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A Guide to Choosing the Right Martial Arts Club


A question I have been asked many times over the years “is what is the best martial art and what is the best school” and the answer is simple there isn’t a best style or a best school. When choosing a school, you really need at ask yourself what you want to achieve from starting martial arts, is it competitions you want, traditional, modern, progression, understanding what you want will help you choose the right school, forget about style, as any can fit your needs if you know what they are. Here at Cojalina Martial Arts we have outlined what we think is important once you know what you want to gain from the martial arts.

Section 1: Understanding Different Martial Arts Styles

There are literally thousands of martial arts but here are some of the most popular ones:

Here are some of the main styles of martial arts:

Karate: Originating from Okinawa, focuses on punching, kicking, knee strikes, and open-hand techniques.

Judo: Comes from Japan, emphasizes throws and grappling.

Taekwondo: A Korean martial art known for its high kicks and fast footwork.

Kung Fu: A term encompassing various Chinese martial arts, known for fluid movements and a wide range of techniques.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ): Focuses on ground fighting and submission holds.

Muay Thai: Known as “The Art of Eight Limbs” from Thailand, utilizes punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes.

Aikido: A Japanese art that uses an opponent’s force against them through joint locks and throws.

Boxing: A combat sport with a focus on punch combinations and footwork.

The list above only scratches the surface, and each style has its unique philosophy and techniques.

All the different styles cater to different goals (self-defence, fitness, competition), that is why it is important to know what you want from martial arts.

Section 2: The Role of Instructors

Whose name is above the door, if you are going to a martial arts club then you should make sure that whoever owns it is  the one doing most of the teaching, if a website names someone as holding multiple advanced dan grades and this pulls you in then it should be that person who does most if not all of the teaching, remember you are paying for their expertise and not some junior black belt who assists in the club. If the owner isn’t taking most of the lessons, run……


When choosing a club, it is important to understand that not all martial arts instructors are qualified, some teach because of the experience they have gained, remember not all drivers can teach people to drive and not all martial artists can teach martial arts. We would always recommend choosing a school with qualified instructors, this shows that they have undergone some sort of training on how to teach.

You should always assess the instructor’s credentials, how long have they been doing the art, who is the governing body. There are some martial arts franchises out there, without naming names, that will give people a franchise and let them open a club within three months. Yes three months, with no prior experience. They will have a fantastic marketing team behind them and will look professional but the knowledge they hold will be limited. No credible martial arts instructor will get upset if you ask them to talk through their martial journey, in fact most will love to tell you.

Teaching style is the last thing to consider, everyone is different, and everyone teaches differently. You need to attend a class to work out if the teaching style is right for you. You can attend the best class in the world but if it isn’t taught in a manner that suits you then you will never be happy there.

Section 3: Class Dynamics

Are the students that go to the club smiling, are they having fun? These are questions to ask, are the students who are already in the class enjoying what is been taught. You should ask other members what they like about how the classes are run.

There are pros and cons of different class sizes, large classes give social proofing but water down the quality of teaching whereas smaller classes may lack in atmosphere but the quality of teaching and understanding improves. There is a direct link on the impact of class size on learning and progress, one of the main questions that parents ask when  a child starting  a new school is one of class sizes, the same should be asked at a martial arts club.

Section 4: Equipment

Not all martial arts need equipment to train, but if the club you are looking at has equipment, then you should look at how it is maintained. Is it clean and well maintained, if it is held together with take then I would recommend looking elsewhere. Reputable martial arts clubs will replace equipment when it is faulty not hold it together using tape.

Will you have to buy a uniform or is it part of an enrolment, what about licence books and belts are they required and who do you get them from

Section 5: Scheduling for Success/ does the timetable work

Find a club with a schedule that works for you and fits in with your life, that will make it easier to balance martial arts training with other life commitments you have. If the club only opens one night a week and you are busy that night then it will never work, regardless of how good it is.

Section 6: Club Atmosphere and Culture

Never underestimate the importance of a positive and supportive community, if you are looking for a club for your child talk to other parents whilst the class is on, way from the instructor. Parents will tell you how it is, the instructor will always try to sell themselves. Observing a class before joining to gauge the atmosphere is a good idea but you cannot really gauge the class unless you experience it.

How do you progress, is there a grading system and how often is it and how much does it cost are all things that you should consider

Do you have to take part in competitions, some clubs insist that in order to progress you must take part in competitions. Others are more traditional and see sport as a way of watering down their style.

Section 7: Financial Commitment

How much are classes, what is the fee structure and what does it include, do you pay cash per class or is it a standing order. Many martial arts clubs will use monthly direct debit fees to cover tuition fees, but some also include things like grading fees.


There is no best martial art and there is no best club, one size does not fit all, go visit lots of clubs, many will offer free trials so it will not cost anything. Ask your friends and family members for recommendations. Go into a search engine and type in a few club names and look at reviews, these are ways to get a feel of some clubs and maybe rule out ones that are not for you.

Remember do not worry about the style, look at how it is taught and if it fits what you want and when you can attend. Feel free to share your experiences, good and bad in the comments and if you have any questions, we are more than happy to answer, drop them in the comments below.

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