A guide to Help you Choose a School

Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu's Guide for 'Choosing a School'

As enthusiastic as new Karate students are, few will continue beyond the first year. This high drop out rate has less to do with the difficulty of the training; than, with a reality that doesn't live up to the fantasy. From a young person's point of view, Karate is a very romantic activity. Few students anticipate the intensity of the effort and commitment.

You don't have to be disappointed. With a little effort, you can develop realistic expectations and find the best school for you. Best is not defined by style of Karate; but, by thoroughness of the instruction and how well it fits your individual goals.

"If one style could be all things to all people there would only be one style".

First, realize that proficiency is not easily attained and those who promise otherwise are lying. Karate skills are no more quickly attained than playing the piano. There is a vast amount of knowledge for both mind and body to absorb, requiring time, patience, and endurance.

To lower your expectations, try a short course offered by a community center or college group. Some dojo will offer an introductory package; such as 4 private lessons, a week of group classes or even a free lesson. Such a preview will cost comparatively little time and money and can help evaluate a particular style or teacher.

The school's stability should be your first consideration. To avoid fly-by-nighters find a dojo that has longevity or gives evidence that it will be permanent. Add to your list by talking to friends who study Karate. Don't be distracted by fancy advertising or buildings. The instructor who must pay for it, may worry more about making money than teaching the art.

Visit each school on your list, it is clean and adequate? Is there enough space? Do they have mirrors? Punching bags or air shields? Sparring gear? Stretching equipment? Makiwara? Are there bathrooms ? Drinking fountains or facilities? Extras such as showers, sauna, whirlpool, nautilus equipment or weights are nice but can detract from serious study.

The sensei himself should be neat and clean. His attitude should be friendly, professional and respectful, not only toward you but toward his students, other instructors, and other schools and styles. Ask him first about his credentials. When did he begin studying? Who was his instructor? When did he reach black belt? How long has he taught? Did he create this style or is he part of a well-established system? What association does he belong to? Does he have a current teaching certificate from his association? Who is its head and what are his credentials? How much direct access will you have to the grand master? Always remember, a black belt is NOT a license to teach. The practitioner's level of proficiency is NO guarantee of teaching ability. If he is not licensed by the Ministry of Sport, he is not covered by insurance and may not legally teach in Israel.

If the school has a sport element, does it compete in open competition? If it never does, it may be hiding its frailties. If it does nothing else but prepare for competition, the students' education may be lopsided. Find a school somewhere between these two extremes.

If you are looking for self defense beware of those who try to teach sporting techniques as self defense. You will be better off with a non-sporting jujutsu, kung fu, Ryukyu Kenpo or traditional bugei.

Ask about the instructor's philosophy regarding technique application. One extreme is to show no mercy; legal ramifications notwithstanding. Contrasting this, is to give the other, a chance to change his ways by controlling him with a minimum of injury. If wholehearted application of the techniques would bother you, in a real situation, you might hesitate with all its implications.

What is the student to teacher ratio? A class larger than 24 students should include an assistant. In fact, we in Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu feel private lessons with a personal trainer are the only way to go. Find out who actually teaches the beginners, the head instructor or the assistant? Rank is not necessarily critical for teaching beginners; but, a black belt should at least be available for consultation or assistance.

Finally, If you like the school, its Instructors, the students, and what you're being taught; then this is the best style for you. Period!