Martial arts have become more than just a physical routine for competitive fighting. The more brutal arts have been incorporated into military use while others have been modified for fitness and health programs. Just about everyone has something to benefit from martial arts.
The only issue now is choosing which one of the different arts is right for you. There are so many to choose from such as Karate, Judo, Kung Fu, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. They might all sound the same but upon deeper inspection you’ll see each one has their own separate quirks and differences.
Step 1 – Look into Yourself
The first step in identifying the right martial art is to know what you want, what your strengths are, and what your weaknesses are. You’ll want a martial art that improves your weaknesses while honing your strengths.
Remember that every martial art is different no matter what they say; a 5’2” skinny man wouldn’t do much good in Sumo wrestling but put on an Aikido gi on him and teach him the basics he could throw down a much larger opponent after just 3 months of training.
By identifying what your body is capable of, what areas of yourself you want to improve or alter, and what goals you realize can be realistically achieved, you’ll have a shorter list of martial arts applicable to your needs and wants.
Step 2 – Look into the Martial Arts Schools Nearby
Yes, you might to look for the schools nearby before deciding on one of the different arts in the world. Why choose Pencak Silat if there’s no school within 200 miles of where you live? By jotting down the schools within a certain travel radius you’ll instantly be able to create a short list of viable options.
Step 3 – Formal Training
This is where the martial art schools will differ. You’ll want an in-depth look at their training regiment, their schedule, etiquette, and more. This is where you’ll see how they wear their gi and belts, their ceremonies, rules, and training gear.
If you’re still deciding which martial art to practice, try visiting a few of these schools. You’ll want to talk to the instructors and even to some of the students to get a feel of how their particular martial art works and what philosophies they imbue to each other.
This will also allow you to study the different martial arts in action. You’ll get a first-hand look at what you could be learning.
Another part of this formality is to see how the instructors teach their students. Do they spar their students to let them learn in direct combat or they have the students perform katas routinely with a partner?
Formal arts are like Kendo where everything is done in a precise order, with symbolic meaning and a proper method of doing things from start to finish. The least formal are like boxing where a boxer simply fights in a ring and the trainer yells specific instructions.
Step 4 – Informal inquiry
So you’re done visiting the school, you’ve talked to the instructor, and you’ve seen whether or not their martial art is suitable to your body’s capabilities, your needs, and your wants. Now it’s time to see the martial arts in action as performed by the masters so it’s time to turn to your computer and YouTube.
This might sound like a waste of time for some but watching videos can help you determine what style is best suited for you. Try to emulate easy moves and watch some tutorial videos if you can find them. Switch things around and see which martial art clicks the most with you.
You’ll want to do this during your alone time. Martial arts instructors can be very persuasive so you can expect a lot of sales talk when you visit their schools. When you’re alone following YouTube videos, there’s no one buzzing sales talk in your ears so you can concentrate on what really feels right for you.
Step 5 – Give it Some Time
So you’ve decided on a martial art? Decided to invest on a brand new Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi and rank up those belts? Before you decide any further, try to lock down your goals and give your decision a good year as a test run. Attend every class for the year and see how far you’ve come.
If after a year and you don’t feel like it’s getting you anywhere then take some time off and try something else. It can seem annoying to have to waste an entire year but if you’re really not happy then don’t pursue it to a point of being miserable.