• Steve Truscott

How I chose a martial arts school for my own child

If you are reading this, you are probably already convinced that your child can benefit from the self discipline, self confidence, and self leadership that martial arts can teach. That is good, and I’m going to help you find the school that will partner with you to do build these life skills into your child. With hundreds of martial schools in every metro area, how do you find the right one for your family? When I began looking for a school for my own daughter, I had the same challenge. And I’d like to share with you what I learned were the crucial questions. For example: Every martial arts school will claim (or even really try) to build personal responsibility into their students. But how do they actually do this? And when does this specific training start? For my daughter I wanted a studio that would do this purposefully and systematically, beginning at the very first lesson. Most martial arts schools that have a presence on the web or social media will have some good reviews. But how do we dig deeper to find out how they really do business? For my daughter I wanted a school that was not only well-established, but well-respected in the community for its ethical business practices. My Story I have been studying and teaching martial arts for decades. In that time, I have taught tens of thousands of children, and authored professional standards for martial arts instructor training and certification. But when it became time for my daughter to begin her training my own studio was too long a commute during homework time, so I began the search for another good school close to home. Here’s what I learned... There are many, many questions that provide “nice to know” information - but there are just a very few crucial questions for making the right choice for your family. For example, many parents ask “What are the differences between karate, kung fu, jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts, and all the other styles?” As a lifelong martial artist, this question is endlessly fascinating to me - but it turned out that this question was completely meaningless to me as a Dad in choosing the right school for my daughter. So if the style is not important, what is? 1. The Sensei Much more important than the martial art is the teacher. The first thing to remember is that a good martial artist is not necessarily a good teacher. An instructor’s demeanor is much more important than her degrees or championships. You can only learn this by actually visiting the school, seeing the teacher in action, and discovering: - Is the teacher is constantly engaged, positive, safe, and fun? - How do children of your child’s age relate and respond to the teacher? - Is the teacher personally welcoming to you, your child, and every member of your family? - Can the instructor meet the specific needs and issues of your child? I wanted my daughter to attend a school at which the teacher and the students smile - a lot! 2. Well-established It is completely natural to equate big with better, but serving a community not just year after year, but decade after decade, tells us much more about how much a school is being valued by its community. Being able to stay in business for a long time probably means that a large percentage of new students are coming from referrals from friends, family members, and school teachers. Longevity can also help answer another important question parents have: “How does this school do business?” Whether at a dentist, chiropractor, or veterinarian we have all heard pitches on why we need a long, extensive, and - of course - very expensive course of treatment. I found out that many martial arts schools use the same sales tactics. I wanted my daughter’s school to have monthly tuition, no contracts, to tell me up front about all fees and costs, and offer a low enrollment and/or equipment fee to start. 3. Welcoming Every martial arts studio’s website should welcome engagement. Every teacher should welcome new students over the phone or by email. But martial arts can become a very important part of your child’s - and thus your family’s - life, so you need to know that the welcome will continue for years to come. I wanted to be sure that I could: - Watch every class, test, tournament and event in which my child is involved - Attend classes myself, or even participate in my child’s class - Have concerns about issues specific to my child addressed by the teacher

I wanted my daughter to enjoy a school where she always felt welcomed by the teachers and her classmates. After all my research, I decided that the right school for my daughter would the one that most clearly showed me it had: 1. A great sensei and a motivating teaching team 2. A well-established presence and reputation in the community 3. An atmosphere that was welcoming not only to my daughter, but to all its students and their families The Happy Ending Fortunately, I was able to enroll my daughter in the school of a very close associate of mine. There were many other martial arts studios much closer to our home, but they did not meet the Three Crucial Questions test. The school I chose definitely did. I was sure that this school: 1. Had a leader and staff that truly cared about their students, combining high standards of technique and discipline with attentive and compassionate personal engagement, and where the kids were learning cool stuff and having fun! 2. Had been in business for a long time (over 30 years!) 3. Was one in which I felt welcome as a parent (not just as a checkbook!), where I could watch every class, was heard, and could actually be involved with my daughter’s learning. If you live in San Diego County, Family Karate has seven locations to welcome your family. If we are too long a commute for you, there are a few other schools that I can enthusiastically recommend to you which meet all three tests: great teachers, well-established, and welcoming. I have asked the leaders of these schools to allow me to offer you a unique opportunity to have a special experience as a family to get to know their teachers, try a few classes, and meet new classmates. These schools have been serving their community for a long time (some have taught three generations of the same family!). All are very busy because they have so many current students referring their friends and family members, so appointments need to be made in advance for this special offer. Please email or call me (760-746-0983) if I can connect you with your nearest Family Karate location, or any of the other San Diego County schools I recommend, and I will make sure you are welcomed for your first visit. Thank you - Steve Truscott


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