How do you choose a karate school?

In Canada, karate and martial arts schools are largely unregulated. This means that you or your child could be training with someone who does not really have any training or background in either the safe conduct of a class involving vigorous physical activity, or teaching anything to anyone. The closest thing to regulatory bodies are provincial and national sport organizations. However, it is not necessary to belong to one of these groups to open a school.

If for a Junior (under 16 years of age)

  • Is drop-off and pick-up easy to manage?
  • Is the school/program certified by a government-recognized organization?
  • What organization certified the instructor(s); is this verifiable?
  • What is the teacher/student ratio? (Sport Canada recommends 1:5 ratio for under age 6)
  • What kind of sparring (e.g. no-touch, point, full-contact) is involved in training?
  • Does the school allow for membership suspension for summertime, sickness/injury, or extended travel?
  • Who is actually teaching the Junior (under age 16) Program, e.g, an adult black belt with at least 3 to 5 years experience in karate?

What are the teachers'/instructors' qualifications beyond a karate certificate? For example:

    •any sport science or phys. ed. certification?
    •current police record check?
    •current First Aid certification?
    •experience/education/training regarding working with children?

If for a Junior or Adult student

  • Who did the chief instructor receive his/her dan (black belt) rank from; is it verifiable?
  • Is the karate style one that could be studied elsewhere, in case you move?
  • Is there a written fee schedule for ALL costs involved with training, including belt exams and mandatory seminars?
  • Is it necessary to purchase uniforms and equipment from the school, or can these items be purchased elsewhere?
  • Who actually teaches the class that you or your child will train in?
  • Can newcomers try a free class before committing to a membership?
  • Is it mandatory to compete in tournaments?
  • Does the school/instructor make claims about competition achievements that don't stand up to scrutiny?
  • Is the teacher receptive to questions about him/her and the program?

Ask to watch an intermediate class. These students have been with the school for more than a year.

—Do the students behave respectfully?
—Does the class include proper warm-up and exercises, in addition to the 
   karate technique?
—Is the instruction and curriculum age-appropriate for the class?

Most importantly, are YOU comfortable with the teacher(s) and other students in the program? It's important to find a karate class that fits with your goals.

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