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Elements of A Good Karate School

1. Relaxed but disciplined atmosphere

people sitting in karate uniformsPeople don’t run wild, but the Sensei doesn’t expect unquestioning obedience. It’s OK to laugh, for instance.

2. Good teacher to student ratio

A good ratio in my experience is about one teacher to six students or less. It may not always happen, but should most of the time.

3. Reasonable fees

Keep in mind if the fee is too low, you may not get the best instruction or attention.

4. High student turnover.

If students are leaving early in their training often, maybe something needs improving in the school.

5. Reasonable availability.

Most students need to train at least twice a week in the dojo to improve at a reasonable rate. If the dojo only offers one or two classes a week then you may not be able to train often enough to progress.

6. Experienced high ranking instructor.

A third-degree or higher is good with at least five years of experience. If you like the instructor and his/her dojo even if he/she has less experience it could still be good. Best to try it out.

7. Free trial.

If a dojo won’t let you try them out, leave. They should have enough openness and confidence in their program to allow you to try it out.

8. Open viewing of classes.

In the long-ago past, karate had to be kept secret as it was outlawed in Okinawa, Japan. Some instructors still like to keep it a secret unless you pay up. You should be able to watch, if not, go somewhere else.

9. Open about all fees upfront.

Whether tests are included or extra in the fees doesn’t matter so much as long as it is upfront. This goes for things like insurance and testing fees.

10. Combines drills, self-defense, bunkai (meaning of moves in the katas) with sparring and katas.

If the dojo focuses only on traditional karate like katas, the student won’t be able to work against another person as his/her timing will not develop. I find the above formula works best to develop the traditional side of karate with the need to protect oneself. After all, karate was developed as a method of protecting the self and others.

Please comment below if you can think of any other ways to know that you are in a good club!

By Adrian Robichaud, BSc, DC

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