I’m sure, especially nowadays with the high popularity of MMA and the subsequent rise of MMA academies, there is a lot of confusion regarding the authenticity of the academy you will be joining. A lot of times, your gut is the best differentiator. But there can be a few very basic guidelines which you can follow.
1. The most important criteria for me will always be the fight team and how good they are. There are a lot of McDojos especially in Bangalore. But you cannot call yourself a MMA/Kickboxing/combat sport academy without having an active fight team. The academies who say, they don’t believe in fighting, are usually the academies who can’t fight. The fight team needs to be active and competitive under recognized organizations.
2. In the age of increasingly common “YouTube” sensei’s, the authenticity of the head coach is also important. The coach needs to have trained under recognized coaches/organizations/academies, and particularly not be a random black belt in a random martial art (Karate guys, I’m talking about you). If he/she has fought, it’s even better. And also, the coach always has to be approachable, even though he might be a pain in the ass while training.
3. The student body itself. Again, it shouldn’t look like the dojo in the Karate Kid movie. A good academy will have people of various experience levels, various skill level, fitness level even age brackets. In the best academies, everyone learns from each other. It’s not just the Kickboxing champ, but also the beginner who can be helpful. And a friendly environment should also be visible. Having fun is an important part of training too.
4. The class room itself should be functional. I personally do not like high end gyms, but the gym should not look like your Rs.200 worth gym either. A place which is clean, has enough space to dump your stuff, shower rooms etc. are all the luxury you need. In the end its better to sweat it out with training MMA, kickboxing or Jiu Jitsu, rather than sitting on your butt in a damn sauna for an hour.
Unfortunately, people in our beautiful country will be willing to fake a lot of the above qualities to make a quick buck. In the end, it’s up to you to choose the best place for you. Best thing will be to take a free trial class or two. Surely when you are training in the academy, the owner/coach can’t hide anything from you.