My son wanted to get into some form of martial arts and we had no experience with any particular schools or methods in Austin. My wife and I parent very conscientiously and had our children in an alternative-approach school. Knowing our philosophy, a friend said that Austin Shaolin-Do was the only place we'd be happy. A neighbor's child had also gone there and had loved it so we gave it a try.
The first month was free (another place had made us buy a $35 gi)) and once we signed up I felt the prices are quite reasonable. Big plus: you don't have to buy hundreds of dollars of weapons right up front before you even know if you're going to stick with it (unlike many other schools, mind you).
My son dove in and really never looked back. After about six weeks of watching him, I decided to jump in myself. The atmosphere owner Master Joe has created welcomes folks of all skill levels and interests so, even though I've always thought of myself as a pretty uncoordinated buy, I felt safe to dip my toe in.
Much to my surprise, I found I really liked it. I got stronger, lost weight, gained flexibility and noticed that middle-age aches and pains just disappeared. Three years later, I even tested to black belt right beside my son. It was truly a life moment and something I am proud of. I now equate learning anything with becoming a black belt--just break it all down into bite-size pieces and you can learn to do anything!
If you really want to learn how to fight, that's there for you. If, like me, you're just really interested in keeping fit and challenging yourself mentally, physically and even spiritually, that's available to you, too. There are people of all ages, many females, techies, fitness gurus, you name it.
Master Joe brought this form of martial arts to Texas in the mid-90's and all the Shaolin-Do schools in this area are run by folks who continue to study under him. His skill are top-notch but he also works hard to make studying the martial arts an experience which empowers the student in many, many ways. He has special seminars on kicking techniques as well as meditation and breathing.
Whenever we've had a concern or issue, he has been forthcoming and proactive. The other teachers have been respectful, capable, positive and supportive.
I'm so glad my son has had the experience and I think that it will benefit him for his entire life. I'm just as grateful to have had the experience as well--sure wish I'd done it at 13 instead of 37, though!
Pros: cost, variety of skills & benefits, inspirational leadership