Please help me decide between these three Martial Arts schools in my area

GuitaristDog87

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Hi everybody, this is my first post. I am an adult male age 35, I would like to learn a martial art(s) while I still can, mostly for self-defense, as well as for health and self-esteem reasons. I made an account on here to seek advice and opinions. In my area, there's a Shotokan Karate dojo within walking distance from me. But there's also a Kyokushin Karate dojo as well as a Tang Soo Do dojo about a 10 minute drive from me. I'm leaning towards the Kyokushin one because from what I read it's most effective for self-defense. In my childhood, I did take a few YMCA Karate classes but that's my only experience. Looking forward to replies and chatting with you all, take care.
 

Martial D

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Well any of the three would be fine for the latter two reasons. But if it's actual skill in fighting you want, Find an MMA club
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Can you post websites of the places? Videos of them sparring? With just the information that you're posting all you'll get is biased posts about people's favorite arts.

If you can't post/find those, the biggest things will be class-time and budget, as if one school is while you're unavailable, or out of your price range you won't end up going at all in a few months, which is worse than spending more time at another school.

If those are the same as well, go to each and see which one has an environment you like. As an example, the shotokan karate place could be filled with people doing just tournament karate, which wouldn't fit with your goals on self-defense, or the kyokushin might be a very "macho" place that tries to tear you down when you start/bully you, which wouldn't fit your self-esteem goals (I chose those two styles as they were the first two you mentioned, not suggesting that will be your experience with either).
 
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GuitaristDog87

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Flying Crane

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Visit each school and watch how the classes are taught. Do this several times. Talk to the students to see what they like or dont like about it. Talk to the instructor to see if you are comfortable working with him/her. Go with the school in which you feel the most comfortable in the environment. At this stage, that is the most important, and is the only real criteria that matters.
 

JowGaWolf

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I would define what qualifies as self defense. Do you want to avoid trouble or know how to fight. These are the same thing. If you want to know how to fight using the techniques you are learning then you need to find a school that spars frequently.
There's no way around that. They don't have to spar hard but they have spar. Sparring is practice for learning how to use techniques that you will depend on in a real fight.

If you just want to feel safe then focus on being good with the basics and learn a lot of non-physical self-defense like how to scan your environment which boils down to becoming more aware of your environment.

I'm not sure MMA is the best choice for self-defense. We see more stories about MMA fighting outside of the ring than any other system. Much of which is the opposite of what you would do with a self defense mindset.

MMA will give you the most sparring time but it may not satisfy your other interest and concerns. When it comes to your health concerns the other martial arts systems will do a better job with satisfying that.

Define what you want then ask the teacher of the school if the can provide that. Some teachers can fight with the techniques others cannot. For fighting finding a teacher who can use what they teach will make your learning experience more enriched. There will be less to figure out.
 

Brian King

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Welcome to the forum GuitaristDog87!
You listed three reasons you wish to take martial arts, that is awesome. Do not be surprised that as you train, your reasons for training will change and evolve as your journey does. As our reasons to train mature with our journey - the original reasons for training become much less important. So I do not think that particular style search is that important. I would not be too worried about this style vs that one. More important than particular style is that the instructor(s) and you connect and that they can reach you and teach you. Then do you like the students. For many, training becomes social, almost family like. You will be spending many many hours with these folks. Make sure they are the type of folks you would benefit from having in your life. Go visit each school close to you and see how the vibe there feels to you. Visit multiple days (Mondays may train differently than Fridays). If possible bring your significant other, not so much to also train (although cool if that happens) but our significant others often have there insane-radar on when ours is muted. Check the level of contact found in the school. There should be contact in my opinion but the level and intensity should be able to be managed and comfortable (or nearly comfortable, being pushed and pulled past comfort is good). Make sure that you are comfortable with the level of contact in each school. Is it ok for you to show up at work with a block eye or broken arm? In the beginning of your journey, the closer the school the better. The closer school is easier to get to and train. Further away and the excuses not to go this or that night multiple in strength.

I am of the opinion that it is better to start training this week rather than to take months and months trying to find the perfect school. It isn't out there. Start training, you will not only gain techniques and methods but you will start to gain and earn perspective. The first school that you train at might last you your remaining years, it might just be the first school of many. It might be a lousy school in hindsight yet even at that you will still gain. At 35 years old you likely have enough common sense to be able to avoid the worse schools and can have decades of good training and experiences ahead of you.

Again, welcome to the forum. I look forward to reading about your journey. Such an exciting point of time of your journey.

Regards
Brian King

 

jks9199

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Lots of ways to choose. All of them are good. All of them are bad. I'm with Brian; rather than hunt forever.. try one out. IF they push huge contracts, try another. You won't know until you try how you like the place.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Shuto Karate Sellersville Delaware Valley's Original Shotokan Club This is the Shotokan dojo close to me

The Tang Soo Do one is "Creekside Martial Arts' on Facebook
So keep in mind, this is purely from a quick glance at each, I have not trained any of them-in fact have not trained any of the styles. Just my thoughts as I was looking at their sites:


Kyokushin: the school seems to be true to what I think of when I hear kyokushin. Seems like they focus very much on attack and hitting hard, not so much on defending yourself. Kind of "Beat the other person to submission" attitude. Doesn't say anything about the attitude of the people there, just know it's a very rough style and you'll likely be doing a lot of conditioning. I say try it out, but if you don't like it, don't rule out martial arts, or even striking martial arts, because of that.

Shotokan: It's tough to tell since they use the same template a lot of dojos seem to use. I don't blame them for that-it's good marketing and a lot easier than learning how to make your own website, but doesn't give much insight as to the school itself. The one thing they do have, is videos in what looks like a video blog: Some videos from the Gallery of the Arts demo (9/15/19) Shuto Karate Sellersville
There are two videos on that, that make me concerned in terms of effective self defense: This one they seem like one person's just attacking and I don't really see the point of training fake bashing someone's head with no resistance, or how it would be impressive for a demo, and this one where it's just way too overly compliant, and very fluid in their compliance. That said, both of those are demos and not really examples of what they actually do, so take my criticisms with a heavy grain of salt. Still worth checking out, just look to see if the upper belts are overly compliant when training with each other (don't be alarmed if they're overly compliant with you-that's expected in a lot of schools since you're basically a baby your first year or so).

Creekside Martial Arts, if they're the one I found that practices tang soo do in Chalfont, PA, closed in August 2020.

That said, give both (open) schools a shot, and see what you like. If you don't like others, I found a bunch of other schools near those two, in lansdale and souderton and other neighboring towns, so there's definitely no shortage of finding one that you like.
 
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GuitaristDog87

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Haha my bad, I didn't pick up on Creekside Martial Arts closing over a year ago. Thank you for the replies everyone, I'll broaden my horizon for more options where I live and keep you posted.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Haha my bad, I didn't pick up on Creekside Martial Arts closing over a year ago. Thank you for the replies everyone, I'll broaden my horizon for more options where I live and keep you posted.
Keep in mind what the other posters said-it's more important that you start. We've had people come on here and spend a year looking for a school everyone approves of/that "perfect fit", meanwhile that was a whole year that they could have been training in something, but ended up doing nothing.
 

JowGaWolf

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We've had people come on here and spend a year looking for a school everyone approves of/that "perfect fit", meanwhile that was a whole year that they could have been training in something, but ended up doing nothing.
A year looking for a school? That's insane. There's only so much a person can tell from the outside without any interaction with a school.
 

Yokozuna514

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Hi everybody, this is my first post. I am an adult male age 35, I would like to learn a martial art(s) while I still can, mostly for self-defense, as well as for health and self-esteem reasons. I made an account on here to seek advice and opinions. In my area, there's a Shotokan Karate dojo within walking distance from me. But there's also a Kyokushin Karate dojo as well as a Tang Soo Do dojo about a 10 minute drive from me. I'm leaning towards the Kyokushin one because from what I read it's most effective for self-defense. In my childhood, I did take a few YMCA Karate classes but that's my only experience. Looking forward to replies and chatting with you all, take care.
Osu, GuitaristDog87. Welcome to the forum. I actually train and teach Kyokushin so I was interested in your post. I went to check out the website and found out that Kyokushin Philly is being led by a young man who may be a Shodan (wasn't quite able to determine from the places I looked) who is very much interested in the Knockdown aspects of Kyokushin. He looks to be in shape so I would echo the comments about conditioning being a top priority in this school. He also seems to have some TKD experience but I think his main focus is on Knockdown for the moment. Kyokushin is a great MA for increasing your fitness level and learning about continuous sparring. It is also a great community where most of the people enjoy meeting and training with each other regardless of the country you come from. I often pack my dogi when I travel and contact a local school so that I don't have to miss any training sessions. Most dojo operators don't mind or even enjoy having guests from time to time.

By all means though, check out all the schools and get a free trial to see if you enjoy the classes, instructors and people training at the dojo. If you plan on spending a lot of time training at a place, you should enjoy all the aspects that come with it. Good luck and keep us posted on what you decide to do.
 

Unkogami

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....

MMA will give you the most sparring time but it may not satisfy your other interest and concerns. When it comes to your health concerns the other martial arts systems will do a better job with satisfying that.
.....
What makes you say that?
 

JowGaWolf

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What makes you say that?
Because if he's interested in forms and weapons then MMA is not going to satisfy that. If he's interested in earning a belt rank then MMA isn't going to satisfy that. There may be things that he likes about TMA that don't exist in MMA. I can only assume this because he didn't originally ask about MMA gyms.

A lot of TMA schools are health focused, both mentally and physically. Some almost focus on it too much and as a result students rarely get the physical conditioning that's needed to do to many of the techniques that are taught.. I hear one guy talk about how happy he was that his daughter was training at a school that didn't do tough exercises. That school sold him on the idea that jumping, running, and moving around was bad on the knees for a 6 year old girl.
 

Steve

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Well, to the OP's questions, lots of good advice. If you're really interested in Karate, go for it. If you're looking for self defense, maybe worth being open to other alternatives as well.

If you just want to feel safe then focus on being good with the basics and learn a lot of non-physical self-defense like how to scan your environment which boils down to becoming more aware of your environment.
Really, if you want to simply feel safe, go with a system that feeds your preconceived notions of what martial arts should be. A ninja self defense expert with a good sales pitch can be excellent for folks who simply want to "feel safe". Feeling safe need not be related to reality in any way. It's purely emotional.

I'm not sure MMA is the best choice for self-defense. We see more stories about MMA fighting outside of the ring than any other system. Much of which is the opposite of what you would do with a self defense mindset.
I really wish this data were actually available. It would be very helpful if we could tell when folks get their butts kicked whether they had martial arts training. Alas, we don't. What you're reacting to, though, is that folks who train in MMA are often obviously trained fighters. Like boxers, you can tell they've had some training. When some other styles fight, their inexperience makes it difficult to tell that they have any training at all.

But man, would it be great if law enforcement routinely captured this information. We would get some real data on how effective various styles are for self defense, and perhaps put this debate to bed.

MMA will give you the most sparring time but it may not satisfy your other interest and concerns. When it comes to your health concerns the other martial arts systems will do a better job with satisfying that.
This is an odd comment. Are you talking spiritual health? Like chi stuff? You would be hard pressed to find more physically healthy people than the typical person at an MMA school.

Define what you want then ask the teacher of the school if the can provide that. Some teachers can fight with the techniques others cannot. For fighting finding a teacher who can use what they teach will make your learning experience more enriched. There will be less to figure out.
Agreed. A qualified teacher seems like the bare minimum, but we might be surprised.
 

Steve

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Because if he's interested in forms and weapons then MMA is not going to satisfy that. If he's interested in earning a belt rank then MMA isn't going to satisfy that. There may be things that he likes about TMA that don't exist in MMA. I can only assume this because he didn't originally ask about MMA gyms.

A lot of TMA schools are health focused, both mentally and physically. Some almost focus on it too much and as a result students rarely get the physical conditioning that's needed to do to many of the techniques that are taught.. I hear one guy talk about how happy he was that his daughter was training at a school that didn't do tough exercises. That school sold him on the idea that jumping, running, and moving around was bad on the knees for a 6 year old girl.
Not wanting to train MMA is one thing. Nothing wrong with having a personal preference. If you want to train weapons, find an escrima school.

But what you're saying above about mental and physical health makes zero sense.
 

Unkogami

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Because if he's interested in forms and weapons then MMA is not going to satisfy that. If he's interested in earning a belt rank then MMA isn't going to satisfy that. There may be things that he likes about TMA that don't exist in MMA. I can only assume this because he didn't originally ask about MMA gyms.

A lot of TMA schools are health focused, both mentally and physically. Some almost focus on it too much and as a result students rarely get the physical conditioning that's needed to do to many of the techniques that are taught.. I hear one guy talk about how happy he was that his daughter was training at a school that didn't do tough exercises. That school sold him on the idea that jumping, running, and moving around was bad on the knees for a 6 year old girl.
You specifically mentioned health. I dare say MMA training would get him more fit than most TMA.
 

JowGaWolf

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Feeling safe need not be related to reality in any way. It's purely emotional.
That's true.

I really wish this data were actually available. It would be very helpful if we could tell when folks get their butts kicked whether they had martial arts training. Alas, we don't. What you're reacting to, though, is that folks who train in MMA are often obviously trained fighters. Like boxers, you can tell they've had some training. When some other styles fight, their inexperience makes it difficult to tell that they have any training at all.
Most TMA schools that I know of that focus (with exceptions) are more likely to work on deescalation method than punching someone in the face. One of the things we hear in TMA schools is "we only teach for defense." One of the drills that's common is that that one student punches me and I must react. I cannot do anything until the student punches. The martial arts is almost taught from the perspective some "Someone must attack me first before I can fight back."

We can pull up tons of TMA videos that start off with "When A does this, then I react and do that." I understand why they say this to children but I think they take it too far sometimes and as a result it makes it difficult to fight offensively with Martial Arts. Some even make kids take pledges that they will only use martial arts to defend themselves..

But man, would it be great if law enforcement routinely captured this information. We would get some real data on how effective various styles are for self defense, and perhaps put this debate to bed.
If people are being programmed to only used Martial Arts for self-defense, then they are less likely to get into fights. The are also more likely to use other methods to deal with violent conflict. That whole concept of winning a fight without fighting, runs deep in some schools.

This is an odd comment. Are you talking spiritual health? Like chi stuff? You would be hard pressed to find more physically healthy people than the typical person at an MMA school.
Yep. spiritual health, chi, (qui), weapons, lion dance, forms (kata), forms competition, point sparring, weapons sparring, lessons on internal vs external, soft vs hard. Traditional training methods.. For the physical part you can't beat age or the problems that come with it. As much as we like to bang things out we can't always do that. There will come a time when our training will change, unless you talking about the non-fighting parts of MMA. I just don't see 80 large group of 80 year old dudes in the MMA ring. But I can find a large number of 80 year old people practicing there TMA system staying active and being healthy. I don't see the TMA people getting in to the ring either. At some point of the time, it becomes necessary to stop banging the body out like young people do.

If I want to be as fit as possible then I have to do it in a way that my body isn't sustaining unhealthy damage. Randy Couture talks about the similar things @9:27 He mentions about how his body holding up allowed him to stay as active as he has been able to do. I think a few months after this, interview he had a heart attack..
 
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