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What Martial Art Should I Learn? | Choosing the Right One For You

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Choosing a martial art to learn can be an overwhelming decision to make. I know that when we first started out on our journey we did not really know where to start, what to look for, and what was going to be suitable for our personality/style. With so many options to choose from it i very challenging to answer the simple question of what Martial art I should learn. In this blog post, we hope to help you make that decision just a bit easier.

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What Is The Difference Between Combatives And Reality-Based Self Defence?

While learning how to fight, you’ll come across many terms and combat systems. One of them is a set of moves collectively known as Combatives. It is a system that’s utilized by law enforcement and militaries, popularized by the US Army in WWII. 

It focuses on several key attributes of fighting such as punches and kicks, some ground fighting, and weapon disarmament. Combatives train their users in the ability to get close to their enemies and defeat them in standup fighting.

Because combatives are mostly used on the battlefield, there’s a lack of rules and regulations. You don’t worry about your conduct or trying to defuse the situation, you’re just there to use your superior fighting skills to save your life, or even end your opponent’s. 

Then you also have Reality-Based Training (RBT), which is entirely based on realistic self-defense situations. This system essentially teaches you how to survive a street brawl. It tries to prepare you for every possible situation that encountered on, say a rough neighborhood. 

This means that, unlike Combatives, it focuses on the pre- and post-combat phases as well. Pre-combat/conflict preparation means that it teaches you how to de-escalate a situation, to prevent a fight from happening in the first place. 

The post-conflict situation is also important. You must be aware of the legalities of what you’re doing. You should know when to run or to contact law enforcement after neutralizing your opponent. The more aggressive you are, the tougher it can be to get out of legal trouble. 

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What should I look for when choosing a Martial Art?

Thinking of beginning martial arts training, but don’t know which martial art to choose? Well, you need to think about why you want to become a martial artist in the first place. You’re going to read about several combat systems in this piece. 

You can choose which martial art suits you based on the following factors: 

Quality of Self-Defense Techniques

Self-defense is the primary reason why the average joe picks up a martial art. However, not all martial arts may be ideal if protecting yourself is your main motivation. There are some though, like Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), and Muay Thai, which work well in a real fight.  

However, learning how to box may be the simplest way to protect yourself in a street fight. It is endorsed by many, including controversial social media star and multi-time kickboxing world champion, Andrew Tate. The striking techniques taught in it can be decisive in a brawl. 

This is because it focuses on standup combat, and one can end fights much more easily by knocking their opponent out – especially if they have a long reach. Taking the fight to the ground can be disastrous if the opponent decides to fight dirt.   

Impact on Physical Fitness

Martial arts are also a great workout and this is another reason why many opt for them. If fitness is a high priority for you, the most effective martial arts are Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi, Capoeira, and wrestling. Others such as boxing and BJJ also do well in this regard. 

Tae Kwon Do and BJJ are especially useful for increasing your flexibility. Both of them require a lot of stretching exercises as part of their training regimens. Also, the latter trains your body to become more flexible as you’re often put in compromising positions during sparring. 

These are also the best martial arts if you want to build muscle and strength since they push your body to its limits. Wrestling, Judo, and Kung Fu are also great in this regard, and it is not uncommon for gym freaks to pursue them on the side. 

martial arts discipline

Effects on Discipline  

Martial art systems are usually associated with high levels of discipline because you become more punctual when you train regularly. They’re also known to teach you self-control and use your skills only when needed, instead of using them to bully and hurt others. 

The best martial arts in this regard are the ones with traditional practices. These include Tai Chi, Karate, Aikido, etc. There are others that enhance your mental toughness such as wrestling (as it can be grueling to train) and BJJ (since it takes years to become a black belt). 

Role in Combat Sports

Today, the most popular martial arts are the ones that can help you in the cage or in the ring. This is because sports such as MMA, grappling, and kickboxing are more mainstream now. Boxing, which was always popular, has gotten even more so thanks to Youtube boxers. 

Naturally, many more people want to participate in these arts and get some glory for themselves. If you are one of them and want to pursue a career as a fighter, then not every martial art may be suitable for you. 

Muay Thai, Taekwondo, and Karate are the best for striking and translate well into MMA. Meanwhile, wrestling, BJJ, and Sambo provide the best grappling techniques. Their practitioners have seen a lot of success in MMA as well. 

Availability and Accessibility 

If you’re thinking of becoming a martial artist, you should pick an art that’s offered in your area. Of course, many institutions exist which provide effective online learning. However, going to a local gym or dojo is much better thanks to the hands-on learning experience provided. 

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What should I look for when choosing a Martial Arts Gym?

Picking the right gym can get you an easy entry into the martial arts world. But there are several factors that you must consider before you begin your martial art practice or MMA training. You might have to take some trial classes for half of the following points: 


We’ve discussed this above; the nearer your gym is to your residence, the higher the chance of you training regularly. But do ensure that the gym near you is beginner-friendly and that there are classes offered for newbies. Also, check if it offers training in various martial arts.


Reach out to different martial arts gyms and you’ll be able to tell who’s offering a fair price. See if they have a monthly fee so you can quit easily if it’s not for you. Also, look for any hidden charges or initiation fees. 

Some gyms are fancier with lots of facilities or are owned by famous martial artists so they may charge a premium. But remember, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll coach you better than the classes offered by your local community center. 

You can start out at a small gym to see if you like the art. And if you want to take your game to the next level, you can move to a high-end training facility. 

Quality of Instruction 

Martial art practices can be dangerous and so it is important to learn from the right coach(es). Do research on the qualifications of the instructors before joining a gym. Find out who they trained under and how long they’ve been practicing for. 

Make sure that if an instructor teaches one martial art, they have respect for the other arts as well. You may be interested in learning self-defense moves, but respect and discipline are key in any martial art so observe the conduct of the instructor as well.  

Environment at the Gym

The gym should have an inclusive environment that doesn’t berate beginners and novices for not being skilled enough. Also, your fellow students should be respectful towards their seniors and juniors, and towards the art. Only then will you be able to develop your techniques.  

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How do I get started with Jiu-Jitsu?

Whenever learning a martial art for self-defense or fitness is brought up, BJJ is the first martial art that comes to mind. This effective martial art is practiced by millions in the western world alone, including many MMA fighters and celebrities.

So, what if you want to begin BJJ training? Well, you’d have to find a BJJ gym that meets the aforementioned criteria. Find out if it offers training with or without a Gi. If you’re a female, do make sure that there are other female practitioners as well for a better training culture. 

Ask the gym about any gear that you might need to purchase, starting with your uniform – Gi jacket and pants, belt, rashguard, compression shorts, etc. Ensure that you arrive at the gym clean, and before the class begins – to get a look around and sign any waivers if needed.   

Take the class and ask any questions if the need arises. With a trial class or two, you’ll know if the gym or the sport is for you. If it is, follow the schedule that the instructors provide you with, train regularly, make friends, and have fun. 

What is a Normal Training Day?

Whether you’re training under a hand combat system or a grappling-based martial art, there are some things that you can expect from a regular training day. You’ll usually start with a warm-up session that’ll call for some drills and movements to get your blood flowing. 

Then the instructor will usually show a new technique, and will possibly demonstrate it on a volunteer from the class. They’ll display it several times and then you’ll have to try and perfect it with a partner. The coach or their assistant will observe you and help you out if needed. 

After the class is over, you may be allowed to spar with your classmates. During a sparring or a rolling session, you can practice what you know against your mates to see how far you’ve come. Of course, you’re not allowed to hurt each other. 

List of Martial Arts Disciplines You Can Choose From 

The following are some of the most popular fighting systems in the world and they include many other martial arts apart from the aforementioned ones. Check them out below:

  1. Aikido – this defensive martial art consists of throws and strikes, and mental peace

  2. Muay Thai – this art of eight limbs teaches striking and is also known as Thai boxing

  3. Sambo – combat sambo is a Russian art that utilizes wrestling and slap fighting

  4. Jiu Jitsu – a grappling art that’s great for building up your ground game in a fight

  5. Judo – an Olympic sport that focuses on throws, chokes, falls, and joint locks

  6. Wrestling – one of the oldest arts focused on grappling with many forms 

  7. Taekwondo – this Korean martial art enhances your striking and kicking

  8. Lethwei – a martial art that focuses on stand-up striking, including headbutting

  9. Wing Chun – a traditional martial art from China, based on fighting in close-quarters

  10. Krav Maga – the Krav Maga system is an ‘anything goes’ combatives system

  11. Karate – an old martial art that teaches striking and open-hand moves

Who Is Kickboxing Best Suited For?

Kickboxing works for anyone who wants to develop their self-defense skills it is especially recommended for those looking to become cage fighters. In fact, some of the greatest MMA fighters are kickboxers which include Israel Adesanya, Mirko Cro Cop, Alistair Overeem, etc.

Can You Make A Living With Kickboxing?

Yes, kickboxing is a sport of its own with many promotions that employ fighters. However, it may not be the best idea if you want to ‘live like an athlete’, as fighter pay is low compared to boxing, mixed martial arts, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu due to a lack of mainstream popularity. 

How To Get Started Learning MMA

Starting MMA is similar to starting BJJ. You look for a good gym that’s close by and join them. Training in MMA can be more backbreaking for some because of the several martial arts that they may have to train in. However, they’ll become more complete fighters as a result.  

Who Is MMA Best Suited For?

Like kickboxing, modern MMA is an optimal choice for those looking to enhance their fighting abilities or want to pursue a career in MMA. It is also excellent for physical fitness due to the many martial arts that one gets to train in.

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