It seems as though there is a dojo on every corner, in every family town in America. How do you find the “just right” fit for your child? Each student is different, and nobody knows your child better than you do. Here are a few suggestions for making this very important choice.
Take a Trial Lesson
Any reputable dojo will give you a chance to take a lesson or a class for free. The good ones may let you do both. Dojos know that seeing a class is their best advertising. If you can’t get a free lesson, don’t even bother.
Your child’s martial arts teacher is going to become a very important person in his or her life. Look at the interactions between your child and the instructor. You should see all of the following:
- Encouragement and praise
- High expectations
- Boundless positive energy
Your child should be fully engaged throughout the lesson. The martial arts are a serious business, but kids need to laugh, they need to feel emotionally safe, and they need to know their teacher believes in them.
Everyone expects to learn respect and self discipline in the martial arts, but a good program will offer much more than that. Martial artists learn self control, develop honesty and integrity, and learn to take responsibility for themselves in both failure and success. A good life skills program will make a more lasting difference in your child’s life than any move or form they will learn.
You’re a great parent, but not necessarily a martial artist. This can be a tough one to judge. A good martial pedigree will draw its roots going back centuries. The instructors will teach efficient and effective movement. Students will learn the art of self defense and character education. Don’t be lured by a window full of shiny trophies. Most local tournaments are political events, and the trophies themselves are usually won by a select few students.
Cheaper is not always better, and there is a big difference between price and value. The value in the martial arts is based on the individual attention your child receives. Does your tuition include private or semi-private instruction? Group-only schools are a better deal for owners. Private instruction is a better deal for your child.
Check the Reputation
Chances are, your friends and neighbors have worked with these folks before. How was that experience? Do they have reviews on Google, Yelp, or Facebook? Take a look before you buy. One negative review shouldn’t “ding” a studio. Everyone will get a bad review now and again. You should look for a string of good ratings overall. The majority of reviews should be very positive. Ask your friends – they should have good things to say.
Depending on the program, you’re likely to be at the dojo 2-3 times per week. Be sure the drive is reasonable. We put this one last on the list for a reason, though. If the quality of the school is superior, but it is a few minutes farther away, drive the extra few minutes. Over the course of years you will be very glad you did.
At SDSS, we believe we deliver a superior product in all these areas. But that’s for you to decide. Contact your local SDSS, and take a trial lesson. You’ll see right away that we live up to our promise.