The field of Martial Arts is diverse, and each Martial Art is predicated by unique philosophies. As a result, the skills and benefits that you may receive will differ from one Martial Art to another. It can be helpful to align your goals to the Martial Art that you want to learn as this will ensure that you maximise your fulfilment in the long-term.
Martial Arts training is difficult. It requires hard work and dedication. Many who take up the challenge, bow out after just a few months of training. This is why it’s important to pick a Martial Art that strongly aligns with your values and goals. Where do you begin your research to choose the Martial Art that is right for you? It can be a daunting task because each Martial Art differs from another in so many aspects. We’ve set out to make this task easier for you by giving you some guidelines. We’ll discuss the different aspects that you should consider with the goal of helping you decide which Martial Art is the best for you.
The most important question you need to answer is what you want to achieve by practicing a Martial Art. You may want to:
- Improve your physical and mental health.
- Improve your fitness level, by increasing strength, mobility, and endurance.
- Learn how to defend yourself.
- Advance your spirituality.
- Improve self-confidence.
- Improve self-discipline.
- Become a professional athlete.
There are Martial Arts that are better aligned to one or more of these goals. For instance, Martial Arts such as Muay Thai and Boxing provide a platform for competition where you can pursue a career as a professional athlete. Other Martial Arts such as Tai Chi and Aikido help the practitioner to advance spiritually. There are also Martial Arts whose primary goal is self-defence such as Krav Maga. Your goal will narrow down the list of Martial Arts that you need to consider.
The next question you should ask yourself is what kind of skillset you want to learn. This will largely depend on your natural aptitude. Are you better suited to striking or grappling? You may want to be a well-rounded fighter and want to become proficient at both. Maybe skills and etiquette related to wielding a specific type of weapon is more interesting to you.
Your body type is an important consideration as well. If you have a lean and flexible build, a Martial Art that demands agility and speed like Taekwondo may be better suited to you. Conversely you may be strong and large in stature which will make you better suited for close-range and grappling Martial Arts such as Judo or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
These questions will help you further refine your search for your desired Martial Art.
Tradition and Culture
Is tradition and culture important to you? You may identify with or value a specific cultural heritage. There are some cultures that emphasise values such as self-discipline, honour, and perseverance through their Martial Arts. These Martial Arts and values are also tied to spiritual advancement which may be important to you.
Martial Arts are an integral part of the East Asian cultures of Japan, China, and Korea. Martial Arts are deeply embedded into these cultures, and you will find that traditions and etiquette appear in both the Martial Arts and lifestyles of those that assimilate to these cultures.
Muay Thai is a cultural heritage and the national sport of Thailand. Many young people take up the sport with the hopes of attaining success in the ring and becoming professional athletes. Muay Thai is seen as a means to attain both material and spiritual success.
Kalaripayattu is a traditional Martial Art from India that emphasises flexibility, agility, hand-to-hand and weapons-based combat. It has influenced descendant Martial Arts such as Kung-fu and Karate. This Martial Art is believed to have been practiced by the Kshatriya (warrior) class of ancient Indians. It was utilised in battles and wars which decided the balance of power in ancient India.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a popular Brazilian Martial Art. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has gained much popularity due to the success of its practitioners in Mixed Martial Arts competitions. It is a Martial Art that works irrespective of the size of your opponent. Once the fight is taken to the ground, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner sets to work like a constrictor to choke or hyperextend a limb of their opponent.
There are also Martial Arts that are deeply rooted in the African culture such as Capoeira and Dambe. Capoeira combines dance, acrobatics and music with self-defence techniques. It is deeply rooted in African spirituality as is Dambe where the fighters and their entourages engage in a ceremonial dance before their bouts.
Persistent or Historical Injuries and Conditions
Martial Arts is a great step to improving the quality of your life. However, some may also be dangerous based on whether you suffer from injuries or have pre-existing health conditions. This is a very important consideration when deciding on a Martial Art. You may have suffered injuries to joints and it may make sense to take up a Martial Art such as Aikido or Tai Chi which have a low impact on joints. You may suffer from a heart condition, and it could be fatal to take up a Martial Art that demands exertion of the cardiovascular system. Be pragmatic when making this choice. You want to choose a Martial Art that will benefit your quality of life instead of having the opposite effect.
Your Personality Type
Your personality will also influence the type of Martial Art you should engage in. Whilst there are several personality types, we will compare the following to keep things simple:
- Reserved and Introspective
- Competitive and Aggressive
If you are a reserved and introspective person, you may find Martial Arts that are centred around self-improvement and spirituality appealing to your nature. If you enjoy competition and are naturally aggressive, then Martial Arts which focus on dominating an opponent with ferocity may be better suited to you.
List of Martial Arts
Read through the carefully curated list of Martial Arts to get more information on each one. You'll discover the nuances of each Martial Art which is presented to you as concepts, aspects and how the Martial Art is implemented.
Martial Arts Statistics
Our Martial Arts Statistics can also be a helpful way to analyse each Martial Art. We provide different view points of Martial Arts which include its cultural influences, skills employed and goals.
We hope that these guidelines will help you select at least one Martial Art that is right for you. After asking yourself these questions, look through our list of Martial Arts and Martial Arts Statistics to get more details on the ones you may find appealing.
Martial Arts is a lifetime pursuit, and you should take particular care in the one that you choose. To onlookers, it may look like you are subjecting yourself to punishment. However, the practice of Martial Arts can be highly rewarding and beneficial to both body and mind.
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