Opinions sought



Hello everyone.
I hope I don’t offend anyone by asking these questions,
I looked through old threads and have still myself in a muddle!

I didn’t want to go over the standard newbie “what’s the best martial art”
But, I’m hoping you can recommend me something specific to my situation?

I am very unfit, 6’2 around 200lbs (of flab!) and I’m not particularly balanced or flexible (cant touch those toes!)

I started off looking in my local area for a combative type seminar/class, as I want to learn to defend myself. Having studied Karate and Judo in my youth for a few years I soon lost interest mainly through a constant influx of new students/going over the same old thing, and finding the techniques un-useable in the real world. So I dont want to repeat the same thing all over.

I am a little bewildered by all the choices and their effectiveness, I think if I post a list of priorities in what I’m looking for, maybe someone can recommend a specific discipline taking into account my current physicality?

1. I would like to study a full contact self-defence/street orientated art. I.E non-sporting. Specifically something that caters for real world events, and something instinctive that deals with; knifes, multiple attackers etc. I have a huge problem with “knocky knee’s” so something that deals with fright/stress and adrenaline traning would be excellent.
2. However, I want something that will get my fit, strong and a flexible, although those abilities would not be essential from the beginning. Also it should provide enough of a syllabus that I could learn essential and useable techniques at the start, but have a varied and comprehensive enough style that will provide lots to learn.
3. Being of an above average size I wonder whether studying a art like jeet kune do, where I’ve read that it is based not on physical size, would suit me? Or, should I pick an art that does take advantage of inherent physical size and strength, seeing that I’m built that way?
4. Looking over previous threads I’ve read most fights go the ground, Fortunately out of all my encounters won and lost, I’ve always remained standing . Given my size, is ground fighting a better or worse option? I would like to stay on my feet, although I appreciate that’s often not my choice! Its not often you get attacked by a single person anymore, and being on the ground to me seems a fairly dangerous option in this respect
5. I’d like to study something that although teaches quick and effective takedowns, also teaches “polite” (at least visually) take downs, I often get in minor problems, aggressive situations in bars, drunk kids etc, and don’t want to provoke other watching third parties to step in, but simply hold a person and reason with them, or hold them until assistance arrives. I’ve had to do this more then a few times in the past.
6. I’d like to learn how to use koppo stick, although maybe a video would be better? And concentrate on an empty handed techniques at the school.

Mostly I want to have fun, get some skill, genuine self-confidence, and get fit and strong!

I appreciate any advice you can offer, and if you know of anyone/anywhere in my area I can contact that would be wonderful


Everyone is going to have a different opinion, you are going to have to take the best ideas and see if that is what YOU want.
From what you are saying many different MA system/styles will do what you want. I can only tell you what I train with and why and let you make your own informed decision.

I stand 6' and weigh 180 but that is after serious weight training for muscle mass. I do not consider myself very strong or physically intimidating. I am stretching daily to improve my flexability and do 2-3 times a week an intense cardio kickboxing workout to improve my conditioning and endurance.

My MA training started in my youth with TKD and stopped for 12 years. Now I have been training in American Kenpo for the last 3 years and have decided to supplement my training with the CDT non-deadly force system.

I chose Kenpo because it's base is in self-defense and the motion did not require a "strong" person to do it. My descision was based on watching one of my instructors who is about half a foot shorter and 60 lbs lighter move (threw 6ft back) someone 3 times her size and not even struggle with it.

Kenpo is easy to learn with good instructors and incorporates a lot of simple ideas to make self-defense fun to learn.

The CDT portion of my training is because we do live in a legal based world where the second I touch someone they can get lawyers to sue me for the nothing I have. Not that the money matters but it is principle. CDT (Compliance, Direction, and Takedown) uses non-deadly force to control your agressor and not permanently damage them (breaking arms, noses knees, etc.) by simple methods of hold and compliance techniques.

I am attempting to bring these two together in my training because I believe in both the necessary knowledge to defend your life when the time comes but having the ability to choose how much force to apply and when to use it.

1. Physical training - find motivation and do a little every day no excuses
2. Which MA - Go to different schools and see if they will let you try 1-2 classes for free to make an informed decision.
3. Life choices - The best self defense is attempting to not place yourself in scenarios that have a higher risk of agressive occurences.

Raz I hope you find what you are looking for and whish your journey to be safe and enjoyable.

David Gunzburg
In my humble opinion, if i had your concerns, I would consider a GOOD krav maga or systema school.

Another option could be to join a boxing/kickboxing gym. The conditioning they go through is great for the body and gets your mental situation in shape. Just remember that your focus is on self-defense and not so much competition.

You may also want to take an MMA approach to your training. Again make sure your focus is the street and not the octagon. (no ufc bashing intended) Maybe some Kickboxing and submission wrestling, add a little modern arnis, or kali in there and dont foget to learn some basics of fire arms.

Dont forget there are other systems and styles that also teach effective self-defense. However some of these take a more long term approach despite what some others may say. I personally take this approach because i want to be involved in the MA for the rest of my life. I like my training to give me something usefull early on but also have me busy 15 years down the road. But than again you could spend years on any type of style.

Look around, keep an open mind, talk to different people, look up violent crime statistics, think about your needs, make sure no one is trying to sell you a line of BS to take your money, and good luck man.

Thanks for the replies chaps!
The most local Club I can find (local being 1.5 hour round trip drive!) teaches a variety of arts, their advert reads:
“Bruise Lee’s June Kune Do, Learn JKD wrestling, Jun Gung fu, JKD grappling, Self Defence, Kali, Esrima, Silat”
There is also a Club about 2 hours round trip away that does, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Ju-Jitsu.
And the last club is a 3 hour round trip, and they teach Wing Chun, However I could stay at my girlfriends mum’s overnight, to study that.

So I could only feasibly do this once a week, Taking that into account, I’d need something fast progressing, that I could practise at home the other 6 days, and learn something new at each class.

Which would be the pick of the bunch for a novice, who needs to learn a complete and rounded combat art?

Over time, I’d like to study other arts, specificaly somthing like CDT as you mentioned. But I want my initial art to concentrate on Quick self-defence.
Thanks again :)
;) ;)
Well, I did a lot of shopping around when I chose a martial art... I wanted something quick, dirty, and effective. I chose kenpo.

My first class, I learned two techniques. One was what to do if someone grabs your shoulder from behind, the other was what if someone punches you. Kenpo is easy to do, logical, and effective. Its worked for me on more than one occasion, and think about it this way... if it works for a 5'7 150 lb woman, its gonna be even more effective for a 6'2, 200 lb man, because you have more strength and more backup mass.

There are many effective martial arts out there. I've tried only a few of em. You have to check around to see what suits you. I'm recommending kenpo because it is something I have experience with, and it suits your criteria of learning a technique and being able to practice it for a week. If you do find yourself a kenpo school, I'd recommend purchasing Larry Tatum's Yellow Belt videotape, so you have something to review from when you get home. (www.ltatum.com) Dunno about you, but by the time I get home, I'm going "um....what was that technique again?!" LoL

Best of Luck!!!!

Well if you want to be "polite" with takedowns try Aikido. But if you want to end the fight quickly with strikes try Muay Thai. But if you want to get in shape first, try something like Tae Kwon Do or Wushu.
I've never heard of kenpo as a defensive art,
but its somthing I recall seeing immediately lat the local sports hall, So I might give them a bell and see if they still teach it.
I also checked out some downloaded video's of krav magna, it looked quite interesting, although the knife defences looked fairly implausable!
Thankyou for the link to the saltash club, It's unfortuneatly quite far away.

thanks again, I'll keep looking and see if there anyhting else in the vicinity, I appreciate from reading your Newbie guide that alot of clubs cant afford to advertise, So I will have to ask around.
Best wishes
If you want knife defenses...obligatory response - run, or throw something then run. For the time you can't run, I would recommend Kali for knife defenses. Problem is, I wouldn't consider the takedowns very polite at all (they often involve something going *crack*). Though I did have a Kali/JKD instructor who taught polite locks - stuff bouncers use, come alongs, etc.

I would recommend trying out that JKD place. You can emphasize what you like, it seems pretty flexible. Most important thing is, see if you like the school. So definately, try out a class or two.

One thing I find lacking in most JKD places that you're looking for, is the adrenaline training. I have to give it up to Krav Maga for that - they train under stress.

Good luck!
I think thats what I'm looking for.
As much as I want to go to a fun and relaxed school, I think I'd be better off looking for somewhere a bit dirtyier, I think in order for it to work I need to feel threatened and see if the taught skills co-opertate with my motor reflexes.
Knifes scare the life out of me, and although I collect them, it is illegal to have them in public places, which prevents me from carrying one for self defence. But as alot unsavoury people do. It's nessacery for me to encounter them, and deal with the extra stress.
Krav Magna doesnt seem to have hit the UK, the only club I've found is it london, although they do hold seminars, so maybe i should save up and do one of those additionaly to the art I pick at some point.
I suggest you start conditioning yourself first a little bit. Work on your flexibility, your diet, stamina, etc. That goes a loooonnnnnnggg way, and if you do that, you'll be a step above everyone else.

Fighting only goes to the ground when one person wants it to go down and is better than the other guy. But most occurences are whne one guy knocks the other guy down and starts stomping or pounding.

The nervous thing is all mental. You really can't prepare yourself with it... You can go through similiar experiences, but it won't be the same on the street. Me, I've wrestled in front of a crowd of 5400 once, but that's different from say a fight on the street. You just need to learn how to control yourself. That comes naturally in some people, but not for everyone. Any type of mind control helps.

You can't look at style, but yourself. What are your skills, your attributes? Are you fast, etc. type of thing. If you're not looking for a long-term commitment, then MMA would be your best choice. You get down and dirty in the general aspects of fighting right away, while in TMA, you have to find yourself first and work on your strengths while working and minimizing your weaknesses.
Those are good idea's
I have been thinking about slimfast, and a few trips to the gym a week. I also enjoy being out and about in the wood's.

When you say conditioning, do mean medicine ball type conditioning, getting used to impacts? or just getting fitter and stronger?

My attributes, I dont have many so to speak :), I'm not particulary fast, strength is proportional to my size. Although, I am quite quick minded, and naturaly a very calm and relaxed person, Although very nervous in confrontations, or about anyhting I cant control, I am a terrible back seat driver! Not sure if thats a good thing or not.
Up untill now, I have been OK through having a very defensive mindset.
The few rucas's I've had have never turned out grea, But I'll always managed to look after myself, but useualy I'm the one worse for wear.

I am not looking a short course, as I would like to remain studying for a long time, mainly for fun and fitness, but I would just like to study somthing that teaches you quickly, and the basic moves are effective enough to defend ones self, and after the basic moves are down, simply embelish on them and hone them to a fine skill.
Originally posted by sorridsky

Krav Magna doesnt seem to have hit the UK, the only club I've found is it london.

Where in London exactly? :asian:
Just my 2 cents: I think you should give as much consideration to the instructor as to the art. The person teaching you will be what determines just how realistic or self-defense applicable an art is.

Good luck.

I would look at the schools that are near by first. Watch the classes for a few weeks. You will probably learn more about a school that way unless the instructor alters his routine because your watching. You should be albe to pick out what you like and don't like. You can then let us know what you found and we could give a little better advice.
Raz, I'd also recomend Kenpo, especially American Kenpo. It is meant to be adapted to the individual using it. It is a very practical, street oriented art, known for its' effective self defense techniques.

Of those you listed, the one that offers Jun Gung fu, JKD, grappling, Self Defence, Silat, and Phillipino martial arts (Kali, Esrima) sounds interesting. Those are all good arts, and if you want to get in shape, sparing with sticks is a good way to do it! Just make sure the school and instructors are reputable and know their stuff.

It will also help if you can find someone to work out with you a couple of times a week and share expenses. Having to travel to classes is a hard way to learn. I know, since I travel 2 1/2 hrs one way.

Good luck.
wow, thats a long journey!
I'll give that school a go and hopefully have a peek at all the classes and see what I fancy.
Thankyou all for your help, and I'll let you know in a few weeks, how it turns out :)
thanks again!
agreed. watch some classes and speak with the instructors. do some light exercising to get you ready for your training. explain you situation to the teacher. new students don't go from 0-60 in 3 seconds flats, so you will have time to adjust and get conditioned better. it all takes time. just enjoy it.. the main thing is that you are commited and stick with it.