It is VERY important that you make an informed decision about the style of martial art you wish to practise and the club you choose to practise at.
A. Choosing the style
- Check out our Styles section to gain a quick overview of the different martial arts styles, then have a look at our club directory to see what styles are available in your area).
- Assess your physical condition. Do you have any physical limitations that might affect your ability to practise a certain martial arts style (for example knee problems)?
- Determine whether the martial art is a “hard” or “soft” style. Offensive techniques, such as punching and kicking, indicate a hard style, which tends to be physically intense. Defensive techniques, such as blocking and redirecting, indicate a soft style, which can be less physically challenging and suited to older students and those with physical limitations.
- Identify techniques as either striking or grappling. Striking (i.e. Karate, Kungfu) is attacking with fists, feet, elbows and knees. Grappling (i.e. Judo, Ju-jutsu) uses joint locks and throws to control an attacker.
- Does the legacy of any of the arts appeal to you more than others? For example the high kicks in Tae Kwon Do began as a way for foot soldiers to attack mounted soldiers.
- A good idea is to watch the different styles that interest you before making a choice. Many clubs will have an observation area, so you can watch while a class is being taught. Just ask the instructor if it is OK for you to watch and if you have any questions ask the instructor.
- Do you want to be an Olympian? At present (2009) only Judo and Taekwon-Do are Olympic sports.
B. Choosing the club
This is an important step as it is likely you will train with your club for many years so make sure you have made the right decision.
- Check out our Club directory to see what kinds of clubs are listed within a reasonable distance from where you live.
- Check with the club to find out whether they’re affiliated with a larger organisation, such as the International Tae Kwon Do Federation or the World Karate Association. If not, standards and methods for advancement may be inconsistent.
- What are your martial arts goals. Do you want to become a black belt? Are you interested in tournament forms or self-defense? Or do you simply want to attend the classes for the exercise?
- Visit a few of your chosen clubs to watch classes. Most clubs will have somewhere you can watch the class.
- Ask if it is OK to talk with students and instructors. Find out how students’ experiences have been with the school and whether the instructors’ styles will support your goals.
- Assess the quality of teaching. What is your impression of the head instructor? Do instructors expect and show respect and courtesy? What is their experience (most should be more than happy to tell you how good they are). In our opinion an instructor should not be less than a Shodan Black Belt (1st dan), but should ideally be Nidan (2nd dan) or higher.
- Determine the school’s emphasis. Does it advocate control or heavy contact? Does it stress tournament competition? How formal or informal are the classes?
Tip: Before you make a total commitment - pay for a months training and see how you like it first.