Why Replicate Art

December 7th, 2015 by hesty No comments »

Have you ever thought about why art has been replicated. What benefits has it given us, and has it hurt art in any way, because of it.

So lets get on the Soap-Box and get down to the nitty-gritty on the replication of art, and simply….. what it means to you.

Original Art

Lets go back to the time where there were no replications of art work; with the exception of the artist having to re-do another copy of their own art. So in a fact, you could hardly call it a replica, could you…………. as any art re-done, will always be a bit different, by the artist hand.

Artists would painstakingly do their work and sell them piece by piece. Now, there were the times when someone would see this same art piece and want one for their very own. That’s where the artist would have to go back to the start, and re-paint or sculpt their art work, all over again.

If you were an artist of means, and already had a reputation – you could get one of your (underlings), your apprentice artists to re-do your art work for you. And the main artist might just add the finished touches to the art work, to add their style.

Its no different to the writers of books in the Olden days. There were no printing presses in those days.

So it was the monks in the monasteries that devoted much of their time to hand writing all the pages of a book. That’s right! – writing all those pages. Tedious work, when you think that you have just finished the last page of a book, and your instructions were to write the whole book all over again. Would make you feel as though you would want to through the book out the window. But being a monk, I’m sure they were devoted to their work, or they had a strong constitution.

So… as you could imagine, works of art would have been quite expensive for an original. Of course there were the exceptions, if you were an artist with no name. Selling your piece of art work for a pittance could well have gone on in those days and not so long ago either. Lets face it! the more well known an artist became, the higher the price they can ask for their art work.

Replicating Art

With the emergence of the Industrial revolution, the printing press and the like. Mechanization came about. Now, in the earlier days, they weren’t clever enough to replicate forms such as art. And art replication didn’t really come into full force, as it has done these days.

Compared to the written word. Books have been sold to the masses for many years now. With the printing press, came the ability to print off many a book at a cheep and fast amount. (beats writing a whole book over and over again).

Oh’ I have neglected to say that the form of sculpture, had succeeded to be replicated into editions long ago in the form of “hot cast bronze”. But I can say that even today, the process of casting in bronze is still an intricate and expensive business. I know… getting a cast finished bronze sculpture out of the foundry, still cost a pretty penny today!

So… books became cheaper, because of the emergence of the printing press, thus, books were able to be sold at a much cheaper price, and this lead to the average person with a meager amount of money being able to afford buying books. So more education to the masses. Yippee!

Its Advantages

So, as the emergence of copying came about with paintings, in the form of printers, and how they have advanced these days. It’s great for the artist! now we can have reprinted art prints, in limited editions our art work, sketches too. Copies of our work to be sold at a much cheaper price, and this sells more of our art work. Making it so much more viable for artists to bring in more money.

But it also has its down side… every artist can sell their art in such a way, having their work reproduced fat very competitive prices. There are many companies popping up on the internet these days. Offering artists the ability to re- produce their art work in exquisite reproductions.

So here comes the masses. The competition, more and more art can be bought by the public, and there is allot to choose from. Artists compete with each other, especially on the internet, where you sell your art prints beside other fellow artists. Now don’t get me wrong. There has always been competition when it comes to anyone doing the same thing, Whether it be blacksmithing or trade. And is comes down to the taste of the public, your style of work. and depicting what might sell at the time.

What is does give to the artist, is the chance to sell their works at a lower price and in multitude. Now being a buyer of art as well, yes.. us artists do love buying other artists works as well.

If I saw a piece of art work and wanted one for myself, I now have the chance to buy one. If the original had sold, no problem…. buying one of the limited editions is not only cheaper; its also just of the same quality. Bearing in mind….. once the limited edition is sold out, you have to go back to hunting around for someone who owns one of the prints and wants to re-sell it. So don’t be complacent in ordering your limited edition copy of art when you see it.

What Art Replication means for the Future

The replication of art is here to stay, and it gives anybody the chance of owning their own beloved art piece, and that’s really good. Not only does it gain a new following and appreciation of art with people who might have very well ignored the world of art, because they couldn’t afford it. Or stand, with their faces staring up at the wall at galleries, admiring works of art they would otherwise not be able to own themselves..

And maybe we may cringe a little at not owning an original painting. But who would go out and mortgage their house for one of these famous paintings, don’t think so.

Limited edition prints are gaining their own worth as well. So be proud to have one. And when the limited edition sells out, then you have an investment that will gain in price as it gets older. And if the artist becomes more well known.

I welcome the emergence of reproduction art, and the chance it has given everyone to be able to own their own art works. It not only make art more accessible to the people. It helps people gain appreciation of art.

Art and the replication of it has come of age, and there is no better chance for the person on the street to become an art collector in their own right. I for one applaud this!

Sure, its given the artist competition out there, sure there are reproductions out there that grace many walls and mantle pieces. And it opens up the opportunities for the public to own different art works for themselves.

No longer does the artist have to hard sell their work, because they have put so much work into their art; and a hefty price tag to boot! we can relax and sell our art work in the knowledge that it wont break the bank for people to buy a piece of our art work. And the spreading of so much more art work around the world can only make life not only much more colorful and interesting. It brings your senses more to life with such art work around their own homes.

With more of the appreciation of art going to the people, not only delights the senses, it also feeds our interests. Say if you were interested in landscapes, or a specific animal. Having those replications of you interests in the form of art, there for you to enjoy in your own space and show off to others, gives allot of self satisfaction.

So go out there, or surf on the web and get your next art piece, there has never been a better time to start collecting, at a more affordable price, variety and choice. Happy Buying! or should I say Art Collecting.

Permission to reproduce if byline stays intact, courtesy copy appreciated; not required.

New Perceptions In Art Through Neuroscience Research

December 3rd, 2015 by hesty No comments »

THE PERCEPTION OF ART

If we go to an art gallery, we react to the artwork in many ways. We may feel mildly interested, quite interested, entranced, inspired. Or we might feel bored, disinterested, mildly disturbed, upset, aggravated or even, enraged. Without knowing about how to look at art, its history, or what is behind the meaning of what we are looking at, our reactions are subject to our own personal feelings. If we had taken an art appreciation class or studied about art history, we would have a different perception; a knowledge of how the art developed and where we could place it in the timeline of art development today.

Art education– knowing art movements, timelines, developments, what motivated artists of the past personally and sociologically, will alter our perspectives and change the way we see art. For example, if we know nothing of Picasso, looking at one of his Cubist paintings may cause us shake our heads and walk away, perplexed. How could that chopped up vision of a human being be attractive and meaningful? But if we had read about Picasso during his Cubist period and knew that the colors he used were monochromatic and architectural for a reason, that Picasso was dealing with translating natural rounded forms to geometrical, flattened forms and that these images would inspire a new era of contemporary painting-then would we see Picasso’s Cubist paintings differently?

Yes. For many of my Art Appreciation students, a paradigm shift and expansion of their skills of perception occurred. And in most cases, they learned how to enjoy art within a new context of understanding: a broader visual and historical, information-rich understanding.

But now, there is additional knowledge in neuroscience that has shaken the foundation of these studies of Art Appreciation and Art History.

A NEW ART APPRECIATION

Very recently, within the last decade, the perception of art has been studied by scientists and, especially, neuroscientists, that look at how neurons in our brains respond to various stimuli, including the visual, and especially, art.

These studies are just surfacing to the public through various publications, and altering our ideas of how we perceive art. Those of use who were linked to their own personal perceptions of art, as well as those (like me) who have studied and taught the subjects of Art History and Art Appreciation, have been altered indelibly by these new neuroscience studies.

Is this research making Art Appreciation and Art History so very different? Yes. From a neuroscientist’s point of view, we are, indeed, hard wired in our brains for seeing things in a certain way and the art we have manufactured for thousands of years, has been gauged to our neural response to the images we have created.

The ultimate realization of this new neuroscience research is that the global art market has its roots in this understanding-not that anyone selling art since the Jurassic has gauged their sales on neuroscience, but has been inadvertently in line with the knowledge that some visual images appeal more than others. How many other global markets can begin to equate and calculate their sales according to this new technology?

WHAT IS NEUROAESTHETICS?

A new and interesting science is developing in the perception of art why we like what we see, and how the art market responds to our visual desires. Neuroaesthetics, is a new definition of perception which V.S. Ramachandran, a noted neuroscientist, writes about in his recent book, “The Tell-Tale Brain,” As a scientist researching many areas of neuroscience, he says, “Science tells us we are merely beasts, but we don’t feel like that. We feel like angels trapped inside the bodies of beasts, forever craving transcendence.” And he adds, this is the human predicament in a nutshell. He responds to our need for a higher being and sees that our ancient profile as human beings gives evidence to this.

Ramachandran offers a new perception on what makes art, why we like what we see and what the art market uses to develop the value of artistic work. He establishes a premise that looks at how we see art in a new way. Through his research in brain-response situations, he has developed a profile of how and why art is attractive to us.

WHAT ARE MIRROR NEURONS?

Mirror neurons in our human brains are unique in that we can empathsize (feel the way they do) with our fellow humans in a way that animals or any other species can’t. In the development of our brains over thousands of years, we have become aware of not only ourselves as an image we keep in our brains (the knowledge and image of self) but also how we can manufacture a trail of history, make our own personal data album and autobiography that we can play back for our reference to relive tender memories, anxious moments, challenging situations, and terrible, sad events. Because we are knowing our own selves, we can record our personal histories in great detail in our brains and use these historical memories as resources for our development (or demise, if we get depressed or chronically affected by our negative past.)

A NEW PERCEPTION OF ART

V.S. Ramachandran’s research and creation of neuroaesthetics has entered the world of Art History and Art Appreciation and is changing the perspective of art history.. Prior to his studies, art historical research, which became the study and research of Art History, was established in the early 19th century. A profile and timeline of art development was developed which gave credible history to the development of painting, and sculpture basically in the Western world.

These studies gave a picture to the academic community of the development of art from the cave paintings to contemporary art in Europe and America. In the American academic world, Art History 101, the child of Art History development and has been the prime educational subject on the history of art until the present.

THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY

This Art History outline presently taught in most academic environments, rich with documentation, often has a narrow view of historical creative endeavor in that it is not global and so to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding world, the study of Art History has to be updated to include many the creative cultures of many other civilizations including Africa, Indonesia, Asia, China, Russia and beyond.

The view from the science community echoes an interest and need for many areas of study to go ahead into the future. What studies in neuroscience define for us is our global link as humans hard wired to see our creative development in a new and different way. For all of our accumulated wealth in the sciences, the link to other cultural resources has been a detriment to our development as a nation and a global linking with other cultures. Science has always had its strengths in objectivity, observation and empirical judgment. Within an ever-expanding world of knowledge, it is necessary for every source of research to spread unrestricted into other sources so that the total spectrum of knowledge will be enriched and therefore, benefit the global community.

How to Choose a Martial Arts School – 10 Steps Guaranteed to Save You Time and Money

November 29th, 2015 by hesty No comments »
  • What are the most important things to look for when comparing martial arts schools?
  • What are the tell tale signs of a quality school that you can spot immediately?
  • What are the best questions to ask, and how do you know if they can really deliver?
  • What part of a contract can you negotiate?

These are just some of the important questions you need to know how to answer before shopping around for a martial arts school.

A commitment to martial arts is an investment in time and money, so knowing exactly what to look for in a school, and knowing what questions to ask, will give you the clarity and confidence to make a smart choice.

A bad choice in a martial arts school can be an expensive lesson, so use this guide to educate yourself.

There is a huge variety of martial arts schools out there. Facilities range from expensive health-club-like facilities to open space warehouses. Martial arts schools aren’t regulated to insure quality of instruction or business practice. There is no official governing body and no universal grading standard in martial arts. Almost anyone can open a school and appear to be an expert.

What do you look for beyond price, amenities and convenient schedules? While most people first consider price and the facility, there are more important factors that you need to consider first!

These 10 steps show you how to make the best decision in choosing a martial arts school:

  1. Objective
  2. Instructors
  3. Class Dynamic
  4. Student Results
  5. Curriculum
  6. Style
  7. Facility
  8. Service
  9. Price/Fees
  10. Instinct

1. OBJECTIVE:

Before you start looking into martial arts schools, determine your true goals for martial arts practice. To get the most out of your training, clearly identify your real goals and the specific benefits you want to have.

Ultimately, you just want to feel good about yourself and feel super confident, right?

However, this is usually not enough of a specific emotional motivator for consistent practice.

The majority of people who start martial arts rarely make it past a few months of consistent practice. It’s not just a lack of motivation. Not having clear goals is usually why people don’t follow through in practice.

To determine what you really want from training, start by narrowing down what you wish to focus on.

The focus of your practice can be broken down into several areas. There’s no right or wrong – it comes down to personal preference.

For starters, you can number these in order of importance.

  • Physical Fitness as the main goal, with martial arts aptitude as a secondary benefit.
  • Purely Combative Focus, with fitness and personal growth as added benefits
  • Creative and Artistic Expression, aesthetics, beauty and WOW Factor
  • Competitive Focus, sports aspects such as one on one competition
  • Mental and Emotional Growth, catalyst for self-discovery and spiritual growth, cultural and philosophical interests

Ask yourself clarifying “Why” questions, so you can identify what you’re really going for.

This is the first step in filtering the selection of schools to choose from. Once you’ve identified your goals for martial arts practice and understand why they are your goals, you’re ready to search for a school.

2. INSTRUCTORS:

An instructor plays the key role in how you will achieve your goals.

Finding a good instructor is more important than choosing a style, and is probably the biggest factor in your decision to join a school. It’s nice to have impressive amenities and expensive equipment, but ultimately a martial arts school is only as good as it’s instructors.

Being a black belt doesn’t qualify someone to teach!

  • A competent instructor is knowledgeable, experienced, and has the ability to effectively pass on his craft.
  • A good instructor possesses leadership and communication skills.
  • A great instructor will also display sincere empathy, showing a genuine interest in helping you achieve your goals, bringing out your individual strengths.

Look for other attributes that increase an instructor’s ability to add value to your training:

  • Proven competitive track record, such as World Champion Titles
  • A degree in an area such as psychology, sports medicine, kinesiology or related fields
  • Military, law enforcement, or security experience
  • Involvement in a credible martial arts organization
  • Extensive knowledge of a culture or philosophy that you’re interested in

Although an instructor’s experience and background provides some credibility, don’t be overly impressed with awards and certificates.

Their mindset and level of experience will be apparent through subtleties in character and by their actions.

Quality instructors are sincerely interested in helping You and won’t feel the need to boast about their own credentials or prove themselves. Instead of boosting their own egos, high-level instructors are very attentive on coaching you to achieve your goals.

You can often measure an instructor more accurately by their students’ results and satisfaction than by credentials alone. The students themselves may be the greatest indication of the quality of instruction.

Just like a good business is constantly researching and developing, high-level instructors research and develop methodologies in order to continually improve. A lifetime training in martial arts isn’t enough to reach human potential!

A high level instructor portrays noble characteristics of a role model and leader.

Confident instructors welcome feedback and respond to your questions with patience and insight. They are usually very humble, and rarely speak negatively about any other school or style.

Also, find out if the school’s head instructor is actively teaching. Some schools have classes primarily taught by an assistant or senior students, while the head instructor only makes an occasional appearance.

While assistant instructors may be totally capable of teaching, watch out for schools that “sell” you on the instructor but have someone else teaching.

3. CLASS DYNAMIC:

Make sure you know how to evaluate a school in two parts, the content and the context.

The context of a martial arts school is made up of the training methods and environment. What kind of setting is the school providing?

A supportive learning environment is crucial to maximize the assimilation and retention of material. The context of training can be more important than the content, (or material), intended to be learned.

Look for context such as:

  • The collective mood or energy of the instructors and students
  • The class dynamic – structure and flow
  • How the amenities and equipment are used
  • The training methodologies
  • How the ranking system is structured
  • The quality of service

One of the best ways to evaluate a school is to watch or participate in a class.

You can watch videos, visit a website and read all about the credentials and features of a school. However, you can only get a true feel by “test driving” the actual group classes. Many schools offer free consultations or introductory private lessons.

If a school allows you to watch, or better yet, participate in a class without obligation it speaks highly of their confidence and transparency.

The class dynamic is the best demonstration of the instructor’s martial arts aptitude and ability to teach. It reveals how the students interact with each other and the instructor. It’s also the perfect opportunity to see how their curriculum is implemented into training.

Consider the size of the classes and how that may effect your training. The make up and flow of the classes will either help your learning experience or hurt it.

Look for the following:

  • Is there a significant age difference among students that may restrict your practice?
  • Is there a significant difference in the students’ experiences or physical abilities?
  • How formal or informal are the classes? And, how does that effect your practice?
  • How much supportive individual attention do the students receive?
  • Is there anything about the facility that’ll hinder your practice? such as cleanliness, stale air, too cold or hot, distracting noises, etc.

Many beginners prefer large classes. It can be easier to follow along with the examples of many other students. There’s also less intimidation as the collective group dynamic can conceal individual insecurities and lessons the pressure to keep up.

On the flip side, there is a key benefit to smaller classes that’s important to consider. There is more opportunity to receive personal attention from instructors that can greatly accelerate your learning curve.

Again, instructors are the backbone of a martial arts school. The instructor consciously, or unconsciously, dictates the energy of the entire class.

Here are some other things to look for:

  • Does the instructor facilitate class with control and safety? (Notice if the students are enjoying themselves or seem uncomfortable and hesitant).
  • Is the instructor passionate and actively teaching or seemingly going through the motions and mechanically calling out commands?
  • Do the students seem inspired?

A martial arts school provides the setting of a controlled environment where you’ll train to overcome future or potential challenges. In order to maximize results, good schools teach in a context that anticipates and matches the actual environment of those future and potential challenges.

The classes must simulate the intended environment and must provide the necessary emotional stress in order to engrain instinctual trained responses.

For example:

  • If you’re seeking a combative style for self-defense, look for schools that safely facilitate reality based, high-stress scenario exercises.
  • If you’re training to fight in a ring or cage, look for a school that teaches you how to maneuver in the confines of a ring/cage under the same guidelines of the competition.
  • If you’re goal is to perform in tournaments, look for a school that can facilitate your training in a loud, distracting environment with large mirrors and an audience.
  • If your goal is to have fun getting in shape, look for classes that use good training equipment, have high energy, exciting exercises and a social atmosphere

Pay attention to the flow of the class and notice how much of the class time is instructional. Some schools implement a lot of conditioning drills while others teach with a lot of verbal explanations. Notice if they have a lot of unnecessary “filler time”.

It’s also a good idea to inquire about the school’s ranking system. Most traditional schools use some modification of a belt system, but what’s required to earn each belt can vary drastically from school to school.

Is there a clear standard for aptitude and execution of techniques at each level? Or are the requirements based on time and the amount of classes taken?

Many schools test for promotions after a set number of classes. This gives the perception of building capable intermediate and advanced students, which can be an important aspect of a school’s perceived value. Not to mention, belt promotions are a crucial source of income for some schools.

Remember that there’s no official governing body in martial arts, so belt levels may not be valid outside of that school or organization.

4. STUDENT RESULTS:

The students provide tremendous insight as to the quality of instruction. You can often tell more about a school by the students’ results than anything else.

The students are the products of the school’s training system and methodologies. If the advanced students don’t model your martial arts goals go find another school!

When observing the students, pay attention to the ratio of beginner to advanced students. It’s a good sign if there are a lot of intermediate and advanced students. That means the school is able to retain their students, and usually equates to student satisfaction.

Just as you probably don’t want to eat at a restaurant that’s always empty, be cautious of a school with a few students. What’s considered a small student base? Depending on the size of the facility and how long they’ve been in business, classes that have less than 10 students is a pretty strong sign that there’s something lacking in the school.

Consider the characteristics and personalities of the students as well. It’s important that you are comfortable with your classmates cause you may be spending a lot of time with them.

  • Are they the types of people you’d like to be around and train with?
  • Would you feel comfortable and safe training with them?
  • Are the students supportive of one another or are they highly competitive and trying to outdo each other?

The student dynamic may also reveal how the instructor instills leadership and other life skills that you may wish to develop. Watch how the advanced students handle both challenges and successes.

Take the initiative to speak to some of the students. Getting insight from existing students can make all the difference in your decision to join.

5. CURRICULUM:

Remember that a martial arts school can be evaluated in two parts, content and context. The curriculum and style of a school make up the content.

Whether they call themselves a martial arts school, studio, academy, gym, or dojo, they are still businesses. They will promote themselves in creative ways to gain an edge over the competition. You can expect them to entice you with price incentives, boast their credentials, amenities and equipment, or make claims to get you results in the shortest amount of time possible.

Don’t allow marketing tactics to distract you from determining if the school can actually support your training goals.

Whatever a school claims to provide in your martial arts training, their students, classes and curriculum will give you a good indication of the school’s quality and true emphasis.

The martial arts curriculum, (content), is made up of the techniques and material you will be learning at a school.

The focus of your training must be supported by the curriculum and training methods.

There are key points to look for in determining the quality of a curriculum. Begin by identifying the school’s emphasis. Take into consideration that when there is more focus on one aspect of martial arts, other areas are compromised to some degree.

  • Forms and jump spinning kicks in the curriculum? You’ve most likely found a school with an artistic or traditional focus that may participate in tournaments. If this is what you’re after, the curriculum should consist of aesthetic techniques that have dynamic kicks and beautiful forms with and without weapons.
  • Are the techniques based on kickboxing and wrestling? A lot of sparring and no weapons in the curriculum? This is probably a school that focuses on one-on-one sport competition. Schools that build towards competition usually emphasize physical conditioning to reach peak performance.

Although physical fitness may not be the primary goal in many styles, fitness is generally a by-product of training. You get in shape by default in martial arts practice.

The majority of schools have a curriculum designed to provide a general overall perspective on fitness, sport competition and self-defense. For most people who are just beginning martial arts, a school’s curriculum and interpretation of martial concepts should be comprehensive enough to support you through many years of practice. If this is the case, start to look into other components of the school like their class dynamic.

For those who have martial arts experience, or seeking a specific area of focus, determine if the school’s curriculum actually supports the emphasis you’re looking for.

It’s not uncommon for a school’s true emphasis to be different from how they market themselves. Take note of the techniques in their curriculum and their applications.

For example, let’s say your primary reason for martial arts training is purely for self-defense on the streets. You visit a school that claims to be proficient in teaching self-defense. Yet, they teach fixed stances and forms and only implement weapons training in advanced levels.

This is a big red flag! This doesn’t mean it’s not a good school. It only reveals that their true emphasis is not truly combative.

70% of assaults on the street involve some sort of weapon and over 90% of attacks go to the ground. Any school that claims to teach true self-defense while neglecting weapons training and ground fighting is just plain negligent.

You should seek elsewhere if this is your focus. Modern combative styles will implement training in weapons and ground fighting right from the beginning.

Training methods also implement high stress scenario drills with multiple attackers. You won’t find fancy acrobatics in the curriculum.

Remember the old adage, “A jack of all trades is master of none.” Be cautious of a school that claims to deliver health and fitness AND teach you culture and philosophy AND turn you into a professional fighter AND prepare you for the streets AND promise personal or spiritual growth.

6. STYLE:

Martial arts can be compared to a huge tree with many branches or styles. All “styles” are based on the mechanics of the human body. Every style has strengths and weaknesses as they each focus on different aspects of the arts.

The true measure of a martial art lies in the practitioner, not the style.

Having a general understanding of the different types of styles and their focus will help you in achieving your goals. In martial arts there are hard styles and soft styles.

  • Hard Styles focus on striking techniques where the body is used as a weapon for attacking and defending – force against force. Much of the training is external, based on physical conditioning for strength and agility.
  • Soft Styles focus on redirection and physical manipulation through leverage and positioning – using an opponent’s force against him. There is often more focus on internal training, training of the mind as well as developing the body’s sensitivity to energy.
  • Blended Styles incorporate concepts from both hard and soft styles in a complimentary method, flowing and transitioning from hard to soft and vice versa.

Depending on the area of focus, each style differs in philosophy and training methods. Applications obviously differ as well.

Among styles the emphasis of training will primarily focus on one of the following areas:

Artistic Expression – Schools with an artistic focus emphasize creative physical expression – the “art” aspect of “martial arts”. Artistic styles implement forms or choreographed techniques in training. They typically have more aesthetic beauty, as movements are fluid and graceful like a gymnast or dancer.

Tradition – Traditional styles are rooted with Eastern culture and philosophy. Traditional schools implement both external and internal training for the development of the mind-body-spirit relationship. With this emphasis, martial arts practice serves as lessons for life skills. Practice may also encompass elements of spiritualism.

Competition – Competitive styles generally focus on the sports aspect of martial arts. Competitions can range by category including weight class, level of experience, geographic region and specific style. The emphasis is on winning recognition such as rankings, awards, and trophies that is based on a fixed set of rules.

Combat – Combative styles focus on street defense or military application, including law enforcement. It’s the “martial” part of “martial arts”. The emphasis is on practical application over aesthetic form or physical conditioning. Training includes weapons and reality based scenario exercises.

Fitness – Schools that focus on fitness use martial arts as a catalyst for holistic health. Classes usually consist of fun, energetic physical exercises based on martial arts techniques. Classes will typically implement a broad and general combination of styles and areas of focus.

There are also Modern Styles, which are evolved blended styles that are the result of further researched and developed methodologies. Their focus can be artistic, competitive, combative, or emphasize physical fitness.

While it may be a good idea to blend styles, it can be counter productive to combine your area of focus. Be clear on which area you wish to predominantly focus on.

Again, there’s no right or wrong style. It’s a matter of personal goals and preference.

7. FACILITY:

The first thing to consider is the school’s location in relation to your home or workplace.

Creating a new habit can be challenging, so convenience plays a big role in supporting consistency. You may be commuting several times a week for training, so make sure the facility is close enough so it doesn’t become an excuse for you not to go.

Martial arts schools come in many forms. They can be part of a franchise, belong to an organization, or be a one man show run by a single instructor. They may resemble a fitness gym, yoga studio, gymnasium or warehouse.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and don’t judge a martial arts school by it’s facility.

Although you can’t measure the quality of a school by the facility alone, it does reveal a lot about the owners mindset, aptitude, emphasis of the style and curriculum, as well as the school’s level of professionalism.

The degree of cleanliness may reflect the standard of service. You can get a good idea of the school’s style and emphasis by the school’s design.

A school should have the amenities and equipment that support the context of it’s curriculum, such as a cage or ring for MMA or kickboxing, proper mats for Jiu Jitsu, etc.

Consider what the school puts money into and determine if it actually adds value to your training.

Also notice the subtle details of the facility that may effect on your training. Does the air stink? Does the lighting or colors of the facility effect your energy and mood? How’s the parking? Is it noisy?

Remember, expensive equipment, and other luxuries equals higher tuition fees. Be aware of the costs of extra rooms and large offices that don’t directly add value to your training.

With a good instructor and some basic equipment you can practice anywhere!

8.SERVICE:

Some schools have great sales and marketing techniques to get you to join. But, it’s the quality of ongoing customer service that really counts.

Choosing a school that’s skilled in customer service will potentially save you from a lot of unnecessary headache. Poor customer service can ruin your martial arts experience at any level.

Make sure that there are open lines of communication and that staff members are readily accessible to answer questions to your satisfaction.You may be with a school for many months or even years. Choose a school that cares enough to build a relationship with you.

Know how to distinguish sales techniques from service.

As mentioned, some schools are great at getting you in the door with attractive features and promotions. The question is, once you have signed up are you just another enrollment?

A good comparison is the large franchised fitness gyms. Their amenities, equipment and low monthly fees are hard to pass up. However, once you join there’s virtually no service whatsoever. There are too many people who have gym memberships and don’t use them. They already have your financial commitment – a contract. Rest assured their service will pick up when it’s time for renewal. But is that service or just another sales technique?

The level of transparency is the greatest measure of a school’s integrity. It’s a reflection of their standards of service.

  • Does the school fully disclose all the costs involved in your training? Some schools have additional fees, like mandatory programs or association fees, that they don’t mention until you reach a certain point in your training.
  • When you have questions, do you get a clear answer right away or do you get an evasive response? The response you get is a good sign of what kind of service you can expect.
  • Many schools require you to sign a contract in order to take classes. Some schools offer a trial period where you can pay for a number of classes before you agree to a contract. A contract is simply a written agreement between you and the school, and it can always be negotiated. They should be willing to explain the details of the contract to your full understanding and agree to make any changes you feel are important, as long as it’s mutually beneficial.

9. Price and Fees:

How important is price to you? For many people, it’s the only real limiting factor.

Since most people don’t know how to compare value to price, martial arts schools generally don’t advertise their prices – unless they’re promotional.

Be honest. Before you read this guide, what’s one of the first thing you wanted to know about a martial arts school?

Fees are usually priced by:

  • Term period – specified time period with flexibility of the amount of classes taken, usually monthly or yearly
  • Number of classes – specified amount of classes taken
  • Combination of term and number of classes – usually a monthly fee based on the number of classes taken per week
  • Specific Programs – packaged programs such as Black Belt Clubs, Instructor Programs, Certification Programs, Seminars, etc.

Tuition can range anywhere from $50 per month to $500 per month, depending on the school. Nowadays, the average tuition is about $150 per month for 2-3 classes per week.

Tuition isn’t the only cost to consider. You will eventually be investing in training equipment, to some extent. Keep in mind that some styles require more equipment.

While price is important, a common mistake is to compare price without comparing value.

Consider the previous steps and the benefits before you focus on price. This way you can place some sort of dollar value on each component of a school and then shop around.

Think of the convenience of schedule and location, the suitability of teaching style, class dynamic and level of instruction in relation to your personality and goals – can you put a price on that?

With the knowledge you gained by reading this guide, you can make an educated choice in “how to invest” in your training instead of “being sold” a membership.

Most schools require annual contracts. The contract should clearly explain the details of your membership. Generally, schools don’t offer any refunds on tuition.

In most cases, a school will agree to make reasonable changes to the contract if you ask them.

If you’re committed to your practice and have found a school following this guide, signing a contract is usually not an issue. However, knowing potential costs and understanding school policies will help you negotiate any changes, if necessary. What you’re really after is “peace of mind”, isn’t it?

A contract should be mutually beneficial, so you want to insure that the contract also benefits you. This can mean discounted rates, as an example. A contract is also an incentive for you to get your money’s worth by coming to class regularly.

Ask about:

  • Price incentives for paying in full
  • Discounts for family members
  • Training equipment – and if they have to be purchased directly from the school
  • Belt testing fees
  • Any federation or association member fees
  • Cost for programs such as Black Belt Clubs and any other mandatory programs
  • Membership freezes in case of travel, injury, or maternity
  • Policy for relocation or moving
  • Fees for early cancellation

It’s also a good idea to ask whether the billing is managed directly by the school or if they use a billing company. Many schools use a billing company to help manage your tuition payments.

If the school out-sources their billing, you will be dealing with the billing company for the payment of your tuition fees. The billing company will generally only contact you if you are late on your payment. If you ever have to deal with the billing company you can expect the type of service you get from a collection agency. They can also make negative reports on your credit.

A high-quality school has the confidence to earn your business without requiring a contract. But they are rare. These schools are clear about their role. They focus on their core responsibility of providing quality instruction and guidance in your martial arts practice. Schools of this caliber don’t need to use creative sales and marketing techniques. Their business is built by their reputation, word-of-mouth.

10. INSTINCT:

Pay attention to your intuition when visiting a school. While going through the 10 steps outlined in this guide, you’ll instinctively know when you’ve found the right school.

  • How long the school has been in business? Are they stable?
  • Are you confident in the instructor?
  • Do you like the instructor’s teaching style and personality?
  • Are the students friendly?
  • Did you have fun? Did you feel inspired?

Ultimately, we make decisions based on our emotions and we justify them with logic.

Your decision should be instant and definite. If you find yourself thinking too much or having to convince yourself, something is out of whack. Go back to step 1 or keep looking.