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How should I start trying to find a good school to study martial arts?
Your first choice is whether you want to enroll in a traditional martial arts program, or a "sport karate" program.  Traditional martial arts emphasize health, fitness, character, courtesy, discipline, self-control, self-defense, and the art.  Sports programs in the martial arts feature competitions, full-contact sparring, and doing whatever is necessary to win.  These are quite important differences.  For example, students in "sport karate" programs teach that the competitor must hit first in a match to gain a point. People react in a real attack the way they train. But in Texas, hitting someone first is called "assault," and can result in jail time. It is not necessary to teach this for self-defense, nor do students need to risk injury doing full-contact sparring to defend themselves well.
 
How can I check out an instructor's real credentials?
Proper instructors can give you the name of their teacher and his/her phone number, and tell you what system they have studied.  Observe a class and see how students are treated, and what they are being taught. Remember that there is no licensing in Texas for martial arts instructors. Anyone can buy a black belt and open a school.  Black Belt ranking certificates can be bought out of the back of a martial arts magazine, and few systems include any kind of advanced instructor training. Chayon-Ryu istructors are required to both train and teach, and they must attend Tuksu Suryon (advanced training) and/or outdoor training six times a year at the World Headquarters under Grandmaster Kim so they can teach without injuring their students.
 
What is the difference between the various Asian martial arts?
Taekwondo is a sport developed in l960 in Korea as a nationalist program to be included in the Olympics; it is a full-contact sport and engaged in competitions. Tae kyon is the older Korean art; Grandmaster Kim Soo is one of the few practitioners who knows tae kyon. Karate ("empty hand" in Japanese) was developed as a traditional program after the samurai were forced to give up their swords in the late l800s; today it can often be engaged in sport competitions, or it can be traditional. Chu'an fa, commonly called "kung fu" in the US, comprises the Chinese martial arts ("kung fu" actually means "great skill"). Okinawa-te is the martial art developed in Okinawa. The four mat arts in Chayon-Ryu are: judo, jujitsu, hapkido, and aikido.  Grandmaster also teaches rudimentary kendo. Weapons include bong (longstaff) and short sticks, though Black Belts can develop their own skills with other martial arts weapons.  In most schools, students study ony one martial art; Chayon-Ryu is comprised of those arts which Grandmaster Kim Soo mastered before arriving in America in l968.
 
What should I expect to pay for classes monthly? Should I sign a lengthy contract?
Best price range: $50-$100 a month for one year.  Certainly not over $100, and that should include a free uniform, and the right to take any classes offered, not just two a week, or "you have to pay more to take more classes."  Do not sign up at a school where you are expected to buy a uniform, sparring equipment, patches, weapons, books, etc., before you have taken a class.  Sometimes this can add up to $300 before the student really knows whether he or she is going to enjoy the training.  Always ask to observe a class, and if possible take a trial class, and move on if the instructors don't allow it.  As to lengthy contracts, under Texas law you are expected to pay the contract out whether you stay, move out of town, change jobs and shifts, and so on.  So be sure you know what you are signing up for, and read the contract.  A fair contract for a fair price should offer a discount, and a payout clause if you have to leave the school.  It can motivate students by keeping them training when they need a boost.  A bad contract will dismotivate students who will come to resent the constant requests for increases. 
 
Is there any such thing as child Black Belt? 
Common sense would say "no." The idea of taking 3-year-old children and giving them Black Belts at 5 is, to a traditional martial artist, ridiculous.  "Black Belt" means one has mastered the basics and is now prepared to learn something truly challenging.  Moreover, how is a 5-year-old child going to teach anybody anything? Keep the attention of the other students?  Traditional schools require a minimum of five years of steady training to take a First Degree Black Belt test.  In Chayon-Ryu, which has 28 forms from a variety of martial arts styles, that means that students should easily be able to defend themselves in a real attack.  Junior Black Belts are awarded in Chayon-Ryu to students who can legitimately earn them. They then change their red-and-black belts out for an adult Black Belt when they are 16 years of age.
 
Anything else I should think about?
What do you want to gain from your martial arts classes? What values and attitudes would you want your child to develop? Schools which encourage "showboating" or pitting one student against another will produce a predictable result.  Do you want to sign up for a school close to you, but which is brand-new, without a history? What would you do if you invested several years of your life in your study and the instructor decided to close the school and move away?  Do aduts teach all the classes? Will you be tested by your own instructor in your own school? What are the advantages and disadvantages of that?  Are rank tests scheduled regularly or just when the instructor wants to hold one?  Does the student have to win a certain number of trophies in competition to be able to rank? What is the example set by the Black Belts at the school? Do they show developed character in their behavior, inside and outside of the school?
 
For more questions, contact SaBomNim Kenneth Young KingwoodKSK@gmail.com