a concussion.

5. Fun

Many times, karate classes are sought for the discipline they provide. It's very important to note that the karate instructors are not responsible for disciplining your child. That is your responsibility. They can assist in providing an environment where discipline is encouraged, but ultimately that accountability remains on the parents. Therefore, when searching for a school, make sure that it is an environment, in class and out of class, that your child will enjoy being around. Lifelong friendships can be made with the right atmosphere.

These are just some of things to watch for when selecting a karate class. It will always be a personal decision for you and your child. If you feel a school is not right for you, absolutely do not sign on with them. These days everything is a long term contract. Take the time to focus on these five factors and you will be on your way to finding the best karate school for your child.

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