Author Topic: Choosing a School  (Read 6342 times)

Offline John Erickson

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Choosing a School
« on: March 15, 2003, 04:00:22 AM »
I'm curious to know how everyone began their training and what they would suggest to a student looking to begin training and how to pick a school.

Personally, I was fortunate to get into training with an excellent instructor (Shihan Joe Shuras) by "dumb luck".  One of my close friends at the gym just mentioned that he had hurt his knee at karate.  After a few questions I decided to sign up.  I was certainly not an educated consumer.  

After training for a while I realized how lucky I was.  When many of my instructor's peers spoke so highly of my instructor is when I realized that I just lucked into a good school.  If I had done any homework, I would definitely have signed up there, but it was not something that I thought much about.  I figured that I'd just try it and see if I liked it.  Fourteen years later, I'm still there.  I'm sure many people have not been as lucky, so I'm wondering what you would advise a prospective student?

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
Sensei John Erickson, Sandan.  Professor Joe Shuras, Blackstone Kempo Karate/ Shihan Kathy Shuras, Milford Studio of Self Defense.

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Re: Choosing a School
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2003, 02:21:38 PM »
 Hey Sensei John, Thank you for the compliment and just in case some  of you are thinking that was a bit of "brown nosing", believe me it wasn't, John knows even though appreciated, it won't make a bit of difference when it comes to ranking or anything else if it involves the art!;)
 If you are a parent, another major point is to choose a school that has someone really good with "kids". I remember back in my day it was a senority thing, unless you had a volunteer. Way back when (mid 70's and earlier), the "Kid's Class" was a Saturday morning deal, at least back where I was from.
  Most of us "younger" guys (at the time,lol) wanted to "party" on Friday nights and would dread having to come into a class with 20+ kids with a "hangover'.  Hey, I'm being honest. My instructor appointed me (thanks, Craig) and later ( the pecking order) I appointed my then girlfriend Kathy (ha,ha) but I'll tell you, she turned into one of the best children instructors I have ever seen. I'll venture to say I've seen some as good but none better (no brownie points intended, I'm calling it like I see it). She's always getting all kinds of awards for teaching kids. I'm proud of her! They come back with trophies from tournaments but most important they are good kids with "values". Something that you don't always see today. She inspired me into my worst nightmare. Now, I also teach the kids class (3 times a week) in one of our schools and I actually enjoy it. Son of a ...........! Shihan Kathy Shuras was always a top notch instructor in teaching teenage and adults but what really got me to take notice of her teaching abilities is what she can do with children. If you can teach kids, you're one helluva instructor in my book!;D Key ingredient........patience, patience and more patience!;)     Respectfully submitted, Shihan Joe
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:03 PM by -1 »

Offline Kempo_Kathy

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Re: Choosing a School
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2003, 05:19:10 AM »
Thank you so much Joe and hi to everyone out there. In choosing a school I think the first question that should be asked is what you are looking for. I mean, is it for myself or for my child. Big difference. If it is for a child inquire about who will be teaching this class and what experience do they have with children. You may have to go easy on experience because we all had to start at the beginning at some point in our career. Watch out for the schools that run martial arts babysitting services. The parents drop them off, go shopping or whatever they do, and pick them up. Some of these kids learn absolutely nothing. I've had many come to me over the years from these type of schools and it's ashame. Some parents don't care as long as they get their free time. For the many that do care, ask to watch a class, the children's class that is. Don't have the instructor show you the teenage or adults. You may also want to observe several classes, that's up to you and your right before you entrust your child into someone elses care. Check on their progress periodically until you feel comfortable with the school. Classes should be fun for them but still disciplined and above all, they should be LEARNING!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Offline Nagi

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Re: Choosing a School
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2003, 04:26:21 AM »
When I started in 1983 there was 2 schools in my town both Kempo so not a lot of varierty like today. The reason I choosed the school that I did was because? I had 2 friends that where going to sign up at school #2 and I wanted to be different so another friend and I went to school #1 which is Shihan Joe Shuras and Shihan Kathy Shuras, not a good reason to pick a school but I was only 11 years old. I like J_Erikson lucked out and happen to stumbled across one of the best schools in the area and State! There is a reason that there doors have been open since 1978.

I always recommend that people visit as many schools as possible in a 10-12 mile radius (or more) and not to decide untill they have done so. I always tell them to take note's on each school because after 5 schools it can get confusing to what each school doe's.
After visiting the schools in the area then you can decide based on Style, Program, Convenience, Cost, Instructor, etc... And of course ask many questions.
I also tell people to talk to the students at the schools
they visit, the student's aren't there to sell anything and most of the time they are dead honest and it's a good way to see if there is a good vibe in the school.

Sibak Ron
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Offline Sifu Terry McBride

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Re: Choosing a School
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2003, 08:31:03 AM »
I too lucked out with a great instructor, Sifu Joel Purvis.  In our area there wasn't much to choose from. When he opened I was looking and started the first class with him and stayed with him for 17 1/2 years until he had a career change that keeps him on the road (truck driving) and I opened my own school.

For parents looking for their children I stress we have a very open door policy.  A lot of folks like watching their kids and I like it.  However, if their child screws around on the floor, parent intervention is not allowed.  It is my mat and I deal with the discipline issues.  I've told Mom's they can come out if their child is bleeding or something broke. :-).  Actually they know their kids are important to me and we have a very good safety record.

As someone had mentioned earlier, our tech's aren't very kid friendly.  They do it but I suppliment it with "Bad Guy Tech's" that they would use against an adult trying to harm them and "Bully Tech's" that they can use at the school that doesn't harm the bully unless they don't have a choice.  Parents really like the extra stuff we do with their children.

As far as women, I teach a women's only class.  They love it, my guys come in and the gals get to practice on them.  I have modified some tech's to deal with the size of the women as well as adding some Aikido, but generally (I feel) a women will be grabbed before punched.  There is plenty she can do to effectively defend herself and Kaju sure provides the knowledge.

Men's class is they way we trained with Sigung Purvis.  Hard, physical and fun.

I offer a two-week free trial period so folks can try it out.  It is important to see if a particular art or instructor fits, so the try out a few schools is a good idea.  Many of my students are referred from current students, that's also a great way to find a good school.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
Terry McBride, 5th degree under Professor Joel Purvis, under Grandmaster Emil Bautista
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Karazenpo

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Re: Choosing a School
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2003, 09:18:59 AM »
Nice post, Terry.  Boy, that parent intervention thing can be a pain ::)  We try, as I'm sure you do, to lay down the ground rules right away, that the instructors will take care of any problems during training.  I think some parents get a little spoiled do to other athletic programs where some try to tell the coaches what to do. I've seen it in baseball, football, basketball and hockey. Then they come to your karate school and you're forced into a position of  "teaching an old dog new tricks" without, hopefully, alienating them out the door. :-/  With your long history in the arts I'm sure you have experienced this. It's not easy, sometimes ::)

                                      Respectfully, Shihan Joe
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:03 PM by -1 »

Offline Mell

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Re: Choosing a School
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2003, 08:36:55 PM »
I lucked out on finding the only Kajukenbo school in Ohio.  Being martial arts illiterate, I started because of an advertising coupon.  I've been here seven years now.

Anyway, I appreceiated Terry's post.  Another important thing to look for in a school is one that will recogize that men and women are different.  As a women,  I am not saying I am "not capable", however there are things that simply will not work for me due to my size and body structure.  Finding an instructor who understands that is vital.  

Good instructors can work with those of us with physical aliments as well.   Due to a back injury, I am greatful that I have an instructor who knows that I do not have to be able to do a butterfly kick to be a strong marial arts student.  (Last time I tried that one I was in bed for several weeks - never again!!).

Good instructor understand limitations and do not expect all students to be "the same."


« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
Sibak Mellody Porter
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Offline Mike Nagano

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Re: Choosing a School
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2003, 10:10:03 PM »
When I first started in the martial arts, I went through a few instructors before settling upon Kajukenbo.  My first instructor would teach class while drinking coffee, and though inexperienced that didn't seem right to me.  My second instructor taught Kajukenbo, though he just called in Kenpo, but his school catered so much to kids that even at 16, I wasn't learning anything.  Frustrated, I picked up the phone book and called the first martial arts school that caught my eye, and it was a Shotokan school.  This instructor seemed genuine.  He said Shotokan may not be for everyone, but it was for him.  That honesty was enough for me.  I eventually got my Shodan with him before running off to college.  After college, I lost track of my Shotokan instructor, then found out he moved to Colorado.  Soon, I met John Bishop, and have been with him ever since.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Offline Mike Nagano

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Re: Choosing a School
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2003, 10:19:24 PM »
I just realized that you asked what one can look for in finding a school....When I went off to college, having a fresh Shodan, but not being real knowledgeable about other arts, I called a school that claimed to teach Kenpo, so I asked him what the difference was between Shotokan and his school of Kenpo.  He responded like a used car salesman.  He never actually addressed my question.  He told me about all the great champions his school produced.  Just not what I was looking for.  However, had he given me an honest answer, I probably would have gone there to train.

Look for an instructor who appears genuine, some one who is willing to teach people for the sake of teaching/learning, someone who is willing to answer your questions with honesty, someone you feel comfortable with.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
Sifu Mike Nagano
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Karazenpo

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Re: Choosing a School
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2003, 10:35:42 PM »
GUILTY! I have been known to drink coffee while teaching class (only in my later years, though!,lol) ;D
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Offline Gints Klimanis

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Re: Choosing a School
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2003, 11:18:27 PM »
Ok.  Prepare for a lot of non-sense.  I was your typically idiotic newbie.

I had grown up watching kung-fu movies.  I remember seeing Caucasians doing martial arts (Chuck Norris, other in kung-fu movies) and didn't believe they could be any good at it, so why bother at all? As a 12-year old, I bought a karate book and lied to my cousins that I had a black belt.  The book didn't make any sense to me.

At age 22, I joined a fitness center that happened to have martial arts classes at night.  I actually thought that jumping in the air and kicking high would make me a superhero.  So, one day, I just waited for the class to finish, walked in, and joined.  After a few classes, I realized that there were actually two clubs.  I couldn't
tell them apart.  And, to make matters worse, I joined
the club that didn't jump in the air.  I felt a huge lump in
my throat.  Anyway, twelve years later, I'm still at the
CHA3 Kenpo club with Master Rich Harvey Lewis, from Hawaii.  And, no one will ever catch me sticking my
foot in the air and doing gymnastics routines.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Offline Mell

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Re: Choosing a School
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2003, 02:33:04 PM »
Though I think it is great when instructors have ample assistants and other student black belts to teach, if the cheif instructor is not on the floor and visible, I would look for a different school.  

I trained for about six months at one school where I never received any instruction from the "owner" of the school.    The black belt student who was teaching me had not received his black belt from that school.   His belt was from a different system.



« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
Sibak Mellody Porter
ANDERSON MARTIAL ARTS - Grafton, Ohio
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