The best way to get your kicks at karate school

If you love the idea of working out in your pajamas while learning self-defense, here’s what to look for in a karate school.

The best way to get your kicks at karate school

Finding the right karate school

Who wouldn’t want to have the mad defense skills of the Karate Kid for themselves or their own kids? Health, combat readiness, discipline and the permission to work out in your pajamas—what’s not to like?

But there are a lot of karate schools out there. How do you find one that will do the right job for you?

What karate is and isn’t

  • Karate is the Japanese art of self-defense, known for its powerful kicks, punches and blocks.
  • Taekwondo is the Korean version of karate, and kung fu, Chinese.
  • Martial arts including judo, jiu-jitsu and aikido are more focused on throws and grappling.

The main traditional schools of karate are Shotokan, Wado-Ryu, Goju-Ryu and Shito-Ryu. But there are many smaller styles, as well, such as Chito-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu.

Checking credentials

Since karate isn’t a licensed profession like engineering or medicine, it’s sometimes hard to judge the legitimacy of a school’s credentials, despite the certificates on the wall.

  • One way to know if a school has its bona fides is to see if it belongs to a government-recognized association, such as Karate Canada or Karate Ontario.
  • Schools that don’t belong to these associations may also be legitimate; it’s just harder to judge.

Beware of hidden costs and contracts

Before you start karate lessons, check for all costs upfront.

  • What is the price of the uniform?
  • Do you have to buy it from the karate dojo (club) or can you buy from another supplier?
  • Is there other equipment you need to buy?
  • How often do they hold tests and how much do these cost?
  • Are there special programs you have to pay for?
  • Are students encouraged to take private lessons, charged at a higher cost?
  • Can you pay as you go, month by month, or does the karate school demand a yearly contract that automatically rolls over one year into the next, possibly with high opt-out fees?

Open and transparent

If you go into a karate club, are they open about the costs?

If the instructor you are talking to avoids the topic and suggests you do a needs assessment and interview first, be leery.

  • A needs assessment is a good thing IF it’s in your best interest.

Good karate schools will let you watch and, in many cases, participate in classes before you sign up. They also know there is a high dropout rate in martial arts, so they won’t make it difficult to stop lessons if you decide that karate isn’t for you.

Watch and learn

If you go to watch a karate class, look at how the instructor interacts with his or her students.

  • Are they patient and do they explain things carefully?
  • Is the atmosphere of the dojo disciplined but happy?
  • If the classes are large, are there enough instructors and assistants to ensure that everyone is taught?

Once you’ve answered these questions to your satisfaction, then it's time to put on your pajamas and let the fun begin.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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