Bruce Lee… Jackie Chan… Jet Li…Tony Jaa…
I love martial art action! Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I used to watch Black Belt Theater every Saturday afternoon…it was back to back B-rated movies of the greats…Bruce Lee…Jackie Chan before he was “Jackie Chan”…and a whole slew of unknowns….
Back then, I was 10-11 years old…a small Korean girl who was born in America. I didn’t speak any Korean but for some reason, I was fascinated by the martial arts. Of course, growing up in a small dinky town in the middle of Tennessee…there weren’t any martial art schools nearby…and besides, my mom would have NEVER allowed me to start training. (boys aren’t going to like girls who train!) She nearly freaked out when I started training in Taekwondo in college!
Anyway, so I’ve been interested in Martial Arts since I was 10.
When I went away to college, I decided to try Taekwondo for P.E. credit! It was a great way to start and be introduced to the world of martial arts.
But, if you are not in college, you may not have this opportunity.
I had trained in college and when I was studying in France, I trained at a gym there. On my off term from college, I trained at a school in Cambridge, MA. So I got to see and experience different teachers, different schools.
Fortunately, I found a martial art school only a year after I graduated from college, Jung SuWon Martial Art Academy, founded by Great Grandmaster Dr. Tae Yun Kim. I learned a LOT when I visited this school for the first time.
Here are some steps you can take and what to look out for!
- Check your local yellow pages or google to see how many martial art schools are in a 20 mile radius from your home or work.
- Look at their ads first – seem geared more towards kids? towards flashy acrobatics? or do they emphasize more spiritual and mental aspects?
- When you first walk into the school, do you feel anything? Does it feel warm & inviting? Is everything neat and orderly?
- Are the other students smiling and talking with each other when they are in the lobby?
- Are the students focused on training when they are on the training floor?
- Are the students’ uniforms clean and looking good?
- Meet the instructors, how do you feel about them? Are they personable and easy to talk to?
- Check out the bathrooms… You can learn a LOT from bathrooms 🙂 – are they clean & tidy? are there showers and/or lockers? are all the supplies well stocked?
- Are the kids running around wildly and out of control?
- Does everyone seem happy?
Every martial art is different from each other. The physical moves may differ, the commands/terminology may differ, but all martial art schools should project the same/or similar tenets and philosophies…based on honor, discipline and respect.
I learned the most from Great Grandmaster Kim because her school and her art form were so different from anything I had done before. Not the actual movements, but with the philosophies and practices.
I had become disillusioned with the belt ranking system in college when I saw one Master promote students who never even came to class much, but had paid their $45 testing fee. To me that meant the belt color didn’t mean anything.
Paying a fee for testing is standard in all martial art systems. But when I found out at Jung SuWon was that if a student wasn’t ready to test, they weren’t allowed to test…not even if they brought the fee money with them!
I was impressed with that. That meant that Jung SuWon wasn’t just collecting testing fees for students who weren’t ready to move to the next rank.
The most important thing about choosing a good martial art school is that you have to feel good about the environment and about the instructors.
Every school is not for every person. So the best thing you can do is to visit the school, try out a class if it is allowed, and meet the instructors.
You’ll know if that school is right for you… you will feel it inside. As Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim teaches, trust your Silent Master (your sixth sense).
Check it out!