RESEARCHING DOJOS [MARTIAL ARTS SCHOOLS]
When researching dojos, a common question most people ask is, "What style do you teach?" However, a better question to ask would be, "What is your philosophy?" By asking about an instructor's philosophy, you'll have a better understanding as to teaching style and methodologies. This is important because a positive martial arts experience depends mainly on the instructor's teaching style [and not the style he teaches].
However, to get a better feel of an instructor and the dojo, it's best to visit the school. This way, you get a sense of the atmosphere [where it will take 3-5 years to attain a 1st degree black belt]. Most students who begin their martial arts training almost always set black belt as their goal. With this being said, you have to feel comfortable in what will be a "second home" to you.
It's always good to listen to what others are saying about the dojo you're thinking about being a part of. You want to try and find out how many active black belts are in the dojo and how long they've been training. This will tell you if the program has a strong curriculum that will keep the interest of students beyond the advanced levels. The last thing you want to do after receiving your black belt is go to a new dojo because your old dojo simply ran out of material to teach.
Just as important is the quality of a dojo's black belts. Do the black belts exhibit the highest levels of modesty, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, and indomitable spirit? Do the black belts execute their techniques with speed, power, and precision? This is important because this is the [end product]. This is the level where you can expect to be after reaching black belt.
With the popularity of martial arts, you'll find many dojos in your neighborhood to choose from. Hopefully, after reading this, you'll be able to sift through them and find an instructor that exemplifies the highest level of martial arts knowledge & experience coupled with an exciting & innovative teaching style.