You may be looking for a school to start the martial arts journey for your child or yourself.
Below are several important points to look for when searching for a good karate school.

  • The content is super important: what style of Karate do they teach and do they have roots that go back to Okinawa or mainland Japan?
  • Is the Sensei (Teacher) friendly? Do they have a good atmosphere?
  • Are there many options to train?
  • Do they work on all aspects of karate? ie, martial arts, self-defence, sport and physical fitness. Believe it or not, not all karate schools offer all of these aspects.
  • Does the Sensei self-train and practice regularly? This is extremely important.
  • Does the Sensei themselves teach the classes?
  • What is the philosophy of the Dojo?
  • Has the Sensei and Dojo been successful in competition?
  • What kind of coaching credentials does the Sensei have? Have they coached for the Provincial (Karate Ontario) or National (Karate Canada) team? Are they an NCCP certified coach?
  • Are they a member of Karate Ontario and Karate Canada? This is very important. Would you join a hockey team that was not recognized by hockey Canada?
  • What programs do you offer? How old is your youngest as well as oldest student? (This shows the ability to teach all ages, that may have different interests).
  • Does the school wear a white uniform (Gi)? Traditional karate uses a “white” uniform.
  • Can I or my child try a class?
  • Can I watch my child train? (This is important because parents should be allowed and encouraged to see what the Sensei (teacher) is trying to achieve with the club?
  • Does the Dojo encourage “Regei Saho” (which is very important in all Japanese Martial Arts) loosely translated “respect for courtesy/ etiquette?
  • Does the Dojo have a great energy or warm feeling to train?

Be careful as there are non-recognized “McDojos” out there that are belt factories where belts levels are given out like candy and not for merit but for financial gain instead of proper technical development. There should not be children with Black Belts as this does not exist in authentic karate. The youngest age to grade for Black Belt is 16 and that would be for someone who joined as a young child and has spent many years training and developing all the proper skills and curriculum.

Ed Docherty