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When you decide that you want to train in a martial art, often the first question that you try to answer is “What style should I train in?” There are myriad styles of martial arts from all over the world. These include karate, kung fu, taekwondo, jujitsu, aikido, tai chi, kendo, kempo, krav maga, silat, pukulan, boxing, wrestling, and the list goes on. Some follow contemporary practices, while others maintain older traditions.

However, when you’re considering which martial art school to attend, style is only one of the criteria to consider, and may be one of the least important of all. Here is a list of criteria that can be helpful to evaluate what is important to you in making your choice of a martial arts school.

All martial arts will aid you with becoming more fit, to some extent or another. In some schools, workouts are pushed to get everyone to the point of being ready to drop at the end of the class. In other schools, the exercise is more gentle, yet can push you to sweat nonetheless.

Most schools are somewhere in between.

When considering a school, it’s important to have a realistic idea of your own fitness level and what you want out of the workouts. If you try to do too much too soon, it becomes a formula for disappointment and failure. So, in regards the workouts provided at a martial art school, consider whether the exercises that are provided give room for different students of different fitness levels to push themselves, or are the workouts one-size-fits-all?


In their origins, all martial arts came from the need to know how to defend oneself. However, as these arts moved into the arenas of competition, many of them became much more focused on how to win when playing by an agreed set of rules. This represents the fundamental difference between a sport martial art and a practical martial.

There is certainly nothing wrong with a sport martial art. Many sport martial artists are far superior athletes to many practical martial artists. They often can demonstrate amazing and beautiful techniques. And sport martial artists can also defend themselves better than they would have been able to with no training.

However, the question that you need to ask is what you’re looking for. Do you want to know how to defend yourself effectively, or are you focused on the athletics?

In any event, beware of a school that teaches a sport martial art, but sells themselves as a practical martial art. They are purveyors of false confidence in self defense.


You should also consider how the martial arts programs are taught. The practice of martial arts is largely about the development of self-esteem so you want to find a martial arts program where the instructors emphasize the effort as well as the result.

Self-esteem comes from having real successes in doing something you care about. For many children and adults, martial arts can be an important activity that helps build self-esteem, but only if the martial arts instructors acknowledge, recognize and reward the efforts of the martial arts student, as well as their accomplishments and successes. At the same time, if the school makes progress too easy to obtain, promotion too easy to achieve, then these things won’t come with a true sense of accomplishment.


Curriculum can range wildly between different schools. Some schools have set and structured curriculum, while others are based on personal progress and time spent in the art. What kind of curriculum is going to be best for you?

Also, some schools include attending competitions as part of the curriculum, while others make it optional or even discourage it altogether. Is competition something that you want to participate in?


Schools by their very nature will hold and teach certain values to their students. From the original Karate Kid movie, the teacher at the Cobra Kai dojo taught his students “strike first, strike hard, no mercy”. This was, naturally, an extreme example done for the purposes of the movie, but it is still important to consider what values are being taught in a school that you are considering.

Does the school have a “creed” and does this creed agree with your personal values?


While watching a class, observe the interaction between students and instructors very carefully. The atmosphere should be respectful, but the students should be having fun as well. Evaluate if the students seem happy and motivated.


The school should be welcoming and comfortable for both students and parents. Is the facility clean? Is there a large matted area where students can train? Is there a viewing area for parents?


As already noted, there are many, many different styles from all over the world. In some ways, different arts are more alike than different, for the very fact that every art has to work within the limits of the capabilities of the human body. However, different styles often take different approaches.

When looking at the style being taught at a martial art school, consider whether the approach taken, which combines many of the above elements, is suited to you. Is the motion rigid or fluid? Is it static or dance-like? Does it use soft or hard techniques? Or both? Is the art aggressive or passive?


Selecting the right martial school will have a positive influence on your development. We certainly hope you select Golden Naga Martial Arts Center.

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Golden Naga Martial Arts Center
857 SW Western Blvd.
Corvallis, OR 97333


Golden Naga Martial Arts Center


Counties Served: Linn County, Benton County
Communities Served: Corvallis, Albany, Philomath, Lebanon

School Location:
857 SW Western Blvd, Corvallis, OR 97333

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