New and Trying to Find Direction

Discussion in 'Beginners Corner' started by Budster, Nov 8, 2019 at 8:07 AM.

  1. Budster

    Budster White Belt

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    Hi All,

    I am 45 years old and considering learning a martial art. There are not a ton of options in my area and I am sort of stuck on which direction to take. The primary goal I wish to get out of this is to slow down my mental reaction and increase my awareness in high stress situations.

    A little background on me. I am deathly afraid of confrontation. Always have been. My reaction to any threat, and any amount of adrenaline is immediate retreat. Even the slightest notion of confrontation triggers my adrenaline. And when faced with a situation where I must (or should) confront someone, I will almost certainly fold. As a result, I've lived my entire life with no confidence and very little self-respect.

    Someone suggested I take a martial art. Most of what I can find in my area is Taekwondo that caters to children but some also have adult classes. Also nearby is an Okinawan Karate school, an Aikido school, and a boxing gym. If I wish to drive a ways, I could also consider a Kung Fu school, and I think there is also an MMA school.

    What I *think* I should look for is a school that does sparring or other application work. Everything I've been researching says the best way to learn adrenaline management is to find a school that does sparring or other type of "free fighting". Basically, put myself in a confrontational situation where I don't know what's coming next.

    For that, I figured boxing or Karate (as the Karate school near me does have sparring classes). But not many other schools do any type of sparring.

    What I *want* to learn is Aikido. Mainly because there is a school nearby, I think it is an incredibly beautiful art, and I'm a small person without a lot of physical strength. But I don't think they do any type of sparring work.

    All that said, I have been going to different schools, observing classes, and speaking with the instructors. I was hoping some of you experienced people could also weigh in with your thoughts about what I should look for and/or things I maybe haven't considered. And maybe a martial art isn't going to get me what I'm looking for. Brutal honesty is OK too. :)

    Thank you in advance!
     
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  2. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Then take Aikido.
    Aikido does not have sparing but does the Aikido school have a Randori class?

    But you can likely give them all a try and see what fits you best. You may think boxing and Karate is what you want for you goal, but is you do not enjoy it, you will not go. Try then all, maybe Aikido is what you need, maybe it is not, only you will know that after giving them a try.
     
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  3. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    A lot of people will insist that a lot of sparring is mandatory for learning how to effectively use martial skills. I disagree with that mindset. There are other interactive drills that can develop those skills quite well. But it does depend on what you want, and sparring is an effective approach.

    You may enjoy sparring, and a school with a heavy emphasis on that might be good for you.

    Or you might hate it, and it turns you off to training entirely. You describe yourself as being physically small, with a very heavy aversion to conflict and confrontation. It is possible that a school with a heavy sparring emphasis might be the worst thing for you, might turn you off to training altogether.

    As has been said, you should do what you are genuinely interested in. Don’t do what everyone tells you that you need, if you are not genuinely interested in it. If you do, then you will not stick with it for long. And longevity in your training is key, you need to find something that you are passionate about, that keeps you wanting to come back for more. You need to focus on the long-term benefits that you can get from the training, and genuine interest is key in that.

    So visit all the schools that are close enough for you to attend, that have a class schedule that works with your personal and professional schedule, and that you can afford the tuition. Those are your choices. Visit them all, watch some classes, trial some classes if they allow it, then pick the one that interests you most and that you feel is a good match for your personality and you feel like you can be comfortable in the group and with the teacher.

    And if you start to feel like it isn’t working out for you, then visit the other schools again.
     
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  4. marques

    marques Master Black Belt

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    Welcome!

    I am quite sure martial arts training will help. So, please keep going and choose one.

    Sparring will definitively be good. You realise you can defend or take some hits from a trained fit guy without dying, so the silly fat men will be no threat (no or little adrenaline). BUT to soon may be too much adrenaline and too much bad feelings associated to it to keep you going to train.

    Hope you find something suitable, because I have seen martial arts helping a lot many people and I do not see why you would be exception.
     
  5. W.Bridges

    W.Bridges Yellow Belt

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    Hello and Welcome to MT.
     
  6. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Do the boxing or MMA. You will not learn to fight without fighting.

    I have never met a quality practical martial artist who doesn't spar.

    You can't even properly gain the sort of spirituality or discipline that martial arts advertises without fighting. Or at least without challenge.

    E.g..


    Where I see people get results it is always from the same school of training. The authentic, hard working no rubbish martial arts.

    And the quicker you realize that the more progress you are going to make.

    For example this sort of progression is common if you find the right gym.


     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019 at 11:10 AM
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  7. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    aikido is Indeed beautiful, it's also border line useless for f
    aikido is indeed beautiful, it's also border line useless as a fighting art, if you desire is to be able to fight , don't do that,

    itt may or may not increase yourself confidence, you don't really need to be able to fight to learn to assert yourself, most conflicts don't end iin a fight, unless one or both are drunk. but it's nice to have you n your pocket just in case

    so, what is it you desire from learning a martial art ?
     
  8. Budster

    Budster White Belt

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    Thank you all for the thoughtful responses. Lots of helpful information. But I also wanted to clarify a point:

    I could write a novel about all my "issues" and how/why I am the person I am today. But if I try to tackle everything at once, I will never make progress. It has been a very difficult journey simply coming to the acknowledgement that I began this thread with: I am a coward. It is embarrassing and shameful to admit. But I am.

    For the first 40 years of my life it hasn't had such an impact that it now has. Why? Because now I have a son. For 40 years I ran away from nearly every confrontation I was faced with. And for the vast majority of those I did face, I folded. As difficult as it has been to live with myself for those first 40 years, I don't feel like I can afford to continue this way as a father. This is not a quality I want to pass onto my son. And, truth be told, I'm also fearful the day may come when I have to put my physical well-being aside in favor of my son's. I question if I can do it. I believe I would cower and retreat. And my son would get hurt. Maybe permanently. How can I live with myself should that happen?

    And I don't mean just fights either. I don't want to fight people. I am a very easy-going person and do not believe in violence. I try to break up fights, not start them or add to them. Let me give you this scenario:

    If I'm standing in line at McDonald's and someone cuts in front of me, the most minuscule ideation that I should say something sparks (what feels to me like) an incredible adrenaline rush. And I am literally paralyzed in fear and anxiety. I freeze. It doesn't matter if the person who cut in front of me is a big guy, little woman, or even a child. The bottomline is, my body's stressors and crisis response is triggered by the most meaningless circumstances. Nevermind getting a cheeseburger at McDonald's. This has stunted me in so many other areas of my life. I've been burned in negotiations - at work, at home, everywhere. Because I fold. Then one or two days later I am emotionally beating myself up because "I should have said XYZ," or, "I should have done ABC."

    Before you say it, I know this is deep-rooted anxiety (among other things). I regularly see a therapist. And a pretty good one. I always thought that my brain processed things too slowly (hence the day or two later I'm beating myself up). But it was my therapist that suggested martial arts because he said I am actually thinking too fast. He said my brain charges right through any reasonable responses, and shortcuts to anxiety and fear. So the ultimate goal for learning a martial art is:

    When my body's crisis response system kicks in, I need to slow down my thought process. Be more aware, mindful, and in the moment.

    Of course, learning practical self-defense is never a bad thing. And a way to stay in shape that is fun and exciting. Lifting weights and running in circles is not fun for me.

    Upon looking into different martial arts, what to study, where to study, and the reasons different people study, I also came across information about adrenaline management. For that, it seems most people recommend actually getting in the ring and putting my body through adrenaline rushes until I gradually learn to manage it. I will learn what adrenaline is and what it isn't. And it will become my friend. I will learn my true level of resilience. I will learn that a punch to the face will not kill me. And in time, adrenaline will stop paralyzing me.

    Maybe this isn't what I should be searching for. Or maybe it is. I really don't know. But I've tried other things to try and manage this. Nothing has worked quite the way I hoped. In some cases (and as one of you mentioned) it has made things worse for me. Martial arts is something I haven't tried yet. I know the journey will be long. But I need to start somewhere. And I'm just looking for a little guidance so I don't waste any more time.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.
     
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  9. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Green Belt

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    Welcome, Budster. Of course, most MA people will probably recommend the art they are into, including me in this case. Based on the info you gave, these are my thoughts.

    Aikido is based on internal, subtle techniques that depend on your skill in merging with the opponent's movement and energy and redirecting them. This can take years to become effective as a confidence-building, self-defense vehicle. A couple more years after that to deal with a resisting opponent or one that knows how to center their body and attack energy, which will keep you from taking control of their movement. It will teach you relaxation, physical poise and some good techniques that will be usable in certain situations within the first year or two.

    Boxing is good self-defense training, but is very physical. MMA, even more so. At 45, MMA training will be very hard on your body, unless you are in great shape already. Given that, your joints and ligaments have some mileage on them starting off. Something you must consider. If you are really gung ho, you might consider these. You will get in good shape if the school is not too brutal, and not too commercialized that you don't get the true self-defense confidence you are looking for.

    False confidence is worse than no confidence.

    Good traditional Okinawan karate has elements of all the above. The movements are fairly direct, so not too hard to get proficient. There is some, but not much risk for starting out at your age. There is some contact in training, more so in actual sparring, yet less than in boxing. You'll get physical enough to get accustomed to contact and adrenalin/stress control, without worrying about getting beat up. This is what I have practiced for decades, and still do in my 60's.

    Be aware, the quality and attitude of the teacher is paramount. Confronting your weaknesses is difficult. You're already on your way. Overcoming them still harder. You will never lose that initial doubt and stress at the start of a confrontation. But if you've trained with serious intent, been taught well, and have practiced your moves a thousand times, you will have a good chance of being the victor in a physical altercation. You may even show enough confidence and control to AVOID such confrontation. Good luck.
     
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  10. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    So what you are saying is you want to be able to beat someone up who cuts in front of you in a line?....because if you are saying that then that's just silly.

    Running away is without doubt the best thing to do in any confrontation. There's no prizes for standing around getting into a fight apart from a free trip down the police station. Any martial artist with a brain will tell you that you should always be looking to get away without fighting. I've been doing martial arts over 30 years and if a guy came up mouthing off and threatening me then hell yeah I'd run away. Does that make me a coward? Maybe but I'm also dumb enough to fight when I don't need to and there's a way out. Martial arts isn't about fighting someone who cuts in front of you in McDonald's. It's always a very last resort if you have absolutely no choice. The smart thing is always to run away. I don't care if your a 10th Dan grandmaster your not going to beat a gang of people attacking you. No matter what your skil is always try and run.
     
  11. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    no that's not what he is saying at all, have you decided to drive another newby away /?
     
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  12. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    You just answered your own question. You want to learn Akido? Then go learn Akido.
    Bear in mind that the people you're going to see spouting off about Aikdo being useless have never actually trained any Aikido. Personally, I have been in waayyyyyy too many conflicts. It's just part (albeit a bad part) of the ED. And I use (successfully) techniques all the time that would be instantly recognizable to any Aikijujutsu, Aikido, or Hapkido practitioner.

    That you've never met them doesn't preclude their existence. Cowboy Cerrone (You may have heard of him. He's one of the top ranked fighters in the UFC Lightweight division.) does not spar. Hasn't for years.
    I have not sparred in years either. And yet, I do just fine in those inevitable ED confrontations.

    Is sparring a good teaching tool? Sure. Of course it is. But it's far from the only one.
     
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  13. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    If you want to learn aikido, go learn aikido.

    I would say that if you want to specifically learn to handle adrenaline situations, boxing would be a good supplement, for exposure therapy if nothing else. Nothing gets your adrenaline running quit so quickly as boxing against someone good, and you have no real option once in the ring but to fight. In general (obviously there could be exceptions), Aikido won't spend as much time with you in that high adrenaline, confrontational situation.
     
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  14. Budster

    Budster White Belt

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    Wow. Did you read any of what I wrote? It would behoove you to finish reading until the end.
     
  15. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    Thanks... Appreciate the support. But, yeah... I see the point.

    Typically, an aikido school isn't going to be the best place to learn to deal with aggression, aggressive physical tactics, or just plain old aggressive people... unless that school has made an intentional decision to train to deal with such things. It will teach you things that will equip you, indirectly, to deal with them. Just not direct training. I love my aikijutsu/aikido stuff, been at it for over 20 years and mine is fight-tested, but it's crossed-up with lots of oterh stuff, too, so keep that in mind. It is more aiki than anything else, but if the guy is off balance and he's just stepped wrong and all his weight is on the lead leg... That is just asking for a leg-kick (Dutch or Thai, DropBear... doesn't matter LOL!).

    For what it is that you are actually saying you'd like to learn, at least initially... I'd side with Jobo & DropBear, do the boxing. Every boxing gym I've been in seems loosly-organized, but ends up being a highly-structured place to go learn & train. Just the workout will begint he process of increasing self-confidence. Natural process of improving your fitness. At the same time, a good boxing coach can bring you along slowly into very controlled sparring, with strict repetitive drills, then loose combination drills into pads held by a moving partner/coach, then on & up to actual light (to moderately heavy when you're ready for it) boxing sparring.

    But, as stated above often, if you don't enjoy what you're doing, you won't stick with it. It's key to find the "thing you like to do."
     
  16. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    This cowboy Cerrone?

     
  17. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Welcome to forum. I read through all the post before responding.
    I understand you have a good therapist but I must reiterate that you cannot put labels (coward, etc...)on yourself. It is probably the easiest think for any of us to do to ourselves that is very, very detrimental.
    As far as picking a style, it isn't at all important, especially in the beginning. The important thing it to start. Have a good discussion with the instructors nearest you and talk through your concerns and reasoning for working out. That said, not many are going to tell you their style/school will not help you and that is likely true. Make sure to find a school with at least
    3 class per week that fits your schedule & finances. If there are multiples of a given style (TKD for example) it would be good to check out the different schools as they will almost certainly be ran differently and teach different material.
    Every martial art is about repetition. So there will likely be a good bit of prerequisite before you get heavy into sparring anyway. But there will be interaction that will help you in the journey.
    After you get your feet wet and have a better understanding of what you are getting into I feel certain you will be able to self evaluate and decide if you may need to change to a different school.
    Don't spend too much time trying to figure out what or how MA will help you; just jump in and enjoy the ride. The results will come on their own as long as you put the work in. So you have to start.
    Keep in touch and let us know how the journey progresses.
     
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  18. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    So. MMA is also a tool used to combat PTSD.
    Can MMA Really Treat PTSD?

    So the same process that equips you with the mental tools to handle a fight. Also helps people gain mental tools to handle everything else.


    There are just these common building blocks that are constantly successful.

    MMA for anxiety.
    Here's How Martial Arts Cures Depression And Anxiety - Evolve Daily

    Lots of people battle with their inner daemons.



    You are not built differently you just haven't been given the right tools.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019 at 9:20 PM
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  19. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Green Belt

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    That's good, 'cause when you get older, those confrontations become more common.
     
  20. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    I agree with every thing above, there's a lot of self recrimination in your posts, I spent a lot of my early years getting on to pointless conflict about things like queue jumping, for much the same reason as you feel bad about not standing up for yourself, I would have felt bad if I didn't, however as the years have past, I've come you realise, that the world is full of inconsiderate ****s and you really can't fight them all and it only really putts a minute or two on my day.

    so don't beat yourself up for realising early what it took me 50 years to catch on to.
     
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