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!
If you’ve ever taken a stroll through the phonebook under the heading Martial Arts classes in Grand Rapids, or really anywhere in the West Michigan area, you’ve undoubtedly come across a plethora (that means “a lot!”) of choices. How does one possibly choose a martial arts school when there seem to be so may different options.
Do I choose Karate or Tae Kwon Do? .. and what’s the difference? Should I choose Yoga or Tai Chi? ..and what’s the difference? How about Aikido or Kendo?.. and what’s the…well, you get the point.
If you’ve ever been in this type of pickle you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. So many choices with so little information with which to make your decision. Hopefully, this little guide will help you as you begin the investigation process and hopefully help you avoid some of the pitfalls of choosing the right martial arts school in West Michigan along the way.
Typically, when somebody is hunting for a martial arts school, they began their hunt based on something they saw, like the Ultimate Fighting Championships or maybe a Steven Seagal movie (hopefully not the latter!). Quite possibly, the seeds were planted a while ago but something has triggered a new, or renewed, interest in finally taking that martial arts class they’ve been threatening to take for years now. Of course, that was 27 pounds (or more), 1 and 1/2 marriages, 2 dogs and 1 hamster ago and they’ve finally decided its time to do something!
The search usually begins with a Google search or a scan of the Yellow Pages under “Martial Arts”. Either way, ones choices for martial arts schools in West Michigan will be several pages long. While I would never tell anybody NOT to start their search this way, I would strongly recommend doing a little bit of research first. I recommend writing out a list of the things one is looking for from the martial art they may choose. A list might be something like: ” I Want”-physical fitness, weight loss, self defense, cardio benefits, meet new people, etc.
Now, while thats a pretty broad list that could fit pretty much any martial arts class, at least its a start. If you begin calling on martial arts schools right out of the Yellow Pages or off of an internet search, those are the questions that most schools will ask, the good ones anyway. All schools SHOULD ask those questions to see if their school will even be a good fit for what one might be looking for. If a school doesn’t ask those questions, this may be a red flag that they simply want you to come and join even if its not what you’re looking for.
Now, you’ll want to start plugging those words into further internet searches right along with the words “martial arts classes in Grand Rapids“, or whatever town one lives in, to see what kinds of information comes up. Its really important for one to do as much investigation as possible BEFORE ever leaving the house. I’m going to encourage you to eventually leave the house and actually start visiting martial arts schools, but for now, knowing what kind of class you might be looking for will be a big help in narrowing down your search and making your martial arts experience as enjoyable as possible.
Check back soon for the next steps in choosing the right martial arts classes and school for you.