Factors to NOT consider
IntroWhen looking for a school at which to train, there are several factors you should NOT consider. These factors have little to no effect on the quality of instruction at the school.
Instructor's nationality, gender, etc.The nationality, race, religious affiliation, gender, etc. of the instructor is not important unless the person makes it important. Do not assume an Asian instructor is better than any other instructor. Do not assume a male instructor is better than a female or vice versa. What matters is whether the instructor can teach you the martial art and inspire you to be the best you can be in the martial art.
Aesthetics of the schoolYou do not want to train in a dump but otherwise, the appearance of the school is not that important. Many excellent instructors are just starting their businesses and cannot afford the best location. Many times, being a part of a growing martial arts school and helping it expand is as rewarding as the training itself.
Superfluous stuffA good martial arts school needs a clean, safe training area, punch/kick targets, punch/kick bags, maybe some mirrors, and maybe some mats. Do not be overly influenced by unrelated stuff, such exercise machines, weight room, hot tubs, tanning beds, etc. If you want to pay for all these extras, that is okay, but they are unnecessary.
Flashy uniformsDo not be influenced by flashy uniforms. Some schools may have different uniforms for different ranks or different seasons of the year. Be suspicious of schools that use uniforms that are too different from the norm. The uniform provides workout clothing that is loose fitting in key areas to facilitate punches and kicks, reinforced in key areas to allow the wearer to be thrown without the fabric ripping, and that absorbs perspiration; its purpose is not to make an egotistical fashion statement.
Appearance of the instructorA skilled martial artist will probably be in excellent physical condition. A skilled martial arts instructor may be a physical wreck. When you need medical attention, you do not care whether the doctor helping you is fat or not, you only care whether he or she can help you. Like good coaches in other sports, good martial arts instructors come in all sizes, shapes, and levels of fitness.
When instructors have numerous tattoos or piercing, out of the ordinary hairstyles, etc. it may be offputting, but try to look past all the accouterments and see the person for what he or she really is. If an instructor knows the martial art and can teach you to be the best you can be in the martial art, you can tolerate his or her idiosyncrasies.
Trophy collectionTrophies are a nice ego booster for the people who earn them but do not be too impressed by a large collection of trophies in a martial arts school. Anyone who goes to a lot of tournaments will have trophies; sometimes you may be the two or three people at the tournament in your belt/weight/age class so you all get a trophy. If you are interested in the trophy collection, read what is on each trophy to see is it is an important one. Also, consider the ratio of trophies for sparring and patterns. This will give you some indication which one the school gives the most emphasis, sparring or patterns.
Claimed rankThere is no universal martial art ranking system. There is no one international governing body that uniformly and fairly assigns ranks. Unless you are familiar with the way rank is awarded in your country and with the ranking system within the organization with which the instructor is certified, then don’t place much emphasis on the rank of the instructor.
Without any training at all, you can buy a black belt, declare that you have just created a new martial art style, and promote yourself to 10th-degree black belt without breaking any laws. Be suspicious of those claiming unusually high ranks. Each major martial arts organization has its own rank structure and is usually in a power struggle with the other organizations, so it is difficult to compare ranks among them.