Congratulations! You’re here because you’re looking for a Karate dojo.
Early in your martial arts journey you’ll learn what fits and what doesn’t. Even more important is what fits for you! A Sensei or dojo that is too gentle, as you see it, may be just what you need. The same goes for a club that is very strong or sports oriented. While you’re considering clubs you’ve identified, ask about the clubs safety training, “SafeSport” certification or a similarly accredited program.
Location! When we look for a home, a gym or schools, location is always the first search criteria and the same goes for a dojo. Proximity to your home or work is important. Dedicating yourself to a club within your reasonable travel distance will help you become a more successful club member.
Be wary of contracts. No one needs to have a legal financial obligation for an activity they no longer enjoy, can commit to, or afford. Every club or dojo has to pay their utilities, insurance and rent however every club member – attends to become a competent martial artist. Make a confident and well informed decision before locking into a “Black Belt Club” type contract, or what-ever flavor the a contract has been labeled.
Often overlooked is the background check of Martial Arts teachers or owners. There’s nothing wrong with being cautions. Over the years, coaches and leaders of such programs like gymnastics, swimming, tennis, scouting, yoga and karate have been identified as having unacceptable behaviors. To date, there are no broad state nor federal regulations or requirements for coaches (and Sensei) to submit their fingerprints and have an FBI background check. In a blind study, even convicted felons were asked if they would allow their children to train or be educated by a coach or mentor with a previous felony and the answer was a unanimous “NO.”
Today, most notable sport and all Olympic organizations have a program to vet the criminal backgrounds of teachers, coaches, volunteers, referees and owners. The USANKF (the exclusive representative for karate to the US Olympic committee) has made available just such a resource. The USA Olympic committee website, TeamUSA includes the National Governing Body (NGB) that represent all five combat sports of the Olympic movement including:
In addition, when vetting the background of your scouted dojo owner or instructors, take a moment to look up the leaders of the club on sex offender reporting websites such as Megans Law in California.
The most important trait of any Dojo is the instructor. People skills matter (as do teaching techniques), so again, look for the instructor or club that fits you. Visit the local dojo and do a little research. Review any relevant (and legitimate) teaching credentials. Ask a friend or another sports fitness professional if the instructor is savvy or well informed pertaining to their style, kinesiology, and sports training.
To view all organizations represented by Team USA visit their website at www.teamusa.org.