New Martial Art Student and Options

Discussion in 'Beginners Corner' started by StellarAevum, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. StellarAevum

    StellarAevum Yellow Belt

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    Greetings! I am a university student who, while I am living on campus at least, wanted to do martial arts training with one of the student organizations.

    There are several choices of martial arts on campus however, and I am trying to decide between them. I am aware that many people new to martial arts would ask things like "how hard is it to learn" or "how quickly can I get my black belt". I am also aware of the inherent problems with those questions. I have five goals for a martial art:

    Self-Discipline
    Practice Against a Resisting Opponent
    Sparring
    Fun
    Regularity
    Exercise

    That being said, here are the options I have, all offer training in the respective martial art and cost nothing but the price of their uniforms which is not initially required in any but the Taekwondo club.

    I have a Chinese Martial Arts club that when contacted says they practice contemporary Kung Fu as well as drawing upon Shoalin Kung Fu. I could make their classes twice a week and they say they spend their time with stretches and forms.

    I have a Japanese Jujutsu club that I would be able to attend once a week. I have little information on them however.

    There is a WTF Taekwondo club on campus that I would be able to attend twice a week. They are a new club on campus and I do not know much about them other than the teacher being from South Korea.

    There is a Shotokan Karate club on campus that I would be able to attend twice a week, three times if I become and advanced student. This is the only club I have been to thus far. This club has been on campus since the late 80s and is lead by a Japanese-American sensei and there is another Japanese trained black belt besides the sensei. I have attended two classes and we briefly went over the history of Shotokan Karate, we drill basic punches and blocks, we work on kata, and we do paired training sequences. No sparring has been mentioned or included as of yet for any students present. The class maintains a respectful atmosphere and the other students have been very helpful.

    Ideally, I should be able to attend once class for each of these clubs and see what they are like, in which case I will update this but I would really like to here some more learned perspectives on this predicament.

    Possibly Relevant Information:
    Sex: Male
    Age: 21
    Height: 6'3"
    Shape: I am slightly overweight.
    Mental Health: I have high functioning autism (Asperger's syndrome under DSM4). I do not mind being touched in class, but I will be a little slower in learning proper coordination and loud noises and brights lights are very distracting. I am functional enough to not need medication or accommodations in a classroom setting.
    Martial Arts Background: About a year of formalized Taekwondo training (white belt) I do not recall which style but it had sparring using only the groin cup. Some boxing drilling with veteran friends. So in short, nothing of any true note.
     
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  2. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    First off, welcome to Martial Talk. As you'll shortly learn, we're full of answers. Those answers are mostly wrong, but we seem to like it that way. :D

    Touching first on the Shotokan club - most Shotokan groups give significant time to sparring, so it would be worth asking the instructor there if that's a part of their training, since it's important to you. In fact, it would be worth making a quick visit to each club and asking about the sparring, and whether it would be possible to observe part of a class that contains sparring. That would give you a chance to see if it's the kind of sparring you're looking for.

    That's probably your best approach, since the content and focus of any of those clubs is highly dependent upon the people running them. The Jujutsu club could be highly stylized, or could be like a combination of Judo and BJJ (closer to old-school Judo) with strikes and sparring included.
     
  3. StellarAevum

    StellarAevum Yellow Belt

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    Thank you very much for your reply and humility.

    I went to the Japanese Jujutsu club today as the class that would normally prevent me from coming this time of the week was cancelled and I greatly enjoyed myself.

    The instructor is a veteran and very much focused on practical application and we spent a lot of time doing physical conditioning, learning how to roll and fall, and learning various wrist and shoulder locks.

    The movements feel a lot more fluid and natural to me than the linear movements of Shotokan Karate and included strikes as distraction. While I was not able to keep up with the physical conditioning due to my level of fitness, I was told I was a natural when it came to wrist and shoulder locks which we practiced on with a partner.

    Because this class will not interfere with the Shotokan Karate club and I was assured that wearing a medium or heavy weight karate gi would be fine for the class, I am currently considering attending Shotokan Karate twice a week and Jujutsu once a week.

    My Jujutsu instructor told us that he encourages cross training and my Karate class has several students that are also practitioners of other martial arts so I do not think that my instructors would mind if I did both.

    Do you think this is a good or poor choice? I still intend to look into the other clubs when they become available.
     
  4. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    If there are no contracts, give them a try; you'll gravitate towards what works best for you. Welcome to MT.
     
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  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Generally, it's better (from a learning perspective) to get some foundation in one before starting another. How much foundation is a matter for debate. But, if you enjoy the idea of doing two at once (and especially if each is only going to meet once a week), then go for it. Your early learning might be a bit slower, but in the long run it'll probably take about the same amount of time to build competency in both, so do what feels fun!
     
  6. StellarAevum

    StellarAevum Yellow Belt

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    The stance and technique of the two martial arts does not seem to overlap, at least in these earlier stages. Doing something like Karate and Taekwondo at once would seem to me, as a beginner, to be more of a problem as there is overlap where it would be easy to use one martial art's striking methods when you should be doing the other.

    But then again, I could be completely wrong. I worry about only having practice once a week if I wanted to devote myself to Jujutsu however.
     
  7. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    You’ve been given solid advice so far. I’d say keep visiting the ones you haven’t yet and take a class or two with them. The right one or ones should jump out at you.

    I typically tell people to get enough experience in one art before starting another, but your case isn’t typical. You’ve got all this different stuff around you, and it’s free. Take advantage of that.

    Also keep in mind that your schedule is going to change from semester to semester, so what’s available 3 nights a week to you this semester may only be available once a week or maybe not at all.

    Try everything, stick with what you like. If you like two and can do them both, do that.

    Also keep in mind that any rank earned most likely won’t translate over to a school after you graduate. Shotokan seems the most popular from your list. A different Shotokan school doesn’t have to honor any rank you’ll hold when you graduate. There are different Shotokan organizations, and they each do things differently. You’ll most likely progress through the ranks you’ve previously earned, but don’t expect every Shotokan dojo to take you in as, say a purple belt. Same for every other style you’ve mentioned.

    Best of luck to you and let us know how it’s going. As an aside, I teach a few students (academic, not MA) with Asperger’s. I also currently and formerly in my previous organization train with a few adults with Asperger’s and other ASD. They’ve all benefited greatly from MA. I’m not saying every single person on the spectrum will benefit, but everyone I’ve met that trains has.
     
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  8. StellarAevum

    StellarAevum Yellow Belt

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    Thank you very much for your words of wisdom.

    I do not know about the other schools, but the Shotokan one is part of a internationally recognized organization. Regardless, I am not in martial arts to win dyed segments of cloth, the training will be there regardless of wether another school would like me to adjust or refine earlier training or not.
     
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  9. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    I won't suggest contemporary Wushu because you will not learn any MA application there.
     
  10. StellarAevum

    StellarAevum Yellow Belt

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    Would it be okay if I asked you to elaborate? I am sadly very ignorant about Chinese martial art practices.
     
  11. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    The modern Wushu is 100% performance art. It doesn't contain any MA application at all.
     
  12. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Welcome, You are on the right track. Take your time and audit all the classes offered. Your height would likely be an advantage in TKD assuming flexibility isn't too big an issue. Have you enjoyed the Karate class? If so, you could give it a go for a semester and see if you still like it. The weight should shed with any of the styles assuming they are of decent quality. This has much more to do with the instructor(s) than the style. If you see this as long term and see yourself relocating in the future look into the accreditation/certification. This would likely be an advantage for the WT(F) class. FWIW, there is sparring and there is some very light contact stuff I have seen in more than a few university classes so if you have a good idea of what you are looking for that should be a big part of decision. Keep in touch and let us know what you decide. Let us know if you have any more questions.
     
  13. StellarAevum

    StellarAevum Yellow Belt

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    I see. I'm sorry if I am being annoying with my questions.

    While I do want a martial art with at least some level of practical application, just because a martial art does not help with fighting does not necessarily mean it is not a martial art does it?

    Are not aesthetics, mental discipline, and physical conditioning a part of martial arts as well?
     
  14. StellarAevum

    StellarAevum Yellow Belt

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    Thank you very much for your response. While I enjoyed Taekwondo, I worry about the techniques taught in WTF sparring concerning protecting the head.
     
  15. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    You can learn the art, physical condition. Not sure about mental discipline.
     
  16. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Do you remember wearing head gear and a chest protector? I hear a lot of push back about head gear safety but experience tells me at the very least they greatly cut down on abrasions. You should have little to worry about unless you get into tournament sparring. This is assuming they follow a "normal" WT(F) curriculum.
     
  17. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    In a word, yes. Hence the word Martial. I cannot speak specifically to Wushu and do not like devaluing any style but if something is little more than a variation of dance it is not a Martial Art. There are some out there.
    Do not hold back on the questions.
     
  18. StellarAevum

    StellarAevum Yellow Belt

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    I have not been to the WTF Taekwondo club yet, but as far as I know, that organization encourages a method of fighting in which you do not regularly practice defending yourself from punches to the face. I am sure they use WTF protective gear.

    The Taekwondo school I attended when I was younger did not use protective gear and we could, and were thought to defend against, strikes to the face.
     
  19. StellarAevum

    StellarAevum Yellow Belt

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    Well to be fair, if one were to be particular about the etymological definitions of martial and art, then most martial arts would not actually be martial arts. Martial means to do with war, and most martial arts are rooted in civilian self-defense rather than martial application.
     
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  20. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Yes, that is WTF sparring at the tourney level. There are some variants out there that do punch the face and teach comprehensive self defense skills. I am a long time WTF TKD guy and frankly if they teach only kicks, sparring and the Taeguek forms and nothing else I would encourage you to move on to the next style. BUT make sure. See if they have a written curriculum or at least talk it out with the instructor and any higher belts that you can. For example, we are "officially" at WT(F)/Kukkiwon school. But our GM has a heavy background in Kung Fu, and MKD TSD so we get a very full plate of variety. We also spar both ways. For those who want to get more into tournaments we have tourney sparring specific classes (red/black belt only). But in regular class sparring we punch the face, clinch, and sweep. No ground fighting though. That is more covered in our SD drills. So there is a lot out there that I doubt you have even thought about yet. That is where a brief intro to each style will give you perspective to help make a good choice.
     
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