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4) Which Martial Art should I study?


This article is from the Martial Arts FAQ, by Matthew Weigel faq@idempot.net with numerous contributions by others.

4) Which Martial Art should I study?

That's a question that only you can answer, maybe with a little help
of your physician (in determining whether you should practice martial
arts at all).

While some people advocate that "my style fits any individual", it is
very debatable if any single individual would adapt to *any* style.

It depends heavily on your objectives, but remember, these may change
with time. Many people who begin martial arts training strictly to
learn self-defense become quite interested in other aspects as their
training progresses.

(a) What are you looking for?

For instance, if you are looking for "on the street" self-defense
training Taiji or Kendo might not be your first choice.
Some choices: Jujutsu, Hapkido, some Gongfus, Karate, Ken(m)po,
Baguazhang, Tang Soo Do, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do,
Ninjutsu, Kali/Escrima/Arnis, Silat, or Xingyiquan.

If you are looking for meditation and philosophy Western Boxing is
probably a poor choice as well.
Some choices: most Gongfus, Aikido, Taiji, Kendo, Kenjutsu,
or Iaido.

If you are looking for a sport and competition, Shaolin Long Fist
would probably be a bad choice.
Some choices: Fencing, some Karates/Gongfus, Judo, Boxing, Kendo,
Tae Kwon Do, Savate, or Shuaijiao.

If you are looking for intense body conditioning and muscle
development, Aikido is probably not the style for you.
Some choices: some Okinawan Karates, Judo, some Gongfus, Muay Thai,
Tae Kwon Do, Capoeira.

Now these are general guides - in truth any art can be taught in a
manner which promotes any of these things - Taiji masters have
competed, some Aikido schools have rigorous workouts associated with
the class, etc. The way to find out is to look at three things, only
one of which is directly linked to the style.

- -The basics of the style (what does it teach, what is it used for)
- -The skill and the teaching style of the teacher
- -The purpose and the logistics of the school.

See Section (5) "How do I choose a school" for the answers to the last
two questions.

Also remember that more "complete" arts (ones with more techniques)
naturally require longer periods of time for a practitioner to achieve
a given level of proficiency. This is neither good nor bad; there are
good points on both sides of the debate. This is simply another facet
to account for in your decision.

(b) Advice of many experienced Martial Artists here on NetLand
coincide in the point of "go, read, look around, ask---then

As above the teacher and the school have as much to do with what you
will learn as the style. Check out the styles in your area. Go see
some classes of the different styles and see what interests you and
what you think you would stick with.

(c) Many people change from one style to another. While this is a
common practice, accepted as a means of development, it is known that
the first style is normally the one that leaves the base, the more
profound "marks". Try to choose a style that suits your needs and at
the same time offers you a kind of "challenge" to go on learning.


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