A good fight should be like a small play, but played seriously. A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready. Not thinking, yet not dreaming. Ready for whatever may come. When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, I do not hit. It (the fist) hits all by itself.
~ Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)
~ Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)
I guess that was pretty predictable, commencing a discussion on how to choose a martial art style with a quote by one of the greatest martial artists this world has ever seen. Well, I don't care if it is and I feel that calling upon the memories of a grand master of martial arts, who actually gave the world a whole new style (Jeet Kune Do, in case you're scratching your head!) of hand-to-hand combat, is the 'done' thing! I remember the time when I watched my very first Bruce Lee movie (it was The Big Boss) - I was hardly 6-7 years old then and I was totally fascinated by the young Oriental actor's fighting prowess! After watching a few more of his movies, I happened to come across Enter the Dragon and man..... that totally did me in! Swept off my feet would be an understatement compared to what I actually felt each time those slicker, more professionally shot and way more stylized fight scenes came on screen! This greatly stirred up my interest in martial arts and Kung Fu movies and since that time onwards, I was always on a constant lookout for collecting movies themed around martial arts, hand-to-hand combat and specialized fighting techniques! Nostalgia apart, speaking of choosing a martial art style, a lot of things other than the mere fighting technique need to be taken into consideration. You see, besides equipping one with specialized combat skills, martial arts also pave the way for spiritual and mental evolution and the physical aspect is just a part of the entire package.
How to Choose the Right Type of Martial Art for Yourself
Before you jump to conclusions about joining a martial arts training course based on mere fascination for a particular style, think again. Just because it appeals to you the most on a superficial level doesn't necessarily mean it would be suitable for you. The following points will acquaint you with what considerations you need to take into account in order to zero in on the best martial art style for you.
What's Your Primary Objective?
Is it fitness training, strength training or weight loss that you're aiming at? Or do you just wish to incorporate a holistic physical-spiritual training approach in your daily schedule? Or, perhaps, you're eager to specifically train for combat tournaments. You see, your sole reason for wanting to train in martial arts is the first determining factor when it comes to deciding upon a particular style. Apart from the more popularized Chinese and Japanese martial arts techniques, there are over a couple of hundred different martial art techniques, each tracing its source to a different geographical region of the world! With so much to choose from, it is very important that you make up your mind regarding what it is that you want to achieve by the end of your training. If it's flexibility that you wish to achieve, you can go for agility developing martial art styles such as Taekwondo, for power as well as agility, Wushu is an ideal choice. On the other hand, for relieving stress and to imbibe a holistic approach towards fitness, Tai Chi and Aikido could be ideal alternatives. Additionally, Muay Thai and Capoeira are good martial arts alternatives that work well for weight loss and also double up as good cardiovascular workout. If it is formal combat training you're interested in, Judo, Jiujitsu, Kendo, Krav Maga and Jeet Kune Do may be some good options.
How Much Time Can You Devote?
Get a reality check on the amount of time that you can actually spare for grueling physical training. Keep in mind that apart from the time devoted for floor training, you'll also require a lot of time to rest and get a breather and inability to do so can lead to serious physical burnouts owing to excessive exhaustion. Also, learning a martial art style and mastering its technique requires time, a lot of patience and oodles of perseverance. Are you willing to make all this investment? Do you have that amount of time and tenacity? Give it a thought and select a martial art style accordingly.
Give Some Thoughts to Your Spiritual Beliefs and Philosophical Inclinations
The philosophy of the martial art style you choose should be in alignment with your own philosophical beliefs about life, culture and spirituality. Although pretty similar to each other in their basic, foundational beliefs (condemnation of unnecessary violence, spirit over body, defense over offense, etc.) each martial art style has its own set of philosophies that are rooted in its cultural source. Therefore, do your homework well about each style that you've selected as your most favored alternatives and choose accordingly.
Is it Suitable for Your Physique and Personality?
If you're a physically hyperactive, fidgety person, going for an aggressive martial art style would give you just the right platform to vent all that excess energy constructively. On the other hand, a calm, patient disposition is well suited for the more contemplative and deliberate martial art styles. Similarly, your physique also plays a great part in deciding which style of martial art would suit you the most. Your height, weight, skeletal width, musculature, etc. must be taken into account in order to decide upon a particular style so that you reap the most physical benefits without hurting yourself.
Last but not the least, when it comes to choosing a martial art style, the qualifications of the instructor, convenient proximity of the training center, your budget and your current physical condition (any sickness or specific disability that might make certain styles unsuitable for you) are some factors that cannot and should not be ignored. Remember, you'll find maximum success quicker if you go for a style that suits you best rather than one that merely caught your fancy! After all, a whim is a whim is a whim and unless it fulfills all the other criteria mentioned above, training for a particular style of martial art just for the heck of it will only wear you out in the long run.