I’m Not Sure It’s What I’m Looking For!
You’ll never know until you try. People join us from all walks of life and for many different reasons; weight loss, self confidence, personal safety, competition, hobby, to meet new friends and many other reasons too. As always we offer you a completely risk free trial so if it’s not what you are looking for then you don’t have to join.
Am I Too Old?
Our oldest members are in their 60’s and we have people of all physical types and abilities. You’ll be introduced gently and safely into our classes so that you have the best experience possible. Martial arts, is the one of the few hobbies that you can continue to do no matter what your age or physical condition. It keeps your joints flexible, your muscles firm and your mind sharp.
How Early Should You Start Your Child in The Martial Arts?
While the martial arts are an enjoyable and very worthwhile activity for children, it should be recognised that progress will take consistent class attendance, some practice and continued support from family members (remember, kids can’t drive themselves to class).
How early to start a child really depends on the individual child and their level of interest and maturity. Many professional schools have age specific classes and curriculum programs for children as young four, five or six years old. These programs are very popular and can be a great way for a child to learn concentration, self-control and start to develop more coordination.
Programs for children of this age usually are less demanding than mainstream martial arts programs and bypass a lot of the serious self-defence training in favour of more age appropriate and fun activities that are engineered to produce results on all the key areas of development, such as social interaction, self confidence, respect for others etc. After all it is unrealistic to think that a small five year old would be physically strong enough to ‘fend off’ a larger stronger attacker, such as a stranger, so emphasis on how to avoid the dangers of strangers and how to protect themselves if they were lost etc, is a really big part of the training at Professional Schools and Academies.
What Style Should I Choose?
The only style that really matters is the teaching style of the instructor. Yes, styles vary and you may prefer one style over another, but style should be a secondary consideration. The first priority is finding an instructor that you feel comfortable with and who can motivate you to come to class twice a week.
All styles have their strengths and weaknesses. While it would be nice to say that your body type or flexibility should match up with a certain style, it’s more important to match up with the right instructor and school.
What Kind of Facility Should I Look For?
Here it’s important to trust your first impressions. The modern martial arts school is clean, well lit, and spacious and has a good family atmosphere. The mirrors are polished, the floor is clean and the dressing rooms are in good order.
On the wall you might see photographs of recent school events and outings and there should definitely be an area for parents or family to sit and wait comfortably for their children.
Trust your instincts, martial arts should promote emotional well being and development. This will be picked up on and reflected in any good professional school or academy.
What Should I Do if My Child Wants to Quit?
There will come a time when your child says, “I’m too tired to go to class today.” This is a critical point in a child’s training. This is when you help teach them about following through and the never-quit attitude.
Don’t be concerned about “pushing it on your child.” This is just a myth. Children wouldn’t go to school, brush their teeth or clean their room if you didn’t “push it on them.” There’s a big difference between helping a child follow through on a goal they agreed to and ‘force-feeding’ something on a child.
When you begin the classes agree with your child on some short-term goals such as green belt or brown belt with the understanding that there will be no quitting until the goal is achieved. The real goal in the training should be black belt, but until you’ve had a chance to really understand what it takes to earn a black belt, it’s best to set a more reachable initial goal. Once you’ve determined that black belt is your goal, commit to it with full enthusiasm.
However, it’s unrealistic to expect a child not to, at some point, rebel against the effort. This is natural and should not lead to quitting. Quitting can quickly become a bad habit. Facing these types of challenges is part of the training inherent in the martial arts.
How Can I Motivate My Child to Continue?
Staying with a goal without quitting is an integral skill that has to be instilled by the parent. This is the very foundation of goal setting and achievement. Quitting is the very foundation of under-performance and failure. The world is full of great starters. Teach your child that it’s the ability to set goals and see them through to their completion that’s most important.
Help re-motivate the child into getting to class by reminding them of how much they enjoy the last class and that they can look forward to seeing their friends in class. Work with the instructor and always share your concerns.
Do I Have To Sign An Agreement?
This depends on the school and your situation. Many schools do not require any contract or agreement. However, signing a contract for lessons is not always a bad idea. One advantage to signing a contract is that you are locking in the tuition at the current rate and can avoid increases. The key is to not sign for more than you’re confident you can follow through on. Since earning a black belt should take three to four years, you should avoid any kind of long term agreements over four or five years.
However, if you know you want to earn a black belt, it makes perfect sense to lock in the lowest tuition possible for that time period.
It’s perfectly reasonable for a school to employ a tuition billing company to process your payments. This is very different from selling them your contract. In this case, the third party billing company simply accepts your payments, keeps a percentage as a fee and then sends the school the remainder. Martial artists don’t always have the time for book keeping so it’s a good idea for them to hire the processing and posting of payments to an expert.
What If I Like The School, But The School Insists On Having me Sign an Agreement?
If you are uncomfortable signing a contract for yourself or your child, tell the school that you’re uncomfortable and seek out an alternate arrangement. Most schools will work with a student in order to provide the training.
What If The Instructor Wants Me To Pay in Advance for Lessons?
Most schools have a standard payment plan and then a small discount of 15% – 20% if you want to pay the amount in full in advance. This is a reasonable option but it is simply that, an option. Many people prefer to pay in advance and that option should be available.
However, if you decide to pay in advance, make sure you have a written agreement that’s signed by the instructor as to what is being paid for and what would constitute cause for a refund. This is an example where signing a contract may be in your best interest.
What Are Grading / Testing Fees?
Most schools charge an additional fee when you take an exam to move to another belt. These fees can run from £20.00 to as high as £100. These fees cover administration fees, staff fees, running costs of the school/place of examination during the Examination and recognition and registration of your new grade in your licence.
A Black Belt Examination is a much more involved exam and often as a higher number of expenses tied to it for the school. For that reason you can expect to pay £100 – £300 for a black belt exam. This money offsets the additional preparation that the school has to make in order to promote someone to black belt and is a fair charge.
How Often Should I Go To Class?
For the first few months, resist the urge to go more than two times a week. Most professional schools will restrict your attendance in these early stages to twice a week while you evaluate your training. Then, after you’ve trained for a few months, they may make more classes available for you as part of a special program such as the Masters / CIT Programme or some other specially developed program.
This is a good method for both the student and the instructor. The student is prevented from overdoing it at first and helps him to avoid injuries and burnout from an over-enthused start. Then, as the student gets in better shape and understands the training, the instructor can better determine if the student should be given the opportunity for additional training. This is usually a privilege reserved for students who have made the commitment to earning a black belt.
Since a new student couldn’t be expected to understand what it takes to earn a black belt, the early restrictions on attendance serve to slowly indoctrinate the student in the martial arts and to evaluate it’s potential benefits before setting a goal of black belt.
How Long Are The Classes?
This usually will depend on the age of the class. For most classes targeting 4-6-year-olds, the class should run 30-45 minutes at the most. For classes targeting 7-12-year-olds, 45 minutes is usually about right with a one hour class for the brown- and black-belt children. Adult beginners classes can be 45 minutes with an increase to an hour upon graduating to the next belt level.
Schools that are still running two-hour classes tend to burn their students out very quickly. In today’s world, it’s just very difficult to devote more than an hour to an activity for any length of time and studies on attention spans have shown that 30-60 minutes is about the maximum for most people depending on their age.
How Risky Is Martial Arts?
This may surprise you, but in the past, insurance ratings ranked martial arts below golf in the number of injury claims – you’re more likely to get hurt on a golf course! That doesn’t mean you’re not going to get sore or occasionally bruised, it just means that serious injuries are not very common in the martial arts in most schools. This is particularly true for schools belonging to a professional organisation like the National Association of Karate and Martial Arts Schools (NAKMAS).
Most schools are very safe and go to extreme lengths to insure the safety of its classes. Other, schools are rougher and can have a military-like atmosphere where only the strong survive. These schools can be recognised by an almost exclusively adult male student body and a gym-like atmosphere.
Any school you attend should have age-specific classes and utilize all possible safety equipment when sparring. The striking pads should be new and in good shape and the instructors should belong to an organisation like NAKMAS to insure they are receiving ongoing information in the latest methods of teaching.
While claims against schools are very rare because the training is very safe, many schools are not insured, which is a mistake. Make sure your school is insured and the instructors are attending seminars and workshops on teaching.
What Can I Expect to Learn?
This is an exciting question. Contrary to the media’s image of a tough drill sergeant-like martial arts instructor, today’s professional instructor is well schooled in positive motivation, modern training methods and character development.
The schools will have special programs built into the curriculum on goal setting, self-confidence, how to avoid violent confrontation and other personal development goals.
This emphasis on personal responsibility and successful attitudes was introduced into the martial arts classroom in the mid-1980’s and has come as a pleasant surprise to many students who feared that martial arts would be an “only the strong survive” experience.
Students of all ages and athletic ability are now able to train in the martial arts without the fear of injury and humiliation associated with the so-called “dungeon” schools of the past.
What Kind of Physical Training Does The Martial Arts Teach?
In terms of the physical aspects, there are two primary areas of physical training in the martial arts. First is the traditional arts and techniques of the style taught at the school. This is known as the “Do” or “The Way.” These techniques and forms are not made up by the school, but are passed down from instructor to student through the years. Students honour the art by adhering to its traditional principles.
Traditional training is the most difficult to understand and to execute. However, the process of traditional training develops outstanding discipline, self-control and coordination. The other aspect to physical training is a more modern, practical science of self-defence. Here the focus is less on adhering to an ancient arts than practicing what works and discarding what may not work as much.
There is tremendous scientific data that comes to us at a phenomenal rate these days, which continually improves our understanding of how the human body works. And with that understanding of how the body works come’s a better philosophy and, hopefully, better practices about how to condition the body so that you’re not hurting it. This is the basis of the modern method of martial arts training.