Looking for advice from the experienced

Discussion in 'Beginners Corner' started by sapienter, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. sapienter

    sapienter Guest

    Im here for help on a matter in that is probably tedious to most that use this site. Here goes, apologies for length and consequent boredom - I am a 21 male, three years ago I was very badly beaten up after exiting a nightclub (objectively not my fault and not at my instigation). Since then when going out my mood has tended to flip between low-confidence and nervousness to a sense of ‘f· ck anyone else’ -im not going to be intimidated. On reflection I find the latter lousy and embarrassing and the former frankly a bit stupid. In addition and unconnected I have suffered ill health. In order to help address these problems I have decided to take up a Martial Art in order to make myself fitter, to give myself more confidence, and I hope a practical ability to defend myself in an appropriate situation. On investigation I have found myself increasingly confused as to which MA is best suited for self-defence as such I look at myself and what is available. The options in my local area appear to be a sort of ‘mixed-martial arts’ school (www.precisionmartialarts.co.uk) ; Wado-Ryu Karate (www.su-ha-ri-wadoryukarate.co.uk); Taekwon-do (www.hedtkd.com) - I think this school practices the ITF style; or Shotokan Karate (www.hsk.co.uk). First off this idea of mixed martial arts albeit from a respected kickboxing champion (who looks hard) does not seem the most genuine discipline, more of a sport. From what I have ignorantly or otherwise garnished from various sources karate broadly speaking fascinates me however most of what I have read tends to take the pejorative against japanese karate. So then ITF taekwon-do perhaps – I felt maybe being sporty and 6’2, I would be more suited to a discipline in which I could learn to kick from distance and use strength but then I read much about how karate was probably better ‘realistically’ at close quarters and that tkd was also more suited to competition (seems odd given its origins?). The only conclusion I could come to, was that it didn’t matter which discipline I chose as long as I stuck at it, tried hard and was taught by a good expert. Therefore I think I should do wado-ryu as the instructor is a 6th Dan (sounds like a huge deal), however there is a claim on the website that wado-ryu is the most effective style of karate and as advertised at the leisure centre seems more aimed at kids. However to be honest overall I’m pretty stuck - im trawling through subject matter that is all alien to me trying to make a reasoned evaluation?!. So in my superficial opinion Wado-Ryu sounds great in many aspects – the focus on form, using the opponents strength against him/her, a nice combination of hard and soft but to me the idea of grappling appears somewhat unappealing if not downright dangerous particularly if the opponent might has a bottle or a knife. Shotokan seems more popular with various reasons cited but is this splitting hairs? Should I try to find an Okinawan karate school? Or would taekwon-do play to natural strengths and give me a discipline in which I could more appealingly kick an opponent from distance, also the sessions are a half hour longer and it seems people progress slightly quicker – on the other hand although very capable of aggression I think I would prefer to smoothly extricate myself from a situation rather than utilise brute strength and power. I would appreciate any advise on any of the above. Perhaps someone might tell me where they would begin their MA education if they were starting from scratch and wishing to give themselves a good foundation. Also in the future I would like to be practicing a discipline in which protection against weapons (and I therefore I suppose use of, to enable understanding) could become significant (incl modern slashing blades), any recommendations as to what art might be best suited to me, also if anyone is prepared to cast an expert eye over or has any experince with any of the particular schools or instructors mentioned above that would be hugely appreciated. Yes I want to have fun, socialise, stay fit and healthy; yes I am also determined to work hard over time (years not months); and yes I want to do it all with the greatest integrity; however that said I would like to choose a discipline from the start that I could most effectively use to defend myself (I’m working on running too:), or protect another in a street fight, mugging situation; and yes I would like a MA that would start yielding such an ability as quickly as possible. If you’ve read this far thank you, any help and id be much obliged. Regards.


     
  2. Ceicei

    Ceicei Grandmaster

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    Welcome to MartialTalk!

    Most styles have excellent qualities and have passed the test of time. I would suggest you worry less about which style and rather, worry more about the instructor and the feel of the school environment. If the instructor is someone you can get along and explains/shows clearly what/how that makes sense to you, and the school environment feels like where you can train well, then your level of satisfaction will be much better.

    A style that interests you the most but headed by an instructor that doesn't teach well wouldn't be of much benefit to you.

    A good instructor would know how to guide you, capitalize upon your strengths, and teach you to handle your fears and weaknesses. In other words, assist you in becoming a better person and martial artist.

    - Ceicei
     
  3. MA-Caver

    MA-Caver Sr. Grandmaster

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    Welcome sapienter. To quote a well known jedi... "you've taken your first step into a larger world..." :jediduel:
    Deciding upon the discipline can be difficult...particularly if there are a number of various styles and schools where you live. Your first instructors are the key to the start of your journey. You should (politely) third-degree them, asking many questions and feeling them out and seeing if you two will get along well enough for you to learn...effectively.
    Of course many websites will tell you what you want to hear. That they're the most effective style. They're supposed to draw in new business. How honestly depends upon the web-master and the owner of the school.

    What do you want to do when you're faced with a confrontation? Kick the guys' ***? Subdue him enough so he'll leave you alone or so you can get away. ... (there is NO SHAME in running!). Do you want to impress your family and friends? Do you want a long drawn out fight or a speedy end?
    Various styles have their effectiveness on various levels depending upon the intended outcome (however unpredictable they (outcomes) can be) and the skill level of the artist using it.

    Also how much committment are you willing (and able to with time and money) to put into your study? Enough to learn how to defend yourself? Life-long study/mastery? Maybe it's hard to answer the life long because at this junction you might not know. It's okay. Take your time.

    One more thing. Hopefully you'll find an instructor that is serious about your learning but at the same time he/she knows how to have fun. In my experience with studying different arts (but not mastering any) all my teachers showed me how to have fun with what I'm doing which made (me) want to learn more.

    Good luck sapienter. May your journey be long and fruitful.
    :asian:
     
  4. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

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    By all means go to the schools in your area and observe what goes on ineach. If the instructor has no objection visit each a couple of times. When talking to people at the schools be sure to say you are visiting other places trying to make uop your mind as to which is best suited to you.
    Ask questions that come to your mind and don't be confused or overwelmed by the selfpromoting answeres you may get.
    It may come down to where you feel the most comfortable or which seems to fit into what you are looking for. MOst schools offer something for everyone but not everyone fits into what is taught.
    Do you want sport, pure selfdefence (good luck there) physical conditioning, etc.
    Look around, decide , and give it a try. If after a while you find you chose the wrong school you can always change ( provided you don't sign any long term contracts).
    Let us know how it goes and where you end up.
     
  5. Flatlander

    Flatlander Grandmaster

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    This is all really good advice, and I concur. Definitely important to check them all out, and ask questions. Definitely be aware that responses you get from instructors will be biased - they all want your business. The responses you get from students will also be biased - everyone believes to some degree the art they practice is the BEST, otherwise they wouldn't be there.

    An important thing to note is that a good combative art must address all ranges of combat, and must be comprehensive in the training of all of your tools. Kicking is great, but not always applicable to every scenario. All of your weapons must be honed.

    When checking them out, look for realism in the training. Are the partners somewhat resistant? Does it look like these people are training to battle, or dance?

    Sign NO contracts until you have become comfortable with the style and are fully prepared to commit to it. If anyone tries to pressure you, they are more interested in your money than your training.

    In the end, the absolute most important is that you like and mesh well with the instructor. Style vs style arguments always degrade, and nothing gets decided. Let me give you the filtered version of what they generally reveal. It is the artist, not the art. You need resistance in training in order to ever apply what you have learned. The best defense is the 'run away if possible' maneuver. Fights are ugly and don't look like they do in the movies - even when the combatants are well trained. You need to be prepared for multiple opponents. Don't expect real quick results from your training - time and effort will bring rewards.

    We all wish you the best wishes in making your decision. I really hope that you enjoy and relish the experience, it really is a fascinating and enlightening journey.
     
  6. shesulsa

    shesulsa Columbia Martial Arts Academy

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    Good advice. I like the dialectic nature of my chosen art - that of being hard and soft, because you have more options, in my opinion.

    But you will need a very good instructor. The symptoms you speak of with your personality, desire and health sound a bit like PTSD to me - though I am not a doctor.

    You will need an excellent teacher whom you can trust - look for someone a little older, say mid to late 50s - that's when teachers really becomed seasoned and can offer you MUCH - not just physical training, but other things that can help you find a clear mind.

    Talk with them. Some studios will let you try them out for a week, or even two for free and with no obligation to join. If you find any like that, bring your T-shirt and sweatpants and join in. Diving in will give you a feel for what you're doing and you might find something that "feels right."

    Don't make a decision until you're REALLY SURE - and definitely don't sign any contracts until you're higher in rank and you are willing to commit. If you find a place that doesn't require you to sign any contracts, jump on it if the style and the instructor feels right.

    Good luck, and welcome to the boards.
     
  7. Feisty Mouse

    Feisty Mouse Senior Master

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    Hi sapienter.

    That's a good conclusion! Honestly, there may be the "perfect" (?) MA out there for you, but if there is a lousy instructor, you are not going to enjoy it or get the training you need. Find a style that you like, but also, an instructor (or instroctors) that you respect, get along with, feel comfortable with. If possible, I'd recommend a situation like the one I was lucky enough to come across - find an MA studio that has different MA classes, and cross-train. Not very common, but you get expertise and perspectives from multiple arts, which is great.

    Good luck! :)
     
  8. TigerWoman

    TigerWoman Senior Master

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    Everyone has given you great advice. I do WTF Taekwondo but very little competition, just local-3-5 tournaments in the state. I consider us a traditional school but we do Olympic style sparring (punching and kicking) which is non-stop compared to the ITF point sparring, spar-score-stop. Our sparring in class is nothing like the Olympics however. Our school does alot of upper body-punching. We're heavily tested in hand and foot techniques on boards and later on cement, least I was and the bb that preceded me. We practice self-defense moves to end fights quickly and that includes not getting into the situation if it can be prevented or running away. Our school is changing though, becoming more family oriented. Not all Taekwondo schools are alike, not all Karate schools are alike. It depends on the master and what he decides to teach, so like everyone has told you, you must observe classes, ask questions of the master/owner of the school, and take a month of classes. But don't judge it on a month of classes, because as a beginner you will start easy and simple and do basics. It is a slow, persevering, but rewarding path. Will you be the 2-5% of the beginning white belts to stay no matter how discouraged you may become at your progress—persevere until you achieve black belt? Then at that level, you realize you have enough strength, skills and knowledge to really begin. It is a big commitment but a very worthwhile one. It is a way of life. May God bless you in your journey. TW
     
  9. Han-Mi

    Han-Mi Purple Belt

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    So many lengthy replies. I think that means I can get away with a short one.

    Go in to each one, talk to the instructors and get what info. you can from them. Be sure to watch a class or two, and take a free lesson if possible. All styles have wasy to resolve conflict quickly or slowly or painfully or just through subduing your opponent, the important things is learning it. I have a friend who ended a fight with one half power kick, not because the guy was knocked out, but because most fights will end as soon as you prove that you are willing and able to kick some ****.

    Back to the point, get the information and decide which YOU enjoy best with the most comfortable instruction. Style doesn't really matter that much in the end but, it is good to find one you enjoy.
     
  10. Brother John

    Brother John Senior Master

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    Good thoughts so far.
    There's been so much said so far, I may repeat some: BUT here's one I don't think anyone has said yet:
    DO MORE RESEARCH. A good deal of the time there are 2X the number of martial arts schools in your area than are in the phone book or findable on the internet. Those you listed are the most obvious ones, but there are often some at the local community college or college, Rec-centers, YMCA's or my personal favorite people's back yards or basements. There's a guy in my area who is a HIGHLY reputable martial arts instructor but he
    A: Doesn't advertise other than word of mouth and business cards that he infrequently hands out.
    B: Teaches in a renovated garage on his own property, therefore he has no obvious "Store-front".
    Also: There may be an instructor or three in a small town near you. There may be a bit of driving to be done, but it may be well worth it!!!

    SO, ask around....do yer snoopin. If you know anyone who's done martial arts in your area for a while, ask him/her to tell you about as many instructors in the area as they can...you may be surprised.

    NEXT: Don't discount the mixed martial arts/sporting martial arts school out of hand. Often, though they have a 'focus' on competition....they also address combative preparation. Besides, learning to give and take punishment in this arena can be MOST useful. So check into it further, question the instructors and head students about what you are interested in. I may not be for you, but then again...it might.

    Above all, work hard and enjoy your time in the martial arts.
    Your Brother
    John

    PS: WE might be able to help you do this research about your area if you tell us where you are from and how much traveling you'd be willing to do.
    It'd be a good idea.
     
  11. Flatlander

    Flatlander Grandmaster

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    Good point Brother John!
     
  12. Michael Billings

    Michael Billings Senior Master

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    ... and here is a link that some have found useful. It is not my material and I copied it for myself even before I had a web page, I thought it so useful.

    http://kenpo-texas.com/school_checklist.html

    If anyone does know the original source of these questions, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

    Good luck and good training,
    -Michael
     
  13. Brother John

    Brother John Senior Master

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    To my understanding this was first put out by Al Tracy.


    Your Brother
    John
     
  14. Trent

    Trent Green Belt

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    I have to concur with Brother John as well. Do some more research and find out what you like, as that is what you will stick with and benefit from the most; however, there are some caveats I would like to provide.

    1. Make sure it is a school which demands good physical conditioning from their more advanced practitioners. Honestly, combat is a very physically demanding endeavor. If they're doing anything worthwhile it will force the body to adapt to the conditioning. Oh, just because someone is packing around a few extra pounds (No, not me. And I do mean a few, not obese.), does not mean they aren't in pretty good shape.

    2. Make sure the school uses resistant training partners at some point during the training and that it continues. You will not learn how to fight if you never fight. Yeah, seems obvious, but some folks never see it. It will also help your mental anxieties to get through that point and proceed forward.

    3. Relax and have a good time. This stuff is fun.

    4. See the first paragraph again, and find what you want to do that is applicable to your environment and lifestyle.
     
  15. Ceicei

    Ceicei Grandmaster

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    Just wondering how you are doing with your search?

    - Ceicei
     
  16. bluenosekenpo

    bluenosekenpo Orange Belt

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    i have tried to put myself in your place. the first thing i would address is the emotional-self confidence-self respect beating i took as well as the physical. do i have the ability to heal myself? do i need outside help? assuming i can get over the psychological issues i would want a self defence oriented ma. i wouldn't want katas, slow progress and years of training in arcane styles, (no insult intended to any one).

    i need to learn the basic mechanics of fighting. now. not a year from now. i need a realworld application of fighting arts. styles like kenpo, uechi ryu, jkd, filipino ma's are the types i'd look for.

    but i am not you, i did a quick search of your area and came up with the following schools. not a whole lot to chose from, but from that list, i would go with the muay thai school. imho, this would give you a basic fighting ability to compliment your size. kick-punch-knee-elbow. ask the instructor for a more self defence tilted curriculum instead of sport. keep an eye open for the other styles i mentioned. read geoff thompsons books and believe in yourself. good luck, get well.

    http://www.martialartsclubs.com/bycounty/hampshire.htm
     
  17. sapienter

    sapienter Guest

    Genuine thanks to all who have posted - Ceicei, MACaver, tshadowchase, flatlander, shesulsa, Feisty Mouse, TigerWoman, Han-Mi, Brother John, Michael Billings, Trent, bluenosekenpo... each piece read and taken on board. So far have arranged to attend the TKD and Karate schools that I have mentioned - armed with a number of questions and that MA checklist ironically im about to go make a pain in the *** of myself to all the people in my area best equipped to kick my *** :) Gonna keep lookin (and listenin) though. Just read blunosekenpo's piece so lots more schools to look at (thanks), am partic interested by this muay thai place. Can keep posting if anyone interested, again thanks best wishes to all. Quite lookin forward to findin out if im as lazy as my gf reckons...
     
  18. bluenosekenpo

    bluenosekenpo Orange Belt

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    very interested, good luck on your journey, keep posting.
     
  19. Trent

    Trent Green Belt

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    Best wishes-- your current interest of Muay Thai is an EXCELLENT choice. Don't be intimidated because you're a beginner, they hit each other often and everything is new; just keep showing up and training. You'll likely find much, or all, of the mental things begin to drop away as well until you wonder what in the world you were thinking in the first place.

    Oh, yeah, train elbows and knees, due to your height and structure, as much as possible. People will inevitably want to close on you.
     
  20. Rob Broad

    Rob Broad Master of Arts

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    I agree with what has been said before. Ask lots of questions. Listen not only to the answers but how they answer you. If the answers seem to good to be true then they probably are, if they sound like they re placing them above everyone else, and it feels like they are slighting the other school be wary too.
     

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