Picking a dojo, a place to learn martial arts.

Over the last few days I have read reviews of several martial art schools, kick boxing schools ( you know  franchise types ) as well as the shopping center TKD schools.

The reviews all pretty much sound the same, they use the same adjectives where are some snippets:

" kick butt work"...
      "workout so much fun" ...
          "personal fitness goals" ...
              "workouts are challenging" ...
                 "just right for working out" ...

When joining a dojo you need to decide if you are joining for a workout or to learn how to develop self-defnese skills?  If you are only interested in a workout, than maybe weight lifting would be the ideal road to take.  If you are joining to learn self defense, then yes you are going to get a workout but it isn't one that is designed to strength your body, nor is it designed to burn off fat.  Truth be told, the exercise that you are going to experience is more a mental exercise and retraining of your body.

You will learn, over time, how to react to an action that is taken against you.  The forms and drills will develope muscle memory, were and how to land a block, kick or punch. Reprogramming, rewritting your muscle memory takes times and repeated movements, these movements are designed for these reasons and not to give you a "workout".

When you are in the position of dealing with someone who is attacking you, you don't have time to think about what you are going to do, it has to happen instinctively, we call this second nature.  While working armed security in drug neighborhoods and at bars I found myself in several of thiese types of situations, if I had to rely on training from one of these franchise shops, I probably would have ended up in the hospital.  Why?  Becuase they don't teach defense, only offense, and when dealing with an attacker you need to know defense!  The defense you need to know has to work, it has to be logical.  

While visiting one of the franchise "kickboxing" schools I was assaulted by loud dance music, the students where actually dancing while punching!  They weren't doing martial arts, they were doing a martial art version of jazzercise, it shoulc be called boxercise.. it was truly amazing!  There where signs about being "BAD ASS" etc.  Please pick your Dojo carefully, if you just want to burn fat and looking to move around then that is what you are going to get, but if you want to learn martial arts to defend yourself look into a Shorinkan Karate school that teaches only Shorin-ryu.