Hello, this is Grandmaster Lee. I have been training and instructing in Martial Arts for almost 40 years. I have also blessed to be a member of the US Olympic coaching staff at the 2012 London Summer Games. There are many Martial Arts schools in Minnesota, and choosing the right one can be difficult. Not all schools are the same, and families need to make sure to do their homework!
The Martial Arts are a great activity for both kids and adults to develop confidence and self discipline, relieve stress, get physically and mentally fit, and to learn self defense.
Here are some helpful tips you should know when choosing a school:
1. Contracts and Finances: Do NOT sign a CONTRACT or put down large sums of money. Especially after your introductory program. A solid school and instructor will have the confidence to teach you without this nonsense. Why do you have to sign a contract or put large sums of money down for your 7 year old? Ask yourself, "Will I ultimately stay with this school because of the strength of the program, or because I am locked into a contract? Don't ever feel pressured to sign or do something that feels "off". Also, if an instructor or school owner is unable or unwilling to tell you the monthly costs, testing fees, etc., before you start a program, ask yourself how trustworthy this is. Things are usually hidden for a reason.
2. Sparring: Sparring is an important part of training. It develops speed, reaction, distance and timing which is important in self defense. If a school does not spar, or requires a separate class and fee to spar, ask yourself: What would you think if you went to a football practice and the players never tackled? Or had to pay more in order to tackle? When taught properly, sparring is one of the safest aspects of Martial Arts training.
3. World Champions: Some instructors claim to be World Champions. The fact is, NO ONE in Minnesota has won an official World Championship in Karate, Judo or Taekwondo. Please feel free to contact www.usa-taekwondo.us, www.usankf.org, and www.teamusa.org/USA-Judo for more information.
4. Using X-Ray paper for targets: Some schools use X-Ray paper for students to practice strikes. X-Ray paper has no place in Martial Arts training. Proper pads and equipment should be used. What would you think if you saw Jet Li? or Chuck Liddell practicing on X-Ray paper?
5. Karate Sign: There are lots of schools who will put a big Karate sign up, but in reality teach something else (Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Jiu Jitsu etc...). What would you think if you went to a gymnastics school that promoted gymnastics but was really teaching yoga?
6. Guarantee a Black Belt: If a school guarantees you a black belt in 2 years or less, run away! Earning a black belt is something special, which takes a lot of time and discipline. A hard-working and dedicated student can earn her Black Belt in 3.5 to 5 years. In Jiu Jitsu, there are fewer belt colors than more traditional martial arts, and it takes much longer.
7. The school should be clean and have padded floors: Working out on a gym floor or carpet isn't the best or safest way to train. Yes, it might be considered "old school" to train on very hard surfaces, but it wasn't that long ago that cars were made without seat belts and air bags, either. Practices evolve with our understanding of how to train properly.
8. Instructors should be in shape: Instructors don't need to be ripped with bulging muscles, but they should look the part.
9. Style doesn't matter: A good martial arts school teacher will have the ability not only to teach technique, but most importantly help bring out the best in you. Martial Arts Style (Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, etc...) doesn't matter.
I take martial arts very serious and want to make sure the integrity of the Arts remain. Do you your homework first because there are a lot of great schools in Minnesota (you just might need to drive a little further).