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Our annual dojo membership fee is due each year during April.
Support Arundel Aikikai through custom-amount contributions
Membership fees are due each month for active members. There’s no contract or long-term obligations; just come in and train month-to-month!
Membership fees are due each month for active members. There’s no contract or long-term obligations; just come in and train month-to-month!
Our mat fee is $10, and can be paid online anytime or in person when you train.
Monthly dojo membership for Arundel Aikikai
Testing fee for Aikido color-belt testing at Arundel Aikikai. Kyu & Dan testing is managed at Capital Aikikai.
This question is best answered by other martial artists more qualified than myself, but I’ll give it a go!
To me, Aikido is a martial art about being in full control of yourself: your movements; your body; your movements. To do this, you must be at peace with whatever happens; not seeking to “win” or”compete” against others, not trying to “force” a movement, and not chasing after this or that technique.
As you become more practiced in applying aikido martial arts movement mechanics in response to attacks you become free from worry about what the attacker might do or is doing. You are free from the influence of the attack and the attacker, your response to attack is independent and free from the manipulations and intentions of the attacker. In short, your martial arts responses to an attack emanate from a position of independence, balance, and power. This position is experienced as a peace that exists complete within your control and wholly outside the influence of any attackers.
Aikido was developed in Japan by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), known to Aikido students as O Sensei (Great Teacher).As a young man, he overcame debilitating childhood illnesses through martial arts practice, eventually becoming a master of the sword, the staff, the spear, and the art of ju-jitsu.
O Sensei also held strong Shinto religious convictions concerning the ultimate futility of conflict and the illusory character of victory based on strength. This internal contradiction, which drove O Sensei to adopt a life of austerity and rigorous training, was resolved through an enlightenment experience which led to the development of Aikido, a martial art influenced by a philosophy of universal harmony.
Popular styles of weapons martial arts are Kendo, Iaido, Jodo, Arnis, as well as many other styles of martial arts!
The soft or internal styles of martial arts — often Chinese — teach long and detailed practice patterns (often referred to as forms, or kata). Some styles add weapons to their open-hand or unarmed martial arts forms to compliment the technical depth.
Harder or external styles of martial arts — often Japanese — tend to teach shorter, specific, concentrated, and repetitive forms. Unarmed forms often are separate from weapons practice and cannot be mixed.
Many weapons forms do not emphasize or contain what are traditionally understood of as “blocks,” but employ body position shifts, weapon redirection, or management of combative distance to defend the martial arts practitioner.
Aikido is termed “The Art of Peace” for many reasons. I view it as being at peace with what occurs in your space, and moving independently through what is occurring in your space. I categorize Aikido as a “meta” art as it exists above convenient classification.
The impact of Aikido could be seen as how the practitioner moves through their space. The attacker does not control the Aikido practitioner, rather the Aikido practitioner is in sole control of their responses. These responses could be devastating strikes with hand and/or feet. These responses could be locks and/or breaks. These responses could be spectacular throws. Aikido focuses on the core motions of Martial Arts. In many ways, Aikido might almost be said to have no martial arts techniques – only martial motion. Some weapons techniques are incorporated into Aikido training, but are not emphasized as “Waza” or specific technique with the weapon. Rather, weapons practice in Aikido has traditionally been used to emphasize, explain, or demonstrate basic movement concepts.
Unlike Mixed Martial Arts, Aikido does not focus on picking this or that technique from various disciplines and combining them into a stand-alone or separate martial arts discipline. As a meta martial art, it looks at the basic martial or combat motions that are inherently useful, and works on discarding from our own bodies the motions that are not useful. It assumes any number of attackers can attack with an unlimited number of attacks. Any response to this limitless permutation of aggression that requires the student to choose the correct response will always fail. Our minds cannot response fast enough. Aikido looks to the body — the muscle memory — to respond effectively with only movement. The mind is at peace, and the rest “happens.”
For folks new to the martial art of Aikido, the Aikikai is the original Aikido association. It is headquartered (Hombu) in Japan, and headed by doshu, the living relative of Morihei Ueshiba. Arundel Aikikai is a member of the Capital Aikikai Federation, based out of Silver Spring MD. Capital Aikikai is an officially recognized Hombu association. Rank earned through Capital Aikikai is internationally recognized by the Aikikai.
While the Aikikai is the official organization of Aikido, you may be familiar or have trained with other organizations. As I am not versed in these, I will not do them the disservice of describing them or characterizing their methods or history incorrectly. From what I have seen in students of other styles (in very small sample sizes, as a kind disclaimer), I have observed a larger focus on specific techniques, bigger desire to compete, and more interest in the result of the technique rather than Capital Aikikai’s emphasis of exploring the universal core motions that precede and can create any technique.
The final aim of Aikido is to integrate physical and mental training to develop a confident person who can think clearly and react instantly on and off the mat. It is only through constant training that a student (an Aikidoist or Aikidoka) can acquire the habits of mind which make this integration possible.
In Aikido, such an integrated person is said to be “centered.” A centered person displays a confident and relaxed posture, and centering gives Aikido movements their appearance of grace and simple elegance. Thus, Aikido training helps a student to become calm and centered and enables the student to deal with stress and aggression in an efficient and decisive manner on the mat, at home, at school, or at work.
The Japanese word Aikido is written with three characters which translate as “the way of spiritual harmony.” Aikido is a budo or “martial way,” evolved in the tradition of Japanese warrior arts, yet has a unique approach to self-defense. Aikido is more than a martial science of strategy and tactics, it is a discipline for training the mind and spirit.
Harmony, whole, to fit together, to combine, to unite
Spirit, inclination, will, life, breath
Road, path, way, principle, method
Information/text from our parent dojo, Capitial Aikikai
The ranking structure we follow is that of Capital Aikikai:
The Kyu ranks are 5 through 1, all wearing white belts without hakama (the pleated skirts). The Dan ranks are the black belt rankings and wear hakama.
The color belts are yellow, orange, green, blue, and brown. These belts are for younger students and obtained by testing at Arundel Aikikai. After obtaining brown, younger students are encouraged to test for Kyu ranking.
In Aikido, testing does not impact what the students are taught, when they are shown material, or how quickly they can learn! We hold promotional demonstrations / testing for our younger students twice per year. The tests usually occur in the Fall and the Spring. Testing costs $20 per student, and the students are awarded solid colored martial arts belts (no collecting electrical-tape stripes to pad the price of the belt or the egos of the students.)
Adult students are tested through our parent dojo, Capital Aikikai in Silver Spring Maryland, and pay testing fees to that dojo. Adults seeking Aikikai ranks test for Kyu ranks first, or white belts. After enough time and testing, students may test for Dan ranks, or black belts. Testing fees for martial arts rank through Capital Aikikai normally are about $30 per Kyu rank with Dan rankings costing more, but check their website for the most up-to-date information.
Aikido training has also been shaped by its philosophy of harmony. There are no competitions or tournaments in Aikido. Rank is awarded through a testing procedure which emphasizes self-discipline, rather than the mastery of others. Daily practice focuses on the development of technical skills and awareness through the constant repetition of techniques in a controlled environment in order to master the fundamentals of moving, timing, and breathing.
Most practice is done with a partner: each working at his or her own level of ability, alternating as uke (the attacker) and nage (the one who is attacked). Both roles are stressed; each contributes skills that enhance overall sensitivity and control.
Students train to neutralize the energy of the opponent’s attack and to redirect and focus it into techniques of martial efficiency and power. At the same time, the student can use the same philosophy to deal with stress and conflict in daily life and learn to remain calm under all conditions.
All Aikido techniques and movements are based on the idea of harmony. Aikido emphasizes blending with an attacker by moving in such a way as to neutralize the force of the attack itself and thus neutralize the attacker. This is done by using spherical movements which allow the Aikido student to deflect the attacker’s energy while simultaneously entering close to the attacker; “to blend with the attack,” and so neutralize it.
Properly executed, some techniques are spectacular, sending the opponent flying through the air. Others are more subtle: small deft movements that immobilize the aggressor. Both results are achieved not through the use of brute strength, but by blending and neutralizing the attack, followed by circular and flowing techniques to unsettle the opponent, and completing the movement with a throw or immobilization. Because great strength is not required, Aikido can be practiced by men and women of all ages.
The martial art of Aikido is written with three characters, or kanji; Ai, Ki, and Do. It is pronounced:
([eye], [key], [doe / dough])
The Aikikai – the international organization responsible for the martial art of Aikido – is written with similar characters, and pronounced:
([eye], [key], ([k] [eye]))
Wooden practice weapons — a sword (bokken), staff (jo) and knife (tanto) — are sometimes used in aikido martial arts training. Aikido is not a dedicated weapons art, so students do not necessarily learn weapons kata like those found in jodo and iado. There are many aikido instructors who train in iaido and jodo though, and aikido students will often learn the basic attacks and movements found in these weapons arts.
The most common use of weapons in an aikido martial arts class is to demonstrate or examine an aikido martial arts concept or technique. Many aikido martial arts techniques are based on sword techniques or movements. As such, the movement of sword cuts can be seen throughout aikido martial arts movements in both offense and defense.
Many aikido martial arts techniques are based on neutralizing an attacker or the disarming of an attacker. Aikido techniques in response to an attack are most often practiced without the attacker wielding a weapon. However, most aikido techniques are effective against open hand and armed attackers.
If you’re nervous about ukemi – what we call falling and tumbling – don’t worry! It is perfectly sane and reasonable to be nervous about these things as a beginner.
There are many ways to teach – and learn – tumbling and falling! We never teach something that we feel you cannot safely do, and we present material that is safe for you and where you are. Ultimately, you are in complete control of your experience in training and are not required to do anything you feel is unsafe.
To truly learn Aikido, you do need to be able to receive the attack, or throw. To do this safely, you need to be able to practice ukemi. The specific manifestation of your ukemi, however, is up to you.
View our location page to see where we hold our weekly martial arts classes. From this page you can view our current address on Google maps and get directions.
Arundel Aikikai hosts regular martial arts classes each week.
I do not require any particular uniform for students (other than please don’t be naked!). If you already have a martial arts uniform (gi) you are absolutely welcomed to wear it!
If you don’t have a uniform or are new to martial arts, wear whatever you work out in normally. long or short sleeve T-shirts are fine for the upper body, but I strongly recommend wearing long work-out pants though, as you may find shorts to be inappropriate for some stretching and moving around the practice mat. I would also advise against any restrictive clothing such as jeans.
With Aikido martial arts classes at Arundel Aikikai every class is unique. No two classes are ever the same!
That said, there’s a general pattern we follow in our martial arts classes. First we bow-in to officially start the class. Then, we work through warm ups and basic exercises. Next we practice tumbling and falling. Examination or exploration of technique is the next activity, followed by the final wrap-up and bowing-out.
Our goal in training is not to show students “the steps” or sequences of a technique, though this will happen over time. We structure classes around training students to create unlimited techniques by applying Aikido movement mechanics in response to any (infinite) attacks.
There is a two week trial period for anyone who wants to attend group classes at the dojo! If you are just curious about our are marital arts group or our approach to martial arts you are also warmly welcomed to observe any of our classes before starting a free trial period without that time counting towards your two free weeks.
Our attitude in practicing martial arts is a unique blend of humor, humility, and practical applications of Aikido martial arts technique. We are interested in connecting you to what martial art group and martial art instructor works best for you, even if it is not our dojo.
The trial period is completely free of charge and long-term commitment (though you will need to sign a participation waiver!) Billing for classes is handled on a monthly basis.
View our cost page to review pricing, discounts, and other cost and payment related information.
Look for classes that deliver specific martial arts training – you can always take a group fitness class at a gym.
How long are the classes? How much time is devoted to basic fitness? How much time is spent on martial arts instruction? How often do the students do the same drill or exercise? Is there variety in the training? If it seems that the class is spending a long time on physical fitness, you may not get a lot of martial arts instruction at that location. If the classes are all the same, the material might get old quickly, causing a loss of interest.
Participation in our group’s Aikido classes is paid for via the monthly dojo membership. This membership is not a long-term contract or financial commitment.
Our martial arts membership is paid monthly by cash, check, or credit card (via PayPal). Discounts and price reductions are available for various situations including: students choosing to pay for multiple months at once (optional); family memberships; other as-needed financial situations.
Visit our cost page to view our current pricing structure, applicable discounts, and available payment options.
Our martial arts classes are mixed-age and skill levels. We have a soft minimum-age of 10 years old to train in Aikido with younger student enrollment addressed on a case-by-case basis.
Generally, students younger than ten may join alongside parents or other responsible older family members. Family discounts of course apply.
The answer to this is no – unless you want to! Aikido students do not “spar” like the sport-style or competitive-focused martial arts, so an expensive set of pads or protective equipment is not needed.
We do train with wooden weapons common in Japanese martial arts such as bokken (wooden sword), tanto (wooden dagger), and jo (wooden staff). You can purchase these through our dojo if you’d like your own, but our dojo has a supply of extras you can use during classes.
You’re welcome to purchase a gi or uniform through our dojo or purchase one on your own. You can also train without any gi purchase – the important part is to train!
I do recommend wearing a gi – or martial arts uniform – for practices. Training in martial arts will end up being hard on your normal workout clothes overtime, and wearing a gi saves a lot of wear-and-tear!
However, our focus is on training, not matching outfits 😉 . If you already have a gi from previous martial arts training you are absolutely welcomed to wear it without buying a gi from us! If you don’t have a gi or uniform already, don’t worry! Some students have trained with us for years without purchasing a uniform, while others purchase one soon after starting.
In addition to monthly membership fees, there is an annual fee. This fee covers membership in our parent organization, Capital Aikikai as well as contributions to dojo maintenance. The invoices for this fee are normally billed in the Spring.
Should you want to do so, you can test for rank through our dojo and/or Capital Aikikai. Payment for testing is handled at the time of testing. Testing costs for colored belts is $20 (payable to Arundel Aikikai). Testing for Kyu (white belt rankings) or Dan (black belt) rank is handled through Capital Aikikai. Testing for Kyu rank is generally $30, while Dan testing is generally around $200. However, check their website for most recent prices and testing schedules if you’re interested in learning more.
You can also purchase supplies through our Dojo. Payment for supplies such as Gi or weapons is done via invoice, and handled by purchase.
Only you can answer this question! Do you want to train just for something fun to do or just for fitness? Do you just want to build general confidence and increase a sense of discipline? Do you want a specific object or title, such as a tangible belt, recognition or reward? Do you only care about the practicality of self-defense? Do you want to train in weapons martial arts, or open-hand martial arts?
Many martial arts studios are focused on non-martial arts elements. A quick survey reveals catch-phrases like: discipline; respect; confidence; leadership; strength; tenacity. Schools advertise their ways to fight “bullies,” to find “balance,” or to create “leaders.” Looking at these nice sounding words and phrases though, it is evident that none of them are “martial arts.”
While it is true that training in martial arts may produce or instill the reality of these nice sounding words in you or your family, these are byproducts of training only – not the content of training. These byproducts can be arrived at through energetic and sincere practice of any longer term activity; from ice skating to interpretive dance. If your goal is to obtain these things for you or your child, the best place to start would be to follow what you or your child enjoy the most. Discovering these things from a foundation of honest joy will produce much more authentic and lasting results.
When looking for martial arts training, focus on locating a school that finds joy in the martial arts and focuses on the martial arts. Every lap run, round of jumping-jacks, or push-ups completed are moments spent apart from actual “martial arts” learning.
In a real way, a dojo refers to the people training together, not the building, the instructor, or the business.
When visiting a prospective studio or dojo, do your best to look at who is training. If they are sincere in training themselves and create a space which encourages others to be sincere about their own training, it is likely a good place.
If there seems to be more competition than companionship it might not be a good martial arts environment. If it feels there is a heavy focus on an appearance or attitude or aggression, it might be compensating for weak foundation in martial arts movement mechanics.
Find somewhere were you can be yourself while training, and where you can train to better yourself in line with who you are.
All martial arts groups should strictly follow a liability policy requiring students to sign waivers. They provide protection for you and those you train with by setting the tone for addressing honest mistakes or accidental injury during training.
Liability waivers should contain clauses which cover the instructor, other students, and yourself. A liability waiver should ideally be separate from billing or other pressure to commit financially, and a studio or dojo without a liability waiver or liability waiver policies should possibly avoided or enrolled in with great care.
When looking for martial arts, take note of trail periods and how they are used. Take advantage of trial periods, as the only way to see if a martial art is right for you is to try it out.
Before joining a martial arts trial period, it might be wise to watch a class first to see if it is a good fit. Additionally, information about the cost of martial arts training should not be hidden behind a trial period. If there is not trial period offered or if the studio or dojo will not inform you of their cost until after you complete a trial period, you may want to find another dojo at which to learn martial arts.
Judo is technically a sport-focused martial art, but the most commonly known of these hard martial arts is unquestionably Olympic Style or Sport Style Tae Kwon Do. These sports focus on training students to win in competitions, with practicality of martial technique often being secondary or ignored in deference of rules and winning. Many schools practice significantly fewer forms than combat style martial arts, and the forms that are practiced were developed very recently and for the specific purpose of winning competitions with outward appearance (they have to “look cool” but are under no requirement to be effective) Some schools practice only a single form, while others practice no forms at all. As such, much of the martial value of the forms referenced above under Classical Tae Kwon Do or Karate is lost and classes become group exercise or activity focused.
On offense, the goal of these sports is to place your hand or foot on a target that your opponent wears and is legally allowed to be hit. The offensive goal is “win” a match by earning more points than the opponent, thus rewarding faster and more rapid attacks. Many such places train their students in sparring and focus on tactics that give students the best advantage / move as close to breaking the rules as possible without violating the match rules.
In defense these martial arts rely on the defender’s ability to receive the attack (such as a judo practitioner’s ability to fall or the Tae Kwon Do practitioner’s wearing of pads alongside of protective rules). Defense is primarily directed to reducing the number of points earned by the opponent while presenting the best chance to earn points in subsequent attacks by the defender.
I hope this can be useful for you. As always, contact us if you have any questions or concerns and we will be happy to connect you to answers.
Fitness exercises and drills are valuable in some cases, but every moment an instructor spends teaching fitness and exercise or yelling and punishments is a moment not spent learning martial arts content.
If classes involve a lot of physical activity or repetitive exercise without examination of martial technique, the main focus might not be on martial arts but on physical fitness. A martial arts class looks at more than physical fitness, but on providing students with the chance to explore and challenge curriculum in order to fully own its martial arts content!
Dance training offers unrivaled exercise opportunities and chances to engage in artistic expression. Dance is not as effective at preparing students to effectively recognize and meet the needs of a self-defense situations.
Martial arts are taught through practicing movements, often very similar to dance. The movements practiced in martial arts however, have a specific purpose of generating focused kinetic energy, transporting this energy along precise lines from one person into another person, and transferring as much of this energy into specific places on someone else in order to incapacitate or cause injury.
Martial arts are practiced in groups and in individual forms. Using forms to judge a studios “dance-ratio” is the most reliable evaluation method. Forms in martial arts are densely packed with information. Interpreting and exploring forms can provide a lifetime of insights!
If forms are only taught as movements from one place to another then they might be taught as dance. If there is more focus on how forms look than on exploring how a martial arts form functions, that is also a warning sign of dance.
Respect, ceremony, and bowing are inherently part of martial arts as Asian cultural practices. The degree to which they are focused on, though, will tell you a great deal. If the instructor overly concerned with titles, rank, or patches, pomp and pretension, you may want to stay away. If respect is overtly demanded or harshly commanded to instructors or senior students, that is a red flag for me. You cannot brute or bully respect into existence – it is earned through time and sincerity.
It is very easy to mistake rank with skill. It is also very easy to confuse belts for accomplishments. A school with many levels, stripes, and belts is not inherently bad. However, it is possibly a sign of a profit-based approach to training time, and a commercialization of student sincerity.
This trick question is easy to answer. The best martial art is the one in which you are most experienced, the one in which you have trained the longest. There is no substitute for training, and no techniques to best the investment of time!
In the words of Takeguchi Sensei, “There is no secret, only time in.” In the words of Ted Hillson “Without training, doubts take place. So train!.”
You do not need to be mean to teach someone to defend themselves or to instruct martial arts.
If classes seem harsh or abusive and involve physical fitness “punishments” that don’t seem to have anything to do with techniques or martial skill, that might signal a concern.
If an instructor seems mean spirited in heavily focused on physically abusing or verbally berating their students, they are likely using bullying as a tool to create physical fitness (at the expense of martial content) or they are – in fact – a bully.
What you can afford or how much you can contribute is truly up to you and your financial situation.
Month-to-month payments or recurring billing that places you in charge of payment cancellation without penalty is always recommended.
Generally, studios or schools that require annual (or longer) contracts for payment or do not publish their prices up-front should be avoided. Be wary of enrollment fees or other hidden costs such as required uniform purchases or other equipment you are required to purchase from the martial arts studio itself. The martial arts “product” is time on the mat training in your art with your instructor and peers; nothing else.
Hard martial arts / external martial arts — such as Karate and classic Tae Kwon Do — are often the first that come to mind for many of us. Karate is a Japanese “empty-hand” art, meaning no weapons. Classic Tae Kwon Do is Korean, focusing on techniques of the “foot and the fist.” Both are taught through repeating basic motions and practicing forms solo. Sparring with partners – with or without pads – is often part of training.
The main focus of these martial arts tends to be winning an exchange or competition of hits between the defender and a single or small number of attackers by attacking more often than the defender (thereby winning the exchange) or absorbing (blocking) more attacks than the opponent can absorb or block (thereby producing more damage in counter attacks than the attacker can withstand, crumpling them). Modern Olympic style Tae Kwon Do is included below in the sport category. The majority of techniques are learned through martial arts kata – or forms (Hyung in Korean) — that contain movements that cannot be safely practiced or carried out with partners. The interpretation or exploration of what is occurring in the short and quick motions of the form is where the majority of learning takes place in these arts.
The main categories of martial arts — the types of martial arts — can be divided into hard and soft. Another division often referenced is internal and external. As with all things, many arts combine both soft and hard/. However, more Chinese arts tend to be soft/internal while more Japanese arts are more often Hard/external.
Soft or internal arts that are commonly known are Tai Chi, Pa’Gua, or Qi Gong. Practitioners seek to move through their space softly from their center. Often these styles are based around single, long, and complex forms that contain their techniques and principles. While many individuals seek to learn these forms for gentle motion and general health, the martial arts applications of these forms result in devastating battle-field techniques. Soft martial arts incorporate many “hard” elements such as strikes and breaks. However, the effective practitioner seeks to focus internally on moving softly through their own space or softly attacking like a cracking whip.
Mixed martial arts are a popular outcropping of both the combat style martial arts and sport arts martial arts mentioned above. On the combat style, many systems have cropped up that train in specific techniques picked from various martial arts and combined into a new system and/or new training approach or focus to the martial art. Brazilian Jujitsu, Chuong Nu and Wing Chung are good examples of these types of combat style focused “mixed martial arts. ”
On the sport side of mixed martial arts, the most well known arena of this is the “UFC.” Much like the combat style mixed martial arts, UFC style arts focus on individual techniques from various arts as well as rigorous training. The practitioner learns to apply a specific technique to a specific situation or simply chooses a small number of effective techniques that will reliably “win” their exchange with their attacker. Like the sport style arts above, though, UFC fighters train for specific environments that contain specific rules. The number of rules may be starkly reduced, and the existence of rules may be hidden or masked. However, each fighter is there voluntarily and seeks to “win” against the other fighter using generally approved of methods in a mutually agreed upon setting with predetermined tools or methods.
Like the dichotomy of soft martial arts containing hard elements, Hard or external martial arts have many movements that could qualify as soft. The focus for these arts, though, remains on the technique applied to the aggressor. The ultimate focus is on what is crippling or killing the attacker, and how to most effectively apply that technique. There are often many forms in these arts, but the forms are often much shorter, simpler, and more repetitive than the characteristically intricate and long forms of internal arts. Much focus is placed on intensity of practice and hardening the body for impact.
The most commonly known of these hard style martial arts — Jiujutsu — is a classical Japanese combat martial art. Brazillian Jiujutsu should not be confused for classical Japanese Jiujutsu, though I am not knowledgeable enough to fully explain why. Hapkido, like Tae Kwon Do for Karate, could be considered a Korean adaptation of the Japanese art Aikido and functions along similar lines. These arts are almost always practices with a partner at all times, with very little drilling being done solo.
On offense, these martial arts often encourage or allow an attack to occur and generate speed, only to be trapped in a hold or break.
In defense these martial arts are practiced with full body motion and engagement, meaning the entirety of the defender responds to the entirety of the attacker instead of isolated blocks that focus on the specific attack. In applying this type of defense, the attackers’ offense is exaggerated to place them off-balance, and then be thrown, pinned, hit, or broken.
Most every dojo, studio, or group has monthly fees to financially support their building or rent, liability insurance, and any instruction costs they might need to cover.
Beyond that, though, there are many different martial arts business models and practices to be aware of. Most are necessary or harmless, but there are some you should actively seek to avoid.
An easy initial red-flag for a commercial studio would be an absence of price or cost on their materials or sometimes even when calling. Before enrolling in any martial arts group, take note of trial periods, liability statements, and contracts.
Martial arts are not magic. They are body mechanics and movement mechanics applied to self-defense situations. Martial arts work because of neurology, physiology and physics work.
For teaching purposes, techniques may be shown or described in many different ways – some of which might sound or seem suspiciously magical. When looking at a technique being applied, however, look for physics.
If something looks like it really shouldn’t work, it might not. Don’t assume anything works until you see it — or feel it — in action. If the instructor cannot explain and/or demonstrate the mechanics of how something works in meaningful ways beyond “push harder,” you may not want to pursue studying martial arts with them.
When looking at a martial art, it’s okay to be a novice. You shouldn’t be expected to have the knowledge to judge the effectiveness of an instructor or the validity of what they are showing.
In leading drills, does the instructor demonstrated the capability of altering instruction to motivate or need the needs of the individual students’ minds and bodies to produce outcomes, or is the focus on outputs of “intensity” or “speed” with which the students move? Do the motions and mechanics of the drills through which the instructor leads student seem structurally harmful?
Chances are if something looks unhealthy in either how is approached or how it is executed, it likely is. Humans are not one-size-fits-all. We are wondrously diverse in body and mind. Instruction that is not able to account for, embrace, and accentuate this diversity is often potentially dangerous.
Martial arts instruction in the United States is very much a personality driven enterprise, and the content of training can vary widely.
You should seek to find the martial arts instructor that meets your needs, but there are some things to be cautious of. Most importantly; listen to what your own brain, body, and mind are telling you about the person. If they feel like a salesperson when you talk with them, it might not be the best place to train. If there is a heavy emphasis upfront on the names with whom they trained or their pedigree, they may not be confident in their own skills or art and are compensating. If their martial arts goals, martial arts style, and educational approach do not match with your needs or the needs of the person for whom you are seeking martial arts training, keep looking!
The most important source of review for any dojo is the un-filtered, un-monitored, and un-rehearsed opinion of the students.