How to Choose a Martial Arts School | Tristar Martial Arts Eldersburg

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My son has been going since 6th grade he is now in 9th grade and is now going to be a black belt. This has been such a positive activity in his life.

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Both of my sons (ages 4&6) are enrolled at Tristar. The instructors are wonderful, and provide a great balance of structure, patience, and humor when working with the students. My children love the extra activities, like theme nights and day camps, available in addition to their classes. The classes are flexible and can accommodate busy schedules. We would highly recommend Tristar to anyone interested in enrolling their children in martial arts!

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How to Choose a Martial Arts School

If you are considering starting a Martial Arts program for you or your child, the information in this article is going to be incredibly helpful!


Because we’re going to lay out a solid criteria to help you avoid a place that might have poor instruction, contradictory morals, or sketchy business practices, to find the best Martial Arts School for you and your family.


The majority of people who call us, ask the same few unhelpful questions:

  1. What style of martial arts do you teach?
  2. How much does martial arts cost?

Although both of these questions have merit, they will tell you very little about what you really need to know. Especially if that’s all you ask! Let’s look at these common questions a little more:

Questions about Style

After just a cursory Youtube search comparing different Martial Art styles, you may start to think that all styles look similar to each other. This is because of the limits of anatomy; there are only so many things that the human body can do.  The real difference to look for in your search therefore, is not the style, nor the techniques, but the culture and philosophy of the Martial Art school in question. Two schools with the same style may produce two completely different experiences, so it’s good to look a little deeper into each.

Questions about Price

Every Martial Arts school offers something unique: a different type of community, a different experience, and therefore a varying quality or value.  It’s best to determine what kind of value you want to get out of your Martial Arts Experience before making a judgement based on price.


With the above in mind, we’ve put together 5 questions that we think are most important to ask when trying to determine what school will be best for you and your family.


What is valuable to you? What are your goals? Why are you attracted to the idea of martial arts? These are questions that you need to ask yourself and be clear about before you go Martial Arts school shopping. Martial Arts have several benefits. If you are clear about your priorities, the easier it will be to recognize the school that will give it to you. Put these in order of priority to you:

  • self defense
  • confidence
  • character development
  • social connection
  • fun activity
  • physical fitness
  • competition or sport
  • mental toughness
  • balance and focus
  • self discipline
  • goal setting
  • creative expression
  • positive role modeling
  • supportive community


With your priorities clear, now you can do some research. Here are some things you should consider when looking at martial arts businesses online:

  • Reviews and Testimonials – check out the school’s reputation on review sites like Yelp and Google. How long have they been in business? What do others have to say about the quality of instruction?
  • Values and Mission – just as you are clear about what you are looking for, you will want to find a school that is clear about who they are and what they have to offer. Look for your priorities in their messaging.
  • Age Specific Curriculum – regardless of whether you want lessons for you or a family member, it is important that classes are divided by age according to capabilities. For instance, teaching a 40 year old, a 13 year old or a 6 year old require different skills and distinct curriculum. The more specific the better.
  • The Team – how many instructors are there? Is there a support staff? A professional school should have a team of qualified instructors to ensure an appropriate student/instructor ratio. There is consistency and support in a team vs. the best intentions of a single operator.
  • Legacy – Martial Arts is steeped in great tradition and there are many benefits in being associated with a school that has a rich history and connection with a governing system.


The internet is convenient but you must go visit any school you are considering before you make a decision. Go at a time when classes are happening so you can get a sense of the tribe.

Here are things you should look for:

  • Is it clean?
  • Is it organized?
  • Are students happy? Is the staff helpful and friendly?
  • Does the instructor follow written curriculum or are they “winging it”?
  • Does the schedule have classes 6 days per week?


Assuming that you are still interested in a school after the online research and in-person visit, it is time for a meeting with the instructor. This is your opportunity to drill down to your priorities and get a better understanding of the philosophy of the school and what your path would include.

It’s important to remember that an instructor’s training does not automatically qualify them to teach. A high school graduate for example, wouldn’t qualify as a high school teacher. With that in mind, here are some good questions to ask when talking to an instructor:

  • What experience and training do you have in working with children?
  • How long have you been teaching here?
  • Where did you teach before this?
  • May I speak with one of your long time students?
  • What do you love about teaching this art?

If you’re looking for a place for your kids to train, you may also want to do a background check on your instructor or ensure that the school you’re looking at does background checks on their staff.


The benefits from martial arts come with the commitment and consistency of training. So, although a free trial class is nice, you will have a better idea of what is best for you if you can take a trial program where you can actually learn some skills and experience first-hand how the organization runs. This trial program should be at least 4 weeks long in order to help you decide if you want to make a longer commitment.

  • Did you have fun and yet learn something valuable?
  • Were your priorities addressed?
  • Do you have a goal and are your next steps clear?

The decision to learn martial arts is the best one you can make for you and your family… as long as you find the best school for you. If you don’t find it right away, don’t be discouraged. Remember, you are looking for a place that you could call home for years to come. You might have to look longer and travel further than you originally anticipated but it will be worth it.


We would love to give you a tour around our award-winning school and give you a free uniform with our trial program. You can register for our trial online! Click here >> SIGN UP