Frequently Asked Questions

The martial arts industry of today is vastly different from what it was over 40 years ago when Kaichō Damien started training. For a start, now there’s Sensei Google to ask all of your questions and do your research. That being said, there is a lot of myths and misinformation floating around in cyberspace, as well as a lot of martial arts schools Ballarat. This can make things a little confusing.

We hope the following FAQ’s helps you decide what you want to do.

Do you have beginner’s classes?

Yes, and no; it depends on the program. We maintain high instructor/student ratios and make sure beginners are partnered up with a more experienced student to help them navigate their first few weeks. This helps them acclimatise quickly and, more importantly, safely.

Most classes are open to all and students will be grouped based on their skill level. The curriculum is designed to enable people of different experience levels to work together safely.

Is this a good school to learn martial arts?

Southern Cross Martial Arts is the perfect place to begin your journey. The instructors are friendly and caring professionals, the students hold no ego, the establishment is professional and probably one of the best in Australia. We strive to make this the best place to learn. Our school isn’t a ‘fight gym’, instead it is a place where members of the community come to learn martial arts in a fun and relaxed environment.

Do I need to make an appointment for my introductory lesson?

Yes, please make an appointment so we can make sure we have everything ready for you to go and smooth you transition. Call us on 0491697198 or email for an appointment (email is better though).

What can I expect from my first class?

First you will feel very welcome from the moment you contact us. You will meet a nice group of people who hold no ego in the class. The initial classes will help you get fit and prepare your body for this activity. Understanding the fundamentals is important. You will learn the basics that form the foundation to all martial arts techniques.

All classes begin with some sort of warmup to prepare the mind and body for the exercise to follow. Beginners will not normally ‘know’ the routine but they will be guided by the instructors and the more experienced members of the class. Don’t worry, everyone in the room started as a white belt at some stage. After the warmup there is usually some sort of general conditioning and fitness work, followed by basic drills and then the class curriculum content. Finally there is the cool down phase.

What should I wear for my first class?

Unless you already have your uniform from SCMA, just wear T-shirt and shorts or exercise pants, something you don’t mind getting ripped or stretched. Avoid using clothes with pockets and zippers. Also bring a towel and a bottle of water.

Who/what should I bring for my first lessons?

For your introductory classes you basically just need to bring yourself and your training clothes. If you are under 18 you must be accompanied by your parent/guardian. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the class to fill in the form.

What is the pricing structure for the classes?

We have a flexible payment structure for classes. We offer our students different types of payments methods. Prices vary based on things like how many times a week you plan to train, if you want to pay in advance, weekly, monthly or direct debit.  The cheapest method is annually in advance, whereas the most expensive is cash per class. Choose one that suits you. Please call us or enquire at reception.

Do you offer family discounts?

Yes, if you have other members of your family joining up with you then you are probably eligible to get the family discount.

Can I suspend my membership?

Yes you can. Fees may apply depending on circumstances.

What do I do if I’m sick or injured?

Please do not come to training if you are contagious and make sure you make yourself familiar with the infection control policy, it’s there for everyone’s safety. If you are injured, discuss your injury with you class instructor to see if it is safe to participate in the classes. You may need medical advice. You can suspend your membership if need be.

There’s a school up the road for $7 a class. Why are your classes so expensive?

Our classes are taught by professional instructors in a fully equipped professional school. This is not a hobby school and as such we have overheads like rent, insurance, wages, Superannuation and so on. We also have an obligation to all of our members to keep our doors open. Our fee’s offer great value for money based on the benefits of training at Southern Cross Martial Arts, and based on the level of service.

Do you have long term contracts?

No we don’t. We do have ongoing direct debit agreements which can be cancelled with 7 days written notice.

Why do I have to give 7 days notice to quit?

The 7 days notice ensures that we process the paperwork and have everything sorted with the billing company in order to change, amend or cancel your membership. Most schools have lock in contracts and we have benchmarked against the standard industry practices and this is a very short notice period and another example of how we go the extra distance to provide exemplary service to our members.

What if another payment comes out during the 7 day cancellation period?

We have no control over when you decide to suspend or cancel your membership, only you do. Any payments that may come out during the cancellation period are non-refundable.

Do you have a ‘cooling off period’?

We actually go far above and beyond this and offer a 30 day money back guarantee.

Why is the enrolment process so long?

The enrolment process also includes an induction into the school and covers all the basics of membership including our health and safety policies, our membership system, our cancellation policy and so on. It is designed to ensure everyone knows exactly what they are signing up for, and for how long, as well as to answer any questions. During the process you will complete a physical activity readiness questionnaire (PAR-Q), a waiver/indemnity form, and your direct debit form (if you’re paying that way). No-one wants any surprises after they’ve joined up!

The first stage is to enrol online and complete our online induction video, and fill in an online form and make payment through one of our online payment methods (i.e. online payment portal, direct deposit or PayPal). We send you the information after you complete your trial program. Once the online portion is complete you make an appointment to book in and complete the process, sign the forms and receive your uniform (if applicable).

For the record, in the 20+ years since we implemented the enrolment guarantee, we’ve never had anyone claim on it.

What do I get when I enrol?

That will depend on the class or program you enrol in as different martial arts systems have different uniforms and requirements. In some programs you may receive your initial uniform and belt during special promotions. Talk to the staff at reception for details.

Are you Government Accredited?

The martial arts industry in Victoria is regrettably unregulated at this stage. That is something we’ve been working hard to change! That being said all of our staff hold a positive working with children check from the Commission for Children & Young People (also known as a blue card), are first aid qualified, hold art specific teaching credentials AND have a variety of nationally recognised qualifications issued by accredited Registered Training Organisations. All class instructors also hold (at least) a level 1 coaching accreditation under the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (administered by the Australian Institute of Sport) plus a nationally recognised coaching accreditation specialising in martial arts instructing. In short we exceed the accreditation standards for martial arts schools in all states – by a lot!

I have no prior Martial Arts experience. Is that ok?

No experience is necessary. Just walk in, register and prepare to have a good time. See for yourself how much fun and exciting it can be.

Can I try the classes before deciding to sign up?

Yes, indeed. We offer a hugely discounted introductory special through our website.

Are your classes safe?

Yes they are. As a sport/recreational activity, martial arts has a great safety record and is far safer than ‘mainstream’ sports like football (all codes), basketball, hockey and so on. Southern Cross Martial Arts has an excellent safety record that puts us well above the normal school as well. This is due to our professionally trained instructors, well structured curriculum and thorough risk management processes – things like our policies and procedures, our induction process, the use of a PAR-Q and so on.

Nobody likes to get injured and, whilst injuries can occur in any contact sport, we are mindful of the fact that people need to be able to get up and go to school or work the next day. We do everything we can to minimise the risk of injury, and we expect the same of our members.

Are you a McDojo?

Definitely not. Our focus is on developing solid skills. In our school all belts (or armbands!) are earned, not bought and rank is based on objective, pre-published testing criteria, not attendance.

Can I transfer my current rank from another school?

Sometimes this is possible although given that there is no central registration body, belts from different schools have different requirements. The colours are not even in a standard order and it varies from school to school. This means that whilst yellow is the first belt in most of our classes, it may be in a different place in other schools – like the 4th or 5th belt. This can create a problem where students could be mismatched, and increase the risk of injury. So whilst we can recognise your skills, the actual belt colour may not be part of our system, or the requirements may vary greatly (i.e. most Tae Kwon Do schools don’t have grappling in their curriculums, and we do). This means that even if everything else is ‘equal’ you have a skills gap we need to work with you to fix.

Our practice is to recognise that the person coming from another school has skills and we assess them over a period of a month or so to see where they fit in with our curriculum. During this time they wear a different belt, which is outside of our grading system, and everyone else’s too as far as we know. This shows everyone that you’re not a beginner, but we’re looking at your level in our curriculum. Once we’ve worked it out you will be awarded your new SCMA belt (or armband!). If you are a student who has not achieved a black belt yet, you will wear a sand coloured belt during this assessment period (or white with a red stripe in the Little Dragons or Junior Dragons programs)

That being said, we believe that once you’ve earned a black belt, then you’re a black belt. The caveat here is that it may be some time before you grade again as you are effectively learning our curriculum plus your new belt requirements.

Are there any age restrictions?

For safety reasons the answer is yes, although these vary from class to class.

For the Little Dragons program the age is generally 3 and 4 year olds, although we conduct individual assessments for children for these classes. Check the Kidz Karate program information for specific details.

For the Junior Dragons program the age is 5 to 7 years.

For the Red Dragons program the age is 8 to 12 years although in some exceptional cases children may graduate in to the Youth Karate class earlier.

For the Youth Karate the ages are generally 13 to 15 years of age although some people, by negotiation, may enter the full adult program earlier.

Are there any gender restrictions?

No restrictions on any of our classes.

Are there any other restrictions?

Sometimes there are safety restrictions for classes and this will be discussed during your induction. If you have a serious chronic illness or injury, have had recent surgery or other health complications, then we may require a doctor’s clearance.

Why don’t you offer one day a week memberships?

We used to but discontinued them as they were quite dysfunctional and disruptive overall. For starters, one session a week vastly reduces the students ability to progress with the curriculum. Progress is not half as fast, it’s more like 1/10 for most people as the gaps between classes mean that they have forgotten the previous lesson before the skill comes around again. This is frustrating for them (and us), particularly given all of their classmates who train two or more times a week have moved on up the ranks.

Whilst martial arts provide many benefits to participants, these benefits come from actually training, not from attendance or membership.

If you can only commit to one session a week then we’d suggest another Dojo as we feel we’d be taking membership fees without delivering maximal benefit.