Picking a style of martial arts to train is not as important as picking the right school to train in, and the right instructor to guide you along the way. There are more styles of teaching martial arts out there than there are martial arts, and how you go about picking a school may be the most important decision you make in your training. Just because someone has a black belt, doesn’t mean that they can teach, or that they are even decent people. Character is an approach to life, not a belt colour. You have to get to know your instructor as both a teacher and as a person, and if at any time it doesn’t feel like a good fit for you and your growth needs, don’t be afraid to go elsewhere. When you begin training martial arts, also remember that you are a customer first, and if you are not valued as such, this probably says a great deal about the character of the instructor, and the approach of the school. Some other things to look for in order to ensure a good fit when choosing a martial arts school are: Is the school clean? Does it offer multiple class times to fit your schedule? Are classes structured into belt ranks and skill levels, or are they open and unstructured? What are the instructor to student ratios? Is martial arts the owner’s full-time professional practice, pursued with passion and excellence, or is it merely a hobby? – Part-time effort often achieves part-time results. Are fees all-inclusive or are there steep add on costs for belts, testing, certificates etc.? Are the instructors being paid and held to a higher professional standard or are they volunteers? Does the school conduct back ground checks on instructors? Are instructors trained in CPR? Is there a defibrillator on site? Does the school invest in, and place an emphasis on, staff training? Does the school belong to a recognized Martial Arts sanctioning body? Is the school properly insured? – Most are not; Can you sit in on a class before joining? Are there testimonials available and can you speak directly to students / parents about their experiences? Remember, Martial Arts is not just a sport but is a life skill. It is about creating decent and contributing members of society above all else. A quality school should emphasize respect, self-control, self-defense, and discipline, and these tenets should be reflected in its teaching style, and in the atmosphere of the school. Ask the owner or instructor how they plan on teaching these things, and don’t be afraid to ask the kinds of questions outlined here.