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6 Red Flags to Look for When Choosing a Martial Arts Studio

Jul 1st, 2022

If you plan to start martial arts training, you can’t get far without first choosing a martial arts studio. If visions of unfriendly students or money-hungry studios haunt you when it comes to starting martial arts in a new studio, we can help assuage your worries. Choosing a martial arts studio is a crucial part of enjoying your practice, so let’s look at a few red flags to keep in mind when choosing your studio.

What to Know When Starting at a Martial Arts Studio

Students of martial arts have different goals, attitudes, and desires. Not every martial arts studio is a good fit for the student and sometimes that’s okay; it doesn’t always mean there is anything wrong with the student or the studio.

Some students also have unrealistic goals—they may expect to earn a black belt in an unreasonable amount of time. Students may leave bad reviews for a martial arts studio online or complain if these unreasonable goals are met.

Yet, with these two differences in mind, there are some solid warning signs to watch out for when choosing a martial arts studio.

Cult Leaders Instead of Teachers

You can easily find accounts on Instagram and Facebook that show martial arts instructors performing rather questionable practices. While the idea of ki or chi is a valid idea found in martial arts, some instructors seem to think they can simply raise their hands in the air like a Jedi and make students fall to the ground by some secret force they alone have mastered—that’s a red flag.

The internet never fails to produce some interesting examples of martial arts red flags, like instructors taking on ten students “attacking” them at once and dispatching them all. You’ll even find instructors who claim they can make their students fall to the mat with simply a glance. If you aren’t familiar with this type of dojo or instructor, it’s a bit hard to explain; you’ll recognize the off, cult-like activity quickly, though.

It’s often more silly than harmful, but this type of behavior doesn’t usually lead to a solid martial arts experience for students. Go check out your prospective martial arts studio online, including their website and social media accounts. These resources will give you insight into whether you’re dealing with charlatans or studios that take the core principles of martial arts seriously.

Suspicious Fee Structures

Running a martial arts studio isn’t an easy path toward riches; owners and instructors need to charge a fair price to get by. For many owners and instructors, teaching martial arts is a labor of love, not a get-rich-quick scheme. Martial arts training is a business just like any other; if the dojo can’t make enough money to survive, they can’t continue to teach their students.

However, be wary of any martial arts studio that wants you to pay for years of instruction ahead of time. Fee structures differ depending on the studio and it isn’t strange for studios to ask for some kind of commitment upfront. However, if there are constant unexplained recurring charges or new fees that weren’t stated ahead of time, consider that a major red flag. Openly discuss the fees and costs you’ll incur as a student with your prospective studio before joining. A trustworthy martial arts studio will make its pricing and student expenses clear.

Constantly Changing Schedules

It’s normal for martial arts studios to re-arrange their schedules every now and then, but if it’s frequent, you should take this as a red flag when choosing a martial arts studio. A school that is constantly shrinking its class times is not a thriving school. Additionally, if you can’t rely on a fairly consistent schedule from your studio, it will only be that much harder for you to create a solid habit of practicing.

Instructor Attitude

Some people just don’t get along with each other. Instructors are people just like anyone else and they have unique personalities. Some students enjoy a “drill instructor” type attitude in their teacher while others can’t tolerate too much intensity in a learning environment. There’s lots of variation in students and instructors just as there is among teachers in a classroom setting.

However, certain instructor profiles are a red flag when choosing a martial arts studio. If your teacher believes themselves to be a reincarnated ancient warrior-monk or “the best fighter in the world,” you may have some problems on your hands. Another warning sign to watch out for is a teacher who has barely gained their black belt but has already invented an entirely new martial art that is “better than all the rest.” It likely goes without saying, but if your instructor is routinely pummeling their students to the point of injury, you should not join that dojo.

Distance from Your Home

It’s important to consider the distance between your prospective dojo and where you live. Distance is often an overlooked reason many students end up quitting their program.

Start Your Martial Arts Journey Today

Ready to start the next chapter of your healthy and active lifestyle? Premier Martial Arts welcomes students of all levels to enjoy our professional, expert instruction and supportive martial arts studio environment. Find one of our many studios near you to start your martial arts journey or take a look at our student testimonies for some extra confidence.


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We make it easy to try our martial arts programs. Our start-up offer includes two private lessons with a PMA expert trainer to explore your ability level and find the right programs to help you meet your goals. We even include a uniform – everything you need to make a positive change!


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