T Nation

Which Martial Art?


Firstly i'm really pissed off because i wrote out a really good message detailing everything i wanted to say and as i submitted it i got an error message and it looks like i lost it, ah well, i guess it teaches me patients.
Well here i go again...

I want to learn a martial art, but i'd like to play to my strengths and i wondered if anyone here could recomend / point me in the right direction.
Firstly a little about what i consider my strength; I'm very well coordinated and dexterouse, and i'd say i have above average reflexes. I'm not very stronge (for this site anyway, which is why i lift) but since i've been weight training for 3(ish) years i'd say i'm stronger than an average person. I want to do a martial art for general fittness and conditioning. I've got no intension of ever getting into a fight, but it'd be nice to know i can handle myself.

My options are limeted to the types of arts they teach around where i live. Around here there are several kick boxing schools and boxing schools, but i think i'd be quite poor at these (well boxing anyway). there is a good school near here that does Lau Gar Kung Fu, which i find quite tempting. I was also really keen to look into Jeet Kun Do, but alas, there are no schools near here that teach that (that i know of).

I'm planning on doing much more research befor i choose, so please don't assume i'm trying to get you guys to do that for me. All i want is some helpfull pointers so i know where to focus my research.

Many Thanks.


Conditioning and fitness? Boxing is your best bet. It's easy compared to other martial arts. I wonder why you say you'd be poor at it.

Just in case you wanna take fighting more seriously, try out Wushu or Jiu Jitsu.


i can't take a punch, i'd end up on the floor all the time. and i thought (rightly or wrongly) that sice i'm fast and dexterouse i'd be better to do a martial art.

thanks for the advice, I'll get my head in the internet to have a look at them two.
Thanks again

PS, do you box? is that why you advised that one?


Please stop, unless you have seriously trained in all 3 of the above.


Checking out the schools themselves would be a better bet rather than choosing a style. I'd at least do 1 intro class at a few schools you have interest in. Some schools sound great on paper but are black belt factories, it goes without saying that anyplace that just gives away what is supposed to take years to earn is NOT worth your time.

For general fitness/conditioning in the way you talk about conditioning I'd go with kickboxing(depending on the style they teach) or boxing. Traditionally southern styles of gung-fu is very big into hard body conditioning(but less into the fitness/conditioning aspect).


Sounds like sage advice. I've contacted a kick boxing school and a Kung Fu school this morning and i've been invited to join in on their tuesday and saturday lessons (respectivly) for free. Is there anything i should be looking for? how would i know how good they were seen as i have no martial arts experience?

I've found a Jiu Jitsu school nearby but looks like the nearest Wushu school is in Leeds UK which is a bit inpractical. (I live in sheffield UK)

Thanks for the pointers so far.


What bonehead mentioned WUSHU?? WUSHU is beautiful, pretty, but it sure as hell aint for fighting. I trained in MUay Thai for 4 years, I have trained a little in TKWD HAPKIDO KARATE, and I currently live in China (the home of WUSHU, WUSHU IS A CHINESE WORD) and have done a little WUSHU. I have a cuban classmate who is a world class wushu practitioner. But if you want to fight, or get into wicked shape, WUSHU is not for you.

Wushu builds flexability and is basically martial arts acrobatics.

There are a few useful KungFu's, Wing Tsun being one of them, but they aren't really great for conditioning.

If you want good conditioning do Muay Thai. Boxing is allso good.

Some of you people really don't know what you are talking about. Why speak if you are clueless???


Thanks, by the sounds of things you certainly have the credentials to advise.
Sorry if this is a stupid question but what is the differance between kick boxing and Thai boxing? and is Muay Thai different from Thai?
I presume they are all variations on the same basic princepals, but as i know well, presumtions are the mother of all fuck ups.


Well, I have trained in Kung Fu, Jeet Kune Do, Kali, Jiu Jutsu and Kickboxing.

As far as fitness is concerned, there is no question that Kickboxing, Boxing or Jiu Jutsu are your best bet in that regard.

For fighting, I am much less concerned about what art you are studying than about how the school trains. The most important thing is that the school regularly participates in full contact sparring.

Nothing else will prepare you for fighting in a real situation like sparring. This doesn't mean that you will be getting pummeled neccessarily as it not a requirement that you go 100%. But you need to feel the energy of a fight on a regular basis. There is no such thing as a martial art too dangerous for sparring.

I remember when my Kung Fu school went to the local police station, and had one of the officers suit up into a full-body padded suit. I had been trainging over a year at this point. He then simulated attack scenarios with full force and we could hit him as hard and wherever we wanted. The only person to deal with it at all well was the guy who also trained in kickboxing and Jiu Jutstu. That is what led to my taking up MMA.


thanks for that, looks like there is quite alot of concensus about which would give me the best fitness/conditioning.
I'll be sure to ask each school i'm due to visit if they practice full contact sparring. (that'll be where i get my ass handed to me by some girl or school kid, lol)

I've had my nose into everything i can find on the internet and i can't wait, been a while since i did anything cardio vascular so i expect i'm in poor condition and i'm sure it'll kick my ass the first few weeks.

Thanks for the help everyone, i must have asked the question well seen as i've had no flaming at all.


I hear UK has a really high quality of boxing coaches. Lots of hard cunts box out of there. I'd start in the boxing or mauy Thai/Kickboxing (roughly the same thing at the beginner level).

You will be fine in boxing (which is just as much a 'martial art' as anything else) and you will learn 'how' to take a hit without going down. Not too many people are naturally good at "taking punches."

So yeah the best bet is to try out all the training centers that are in your area and go with the one that has the best coaching and most friendly environment. Don't be scared off by a 'hard' session that leaves you breathless. Also don't be tempted by a gym that is slack with their workout and makes it easy. The hard training is what makes you a better fighter. toughness is one of the main things that a martial art is trying to teach you.

Buy a good skipping rope as well.



have you thought of trying brazilian jujitsu

you should take a look at Gracie Barra Sheffield

393 Club
393 Langsett Road, Hillsborough,
Sheffield, S6

Jon Goldson is the instructor

Training times: Monday and Wednesday at 6.00pm


I dont understand why you'd pick up a martial art for purely cardio/conditioning purposes. If you're going to pick up a MA, you might as well pick something that has a practical value. Probably the most street-practical thing I know of is Israeli Krav Maga.

No fluff, no BS, purely for self defense on the street. It was designed in 1948 to train people for the army as quickly as possible once war was declared on them by all the neighboring countries. Soldiers and law enforcement learn a more advanced form, but the average person can learn all he needs to know in about 3 months of intense training.If you train 2 hours a week, you'll have all the basics down with plenty of sparring experience in about 7-8 months.

Following that, Gracie Jujitsu is probably a close second. It's to the point and highly effective, but with more of a focus on ground fighting and holds than strikes.

Either of these is a good and practical self defense choice. I stand by what I said earlier, but if ALL you want is conditioning, then kickboxing is probably the best way to go.

take heed to fireplug's comment about the way the school trains. it's critical.


My Krav Maga instructor did the same thing with us when he would test us to go up to the next level. He would simulate knife attacks, chokes, muggings at gunpoint. Anything was fair game and it was intense.
What a great way to be street ready.


Really any art that has a "competition" aspect will be pretty good for conditioning.

There are examples of grappling arts, striking arts, weapon based arts, and self defense based arts that fall into this category.

Grappling arts include:
Wrestling (freestyle, greco, catch as catch can)
Jiu-Jitsu (either BJJ, or traditional forms)

Striking arts include:
Muay Thai/Muay Boran
American Kickboxing

Weapons arts include:
Dog Brothers' "RealContact Stickfighting"
Western Fencing

Self Defense arts include:
Lysak's Sento Method
Dynamic Combat
JKD (really depends on the instructor though)
Krav Maga

Also, that's not an exhaustive list. I'm also not suggesting that the "style" being taught at the school will always be indicative of the quality of instruction or the conditioning development. Though, there are certainly arts in that list that as a rule are generally big on conditioning (wrestling probably being the most intensive and sure fire IMO).


I've wrestled, done judo, kempo, and currently practice muay thai and jujitsu. If I could redo my foundation, it'd definitely be judo. Wrestling is way hardcore, kempo is pretty lame, muay thai will leave you battered, and jujitsu, well it's okay but with judo, I am so impressed with the way the real experienced folks are so keen with balance and position. And like you said, reflexes and dexterity are key, not strength. If you come at a judo person hard, you will end up on your back in the most humiliating way. I feel it's much more technical than jujitsu but then again, I'm better at jujitsu than judo. I just wished as was better at it when I did do it.

Plus those who do MMA with a judo base really excel (Karo, Sokuju, etc.). The state champ in wrestling from my high school was a judo black belt with very little wrestling background. He was just a genius when it came to redirecting a person's force.


thanks mate, i was looking into this club as i live really close to it, did't expect to see someone here sugest it. was looking into the kung fu and kick boxing they did there, didn't know they did brazilian jujitsu too.
do you live in sheffield?


The best IMO for aerobic and strength martial art.BOXING!!

Go ahead and do three to four, 3 minute rounds on a heavy bag with 45 sec rest intervals. You, will be winded. Not to mention the head bag, speed bag, shadow, sparring and ring work. Boxing is a total ass whipping martial art.

From a teaching stand point. On your first day of any martial art training. You are taught how to throw a punch correctly. Then after you have muscle memoried the punch are other things incorporated.

Boxing, for speed, conditioning and practicality.

Kali (filipino-street fighting), bad ass street practical.

Wrestling/Judo, need to know how take them to the ground or if unfortunately you end on the ground what to do. Locks, chokes and bars are just the icing, not the pudding.


IMO, go with some form of grappling. The striking arts are fun and look flashy but are way too one dimensional. 95% of all fights wind up on the ground anyways, so if you can learn to take a punch, take people down and control ground action, you will win almost every time.

Watch the old school UFCs on video. For the most part, the old school fighters were trained in one discipline or another with out much cross training.

With the exception of lucky punches, grapplers usually won. Even if they lost, they controlled the fight the entire time, only to be caught with an unlucky flying knee or some shit.


Lau Gar is a southern Shaolin system. Southern Saholin is more close range "infighting style" lots of hand techniques. Wing Chun is a southern shaolin.

Northern Shoalin (ie Northern Long Fist)are long range like tae kwon do. They were meant for taking mounted opponenets off of horses.

The infighting styles are much more practical for self defense. If the Lau Gar school also teaches Chin Na you will also get joint locking. Is the Lau Gar school the one that teaces Gracie? If it is I would definately start there.

Wushu is all forms and is more of a ridiculous acrobatics display than a martial art.

The main thing to bear in mind is that the knowledge and competance of a teacher is going to affect how well they can teach any given art. It is best to find a teacher who is open minded.

Sport martial arts are geared to young healthy individuals. Also sports can teach you bad habits. Getting the shit knocked out of you will make you hard but over time it will take a toll and make you old and crippled.