Choosing The Right Martial Art
How To Choose The Right Martial Art For You
Most people have no opportunity to practice martial arts. At the same time, others have a unique opportunity to spend time reflecting on the martial arts we are either practicing or would like to try out and decide whether it is the most suitable martial art.
I’ve been practicing and teaching martial arts for 14+ years. During this time, I’ve had the opportunity to experience some of the best and worst of martial arts, the myths, and the reality, meanwhile doing my best to figure out what is what.
In this report, I will clarify everything I think you need to know when assessing whether your chosen martial art or the martial art you plan to practice is the correct fit for you. We will cover how to choose a martial art.
Martial Art School Near Me
In the past, our access to martial arts or facts was much more deficient than it is today, so, to an extent, it was logical to pick a martial arts school around your location. Sometimes you didn’t have an option. These days there are usually a lot of martial arts schools and styles to pick from.
On one level, it can make it confusing. On another, some people are still picking the martial art close to their house, despite that, instead of questioning what is most appropriate for them. Yet that inherently poses a question, how do you determine which martial art is right for you? Most people would likely pick a martial art that looks coolest or one they heard good things about or watched in a film.
That is a risky way to pick it since people can convey many acceptable things about conventions, which are not necessarily good, merely because it is their unconscious preconception.
Why Learn Martial Arts
The question I recommend asking first is more unique to you, “why do you desire to learn martial arts, to start with?” Most people don’t even have a specified idea of why they desire to practice martial art.
Is it for self-defense? Is it for wellness? Leisure? Confidence?
It can be a combination of things, but one of the elements will usually stand out for you. You should determine before choosing a martial art because if you pick it wrong, it will not offer you what you are looking for without you even knowing. When you decide what your reason is, and all of them are usually quite good reasons, it doesn’t necessarily mean one is better than the other you can start exploring by reasoning out which martial art is the most suitable for your preferred reason.
It may sound easy, but unfortunately, some martial arts schools and styles are unclear about what they offer. Sometimes they can even be unaware of what they claim to offer and not deliver. This is where things become tricky. But that’s also why I wrote this article to clarify some things and make the process easier for you. So let’s break it down.
Martial Art For Prevention
One of the main reasons people start martial arts is to learn self-defense. And that aspect is the most confusing part of martial arts. In many self-defense experts’ opinions, martial arts and self-defense are related yet different, unlike what most people think. We have other articles on this subject, which you can feel free to check out for more details, but the basis is that most of what self-defense is, is about prevention.
How to know where it’s safe to go and where it’s not?
How to keep a safe distance? How to notice a potential threat early? How to de-escalate a growing conflict? These and many other answers are rarely offered in martial arts schools. Some of them do, and that’s a great sign if they do, but most martial arts will only teach you what to do When you are attacked.
For example: If somebody grabs you. Do this “move!” But what about the long-lasting moments before the grab even happens? If you are capable of knowing how to avoid those, you are almost self-defense-proof. You should understand how to deal with a grab or a punch, but that’s just a minor part of self-defense. So do learn to defend yourself against punches and grabs, etc.
Martial Art Schools’ Tricks
Don’t fool yourself or let a martial arts school trick you into thinking that the whole deal is just about that. Also, some martial arts schools are better at teaching you to defend against a physical threat. Now you ask, how do you know which one it is? And the answer is simple here. These are martial arts that include pressure testing.
The attacker is not “assisting” the defender. Martial arts that are not really good at teaching you how to defend against a physical attack are ones where the attacker punches into the air, then stops and waits for the defender to perform a move.
It may look cool, but that won’t teach you to deal with someone who wants to hurt you, even if the teacher tells you it will.
Meanwhile, there are martial arts, where you will be confronted with someone trying to defeat you, and you will have to learn to deal with such an attack, but that doesn’t mean you will get hurt. For example, in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there are usually no strikes to the head, and injuries are not common, but at the same time, you get two people trying to “get the tap” or get you into a position where you give up. And then you go again. You may still ask: what about the self-defense prevention aspect?
What martial art teaches that? The truth is, you don’t even need martial arts to learn the prevention side of things.
Get The Right Information
A good, dedicated instructor of the subject is enough but rare to find. There are also great books that offer the correct information about it. Here are a couple: “Meditations on Violence” by Rory Miller and “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. And while it’s a rabbit hole that you could go down forever, having read a couple of good self-defense books, you will probably be safer than those who haven’t.
And then, you can learn martial art as an add-on. To learn how to physically defend yourself, or to enjoy it! Because martial arts can be fantastic. At least you won’t be in a mindset of thinking: shoot, I will have to learn a martial art for 10 years before I will know how self-defense works!
And one more hint: if you won’t be able to defend yourself against an untrained attacker after 6 months of training a martial art, it usually means that martial art is not a good one for it.
And before we finish this up, I would quickly like to address the rest of the reasons for training in martial arts like fitness, community, leisure, etc.
The Self-Defense Pitch
Most martial arts will offer that. But something to look out for: while almost all martial arts will offer these aspects, some martial arts will also pretend to offer more than they do, especially at the self-defense level.
It’s OK to practice a martial art that is not effective for self-defense, as long as that is honestly admitted, like Tai Chi.
Yet if you will come to a martial arts school, which will tell you that you’ll need to learn for at least 2 to 4 years until you will be able to use it against an untrained attacker, or there will be no live resistance and pressure testing, AKA the attackers will be ‘helping out’ the defender and won’t be really offering a challenge.
I would not recommend such a place because its culture is based on a lie that usually leads to other inherent problems, such as cult-like behavior, denial, dishonesty, lack of critical thinking, etc.
Choosing A Martial Art
And before I really end this article, I know what you are thinking. Let’s make sure I didn’t waste your time then and talk about it. This will be only my opinion from the gathered experience, so do take it with a grain of salt and stay open-minded – a lot depends on the actual instructor himself – how honest and good he is, not only the style, but various styles have general tendencies.
The martial arts, which generally tend to claim that they teach self-defense but usually fail badly, are most commonly known to be Aikido, Wing Chun, various styles of Kung Fu, and Bujinkan, which are the first ones that come to my mind. You will also bump into martial arts that claim to be more “reality-based” but can be deceiving and should be looked at critically since they can sometimes claim to be effective but be really off in reality.
For example, I am skeptical about the Russian martial art Systema and Krav Maga. I’m told it highly depends on the particular school, so I can’t give a final verdict since I haven’t tried them out. In the middle, you can usually find Karate and Taekwondo, which can be limited due to a heavy rule set, but it also depends on what style or school it is.
If you want to learn striking, usually there’s nothing more polished than Boxing. Muay Thai and Kick Boxing are also good options since you’ll learn some badass kicking too. But be careful about the culture of the gym.
If heavy blows to the head are included in the practice – it’s best to avoid such a place for your brain health. An excellent striking gym usually has a beginner’s program that will protect your head. As far as Grappling, I personally love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
This is not Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, which is a different subject and can be all over the place. My personal impression is that Japanese Jiu-Jitsu often lacks live pressure testing, but to be fair, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to it.
Meanwhile, in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – most schools will teach you how to handle a single attacker and choke him out if you need to. Wrestling is good for taking people down, although I keep hearing that the sports level of it can have a lot of impact on the body, which is not very healthy. You’ll have to deduce this on your own.
Learning MMA can be a good mix of learning various skills too. There are also other martial arts that I didn’t mention, such as Sambo or Judo, but that’s because I had little contact with them or did little investigation about them.
Yet with all the information presented, I feel you will make up your mind much better now about which martial art to choose. If you are interested in similar subjects about martial arts, check out some more articles on Teach To Fight.