There are so many variables to consider when selecting a Karate Club for yourself or your children. Do not be persuaded by a flashy cover, an exuberant instructor or well practised sales tactics. Look at little deeper, and make sure that you are getting value for your money.
Location & Timing – is an important consideration. How far from home are you prepared to travel for classes twice a week? Do the days and the times of the classes on offer suit your schedule? Don’t forget to consider: school, work hours and other family members sport commitments.
Does the club offer appropriate classes and activities for a range of ages and skill levels?
Who is the principal instructor? Is he/she approachable? What is their rank, training and experience. Some clubs will encourage students as low as 7th Kyu (Yellow Belt) to become instructors. This is before they themselves have learned the style and correct execution of techniques. Beware of these clubs. There will often be a high turn over of instructors and students as little structure is offered within their karate system. Some will claim that unlike other styles, they have been taught to teach and perhaps that is true, to the extent that they receive a manual of lesson plans, attend an occasional workshop and are awarded a certificate that says they can teach which often times is not worth the paper that it is written on. Look for a club whose principal instructor has not only spent years learning and perfecting their Karate Style but is affiliated with governing bodies such as the Australian Karate Federation that ensure instructors maintain a standard of professionalism, education and on going development.
Where does their Karate originate from? Karate is a Japanese Martial Art and as such a true Karate style will be able to trace back their lineage to the founding fathers of Karate. Physical training techniques have advanced in many ways and a good instructor will incorporate these changes into their training. However, the true spirit of Budo and the essence of a Kata driven style is strong, beautiful, and worth finding because its application is still relevant for today’s students.
Clubs will often try to get you in with special offers, one going around at the moment and is becoming more and more popular is $29 for a Karate uniform and five lessons! Another club is offering free training until you reach your first belt (which is often within two weeks of joining). Make sure that you know what the costs of training will be when this special offer runs out. Ask what the cost of classes are: if you miss a class do they offer a make up class? How much are gradings? Is there an ongoing registration fee? What about seminars with visiting heads of styles, are these included in your membership? Do your fees cover you for insurance and affiliation memberships?
How often does the club hold gradings? What is the criteria for a student to grade? Check that the club does not hold mass grading where everyone can attend for a fee as long as they have a suitable attendance record. Students should only be asked to grade once their Sensei has seen them consistently perform the required techniques at the skill level appropriate to the rank that they are attempting during class times.
When visiting the dojo look at how the students are being treated? People are not numbers, does the instructor regularly use a persons name? Does the instructor treat everyone with respect sharing his/her time equally among all ranks from beginners to the most experienced? What is the general feeling you get from the other students, are they friendly, helpful and approachable? How do the students treat each other? What is the atmosphere within the dojo?
Do not let these questions overwhelm you. When you are making inquiries do not be put off and have your questions brushed aside. Consider that in the long term you will invest a considerable amount of money into Karate training so make sure that you choose wisely.
DO NOT JOIN ANY CLUB WITHOUT GETTING YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED!