Selecting a Martial Arts School

Not all schools are created equal!!! There are drastic differences between many schools in value.

Highest Quality Instruction + Affordable prices = VALUE

Our Average student pays $109 per month

Mu Sool Tang Soo Do is not Tang Soo Do combined with Hapkido or Hwa Rang Do. It is a traditional comprehensive martial arts system that is derived from the rich and varied martial arts techniques that have arisen in Korea through the ages.

A Guide to Selecting a Martial Arts School

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Martial Arts School

Choosing a martial arts school to train yourself or your child is an important decision. There are many factors toconsider when selecting a place to train such as:
1. Instructor authentic– or just a business
2. Price
3. Martial Arts Style or System
4. The School

This guide is unique in that it will not only help you explore issues to help ensure that you find a school with quality instruction. The guide will also help you find a good “school situation” in terms of the customer relationship and business interactions that will be healthy and enjoyable for you. This will enable you to stick with classes over the long term, receive the highest quality training and a positive customer experience so that you can become an avid martial artist and maintain peace of mind throughout the multi-year experience of your martial arts journey.


The instructor is one of the most important things you should consider in your decision. The head instructor of the school should be knowledgeable, experienced, capable and most of all a good teacher. The head instructor should actually teach a significant portion or all of the classes the school offers. There are several factors you should explore with a potential instructor.

In order to fully understand the system’s curriculum, an instructor usually must have achieved the rank of fourth Degree Black Belt (fourth Dan). From a credible lineage- Korean, Japanese, or Okinawan Masters, not a franchise.

Thus a fifth Dan should have at a minimum of 17 years training. Some programs and schools offer two year black belts and accelerate ranks that go one year for second Dan, two years for third Dan, three years for fourth Dan etc…. which would produce a fifth Dan at 12 years of experience. This is way too early and a warning sign. Some schools have six-year-old Black Belts. We do not promote anyone to Black Belt until they become 10 or older. It takes three years and at least six months to attain Black Belt at our school. Warning some schools you can become a Black Belt in under three years, these schools are questionable and a warning sign.

There are several other traits that instructors can posses that may enhance an instructor’s ability to delivery a quality martial arts experience such as:

Instructors lineage— Who he has been taught by? Any one that is known for excellence? My first Master was taught by his father, who taught Chuck Norris. I also learned from the founder of Hwa Rang Do to name a few. Trained in Hwa Rang Do and Hap Ki Do in Korea. I have been taught by Koreans since I was 13-years-old.

Having military service experience- Master Ruffing is a Afghanistan Combat Veteran.

Law enforcement training- Master Ruffing graduated Police Academy and has taught Police Officers self-defense tactics.

Does the Head Master teach all the classes or does he have a student teach?

Pictures or videos of the Instructor/Master Mastering techniques? Believe it or not many instructors have no pictures or video of them mastering any complicated/difficult techniques. The reason is because they can’t or never have. Would you want someone to work on your car who has never worked on an engine before?

Has the Instructor trained in the country of origin of the martial art? Master Ruffing and Instructor Hughes have lived and trained in Korea.

Does the instructor have high standards and enforces them? Or do they pass any student for the testing fee? Warning some schools are just belt factories. These are usually franchise schools.

An instructor who has demonstrable credentials, achievements and success inside and outside of the martial arts world is more likely to be able to maintain and grow the school from a business and operations perspective. This will result in a healthy school that will exist long enough for you or your child to earn a black belt. It will also enable the instructor to provide a better customer experience for you and the other members of the class.


Price is a strong factor in any purchasing decision. While price is important, you should also consider value. You get what you pay for.

Be wary of schools with no agreements. On the other hand be wary of schools that only offer longer term agreements(1 yr or longer). There are schools that you bait and switch tactics, they will start you at a very low price but then after you are there a month or two they will up the price dramatically. It is best to do your research and look for fair and honest pricing.

Martial Arts Style or System

Another key factor is the martial arts style or system. There are many different martial styles and some of them have great things to teach. A well rounded martial artist should be exposed to all aspects of the martial arts. NOT all styles have a complete curriculum…for example Tae Kwon Do pretty much just teaches kicking. Hence it is not a complete art. STYLE is important. Watch a class and compare the discipline and exactness of the students to get an idea of quality.Our style is a specific martial Identity called MU SOOL TANG SOO DO, it is a comprehensive authentic martial art with a full complex curriculum vs. generic martial art that is limited in teaching and promotes students too fast. Some schools have testing monthly or every 2 months to make more money. Warning Sign…A School teaches multiple martial arts- They have to supplement their own art form with other arts, because their art is deficient. Why learn from an incomplete martial art? Then have to pay more to learn other supplemental arts? This is another way of up selling the customer.

The School

We offer training up to 7 days per week. Warning some schools only offer training 2 days per week. Note:  If you have a busy schedule it can be very hard to make those limited class times.

The Students: Do the students look precise? Are their videos of the students you can watch to check the quality of the school? Does the Instructor actually teach in a controlled and structured school environment? Warning: In some schools there is not much martial arts teaching going on, some entertain more than actually teach . These schools usually have a limited curriculum thus have much free time.

Americanized vs Traditional: Americanized Martial Arts were started in the 80’s as a way to market and spread martial arts quickly and make franchises. The traditional way to teach requires 8 yrs at least to make an Instructor and over 3 to make a BB. When they watered down and removed difficult complex movements from the art,they made it easy to promote and make new teachers in order to increase profits.Warning some schools teach no culture or language of their native country. Look for a connection with the country of origin.Tournaments: Some schools require students to attend their internal tournaments. Tournaments should always be an option, never required. Tournaments can be very good and a great developmental tool but tournaments should be open to other schools and styles, that way a student can gain exposure to other styles and schools.Usually these closed tournaments are closed because they do not want their students to see or compete with high quality martial artists/schools because then they might lose students who question how they have been trained.Community: Is the school active in the community? Do the students perform demonstrations so people can see their Quality? Master Ruffing Graduated Buckeye Valley High School, but has trained all over the world in Martial Arts.Warning: Some schools are just a franchise and a money making opportunity. If you try and use their techniques in a real confrontation you or your child could be in trouble. I have been to many schools throughout my 27 years of training and I have seen some very poorly taught black belts. These Schools are called McDojo’s Fast Food Martial Arts Schools. Martial Arts techniques should be earned and learned…not bought. ALWAYS compare before you buy.