Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Choosing a martial arts instructor

Teacher to avoid:

School owners: They teach for a living.. They teach for money. Say it again, it is about money to pay the bills. Some may do it for other reasons, but after several years some of their decision making is compromised since it isn't easy to pay the bills by teaching martial arts. At a certain point they teach what brings in the money. This sometimes leads to people teaching stuff they are not good at.. They know that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is hot so they take some classes and add it to the course of study as soon as possible. Sometimes the hourly rate for an art that is hot can be double or triple what other arts charge. Or they know that if they teach Karate they can get 5 students, but if they also teach Thai kickboxing they get get 5 more students... Adding in a Filipino Martial arts class will bring in another 5 students.. Hey now you have 3 times the number of students. See how it works? Rent is high.

Some schools find more students by winning tournaments, so here comes the gaming aspect.

What you want to find is the guy who doesn't teach many students and will teach you one on one. You should have a level of trust with that person that is very high on both sides. Absolute loyalty means everything. Remember Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid?

The other guy who is good may be the guy who teaches some just so he can have people to work out with, practice the techniques, etc.

Some say at some point it is not so much the art as the teacher that is more important. I would mostly agree. The worst art with the best teacher who you trust and trusts you might be the better choice between a famous art at a commercial school with someone who just looks at you as another business transaction of $100/month.

At a high level, most arts know the same things. Sometimes they accomplish things a different way, but they know how to accomplish the mission.

I keep saying this though.. try and also figure out what the martial art you are learning or are going to learn was created for and for what problem it is trying to solve as it is being taught by the instructor. Then try and see if that matches up with what you are wanting to learn a martial art for.


Choosing a martial art for your child

How many fathers have had to figure out what martial art will help out their son? How many sons figured out late that they didn't choose wisely?

My dad tried his best to find a martial art for his son, who was getting picked on in middle school by "boys" who for some ungodly reason already had facial hair and were at least a foot taller.

We saw the Tae Kwon Do guy, we saw the judo guy who talked about jiu jitsu, we saw the Jeet Kune Do guy.....

They all promised they could help. The Tae Kwon Do didn't help at all, which is where I went first. Since I had long legs a friend of his recommended that that art would be great for me.

Too many people start martial arts with Tae Kwon Do or Karate, and many of the schools that teach children are more like a daycare with a build discipline and self confidence curriculum. Helping you defend yourself against bullies or child predators? Not by a long shot.

Here is one BIG fork in the road: Am I looking for something to help him deal with the bully in his class or the child predator who is going to try and kidnap him?

Another big question...If you really teach your child to be able to "kick some real ass," are you worried that he might get out of control and use it on your wife or become a bully himself? Or maybe just hurt someone way more than is called for given the situation?

I don't know the answer, but at least if you identify which situation you are trying to prepare for it might help you find the best art.

I'll post a million times on it but most martial arts have been evolving towards sport for a long, long time. So if you take him to a school with a bunch of trophies around, that should tell you something. The more rules they have, the less it is about really winning a real fight with an opponent who is unknown and unpreditable. The Tae Kwon Do guy in a tournament knows what blows might be thrown and how. In real life you have no idea.

For dealing with bullies or even the child predators, I recommend looking up Bill Kipp at He teaches a quick and dirty course that gets you or your child up to speed quickly on trying to avoid the fight before it happens and also how to handle it if it does happen. His teachings are compatible with any style.

For dealing with a bully at school, maybe Wing Chun is amoung the best choices out there. Maybe american boxing as well. It depends on how young, but both of these arts are good at defending yourself in some semblance of a "fair fight" which is what you expect in school at least in some of the early years(how things change).

There are some other choices but that is what I would recommend at this point. But no, I'm sorry the sport Tae Kwon Do stuff... nope I can't recommend it. It isn't made for the real deal. Sorry to offend you. The ranks of experienced martial artists are FULL of people who started with a sport oriented Tae Kwon Do or Karate school and then figured it out and moved on. Some sort of kickboxing type stuff is a great improvement for a fair fight scenario...

Here is the $100,000 question...How come you guys teach the hand on the hip thing and then when you try and spar for real, you don't hardly ever do that? (I know why, but I want YOU to think about it.) Why do they teach one thing, but then when trying to put it into some kind of real application, they don't do what they teach.

As for a child predator... well, it is time to pull out the weapons, special tactics and dirty tricks.. and any old mean stuff. Let loose the dogs of war. These same tactics may prove to be too much if he uses them at the bully at school though.. so I hesitate to even go into it.

However, I do also want to say that one of my instructors in the past had a great deal of real fighting experience which I thought of as a big advantage over the sport guys I started with. I was somewhat wrong. Real fighting helps you figure out some stuff maybe you thought would work but didn't, but on the other hand, I want to find someone to teach my son to get out of fights, avoid fights but be able to defend himself if he has to fight. You have to wonder what is wrong with someone who is constantly getting into fights. The more you fight the more you get hurt or into some sort of trouble.. at a certain point it might be better not to know how to fight then become some idiot who wants to "throw down" everytime someone looks at him funny.

I hope to give you some more direction but if you at least think first of the problem you are trying to solve you may be ahead of the game.

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