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How to Choose a Martial Arts Style


When many people think of self defense, they immediately associate it with martial arts. Becoming skilled in a martial art can be a great way to improve muscle tone, gain concentration and lose weight. However, taking a martial arts class can also help you to defend yourself in times of need. There are many different martial arts styles, each of which focus on a specific set of goals and concepts. However, how can you choose the best martial arts style that fits you?

Evaluate Your Goals
Before you begin to research martial arts styles, you first need to decide to outline a list of goals. Possible reasons for taking a martial art may include:

  • Self Defense
  • Weight Loss
  • Enhanced Flexibility
  • Meeting New People

Write down your reasons for taking a martial art, in the order of their priority. Decide how important each reason is to you, and what you would like to achieve from your classes. Once you have compiled this list, you can begin to research different styles, and evaluate how well they fit your goals.

Classify Your Body Type
Some martial art styles are very physically demanding, and are significantly easier for people in top physical shape. Other styles are suited to people that are exceptionally short, or have good leg strength. Other styles are designed to minimize damage to your limbs while effectively defending your core. Be honest if you’re overweight, and may not be able to participate in some of the more demanding martial art styles. At this time, you should also choose if you want your style to be focused primarily on disabling your opponent, self defense, or adopting an offensive stance.

Choose Your Style
Here is a brief overview of some of the more popular martial arts styles, as well as what body type they are best suited for. This is a general guide, and it’s recommended that you attend at least one “test” class before committing to a specific martial arts style.

Tae Kwon Do
Tae Kwon Do focuses primarily on kicking and using lower body strength. This style is best suited to someone who is flexible, with a long reach. Usually, Tae Kwon Do is best for people that are tall, with long limbs. However, if you have a significant amount of muscle or fat on your legs, you may not be able to execute some of the faster and more complicated kicks in this martial arts style.

Judo
The martial arts style of Judo focuses on unbalancing your opponent, usually through complicated throwing techniques. Because of this, Judo is best suited to someone who has a short, stocky body style. Since Judo focuses on staying off of the ground, it can also be possible for tall, slender body physiques as well. However, shorter people usually have more success with the Judo fighting style.

Kendo
Kendo is an ancient martial arts style that places a huge emphasis on formality and etiquette. Kendo can be a great martial arts style for someone looking to learn discipline and concentration. However, the uniforms and weapons in Kendo tend to be fairly expensive, so it’s important to keep this in mind.

Krav Maga
Krav Maga is an Israeli martial arts style that has recently become popular with the American Army. Krav Maga is very physically demanding, and focuses on dealing damage to your opponent. The style can be likened most with “street fighting”, due to the abundance of grappling, striking and wrestling techniques that are used with this style.

Karate
Recently, the term “Karate” has been generalized to include many different martial arts styles. There are martial arts schools that say they focus on “Karate”, but this can mean any number of things. Usually, a Karate class will focus on direct hitting with punches, kicks, open-handed strikes and elbow contact.

Jujitsu
The concept of Jujitsu focuses on disarming an armed opponent, or disabling an unarmed opponent. Jujitsu requires you to be fairly small, since it will involve moves in which you roll quickly away from your opponent, or sometimes even dart through their legs. Jujitsu will also require you to be on the ground constantly, so it’s important that you aren’t carrying a significant amount of weight.