This is a very in depth look at choosing the best martial arts school for your children and for you. Linda Davis-Kyle has done her homework and leaves no question unanswered. The right teacher, at the right school, teaching the right martial art for you, will make a difference in your life and your children’s lives. This article will definitely help you with choosing the best martial arts school.

ln a world fraught with seemingly irreconcilable differences, belligerence, aggression, and ignorance of cultural, philosophical, and spiritual differences among different peoples, you may be nurtured to find the martial arts. — ldk

Offering a Note to Parents of Beginning Students
If you choose your child’s martial arts school wisely, you will be pleased with your youngster’s progress. Some youngsters who may seem awkward and uncoordinated to their peers will, over time, show remarkable changes in demeanor and coordination. Youngsters who are too aggressive will be helped to more moderate behavior. Children who are too passive or shy will be boosted to a new awareness of their inner strength. They will be able to participate in school and extracurricular activities with more confidence.

With the guidance of an excellent instructor, whatever you see—within reason—as a weakness in your child has a chance to be adjusted through martial arts so that natural talents can sparkle. You cannot and must not expect martial arts to solve all your problems, but training in the martial arts helps its diligent students to achieve more poise and confidence. When you pay for excellent martial arts instruction, you get many wonderful bonuses for your money spent. Martial arts instruction consists of more than just exercising or punching, striking, kicking, and blocking. The martial way is a better way of life.

Considering Concerns of Parents
Some instructors may tell you that talking to parents of the students will not help you to select a school. These instructors explain that parents either will withdraw their children from a program that they feel is unsatisfactory, or they will not admit that they have made an undesirable choice. You may, however, feel that you can benefit from collecting opinions from other parents.

Some parents, who may be in the process of discovering problems, however, may mull over some of their thinking with you. You can do a reality check with the parents waiting for their youngsters outside class. They may enjoy sharing their opinions with you. Try to talk privately, one at a time, to the number of parents you choose. Probably, you will want to talk to several parents to get multiple points of view. Listen closely so that you will be able to compare their answers not only for credibility of content and substance but also for reliability of essence and emotion.

You may not need to ask a battery of questions. You simply may ask the Dads or Moms about their day, then without really prying, ask, “How does your child like the class?” Pay attention to the word choices of the parents. Notice any hesitation. Do the parents answer you promptly, but with reservation? Listen to parents to find out if the class that you observed is typical of daily classes, or did the instructor alter the session to impress you? Listen for spontaneous responses to unasked questions such as—

• Does a Mom seem happy about her decision to bring her son to the school in question?
• What is the Mom’s purpose for bringing her son to the school?
• Are her purposes and her son’s needs being met at the school?
• Does a Dad, who wants to find out how his daughter is doing in class, offer the information to you that the instructor has not been 
around for weeks while a substitute of lesser ability has conducted the classes?

As parents speak, you may want to listen for spontaneous answers to some other questions such as these following, or you may wish to ask the questions outright.

  • Does the instructor instill a “challenge-conquering” attitude or spirit through a just right balance of being demanding, yet understanding?
  • Does the teacher recognize and respect that students learn in increments?
  • Does the instructor push the students enough to help them to develop personal power but not enough to destroy their desire to succeed?
  • Do the children feel nurtured and empowered by learning how to deal with the demands of their instructor?
  • Does the instructor “correct” or “condemn” the efforts of the youngsters?
  • Does the teacher foster self-discipline or break the child’s morale?
  • Are the children eager to go to class?
  • Does the child want to quit? If so, why?
  • Do the youngsters feel they have no right to speak for themselves?
  • Do the children feel they should hide an injury from their instructor for fear they will be seen as weak?
  • Do the children feel comfortable with admitting they have a physical problem that will keep them from full participation briefly?
  • Are the students eager to get well so they can return to practice?

Offering a Note for Beginning Young Students
If you study hard and practice consistently, the martial arts can put you on the right track and give you strong footing to move along that track. You will learn to concentrate fully. You will increase your attention span. As you mow down your fears and gain confidence, you will gain higher self-esteem. With higher self-esteem, you will be able to help yourself, your family, and your friends; and you can become an important role model to others. It will be your responsibility to model well. You will learn not only to be responsible, but also you will learn to be reliable.

You will work hard for all these improvements in your life. The study of martial arts is beautiful and wonderful at the same time that it is demanding and frustrating. If you understand these aspects of the martial arts, you will be excited by the challenges and can embrace the vast possibilities.

Learning to deal with the demanding and frustrating sides of martial arts will help you learn to deal well with the frustrations of daily life. You will feel the power of martial arts on a quiet inner level. Good martial artists never are boastful, arrogant, or aggressive. Instead, they are modest, self-assured, and secure.

Sharing a Note with Beginning Mature Students
Martial arts can attract adult students for a multitude of reasons. The martial arts serve individuals. Such study and practice can help mature students to feel young and vigorous and self-confident. The workouts help to maintain flexibility, to build stamina, and to foster coordination and balance. Martial arts help to tap inner resources to release fears at any age and to encourage self-acceptance. Serious study and participation offer challenging exercise regimens, individual competition, and a basis for self-improvement physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Getting Started in Earnest Practicing the Martial Arts
Believing that you can change your life with martial arts, you or your children may have become enchanted with the very thought of training. Because advertisements for instruction in martial arts abound, you may suspect that you can sign up just about anywhere and be happy with the school. That could happen, but you are more likely to gain a positive experience if you follow up on those ads with word of mouth referrals from participants who know that their instructors maintain high standards and teach good technique in their schools.

Whether responding to an ad or being motivated by observation, perhaps the main criteria that some prospective students may consider when searching for a martial arts school are location, the facility, the price, the schedule, and, of course, the instructor.

Considering Location
Is your ideal school within reasonable driving distance from your home? You may begin a class with great enthusiasm and be happy to drive long distances to the school of your choice. Often that can work well especially if you have found your ideal teacher. Consider whether you may later find the long drive an excuse to skip classes. Often very fine schools are centrally located to make reaching them convenient from all directions in their particular city.

Honorable martial arts studios Barcelona, Spain 2017
Honorable martial arts studios are abundant throughout the world. Barcelona, Spain 2017. Photo by ldk © 2017.

Inspecting the Facility
You automatically will look for a clean facility of adequate size that is equipped with safety mats and other protective gear. Notice the construction of the building and the size and surface of the training area.

• Does the facility appear to be structurally sound?
• Is the training hall adequately ventilated?
• Is adequate floor space available for workouts?
• Does it have hardwood floors?
• Are cushioned mats provided for sparring, grappling, and takedowns?
• Do students have a proper place to leave their shoes at the entrance?

Many instructors will adjust class size to fit the available space. Because of the high rental rates for prime locations, the instructor may offer more sessions at different times as classes grow rather than moving to a larger facility. This accommodation can serve the students well, because each student will receive more individual attention in smaller classes.

Kata Winner Austin TX
Diligence, competitive spirit, honor, and a task well done help build character and reap rewards.
Austin, TX, USA. Photo by ldk © 1992.

Pricing — Discussing Payment Plans
Rates for instruction and classes offered per week cover a wide range. Checking newspaper ads, martial arts websites, or telephoning schools of interest to you will put the most up-to-date information at your fingertips. With just a bit of research, you can compare the prices to decide what will work well for you and your children. 
Tonny Tulleners, an international karate champion and author of Beginning Karate, says, “In karate the most expensive is not always the best . . . You just can’t equate the price to the quality of instruction” (p. 11).

Talk to other parents and students to make sure that you are paying the same rate for your child or yourself that they are paying. Also find out if you must sign a contract. Various instructors warn against anyone who tries to sell you a lifetime membership. Make an informed decision about signing any long-term contract.

Find out about the expenses of any mandatory tournaments and travel expenses.

  • Are you or your children eager to participate in tournaments?
  • Are your goals for you and your children more in keeping with fitness than with entering competitions?

Finding out about Uniforms and Equipment
Regarding uniforms and equipment, find out your school’s preferred supplier, and ask if you can order your uniforms and supplies yourself to keep the costs under control.
If allowed, you may order from the same company the instructor would by calling, writing, or sending an e-mail to the company to request their catalog, or you can order online. You can order the same style, color, and quality gi (uniform) and other gear that adheres to the instructor’s requirements.

  • Does your prospective school order in bulk and pass the savings along to you?
  • Does your school order for you but increase your price?

Finding out about Testing and Advancing
Ask how often you or your children will be tested for advancement and how much you must pay for each belt test.

Serious students will be interested in the ranking systems of the various martial arts and will want to find out the proposed schedule for promotions from the beginning levels to the multiple levels of black belts or dans. These vary somewhat from school to school. Jerry L. Beasley, EdD—Professor of Exercise, Sport and Health Education at Radford University, Radford, VA, USA, and author of the extolled book Mastering Karate (2002)—shares that generally students can earn promotions to the first degree black belt or first dan after three or more years. To earn the second 
degree black belt or second dan usually takes two or more years training as does the third degree black belt. A practitioner can earn a fourth degree black belt in four or five years and a fifth degree black belt in an additional four or five years.

These higher ranks require much wisdom and strong devotion to continued training and to teaching and developing topnotch black belts. Typically, those holding such a rank have achieved this position after dedicating themselves to the practice of martial arts for 25 to 30 years. The ninth dan is reserved for those 50 or older who have dedicated themselves to the teaching of martial arts and to the betterment of their particular system on a regional, national, and international level. The 10th degree black belt historically has been reserved formally for the creators or founders of the martial arts systems.

Scheduling Study

  • What days and hours are available for training?
  • Will you meet a rigid schedule?
  • Do you sign in for each class meeting to encourage you to get into the habit of coming regularly?
  • Does your school offer a flexible schedule but require you to meet a minimum number of classes each week in order to maintain what you have learned and to continue to improve?

Class attendance is important to your success. Keeping on schedule is an important part of your training. With steady practice, you not only learn technique, sharpen your skills, and build stamina both physically and mentally, but also you gain more discipline to stay on track.

Thinking through Other Considerations
While the location, the facility, the price, and the schedule are important criteria, there are numerous other questions that you must answer in order to meet your needs when you consider training in martial arts. 
Many good schools are available, but doing a bit of investigating before you sign your check or hand over your credit card may keep you or your youngsters studying longer and happier. If you or your children are about to enter into the exciting world of martial arts, a brief overview of a few items of possible interest may be of benefit.

Recognizing and Conveying the Nature of Training
The pursuit of martial arts is far more than merely punch and kick classes done leisurely to meet your schedule. If you are considering enrolling your youngsters in martial arts, make it clear to your children that they will not merely observe demonstrations to learn fighting techniques. Let them know that they will participate in hard workouts that will precede the revered teachings of the traditions and techniques of the chosen martial art. The purpose of rigorous training is to condition and develop strong bodies and sharp minds. Inform your children of some of the challenges that are waiting on the horizon, but avoid overwhelming them. As a parent of a student of martial arts, you will need to understand all the elements of the program and to be supportive in order to help your child understand the demanding, yet captivating, process.

Sensei Mitch Coslet martial arts class doing situps.
Sensei Mitch Coslet instructing youth in fitness exercises to help develop ability, vitality, and tenacity for kata and kumite practice in Hayashi-ha Shitoh-ryu. Photo by ldk © 1991.
Kumite Regionals Austin TX
Participation in kumite in regional competition furthers fighting skills. Austin, TX, USA. Photo by ldk © 1992.

Engaging in Essential Fitness Workouts
The warmups and the preliminary vigorous fitness workout are crucial elements to consider as are the kata (forms) and kumite (sparring) practice sessions. Learn all you can about the complete exercise program, the forms, and the traditional fighting techniques your prospective school uses. Then you can determine if the school will be a good fit for you and/or your children.

  • Are you and your youngsters excited about beginning the program?
  • Does the workout inspire your youngsters to get started?
  • Will your children be starting with a class for beginners only, or will they be integrated into an ongoing class with students of all belt levels and all ages?
  • When they first begin learning to spar, will they spar with students who are of similar age, weight, and height?

In a class of beginners only—of a similar age—some youngsters may feel more at ease. Some beginners may feel intimidated being tossed into an ongoing class of numerous belt levels.

Other beginners, though, may profit from being integrated into a class of students of many different belt levels. Having higher belts among them, they have more trained models to observe. They can look to the adept and follow their lead. They can emulate not only their moves but also their calm and dedicated behavior. They can resolve to train hard and to work to become models, too. All of this depends very much on how your prospective teacher handles beginners and how beginners perceive their own roles.
Finding out about the Workout

“Some exercises that have been practiced traditionally in some athletic gyms can do more harm than good to the young and mature participant alike,” so says Howard Jardine, Dip. FTST, FSMT, fitness expert in the United Kingdom. George H. McGlynn, EdD, author of Dynamics of Fitness, Professor and Chair of the Exercise and Sports Science Department at the University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA, and former U.S. Marine Captain, concurs. The “dirty dozen” exercises that Jardine and McGlynn enumerate include innocent-seeming exercises such as rolling the head backward, twisting the waist, doing back bends, doing straight-legged toe touches, doing straight-legged sit-ups, and doing double leg lifts, to name a few.

  • Does the school’s warmup routine include exercises that are believed to be damaging to youngsters and adults?

Jardine and McGlynn emphasize that a good workout begins with warmups. Warmups help students to relax, and they boost concentration. To reiterate, physiologically, warmups enhance metabolism, circulation, and respiration. They warm the muscles, enhance flexibility, and help to prevent injuries during the stretching that follows and the workout. 
The rigorous workout builds the body and coordinates body-mind teamwork. It builds power, stamina, and focus. The greater your stamina, the better your ability to cope with the stresses of everyday life and to foster your reserves of mental and physical resources to practice kata and kumite steadfastly and even to ward off a potential attacker.

Practicing kihon (basics) further integrates the body-mind balance, enhances discipline, and improves the skills that students will implement in kata (forms) and kumite (sparring).
Pay close attention to see that your prospective teacher recognizes the supreme significance not only of warming up to begin the workout but also of cooling down as the fine conclusion to practice sessions. In numerous fitness articles, I have reported the important principle that “respecting the need of the body to glide into vigorous activity with an appropriate warmup session can prevent muscle injury. Respecting the body’s need to taper back to a state of rest with a suitable cool down routine can prevent sore, aching muscles and ward off damage to the joints. It can deter possible pooling of the blood in the extremities, and it also can help to protect the heart” (Karate Kung-Fu Illustrated, Dec. 89, pp. 50–52).

Kata Nationals Los Angeles CA
Performing well in kata fosters confidence. Hayashi-ha Shitoh-ryu National Competition Los Angeles, CA, USA. Photo by ldk © 1995.

Arranging an Interview
Call or e-mail to arrange a meeting with the instructor and staff of your prospective school. Ask to observe a class in session. Also ask if your prospective school offers a free trial class. If so, and you or your children are invited to participate, find out tactfully from the students whether your introductory trial class is a true representation of what your training will be. Better still; attend more than one class, if you can, to get a stronger impression of the goals of the trainer, the school, and its students.

  • Has the instructor modified the training session to impress you?
  • Are your goals compatible with those espoused at your prospective school?

Listening to the Leaders
Visit the instructors of a number of schools. Listen to their choices of words and the tones of their voices, and pay close attention to their eye contact, demeanor, and body language. You will discern a great deal about them, their professed beliefs, and their underlying attitudes.

Determining the Attitudes of the Leaders
Probably every grandmaster believes his particular system is the best in the world, and that is good when tempered and balanced. You would not want to attend a school whose teacher does not feel passionate about his or her own style; yet, look for a teacher who can be impassioned without being denigrating to others. Ridding oneself of ego and self-centeredness is a goal of many of the martial arts. Therefore, look for teachers who show promise in this direction. Look for strong teachers who can guide you to better self-esteem and self-confidence, not to egotism and bravado. The best teachers will not criticize other teachers or traditions. They will be devoted to higher thinking and a better way of life.

  • Does the teacher explain the history and traditions of his or her system?
  • Does the instructor have a positive interest in advancing and standardizing a particular system of martial arts around the world?
  • Can your potential instructor describe the uniqueness of his or her system?
  • Can your potential instructor describe—on a fair basis—useful similarities and differences in his or her system in comparison and contrast to other systems?
  • Does the instructor boast of his or her own school while condemning other schools in his or her own city?
  • Does the instructor speak of ideals and goals for the students?
  • Is the instructor concerned about the physical, mental, and spiritual growth and development of the students?
Shihan Don Coslet Nationals Seattle WA
Shihan Don Coslet, PhD, competing in Hayashi-ha Shitoh-ryu in Seattle, WA, USA. Photo by ldk © 1994.

Interviewing the Instructor
Peter Urban—the original propagator of the goju style of karate in the United States and author of The Karate Dojo—explains that professional martial arts teachers of top caliber will have studied and trained and practiced their art 15 years or more (p. 8).

  • Find out about the instructor’s training and teaching experience.
  • How long has your prospective instructor studied and trained?

It is imperative to find a seasoned instructor who not only knows martial arts well but also who can convey that knowledge skillfully and appropriately to students of different ages.
Many instructors have taught for 40 years or more and have dedicated their lives to furthering their systems of martial arts.

  • Where did the instructor study and train?
  • Who trained and certified the instructor?
  • What were the credentials of the instructor’s trainer?
  • Does your prospective instructor’s grandmaster help to advance the particular system of martial arts worldwide?
  • What position in the particular system of martial arts did the instructor’s trainer hold?
  • Can you find the master who taught your prospective teacher? If so, you may wish to consider training under the master.
  • What degrees and certificates does your prospective instructor hold?
  • What position in the particular system of martial arts does your prospective teacher hold?
  • Can the instructor handle a minor emergency?
  • Is the instructor certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)?
  • Does your prospective teacher still train and continue to compete?
  • How many students has your prospective teacher trained?
  • How many current students does your prospective teacher train?
  • What schedule does your potential teacher keep?
  • Does your teacher train students on a regular basis or merely “pop in” on occasion?
  • Does your teacher train students, or does he or she spend more time marketing the school?
  • Does the instructor’s teaching plan foster learning and improve self-esteem in the students?

Some teachers will caution you to, “note authenticity.” They point out that sometimes “big name” people open schools, but they are unavailable much of the time. The instructors advise, “If you choose a big name school, make sure that the person who actually runs your prospective classes has the kind of credentials that you require.”
Also, find out how many sessions per week the celebrity instructor actually teaches. 
Has the instructor told you exactly how many classes he or she teaches each week at the particular school in question?

  • Do the number of classes mentioned correspond with the actual number of classes the instructor teaches, according to observations and reports by parents and students?
  • How many classes do apprentices teach?
  • Do the parents know who actually teaches their youngsters?
  • Does the instructor have a recognizable teaching pattern?
  • Do the teacher’s promises and actions match?
  • Are the school’s described and/or advertised procedures and practices delivered?
  • Do the students receive ample training for their dollars spent?

Acknowledging the Instructor
The well-seasoned instructor, having studied and trained diligently for 15 years or more and having been certified by an outstanding grandmaster in his or her chosen system of martial art, will have good eye contact and good attention to your questions and concerns. The instructor’s posture will be straight and strong.

Recognizing How You Feel about the Instructor
Consider how you feel in the presence of the teacher. By a natural action, if you are in accord with the instructor with whom you are speaking, the positions of your arms and body often will mirror the position of the instructor’s arms and body. Notice whose arms and body took that position first. It is important that this mirroring phenomenon be occurring naturally. Are the arms usually open and accepting or crossed and tightly closed? There is no need to dwell on this, but do be aware of it.
• Does your prospective teacher also help to advance the particular system of martial arts worldwide?

Shihan Julius Thiry conducting clinic.
Shihan Julius Thiry, PhD, Founder of International Karate-do Hayashi-ha Shitoh-ryu conducting a clinic for advanced karateka. Photo by ldk © 1992.

Observing the Instructor’s Interactions with Students
During your observation or trial participation, notice the approach, the patience, the words spoken and the tone of those words, the tolerance, and the attitude of the instructor.

  • Does the instructor explain clearly the techniques of his or her style?
  • Do the teacher and the students seem to respect each other?
  • Do the students seem to like and appreciate the instructor?
  • Do the students seem to fear the teacher?
  • Is the instructor paying close attention to each individual?
  • Does the instructor make corrections in a meaningful and appropriate way as the students workout, do basic techniques (kihon), practice kata (forms), and at the conclusion of kumite sessions (sparring)?
  • Does the instructor review or critique kata and sparring practice and offer insightful suggestions for improvement?
  • Is the instructor watching keenly as students spar?
  • Does the instructor enforce the wearing of protective equipment such as a mouth and tooth protector and other personal gear?
  • Can you relate to the level of seriousness of the teacher and of the students?
  • Do you feel right at home in the atmosphere of the school?
  • Are the students polite?
  • Are the students disciplined or aggressive?
  • Is there any horseplay?

Finding out about Rules Followed
At their best, martial arts include the highest standards of etiquette. Students learn that it is not acceptable to behave in an inappropriate manner. Immutable and dependable rules nurture a sense of security. Students know the requirements. Ideally, students will learn to operate out of a strong base of ethics, adhere to the code of expected behavior, respect their seniors, and silently reinforce that protocol in newer students. They learn respect for all their fellow students, and they gain humility.

Karateka Andy Rutledge
Hayashi-ha Shitoh-ryu karateka Andy Rutledge concentrating on kata. Austin, TX, USA. Photo by ldk © 1990.

Demanding Complete Concentration
Martial arts demand complete concentration. Everything from entering the school with reverence and proper protocol, bowing at the entrance, showing respect for one’s teacher, fellow students, and self to doing the warmups and stretches to practicing basics and doing the full workout to kata, with keen attention to make all the right moves, and executing kumite with sharp control requires a sober presence of mind. Being in the moment, having a passionate attention to your goals, and striving to improve day by day are paramount facets of the martial arts.

Because of the incremental learning nature of martial arts in which one builds expertise over time with more and more experience, a focus toward a noble goal of excellence can pervade with the finest teaching. The striving to become better and better helps to nurture the maturing youngster. At the same time, it supports the youthful spirit and tenacity of the mature student who chooses to stay active and strong—physically, mentally, and emotionally. The martial arts fill the fountains of desire to bolster self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-control.

Recognizing the Multifaceted Nature of Martial Arts
As conditioning for the body, mind, and spirit, as an art form, as a sport, and as a philosophy, the martial arts help students to improve their lives on many levels.
Demanding workouts create not only stamina, but also the vigorous exercises create patience and mental ruggedness. They prepare students to be aware of their surroundings and to respond appropriately to any given situation whether it is friendly or filled with hostility.

Students will not be pampered. To produce strength and power within themselves, students must meet with difficult challenges and overcome those challenges to go forth and to excel.
Obviously, if an attacker on the street targets you, there will be neither soft-spoken words nor gentle behavior. As a martial artist you will train to learn how to deal with such aggression. You also will learn how to fight fairly in the ring following an established protocol.

You also will learn kata (fighting forms) in which you will memorize entire fight patterns. You will practice to learn and continue to practice to improve and to hone your skills. You will train long and hard to “visualize” your opponents in kata. When you compete in kata in tournaments, you will make it possible for your judges “to see” your imaginary opponent as you block, punch, strike, and kick.

Linda and Carlos Molina practicing Kumite
Practicing kumite on different surfaces fosters self-defense preparedness.
[ldk and Carlos Molina] Photo by jk © 1992.
Finding Common Goals
Find out if the particular system will work for you or your youngsters. It is general knowledge that each school, program, or studio has its own feel and focus. To reiterate, it is a good idea to observe classes at several different schools to see which school will help you to meet your goals and the goals you have for your youngsters who wish to pursue the martial arts.

As noted, while it is typical for each style and each school to have a sense of usefulness and importance to potential students, remember to beware of instructors who tout their own particular style and their own school excessively, and, at the same time, condemn other systems and schools of martial arts. Look for teachers who have a healthy respect not only for themselves but also for others who also embrace the loftiest goals of martial arts.

It can be important to your future success to choose an instructor who emphasizes what you are looking for in a martial arts program. If you or your children have developed a strong interest in learning kata (fighting forms), fighting for self-defense, competing in tournaments, learning about different cultures, exploring a rewarding philosophy, or benefiting from the conditioning of your style, make sure that your instructor will be focusing on the aspects that mesh with your own priorities. In addition, if you match your nature and your body type to your most suitable martial art style, the compatibility will serve you well.

Be clear about your objectives so that you can find a school that fulfills your goals. If your goal is to learn self-defense, then make completely certain that your school teaches self-defense so that you will not be disappointed to learn later that self-defense never was to be included in their teaching program.

Nutritious Food
Gichin Funakoshi and Masutatsu Oyama wisely taught their martial arts students to eat wholesome real foods.
Photo by ldk © 2017.

Considering Health Habits to Build Martial Arts Champions
Noting the Importance of Healthier Habits and Good Nutrition, Again As reported in “Looking at Both Sides of Bullying,” (, July 15, 2016), “Gichin Funakoshi (11.10.1868—04.26.1967), the founder of Shotokan Karate-Do who is acknowledged as the Father of Modern Karate, and Masutatsu Oyama (07.27.1923—04.26.1994), the founder of Kaikan Kyokushin, taught not only the necessity of ample excellent quality sleep and ‘prudent care of the mind to stay free of mental upset as much as possible,’ but also they maintained that students should eat ‘natural, fresh produce, for fresh fruits and vegetables build strong bodies.’”

The article also noted that “Supplying luscious garden fresh organic vegetables and orchard fresh organic fruits instead of nutrient deficient, dead processed fare may play a role in preventing or neutralizing aberrant behavior in individuals and improving how they feel and how they see themselves and their place among their peers.”

Continuing to Share Vital Information That Bears Repeating
Long ago, Funakoshi and Oyama also gave the astute advice to eat real food and to avoid artificial ingredients.

These noble masters were correct. Avoiding synthetic colorings, dyes, and preservatives, eliminating high fructose corn syrup, and restricting sugar can support good health today. Also avoiding—as much as possible—artificial ingredients such as aspartame and MSG (monosodium glutamate), and avoiding heavy metals such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, fluoride, lead, and mercury, disinfectants such as chlorine, and other damaging chemicals such as formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, dioxins, glyphosate, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), to name a few, wherever they are used in our environment can help keep students be much brighter, much healthier, and much stronger today. [, July 15, 2016]

Recognizing That Nutrition Influences Behavior
What Funakoshi and Oyama knew about fostering strong mental and emotional well-being and furnishing superior nutrition for excellent overall health has been overridden in much of society today. Instead, food producers and suppliers profiting from highly processed, non-nutritive, and additive-laden foods have swarmed our society undermining the health not only of children but also adults. What Funakoshi and Oyama knew boldly from common sense, practice, and observation, today’s studies assessing the affects of nutrition on human behavior often are replete with hesitant language because of the persistent need for researchers to protect their reputations when reporting their data in the event that their results might not be able to be replicated by others in their field. [, July 15, 2016]

Supporting the Early Teachings of Funakoshi and Oyama
Jianghou Liu of the School of Nursing and Adrian Raine of the Department of Criminology and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA, for example, among their key messages in “Nutritional status and social behavior in preschool children: the mediating effects of neurocognitive functioning” state that their “findings suggest [Emphasis mine] a possible mechanism whereby poor nutrition leads to impaired social behavior,” and their study “suggests [Emphasis mine] that having a good nutritional status may promote positive social behavior in children.” [, July 15, 2016]

Fostering Healthful Habits with Martial Arts
If you typically skip meals, miss sleep, work overtime, and neglect recreation, when you begin martial arts workouts you may find yourself selecting luscious, wholesome foods, and eating more regularly. Workouts will invigorate you. You also may choose to get more restful sleep to make sure that you will be alert and prepared to exercise with vigor, to practice techniques with keen attention, and to spar with razor-sharp moves. You even may find yourself with built-in power and tact to handle stressful situations in your daily life.
The July 2016 article also cited that “Funakoshi and Oyama wisely encouraged students to consume their food at regular intervals to maintain their energy reserves, eat in moderation, and never eat in excess. Grand Masters knew the extraordinary benefits of nutritious foods for strong, lean bodies, clear minds, healthy emotions, and strong spirits.”

Kata Internationals Budapest
Third Karate World Cup for Children and Cadets, Budapest, Hungary, October 7-9, 1994.

Challenging Young and Mature Students Alike
Your instructors will challenge you. They will demand effort and excellence. They will frustrate you, which, in turn, will help you to create patience and mental ruggedness as you learn to deal with the frustrations. Nevertheless, excellent teachers will operate out of a base of respect.

Their corrections—even though they may seem harsh—will be instructions, not condemnations. Their criticisms should be constructive and applicable. Stand strong. Be strong. Deal with making the correction. Never expect to be pampered. Pampering would do nothing toward creating mental ruggedness.

Your best efforts will be acknowledged, your diligence honored, and your successes rewarded. Your life will change for the positive. You will feel a greater degree of ease, grace, and poise by means of martial arts.

Kumite Internationals Budapest
Mental ruggedness serves well in karate competitions and in life.
Third Karate World Cup for Children and Cadets, Budapest, Hungary, October 7-9, 1994.

Asking a Little, Listening a Lot, and Becoming Informed
Because of the multifaceted nature of martial arts and the impressive influence of martial arts instruction, your diligent search for an instructor of the highest caliber who emphasizes your interests and your children’s can add immeasurably to your success as you study martial arts.

Show interest, listen a lot, and become informed. Avoid making your decision lightly. Avoid any school that tries to pressure you into signing up. Now you can put together the pieces of the puzzle from what you have gleaned about your prospective martial arts school. Consider the facts and figures that you have uncovered. Remember your observations of the workout.

Finally, recall the attitudes, values, and opinions of the instructor, the students, and the parents. The more you know the better you will be able to help to prevent problems for yourself and your children and to stay on track when they enter the enchanting world of martial arts. The big picture can help you to make a decision that will influence you and your youngsters for a lifetime.

Martial Arts develops patience, persistence, and endurance.
Dedicated practice of the martial arts helps young and mature alike to develop patience, persistence, and endurance—
fine attributes of winners in martial arts and in life. Seattle, WA, USA. Photo by ldk © 1994.

Developing Patience, Persistence, and Endurance
All across the world there are excellent dedicated martial arts instructors. Finding a well-certified and well-seasoned teacher for yourself and/or your children through a systematic approach will serve you well in innumerable ways. Martial arts truly can change your life.

Davis-Kyle, Linda. All the Right Moves. Karate Kung-Fu Illustrated. 20, No. 8 (December 1989), pp. 50-52.
_________________. Karate Kung-Fu Illustrated, Dec. 89, pp. 50–52.
_________________. Looking at Both Sides of Bullying. (July 15, 2016), Accessed April 12, 2018.
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McGlynn, George H. Dynamics of Fitness: A Practical Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
Tulleners, Tonny. Beginning Karate. Burbank, CA: Ohara Publications, 1988, p. 11
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* Excerpted from Davis-Kyle, Linda. Change Your Life with Martial Arts: Your essential introduction to the marital arts, “Chapter 3. Choosing a Martial Arts School.” Press, 2003, pp. 80-98. Revised, Illustrated, and Reprinted here with permission.