To be able to answer the question, “Which martial art is best for me?” you have to establish which goals you are trying to accomplish by learning martial arts. Do you want to get fit and improve your physical health? Be able to defend yourself against a violent attack? Learn mental discipline and focus? Studying martial arts can do all these things for you and more, but not all martial arts focus on each of these things equally.
Which Martial Art Is Best for Me? 6 Common Options
Before you start considering martial arts, there are some misconceptions you should get rid of right away. You’re not going to become some badass one-man army overnight. Success with martial arts, as with any sport or physical fitness regime, requires dedication and consistent hard work. Martial arts are primarily defensive, and one of the first things you learn is how to avoid situations in which you may have to use them. The practice can give you a constructive outlet to work out your frustrations and aggressions, but don’t think you’re going to learn martial arts to settle scores with people.
With that cleared up, here are some of the most popular martial arts available and how they may mesh with your personality and goals.
Because of its popularity, karate is synonymous in many people’s minds with martial arts. No matter where you live, in a community large or small, you are likely to find a karate school, also called a dojo, where you can study. Just remember that karate isn’t necessarily your only option for learning martial arts.
The word “karate” means “empty hand” because you don’t use any weapons. Rather, karate teaches you how to use each of your limbs and weapons, putting an emphasis on striking with your hands and arms (punching) and your feet and legs (kicking). It is also considered a way of life. As a student of karate, you are expected to treat all members of your dojo with respect, regardless of their skill level, and to carry the discipline that you learn through karate into all areas of your life.
There are many different styles of karate, and you can choose the one that best fits your personality. This martial art is a good choice for people who want to learn to defend themselves with forceful actions, physically work the entire body, and attain happiness through mental, physical, and spiritual balance.
Like karate, judo is a popular martial art that originates from Japan, but while karate emphasizes striking back against an opponent, judo is more about using grappling, throws, and sweeps. The goal is to force your opponent to the ground by using his force against him. Even if judo itself isn’t the answer to the question, “Which martial art is best for me?” many other popular options derive from it in some way.
Judo is a method of self-defense developed for people who may not have much physical strength. Its name means “the gentle way,” but don’t let that make you think it isn’t physically demanding. Once you learn the basics, you will spend a lot of time sparring, which means taking your fair share of getting thrown to the mat. Judo is good for improving balance and core strength but, as a downside, it is hard on the joints.
3. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brazilian jiu-jitsu grew out of judo but started to break away in the 1920s. It really became popular during the past few decades because of its use in Ultimate Fighting Championships. BJJ is different from judo in that it places more of an emphasis on grappling, i.e., wrestling, than throwing. Opinions are mixed about how effective BJJ is for self-defense, but if you are primarily interested in the athletic competition side of martial arts, it could be the choice for you.
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art of somewhat mysterious origins. It seems to have derived from Chinese martial arts, and at one point, the different “kwans,” or schools, across the country all taught according to their own fighting systems. As a modern martial art, taekwondo is more recent even than Brazilian jiu-jitsu as the different schools created a more unified and consistent system during the 1950s.
Taekwondo translates as “the way of the fist and foot.” Like karate, it puts a lot of emphasis on striking. As taekwondo started shifting away from a self-defense system and became more of a sport, powerful kicks became its most prominent feature. Taekwondo is the most popular martial art in the world and may be a good choice for you if you work with your hands and don’t want to risk injuring them.
5. Muay Thai
As implied by the name, Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport. Another name for it is the “art of eight limbs” because, in addition to the hands and feet, you also use your knees and shins to strike. Muay Thai provides an excellent workout; you can burn up to 1,000 calories in an hour of training. It is moderately effective for self-defense.
6. Mixed Martial Arts
Mixed martial arts is more or less what it sounds like: a discipline that incorporates the best techniques from other martial arts, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu for grappling and Muay Thai for striking. MMA is versatile and can teach you techniques that you can use in different situations in which you may need to defend yourself. Because it incorporates so many techniques, it provides an intense, full-body workout.
MMA is expensive and requires a significant time commitment. If you’re new to martial arts, you may want to try one of the other disciplines first. If you decide you like martial arts and want to diversify your skills, you can then try MMA.
So, Which Martial Art Is Best for Me?
If you still haven’t figured out the answer to the question “Which martial art is best for me?” don’t worry! These are some of the most popular options, but there are many other types of martial arts to choose from. If you want to learn more about how to achieve physical fitness, read more posts under the Health section of Rugged Standard.