T Nation

Which Martial Art To Start?

I’m starting university next week and there’s a lot of martial arts clubs near by for the first time in my life. I’ve wanted to take up a martial art since I was young just for self defence but living in a rural village it never happened.
My question is which martial art do I choose? Below is a list of all the clubs available, if anyone can give me their opinions on them that would be great as most I find online tend to be bias. I could potentially give quite a few a try but long term I don’t want to commit to no more than one grappling and one striking martial art.
Muay Thai
Wing chun
Thank you in advance.

If self defence is still a concern, I’d say choose one where there’s actual sparring. Nothing prepares you for a fight like being used to someone actually trying to punch you in the face. I’ve tried Wing Chun years ago and trained in MMA and Muay Thai for several years. From that list I’d definitely go with Muay Thai.

Thank you for replying I’ll definitely check that one out then, I’ve heard good things about judo too so I’m swaying towards that.

Mauy thai. Judo. Suprised their isn’t mma school then you just go to one dojo.

If I had to choose one style, it would be Krav Maga hands down. Aikido is a great art too, but it’s a more passive defensive style technique… Watch some sparing and instruction on YouTube… It’s pretty interesting. Steven Segal makes it look even more fun as in the movies he seems a bit more aggressive with his use.

If you’re looking for something that involves different styles, MMA is a good look. You’ll learn some boxing, muy tai and other variations.

Depends on your goal also… Is this for personal defense? Are you looking to learn moves in order to stop a fight quickly, control the threat, or are you looking to spar and fight as a hobby sport type of thing?

I mean typically in a street fight, you’d want to stop the threat as quick as possible and get out of that situation. I can’t imagine needing to really go towards grappling of any kind if your striking is on point.

What I love about Krav Maga is the striking and the wrist locks. It also teaches you defense against weapons such as knives and guns. You can even defend yourself while in the car easily with their moves if someone is trying to jack you.

I would pick the MA’s that focus in on:

  1. Sparring (like said, nothing prepares you to fight as much as fighting)
  2. Hitting and getting hit (I’ve seen few street fights where striking wasn’t there)
  3. Tossing and getting tossed on the ground (The floor never misses, and getting smacked on concrete and/or stomped on sucks nuts)

So based on those criteria, I would say for grappling it’s an easy pick: Judo. It has live sparring, you learn how to toss en not-get tossed and does it in a much more realistic way than Aikido IMO.

For striking, it would be a harder pick. I know both great and less great schools in boxing, kickboxing and muay thai, but on average will these fit your bill. The more traditional arts are always a bit harder to trust: they could be very legit and have hard sparring, or they could be some watered down BS.

If I could choose, I would pick the striking art that learns you how to deal with the most weapons, so Muay Thai would be my pick. It also helps that you learn how to elbow and knee, which are way nicer options than punching someone in the head for your hands.

Thats why i recommend muay thai more than kickboxing eight striking points instead of 4 , in close quarters , with only a foot apart elbows and knee better option then a kick which can throw off balance. Plus some low leg kicks could keep a foe at a distance.

1 Like

IMHO: If you have access:

  1. RMA (reality martial arts)

  2. MT/Boxing/ Judo

  3. Important to consider: Train in what you enjoy and will be consistent with, the best martial art in the world is no good if you dont train. Aikido is a beautiful art and I trained for about a year to learn the basics, but, I thought it was impractical for the street.I did not really enjoy the training, so, I was never any good. Pick something you will bond with for life.

Thank you for all the great replies.
Unfortunately there is only the clubs listed so no MMA but I’ll look out for one if I go anywhere else, same with krav maga.
I liked the look of krav maga because it seemed so simple and effective but I’ve read a lot of bad things about it so I didn’t know if I’d just fallen for the marketing campaign. After what you’ve said I definitely want to give it a try.
I’ve always liked the look of aikido but apparently there’s no sparring and as said I think that’s definitely something I will need to do. I may give it a go anyway to see if I like it.
I’m doing it mainly for self defence and the peace of mind that comes with it. I think from what everyone has said I’m going to try muay Thai and judo and maybe go to a couple of other taster classes too.
Thanks again.

Do you know anything about the clubs/schools or the coaches/ instructors? You want an established program with a history of lots of results and fewer injuries.

Also, where are you? Some places are really go8d at certain things. If you are in Holland, you should probably be kick boxing.

Japan = Judo

Don’t bother with kendo if you are in Brazil.

Krav Maga was originally adopted by Isreali military and is their primary defense for CQC. What I like about Krav Maga is the simplicity, even if you only learn lets say 8 moves, you can defend yourself with confidence.

Out of curiosity what bad things have you heard about it?

As a fighting style, there is a seriousness to it in terms of capability to really hurt someone. The goal of Krav Maga is to stop a threat quickly and “end” the fight. Whether that’s disarming them from a use of gun, knife, or by their hands.

I once watched a video of a news reporter who tried Krav Maga for roughly 4 weeks and when they showed her sparring with a partner, she literally looked like she has been training for at least a year. She was so accurate and swift in movement that it flowed perfectly the way it is supposed to.

Krav Maga is simple, quick, and effective. Many law enforcement and other military forces have adopted this training even if they are taking personal classes for it.

Out of your list of options, I would go with Muy tai. Aikido is a peaceful art of defense, Taikwan do is a lot of flipping people and hand grappling movements (at least what I remember when I was young going through instructional books and practicing) Karate is not for the street, Boxing is limited and only effective if both are fighting hand to hand, kickboxing is not for street fighting or defense (although they can be used, but this is not a Van Damm movie)

I would say research, choose a style that can relate to street fighting, self defense, has simplistic moves to remember and that can be built on muscle memory easily, and has a good variety of strikes, maybe some wrist locks, and grappling defense if fight goes to the ground.

Muy tai has also been adopted to an extent within military hand to hand as well I believe… IMO for self defense, anything that military or law enforcement does for CQC hand to hand is a good place to learn from. Sparring is always involved and it’s not based upon sport, it’s based upon real life situations to defend yourself and get out quickly.

I’m in England. Unfortunately I can’t find any information on any of the clubs but the aikido one. There’s one 3rd Dan instructor and 3 2nd Dan instructors there if that means anything to you.

I’ve heard because some of the techniques are so brutal and effective they can’t be practiced at full speed and are always done against willing opponents when you know what to expect hence making it useless in real life. I doubt this is particularly true but it’s what I read. Also that a lot of the classes in the UK are very watered down and thus loose their effectiveness but that isn’t the martial art itself.
It’s definitely something I want to give a try and after seeing what you and others have said I plan to once I find a class nearby. Most of you seem to say muay Thai and I fancy judo too so I think I will go for those two.

Man, I’m getting in WAY over my head here;

But I associate England with boxing. Like, Queensbury Rules.

No you’re right boxing is probably the most popular martial art over here, if you can call it one, followed by probably karate and MMA.

Yes there’s some truth for that… Which is why it was adopted by Isreali military.

There are moves that can be deadly, but let’s also take note that all fighting styles can be deadly. One never knows how another person can take a hit. Even a strike from boxing can cause severe damage if not kill someone…

Being able to knock someone out can do major damage alone…

So any style self defense needs to be taken with a level of seriousness and an acceptance that you are learning a skill that can have severe consequences… It is a responsibility.

Muay thai and judo sounds like some good looks to check out.

Yeah I think that’s definitely something to bare in mind, one of the things I like about aikido is it seems to make sure the attacker isn’t hurt too bad.
Thank you for helping.

Yes, aikido is sort of like the teachings of tai chi…

The philosophy of t’ai chi ch’uan is that, if one uses hardness to resist violent force, then both sides are certainly to be injured at least to some degree. Such injury, according to t’ai chi ch’uan, is a natural consequence of meeting brute force with brute force. Instead, students are taught not to directly fight or resist an incoming force, but to meet it in softness and follow its motion while remaining in physical contact until the incoming force of attack exhausts itself or can be safely redirected, meeting yang with yin. When done correctly, this yin/yang or yang/yin balance in combat, or in a broader philosophical sense, is a primary goal of t’ai chi ch’uan training. Lao Tzu provided the archetype for this in the Tao Te Ching when he wrote, “The soft and the pliable will defeat the hard and strong.”

It’s not about inflicting violence, the movements flow with the aggressor to redirect them and deflect away from you using sort of the opponents force…

Like if someone throws a punch at you, you can simply grab their hand and wrist and follow through that motion which will in turn have their body continue forward, losing control while you gain control over how they land or how you choose to strike at that point…

It’s sort of like dancing. You’re allowing them to lead, but you are maintaining the control and pace of each move against you. Like how Bruce Lee describes flowing with water, not fighting against the current.

If you want to learn the basics with a good explanation and illustration, get this book. I have this book myself…

Also to give you an idea, Krav maga is - a wide combination of techniques sourced from aikido, judo, boxing and wrestling, along with realistic fight training.

So if you study Aikido (get fluent with the basics) and (Judo) you can have some pretty good tools to work with.

It’s a nice concept, I really like the idea of it and it does look really good when it’s pulled off too, probably why Steven Seagal was so popular. It definitely makes me want to try aikido. It’s always been one of my favourites from when I was young. Only concern is there’s apparently no sparring and it’s not really practical for self defence.