Must haves

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by neems, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. neems

    neems Valued Member

    What must a gym or dojo have for you to train there?

    I've recently moved house and am currently gymless,but my old gym had an instructor who wasn't particularly knowledgeable but pretty much let people do what they wanted.
    It also had decent kit and a lot of varied,sensible lads to spar with at whatever intensity we chose.

    So for me it would be access to realistic sparring,a safe and clean environment and (in lieu of good instruction) a fair degree of freedom.
  2. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Do I like the instructor and like what they offer. That's about it really.

    I've trained in hired halls, full time centres, dank dungeons, matted, not matted, bags, no bags. Gyms that smelled OK and gyms....that didn't. Obviously it's nice to have good facilities too but I think it's the instructor that makes it in the end.
    David Harrison, axelb and Dead_pool like this.
  3. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    For me its
    A) good and safe coaching
    B) clean environmemt
    C) good control of the gym culture

    Really is it safe training, is it good instruction.

    Everything else is a bonus.
    Vince Millett likes this.
  4. hewho

    hewho Valued Member

    An instructor who is knowledgeable and passionate, not just about the art, but about instructing.
    Everything else I find important (safety, quality training, fun) should come from that.
    Thomas and David Harrison like this.
  5. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Agree with the points made above about finding a good instructor

    But I’d add that, in my view, in addition to the instructors’ personal abilities the culture of the gym/dojo/club etc is really important. You want a culture of progression and learning not big egos wanting to prove themselves. That way you’ll develop and be pulled up by your peers also continually improving themselves
    axelb and Dead_pool like this.
  6. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Like hewho said, I think that wouldn't happen under a good instructor.

    A good instructor isn't necessarily the most skilled person, though obviously they need to have something you don't. There are plenty of very skilled people out there who stink as instructors, which isn't a problem as long as they don't try to be one.
  7. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    Good Instructors are good managers, not just good technicians. They manage and promote the training environment/ethos.

    I wouldn't only train anywhere that lacked a good Instructor, regardless of equipment, ethos, partners etc. It might be fine as an occasional thing but you don't improve like that.

    I'd be very interested to delve into the concept of "realistic sparring" more deeply :)

  8. hewho

    hewho Valued Member

    Yeah, the instructor makes it or breaks it for me. If I walked in, and they had no control over the group, or seemed more interested in their phone, I'd be out. That goes for MA, and sports.

    Realistic sparring is probably a tricky one, I guess it could change depending on peoples goal? So, if I was looking to compete in MT, 'realistic' sparring for me would be within that ruleset. On the other hand if I was after Self Defence, I would want to be doing something like HAVOC, but I suppose it comes down to how you interpret the word 'realistic'. What's your take on the term, as an instructor?
  9. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    A good instructor who can do well what they teach combined with a thorough understanding of sports training and teaching pedagogy is the baseline for all martial arts gyms/clubs in my opinion. Credentials should be verifiable and must include, as a minimum, a current first aid qualification, public liability and professional indemnity insurance, and a coaching certificate (a black belt does not qualify you to coach). The instructor should maintain a CPD portfolio and train regularly under their own teacher(s).

    Equipment should include basic but good quality strength and conditioning kit - e.g. a barbell with bumper plates and jump ropes to start with - because you need to be well conditioned to do martial arts to a reasonable level. Striking-based disciplines should also use heavy bags, kicking shields and focus mitts.

    Facilities should provide sufficient space with adequate flooring for the numbers being taught, appropriate changing facilities, and any amenities as required to comply with health and safety laws (mats cleaned regularly, lighting, fire fighting equipment, etc).

    Students are a reflection of the quality of instruction. Those being taught should be attentive, disciplined and engaged, with a noticeable increase in quality of fighting technique relative to increase in rank and experience.
    David Harrison likes this.
  10. neems

    neems Valued Member

    For me it would mean my partner is trying to hit or submit me in a completely unscripted open sparring session,not just going through the motions.

    Ideally there'd be some hard and competitive sparring too,but that's not a deal breaker for me.
  11. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    Mats/mud pit as well as an effective cleaning routine
    axelb likes this.
  12. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Clean mats
    Sensible sparring partners
    Sparring partners who can hit and be hit
    Intelligent purposeful drilling
    Athletic training
    Experienced and well credentialed coach
    Honesty and openness
    culture of mutual benefit in training.
    Dunc and Dead_pool like this.
  13. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Mook jong
    Nunchukus and sais hanging on the wall
    Stars and Stripes gis
    Grappling dummies
    Wood to break
    Metal studded wrist bands

    If a place doesn't have those things I ain't training there.
    Mitch, Knee Rider, Thomas and 3 others like this.
  14. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Actually, this is probably more important than looking at the instructor. Do they get results?
    Van Zandt and Smaug97 like this.
  15. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    It's swings and roundabouts. The instructor has to gel with me. They might get results but if I don't like them then it's a non-starter really. Also I can train with someone that doesn't get results but I can still get something from them if I know what I'm after (everyone's mileage may vary).
    One thing I've realised is that pretty much everywhere I've trained is a compromise somewhere. So long as I'm aware of the compromise that's no problem.
    You can also get gyms that have great students because the training is so hard or intense the people that can't hack it leave. So that's not always a reflection of the instruction offered.
    As someone that got into martial arts for confidence reasons I appreciate places that build people up gradually and don't make it a shark tank every week (even though, overall that may lower the "quality" of the students).
    Dunc, Latikos and David Harrison like this.
  16. Dan93

    Dan93 Valued Member

    Technically good instructors, Good range of pads and training equipment, Honest and hard training, Attitude and vibe of the gym (Leave your attitude at the door). If it is a competitive art/sport I would also be interested in their competition record...
  17. Latikos

    Latikos Valued Member


    As someone -and I know that sounds like living cliché- who is only at a point in life and MA due to quite some effort some teachers put into me, I wholeheartedly agree there.
    I came to training not being able to stand in circle during warm-up a few years ago, and now I teach kids and get to do the warm-up and some other things for the grown-ups too.
    I still don't like standing in a circle, not at all, but I am able to do it and still train.
    That was so much work, no one will see from just coming to training; but it's something that included a lot of work from my Sensei as well as me and lots from yelling of my teacher :D

    So for me, it's important to get along with the people there, instructors as well as students.

    I can also see the reasoning beyond the "look at the students" too!
    I watched some people train BJJ once, and a bluebelt couldn't do a simple technique we just did prior in our Judo-class - I as white-yellow Judo belt did better than he did, which had me -I admit it- a bit disappointed, because in BJJ the belts normally seem to reflect better what the people should be able to do.
    BUT I would still look closer at the club, if I were thinking about joining (I wasn't. I'd love to train BJJ or LL, but the times collide with my current training) and hope to get a more complete picture of the training as a whole.

    During HKD I was sometimes partnered with a man, who wouldn't get anything done, but kept coming (which I thought was pretty cool, by the way!), and despite him having a really hard time to get anything done, I learned to work against someone, who resist in technique training the locks out of fear; it was somehow annoying, admittedly, but it made me also realize that bone won't break right away.

    As for pads and such: I certainly would prefer a gym who has some equipment, but depending on the rest I might also not take that too much into account.
    Thomas and Dead_pool like this.
  18. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Agreed, I'm looking for a forge not a filter in a gym.
  19. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    You've mentioned this before, and it does strike me as quite odd, was it during sparring? Or just drilling? maybe they were having a really bad day.
    Mangosteen likes this.
  20. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    There's a young girl at my club that burst into tears in one of the first sessions I taught because I wasn't the usual instructor. The lesson hadn't even started. She's not a confident child and it just upset her that things were "different".
    She overcame that, stuck with it and 18 months later (last week) she got up and sparred in front of 300 people at our "clash of the clubs" kids event and did really well.
    THAT's what I want from a martial arts club.
    Morik, Travess, neems and 5 others like this.

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