I just read the excellent article you posted by Tony C. The only thing I would add (and you can’t always cover everything, so this is not derogatory towards Tony C. in any way) is this:
If you do want to educate yourself in any martial art, please do as much research of the facility that you want to take it from as you do in research for your firearms. This does not mean go around and ask the people that take it there if they like it. Their only experience may be of that one place. I am a 2nd degree black belt in 4 different martial arts (and very close to my 3rd) while everyone in my family is at least a black belt level or higher. I teach women’s self defense 6 times a week. My entire family has taught at several different dojo’s (due to moving). No two dojos are alike. It pains me to say this but many of them will gladly take your money and tie a belt around your waist and show you fluff and frill. And even sadder to me is the fact that many people are happy in the fact that they don’t have to work very hard to achieve a (what used to be venerated) black belt. With all that said, there are still Master’s that have remained true to their art and the quality thereof.
A case in point with Tae Kwon Do. There is Dojo X that advertises a great way to shape up and get your black belt. We visited this dojo only to find out they are not affiliated with the Kukkiwon (the official governing body of Tae Kwon Do) and we immediately recognized on observation that the techniques the black belts had were horrible and if applied in a real life situation would most likely get you beaten up bad or killed. We left Dojo X in a hurry. The next Dojo Y promised if we gave them x amount of dollars that we could get our black belt in record time. We got up and left in a hurry too.
So what do you want in a facility?
1) You want to check them out. Are they affiliated with a higher governing official body? (There are some dojo’s out there where the “master” “created” his own Kung Dum Ku and awarded himself a 9th dan in that martial art)
2) Is the master really interested in your money? Let’s face it, they do have to pay the rent. But some don’t teach much of anything and take your hard earned dough and slap a belt around your waist. We call these McDojos. Empty of everything good.
3) Observe several classes. Take note of the instructor’s and how they run the class. You don’t want one that has no hold on the class while the students run around. Conversely, you don’t want one so strict that the student’s can’t do anything right. You want an instructor that is confident and knowledgeable that can command a good class and has the respect of his students and it will be obvious.
Let’s face it, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, you don’t want fluff and frill. You want to be confident in the fact that you trained with professionals. It doesn’t matter what color belt is around your waist, what matters is this; Is what you learned real and be used in real life situations?
Thanks, – Jessica B.