Narrowing down my Martial Arts search

OK, after reading input from many of you, and searching the Web quite a bit, I’ve narrowed my choices down to either Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Krav Maga or Mauy Thai. Here is all the relevant info about me so you can help me make a final decision:

I live in New York City, so I have access to good instructors in just about EVERY martial art. I'm ideally looking for the most practical, real-world self defense possible (but one that won't take decades to become proficient at). I'm 27 years old, 5'11", 215 lbs, about 10% bodyfat right now, and have been bodybuilding for many years, but have never studied a martial art. I work 12-13 hour days and, realistically, I'm only going to be able to attend classes once or twice a week (I'll definately shoot for twice weekly). I am dedicated, though; once I decide to do this, my head WILL be in it. Money is not really a concern. So with all of that in mind, which martial art do you guys suggest? Thanks again for your input.

uh-oh… you really did it this time… just kiddin’ with you.
I will drop in my pennies here, and leave the debate to the experts. this is my take on it- if you can, try to sit in or join in on a few different ones. find one that sparks you. almost anything can be applied to “the real world” if you just think about it. I know I would never through a side kick at someones head in the real world, but knowing the proper execution of one is still useful- if placed somewhere like the knee. grappling is a good thing, just as is punching and some kicking. joint manipulation is good, IMHO, because you can use it with little effort and little cosmetic damage to the opponent. Sorry, I am rambling…
real world applications are a big topic of debate. It comes down to a lot of personal views and concerns. My idea of “self defense” is tearin the suckers ear off and handing to him, but most people dont get that rabid…
like I said earlier- if at all possible, go to a couple workouts of each art that interests you, and see which one you naturally take to. I think that will be a big factor in real world applications. if it is an odd, uncomfortable thing, you will not become fluent with it as easily. but, if you find one that you have a knack for, you will more likely than not adopt it quickly. I hope I made some sense. I wish you good luck!

I’d go with Muay Thai. If you take jujitsu and get in a fight at a bar, you will be on the ground and could easily get kicked in the head by a buddy of the guy you are fighting. In Krav Magda, I think it is hard to spar (train full contact)to get really proficient as the strikes include a lot of joint and groin strikes, elbows to the throat, etc. In Muay thai you can develop your tools to the utmost–punches, elbows, knees, and kicks-- and still attack the really vulnerable targets (neck, eyes, joints)in a fight should a life or death situation arise, or you can just knock them out conventionally. Clinching and putting a knee in the stomach of a big 260lb 30%BF asshole who swings at you in a bar will take him out in spectacular fashion, and leaves no permanent damage, hence no assault charges, lawsuits, etc. By the way, if you really want to become dangerous, tune up your hands first by joining a boxing gym for a few months–many Muay thai fighters are stiff and slow punchers. Boxing 2 days a week for 3 or 4 months, then joining a good MT gym, would be the best route IMO. Try to get an instructor from Thailand, and if your schedule permits, DEFINITELY learn some jujitsu or other form of grappling so you won’t get smashed if a fight DOES go to the ground. Just my $.02, sorry for the long post. BTW, any other T-men out there who train muay thai, jujitsu, or boxing?

If $$ are no issue then you should check out Renzo Gracie. Dude is a world class fighter and instructor who is open to many styles (he boxes and wrestles as well as being one of the world’s foremost experts on brazilian jiujitsu) as well as being a super nice guy. Classes are expensive but if you have the money it will be worth it. BTW his classes are filled with top competitors and recreational enthusiasts so you will get the best of both worlds.

If you are in NYC, go for straight boxing. The gyms in your area are some of the best in the world, and you will get good value for the dollar.

I second the muay thai/boxing thing. Once you get your stand up game to a decent level, some ground fighting wouldn’t hurt either. Or you could train both at once. Just don’t be suckered by any traditional martial arts. Karate/kung fu/wing chun. Some of it would work on the street but for the most part its useless. Yesterday i watched my friend with 9 monthes muay thai experience slaughter a wing chun fighter with three years of training under his belt. While fighting may seem complex, it shouldn’t take more than a few months of dedicated training to get the basics down. Muay thai’s attacks are simple and effetive. I basically use two kicks, rear leg and front leg roundhouse kicks, both to the opponent’s front leg thigh. If you’ve never had someone’s shin bone smash into your leg believe me it hurts. Even at half power. And Joe Public who on the street probably isn’t expecting leg kicks. So if he actually attempts to square off with you, fake a jab to the face, two or three solid leg kicks, and he won’t be standing after that. Of course fighting is not set in stone, but thats why we learn to grapple and also punch. Going to a dedicated boxing gym to get your punching skills up is also a good idea. As much as i like kicks, i know punching skills are vital. Anyways, sorry for rambling so much. Good luck in your studies.


Thanks very much for all your help. With all that in mind, here is what I think I’ll do. I live in Brooklyn Heights, very close to Gleason’s Gym (a famous boxing gym). I’ll try to spend some time there on the weekends honing my regular boxing skills. I’m also going to start taking some Muay Thai classes, probably one to two times per week (I’ll do some digging as to who the best instructors in the city are). After working at that for a while and developing some proficiency (not sure how long, but I don’t want to do too much at once), at some point I’d definately like to study under Gracie and learn BJJ in order to add some groundfighting skills to the arsenal. (Plus, I live in NYC and Renzo Gracie happens to be here, so how lucky is that)?

Anyway, thanks for all your help, and I welcome any additional input. By the way, how will doing Muay Thai a couple times a week (and maybe some boxing once a week at Gleason's) affect my regular (bodybuilding) workouts, which are usually three nights per week? Is there much conflict there? Thanks again.

I acheived a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do around 7 years ago. It definitly stressed extreme flexibility and balace. As far as self-defense was concerned, I don’t think that black belt meant much. Not until I started boxing at a local gym did I learn what it was like to take a punch and return one. I also realized that alot of martial arts were giving people a false sense of security. Most of these people werent utilizing full contact sparring, which is essential for self-defense. Boxing teaches you to keep your eyes open when a fist is coming at your face and to not turn your back. It also stresses balance and maximal punching power. Get in that ring!!

Hey, sounds like a good plan. The MT and boxing will definitely affect your weight training. MT especially as it can be super rough on the body. No advice from me other than don’t try to train while injured - pain on the other hand is okay:)

Have you looked into shootfighting?

Someone’s probably told you that 90% of all fights end up on the ground, so you want to learn to grapple right? Well, last time I checked, 100% started off standing up!
So, why be bound by just striking or just grappling? In actuality, there’s no best art, just best art(s) for particular points in a fight…Do research on Jeet Kune Do Concepts, which is influenced by 27 martial arts.

Good Luck!