WHICH MARTIAL ART SHOULD YOU LEARN?
By Josh Greenwood
So, you’re interested in martial arts but you don’t know where to even begin; to differentiate between the various martial arts on offer out there and pick the one that’s right for you? Which martial art should you learn?
I spent 9 years studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with various organizations around the world when I was in the US Marine Core (USMC) and I am currently working as a Krav Maga instructor in New York – so I get asked this question quite a lot. There are a few things you need to begin with and ask yourself before attempting to answer that question.
Why do I want to learn a martial art? This is probably one of the most important questions you have to ask yourself. Is it for self-defense? Maybe, improving your fitness? Competing in a sport? Building confidence? Or just getting off the couch and meeting new people and making new friends!?
Different martial arts have different strengths. For exampl,e Jiu Jitsu focuses on grappling, submissions and joint manipulation and was created in Japan. This offensive grappling style was adopted by Brazilians and developed into a devastating style of martial art (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ)) that has been widely adopted by MMA fighters in the UFC to round out their opponents on the ground.
Muay Thai, also known as the “Art of Eight Limbs”, is a competitive sport that teaches striking techniques that focuses on the use of kicks, fists, elbows, and knees. The clinch is widely used in Muy Thai and BJJ that controls an opponent for a barrage of knees but also hinders the peripheral view of the attacker.
Karate is one of the oldest martial arts and is still in use today. There are many forms of karate dating back to different Senseis, regions and schools of Japan. Many forms of Karate still rely on the “kata” to aid in teaching Karate. A kata is a formalized sequence of movements that represent various offensive and defensive postures.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is the new “shiny” toy of the martial arts world. MMA came into existence when the UFC held its first eight man tournament in 1993. Competitors quickly realized that the most successful competitors successfully blended strong striking skills with a solid grappling base. It is a remarkable competitive and athletic spectacle to watch.
I’ve had the good fortune to train in many different forms of martial arts and even in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program in the USMC but the most practical system I have ever seen is definitely Krav Maga. Krav Maga is not strictly speaking a martial art, it is a complete self defense and combat and fighting system. It is not competitive; it is practical, simple and easy to learn. In fact, you are unlikely to get this kind of modern and realistic training in any martial art because it has developed in some of the most dangerous places in the world for the toughest streets and people were required to pick it up quickly in the IDF.
There’s a very good reason why Krav Maga is not a sport and isn’t featured in the UFC. You can compete is almost every other martial art but the Krav Maga system treats every technique and drill as if your life is at stake. The basics are so natural that even young children and your grandparents can do them. You train to defend yourself (including developing the fitness and strength you need to survive attacks) from every kind of attack, whether it is bare hands, guns, sticks, knives or a machine gun, you’ll be ready.
There is no wrong choice. There is only the right choice for you. Doing something is better than nothing!