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Tips for Choosing a Martial Arts Style

Top thing to look for

Selecting an instructor is a vital part of learning martial arts. Think about all the teachers and coaches you have had in your life. Some were awful, some were good…but the great ones made you truly enjoy learning whatever it is they were teaching. This is what you want your martial arts instructor to be like.

Just about every martial arts instructor teaches because they love the art. This love for what they do makes it easy to find great instructors near your home, work or school. But how do you identify what instructors are good and what instructors are great?
Just about every school will allow you to attend one or two classes for free to get a feel for how they teach. I would urge caution if you speak with a school that doesn’t allow these free sessions…they benefit everyone by ensuring you are a good fit for the school and vice versa.

While you’re at these free classes, here are some key things to pay attention to:


You (or your child) are going to be spending a lot of time with this instructor, so you want to be sure you get along with them.


Are they promoting self-discipline or self-defense? Be sure this is in line with you personal goals and what you want to get out of martial arts.

Energy & Motivation

Martial Arts is actually more about mental strength than it is physical strength. If the instructor is mentally not putting in the energy, then you’re just going through the motions. Be sure the instructor can motivate you in such a way that you get excited about martial arts and constantly want to improve. This motivation is priceless.

Other Student

Watch how the instructor interacts with the other students. Are all students treated fairly? Are slower learning students left behind? Does the instructor treat the students with respect? Are the other students enjoying themselves? How long have the students been practicing under this instructor?


Is the instructor capable of teaching to all the age groups in their class, or does the class look like it needs to be split up more?


Often times instructors will have assistants helping them out with larger or more diverse classes. These can be other experienced instructors or higher-ranking students who are volunteering for the experience.

Class Size

The general rule of thumb is if the class is over 30 students, then it needs to be divided up. But there are always exceptions. Experienced instructors can sometimes handle even large classes with ease, other times there are assistants to help give the students personal attention. There’s no strict rule here, just look to see how much personal attention you would be receiving.

There are really a lot of factors that go into selecting an instructor and the best judge you have is yourself. Every person and every instructor are different, do your best to find a great match for you or your child.

In the end, go with your gut feeling and keep in mind that it isn’t a permanent decision. Chances are you’re going to love martial arts no matter who is teaching you.