T Nation

Help Bird Choose His Art!


Hi friends,

Initially I was interested in ninjitsu, but unfortunately that is not available in my town. Im a semi-pro soccer player considering retirement and I am looking for something to do in the offseason as I decide on my future. My goals in pursuing a martial art is to maintain fitness, flexibility and also for something to do. Im not planning on competing/getting into street fights, although I suppose any carry over in to the real world is a bonus.

I get to choose from karate, tae kwon doe, judo, brazilian jai jitsu, kung fu, wing chun kung fu and boxing.

Obviously I am going to spend some time visiting the respective dojos and watching the sessions, but I am asking for advice on which martial art that you would choose and the pro's and con's?


Uncle Bird.



You say your goals are to maintain fitness, flexibility and something to occupy your time.

I wouldn't recommend boxing unless it's something you've always wanted to do. It's a painful learning curve for an adult and not helpful for flexibility IMO.

Brazilian jiu jitsu is a beautiful sport and can be tremendous for your health.
It really depends on your mentality though- if you live clean and embrace it, you will be very healthy.
However, some of the best bjj technicians I know are sporting beer guts.

I think the best fit for your goals is tae kwon do.
Great fitness element, martial arts feel and excellent for flexibility and fitness


Given your goals and the fact that you are looking to do this in th off-season, I actually think Tae Kwon Do or Kung Fu (which style by the way? there are quite a few and the form/style will somewhat determine whether it would be a good choice) would be great fits. Both arts place a fairly high emphasis on flexibility, agility, and fairly fun to practice. With Kung Fu you'll probably also get to play with some cool exotic weapons. Next best would be either Karate (depends again on the style; Kyokushin Kai would not be a great choice while Shotokan might be), or BJJ IMO. The only problem with BJJ is that you will undoubtedly engage in some free sparring (or "rolling" as it's referred to in grappling arts), which could wind up leaving you injured when it comes time for you to start back up with the soccer (this of course depends on the school and training partners as well as you though). I would place boxing and Wing Chun last under these criteria as neither is going to do diddly squat for your flexibility and both are primarily concerned with combat (be it sport or reality) effectiveness (as is BJJ, but BJJ will at least develop some flexibility and agility). Don't get me wrong, I think they are both fun, heck I think all MA's are fun, but given what you want out of this, they would fall lower on the list than if this was say a "I want to learn to defend myself" list.

All of the above is also somewhat predicated on the schools themselves, how their classes match up with your availability, how convenient the commute to each would be, and of course your budget. Definitely go check out the ones that interest you and see which ones you like the best.


All excellent replies above. IMO, since you are a semi-pro soccer player, you should be well versed in how to kick and use your legs. I would suggest TKD for off season training. My martial arts base was TKD and about 70 percent of the techniques are kick related. With your background, you should adapt very quickly. Let us know what you choose.


I'd say boxing or brazilian jiu jitsu.

Either one is guaranteed to keep your lungs in shape, and they both stress conditioning, so it's a good bonus. Plus you'll learn things that you'll be able to apply in real life situations if need be.


BTW you're totally NOT my uncle.


Thanks for the advice friends.

I will be visiting the respective dojos in the next few weeks and Ill let you know how it goes.

Uncle Bird.



Whatever happened to your documentary??????


Your avi is mesmerising.


It will be released some time after the current season, which ends in 2 weeks time.



Sometimes I log in just to stare at it


I am not proud to admit the collective time I have been mesmerized by his avi.


God that eyebrow raise at the end....jesus


You, of all people, advocating BJJ for real life situations?
Is this real life?
Boxing, muay thai, judo or wrestling.


I's day to try each for 3-6 months (can be concurrent). Then spend some time on your own figuring it out, and go back to what you like, or where you need particular improvement, or what coaches and training partners benefited you the most. But overall some great advice has already been given here.


ha. Well I didn't say WHICH real life situations.

Even though it's bad for "self-defense," BJJ actually has some great applications - it's the kind of art that really lets you immobilize people without hurting them.

Being as Bird is saying he's not a streetfighting type, an art that would allow him to restrain and control a friend who is too drunk for reasoning, or a guy during a game who's angry about a penalty and all amped up, etc. would be a great thing.


Haha, never met a Judoka not hating a little bit on BJJ!

BJJ is great bird, but consider this:
If you don't like keeping close contact over extended periods of time and you can't stand having somebody else sweating all over you... Don't chose it.

Sento has already pointed out that Yong Chun and Boxing might not be ideal.

What Kung Fu style exactly is being offered at your place?

As all the others said, get yourself a good impression on everything and then make the choice yourself.
Let us know how it goes.


Tae Kwon Do. Just find a good school where the sensei is legitimate and not just out to make money. If you walk in the door and there are a million black belts, its about money, not about the art.

That goes for basically any school you choose. Pick one that has a good reputation. Do your research and in the meantime work on your flexibility and continue working out.

I wouldn't recommend boxing. As others said, you've used your legs for quite some time, which are very strong, coordinated, etc. Pick an art that utilizes them well.


Thanks for the tip. Thats exactly what I will be doing in the next few weeks. I will be visiting the different dojos and seeing what the options are.




So I have visited the dojos in my town and the only art that really appeals to me is BJJ. I like the physical intensity of the grappling, although they spend a lot of time on the floor, and being 6'2 I don't know how I will go with that.

Anyway, so I am still unsure of my future plans for soccer. I may or may not play next year. The offseason is 4 months (longer than usual due to the league been restructured). So if I do take up BJJ, I may only have 4 months to practice the art before I possibly have to give it up for another 6 months.

So my question to you guys; will I benefit from practicing BJJ for only 4 months?? Or maybe I just should not bother? Thoughts?