How To Find A Good Martial Arts School

How To Find A Good Martial Arts School

How do you know the person you’ve entrusted to teach you how to defend yourself is the right person for you? You see sometimes people don’t know any different. So this leads to the question: how to find a good martial arts school?

People join their local martial art school in the hope that they’re going to learn how to defend themselves. Unfortunately, just because the school is local, it doesn’t mean that the school is best for you. In fact, it doesn’t always mean that they have the best methods of teaching or even your needs at heart.

For example, you’re a middle aged guy. You walk into your local martial arts school to make an enquiry about self defence classes. You are met by a young fit instructor. While he looks the part he informs you that the best way to learn to defend yourself is to take a punch to the face. In an exhibition of bravado his students line up against the wall and he proceeds to punch each student in the face to prove a point. Now you may think this example is an exaggeration, but this does happen in our industry. Just watch the above video to see for yourself.

Self Defence North London

The point here is that if you don’t know any different you may think that this is normal behaviour for a martial arts school. If you are old enough to remember the original Karate Kids films, then you will appreciate the comparison. So, how to find a good martial arts school relies on looking RED FLAGS.

You must know what to look for if it’s your first experience in finding a good school. Hopefully this article will help you identify whether a specific instructor (or school) is the right instructor for you.

Some Things to Consider BEFORE Finding a Good Martial Arts School

When finding a good martial arts school you should consider your needs and requirements. Understandably, most people consider the cost and location of a school. Of course, this is an important consideration. Training a martial art is a long term commitment. So, you have to be able to afford classes and be able to travel to the school to train. However, the cost and location should not be the deciding factor. You should consider the following.

Wing Chun Training in London for Self Defence and Martial Arts.

First of all, when finding a good martial arts school you should identify why you wish to train. What motivates you to learn. These are your expectations. For instance, are you interested in learning how to defend yourself or learning a martial art? There is a big difference. Some martial arts are not appropriate for real world self defence training. They are simply to esoteric or fancy for the real world.

Another consideration is your age and level of fitness (read: Can You Be to Old to Learn Martial Arts). Some styles of martial arts training such as Mix Martial Arts (MMA) may not be the best thing for an older starter. In fact, there are martial arts schools that focus specifically on competition fighting. These environments will be physically challenging for a 50 something year old that has never done any physical activity.

The point here is that you can’t select a good martial arts school on cost and location. You must first match your needs and expectations with the right person for you.

Red Flags that a Martial Arts Instructor is Not Right for You

Finding the right person to learn from is about matching expectations. It’s often the case that different types of martial arts teachers will suit different types of students and needs. Just be aware that there are different types of teachers. Here are just a few RED FLAGS to consider:

  1. Be aware of those that teach theory, but can’t show application to real violent encounters. It’s very easy to get drawn into the esoteric side of martial arts training. Personally I have a great fondness for the intricacies of many martial arts, but I also expect a practical explanation of the ideas.
  2. Instructors that don’t spar or don’t believe that sparring is important in learning self defence. Sparring may not represent the real world of savage attacks, but it does help you with physical and emotional development of fighting skills.
  3. Teachers that say that their way is the only way. These individuals claim their martial art is the ultimate. Sometimes I refer to these individuals as the Brainwashers or the Cultists. You see this many different martial arts styles today.

Overall, a person that is closed minded is not the person that you can learn from. Especially if this teacher can’t learn themselves. They’re not setting an example of what works, what doesn’t work. If your martial arts teacher takes the approach that my martial art is the only martial art that works, then they are not openminded enough to lead you. How possibly could they help you?

How to Find a Good Martial Arts Instructor

So what should a good coach do? Well, I think lead by example, practice, what they preach, never expect us to do something they can’t do themselves.

Most importantly a good martial art coach should develop mental toughness, resilience, and emotional stability. These are key for preparing people to deal with violent encounters. If your coach is unable to contribute to your mental toughness, then essentially, they’re not preparing you for self defence. A GOOD martial arts teacher is a leader who should coach you through the hard times in training, not only help you deal with fear and violence.

So What’s the Takeaway

How to find a good martial arts school? Well, if your martial art coach feels that the best way to train you is to hit you. You have a problem. Remember a good coach, will teach by example, and positively reinforce mistakes. They should pay careful attention to your needs.

Problems arise when instructors become competitive with their students. This is a major red flag. Now I think a good martial arts teacher should have a balance of sufficient leadership qualities. A leader sets an example by modelling appropriate behaviour. Leadership requires that you take care of the needs of others. You put their needs before yours. For example, during a typical sparring session, you would expect that someone that had your needs ahead of theirs would be watching the class. Rather than sparring with their students to improve their own skills.

A good coach will actually be walking around and helping. Sure, if they are sparring with you. They will feed you techniques and allow you to move around and practice. They will work at your level, not theirs.  Teaching is not a power trip, it’s an opportunity to help you. Good martial arts teachers will recognize the inclusive nature of martial arts training.

Now, there are many martial arts schools that consistently turn out champion fighters. The common factor is it’s not often the characteristics of the individual fighters, but the coaches themselves. The difference between a good fighter and a bad fighter is often a good coach or a good or bad coach. This makes all the difference when training for a violent encounter. So choose wisely.

Thanks for reading.



The London Wing Chun Academy is a martial arts and functional fitness gym based in North London. Open 7 days a week with gym and functional fitness equipment. Our gym provides group fitness and martial arts classes in Wing ChunSan Shou KickboxingBrazilian Jiu JitsuFunctional Fitness, and non contact Fitness kick Boxing. Visit our gym today for a taster class. Get Started Now >>

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