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Self defense and martial arts classes are offered all over the country whether you're in a rural Midwest town like Lanesboro, Minnesota or you're in a bustling metropolitan city like Dallas, Texas.
Self defense and martial arts classes are offered by private teachers, small businesses, universities, fitness centers, and police departments. If you're serious and motivated about learning self defense, there should be more than enough options for you to choose from.
Part 1. Identify What You're Looking for in a Self Defense or Martial Arts Class
Why do you want to learn self defense or martial arts?
As with any purchase, you should first decide why you want to make that purchase. There are many good reasons to take a self defense or martial arts class such as:
- Learn to defend yourself
- Learn to fight and attack a predator
- Improve your health and fitness through exercise
- Practice mental discipline
- Practice spiritual discipline
- Study an art and culture through its martial art
- Increase your confidence
- Meet like-minded people
- Find a new hobby
If you're interested in getting right down to punching and kicking, you should focus on "self defense" classes. These classes jump right into attack situations and scenarios and give you the tools you need to fight someone off after the first class or two. There are many martial arts that also get right down into the physical aspect of sparring and fighting. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Krav Maga are two popular martial arts that arm you with practical training very early on.
If you're interested in taking a comprehensive approach to self defense and fighting, then you should look into traditional martial arts such as Kung Fu, Karate, and Tai Kwan Do. These martials arts incorporate several other non-fighting aspects into their teachings such as meditation, forms, verbal self defense, breathing, conditioning, and culture. Don't be fooled though, students of Kung Fu, Karate, and Tai Kwan Do, also learn how to fight, kick butt, and defend themselves as well as students of other disciplines.
What type of facility do you want to learn in?
Self defense and martial arts classes are taught in different types of facilities which give the classes different feels to them.
Do you prefer to learn as an anonymous face in a large class? Or do you prefer a smaller intimate setting where the teacher can give you a lot of personalized attention?
Do you like exercising in a modern, newly-constructed facility or do you want an authentic old-school "dojo" feel?
The environment your most comfortable in will help you learn your new skills best and there is an ideal environment for everyone out there.
Part 2. Google Search for Local Classes
Utilize the internet as part of the wonderful age of information to search for classes and gather information.
Search for Local Self Defense or Martial Arts Classes
If you've figured out what specific self defense or martial arts class you're interested in, you can search for that type of class specifically. Here's are some examples of how to search for a specific martial arts class on Google:
- "kung fu class [your city]"
- "kung fu classes near me"
- "local kung fu classes"
- "[your city] kung fu classes"
If you don't have a specific self defense or martial arts class in mind, you can perform general Google searches to compile a list of all classes in your area. Here are some examples of how to search for general classes on Google:
- "self defense class [your city]"
- "self defense classes near me"
- "local self defense classes"
- "[your city] self defense classes"
Gather Information About The Classes
The best part about using the internet is you can form a fairly accurate impression of the self defense or martial arts school before even physically going there.
Where's the class located? Not surprisingly if the class is located far away or is inconvenient for you, you're less likely to regularly attend. Proximity plays a big role in everyone's life. Also, is it located in a bad neighborhood that you'll have to travel to in the evening? Or is it located in a busy district that will be annoying to get to? There are many thoughts to consider when choosing a class based on its location.
A picture is worth a thousand words. What can a picture tell you about a self defense or martial arts class? Here are some factors to take note of in pictures:
- Is the facility renovated and modern or is it old and traditional? There's no right or best environment for a class as each will have its pros and cons.
- What type of equipment do they have? Is the equipment new or outdated?
- How is the cleanliness of the space?
- Are there locker rooms and showers?
- What's the uniform or attire?
- How do the teachers or instructors look?
- What's the demographic of the class students?
Reviews should be taken with a grain of salt as they are generally either skewed towards the best experiences or worst experiences and they can be fake. However using all of your resources at your disposal is best for making an important decision. What do others claim are the best highlights of the class? What are the worst aspects? Are there any trends? For example, do several reviews state that the facility is always spotless clean?
In this day and age, all businesses should have a complete and professional looking website. There's no reason not to. Having a complete and professional looking website should be the absolute minimum for a business to invest in their digital presence. A self defense or martial arts website will give you a great idea of the type of experience you will get since it will be designed and/or approved by the owners and/or instructors. Does the website have an intense or violent look? Or does it have a traditional look?
The vast majority of self defense and martial arts classes have started their businesses because they're passionate about helping others by teaching their discipline - not to make a financial killing. Generally speaking, self defense and martial arts classes will charge around or higher than what a typical gym costs you. Anywhere from $100 per month to several hundred per month depending on where you're located and the class schedule you select. Is that expensive? A couple hundred dollars per month is expensive, but you pay for what you get. In this case you're learning how to protect yourself and defend your life, improving your health and fitness, and associating yourself with good people who have similar mindsets.
Part 3: Visit Classes in Person
Now that you've identified what you're looking for including your preferences, requirements, and limitations, and compiled a list of classes that fit your criteria, it's time to visit the classes in person.
Contacting the Self Defense or Martial Arts Classes
Call the self defense or martial arts classes to determine when you can come in for a visit. Many self defense and martial arts schools offer a free trial class to new members so you can get a feel for the class before officially signing up.
Attending the Class
- Meet the teacher, instructor, or owners before the class to ask them any questions you have and to get a feel for the school.
- Check out the facility or studio to see if it meets your criteria for things such as cleanliness, equipment quality, specific training areas, and overall environment.
- Observe the class and take note of how the instructors teach their concepts or moves to the students.
- Watch how the students take part in the class and if they're able to execute the moves properly.
- After the class is over, feel free to talk to the other students and ask them questions about their experiences in the school.
- What is the demographic of the class?
- Is there an even split of male and female students?
- What gender and age are the instructors?
- What is the age group of the students?
- Are the students having fun or is it a very strict and solemn environment?
Part 4: Choosing Your Self Defense or Martial Arts Class
The good news is you're not signing a lifetime contract to join a self defense school.
Most schools will offer a month to month contract so if you're unhappy with the instructors, students, pace of learning, style of learning, or anything else, you can easily switch to another school.
One important note about this is, you will probably have to purchase some gear, equipment or attire for your class, so those will be upfront costs you will not get back if you decide to switch schools.
You've come this far because you know you are interested in taking a self defense or martial arts class. Go with your gut when you finally decide which school to go with. At the end of the day, that's one of the main lessons any good school will teach you: your own instinct is the best form of self defense.