Lots of people don’t know the difference between one style of martial art verses another let alone one school from another. I still have people that do Tae Kwon Do telling me they do Karate and the all-time classic line “I train UFC”. Finding the place for you comes down to being honest about what you want out of your training. If you want to be a fighter you go to a place that has a successful history with fighters. Just because a school has fighters doesn’t mean it’s a good place either. You need to find a place that has found consistent success. It’s not about how many but how well a place trains. I have been to gyms with huge fight teams that have lost way more than they have won and I have been to gyms with a small close group of killers that hardly ever lose. If I am trying to make a career of fighting I want to go where the winners go.
If you want to learn a skill while getting in shape you need to find a place with people just like you. Don’t think hanging with 18 year old knuckle draggers is good for you if you are no longer 18 and need to go to work tomorrow. You need a place that understands that you are training to make your overall life better not to be the next cage fighting champ.
It’s all about looking past the names and the advertising. See what is happening on the mat. Who is training? Can you see yourself doing what they are doing day in and day out? Is the instructor someone you can listen to and work with?
Another thing, just because a school is busy does not mean it’s good. Some of the worst training I have ever had has been in a huge room with tons of people while the best took place in some small spots off the beaten path. Many times a packed school is just another example of good marketing instead of skill. I am not anti healthy businesses! I am just warning you to not judge the book by the cover. Take the time to see what’s happening on the mat not just how packed it is.
You will spend a good portion of your time training if you catch the Martial Arts bug. Make sure you don’t lock yourself into a contract with the wrong fit for you. You can easily find yourself spending good money in a bad situation if you don’t take the time to see the truth of a school or to be honest with yourself.
If you have no clue as to what is what with styles, systems etc… Here are some things to keep in mind. If you don’t want to get hit and like the idea of taking someone down to choke them out you should look into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, or Grappling schools. If you want to hit and be hit you should look into Kickboxing, Boxing, and Muay Thai schools. If you want a more cultural experience go with traditional Karate or Tae Kwon Do. If MMA is your thing you may have to train at multiple schools or you may be lucky enough to find a school that has good grappling and striking programs plus MMA specific classes to put it all together.
At the end of the day you will end up happiest if you pursue a good teacher instead of the perfect style. The person standing at the head of the class is the person that will be your guide. Be comfortable with what they do and how they do it before you commit your hard earned cash to them.
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