Resetting - Looking to Start Over with a New Art

drewtoby

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Former Hapkido practitioner here. I am looking to restart my journey after a few years without practicing to continue earning self-defense knowledge and application. I am not looking to compete, but to learn, practice, and spar. Would anyone be willing to provide information on the following arts or general advice?
  • BJJ
  • Aikido
  • Arnis (United Modern)
  • Wing Chun
  • Ninjitsu
  • Karate (Shotokan)
  • Tae Kwon Do (WTF)
  • Bagua
  • Muy Thai
I also plan to cross train (in the future) as time permits, especially if the art is more "specialized" in terms of curriculum. Just part of me is torn between broad and small curriculums.

Thanks in advance!
 

Flying Crane

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What arts are being taught in your area, close enough that you could attend, priced to fit your budget, and with a schedule that fits your life? That is what you should be looking at, and perhaps people here can share their thoughts on what is available to you.

If a system is not taught in your area, or the school is too expensive for you, or they do not offer classes at a time when you can attend, then there isnt much point in discussing the merits of the system on an open-ended theoretical level.
 
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drewtoby

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I am lucky in the sense that all of these are being taught within a 20-30 minute drive of my area. Of course I would need to make sure I click with the teacher as well, but I am looking for advice from more of a starting point.
 

MetalBoar

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So, I trained in Hapkido for several years and Aikido for a few years. Depending on the schools, you might find Aikido to be very similar to Hapkido. Both Aikido and Hapkido share a lot of the same throws and locks (usually, but not always, with some differences in approach) and I've seen some Hapkido schools that looked exactly like some Aikido schools. You are unlikely to get any free sparring with Aikido, unless it's Tomiki Aikido, but there are a variety of drills that perform the same kind of function.

Many Hapkido schools are light on ground work, so if you enjoy that kind of grappling, BJJ could be a good complement to what you already know.

I could make some guesses about the other arts, but my experience is a lot more limited with most of them so I'll leave that to others.
 

Xue Sheng

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One note; Baguazhang is a great MA if it is taught as one. Allegedly was good for defense against multiple attackers way back when. However, IMO, to actually understand it and use Baguazhang as it is meant to be used is very complicated and, at least for me, would have required intense focus. meaning I would have to quit everything else I was training at that time (Xingyiquan and Taijiquan) if I wanted to be any good with it at all
 

HighKick

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I am lucky in the sense that all of these are being taught within a 20-30 minute drive of my area. Of course I would need to make sure I click with the teacher as well, but I am looking for advice from more of a starting point.
That is a Ton of money to try to cross train in a list that long. I also think you would dilute things into a less meaningful and effective result. Try them all. Pick a few that resonate with you. The goal is to become expert in several things, not average or less than in all of them.
 

Taiji Rebel

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What arts are being taught in your area, close enough that you could attend, priced to fit your budget, and with a schedule that fits your life? That is what you should be looking at, and perhaps people here can share their thoughts on what is available to you.

If a system is not taught in your area, or the school is too expensive for you, or they do not offer classes at a time when you can attend, then there isnt much point in discussing the merits of the system on an open-ended theoretical level.
This is important information to consider.

Another thing is not all styles are taught the same. You can attend a number of different schools which teach the same style, but they can vary massively. The quality and focus of the school is based on the competence of the teacher. Some teachers will be perfect for you and your temperament. Others will bug the hell out of you. Visit the school, experience a class or two, have a chat with the students and instructors - you will quickly discover the right match if you do this.
 
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drewtoby

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That is a Ton of money to try to cross train in a list that long. I also think you would dilute things into a less meaningful and effective result. Try them all. Pick a few that resonate with you. The goal is to become expert in several things, not average or less than in all of them.
I should have specified, by cross train I mean in one or two arts for a short time period. Such as taking up Muy Thai for a few months, for example.

@Taiji Rebel - Great points about instructors.

@MetalBoar - I was thinking the same thing about BJJ and Aikido. With Aikido did any of your previous knowledge get in the way of learning? Or did it mainly help you technique wise?

@Xue Sheng - That presents a bit of a dilemma to me, as I am not confident in judging an internal teacher's qualifications. External you can 1) see if the teacher knows their techniques and 2) if the students are able to perform them as well. Could I PM you the Bagua school? The instructor has a YouTube channel.
 

Xue Sheng

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I should have specified, by cross train I mean in one or two arts for a short time period. Such as taking up Muy Thai for a few months, for example.

@Taiji Rebel - Great points about instructors.

@MetalBoar - I was thinking the same thing about BJJ and Aikido. With Aikido did any of your previous knowledge get in the way of learning? Or did it mainly help you technique wise?

@Xue Sheng - That presents a bit of a dilemma to me, as I am not confident in judging an internal teacher's qualifications. External you can 1) see if the teacher knows their techniques and 2) if the students are able to perform them as well. Could I PM you the Bagua school? The instructor has a YouTube channel.

You could, but I am not sure how much help I would be, I have not trained Baguazhang in years
 

Tony Dismukes

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As others have noted, there can be significant differences between schools withing the same system. I'll offer some general info, along with my qualifications to comment on each art.

BJJ (I am a long-time practitioner and instructor):

At any legitimate academy, you will learn highly sophisticated and highly effective methods for ground grappling. You'll get plenty of live sparring/grappling. You'll get a pretty good whole body workout from all the live grappling.

Depending on the school and the instructor, you may or may not get a decent amount of time devoted to supplemental conditioning, takedowns, takedown defense, stand-up clinch work, defending against strikes, using strikes to set up your grappling, street self-defense applications, MMA applications, sport grappling applications, or guidance in distinguishing between applications in those different contexts.

Aikido (I have not trained Aikido, although I've watched a lot of it, trained with some Aikido practitioners in other contexts, and practiced a number of the techniques from Aikido which exist in other arts)

Hapkido is derived from Aikido, so much of what you'll encounter should be familiar to you. I don't think the vast majority of Aikido schools work to develop effective fighting ability in their students. However if you already know how to fight, I think that the art contains a number of useful principles.

Arnis (I haven't trained Modern Arnis specifically, but I have trained various other FMAs off and on over the years and from what I've seen of Modern Arnis it doesn't appear too different)

You will learn plenty of good techniques and principles for using weapons (probably sticks to being with, but possibly knives, swords, and empty hands using the same concepts).

Depending on the school, you may or may not learn the difference between high-percentage applications, low-percentage applications, and developmental drills. You may or may not get in a significant amount of sparring. You may or may not get a significant amount of physical conditioning.

Wing Chun (I have a bit of WC training, but I am not a high level practitioner)

You can learn some cool concepts regarding structure, sensitivity, and control of the centerline. You'll likely spend time practicing a very small number of forms and in doing partner drills.

Depending on the school, you may or may not get any significant amount of sparring or the understanding of how the concepts of the art play out in actual fighting.

Ninjutsu (assuming you mean one of the Takamatsuden arts, I have about a decade of experience in the Bujinkan)

Lots of very cool and legitimate concepts and principles. Unarmed striking, grappling, weapons, and tactical thinking.

Unfortunately, this also comes with a training methodology which doesn't do much for developing actual fighting skills. You'll find a lot of instructors teaching based on theory without an understanding of the difference between high-percentage and low-percentage techniques or of how the concepts of the art will play out in real-world application.

Karate (I'm not a karate practitioner, although I've trained with some karateka over the years)

Kata, Kihon, Sparring, One-steps, Bunkai, Conditioning. My impression is that the ratio of those different elements can vary widely between schools.

TKD (I did a little bit of TKD a long, long time ago)

You'll get really good at kicking and probably get a great workout in the process. If it's a WTF school, it may be more focused on Olympic-style tournament sparring rather than martial application. Otherwise, my comments above regarding Karate apply.

Bagua

I have zero experience with the art and have no advice to offer.

Muay Thai (I've been training off-and-on for a couple of decades, have an instructor's license and a couple of amateur fights under my belt)

Solid striking and clinch work. You'll probably spend a lot of time doing pad work and bag work.

Depending on whether the gym caters to casual hobbyists or to aspiring fighters, there can be a significant difference in the amount of conditioning and sparring and in the quality of instruction.
 

Flying Crane

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I should have specified, by cross train I mean in one or two arts for a short time period. Such as taking up Muy Thai for a few months, for example.
My advice is heavily weighted toward focusing on one method and NOT cross-training as you suggest, definitely not for such a brief period as a few months. In such a brief period you will not gain a real understanding of the method, and when you stop doing it you will quickly lose whatever you were gaining from it.

Better by far to dedicate your efforts on one method. Eventually, when you have solid grounding in that method, ( a few years, I imagine) it begins to make sense to cross-train IF that is what you want to do, but it is not necessary if you do not want to. If you enter into cross-training, approach it with the mindset of dedicating significant time and energy into training the new method. You want to understand the principles and the methodology and really learn the system on a legitimate level, not simply look to collect a few techniques to fill holes in what you are already doing.

Trying to do too many things too quickly will lead to frustration and slow progress and early plateau.
 
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drewtoby

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My advice is heavily weighted toward focusing on one method and NOT cross-training as you suggest, definitely not for such a brief period as a few months. In such a brief period you will not gain a real understanding of the method, and when you stop doing it you will quickly lose whatever you were gaining from it.

Better by far to dedicate your efforts on one method. Eventually, when you have solid grounding in that method, ( a few years, I imagine) it begins to make sense to cross-train IF that is what you want to do, but it is not necessary if you do not want to. If you enter into cross-training, approach it with the mindset of dedicating significant time and energy into training the new method. You want to understand the principles and the methodology and really learn the system on a legitimate level, not simply look to collect a few techniques to fill holes in what you are already doing.

Trying to do too many things too quickly will lead to frustration and slow progress and early plateau.
Amazing advice, thank you!
 
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drewtoby

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As others have noted, there can be significant differences between schools withing the same system. I'll offer some general info, along with my qualifications to comment on each art.

BJJ (I am a long-time practitioner and instructor):

At any legitimate academy, you will learn highly sophisticated and highly effective methods for ground grappling. You'll get plenty of live sparring/grappling. You'll get a pretty good whole body workout from all the live grappling.

Depending on the school and the instructor, you may or may not get a decent amount of time devoted to supplemental conditioning, takedowns, takedown defense, stand-up clinch work, defending against strikes, using strikes to set up your grappling, street self-defense applications, MMA applications, sport grappling applications, or guidance in distinguishing between applications in those different contexts.

Aikido (I have not trained Aikido, although I've watched a lot of it, trained with some Aikido practitioners in other contexts, and practiced a number of the techniques from Aikido which exist in other arts)

Hapkido is derived from Aikido, so much of what you'll encounter should be familiar to you. I don't think the vast majority of Aikido schools work to develop effective fighting ability in their students. However if you already know how to fight, I think that the art contains a number of useful principles.

Arnis (I haven't trained Modern Arnis specifically, but I have trained various other FMAs off and on over the years and from what I've seen of Modern Arnis it doesn't appear too different)

You will learn plenty of good techniques and principles for using weapons (probably sticks to being with, but possibly knives, swords, and empty hands using the same concepts).

Depending on the school, you may or may not learn the difference between high-percentage applications, low-percentage applications, and developmental drills. You may or may not get in a significant amount of sparring. You may or may not get a significant amount of physical conditioning.

Wing Chun (I have a bit of WC training, but I am not a high level practitioner)

You can learn some cool concepts regarding structure, sensitivity, and control of the centerline. You'll likely spend time practicing a very small number of forms and in doing partner drills.

Depending on the school, you may or may not get any significant amount of sparring or the understanding of how the concepts of the art play out in actual fighting.

Ninjutsu (assuming you mean one of the Takamatsuden arts, I have about a decade of experience in the Bujinkan)

Lots of very cool and legitimate concepts and principles. Unarmed striking, grappling, weapons, and tactical thinking.

Unfortunately, this also comes with a training methodology which doesn't do much for developing actual fighting skills. You'll find a lot of instructors teaching based on theory without an understanding of the difference between high-percentage and low-percentage techniques or of how the concepts of the art will play out in real-world application.

Karate (I'm not a karate practitioner, although I've trained with some karateka over the years)

Kata, Kihon, Sparring, One-steps, Bunkai, Conditioning. My impression is that the ratio of those different elements can vary widely between schools.

TKD (I did a little bit of TKD a long, long time ago)

You'll get really good at kicking and probably get a great workout in the process. If it's a WTF school, it may be more focused on Olympic-style tournament sparring rather than martial application. Otherwise, my comments above regarding Karate apply.

Bagua

I have zero experience with the art and have no advice to offer.

Muay Thai (I've been training off-and-on for a couple of decades, have an instructor's license and a couple of amateur fights under my belt)

Solid striking and clinch work. You'll probably spend a lot of time doing pad work and bag work.

Depending on whether the gym caters to casual hobbyists or to aspiring fighters, there can be a significant difference in the amount of conditioning and sparring and in the quality of instruction.
Great breakdown, I just followed up in a PM. Thank you!
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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I'm replying to Tony here, because I agree with what he wrote and to bounce off some of it, but @drewtoby this information is meant to you.
Arnis (I haven't trained Modern Arnis specifically, but I have trained various other FMAs off and on over the years and from what I've seen of Modern Arnis it doesn't appear too different)

You will learn plenty of good techniques and principles for using weapons (probably sticks to being with, but possibly knives, swords, and empty hands using the same concepts).

Depending on the school, you may or may not learn the difference between high-percentage applications, low-percentage applications, and developmental drills. You may or may not get in a significant amount of sparring. You may or may not get a significant amount of physical conditioning.
I don't disagree with anything that you wrote, so I'm going to add in a couple things to your statements here. For determining if the arnis school instructors understand application vs. drills, pay attention to footwork. If you see most students just standing still doing drills, and no emphasis on footwork, application likely isn't being taught in a useful manner. That's because the application relies on angles and movement to work properly, but that seems to be neglected in a lot of FMA schools from my experience.
Karate (I'm not a karate practitioner, although I've trained with some karateka over the years)

Kata, Kihon, Sparring, One-steps, Bunkai, Conditioning. My impression is that the ratio of those different elements can vary widely between schools.
I agree the ratio can vary widely. I think the best option for @drewtoby is to ask upfront about it, and watch a class. Keep in mind (and this is why it's important to ask) that some karate schools will section things out by week. So you may not see much sparring, but that might be because they do sparring one week a month, but that week is purely sparring. Or you may go during sparring week, and think they do a lot more sparring and a lot less of everything else. Of course, some schools have the same method every week-which is why you should ask here.
TKD (I did a little bit of TKD a long, long time ago)

You'll get really good at kicking and probably get a great workout in the process. If it's a WTF school, it may be more focused on Olympic-style tournament sparring rather than martial application. Otherwise, my comments above regarding Karate apply.

Only thing to add here, is that the above for karate likely applies to TKD as well. But also pay attention to the kids vs. adults classes-a lot of TKD schools work as day care more than anything else (this doesn't mean they don't teach good adult classes, just something to watch out for). My advice would be to look at the black belts in class, and see how they look to you.

Also, ask if they're sport focused only, in terms of sparring. They may not offer that information if you don't ask.
 

MetalBoar

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I was thinking the same thing about BJJ and Aikido. With Aikido did any of your previous knowledge get in the way of learning? Or did it mainly help you technique wise?
Yes and no. Overall, the combined experience was very valuable. I started with Aikido for a couple of years, then did about 5 years of Hapkido, and then after that school closed, did a little more Aikido. I think that my Aikido background made the specific Hapkido that I trained in a little more challenging at first, but after I had adapted, I found that the Hapkido opened my eyes to how to apply the Aikido.

The Aikido I have done was based around larger, more flowing techniques, that were really powerful when used appropriately, but the opportunities to use them were fewer than the opportunities to use the much more aggressive, smaller circle Hapkido I learned. I didn't know how to apply them at all until I had trained in Hapkido, but once I figured them out I found them to be a great, somewhat specialized, tool to add to my toolkit.

I think I could have learned how to use the techniques in this fashion from Aikido if either:
  • I had trained in Aikido a lot longer or
  • My various Aikido instructors had been as skilled as my Hapkido instructor (not an art thing, my Hapkido instructor was truly amazing) or
  • If at the time I was training in Aikido I had the experience to implement drills and training methodologies for myself outside of class that were more "alive" or intentional than those used in the Aikido schools I attended. Aikido is often taught as a "peaceful art" and that can limit the mindset and drills utilized in instruction.
Now, this was my experience, with the schools I attended. I've seen Hapkido at other schools that was taught just like Ki Society Aikido (very large, flowing and esoteric) and Aikido schools (Yoshinkan) that were much more like the Hapkido that I studied. So, your experience might be very different depending on what sort of Hapkido you studied and what the local Aikido school is like.
 

Buka

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What I would do in your situation is go to all the schools available and watch several classes, not just one. Enjoy that process like you're going to watch good movies, only watching them from on the set.

Pick the one that you think would be the most fun to you to train in. Just enjoy the process, it should be fun. And please keep us posted.
 

JowGaWolf

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I am not looking to compete, but to learn, practice, and spar. Would anyone be willing to provide information on the following arts or general advice?
  • BJJ
  • Aikido
  • Arnis (United Modern)
  • Wing Chun
  • Ninjitsu
  • Karate (Shotokan)
  • Tae Kwon Do (WTF)
  • Bagua
  • Muy Thai
My recommendation for any of these is to make sure that they spar. BJJ, Arnis, Wing Chun, Karate, and Muy Thai wll have a good amount of sparring.

Akido, Ninjitsu, Tae Kwon Do, and Bagua may be lacking on the sparring so you'll have to see how often those schools spar. I was the applications instructor at the kung fu school that I used to teach at. It took one hour of training dedicated to sparring (closer to 2 hours) a week. Class time was scheduled for 1 hour training sessions, but I know we often went over. But for clarity let's say that a school will need a minimum of 1 hour a week dedicated to sparring and application use. If you aren't getting at least that much, then you'll have aa tough time learning how to apply Bagua and Ninjitsu.

The other key factor is that you need to be able to spend time sparring against people who aren't fighting in the same system that you do. Bagua and Ninjitsu would give you this as many who train in these systems don't use the techniques even when they are sparring. Because of that the learning curve is going to be steep. I'm not sure how the schools are these days but there is a good chance that you may be the only in the class interested in the practical use of Bagua or Ninjitsu and as a result the fighting part may require strong dedication on your part.

In terms of fight application:
Wing Chun, Ninjitsu, Karate, Tae Kwon Do and Bagua need to spend some time sparring outside of their system. This will speed your learning process. I train Jow Ga Kung Fu and I find it easier to apply my techniques against people who don't use Jow Ga Kung Fu. My personal opinion is that System A vs System A was never meant to fight each other. System A development was so that we can fight anyone outside of System A.

A good example is that BJJ has a lot of good things that drown striking systems. Bjj vs Bjj is good, but it's most effective when used against an outside system. I believe the same is true for striking systems. Alot of my Jow Ga close range systems work better against BJJ. I don't think a person will be effective as they could be if they only train System A vs System A. From a self-defense perspective to train your system against other systems just makes sense. If you get into a fight on the streets, the chances that your attacker will train the same thing you train is almost zero. Even with BJJ. A lot of the "Hero" stories are of BJJ vs an outside system and not BJJ vs BJJ.

System A vs System A will put you at a higher risk of knowing what to do against someone who doesn't use System A.

The only issue I have with Tae Kwon Do is that most school teach competitive Tae Kwon Do and almost always neglect punch or any other open hand skill set. You want to avoid schools like that if you are looking into self-defense.

The only one that I would stay away from would be Ninjitsu becasue some of those dudes get caught up in the fantasy. But with that said, if the school does regular sparring, then it should be ok. Good sparring keeps us grounded and protects us from slipping into the fantasy of "If my attacker does this, then I'll do that." type of mentality.
 

JowGaWolf

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Any of the schools that you listed could be effective so long as the training is shaped to be effective. All fighters from all systems go through similar training requirements to be effective.
1. Sparring is essential
2. Sparring outside of your system should be a must.
3. Sparring must be regular and done as "free sparring" meaning that there's very few limitations. Just go for what you know and try to use the techniques that you train within the rule set.

The more popular systems are easier to learn because more people actually use the techniques. The other TMA systems are more difficult because most people take Traditional Martial Arts for health and not necessarily to be able to use the techniques. Some may claim that they know how to use it, but if they don't do #1 - #3 then they probably don't know how to use the techniques that they train.
 

Holmejr

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Im a big FMA fan, so Ill recommend the Arnis school with caveat that they are not all the same. Takes a little longer to get it, but the journey is amazing. The FMAs are deep.
 

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