Here's a quote I like "If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you", and becoming a black belt will change you. The journey to black belt is an ongoing battle and transformation of your mind, body, and spirit. Each whispering countless times to you along the way, throw in the towel. You have to ignore that and forge ahead. Perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit are the keys. Learn to embrace it when those traits are challenged, realizing each time you get past it, you're forging them into the characteristics of a black belt. I found certain encouraging quotes to be a refreshing reminder of what's being created. Here's some of them. The character traits that are being strengthened will serve you well throughout life. Embrace the challenge, realize it's much deeper than the physical, and never give-up.
This will be the first of several articles related to finding the right school. It's very easy to pick the wrong school when you're trying to pick the right one. I've seen it countless times. There are many things that need to come together in harmony for you to succeed - the martial arts style, the owner, the business aspects, the other instructors, even how higher ranked students are allowed to treat you. Yet when most students call they ask just 3 things - price, location and class times...there's so much more you need to know. My hope is that you look deeper into it and make all the right choices. That way you don't try some random school and give-up on the martial arts forever. Like any relationship, if there are too many things that aren't a good fit for you, it probably won't last long Find the style, the school, the business aspects, the instructor, and environment that makes you want to keep doing it. Here's a checklist I hope helps with your search.
Let's touch upon how the dirty business side of training really isn't for your benefit, and is often hiding something terribly wrong about the selection you're considering. First, keep in mind that 97% of adult beginners will not reach black belt. That in itself should be reason enough not to sign a contract. Let's say you do, and in a few weeks or months you're not seeing any improvement in your skills. Would you rather leave cleanly or keep making 3 digit payments each month while sitting at home? One of the slick tricks schools often use when you object to signing a contract is spinning it so it's all about you. Here's one 'the contract is to help you reach your goal of becoming a black belt". Contracts for martial arts training are completely one-sided. It's about you making monthly payments, whether or not you're seeing any results, and whether or not you like how they're treating you. It's like the health club business model, the 80% or more that pay never show-up, and they're actually the ones keeping the doors open. That's great for the club but not for those who sign. Here's an article that goes deeper into why they want you to sign a contract and why you should always refuse.
The checklist article covered specific questions to ask schools that interest you. This article is a precursor to that, narrowing down those 100+ Dallas martial arts schools, to the ones you want to check out. From my years in the martial arts, I'd say in the typical U.S. city less than 20% of all schools create extremely high quality black belts. Those schools will likely be spread out geographically, and the really good ones, may not even be close to your home or work, Some may not have the class days or times you want. If you really want to become a great martial artist, forget about whose close, cheap, and fits your schedule. That's the wrong way to choose. Here's an article you should read.
Many things we buy have expiration dates. It seems what some schools teach may also. As a beginner you'll probably look around at some point and ask yourself "where's all the older students or older blackbelts this school created?" Here's an article you should read to understand why they're not around.
People sometimes say there's no time to workout. Yet they seem to have plenty of time to watch TV. Well if you have time to watch TV you have time to workout. Here's a way to do both and not miss a second of your favorite shows.
Let's say you just started in a striking art today as a beginner, and they told you it's somewhere between 36-48 months before you could be a black belt. If you could choose between having black belt speed in 6 months or 36-48 months, which would you choose? What if I told you your best chance of having that speed mainly comes down to one thing, doing the same number of punches and kicks in 6 months that you'd do in 36-48 months? World class legends such as Bill Wallace, Joe Lewis and Mike Stone had black belt speed, and their black belts, in just 6-12 months from when they started. That was highly unusual, but no doubt their work ethic, and time they put in, was way beyond the average students. At a minimum, it seems the main thing you'd have to do to arrive at black belt speed in 6 months, is roughly 6x-8x the number of punches and kicks the average 36-48 month student does per week, possibly even less since you're compounding things over a shorter amount of time. Spread that extra 6x-8x amount throughout the week, maybe adding a good chunk of it to the weekends, and who knows, you could be enjoying black belt speed 6 months from now. If that sounds tempting, or even possible to you, or you just want to be faster than you are right now, then you should read this.
Did you ever have a teacher in high school or college, that compared to the rest, did a better job of teaching and connecting with students? The kind that made a tough course more interesting or fun. The same happens in the martial arts. There's great, average and below average instructors. Sadly, the average and below often delude themselves into believing their great too. And along their path of believing that, they've unconsciously created a monumental wake of crushed martial arts dreams. Most students try just one school, and if it doesn't work out there, give-up on the martial arts forever, assuming that's how all schools teach. Read this if you want to find a great instructor.
The possibility of becoming a superior martial artist, someone with awe inspiring extraordinary ability, is one of the things that attracts many to the arts. The inside of those who become superior martial artists, what they think and do, is often very different than the average students. Their desire, unrelenting persistence, and determination drives them to become something average students can't seem to find. However I think sometimes the choices students make on the front end can either help ignite all that or extinguish it. Let's take a look at the front end.