Jeet Kune Do Blog

Insights from Sifu Joel Ledlow

Guide for selecting a martial arts school

Finding a Martial Arts School

“Which questions?”

Good, you’re already starting to ask.

You’ve looked up martial arts and found a style and School that interest you. What do you do now?

Start with a trial class

If they don’t have a trial class, it’s probably not the school for you.

Contact the school you’re considering. There will likely be scheduling needs. They will also be able to inform you about important things like attire, parking, and to confirm the time and location for your trial class.

I like to limit the number of trial students in a class. Exceptions might include a couple, siblings, or friends wanting to join together.

I want trial students to feel what it’s like to be a part of the regular class.

You have a free trial class scheduled and you’re all set to go. Let’s look at the big questions to ask.

When prospective students contact me about my school, I set them up with a trial class and walk them through these questions. I don’t want a sale. I want a student.

Do you like what is being taught?

There are a lot of variations in types of martial arts. It could be traditional or sport. Striking or grappling. Empty hand or weapon based. 

End of the day, if it isn’t what you’re interested in or excited about, then you probably won’t want to keep going to class. Find something that gets you excited about going to class.

Just because you read all about Bruce Lee doesn’t mean you know what to expect in an actual Jeet Kune Do class.

Find out for yourself.

Do you like how the instructor teaches?

We all gravitate toward a certain kind of teacher. You want someone who speaks to you and can help you learn the martial art and motivate you in a way that resonates with you.

Are drills explained in a way you understand? Is the instructor excited about your personal learning? Do classes flow in a way that appeals to you.

Do you like the other students?

Pretty big one. You’ll be working and interacting with the other students EVERY class. If it’s not your crowd, then it’s probably not your school. 

Do use the entire class to get to know them.

My students come from many walks of life. They are also great and a good reflection of who I am. 

The one thing that every guest instructor has said about my students (at both schools) is that all of the students are so nice! They’re great people. Whatever skill level the student was, they were nice and fun to work with.

You want to feel that way about your classmates!

Does the time and location of class fit in with your schedule?

We all have busy lives. The more difficult it is to get to class, the less likely you are to show up when life picks up the pace.

As a young man, I drove 45 minutes through traffic to get to class. It was another 30 with less traffic to get home after class. I did that 3-6 times a week and it was worth it to me, but I don’t think I could do that now. I have a family now and personally cringe at the thought of traffic.

You like the classes, you like how the instructor teaches, the other students are fun to work with, and the time and location work great with your schedule.

Two more BIG questions.

Who teaches?

Find out who is going to actually teach your class. At my schools, you do trials with your instructor.

Some schools have multiple instructors who rotate teaching classes. I’d suggest making sure you like the whole instructor team.

The worst, in my opinion, is the “salesman” introduction. A senior instructor does your introduction, you think he/she is great! Then after you sign up, it’s someone else teaching. Usually a young junior rank. Personally, I don’t think a 16 year old has enough life experience to teach an adult Self Defense class, but he/she might be an excellent assistant instructor for a technical class.

Whoever it is, you should feel good about who’s teaching.

What does it cost?

Not just the monthly tuition. What’s your yearly cost? What’s your commitment?

Are contracts month to month, 6-month, year long contracts? Can You get out? What are the penelaties?

What’s your total cost to start?

Other costs? Are there annual fees? Testing fees? Equipment needed to be purchased? What’s the real cost per month/year to train at the school?

Ask questions and read your contract before you sign it.

Had a parent talk to me about a school their child went to once and said tuition was only $50/month, but they ended up paying $200 every month.

My schools are month to month with no fees and most gear is provided.


These questions will better help you make an educated decision about choosing the Right Martial Arts School for you.

Get a trial class.

Do you like what is taught?

Do you like the teacher?

Do you like the other students?

Do class times and location work with your schedule?

What does it cost?

Lastly, go home and think about it. Don’t be pressured into signing up the same day as your trial class. You may still want to check out a few other schools.

Good luck!!