With the amazing growth of MMA it seems like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA schools are popping up on every corner. With extreme growth, very often, the product becomes watered down. So called experts, looking to make a quick buck, have attempted to capitalize on the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts. Every day it seems that another fraud is exposed for trying to con the public with a fake resume and fabricated accomplishments.
Do your homework before choosing an academy and entrusting an instructor to lead you on your martial arts journey. Here are a few things that you should look for when choosing an academy:
1. Does the head coach of the academy you are looking at “walk the walk”?
A lot of instructors out there love to talk the talk but how many actually walk the walk? How can an instructor prepare you for BJJ, MMA or Kickboxing competition if they have never been through the rigors of a training camp? If an instructor has never had to overcome the nerves and stress that every competitor deals with, how can he/she help you push through and become a winner? If a coach has no idea what it takes to be a champion, he is going to have a hard time instilling the qualities of a champion in his/her students.
2. Does the instructor produce successful students?
Results speak for themselves. Does the instructor create champions or does he consistently make excuses for why his students don’t succeed. If an instructor consistently produces top level competitors then he is probably doing something right.
3. Does the academy have a high attrition rate?
If you walk into an academy and you only see lower rank students there may be something wrong. Conversely, if you see a mat filled with white, blue, purple, brown and black belts you can assume that the instructor has invested a lot of time in helping his students grow into successful martial artists. If the academy has a high attrition rate and very few students stick around to reach the upper ranks, that is a sure sign that something is wrong.
4. Is the instructor and his students upstanding members of the community?
Martial arts are much more than being successful in competition. It should also be the goal of an instructor to produce upstanding individuals. The qualities of a champion include discipline, a never give up attitude and a work ethic that is unrivaled but a martial artist should caring and focused while also having a strong sense of ethics. If an academy is filled with criminals and bullies you should run the other way.
5. Does the instructor train with his/her students?
If you observe a class at an academy and the coach refuses to get on the mat and train with his students, that is a huge red flag. How can an instructor motivate his students to push hard through tough training if he is always sitting on the sidelines? A coach should lead by example.
6. Has the instructor changed associations multiple times but demands loyalty from his/her students?
I’ve personally witnessed instructors that have received every belt rank, from white to black, from different instructors. Every time you look up these instructors are flying a different associations flag. It is these same instructors that demand loyalty from their students. There is something to be said about going from white belt to black belt under one instructor and focusing on a style and training philosophy until you reach a black belt level. You never truly learn a system without loyalty, dedication and focus. It’s hard to truly learn an art if you change instructors like underwear.
These simple steps can help you find a great academy and help you have an awesome martial arts journey. I hope you find an academy that helps you reach all of your martial arts goals!