Choosing the Martial Art Instructor for Me

By: Tammy Parlour

Every leisure centre seems to have at least one, but with the British Journal of Sports Medicine claiming that practising martial arts could be a better way for middle-aged people to boost all-round fitness than going to the gym, how can the average person make sure that there choice of club is the right choice?

In the west most teachers will allude to their competence by stating their rank, how long they have practiced and referencing their teachers. Although some may seem to have high level qualifications, have studied with many impressive people and practiced for a number of years, they may still be incompetent or poor practitioners and teachers. This can make finding an exceptional teacher rather difficult.

When looking for the right martial arts teacher it's important to consider a few simple things:

1. What goals do you want to achieve. You need to tell prospective teachers exactly why you want to learn and what you want to achieve. Not all teachers may be willing or able to teach you exactly what you what to learn.

2. Understand the differences between styles/forms and how they may apply to you. Do you want to do mainly kicks, throws, or a combination of all things? Do you want to learn a purely physical art, or understand its' spiritual nature and mind principles?

3. Teaching experience of instructor. There are three kinds of experience that are important: time spent studying, time spent doing, and time spent teaching. It takes time and experience to understand how to teach almost anything effectively. How much and what experience does the teacher have?

4. Instructor's ability to communicate. An excellent practitioner is not necessarily the best communicator. The best instructors combine both these skills, but the latter - their ability to communicate accurate, complete and understandable information - will affect your ability to learn.

5. Instructors range from the laid back hippy to the military style commando. Think about what teaching approach works best for you and which personality types you can work with.

Once you have found the right instructor, then the real work begins - training. A quote often referred to at Chang's Hapkido Academy London, a London based martial arts school is that, "Excellence is not an act it is a habit". Even with the best instructor then, it is practice that makes perfect.

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Tammy Parlour, London martial arts instructor and long time student of Hapkido Master Gedo Chang. Visit for more information.

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