The latest episode of the AikiCast Podcast special friday segment called 'Diamond Mining Friday'. Wisdom from Toyoda Sensei is shared about Aikido and Leadership
So, you’ve now scheduled some visits with martial arts schools in your area. Hopefully you’ve been following along through all of the previous lessons and have been able to gather some good information. Remember, choosing a martial arts school in your area should not be a quick decision. You will be investing your valuable time and money into something that should be fun, exciting, practical and enjoyable. If you make the wrong choice right out of the gate you will, most likely, be turned off to martial arts forever. We want to make sure your first experience is a positive one and that takes a little bit of research on your part.
Now that you are headed off to visit a few schools there are a few things you need to know. First, although I would think this is common sense, we find many clients do not: make sure you schedule your visit DURING a typical class time. If you happen to just “drop in” to a dojo or dojang that you’re driving by and theres no classes going on, you can still get a good feel for the facility and possibly the owner or staff, but you’ll still have to watch the instructor in action before you can really decide if its the right school and right martial art for you.
So, here are the basic rules for visiting martial arts schools in your area.
1st. Dont go alone. Not that you necessarily need to be worried about your safety, its simply that having another person with you will help with your decision. The other person will typically be more objective than you since you may be too invested in “wanting” it to be right.
2nd. Use the question list from lesson 3. Its one thing to watch a class and get a good feeling about the facility and the instruction, but there are still a bunch of questions you’ll need answers to before you can make an informed decision when choosing a martial arts school in your area.
3rd. Trust your gut! This is a big one and its actually a good self defense lesson as well. Most attack situations, and their avoidance, can be traced back to a “gut feeling” the victim had but ignored. You will get some gut feelings while you are visiting martial arts schools and the best thing to do is to trust what you’re feeling. If the place feels good and right to you, give it a try. If the place has an odd feeling that you just can put your finger on, get some more answers or maybe schedule another visit.
So, See you next time for another lesson to help you better choose a martial arts school in your area.
To recap the last installment, we talked about calling around to different martial arts schools. You might be interested in Karate, or Aikido, or a mixed martial arts school in Grand Rapids, or wherever you may live. Using the list of questions in the last post to ask the person on the other end of the phone, you’re going to gather some vital information about the school, the martial art, the instructors and their beliefs, and pricing. You, most likely, were able to shrink your list a bit using this process but hopefully you didn’t base your initial decision solely on low price.
Now you’re ready to schedule some visits to local martial arts schools to watch some classes. This can take some time but I guarantee it will be well worth it since you are the best judge of what you’re looking for and you really wont know until you start visiting some martial arts schools to see how things are run.
I recommend that you print out the list of questions from the last post and bring it with you when you visit the martial arts schools you have on your list. This may sound silly and common sense, but I have to say it anyway, please make sure you visit schools when they are having actual classes. This will be mostly in the evening. You want to see a couple of key things: how big are normal classes, how are the students behaving with one another, how are they interacting with their instructor and whats the overall feeling you get from the whole “scene”. This process should take 45 minutes to an hour (or more) per visit to get a good idea of what martial arts classes are like at this particular school.
Remember that each martial art and each martial arts school will have some things in common but will also have vast differences. Only you can tell what style, art, and practice suits you. Some schools are very strict and will call themselves “traditional” while others are not as strict and tend to be a bit more loose and, in my opinion, “fun”. However, even though I’m turned off by the so called traditional and strict schools, you may very well be looking for that kind of experience. You’ll find out when you’re there if it “moves” you one way or the other.
In the next installment we’ll talk a bit about what to expect when you are watching a class. See you next time!
In the last installment of this series we talked about writing down some things you did, and did not, want from the martial art you choose. We then said to start doing some research on the internet and Yellow Pages to learn the differences between the different martial and aesthetic arts you may be interested in. We said to write down some of the martial arts schools you found during your search and make a nice list of places to call. We then said that it was time to start calling around and talking with some of the martial arts instructors to find out a little more about the martial arts school, its history, the actual martial art, the martial arts instructor, and even some of the philosophies they have about training and the art.
Before we call, however, it would be good to have a list of questions to ask so you can compare apples to apples when making your choice about which martial art and which martial arts school will best suit what you might be looking for. Below is a list of some of the questions you should probably ask when calling around. I did mention at the end of the last installment that “cost of the classes” was the least important at this point, so i want to briefly explain what i meant.
“Cost”, as you probably already know, refers to the actual “market price” of an item or service, but the cost says nothing about the “value” of that particular item or service. This is never more true than in the martial arts and self defense classes industry, especially martial arts and self defense classes in Grand Rapids. West Michigan is a very cost and value conscious community and, while cost is important, value should be at the top of the list when making a decision about which martial art and which martial arts school will best provide what you need. Value occurs at the intersection of whats expected, what’s delivered, what it costs, and what else is available in the market. While I dont intend to give a lengthy explanation of economics and market theory, when it comes to choosing something you will likely spend a good deal of time and money enjoying, you should know how to distinguish value of mere cost. We will get around to asking prices, but it will only be after all the other questions have been asked.
So, now to the questions:
Check back for the next installment when we discuss what to look for while you’re there…
This blog post is from Aikido Center student Sarah and her personal blog at http://chasingaiki.weebly.com/
Thank you. In this past year, you've helped me more than I could have hoped for. Without knowing, you always said the right things, at the right time. You encouraged me every step of the way. Some days, I probably didn't deserve it, but there you were, telling me “Stand up! Stay focused!”. You saw potential in me that I couldn't see even on my best day. I am so grateful for your encouragement, I wouldn't be the person I am today without your help.
Thank you for pushing me harder every single day I stepped on the mat. For telling me to believe in myself, and for believing in me when I couldn't. Each of you have a special place in my life. You accepted me as I was one year ago, when I walked into my first class. When I was broken, grieving, scared and felt so alone. You welcomed me into the “family” with a smile, and a throw, or a couple.... thousand.
You've laughed with me, comforted me when I've cried. You gave me advice when I asked, and when I didn't. You helped me face the darkest day in my life thus far with a courageous spirit that I didn't know I was capable of. You have inspired me to be a better person, just by being yourself. I am so grateful for you, and so proud to be one of your students.
You have brought new perspective to my life, and have taught me a great deal about living. You have taught me to face my fears, and to let them go. You taught me to smile in moments of pain, and to cry in moments of happiness. For that, I can only say again... thank you.
I have only seen a glimpse of your generosity you hold. Just that glimpse... astounds me. I can't tell you how much I respect you. Your journey you have taken, I know I can't follow those steps fully. We all have our own way, but I want to end up at the same place you are... I want to one day guide the like-minded in this journey that never ends. If I touch just one life, the way you have mine... I would consider this journey successful.
I cannot thank you enough for what you have done for me, and what you will continue to in the years to come. So, please... Continue to be yourself. Please, continue to teach, I will be there, listening, with an accepting spirit. Continue the quest for this knowledge... Just know I want to receive more. I want more knowledge, more advice, more encouragement. What you can pass to me, in time, and when I am ready for it, I am willing to receive it.
(domo arigatou gozaimashita)
So, you’ve been interested in trying a martial arts class in Grand Rapids, or West Michigan, or really any where in the world. The process is going to be the same no matter where you live. In the first part of this series, Martial Arts in Grand Rapids-How does one choose?, Part 1, I said that knowing what you might be looking for from the martial art that you choose was really important for several reasons.
First, it will help you save time while investigating martial arts schools in Grand Rapids, MI or Grand Junction, CO, once again, it wont matter the area of the country one lives in, the process is the same. Second, it will help you figure out which martial arts NOT to look any further into. For example, if your list of desired benefits includes cardio vascular benefits but does NOT include learning how to fight, you may want to cross “mixed martial arts classes” off of the list. If your list includes wanting to be more flexible but does NOT include learning how to flip people then you may want to cross “Aikido classes” off your list.
So, now you have a list of things you’d like to learn and some things you have no interest whatsoever in learning. You take that list and start typing keywords into the Google search bar of your internet browser and start doing some investigation into which martial arts classes have schools within a relatively close distance from your home. A good rule of thumb is no more than 10 miles from your home. If you’re going to stick with the martial arts class that you choose, it will be important to be within a reasonable distance from your home so that when the honeymoon is over, meaning the initial euphoria of joining a new program is gone, your martial arts school is still relatively close. If its too far away, you’ll use that as an excuse to stop going.
The next step in this process, once you have your list, is to get some good data from the Yellow Pages and a thorough Google, Yahoo or Bing search for martial arts schools in your area. For example, in the Google search box in the upper right corner of your internet browser you would type, “Martial Arts Classes in Grand Rapids+self defense”, or “Self Defense Classes In Grand Rapids”, if you’re looking for self defense. The resulting page that comes up should give you some good local martial arts schools offering the classes you are looking for.
Begin by writing down which schools have the martial arts classes you know you might want to try. Be sure to look for ones that have been around a while. Fly by night martial arts schools are the ones that haven’t been in town that long but want you to sign a long contract and/or pay for a year or two up front. While they may be a legitimate martial arts school offering legitimate classes, a good school with a confident staff and instructors will offer a free trial period for you to check out the facility and the particular art they’re offering. While this sometimes seems like a gimmick, its actually a sign of confidence in the instructor that they are willing to offer their classes for free before asking you to make a commitment.
Now, with your list of potential martial arts schools, classes, locations, addresses, phone numbers and questions, you can start calling around to various schools to further narrow your search. Once you start calling, for the first time in this process you’re going to begin using your gut instinct to whittle down the list based on the responses you get from the various martial arts instructors running the schools you call. Before we actually begin calling around though, we’ll need a solid list of questions to ask. I’m going to give you the list of questions in the next blog post but just know that the last, and least important question you’re going to ask is “how much are your martial arts classes”
See you for the next installment!