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1. Ask permission to watch a class or two. Notice if the class starts on time. If it doesn't, this is a good indicator that the instructor does not view your time as important as his.

2. Find out how long the chief instructor has been practicing the art. Ask if he is affiliated with any major associations. Being affiliated with an association (for example, the World Tae Kwon Do Federation or United States Aikido Federation) is not a necessity, but it is good to know that the instructor does have some credentials and formal training behind him.

3. While observing class, notice the level of discipline. Is the atmosphere very relaxed, very strict, or somewhere in between? Make sure that the feel of the school's atmosphere and level of discipline is what you are looking for.

4. Observe how detailed the instructor's knowledge of the techniques are and how well he conveys that knowledge to the students. Is the instruction practical as well as technical?

5. Does the school operate as a training facility or a social gathering? Again, different people look for different things when they are trying to find a martial arts instructor. Make sure this school has the same aim you are looking to achieve, be it learning martial arts, getting in shape, making friends, or learning the art of coordinating you mind, body and spirit.

6. Find out how many of the school's classes that the chief instructor teaches. If he does not teach the majority of classes, it would be good to know the qualifications of the assistant instructors as well. It would also be good to know the basis that they are chosen to be able to teach class.

7. Trust your gut feeling about the instructor. If you do not feel comfortable with the instructor or, worse, do not feel as though you can trust them, go somewhere else.