How to Make an Un-Educated Decision about Choosing a Martial Arts Gym

By February 15, 2014Articles, Blog, FAQ

What is the Biggest Mistake that a prospective martial arts student can make?


I know what you’re thinking. You run a martial arts school. You want us to come in so you can sign us up. (Yes it’s true, martial arts schools require money too!)

But the school visit is also 100% necessary if you want to make an educated decision.

Chipotle Chicken Tacos vs. Oysters and Caviar

Lets use a different example. Here we have 2 restaurants with the exact same rating on Yelp. 4.5 stars.


We have Breakroom, a burger and taco place. We also have Per Se, a fine dining, 3 Michelin-star restaurant.

If I am like most prospective buyers, the #1 question on my mind is ”How much does it cost?”

When I call Breakroom, I am happy to discover that a taco costs less than $3 dollars – which means I could get a full meal for less than $10. Now when I telephone Per Se, I am shocked to find that my meal there would be $270.

Both places are obviously successful businesses that supposedly sell the same thing i.e. food. Yet, they are in completely different stratospheres in what they actually sell. In other words, they sell more than ‘being full’ or getting calories so your body can continue to function.




Breakroom sells convenience. Per Se sells ambiance. Breakroom is inexpensive. Per Se is luxury. You need reservations at one and not the other. Etc.

Is dinner at Per Se REALLY worth $270? Also, is dinner at Breakroom worth $10?

Well, the only way to tell is by eating there. Because the value of the meal is solely in the the eyes of the diner.

Want a special night out, say for an engagement? Per Se is your choice. Need to grab a quick meal? Per Se is not going to work. You need to weigh those factors against the price and what you are trying to get out of it.

This is the same with martial arts schools.

Some schools are cheap. Some schools are expensive. Some schools CAN make you a champion. Some schools CAN’T make you a champion. Some schools are very relaxed. Other schools emphasize discipline. Some places are more casual. Others schools emphasize competition.

And there is no way to determine those factors without visiting. For example, I would never train at a place that was dirty because of staph, ringworm, etc. So even if the place was $50 / month and right next to my house, its out of the question for me.

When I first became interested in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I wanted to compete and win big competitions. I looked for schools and trainers that had proven competition results before choosing one. Guess what? These guys charged more but I felt it was worth it in order to accomplish the goals I had set for myself!

What are some reasons why you should visit?

    1. You can’t determine the personalities, attitudes, and lifestyles of the gym population without visiting. You’re going to be spending lots of time with these other students. Its important to make sure that they are ‘cool’ and you feel comfortable among them.
    2. There is no way of knowing if the place is clean. On the “internets”, every school is ‘clean’, has a ‘world champion’, is friendly and professional… yada yada yada. When you visit, you realize that half the people have ringworm and the mats get washed with the mop that they clean the bathroom with.
    3. Are you going to enjoy the class? You can teach the same martial arts in different ways. I’m sure you’ve had teachers that you really liked, and teachers that you didn’t, even teaching the same subject. Furthermore, many people begin interested in one martial art, and end up falling in love with another (just like switching majors in college).
    4. What are the facilities like? Photographers can do miracles these days. I’ve seen tiny tiny gyms look titanic due to creative photography. I’ve seen empty gyms look like its Dorsia on a Friday night because they called everyone in for a special event. I’ve even seen instructors take their students to OTHER GYMS, and take pictures there and put those pictures on their site. You need to visit to see how the place looks and operates.
    5. Who’s teaching? Are they qualified? There are lots of “Big Name” associations with 100 schools located throughout the United States. Students go to these schools and think that Big Name is going to be on the mats with them, teaching and coaching. They are pretty disappointed when they discover that Mr. Big Name only visits 2x a year (you do get to wear his name on your t-shirt though).

My point is… make an educated decision by coming in to check out any martial arts gym for yourself. Try out a class. Meet some of the people.

For many people, martial arts ends up being a long-term activity, so make sure you end up in the right place by doing your due diligence.

Unlike restaurants, we offer a Free Trial where you can actually come in and “eat the food.” Its free and will help you to determine if you and Crazy 88 are a good match. Don’t neglect that step!

About Julius Park

Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. I've produced World Champions from Blue Belt up to Brown Belt. My next goal is to get a student to the Black Belt World Champion level and into the UFC. I have an English Bulldog, Ghostface, who has so far resisted all training methods.