Mixed martial arts students practicing wrestling

When it comes to training martial arts, it’s essential to find the right school for you. With so many disciplines to choose from, it can be difficult to figure out who can help you achieve your goals. Most importantly, take the time to ask yourself why you want to start learning martial arts.

Some people choose to begin their martial arts journey to meet new people, or maybe to improve their fitness. Others may be looking to compete, blow off some steam or to learn some applicable self-defense techniques. Determining your reasons for training can help you narrow down your search.

Next you should research schools that specialize in your goals. For example, if you’re looking to improve your fitness, a school that offers cardio kickboxing or boxing circuit classes will likely be a great fit for you! Cardio kickboxing classes can teach you basic techniques and are usually a really fun way to burn calories and gain some lean muscle tone.

Woman smiling while muay thai sparring
Precision Boxing and MMA helps their students achieve goals of fitness, self defense and confidence through mixed martial arts in Poughkeepsie.

If you’re looking for legitimate self-defense, you should do some research into the schools instructors.

Have they themselves fought in amateur or professional matches? There are some great coaches who have never competed in a sanctioned match, however it’s relatively rare. It’s generally a good sign if they have fought so that you can be sure they’re speaking from experience.

Brian giving thumbs up after fight
Precision Boxing and MMA head coach Brian McLaughlin has a wealth of knowledge and experience; ensuring that his students are receiving the best martial arts training in the Hudson Valley

Have they trained under respected martial artists? Most legitimate martial arts practitioners can trace their lineage back through their coach, their coaches coach and so on. For example, I’m currently training under head coach Brian McLaughlin who earned his black belt under Rob Kahn. Rob Kahn earned his black belt under the legendary Royce Gracie.

Mixed martial arts legend and pioneer Royce Gracie

Do they train any respected martial artists? Seeing a coaches’ student body can speak volumes about the results of their methods. A great example of this is famed mixed martial arts coach Firas Zahabi. Although Firas opted to seek a college education instead of trying his hand at professional MMA, he has produced top-level talents such as George St. Pierre, Rory McDonald and many others.

Firas Zahabi doing some padwork with his student George St. Pierre

Is there real contact sparring at their school? If you start taking martial arts classes and the instructor tells you that their techniques are “too dangerous” or “lethal” and therefore cannot be trained or used in sparring, you’re likely dealing with a charlatan. Although there are some techniques that require special care such as elbows and straight knees in Muay Thai or heel hooks in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, any worthwhile gym should offer full contact sparring. One reason why I was immediately sold on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing and kickboxing, is that I could try my techniques against a resisting opponent in sparring. I could see that they were effective, both by applying them on my partner and being on the receiving end of them. If you walk into a class and the instructor is teaching some sort of “death touch”, immediately ask for a refund.

Two Men Sparring in Ring
Precision boxers having fun with some light sparring drills

Although all of these factors are important to consider when choosing a martial arts school, the most important factor is your own enjoyment. The only way to train consistently and gain skill is to get on the mats to practice multiple times a week. In order to do that, you must find a school where you feel comfortable and always leave with a smile. When you visit a school, be sure to talk to the instructors and some of the students. Trust your instincts and see if you get a good feeling from the people there. Having great coaches and training partners who you trust is an essential element to every martial artists journey. If you don’t feel good about your interactions on your first day, it’s a good idea to check out some other places in the area.

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If you’re a Hudson Valley resident looking to meet some great people, improve your fitness, learn to defend yourself or reach your full potential in competition, come check out Precision Boxing and MMA in Poughkeepsie. Head coach Brian McLaughlin and his staff offer classes for all skill levels in boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. Precision’s coaching staff is second to none when it comes to helping our students reach their goals. Don’t wait any longer to start your journey. Call Precision today at (845)392-8495 or click HERE

About the Author:

Oliver Swanson is a lifelong Hudson Valley resident and an avid martial arts practitioner. He teaches boxing classes multiple times a week at Precision Boxing and MMA in Poughkeepsie. When he’s off the mats he loves watching fights and spending time in nature.