Table of Contents
The world of combat sports is filled with hundreds of different fighting styles each with their own pros and cons. It is easy to see that some martial arts such as Jiu-Jitsu, Judo or Muay Thai are more effective in combat compared to some other fighting styles such as Wing Chun or Capoeira.
While that may be true, these martial arts give people a chance to discipline and express themselves in unique ways. Mastering a combat sport is an incredible way to learn more about yourself. But how do you find which fighting style is right for you?
7 Steps to Finding YOUR Fighting Style
Although there are many outside influences that could encourage you to try out a specific fighting style, it is up to you to research and figure out which martial art you want to try out.
For example, if you are looking for a way to defend yourself in a street fight, you may consider looking into boxing. This art teaches you how to punch and evade your opponent’s punches. Grappling is typically frowned upon in street fights due to the risk of being so close to your opponent. Nowadays, many citizens in the U.S carry weapons on them at all times. This means that if you have no choice but to engage in combat with someone in the streets, you want to be able to hit hard from a long range
Along with that, being on the ground while street fighting is not the greatest idea due to the risk of multiple opponents attacking you at one time.
Although grappling arts are not the best fighting style for self-defense on the streets, the techniques and discipline taught in sports such as Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and wrestling are no joke. If you are a competitive athlete who enjoys combat sports, consider looking into one of the grappling styles listed above.
Spar to Discover Style
One of the beautiful things about martial arts such as Boxing, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, etc., is that they all practice something known as pressure testing/sparring. This is what separates these styles from other combat sports such as Krav Maga or Wing Chun. While the techniques taught in these forms look good on paper, practitioners of these arts do not use what they have learned against opponents who fight back.
When humans find themselves in a survival situation, natural instinct kicks in. Sparring and using technique against an opponent trying to fight back is the only way to override that natural fighting style that most people have.
So, when practicing martial arts, make sure not just drill, but spar as well. Pressure testing your technique will give you the best and most realistic feel of the sport. Sparring is the best way to figure out which martial art suits you the best.
Don’t Commit Too Early – Test New Things Out
Testing out other martial arts before fully committing to one you’ve already tried is important. Experiment with different styles to see what you enjoy the most. If you can’t pick between a couple of different martial arts, consider cross-training a few times a week. Although mastering a specific style can be very beneficial to an athlete, practicing multiple sports is a great way to round out your game.
Benefits of CROSS-TRAINING:
There are many benefits to cross-training different fighting styles. As stated previously, training in different sports rounds out your game. For example, if you are a BJJ practitioner, there is a lot that can be learned by putting on some shoes and getting onto the wrestling mats. The takedowns and positioning taught in the sport of wrestling can benefit a Jiu-Jitsu player’s technique immensely.
Along with that, practicing more than one fighting style gives you a wider array of self-defense techniques that you could use on the streets. There is a reason that MMA fighters are so dangerous. If you have the ability to execute striking and grappling techniques in a self-defense situation you will be a force to be reckoned with.
Lastly, practicing different sports builds muscle in neglected areas. If you only practice a specific fighting style for a long period of time, your body will start adapting to that style. Muscles that are used will grow back stronger and better than before. Although fighting is a great way to get in shape, if you only practice one fighting style, you are neglecting a lot of muscles that may be needed in other sports. Being well-rounded and practicing different martial arts is a great way to build muscle all around the body.
Find your Weaknesses
No matter how good of a fighter you are, you’re going to have weaknesses. Even those with the best fighting style have minor issues that can be fixed. When finding your fighting style, it is important to understand what your weaknesses are. Say that you’re a boxer and you cross-train with karate. If your kicks aren’t the greatest maybe stick to what you are good at and continue practicing boxing as your main sport.
Of course, being a Jack-of-all-trades can benefit you in many avenues of life. That being said, it is ideal to master a single craft, especially in the world of combat sports.
When questioning what fighting style fits you the best, consider looking at your natural talents. If you are naturally gifted in your stand-up game, consider pursuing some sort of striking-based fighting style such as karate or boxing. If grappling feels natural, consider pursuing Jiu-Jitsu or wrestling in the future. While it is okay and actually highly encouraged to get up and out of your comfort zone, when looking for a sport that you want to pursue fully, one of the best ways to decide what you want to do is think back and acknowledge where your talents are. As I said earlier, talent may not make up for blood sweat and tears, but does give you an amazing advantage if you plan on competing.
Find Your Strengths
It is easy to uncover weaknesses in your fighting style but it can be a little tougher to find techniques or skills that you can say are strong, especially when you’re first starting out as a fighter. Similarly to finding your natural talents, finding your strengths ensures that you commit to a sport that you are somewhat comfortable in.
Watch your Technique
One of the easiest ways to find your own personal style in the world of martial arts is to watch your technique. Find someone in your gym to record your sparring sessions. If you are passionate about a specific sport and you see mistakes that you can improve upon, then recording your sparring matches will ensure that you progress as quickly as possible in your own style of fighting. If you begin to look back on the footage and realize that you are not as intrigued and interested in the sport as you thought, maybe consider practicing a different martial art
Can Body Type Affect Your Fighting Style?
It most certainly can. You may notice that many fighters who wrestle at a high level have a very short and stalky build. On the contrary, the average MMA fighter can be seen as lanky and taller than most wrestlers.
Of course, there is a reason for this. Wrestlers must be constantly low to the ground in order to shoot or defend against takedowns. Having a short but strong frame benefits wrestlers immensely on the mats
MMA fighters who have a height and reach advantage against their opponent have a higher chance of winning their match. The reason you see so many lanky MMA fighters is due to the fact that they need to be able to stay at a safe distance while still being able to inflict damage on an opponent.
Although it is not a requirement to be a specific size for a specific sport, body type is very important when figuring out what fighting style you want to master.
Benefits of Practicing Martial Arts
So many incredible benefits await when you begin to train hard in combat sports. As stated previously, martial arts can allow you to defend yourself in life-threatening situations. Knowing that you can protect yourself in a bad situation is very refreshing
Along with that, participating in martial arts such as BJJ or Muay Thai really humbles you fast. It allows you to come to the realization that you aren’t the biggest fish in the sea and there is always someone that is better and that is working harder than you.
Additionally, participating in striking or grappling art has been shown to reduce stress and aggressiveness while increasing happiness and fulfillment. It doesn’t matter if you are a huge competitor or just another guy who comes to the gym, martial arts are a great way to let off some steam and feel refreshed
Finally, there are many viable career options once you get to a high level in some martial arts. For instance, if you are a well-known Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, you would easily be able to run seminars and coach at a gym to make some quick cash.
Discovering your own personal fighting style can be difficult at first. A lot of different factors play a role in the decision of which martial art you want to pursue. Remember to research online and learn about which sport you think you would like to participate in the most.
Once you do find a sport you like, make sure you spar to find out if this is something you really want to be pursuing. Make sure to record sparring sessions in order to figure out what strengths and weaknesses are present in your fighting style.
Make sure to listen to your body’s natural instincts and try out multiple martial arts before deciding on one or two that you plan on doing consistently. The most important part about it all is to have fun. Enjoy the journey instead of focusing on the outcome. Once you find the right fighting style, your going to have a blast!