How do you pick a style?

euphoric

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How do you pick which style you want to study/learn?

The available schools near me offer Kempo, MMA, Krav Maga, Kung Fu, and Tae Kwon Do. I am not really interested in MMA, Krav Maga, or Tae Kwon Do. I guess it's between Kempo and Kung Fu. I just don't really know how to pick the right style...

Any advice would be appreciated ..
Thank you
 

marques

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Try. A (free) trial class at least. Meet the instructor and the people there. It will worth the time and support your choice.

+Practical factors: timetable compatible? Price affordable? Distance to home (may become more relevant in the long term)?

You also can try the ones you think you don't like. Don't judge by the name. Not all 'Johns' are the same...
 

frank raud

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Pretty much what Marques said. Check out the schools. An excellent instructor who inspires greatness in his/her students is more important than a lousy instructor in a popular system. There's a wide range of styles under the kung fu umbrella(kempo as well).
 

Midnight-shadow

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Definitely go to a class of each before you make a final decision, as there is so much variety when it comes to Kung Fu with so many different styles available.
 

gpseymour

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How do you pick which style you want to study/learn?

The available schools near me offer Kempo, MMA, Krav Maga, Kung Fu, and Tae Kwon Do. I am not really interested in MMA, Krav Maga, or Tae Kwon Do. I guess it's between Kempo and Kung Fu. I just don't really know how to pick the right style...

Any advice would be appreciated ..
Thank you
The general tenor of what most of us will respond with will be the same. The instructor/school matters much more than the style.

Here's my advice. First, decide why you want to take classes. This might seem intuitive, but if you don't know, then you may pick something that looks exciting but will disappoint you by not providing what you're looking for. For instance, if you want to compete, ask about competition when you visit. If you want self-defense, ask how they train the art to be functional for self-defense. How they answer those questions won't tell you if it's right for you, but it can tell you if it's wrong. (For instance, if you came to my program and asked about competition, I'd tell you there's no real competition in our art, because we focus on direct application to self-defense. You'd then want to go look for another school.)

Now that you know what you're looking for, go visit at least three schools. Watch classes (I'm not a fan of schools that won't let prospective students watch - there's a legitimate place for that approach, as some of the koryu adherents can probably explain, but it's not a good fit for most students). You want to see some mid-range students (ask about the ranks at that school if you're not sure) and see that they appear competent. Pay attention to how the instructor teaches (make sure you're watching classes taught by the instructor you're likely to train under, since some schools have more than one instructor).

The reason I recommend watching classes at three schools is fairly simple. You don't want to make a decision based on a single school. If you go to one and it looks great, you may go to the next and decide it's better. So, don't sign up for the first one you go to (at least, not until after you visit two more). Why three? There's a small chance you will see two bad instructors. If one is awful and the other is nearly competent, the nearly competent one will seem good by comparison. With a third, you reduce the chance of that "nearly competent" instructor seeming good.

Now that you've chosen a school, it's time to take a few classes (or, at least one). Many schools will allow you to take a first class without registering for a month/quarter/year. Some will charge for that single class, while others will be free. Don't judge the school based upon whether the first class is free or not - there are some reasons (other than being greedy) why some folks choose not to offer free classes. If you like the first class okay, sign up for a month. If you don't get any bad vibes within a month, you've likely found your home for now.
 

Buka

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There's two schools of thought on this -

You could go watch classes for a week in one, then go watches classes for a week in the other. Do that and you'll just know what you'll like more. You'll probably be spending a good amount of time in any dojo you choose, couple weeks of watching isn't much, easy investment.

The other school of thought is - eeny, meeny, miny mo. :)
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I just don't really know how to
You can ask the following questions:

Does this MA system have

- speed training?
- power training?
- defense and counter training?
- combo training?

Also does this MA system have methods for

- "develop" a skill?
- "test" a skill?
- "polish" a skill?
- "enhance" a skill?
 

donald1

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try them out if you wish.
think about what they have to offer.
theres 4 questions you can ask yourself
- which school do I like the most?
- which locations is most convenient for me?
- which school fits best in my budget?
- which ones best fits my schedule?
 

gpseymour

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You can ask the following questions:

Does this MA system have

- speed training?
- power training?
- defense and counter training?
- combo training?

Also does this MA system have methods for

- "develop" a skill?
- "test" a skill?
- "polish" a skill?
- "enhance" a skill?
Those questions only work if the instructor shares your vocabulary for those terms. If someone asked me if I have "combo training", I'd ask what they mean, because I can think of at least three definitions for it, and the answer to one would be "no". As for power training, again, that depends what they mean. We do very little that is focused just on power, because we don't depend upon power strikes. And if someone asked me if we have specific methods for developing, testing, polishing, and enhancing, I'm starting to wonder if the prospect is actually wanting to train, because those are very specific expectations, and the approaches will vary so wildly that the questions really don't have much meaning to me.
 

JR 137

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You can listen to most of the advice given above, or you could be woman who called the dojo I train at a few months ago (I happened to be near the phone when it rang while my teacher was teaching)...

Not a very pleasant tone of voice from the caller from the get go.

Me: Karate school name, can I help you?
Caller: I want to sign my kid up.
Me: The gentleman who handles all of that is teaching right now; can I take a message or answer any questions?
Caller: I just want my kid to do karate. How do I sign him up?
Me: You can come to any class to watch and see if it's a good fit for him...
Caller, cutting me off: I don't want to watch, I just want him to take karate. How do I get him there?
Me (thinking you and him get in the car and drive him here, but being polite): I don't understand the question.
Caller (louder and ruder): How do I sign my 4 year old son up for karate!!??
Me: Sorry, the youngest students we accept are 6 years old.
Caller: That answers my question!

Hung up on me.

I told my teacher about the call. He chuckled and said "I get a lot of those."

Don't be that person.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Those questions only work if the instructor shares your vocabulary for those terms. If someone asked me if I have "combo training", I'd ask what they mean, because I can think of at least three definitions for it, and the answer to one would be "no". As for power training, again, that depends what they mean. We do very little that is focused just on power, because we don't depend upon power strikes. And if someone asked me if we have specific methods for developing, testing, polishing, and enhancing, I'm starting to wonder if the prospect is actually wanting to train, because those are very specific expectations, and the approaches will vary so wildly that the questions really don't have much meaning to me.
To pick up a style is not an easy task. It's better to know what you are looking for ahead of time. There is a good reason that you want to pick up MIT over Liberty Hill College.

The question is how will you know this if you are just a beginner? This is why you will need to do your "homework".

The "combo" training is to use move 1 to set up move 2. A simple example is to start with a groin kick, when your opponent drops his arm to block your kick, you punch on his face. The combo training just mean that you don't just stay on simple offense and simple defense, your training will go beyond that.

The "power" training can be as simple as to use the ending of your previous punch to help you to start your next punch. In other words, power training usually require your body to move from one extreme to another extreme. It will require to execute "pulling back" and "sending out" 2 forces in opposite directions at the same time.

The "speed" training can be as simple as to jump up in the air, throw 3 punches before your feet land back on the ground again.

Develop - how to develop a good side kick?
Test - how to test your side kick that can work against your opponent? What's your successful/failure ratio?
Polish - how to make your side kick perfect?
Enhance - how to make your side kick stronger?

Most of the MA systems may have some training and miss other training. for example,

- Preying mantis system is strong in combo training and speed training but weak in power training.
- Baji system is strong in power training but weak in speed training and combo training.
- ...
 
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Langenschwert

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Here's a thing. Why do you want to do martial arts? What do you want to get out of it? The best style and teacher for you might not be on your list. Where are you located, roughly? Forum members might have contacts there that might be useful that a cursory google search might not generate. Unless you're from a very small town, there are likely even more schools that you haven't noticed.
 

gpseymour

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To pick up a style is not an easy task. It's better to know what you are looking for ahead of time. There is a good reason that you want to pick up MIT over Liberty Hill College.

The question is how will you know this if you are just a beginner? This is why you will need to do your "homework".

The "combo" training is to use move 1 to set up move 2. A simple example is to start with a groin kick, when your opponent drops his arm to block your kick, you punch on his face. The combo training just mean that you don't just stay on simple offense and simple defense, your training will go beyond that.

The "power" training can be as simple as to use the ending of your previous punch to help you to start your next punch. In other words, power training usually require your body to move from one extreme to another extreme. It will require to execute "pulling back" and "sending out" 2 forces in opposite directions at the same time.

The "speed" training can be as simple as to jump up in the air, throw 3 punches before your feet land back on the ground again.

Develop - how to develop a good side kick?
Test - how to test your side kick that can work against your opponent? What's your successful/failure ratio?
Polish - how to make your side kick perfect?
Enhance - how to make your side kick stronger?

Most of the MA systems may have some training and miss other training. for example,

- Preying mantis system is strong in combo training and speed training but weak in power training.
- Baji system is strong in power training but weak in speed training and combo training.
- ...
I would assert that those questions mean less to a beginner than they do to the instructor being asked. For a beginner, I believe finding an interesting school that appears to fit their overall need is the right way to start. After some training, they are better equipped to determine if the school is the right one - and to pick another if it's not.

And some of your questions wouldn't apply to every person. Someone interested in competition (not defense) might not care about the power of strikes, since some competitions only care about the strike making contact, rather than the effectiveness of the strike. Some folks might not care whether it works on an opponent, at all, if they are simply looking for something to help them develop discipline and fitness (both of which can be done without ever facing an opponent).
 

gpseymour

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You can listen to most of the advice given above, or you could be woman who called the dojo I train at a few months ago (I happened to be near the phone when it rang while my teacher was teaching)...

Not a very pleasant tone of voice from the caller from the get go.

Me: Karate school name, can I help you?
Caller: I want to sign my kid up.
Me: The gentleman who handles all of that is teaching right now; can I take a message or answer any questions?
Caller: I just want my kid to do karate. How do I sign him up?
Me: You can come to any class to watch and see if it's a good fit for him...
Caller, cutting me off: I don't want to watch, I just want him to take karate. How do I get him there?
Me (thinking you and him get in the car and drive him here, but being polite): I don't understand the question.
Caller (louder and ruder): How do I sign my 4 year old son up for karate!!??
Me: Sorry, the youngest students we accept are 6 years old.
Caller: That answers my question!

Hung up on me.

I told my teacher about the call. He chuckled and said "I get a lot of those."

Don't be that person.
About halfway through that call, I'd refer them to another school. With kids, you have to deal with their parents, and I would choose not to deal with someone who treats me that way on initial contact. I have better things to do with my time.
 

JR 137

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About halfway through that call, I'd refer them to another school. With kids, you have to deal with their parents, and I would choose not to deal with someone who treats me that way on initial contact. I have better things to do with my time.

Come to think of it, we don't have any parents like that at our dojo. In my almost 2 years there, I haven't seen any negativity. Our parents are a pretty good part of the dojo. They help out with things just as much as the adult students.

We have a dojo cleaning night 4-5 times a year, and they come in and clean with us. We have an annual beach training followed by a picnic, and they help getting everything ready. Same thing with our holiday party and one or two other events we hold.

I think I just made our dojo sound like a social club. We're just very tight knit and my teacher (and our organization) wants to have a strong family feel to the dojo. These events aren't anything elaborate, they're just us getting together. We all know each others' families (spouses and children) that don't train. This was missing from my previous dojo, and it makes quite a difference.
 

gpseymour

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Come to think of it, we don't have any parents like that at our dojo. In my almost 2 years there, I haven't seen any negativity. Our parents are a pretty good part of the dojo. They help out with things just as much as the adult students.

We have a dojo cleaning night 4-5 times a year, and they come in and clean with us. We have an annual beach training followed by a picnic, and they help getting everything ready. Same thing with our holiday party and one or two other events we hold.

I think I just made our dojo sound like a social club. We're just very tight knit and my teacher (and our organization) wants to have a strong family feel to the dojo. These events aren't anything elaborate, they're just us getting together. We all know each others' families (spouses and children) that don't train. This was missing from my previous dojo, and it makes quite a difference.
To me, the best dojos are part social club. It's part of what I like about training. And what you post is why I wouldn't want that parent from the call - she would be a poor addition to those activities. Better to have the good parents you currently have.
 

pgsmith

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To pick up a style is not an easy task. It's better to know what you are looking for ahead of time. There is a good reason that you want to pick up MIT over Liberty Hill College.

I'm sorry, but that is incorrect in my experience. Picking up a style is very simple. Continuing in said style until you get good at it is not an easy task. The hardest thing about learning any martial art is going to the dojo regularly. Therefore, the most vital part is finding a dojo that makes it easiest for you to attend it regularly for the next couple of decades. Doesn't matter one bit how great of a martial art it is if you stop going.

My advice to this is always to visit as many dojo as are accessible in your area, then begin going to the one that you enjoyed the most. After training for a while, you may decide that it doesn't suit you, then you can try the next on your list, or re-visit them all. For the vast majority of people, enjoying your training enough to continue is much more important than exactly what art you're training in.
 

wingchun100

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How do you pick which style you want to study/learn?

The available schools near me offer Kempo, MMA, Krav Maga, Kung Fu, and Tae Kwon Do. I am not really interested in MMA, Krav Maga, or Tae Kwon Do. I guess it's between Kempo and Kung Fu. I just don't really know how to pick the right style...

Any advice would be appreciated ..
Thank you

Go with your gut. Only you can tell which style feels more "fun" or more of a "fit" for you.
 
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All great advice. The only thing I would add is, watch more than one class. If you are able to, watch for a month.

I stepped onto my first floor after observing the class and instructor for 3 months. This I did at two different schools. One was TKD.. the other was Shudokan Karate. I eventually went with karate for several reasons but mainly due to the fact that the Shudokan instructor was a better teacher.
 
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