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I'm in the Navy, and in flight training, so for the next few years I'll be moving all over the place, mostly in smaller cities (Pensacola, FL, Meridian MS, Kingsville or Corpus Cristie TX, etc...) so my choices for a martial arts facility will be relatively limited.

Therefore, what are some things that I should look for, questions I should ask in order to find a place that'll work for me. I'd like to find a place to learn some practical fighting skills. The discipline isn't all that important to me in that I don't really have the variety to choose from.

How do you find out if a place is a fighting, competition or athletics based without getting into the program for a couple months and potentially blowing a bunch of time and money on something that isn't what you're looking for?

I'd like to think that most places would be open and honest, but after spending a summer as a car salesman in '96, I've become somewhat cynical in regards to "telling the guy what he wants to hear."

Thanks.
 

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I'm assuming from what you said that a long term contract wouldn't work for you anyway, but even if it would I wouldn't sign one or attend any school that tried to sell them. That being said, you must be interested in some form of martial arts, try looking at whatever style that is first. We all have our opinions in what we believe is the best martial art, which I'm sure you will see shortly. Try going to as many schools as you can and watch a class, talk to the instructors and the students. Ask how long they have been there (good schools will have lots of long time students). Ask how long it takes to advance in the belt ranks, if there are no Black belts then it's possible that no one sticks around, if there are too many Black belts then it's possible the only criteria that needs to be met in order to advance is paying your dues. Watch the instructors and students to see they show respect for each other and the school. There are lots of fighting arts out there and they all have there pro's and con's, if you are going to be bouncing around you might try getting into something that is present in all those areas if possible. Just a few ideas, whatever you choose just remember Huevos' golden rule: Talk less, Listen more, Train hard and Don't quit!
Good luck in your endeaver and keep us posted. Oh and by the way, Thanks for putting your ass on the line every day to protect mine............Sam
 

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Item 1. Thank you for your service.

Item 2. Congratulations on making it into flight training. Remember, no matter what else happens, fly the airplane.

Item 3. You will hear "Better to die than look bad." That's BS.

Item 4. As Huevos said, finding an art that's available in the various places the Navy will be sending you will keep you from starting over every time you change bases. Some internet research ought to at least help you find if there is a Ju-Jitsu dojo (for example) in each of your training bases.

Item 5. Carefully consider safety issues. A relatively minor injury from martial arts, such as a sprained ankle or severly jammed finger, could adversely impact your flight training. Something more serious might cost you that F/A-18 slot, or even your wings. Wear eye protection. I would be inclined to avoid competitions as well, since someone with an attitude or poor skills could "accidently" cause an injury in the name of machismo.

Good luck, both in the air and on the mat.
 

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Some very good points have already been made, but I wish to expand on one that Mach80 made. You need to determine the result that an injury would have on your flight training. If your arm was in a cast for 6-8 weeks would it interrupt your training, or derail it. Injuries occur in all contact sports, especially martial arts. Most of the broken bones I contribute to TKD occurred in tournaments, but some occurred in training. This may help determine which style you choose (those with less direct contact).
 

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martial arts schools

Check on the availablilty of PPCT schools in the area, most LEOs will have a liason with the local military base, and generally a good working relationship. It isnt unusual for the military police guys and the local cops to cross train when schools are available, and most of the local PPCT PDT training will get you on track fast, and wouldnt scoff at a flyboy wanting to attend (i was a wingnut many years ago :p ) or drop me a line if you get stationed at NASCC.
 

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There are simply "no rules" for finding a good style/school

With all due respect to Mr. Moore, our school violates some of his rules, yet turns out some very excellent fighters. Does take 4-5 years on average to get a black belt, and on that I agree with him wholeheartedly. I know what he is driving at and I think his instincts are correct, but just because a school has children's classes shouldn't be a disqualifier, for one example.

When folks complain about the "fighting effectiveness" of any styles they're usually assuming that they teach only that style's tournament techniques for street fighting. Frankly, I have found that to not normally be the case. My kids and I do a traditional Korean, high kicking style (Tang Soo Do), but we separate the tournament practice from the street fighting practice, and all the instructors make the distinction very clear.

Nothing necessarily wrong with a school which teaches kids. One of our third dans teaches kids with his wife because he enjoys it. He also runs the adult "SWAT" team which trains twice as hard as our normal classes do and includes lots of boxing, grappling, and jiu jitsu type techniques. Groups of students there self-select for special sparring "classes". That particular teacher is one of the most dangerous people I know.

I honestly think the only way to determine if a school is for you is to visit one and watch several different types of classes -- regular adult classes for the lower belts, black belt classes if they have them (we have black belt only classes as we have well over fifty active black belts in our dojang) which will normally be very different, and any "special" classes such as more fight oriented or high intensity training. BTW we have a lot of black belts not because we're a belt mill, but because our Master has been teaching for thirty years.

I really believe you can find a school which will appeal to you and which can make you a decent fighter in any number of different styles. I wouldn't prejudge any style in advance. You do need to stay away from "belt mills" though. Visiting and really taking the time to interview some students and watch different classes is a necessity, though, there's no shortcut to picking a style or school, unfortunately.

Do be very careful about the potential for injury, as mentioned. Fighter training is going to take you about almost two years, including basic training, flight school, fighter lead-in training, in-type training, then squadron qualification training. You don't want to screw that progression up. While it's probably more efficient to become a good fighter in a more fight oriented, full contact art, you can become a good fighter in a light contact point style art if you're more patient and take advantage of fighting only classes in addition to the traditional classes. It will take longer to become an effective fighter, but you can do it. Most of the injuries we see in our school are broken fingers and toes, which aren't too traumatic.

Good luck and have fun!
 

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I just reread your original post. . .

I should have done it sooner. It doesn't sound like you're shopping for a "style" per se. I could be wrong, but you said you're interested in "practical fighting skills" and you're worried about moving around a lot. Here's a thought. . .

Why not hook up with some Marines and do hand-to-hand combat training with them at whatever base you're stationed at? One of my buddies is on his second enlistment and believe me, they do "practical fighting skills". Interesting thing is, a lot of their stuff from their manual looks identical to the "self defense" moves we practice in our style. You're likely not that interested in the art and philosophy and other aspects of this as I am since I train with my two kids.

The Marines have instituted a graded progression program in their hand-to-hand combat instruction including awarding different "belt colors". I'm sure the Marines would love to have a Navy practice dummy around! (just kidding ;) ). Seriously, this might be just the ticket. There will likely be Marines somewhere on your training bases, they have a consistent "program" of instruction across the branch, so you'll be practicing the same things as you move around. . .there's an established curriculum and progression system in other words. And it's practical! Check that out!

JPC
 
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