Let the Buyer Beware!

     So you are finally thinking about getting your child into a karate program!  They have seen a cool movie like the latest Kung Fu Panda or Karate Kid, or some cool videos on line of the latest UFC battle and just HAVE TO DO IT!!!!  Contrary to what a lot of people think, the Martial Arts do not focus on teaching people how to fight.  If that is what you are interested in, there are a number of good schools that can help you with that, but the majority of the programs focus on discipline, conditioning and building confidence, all things that everyone can use more of today to excel in whatever their goals are.  But the question becomes, where do you take them?  Unless you have personal experience in the arts, what do you look for?  Unfortunately, this is truly a blind item. Anyone can open a karate school and call themselves a master and start running classes.  So how do you find a quality school for your family?  Here are a few key points.

1)  What kind of program do they focus on, and are they qualified to run that program?  Are they passionate about what they teach?  Do they have information about their program...how the student advances, are they self defense focused, fitness focused, traditional, modern or some blend  of each?  And are they TRULY EXCITED to tell you about it.  Do they have certificates of ranks from their instructors that you can see?  If they are truly experienced, they will be able to show you. 

2) Are they registered with the state?  In New Hampshire, Martial Arts Schools are required to register with the State Attorney Generals Office, and they need to post their certification in the school.  There are also a number of other agencies with the state like the DHHS that can be brought in by the business to review their business practices

3) What are the membership terms?  A lot of programs are very exciting when you walk in the door and take the floor for the first time.  But after the initial excitement of the program fades if you want to discontinue your membership, how does it work?  If they try to lock you into a long term contract, question why.  All schools are required to offer monthly programs in addition to any longer term agreement, and if they have long term contracts are they bonded as required by the state of NH.  IF they are confident in the quality of their programs, they wont make you give up your first born to get out of it.

4)  What are other people saying about the programs.  Read their reviews, not just the good ones, but especially the negative ones.  Ask your friends or co workers if they have any information about a local school and then go and watch a class or two.  Speak with other parents from the school.  Most of the quality schools will allow you to try a few classes to make sure it is a good fit before you spend any money, so take advantage of it.  And if they have a short term trial, use it.  Are they rated with the Better Business Bureau or local Chamber of Commerce?  All of these are tell tale signs whether a program is solid or a fly by night school.

    It may sound like a lot of work, but finding a quality program will be worth it. The benefits of a good martial arts program will impact your child and your family for years.  The boost in confidence will spill over into other areas of their lives, leading them to try new things and new experiences.  The fitness aspect will create a lifestyle of health and energy that will allow them to excel at other endeavors, and the love of learning will lead them to greatness.



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