With the huge growth of Mixed Martial Arts over the last decade, more and more Australians are joining martial arts schools and becoming part of this virtual explosion. With the global success of the UFC it is not uncommon for UFC veterans and UFC champions to be household names. Rising from obscurity and almost total banning just ten years ago, mixed martial arts is now the fastest growing professional sport in the world!
To add to this global UFC/MMA phenomenon the martial arts in general now have a proven track record of helping people to improve their lives over a variety of key areas. The positive psychosocial benefits of martial arts have been demonstrated time and time again with a variety of peer reviewed studies and this information has entered popular culture and has seen the popularity of martial arts increase rapidly over the past few years. It has also seen the type of person training change: from the archetypal ‘angry young man’ of the early days, it went through a cycle of being mostly children in the 90’s through to a popular activity for people of all ages today.
Consequently, martial arts schools are becoming more prevalent with hundreds new ones opening up each year. Many people are joining schools that may not be the right fit for their particular needs. Therefore, what follows is what I have determined in over thirty years in this industry, to be the ten biggest mistakes people make when choosing a school. They are detailed below in no particular order.
There are well over 1,000 martial arts schools on the Gold Coast and the martial arts and combat sports (they are different) are a largely unregulated industry. There are all sorts of claims being made by all sorts of people: claims ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime; from harmless to outright dangerous. Dodgy schools are now so common there’s even a term for them – McDojo’s. In turn this has even spawned a spoof Indie internet based TV series called Enter the Dojo, featuring the mythical ‘Master Ken’, his system ‘Ameri-Do-Te’ and his well meaning but clueless students. When I watch Master Ken’s antics I both laugh and cringe, as I have met many instructors like him over the years, and sadly, I am likely to meet many more.
So how is the student, or prospective student, to navigate through the hype and find a decent school? Let’s look at what not to do, to work out what you can do better.
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