Choosing a Martial Art Camp
Many martial arts camps, clinics, and seminars are held each year throughout the US. Because of the nature, location, and cost of these events the martial artist needs determine if these events are for him or her. This may be difficult since the advertisements for many events are similar in nature. The following list suggests some of the things that you need to check on before signing up for one of these events.
Who is the sponsor?
Events are always sponsored by an individual, an organization, or by several organizations. Often several clubs or schools will get together and sponsor an event. Normally this should not be of concern. However beware of those sponsors that go against your beliefs and training. No mater how good the event was or how it was handled you may feel that you did not get your money's worth.
Sometimes a club or school will cosponsor an event with a non-martial arts organization. The problem of these events is that one of the outside organization may have restrictions that will limit your ability to participate fully or otherwise might not treat you fairly. When an "outside" organization sponsors an event it usually expects something in return. The return could be as visible as a banner for pizza brand identification, or it could be more complex such as a church wanting its minister to say opening prayer.
Who is sanctioning the event?
Sanctioning lends validity to an event. Every event should be sanctioned by a national organization. Through sanctioning some form of medical and liability insurance is generally provided. Also, sanctioning is usually required for events that are part of a national ladder system, and/or for promotion points.
Who is instructing?
Many event advertisements promise instruction by some "grandmaster" or expert. Keep in mind that an expert nuclear chemist does not mean that the chemist can teach. It takes training and a special talent to teach a group that may include children and adults, or people from various martial arts background or of different experience levels.
Sometimes there will be more than one instructor. If this happens look at the schedule of events to see if they conflict with what you want to learn. Also determine if there is sufficient time for the instructor to cover the topic and for you to practice. You can expect t instruction in such areas as forms, philosophy, sparing, self defense and business tactics.
Also check to see if the event is balanced. Is there an appropriate amount of yin and yang, or um and yang. Remember that one purpose of the martial arts is to balance the mind, body and spirit. All events should strive to achieve this balance.
What about room and board?
Most clinics and seminars provide only snack food. Camps often provide regular meals. For a two day or longer event check to see if food is included in the cost and what type of food it is. Remember that the more you practice the more important it is that you get adequate food and proper nutrition.
Lodging varies from free space on the floor of the dojo to discount local hotel rooms to beds provided in someone's home. If you are attending an event that is longer than a day, lodging becomes important. If you are going to stay in a dojo check to see lockers and rest rooms are available. Also check to make sure that when the doors are locked that you can get out and that fire alarms are present. Check what security measures there are for your valuables.
The hotels listed in the event literature normally provide a discount and are generally within walking distance to the event location. Check other hotels in the area for their rates. Remember that the recommended hotel may cost more than one further away including taxi or bus fare.
What about cost?
Prices can range anywhere form $10 to $1500. The higher the event fee the more expensive it will be if you wait to pay the day of the event. Generally low cost events will charge the pre-registration fee although they state a higher on-site fee. Keep in mind that the more an event costs it doesn't mean that you will get more out of it. Often low cost events provide better one-on-one instruction and you can ask specific questions. Low cost events often have fewer participants that their high cost counterparts.
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