Choosing between taekwondo schools? Let us guide you in the right direction
You want to get it right.
You're planning to invest time and money in taekwondo training. You want results. And a positive experience.
We've trained in many taekwondo schools. In the UK. In Australia. And in South Korea.
And we like to think we know a good martial arts club when we see one!
Of course your ideal martial arts school depends on who you are and what you want.
What's right for one person might not be right for another.
Our general guidelines apply to you whoever you are. And there's specialist advice for your situation further down the page.
These general guidelines apply to everyone
The fact is...
It's people that make a martial arts school great. Great taekwondo schools are led by great and passionate instructors who in turn attract great and passionate students.
So ask yourself...
'Do I like these people?' 'Do they seem friendly?' 'And do the students seem happy and relaxed?'
Watch a session and take in the atmosphere. (A good school should let you do this).
Do you like the way the instructor teaches the students. Are they a positive role model? Do they seem to inspire their students? Do you think they are someone you and your family can train with week in, week out?
If the answer to all of the above is 'yes' - that's great!
But if you feel uncomfortable around the instructor. Or the students look at all intimidated.
And the Dojang? Try not to get distracted by the premises. A flashy Dojang does not always mean a good school.
We've had some amazing training sessions in scruffy church halls and freezing cold sports halls. It's good to see taekwondo schools taking care of their Dojang. But appearance is not everything.
Sorry to labor the point... The people inside the Dojang are far more important to you than the 4 walls around them.
Beware of the promise of a black belt in 2 years.
For most students the road to black belt and beyond is a long and winding one. With many bumps and troughs along the way.
For most people, on a normal training schedule, to reach any kind of decent standard in martial arts takes far, far longer than a couple of years.
The best schools we've seen take time to train their students slowly and meticulously. And your black belt really means something when you finally get there.
You get great benefits from either style. Your club is far more important than the code. You can always choose to cross-train later once you have a good grounding.
Here's how to choose the right taekwondo school for your child
As we've already said...
Look closely at the instructor. They are the key. If your child does taekwondo for any length of time, that person is going to play a big role in your child's development.
Ask yourself some basic questions.
Do you like the teacher? Are they friendly and open? And do you honestly feel happy to trust them with your kids?
Watch a lesson.
How are they interacting with the students? Are the children obviously enjoying the session? Are they getting praise and encouragement mixed in with discipline?
Taekwondo instructors have to tread a fine line.
They take students out of their comfort zone and make them face up to their weaknesses and fears.
And in the process the student gains physical and mental strength.
If tkd instructors are too gentle then kids don't gain the strength taekwondo can give them.
However if a martial arts instructor is too strong or very hard on children (or indeed adults) it can be demoralizing and really knock self-confidence. And the training can actually have a negative effect.
Is the instructor on the right side of the line for your child?
And once you finally enroll your child. Watch a couple of classes. And make sure you're still happy.
And for teenagers?
It seems especially hard for teenagers to stay motivated and keep training in taekwondo. They are easily distracted by other options!
If you want your teenager to stay in martial arts. Your best bet is to look at taekwondo schools where other teenagers train. Teenagers really enjoy the interaction with others their age. And the peer pressure and competition spurs them on to reach higher standards.
For boys in particular sparring seems to be very important. They can quickly get bored if there is a big emphasis on poomse and basics.
Do you want to train with your kids?
If you feel like giving taekwondo a go yourself have a look for a family tkd club.
Many taekwondo schools have sessions where kids and adults can train together. It certainly beats sitting watching!
It's great to train alongside your child. They respect you for it. And you can motivate each other when it gets tough.
And best of all...
It strengthens family bonds.
Are you starting martial arts as an adult?
Is taekwondo your new challenge? Maybe you're looking to try something totally different. Something to boost your self-confidence?
In reality it's hard to walk into a Dojang full of students who seem to know what they're doing. And to be the old guy or girl at the back. The one who's unfit, un-coordinated and un-flexible!
You're most likely to do well if there are others there in the same boat! Many taekwondo schools have students just like you starting as adults. Look around.
You'll find one.
And when you do. You'll get an instant support network. And some great new friends.
Here's some examples of great taekwondo schools and great taekwondo masters
Vo's2 taekwondo school in the UK is where we started our martial arts journey. Learn here about Rachel Innes and our first taekwondo home.
The institute of modern taekwondo (IMT) in Sydney, Australia is an itf school run by 6th degree black belt Ron Claassens. We took the chance to train with him and find out more about his martial arts journey. A fascinating experience!
And in February 2010 Master Ron moved his school to a dedicated martial arts center.
In August 2009 we trained with Winston Churchill Fellow Master Alex Edwin 4th Dan taekwondo. He took time out of his international tour to teach us. We learned great ideas for improving our kicking technique and some useful self defense tips.