There are many different reasons why people take up a martial art. Self-defense is an obvious one, but students are also attracted by the opportunity to get fit, meet new people and experience different cultures. Joining a martial arts club can also give you the opportunity to learn more about yourself and push past your limitations.
Once the decision is made to take up a martial art, the choice between different types and styles can be a confusing one. There are so-called ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ styles, and internal and external arts. Some people prefer traditional arts such as Karate, but newer ones like Choi Kwang Do can also appeal. The following points will help you to make a decision about the best martial art for you.
1) What’s your goal?
Obtaining a black belt is the goal for many people taking up a martial art. Around one in three hundred who start the journey will complete it. A black belt represents years of dedication, commitment and self-discipline, and it’s something you can wear with pride.
Achieving black belt status doesn’t appeal to everyone. Your goal may simply be to improve fitness and lose weight initially. The physical aspects of training and the need to attend regular classes mean martial arts are highly effective for shedding fat and improving cardiovascular fitness. Learning practical self-defense techniques is another common reason for joining a martial arts club.
2) Know your limits.
If you’re already very fit and have no injuries, an art like Karate could be right for you. For seniors and those with injuries or medical conditions, a gentler form of self-defense such as Tai Chi may be a better option. You should also consider how much time you can commit to classes when choosing a martial art. Know your limits and don’t overstretch yourself.
3) Does the teaching style suit you?
Going along to watch some classes will give you a feel for the teaching style of a martial arts instructor. Some are run like military bootcamps. Others focus more on breathing, stretching and the technical aspects of self-defense. You should be made to feel welcome and have the opportunity to ask questions when you visit a club. Enquire about the need to represent the club in competitions, and whether classes involve full-contact sparring.
4) What are the costs?
Some clubs charge a fixed monthly fee for martial arts classes, whereas others charge for each lesson you attend. If you can only commit to training once a week, a monthly fee will work out costly. There are also fees for clothing and equipment to consider.
5) What are the instructor’s qualifications?
An instructor should have proven experience and ability in his art. If your goal is to study to black belt level, you need to be sure an instructor can lead you there. Don’t be shy about asking a potential instructor about his background and experience. A genuine one will be proud to share his story and show evidence of achievements. Some first aid training is also a good sign of a competent martial arts instructor.
Joining a martial arts club can take your life in a whole new direction. You’ll meet people from all walks of life, and learn about your physical and mental resilience. Take some time to visit local clubs and consider the best art for you before you sign up to classes.