T Nation

Martial Arts

Hello ladies and gentlemen im going into the Air National Guard and im fixing to go to boot camp on Febuary 2nd. When I get back from basic I wanna start learning some form of martial art.

I have always been interested in martial arts but never took it up. My question is what type of martial art should I go into?

If I did kempo would they also teach me grappling? Seems like theres a few people on here that have various backgrounds in martial arts.

Please give me your opinions on what you prefer. I am 23 years old and I feel like im a little to old too start. Are there people my age just getting into it. Thanks alot Chris

i started brazilian jiu jitsu about six months. it’s a lot of fun, great conditioning, and actually effective. i’m 32. there are plenty of 18-20 year olds but there are also plenty of 40-50 year olds.

What up duke.
I’m a third-degree brown belt in Shotokan karate. I started years ago when I was 23. Since then, I’ve helped teach children’s classes, adults, etc. A lot of the adults that came after me were older than me, so don’t worry about your age. If you want to learn grappling, takedowns, and joint manipulation then a jiu-jitsu school is a good bet. Judo is very sport-oriented, and doesn’t necessarily emphasize street effectiveness all the time. My old karate school was very open-minded about street effectiveness and self-defense, which I understand is rare for a Traditional Japanese style. We always had fun, and I will not be the only one here to tell you that learning how to maim other people is a rewarding pastime. The true essence of martial arts is not to hurt others, though, it is to attain control over yourself. I would say just to find a school where you are treated with respect, you’re comfortable, and have a blast.

Thanks alot guys for your response. What kind of martial arts do you all recommend?

23 is young, I’ve seen people in their 50’s starting off and do very well - and end up mopping the mats with people half their age.

Finding the right teacher is whats most important - find someone who is knowledgable, not on the “master” power trip, and has students who have stuck around for years (a good sign).

I would find someplace that teaches both standing & grappling, along with self defense, and weapons (depending on what your goals are).

A Brazilian Jiu-jitsu/wrestling/judo for grappling, thai boxing/kickboxing/karate/boxing - or any combinations of the above.

Jeet Kune Do may be a good option if there is a good teacher in your area.

good luck,

I’m no expert, but in the spring I was looking into brazilian jiu jitsu and krav maga, due to their applicability to real-world fighting.

I guess it depends on how you want to approach things in terms of techniques you will be studying. A Tae Kwon Do school will place a lot of emphasis on kicking, Jiu-Jitsu is a lot of grappling, Karate and Kempo will be a lot of stand-up punching and kicking. Aikido is very defensive and emphasizes joint manipulations. It made the mainstream Hollywood scene due to the actor Steven Seagal. Kungfu wil be very similar to Kempo and Karate with the punching and kicking, but usually involves more “hands-on” training with a partner. I guess you could go on a kind of tour in your area and visit some schools. All the ones I’ve ever been to are more than happy to let you watch a class or two.

There was a long thread on this a little while back, try searching for it. Im doing kempo right now, but we also do pressure point fighting, some small circle jujitsu, and modern arnis.

Oh, and dep mentioned Krav maga, thats what the Israeli Defense Force uses, and we all know that theyre pretty badass. Its a rpetty effective one in the military id say.

Since you’ve had some military experience I would recomend Krav Maga. It is what the isreali special forces use. It is very practical for street fighting and extremely dangerous. Muy Thai kickboxing is fun and if your legs are strong you’ll love it. It’s alot more aggresive than other forms of kickboxing. There is alot of emphasis on using knees and elbows when your up close too but it wont help you much when your on the ground. I’ve heard alot about Jeet Kune Do but never tried it myself. Hard to pick up but very very good to know.

As Kuri says:
A Brazilian Jiu-jitsu/wrestling/judo for grappling, thai boxing/kickboxing/karate/boxing - or any combinations of the above.

Why not do all them at once? Well you can if you learn Vale Tudo! (portuguese for ‘anything goes’, modern mixed martial art style)

If you can’t find a Vale Tudo club then I’d choose Thai-boxing and Brazillian Ju-Jutsu. That way you’ll have stand-up and ground skills.

You generally won’t find rubbish teachers in MMA orientated martial arts as these guys have to prove themselves in combat and they get quickly found out. You also don’t get power trippers (like the cobra karate sensei in karate kid) cause these guys have nothing to prove to anyone, they have earned respect the hard way.

You don’t get the spiritual side but if you want that I suggest doing it properly and taking up Buddhism. But you will get a sense of confidence and well-being with your ‘proven’ new found skills. These guys (with a few exceptions) are not thugs or bullies and have immense self-discipline. They don’t need to beat up on weaker individuals cause they can but like to prove their skills against an opponent of equal worth.

You don’t have to look at competing either. Just use it for self-defense and just to enjoy the learning experience.

I second what Kuri said:

BBJ or wrestling for grappling
Muay Tha? for kickboxing

and I’ve practiced Jeet Kune Do for 3 years now, it’s no non-sense type of combat.

My 2 cents,

You guys are awesome I really appreciate the responses.

It seems most are already getting you to lean in the “right” direction.

These are my recommendations in order of preferance.

  1. A good MMA gym (should teach submission wrestling/no-gi BJJ, Muay-Thai/western boxing type standup-work, wrestling and or judo takedowns/throws plus anything else they can get to work within the framework - sparring should go on every class in some form, or at least very very regularly)

  2. BJJ, wrestling or judo. BJJ is probably the better choice, and it’s my impression that it is also easier to find in that wrestling is mainly a sport used within the school system in the US (any truth to that? Wrestling will definitely give you better takedown skills, which is useful, but it lacks submissions which I see as a problem. A good judo club may be the compromise, but a lot of those are almost all throws from standing. There should be at least some ground grappling. Judo tends to be very cheap which is cool.

  3. Boxing, Muay Thai or kick boxing. Probably Muay Thai, but it’s my (and others’) opinion that regular boxing teach better hand skills than those of muay thai.

  4. There isn’t really a four, but if you want weapons (knives and sticks) work I keep hearing good things about silat and the Filipino arts (Kali, arnis, escrima), I have never tried any of it myself at all, but the word on the street is positive. Both Silat (Indonesian stuff) and the FMA vary wildly from style to style. For example Sayoc Kali is pretty much all knife work, but some styles are much more complete than that, also they differ somewhat in approach.

Bottom line though. If there’s a MMA (vale tudo) gym in your area, and the instructors aren’t complete assholes (they seldom are, in my experience) you should definitely do that.

If you find yourself having to choose between similar schools you should always go with the one you like the best, however do pay notice to the skill level of the best students, how much ass the instructor kicks may not be indicative of any teaching skills to speak of.


it really depends on your goals. Right nowe i do shotokan karate because i enjoy it alot, but i also study quantum jujitsu, which is a combination of BJJ and western boxing/muay thai. If you’re goal is pure self defense and you want to avoid mysticism i’d suggest krav maga, BJJ, boxing or muay thai, and possibly kyoshinkai karate(caveat- if you do boxing and kick boxing and want to apply it on the street, you have to train your hands to punch or learn how to use palm strikes, as gloves tend to cause horrible fist form). If you want to learn how to use weapons in addition to empty hand fighting, i’d suggest kung fu, ninjitsu, or some forms of karate. If you want something that cna be very effective when you’re proficient and can be alot of fun, i’d suggest karate, kung fu, aikido, judo. These are just my perceptions. Some one mentioned Jeet Kune Do, and the only reason i don’t recommend it is from talkign to people who have taken some forms, it is now highly stylized, which isn’t something Bruce Lee wanted.

People: Jeet Kune Do is NOT a style or form of MA. It’s a theory.

So, sorry for nitpicking here, it is better to say: “Adapt the theory of Jeet Kune Do to your training” rather than say, “Jeet Kune Do is a good option…” or “I study Jeet Kune Do…”

Here is a quote from Bruce Lee’s “Tao of Jeet Kune Do”: “To understand Jeet Kune Do, one ought to throw away all ideals, patterns, styles; in fact, he should throw away event the concepts of what is or isn’t ideal in Jeet Kune Do…”

For someone to actually SAY he/she is a intructor of Jeet Kune Do is ludicrous. It’s a series of thoughts, ideas by one man that has been contained in a book for everyone else to read and learn on their own. It’s only a beginning of self-discovery in ANY form of MA or MMA.

I found a Mixed Martial Arts Academy in nashville, tn. They have BJJ, Muay thai, Boxing, wrestling, and vale tudo. My question is do they incorporate all of these together or do you pick a certain one?

duke: if this “Martial Arts Academy” is a good school, they’ll let you observe several of their classes. Which is exactly what I recommend you do; spend a week (or two) visiting various schools to observe.

Most will allow you to do this, be sure to call ahead.

They probably have different classes for each one. Vale Tudo would be where it’s all brought together, but it’s a pretty good idea to practice different things one at a time, some of the time.

You should look them up, watch some classes, attend some classes, see if you find it to your liking.

Someone mentioned that your choice should be decided by your goals, which is obviously true. However, if you want to learn how to fight, the route I have suggested is definitely both the most effective and the most fun.


Thanks alot rep