Need advice on a first MA

Clint Franklin

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Hey! I'm looking for some advice on choosing my first martial art to study. Before I get into any specific questions, some background:

I've always been large. In school, I was always the tallest kid in class, and starting around first or second grade, also the heaviest. But, I was a very timid person... combine these traits, and you have someone that evidently becomes a rather attractive target. Once people figured out I wouldn't fight back, I caught it big-time.

Currently, I am 6'5" tall, and weigh somewhere around 430 lbs. I can still function - I am able to get around OK, I am still able to touch my toes with my knees locked, etc. But, I'm creeping up on age 30 right now, and I'm afraid that if I don't do something fairly soon, my health is going to make a Southward turn fast. My knees are already starting to feel like the weight is having an adverse effect.

I am not quite in bad shape as far as my emotions anymore, but I still do suffer from a strong case of a lack of self-esteem.

I'm looking into learning a martial art (along with weight training and aerobics), and I'm wondering what would be good for me to learn. After some reading, it seems that Tai Chi would be a good choice to start with. So, here are a few questions...

What other arts would be good to look into given my physical state?

I am in a rural area, and there are only a couple of places in a practical distance from my location that offer any martial arts training. If I don't find a decent place to train, how much would I be missing out on by learning from books/videos/etc.?

Also, I'm interested in any books/videos/programs/etc. you might recommend for someone like me (i.e. a beginner with physical challenges).

Looking forward to your advice, and if you would like me to elaborate on anything, let me know! :)
 

Hawke

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Hey Clint!

Welcome to Martial Talk.

Checkout the following stickies:

Resources for Beginners

Choosing a School

Beginner's Corner

That said checkout as many schools near where you live. Ask your friends and family if they know any schools as well.

Visit each school and meet with the instructors. Remember back in school when a certain teacher made education fun and fascinating? Same with a martial art instructor. The instructor is way more important than the style being taught. Look for an instructor that can communicate the ideas in a way you enjoy.

Also take a look at the atmosphere of the class. Are the students enjoying themselves? Is this a class where you want to go? Visit the school on two different days if you can. Instructor may give you the first lesson for free. If you do sit in just be a fly on the wall and observe.

An instructor can give you feedback that a DVD/Books cannot do. Also you do not want to create bad habits. DVD/Books are great to supplement training. Imagine living in the desert all your life and reading about swimming. Now imagine trying to learn swimming without ever having a coach and never getting in the water to practice. If you ever go on a vacation to Hawaii and fell in the ocean, river, lake, you might do well, but it may be challenging without getting the proper instruction and pool to practice. Visit Youtube to get an idea and find a good reputable instructor to train you.

Tai Chi has many wonderful styles to choose from. Even though you may move slow the workout is intense (this varies on your instructor).

May your martial art journey be worth your time. Learn from the pains, and the pleasures will be rewarding.

Peace.
 
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jks9199

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Start with a checkup and evaluation by your doctor.

Then... Walk. Move around. You might even try a bike; go to a real bike store, and let them guide you on what you want, and how to fit it.

In terms of martial arts... Look at what's available in your area. Talk to the instructors, and see what you think of them... and their attitude about YOUR training. I would suggest that you may want to avoid Tae Kwon Do because of the strain on your legs & joints (trust me; You've got more than 100 pounds on me... and I feel the strain in my joints despite more than 2 decades of training... and a deceptive level of fitness), as well as some of the more acrobatic styles of kung fu/wushu. You may find people reluctant to train with you in some styles like BJJ, too... just 'cause that's a lot of mass to deal with, even if you were built like Adonis, with 2% body fat.

A good instructor (or team of instructors in many schools) will work with you and help you adjust your training as you improve your fitness and trim down/shape up. They're not a substitute for time with a trainer or dietitian or other professionals (unless they happen to have the proper credentials) -- but they should know how to work with you. A poor instructor will simply throw you into the class and say "go for it" or "no pain, no gain" or the like...

In the end, as you'll find is said a lot here, the instructor and the relationship you have with the staff as well as other students is more important than the style.
 

gardawamtu1

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I agree with both posters above: start by checking out as many schools as you can and seeing the environment they offer. It is more important to choose by the learning environment and teacher than by the art. There are many valid arts out there, but often not as many fine teachers.

Tai chi might be a great art to start with as it is low impact and can help you strengthen your legs as you do some walking and weight training to shed some weight.

Definitely consult your doctor.
 

zepedawingchun

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You need to study Brazilian Ju Jitsu, wrestling, or one of the grappling arts. Or find an MMA class with a mix of striking and grappling, geared more towards groundwork. Good exercise, fitness, losing weight, and because your a large person, the easiest arts for you to learn.
 

wolfeyes2323

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Greetings – you are in a very challenging situation,
The first step in learning a Martial art is, to come to know your self.
So my question for you is why do you really want to learn a Martial
art ? There are many ways to lose weight, and get in shape,
and not even a moron is going to screw with a 6’5’’ , 300+ lb
adult for no reason, if they think for a moment, that the behemoth
is going to get serious with them .
The fact is that once you can move around reasonably, Only a very
large person or a trained Martial Artist is going to be able to deal with you.
As for name calling and insults , this is not likely to ever stop regardless,
and a martial art is not going to help, you can not fight over insults,
or you will be a very large man in a very small cell.

If you decide to persue martial arts
My advice to you is do not separate your martial arts training from
your strength training, flexibility, and conditioning, nor your diet program,
Martial arts will NOT help you lose weight , the only real way to do this
is stop eating so much.
There are traditional exercises that are designed to strengthen the MA body,
(look up Hojo Undo )
the interesting thing is that disciplining the body, makes the mind stronger,
and then the mind has even greater control over the body.
You must begin slowly to condition your body, small amounts of pain
from body conditioning is necessary, the body fears even a little pain,
it will become stronger to avoid this pain, then you will have to
bang harder or do more conditioning to reach the same small
level of pain, over the course of year, you can become much stronger.

The above is really the precursor to learning a Martial Art,
There are fundamental things that you can learn to do without
attending a class, for instance , proper posture, proper stances,
proper stepping methods etc, these can be learned from
books , tapes, or minimal couching ,

Striking can be leaned as well, build a Makawara, (striking post)
it will do you good to build it and then, begin your training ,
by striking it daily, the first days, 10 strikes with each hand,
after a week , 15 etc. Build up to 100.

You will need some guidance in correct striking mechanics
but it is actually pretty simple, Keep your wrist straight
your elbow close to the torso, and contact the target with
the two knuckles nearest to the thumb.

To strengthen the fist, normally you would do pushups on
these knuckles (only these two) , in your case, you might
be able to do them standing , by placing your fists on
a (sturdy : ) ) wall , leaning forward , until you are leaning
with some weight on the knuckles and then pushing your self
back to straight , over time you can increase the incline.
This is the puching motion and doing this will strengthen the
muscle use in striking as well as tighten the fist, and
strenghten the wrist.

I would also recommend YOGA, this will help you to learn
to breath correctly , as well as make you more flexible ,
and begin to work slowly on your overall mobility.

Last the strengthening and conditioning of the body,
Light free weight in traditional exercises,
and then banging your limbs on things, both arms
and legs, and torso, at first you can use
a heavy punching bag, Not a water filled Bag,
one of the harder stuffed bags, you do not have
to strike this, although it would not be bad idea to
do so, but you should bang your forearms, shins
etc on this, shoulder it , swing it out stand still and
stop it with your stomach , hit it with you shoulders, knees
etc.
In the beginning, the Makawara and bag are your
teachers, they will let you know when you are doing
something wrong , and what your weaknesses are,
they will also allow you to gage your progress.
Your body will not like this, and it will fear doing
it, you will make excuses , do not listen to this crap,
your body will get stronger , in a surprisingly short time.

After a few months of this, go out and visit some MA
schools, you will have a much better understanding
of what you are looking for,

In the mean time , get a online buddy and report to
him , on your progress, like keeping a journal,
this is very important, one of the main benefits of
training in a dojo is the commitment to showing up
and training hard, without the feed back from some
else, you are likely to lose steam and peter out,
because you are not accountable to others,
Make your self accountable, to someone besides
your self, tell them what you are going to do,
and make sure that you do it , and tell them truthfully
if you have or not. Even stretching, how long are you
going to stretch ? How long are you going to lift weights ?
(how many reps of what)
How many times are you going to strike the makawara ?
how long are you going to work out with the bag ?
How far are you going to walk ?
etc.
Set up a program, set goals, be accountable
Hope to see you on the dojo floor.

Train hard , train often
Romney^..^
World Fighting Arts
Buffalo NY

 
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Clint Franklin

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Wow, thank you all for your insights! I really appreciate the thoughtful responses. :)

Oh, I do want to clear one thing up, as I left out an important detail. I mentioned in my initial post about my being a target when people realized I wouldn't fight back... but, I'm not really interested in MA for the sake of "fighting back" as it were - but rather building some self-confidence, and knowing what to do if things ever do get to the point where I *have* to defend myself. And, of course - I believe there are a lot of other benefits than simply fighting and getting into shape.

I'm going to have a talk with my doctor ASAP and see what she feels would be my best course of action. When I've saved some money up, I'll see about visiting a personal trainer. In the meantime, I'll start asking around about schools and work on getting in shape.

:)
 

morph4me

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I'm going to join the group that said to visit the schools you have around you and meet with the instructors. Watch a class or better still, particpate in one. Most places will give you a free introductory class so you can see how you like it. The instructor is not the only consideration, you have to find an art that resonates with you, something that you'll stick with and enjoy. There are a lot of great arts out there, any of which will give you self confidence, but you have to stick wth them and give it time for that to happen. Find a style that you're comfortable with, but that also takes you out of your comfort zone. Good luck.
 

Bruno@MT

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Hi, welcome.
The others have already given out the good advice. My personal advice: check out what's available in your area, make a selection of what might seem interesting, and then visit a class or talk with the trainer to see if you have a good feeling about him / her and what they do.

There are lots of differences between styles and teachers, and not everyone will feel comfortable with all of them. That is not because one is better than the other, but simply because people are different. I am into ninjutsu and jujutsu because that's what I like and what feels right to me. Others do kickboxing for the same reason.

If I may give you some non MA advice: if your knees are starting to worry you, combine your MA with a healthy lifestyle. I did the same, and now I am very much in shape again at 32 (though to be honest, I was never really overweight). I still enjoy all the things I did, but I no longer eats bags of chips in the evening, nor do I drink soda during the day. I cut out all the 'junk', and no more than that. And I still enjoy my regular shot of something strong. What I also did was to buy an exercise bike that I try to use twice per week outside of MA practise. When the kids are asleep and the wife isn't home, I push it in front of the tv and burn some calories / do cardio exercise.

By doing that, you will start to lose weight fairly easy, and this will have a positive effect on your knees as well, making it easier for you to practise MA. Oh and the first couple of months you will probably be sore afterwards if you are out of shape. That will get better eventually.
Good luck.
 

wolfeyes2323

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Greetings - you are welcome,
It sounds like you have a Plan , but, IMO
(and this is very very important)
Start today, do not wait.
Get up and start moving, take 15 minutes and
do passive stretches , twist your torso a little ,
shadow box , walk around the block a few times,
Something, Anything ( regardless if you do this anyway,
add something extra as the beginning of your new training).
Then tomorrow do the same etc, Training must
become a part of the rhythm of your life.
Stop talking and start doing.

Yes before , doing anything strenuous , see a doctor,
Yes a personal trainer will be helpful , yes it will
be good to visit local schools , and talk to various
people, but , in the end , you need to give
them something to work with. If you establish a
time of activity they can help use it to your best
advantage, BUT, in the beginning your biggest
obstacle is your own inertia and lack of discipline.

Training is a constant battle for all of us.
I am 55, and have been training for
almost 30 years, one of my sensei is 68 and has
been training for 45 years, he still trains hard,
it is not easy, there are sometimes injuries,
as we age are body wears out,
It is painful, to train on many days,
I have a student in his 40's with arthritic hips
and reconstructed shoulder, it is painful for him
to move and train, but he does not miss a class,
another has had back surgery, he has to stop in
class to stretch sometimes and try relieve the pain,
Sensei had knee surgery to fix a old work injury,
he trains despite the pain,
I tore the bicep tendon off the bone in my forearm ,
when I was demonstrating something for my kids
class, (I was trying to inspire them to train harder,
and exaggerated a movement that I should not have),
I did not stop teaching the class or even stop demonstrating,
I just switched arms and kept going, (after a wave of pain
washed over me) , I did not have surgery for several weeks
and only missed one class, because of pain medicine (that
I stopped taking so I could go to class in pain but clear minded),
and one class where one of our senior black belts saw my pain and
told me to go sit down, He took over the class.
I found a new use for my blackbelt , I used it as a sling,
while my arm was immobilized .

I am not saying this so that you will think I am extra-ordinary,
many in the dojo have had injuries , most at work or in
car and motorcycle accidents , not dojo related, they
all begin training as soon as possible, and keep training ,
doing what ever they can, they are committed .

No excuses , if you are going to be a martial artist, then do NOT
poke it with a stick, it is not a game, it is life and death
(death is your real adversary) , learn to deal with discomfort
pain , boredom . Learn to discipline your body and mind,
accept what happens to you in life and overcome the
adversity which befalls us all, become a warrior .

It all starts with getting out of the chair , and taking those
first steps , so if you are serious , turn the machine off NOW,
get up, put some relaxing music on, and start moving.

It is really your initiation into the battle which is life,
If you accept this challenge and take the field ,
I will count on you to continue, the only thing worse then
not trying is quitting .

So before you sign off to train, please acknowledge your intent.
Then get you *** moving .
Romney^..^
 
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Clint Franklin

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You've all given sound advice, I have taken it to heart and will move forward with it. Thank you all. :)

Romney, you are absolutely right. For me, there is no waiting. I started last week with my training - some weight training, resistance training, walking outside, stretches, shadowboxing, et al, along with changing my diet to cut out the garbage - smaller meals, and fresh fruit for snacks.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." I don't think it mentions standing still in that quote. And I'm not standing still - not anymore. I've taken my first step, and will continue my journey with the council of those who have something to teach me. I'm not trying to do anything *too* strenuous until I at least see the doctor, but I'm not just going to sit around and do nothing until then, either.
 

Bruno@MT

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It sounds like you have a solid plan and the motivation to stick with it.
Good luck, and let us know what you ended up choosing.
 
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Clint Franklin

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Good luck, and let us know what you ended up choosing.

Thanks for all the advice, everyone. For now, I'm going to add Yoga and Tai Chi to my current workout regimen. I'm also going to look into Iaido to sate my desire to learn swordsmanship. I did manage to find two nearby (well, relatively nearby) martial arts schools, so I'm going to look into those as well.

I'll have plenty to do for a while. :p I'll be sure and pop in whenever I need any advice. Again, thank you all! :)
 

nitflegal

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If you don't mind one last piece of advice; be wary of going for a grappling art first unless you have a very good teacher. I say this as another big guy. My problem back with judo as my start was that I was big enough to muscle the techniques and learned some truly bad habits as far as body mechanics and movement. Starting karate (where distance, timing, and speed counted for more, all things not in my natural comfort zone!) was needed to get me back on the straight and narrow. Sounds like your initial choices should stand you in good stead for a foundation.

Matt
 

gardawamtu1

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If you don't mind one last piece of advice; be wary of going for a grappling art first unless you have a very good teacher. I say this as another big guy. My problem back with judo as my start was that I was big enough to muscle the techniques and learned some truly bad habits as far as body mechanics and movement. Starting karate (where distance, timing, and speed counted for more, all things not in my natural comfort zone!) was needed to get me back on the straight and narrow. Sounds like your initial choices should stand you in good stead for a foundation.

Matt

Yes, good teacher is key. I started Jun Fan/JKD in the past couple of months. We did one of our first grappling/take-down sessions yesterday. As a big guy, I found that I could use my weight to move a passive person into the right position, but when an instructor came and told me I was trying to muscle my opponent too much and made corrections, I found out why one does not have to be big to take an opponent down with grappling skills.

An instructor's ability to notice mistakes and correct them before they become habitual is key.
 

DeLamar.J

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Hey! I'm looking for some advice on choosing my first martial art to study. Before I get into any specific questions, some background:

I've always been large. In school, I was always the tallest kid in class, and starting around first or second grade, also the heaviest. But, I was a very timid person... combine these traits, and you have someone that evidently becomes a rather attractive target. Once people figured out I wouldn't fight back, I caught it big-time.

Currently, I am 6'5" tall, and weigh somewhere around 430 lbs. I can still function - I am able to get around OK, I am still able to touch my toes with my knees locked, etc. But, I'm creeping up on age 30 right now, and I'm afraid that if I don't do something fairly soon, my health is going to make a Southward turn fast. My knees are already starting to feel like the weight is having an adverse effect.

I am not quite in bad shape as far as my emotions anymore, but I still do suffer from a strong case of a lack of self-esteem.

I'm looking into learning a martial art (along with weight training and aerobics), and I'm wondering what would be good for me to learn. After some reading, it seems that Tai Chi would be a good choice to start with. So, here are a few questions...

What other arts would be good to look into given my physical state?

I am in a rural area, and there are only a couple of places in a practical distance from my location that offer any martial arts training. If I don't find a decent place to train, how much would I be missing out on by learning from books/videos/etc.?

Also, I'm interested in any books/videos/programs/etc. you might recommend for someone like me (i.e. a beginner with physical challenges).

Looking forward to your advice, and if you would like me to elaborate on anything, let me know! :)
What are you wanting form martial arts?
To get in better shape
Self defence
To compete
Mental clarity
 

Blade96

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my advice

as in look for an art you want and not a teacher.

i got lucky. but not everyone will be able to do what i did.

you might find an art you like but if you dont click with the teacher it could make your learning that art miserable.

basically

dont follow me and do what i did.
 
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