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What Is the Best Type of Martial Arts?

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The reality is that there is no best type of martial arts. Rather, each type or style possesses its own unique strengths and weaknesses. It’s really about the style that suits what you’re looking to do and learn, rather than a global best kind.

That said, there are some things to consider when looking for the best fit of martial arts for you.

Physical Condition: Some martial arts types, such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA, require a high level of physical fitness. Further, it’s recommended that you actually come into the gym or school in reasonable shape or risk some very hard early days. Along with this, if it’s just that you’re out of shape, no problem. All you’ll need is the drive to get yourself back in excellent physical condition before getting involved in such a program. Work that cardio and core, if you will.

On the other hand, if age or injuries are a significant factor, you may want to stay away from high contact schools or those that have very high intensity workouts. Further, depending on where your particular injuries are and how they flare up, you may want to give the next consideration some thought.

Striking, Grappling, or Both: Do you want to fight standing up via the use of punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and more? Then consider the striking arts of kickboxing, or kung fu, karate, and Tae Kwon Do, for example. Do you want to grapple? Then get involved in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, wrestling, or judo (although judo is a throwing style, there are many schools that also go heavily into ground fighting as well).

Then again, perhaps you want to do both, in which case an MMA gym or school that teaches multiple styles may be right for you. Remember to think about your physical condition, as was noted previously, when deciding on the kind of martial arts to partake in. For example, if you have a recurring neck injury then Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, an art where people are continually trying to choke you from various positions, may not be for you.

Schedule and Distance: Just remember that before joining a martial arts school, distance and the schedule matters. If the schedule doesn’t work for you, it will eventually wear on you. In addition, if the school is too far away then that’s not exactly going to make it easy to keep going either.

Set yourself up for success.

Self-Defense Martial Arts Arguments: Simply put, this is something that you should know when talking with instructors and looking at schools, as it’s sure to come up. Are you looking to learn a martial arts style that claims it will teach you self-defense? Then you’re in luck.

Pretty much all martial arts styles claim to do just that. However, be aware that there are those in the martial arts community that believe sport martial arts do not really teach real-world self-defense skills, as sports are designed to allow practitioners to continue fighting, whereas real world self defense requires that practitioners end a fight quickly. After all, if sport martial arts allowed killing moves then there would be fewer athletes around after tournaments, no?

On the flip side, some sports martial artists believe styles that do not allow sparring at full go or near full go do not prepare martial artists to truly test themselves in real life situations. In other words, if you only practice moves partially either by stopping short, etc., then they’re likely to not work in real life. Such is the case with some traditional styles and schools. These people also point to mixed martial arts tournaments like the UFC, where many of the traditional martial arts styles did poorly early on.

Then again, some of their finishing moves were illegal at the time.

Of course, there is more to the argument than the aforementioned and this article is hardly about taking sides. But just be aware that you may hear some of these ideologies being thrown around in your search for the best martial arts type for you. Thus, it's something to consider.

Sport Martial Arts: Some people are looking to engage in martial arts as a sport. Along with this, many styles of martial arts have a sport associated with them. For example, judo was actually invented by Dr. Jigori Kano in order to be just that—a sport. Further, there are numerous Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, karate, kung fu, and Tae Kwon Do tournaments available for would-be practitioners.

However, not all sport martial arts are considered equal in terms of the contact involved. Kickboxing, for example, will likely involve a significant amount of stand up sparring and contact. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will involve little to none of that, but will certainly test your grappling skills at a full go pace. On the other hand, there are several karate schools out there where there is almost no full contact sparring going on. Included are tournaments that involve only mild contact.

These are some of the considerations for would-be sport martial artists.

In the end, there is a best martial arts type out there for you; it just needs to be found. Good luck in your search. On the next page are some of the more well-known styles for you to choose from.

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