So you have wanted to train in the Martial Arts for years and you finally decide that now is the time to start. If you are like most people you will look in the yellow pages or online to see what school is available closest to you. Oh there is a Judo school down the street, so you show up and start your first class. After a few weeks of class you begin to wonder “Where are all those cool kicks that we are supposed to be practicing”? “I thought we were going to learn so awesome Asian philosophy? When are we going to get the swords out?
Unfortunately people that are new to the martial arts rarely give the decision of which art they will study anymore thought then the example above. There are hundreds of different martial arts that all emphasize different things. You need to decide what the reason is or purpose that you want to train.
Is it to improve your health?
Is it primarily for self-defense or street fighting?
Is it to learn discipline?
Is it to learn about Asian philosophy?
Is it to learn a weapon?
Are you interested in acrobatics?
Do you plan to fight in MMA?
Are you interested in the sport or competition aspect?
In reality these are all very different reasons. You may be interested in more than one or even all of them. The difficulty is that many martial arts do not have all of them and some do not have more than one or two of these aspects. The important thing is that you cannot just assume that any martial art found in your yellow pages will cover what you are interested in. You could sign up for a class and after a short time lose interest and quit. The sad thing is if you found the right style that suits you it could be something that compliments the rest of your life.
So what can you do to avoid ending up in the wrong class? The first thing you need to do is just sit down and think about what aspects of the martial arts appeal to you. Next it is time to do a little research. Go to your local library and check out some books related to you interests. Go online and do some google searches like “martial arts high kicks” or “martial arts swords”. Youtube is a great source of information because you can actually see people practicing the art that you may have an interest in.
Once you find a few styles that cover what you are interested in then it’s time to look in your local area to see what is available. Unfortunately in many less populated areas you choice may be limited. At least you can choose the style that is available that is closest to your interest. If what you want isn’t available then you still have a couple choices. One is to travel to their nearest town where you can find what you are looking for. The other is to look into some of the online distance learning courses that are out there. I know suggesting this will be met with scorn by many in the martial arts community. Well, all I have to say to you is apparently you have never been in the situation where you want to learn but there are literally no classes of any sort available in your area. I have been in that situation so I understand. Obviously having a qualified instructor present and other people to practice with when you train is a huge advantage. But in some cases it is just not possible. Since I started this blog for people in that very same situation I am here to say that it is an option. In this case maybe you can find a friend who is interested in learning that you can practice with. You may be able to work out something in between. If there is a school that you are interested in that is say 50 miles away, you may not want to travel that far three time a week. So maybe you can go once every two week or once a month and then in between times train at home on your own.
I know most people think that it is a given that any martial art will teach you self-defense that you can use on the street. This is just not true at all. But my point here is if you are interested just in the health benefit or self-discipline that it does not matter. What does matter is the danger that you think all martial arts are created equal in this respect and you incorrectly think that you can handle a self-defense situation when you cannot. Self-confidence in general is a good thing but over-confidence can be very dangerous indeed.
So give it some thought, do some research, find the martial art that is right for your needs and you can find a lifetime of enjoyment.