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What to look For in a dojo / School

(just a few things to think about)

1.- what national/international associations are affiliated with the club? are they reputable? 

   There is ALOT to be said about a person that goes about illicit means to fool people into thinking they have credentials that they do not have. None of it is good. 

 There are many Internet sites out there that you can simply buy rank from. Yes the sites may look very nice but make sure you really read what is being said. If they do not teach the Art, the school is centered around, or sells rank to people from Arts they are not qualified to Instruct themselves, that should be the first clue.   There are people out there that may be able to fight and have learned through the school of hard knocks about what works, but is it the safest and most efficient way? Wouldn't they be a better Instructor if they were led down the right path themselves?

A ton of certificates on the wall, or just one doesn't make a difference, what matters is WHO SIGNED the certificate. The certifying officials are the ones that you really should be able to research easily.  If they don't wish to show you their diplomas but are still asking for money this should raise a big red flag in your head.

 Your hard work is a Big investment.. Money and time wise. To receive a  ranking certificate or diploma that is not recognized anywhere else  and is only good to cover the hole in the wall may not be what you are after. After all you wouldn't go to a doctor that received his degree from the Janitor would you?

2. - do you have confidence that the instructor has something worthwhile to teach you?
   This should be after you have verified the Instructors Credentials. If he has learned from good qualified instructors he should be able to pass it on to you.

 This is not always the case though.  There are and will always be students that "just don't get it". They may get up to a certain point, but still not have the last piece of the puzzle that ties it all together. You may wish to give the school a chance, but if you still feel like leaving make sure you tell them why.

3. - are the classes fun?

 This should always be one of the MAIN deciding factors. If its a burden to go to then you probably wont stick it out when things get difficult and your frustrated at having a hard time with something.

 Take a look around you, do the students/ Instructors interact pleasantly, and look like they want to be there?

4. - do you think you can learn from the instructor's teaching style? (or are you at least willing to give it a chance?)

 Not everyone can get along with the Different teaching styles that are out there. Just because someone is reputed to be the best doesn't mean that you can learn a thing from them. Especially if your mind is focusing on how you don't care for the presentation of the material. 

5. - look for kids/families that have "grown up" with the club

 This should be your best clue to the abilities of the Instructor. The long term students hold the visual key to where you can expect to be in a similar amount of time. The sempai's attitude, and actions towards the Instructor are all indicators.

 Are there old students that still maintain contact with the Instructors even though they have moved away or are deployed?


6. - do you think the instructor will be able to help you to achieve your personal goals?

 Again this is subjective, but something to seriously think about. If the Instructor is focusing in a different  manner than you are wanting to head, Think Twice.


7. - do you have something to give to the club?

 Yes, this is extremely important. If you feel that you will not be able to contribute to the learning environment, for any reason then you should definitely not go there.  To elaborate on this; If you cant be serious about learning, you will be a distraction. If you only want to test yourself and not progress any further, you will be a distraction to others again.. things of this nature.

 I am not talking about being able to bring technical knowledge to the table. Rather the ability to learn, and help others in their learning process.


8. - what is the etiquette of the dojo? Can you live with their traditions?

Some schools are fully traditional and require you to do a lot of bowing, Semi Traditional usually only bows once, and then some schools don't bow at all.

Dress code has been another big issue. Bare feet or are socks allowed on the mats? This can be a really big issue if you see a student has nasty feet and isn't made to wear anything covering them such as socks or stockings to protect you from where you will eventually end up landing.


9. -Do they want you to sign a contract?

 While this may not be a bad thing, make sure you read it and your not stuck paying for stuff your not going to use.

Also look for hidden costs, such as an abundance of testing fee's, mandatory seminars, and tournaments that also cost. It can get out of control at times and take the fun out of things when you cant afford to participate, or eat to be able to satisfy your contract.


10. -Are they still continuing to learn and grow themselves or have they hit their Plateau or peak?

    I consider this matter to be of such importance that if I were looking for a new senior to teach me, one of the first things I ask is "Who do you train under?"

I can tell you of some of the looks of complete disgust this had gotten me in many "MCDojo's" and gyms.

"What do you mean, I'm a master! I don't train under anyone; I teach!"

Really? Maybe they teach some other ignorant soul. But you aren't teaching me.

Another answer might be something along the lines of "Well I go off to a mountain where my master lives in another country, and I train alone with him in secret. "

Yeah right. The senior who has a teacher that he can't produce or to whom he's not willing to introduce to his students is a walking advertisement for bad budo. A real senior who is your teacher will be happy to have you train with his seniors when the opportunity presents itself. He'll probably invite, you to attend seminars or training sessions with others who are senior to him.

The senior sets the pace. He leads by example. He is not afraid to admit there are things he doesn't know. He makes it very clear that while he is the teacher and he is in charge, he is still in the process of learning, too. The second prerequisite I would insist upon in accepting a senior as a teacher would be the assurance that not only is he setting the pace, he is also going in a direction where I want to train.


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