Sunday, 1 July 2012

Choosing a Martial Arts Class - Male

Can you see yourself eventually doing the same techniques?


appy Canada Day!

Last Sunday, I wrote a post with some ideas for helping women choose a martial arts class.

Today, I want to do the same for men. Now some women might wonder if there is any difficulty at all for a man to find a suitable martial arts class. After all, martial art training is mostly a "guy thing". Most of the instructors are male. Most of the lineage masters were male.

In fact, throwing, kicking, punching, knifing appear to be activities  that males do to one another…so it wouldn’t be that hard for a male – any male – to fit right in!

That’s not entirely the case. Many males are sickened by the stallion row kind of machismo that some classes exude. They, like many of their female counterparts, are worried about what any overexposure to that type of air might do to their better natures.

Would you enjoy throwing or being thrown?


Many men aren’t born confident. They hurt as much as many women can hurt. They can be sensitive, kind, worried, stressed out, sad…

Yes, they’re human. And each one is different from the other.  100 men may have 100 different reasons for joining a martial arts class.

(One of my first Black Belts spent 2 years looking through the door of the training hall before he mustered up enough courage to join. The reason he finally joined was…to improve his confidence!).

So today let’s look at some suggestions that might help man looking for a prospective martial arts class –

1.  Please take all the initial steps that I advised women to follow – research video clips of the various martial arts to find 3 that might appeal to you; find 3 clubs in your area that teach these arts; pass by these venues and have a quick peek inside.

2. Make a list of the reason(s) why you want to join one of these clubs. Are you looking for – fitness, self defense, traditional philosophy, spiritual awareness (meditation, Taoism, Buddhism, etc.), competition, stress management?

Would you enjoy the traditional discipline and philosophies?


3. Now visit these clubs with this list in hand. Talk to the instructor, the students, watch a class and take a close look at the curriculum well beyond the beginner level.

4. Take a critical look at the psychology of the club…from the ambiance at the front door to the training hall floor. Make another list, of what you like and do not like. (You don’t have to be a martial artist to get the sense that something feels right or wrong to you just like you don’t have to be a building contractor or an architect to feel comfortable or uncomfortable when you stand in the living room of a house that you’re thinking of buying).

Here are some further details –

a.  Does the teacher talk down to his students in a demeaning manner? Would you like to be on the receiving end of his sarcasm?

b.  Are people in the class getting hurt? Are there members in the class who are intentionally hurting others? Do you think you’d be training in a safe environment?

Getting hurt and being courageous are different things. Being smart is the key here. It’s harder to bring in a pay cheque with a broken arm.

c.  After all is said and done, would you like to be like the members of the class? Do you share similar outlooks? Can you see yourself moving like they do, behaving like they do? Can you see yourself having a future in this class?

Would you like to compete?

 5. Be careful about the financial end of things. Do a thorough background check. How long has the club been at its present location? If you’re asked to sign a contract, take it home first. Run it past other people. Ask yourself: “Am I getting my money’s worth.” And: “Will this class still be here next year?”

I once had a member of the Israeli military come into the club I was managing in Toronto. She raked me over the coals with her questions. Not a single speck of dust in the premises evaded her scrutiny. I – and the entire club – was under inspection.

To her, the martial arts were a matter of life and death.

In a way, you, as a man, should take your approach to joining a class just as seriously. The martial arts can be profound and they can become such an important part of your life, that you want to choose the type of art, the class and the teacher very wisely!

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