Journal of Combative Sport, Feb 2001

How to Choose a Martial Art School

By John Lindsey

Copyright © 2000 John Lindsey. Reproduction for personal use is permitted provided acknowledgment is given to the author, E-Budo (, and EJMAS (

Here is a convenient tool to use whenever selecting a martial art school.


  1. Print the chart and take it with you when you go to the school.
  2. Place a check next to each word or phrase mentioned during the sales pitch.
  3. When you get five in a row, jump up and run for the door.


    Free uniform ("gi") First month free The only SWAT, SEAL or Special Forces Recognized as
    World champion Contract Soke  Private lessons Ancient
    Payment plan Grandmaster Aerobic karate, cardio kickboxing, or equivalent term  30-day money back guarantee Personal growth 
    Black Belt Club Practical Credit check Empowerment Different color belts at every level
    Ultimate Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and/or other celebrity endorsers Rapid (or guaranteed) promotion Samurai sword Down payment


    If the school passes this test, also check the following:

    The School

    Mannequins inside the training area that are wearing uniforms and black belts. Items sold in an attached store do not count. Pseudo-Chinese lettering combined with lots of trophies in the window. Posters of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and/or other film stars plastered on the school walls. Items sold in an attached store do not count.


    Three in a row should suggest a drive-by.

    The Membership

    Elementary school students wearing black belts. Teenage students wearing black belts who demonstrate immature or unusually aggressive behavior. Instructors who appear more than 100 pounds overweight.
    Even one check here should be grounds for concern.

    The Background Check

    This may be the most important check. To do a background check on a school and its instructors:

    1. Ask the person giving the pitch for written information describing the style and its teachers.
    2. Upon receiving the written information, go to the Internet and run key words and names through online search engines such as Google ( Read what comes up.
    3. If you have questions, require the person giving the pitch to answer them to your satisfaction. Also consider asking the same questions at online bulletin boards such as E-budo ( A search engine that will help you find online bulletin boards is
    4. Finally, if a required to sign a contract longer than 30 days, make inquiries about the school and the instructor at the Better Business Bureau and Attorney Generalís office prior to signing.
JCS Feb 2001