This is a common question for beginning students of martial arts, but the answer is really, it depends. There truly isn't a one size fits all martial arts to learn that can cover all the bases. The more precise approach is perhaps to ask a more specific question: What's the best martial arts to learn...for me or for my child? In this blog we'll cover how to approach finding a martial arts fit and what resources to consider helping students make the best decision for the best martial art for them.
Martial arts is a Latin based word that refers to the mythological Roman god of war, named Mars. Martial arts began with combat and warfare but it is more than that these days. In addition to learning self-defense, students of martial arts also develop greater levels of fitness, discipline, and personal character. Therefore, answering the questions on which martial arts is best for me starts with identifying one's interests and goals.
Interest & Goals: Many students start martial arts because they want to be able to protect themselves better when a situation potentially arises. For example, how do you best handle yourself against a bully? Learning starts way before anything physical like throwing a punch and doing a kick.
Personal Fitness: Punches, blocks, katas, kicks, and sparring requires physical exertion. Martial arts demand flexibility and can improve cardiovascular health. Capoeira which is an African-Brazilian dance martial arts requires speed and endurance to do all the moves. Wing Chun kung fu requires builds coordination, agility, and speed. Karate involves punches and includes learning many different forms called katas. These exercises provide a full body workout.
Focus & Concentration: Martial arts builds the discipline to be mindful and helps with improving focus which provides benefits at home, work, and at school. Tai Chi emphasizes meditation and breathing which helps reduce stress. Taekwondo which emphasizes kicks and requires a great deal of focus to execute reduces distractions and potentially associated anxieties. Karate with its katas, punches, and kicks builds self-esteem as ranks and level of skill are acquired.
Self-defense: All martial arts teach students how to defend themselves. Brazilian Jui-Jitsu began with Carlos Gracie met Mitsuyo Maeda who was a Judo champion. This deals with grappling and ground fighting and focuses on precise and skills required for the ground. Karate is another good choice when you don't want to be wrestling on the ground. With focused punches, kicks, and conditioning, students build their total self into a more solid defender.
Learning culture: A very important part of learning martial arts is what you get to learn in addition to the physical and self-defense aspects. Each martial arts is rich with culture that broadens the experiences of students. Many martial arts begin in a specific country like Korea for Taekwondo, Japan for Karate, China for Kungfu, or Kenpo in the United States. A martial arts class that teaches customs and culture of the various martial arts enriches the ability to the student to be more open to other people. Additionally, there are customs like wearing the gi which is the formal Japanese name of the traditional uniform or learning the significance of the various belts used for Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu creates a deeper level of understanding and respect.
Do Your Homework: Once you understand what your goals are, a little research is the next step. Go online and research a little more about the various martial arts and identify which classes are out there. Read reviews not only about the class, but also about the instructors. Take the time to learn about the schedules at various dojos or studios and determine the level of time commitment required. Remember to talk to families currently attending a class or find online forums to get more information about a certain style or school. If you know others in your network of friends and families, ask them about their experience. If you have a child in school, schools are also a great resource especially if they offer after school programs.
Kick the Tires: In your efforts to find a martial art that best fits you, remember to start kicking by kicking the tires of various locations and getting to know the instructors better. Find out their history and read the reviews about them. Karate is a discipline that is passed down from master to student so you can actually trace the history of an instructors training to determine how qualified they are. If you are wanting to try a class, instructors or organizations that provide that flexibility is a good way to gain firsthand knowledge. You will get a better understanding about the culture and environment including building camaraderie with other students and families.
At ActivStars Athletics, we have over 30 years of experience training beginners to expert masters in a myriad of martial arts disciplines. We are "Black belts in kids first" which means we add another level of connection and safety for students and families. This is further emphasized with our propriety SafeShield and anti-bullying programs for kids which helps anyone be safer and more aware in today's uncertain world. Give us a call to learn about how easy, fun, and individualized our martial arts classes are for beginning students to learn karate, Kungfu, and taekwondo which are some of the many classes offered.