Which Art Is Best For You?

Bill Mattocks

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It doesn't really matter. A better question might be, are you ready to train in ANY martial art?

We get lots of questions about 'which would be the right art for me'? And many of our members will oblige if a new member asks about which art might be best for a person who has certain physical characteristics. Tall, short, young, old, heavy, thin, flexible, stiff-as-a-board, healthy, injured, with and without various infirmities, etc.

Sure, perhaps a certain build might favor a certain art. Or not. You never know.

What I think is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than your physical characteristics are the ones between your ears. That is to say, your ability to do the following:

1) Think realistically about what it is you hope to get out of martial arts training. All answers are valid, including health, weight loss, self-defense, self-respect, strength, sport, etc. But make a list of why YOU want to start martial arts training.

2) Find local training facilities. If you decide that your particular body type and temperament best suit you to learning Outer Mongolian Bluto-Style Yak Wrestling, and you live in Ohio, you might have a problem finding a place to train. So make a list of what's around you. Google Maps is your friend.

3) Do your due diligence on instructors, training facilities, and styles. That means asking around, looking for online reviews, checking credentials to the extend you can, etc. MT is a good reference for that in many cases, although all of us don't know all the styles or instructors or lineages, etc. You'd be surprised how many do, however.

4) From your 'short list', go visit. This is where I feel many prospective students fail. They can't get off their half-moons and go look for themselves. I'm sorry, if you can't get off the couch, you're not going to train, so you're wasting your time as well as ours. Go rent a Kung Fu movie and enjoy it. Not everyone is suited to train.

5) When you visit, try to imagine yourself on the floor and doing what you see the students doing. Take a notebook, ask questions, write down the answers. Consider the days and times the training is offered and how that fits into your schedule. Consider the costs and possible contracts. Consider the instruction style and how you feel you'd respond to it as a student.

Now, having done that, start asking yourself some questions and try to be honest with yourself.

Are you willing to train? Long term? Day after day, month after month, year after year? Good weather when you'd rather be out having fun with the guys, bad weather when it sucks to have to scrape the snow off your car and dodge potholes and your car is sliding all over the road? When it's hot as blue blazes and the training facility has no air conditioning?

Are you willing to put up with the occasional injury? Broken toes, a bruised rib, jammed fingers, maybe a black eye from time to time?

Are you willing to be patient? Real martial arts training has one and only one secret - you have to keep doing it for a long time to get results. If you have no patience, you're not going to succeed.

Are you willing to hit and be hit? To bend joints and trip and throw and kick people? To physically lay hands on another person and try to impose your will on them physically, to permit them to do it on you? To sweat on other people, to have them sweat on you? To intentionally inflict pain (in a managed environment, for the benefit of all concerned of course) and to have pain inflicted on you for the same purpose?

Can you be humble? That means dumping all your preconceived notions at the door and opening yourself up to what your instructor has to offer you. That means "I can't do that" becomes "I will do my best to do that." It means you are not the boss when you're in the training facility; you are under the control of another human being for the purposes of training. You may be instructed by someone younger than you, someone who has a 'day job' that you would consider part of a lower social or economic strata. You may be training with people of different genders, ethnic backgrounds, religions, skin colors. They may be telling you want to do; can you deal with that? No judgment; just asking if you can leave your prejudices, your preconceived notions, your politics, your likes and dislikes, at the front door when you come in.

If you find a training facility that works for you, you may find it's the best thing that's ever happened to you. The friends you make are often life-long. They are people you might never have met if not for martial arts training. You will share a bond that transcends your job, your IQ, your income level, your family and your usual 'clique' of party pals. You will laugh and cry with them. You'll hurt together and feel triumph together. They will be as tight as any family can be, and they'll have your back forever, just as you'll have theirs.

Martial arts? Yeah, that will happen. Over time. What style? Who cares? It doesn't really matter, friend. If it's legitimate training, you will find that there are things you can do and things you can't do. Any style. Your body type is a lot less important, in my opinion, than the attitude you bring with you. Your dedication to training is a better tool than any natural athletic ability, your patience is better than any natural power-punching. Given time, you will arrive at a state that others will regard as 'highly talented'. Not through your amazing physical prowess, most times. It will be because you didn't a) started training and b) didn't quit.

So stop worrying about where to training or what to study. Find a place and start training. Don't quit. You'll do fine.
 

JowGaWolf

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1) Think realistically about what it is you hope to get out of martial arts training. All answers are valid, including health, weight loss, self-defense, self-respect, strength, sport, etc. But make a list of why YOU want to start martial arts training.
This is my number one as well. The person has to know what they want to get out of the martial art. A good fighting school will be horrible for anyone looking to do tricking and extreme martial arts routines. A BJJ school is a bad choice for anyone looking to learn spear or broadsword. Knowing what I want out of martial arts will make it easier to get recommendations from others and will make the over all challenge of picking a school easier.
 

JR 137

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My response to a the question is choose a dojo, not an art. Website can be very misleading, in a good way and a bad way. I know a lot of great teachers who are great teachers and horrible marketers. My former teacher is a great teacher. His website and Facebook page suck. Based on those alone, I'd never step foot into his dojo. Or my current dojo.

Go in and see what's going on. Does what they're doing interest you? Is it something you can see yourself doing long term? Does the teacher(s) teach in a way you can relate to? Are the student demographics/ages in line with who you want to train with? What is the overall atmosphere of the dojo? How long has it been around, and are the students sticking around?

There's so much variation between teachers, even within the same organization. A great teacher is a great teacher, just as a bad teacher is a bad teacher. That has very little to do with the art itself. But not matter how great a teacher is, if your learning style isn't in line with their teaching style, you're not going to get the most out of it.

Make a list of the dojos in your area. Eliminate the ones you can't afford. Eliminate the ones whose schedules aren't in line with yours. Visit the rest. You'll know the right dojo for you. Visit many dojos and don't jump at the first one that impresses you. And don't get sucked into the having to join right then and there to get a better rate.
 
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Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

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My response to a the question is choose a dojo, not an art.

Go in and see what's going on. Does what they're doing interest you? Is it something you can see yourself doing long term? Does the teacher(s) teach in a way you can relate to? Are the student demographics/ages in line with who you want to train with? What is the overall atmosphere of the dojo? How long has it been around, and are the students sticking around?

There's so much variation between teachers, even within the same organization. A great teacher is a great teacher, just as a bad teacher is a bad teacher. That has very little to do with the art itself. But not matter how great a teacher is, if your learning style isn't in line with their teaching style, you're not going to get the most out of it.

Make a list of the dojos in your area. Eliminate the ones you can't afford. Eliminate the ones whose schedules aren't in line with yours. Visit the rest. You'll know the right dojo for you. Visit many dojos and don't jump at the first one that impresses you. And don't get sucked into the having to join right then and there to get a better rate.

Excellent advice!
 

JR 137

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To further my previous post...

I have no interest in BJJ. But if I lived in Lexington, KY I'd check out Tony Desmukes's dojo. If how he is here is how he is in "real life," I'd gladly train there. He carries himself in a way I want a teacher to. Every time he's explained something, it's been very easy for me to understand, even on a forum, and it seems practical and realistic.

Finding all that will keep you there. The style will get you to walk in the door.
 
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