1. Which is the best Martial Art?
There is no simple answer to this question. However, if you were to ask “Which is the best Martial Art for me or my child?” then it is possible to give some guidance. You need to ask yourself what it is that you want to achieve from your training and then select a club that meets those needs
Give yourself the opportunity to try more than one style before committing yourself to a particular club. If one style does not suit you do not write all martial arts off as unsuitable. Each club and every style has something to offer. You just need to find the right one for you or your child
A good club will encourage you to watch a session and allow you up to two introductory training sessions before asking for membership. Some clubs even run regular beginners courses, which is an excellent way of getting to know if the club is right for you.
2. Is there a minimum or maximum age?
Most instructors would agree that 7 to 8 years is a good time to start. Younger children sometimes find martial arts too demanding. There is no upper age limit. As long as you are fit and active, you can take part.
3. How do I find a good instructor?
When you visit a club, take time to watch what goes on:
(a) Is the instructor friendly and welcoming to newcomers?
(b) Is there a good ratio of instructors to beginners?
(c) Does the class appear busy, or are there students looking unsure with no one to offer assistance?
(d) Do the students appear to be enjoying the class?
(e) Does the class start with a warm-up and finish with a cool-down exercise?
(f) Is the instructor qualified?
• First Aid Certificate
• Coaching qualifications
Above all make sure you feel comfortable with the club, the instructor and the overall environment. If you are leaving your child at a club do spend time making sure you are happy; in order to do that it is advisable to watch for the first one or two lessons.
4. How long before I get a Black Belt?
Progression is usually designated by a coloured belt system although not all styles comply with this approach. Passing to each level involves some form of examination or grading that is usually of a practical nature. That is to say you will be required to demonstrate techniques while under scrutiny. These gradings generally take place at 3 monthly intervals and you must expect to take about 2 to 3 years of serious training to achieve a black belt.
5. Will I get hurt?
A martial art of any style is a physical activity. If you are unused to exertion it may help to improve your level of fitness before joining. Having said that a good club will assist you and encourage you to improve your fitness level during the actual class. You will no doubt experience some muscular aches after the first few classes.
You should be taught how to fall without injury and you should only be taught techniques applicable to your skill level.
Remember that sports such as Rugby, Football and Squash are responsible for far more serious sport-related injuries than are ever encountered in a martial arts class.
Basic safety includes clean, short nails, removal of jewellery and hair slides and good personal hygiene.
6. What about insurance?
Every club needs both Public Liability and Member-to-Member insurance. This is usually taken out with the Association to which the club belongs. When you join a club your membership fee will include an amount for this annual insurance.
7. What will it cost?
All clubs have different membership costs. Most will require an annual membership that includes licence and insurance cover. In addition you will be required to pay a training fee either weekly or more usually monthly. You will also need to purchase equipment like a training suit (Gi) and pads etc and to pay a grading fee whenever you take an examination (usually every 3 months)
These outlays are not very expensive and compared to say starting golf very, very cheap.
8. Can I win trophies?
Some styles of martial arts invest a lot of time and effort training students to take part in competitions; do ask the instructor about this. If this is, or is not, an important area for you then you need to know. Try to remember trophies and competition are not the be-all and end-all of martial arts there is much, much more to it than that. It is, or can be, about personal achievement and development as well.
9. Should I study more than one martial art?
Beginners sometimes find it confusing to have to master different styles and it is probably not advisable in the early stages of your development. Assuming you have selected an instructor who’s opinion you trust then talk to him, he will advise you on the best time to branch out. There are great benefits to be gained when the time is right and you can often compliment your skills in one particular art with knowledge of another. Also there are many styles that encompass multiple arts and in this situation the instruction is geared to deliver this in a seamless way.
Beware of clubs who would try to prevent you joining other clubs or associations. An open mind is healthy a closed one is not.
© Jurojin Ltd 2021