How to tell which type of martial arts school is best for you!

What type of martial arts school is best?

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about for awhile.  There are many different types of martial arts school to choose from.  But it’s not easy to pick based on the name, the instructors, or even the styles offered.  Here is a guide to help you decide which school is best for you!

Do you prefer to train at a gym, dojo, or academy?  I believe all three have their pros and cons.  But before we begin conversation and debate, here are my working classifications for each type of martial arts school.

Gym, Dojo, or Academy? 

A gym is a health club or martial arts school that focuses on workouts.  Training may or may not include a traditional art, but the school generally includes programs like MMA conditioning, bootcamp fitness, and cardio kickboxing.  The facility is generally modern in aesthetics and houses top-of-the-line cardio machines, free weights, and modern martial arts equipment.  A gym is fitness intensive and helps most of its clients meet their health and wellness goals above all else.  Fighters train at gyms to work on basic skills and to prepare for fights.

A dojo is primarily a place to study a traditional martial art.  Dojo owners generally stress the transmission of their style as taught to them, allowing for little deviation in curriculum.  Students at a dojo use old-fashioned training methods and equipment to meet their health and wellness goals.  They sign up to learn more about the culture and values of a martial art rather than to master modern self-defense techniques.  Some dojo owners train fighters in the intricacies of their particular arts, but they don’t offer strength and conditioning programs.

An academy, for the sake of this article, is an equal blend of gym and dojo.  Instructors at an academy emphasize the mastering of techniques but also help clients get in shape and prepare for fights.  An academy may host several martial arts, and it will often have classes taught by masters of many different disciplines such as karate, jiu-jitsu, boxing, wrestling, muay thai, krav maga, etc.  Usually, an academy can be many different things to many different people due to the number and variety of classes offered.  This allows people to train as if studying different “subjects” at school (i.e. English class, math class, history class).  Some academies may actually only offer one style, however, consisting of a hybrid system or sometimes MMA.

How to choose a good school for you

It seems that neither the location of each type of school, nor the equipment it houses dictates its classification.  Instead, study the focus and attitude owners and instructors have toward training.  Does a flat-topped drill sergeant shout at his students while they do pushups in pools of sweat?  Does a quiet, senior citizen explain theories on how to deliver the most efficient blocks and strikes?  Does a young fighter break down a technique for a group of students ready to enter the cage?

Ultimately, you need to make a decision based on your goals.  Take the time to research the school that best meets your needs.  Ask lots of questions and make sure you feel completely comfortable before committing to training.

Do you have any thoughts or questions?  Please leave them in the comments.  A survey to see your preferred school is coming soon, so study up!

About moaimartialarts

Lucky enough to grow up with the martial arts, I have felt their positive influence throughout my life and am especially interested in sharing these experiences with others. I enjoy working with youth and adults to give back some of what I've received. If you would like to learn more about Uechi-Ryu/Shohei-Ryu Karate, or if you want to find people to train with, please contact me. I am the head karate instructor for the Meriden Martial Arts Club.
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2 Responses to How to tell which type of martial arts school is best for you!

  1. greg horton says:

    Hello – Thanks for sharing all the positive benefits of martial arts training for kids. excellent message – I would add teaching kids to be stronger Mentally, Physically, Emotionally, and Socially.

    Greg Horton

    5th Degree Black Belt

  2. I’m curious to find out what blog system you happen to be using?
    I’m experiencing some small security problems with my latest site and I’d like to find something more safeguarded.
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