Table of Contents

(Part 1): Choosing a Martial Arts academy? Which one should I choose?

This is a question I get asked a lot. Aside from choosing a martial art, what should you look for in a martial arts academy? There are many factors to consider. This is a vital step. You are going to commit time, effort and money into an academy, so you want to make sure you make the right choice. Here are a few things to consider:

Mat culture

This is the most important factor when considering a martial arts academy. What is it like? What are the students like? Do they make you feel welcome? These are all important considerations. The mat culture is the primary consideration because it moulds our training experience. It is set by the instructors, but every person plays an important part. It should be a positive experience for all. Friendly, supportive, nurturing, yet healthy competitive. Our good friend and Head Coach Alex Prates from Gracie Smeaton Grange used to tell us; “I don’t care how hard you guys train against each other. As long as you do it with care for your training partner and love in you heart”. This simple statement to me embodies exactly what a good mat culture should be. This is the foundation where respect, humility and hard work can result in changing your life for the better.

gracie sydney hq with whittaker

Timetable and location

This is a simple but logical consideration. Can I make the classes? Is it close to my work/home? The easier it is to fit training into your routine the easier it will be to maintain. Even if it’s a bit hard at the start. The time and commitment will ultimately be easier to maintain if the training can fit in around your life/work.


The most expensive place might not be the best and the cheapest place might not be the worst. But, this isn’t like buying something on line. You need to get an idea of what you are buying and for that you really need to go and try a class. Most academy’s offer a free trial. Take advantage of that and see what your hard-earned money is going to pay for. This again ties back to mat culture in that you are going to pay for training. So it might as well be in a place where you feel comfortable.


This is an important one. This is the person you will be learning off. Do you like him/her? From your first interaction, your instructor should make you feel at home and comfortable. Do you like their teaching style? Will they offer you help if you don’t understand something? You need to find someone you respect. They should carry good values and create a great learning environment for all the students.

Once you answer those questions you will have made your decision which academy to train at. You should feel comfortable with that decision now and ready to begin your martial arts journey. Stay tuned for next week’s post about: What to expect when you begin training!