Finding the Right Martial Art for You

I've been practicing Dan Zan Ryu jujitsu since 1982. I get asked pretty often how one should go about finding a martial arts class or school. Here are some thoughts I've scribbled down over the years.

It's more important to find a teacher you trust and can learn from than it is to find the perfect style for you. Start by checking out dojos near where you live or work, and by asking people you know if they know good teachers near you. Then go visit the schools themselves and watch a class or two. Ask lots of questions! If possible, participate in a sample class before you join.

Schools vary widely in how class is conducted - length of classes, warmup, structure of class. Most aikido classes seem to run an hour or 90 minutes. Most adult classes in my organization run two or two and a half hours, and the structure is pretty predictable - a warmup, rolls & falls, lessons.

What's really important is that the school is safe and you like the instructors and how classes are run. You can also tell a lot by watching kids' classes - are the kids having fun? Are they treated firmly but respectfully? Are they getting enough attention?

You may also want to keep in mind whatever your particular goals are in studying a martial art. These might include:

Things to look for include:


What you're looking for are a teacher and style that work for you.

Thanks to Susan Liroff, shodan, and Coleman K. Ridge, sandan, for ideas that have been incorporated into this essay.