"So you're new to the Martial Arts?
Choosing the Right Style"

An introduction to various martial arts styles

Thought about what kind of Martial Art would be right for you?

Any ideas?

No!

Well, you know, they're not all the same.

There's Karate, Kung Fu, Kempo, Aikido, Kendo, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Jujitsu and Jeet Kune Do to name just a few.

Let's say for example you pick Karate as your chosen Martial Art. Now you have literally hundreds of different styles to choose from. How does one make the right choice?

You meditate and you want to study a Martial Art that blends perfectly with your spiritual practice. Aikido and certain Japanese styles of Karate have a great deal of philosophy and spiritual history connected with them. This may be great for some people, but for others it may be overkill.

There are other things to consider such as your height, weight, body type, strengths, overall conditioning, and just a personal connection and love for a particular style of Martial Arts.

Most people usually find their way into Martial Arts school in one of four ways: First, through a friend's recommendation; Secondly by some sort of advertisement such as a flier, poster; Thirdly because they saw a Martial Arts demonstration and Fourth because it was low cost and close to home. Now these may seem like good deciding factors, but lets look again at them more closely.

First of all, your friend who recommended the Martial Arts school to you may have little or in some cases no knowledge about Martial Arts in general. They may have only trained for a few months, or a friend of theirs may have recommended it to them. So be careful.

Second, advertisement is great - it is an intricate part of a Martial Arts school's success but in some cases these ads are very misleading or just out and out lies. Some things to watch out for so you don't make the wrong choice: if in the ad or poster it makes remarks like "The best school in town," or the instructor claims to be a very high ranking black belt in more than one style of Martial Arts, watch out! It takes a lifetime of study and practice to achieve these ranks legitimately. If they claim to be a seventh dan in one style and and eighth Dan in another be suspicious. Claims of more than three high ranking black belt degrees is almost impossible. In recent years there has been much confusion over the high ranks held by many young Americans. Numerous individuals in their early 20s and 30s have appeared billing themselves as "Grand Masters" with ranks from sixth to tenth Dan This phenomenon is unique to the western world as the claims, for instance, in Japan would be considered preposterous.

For example the minimum age requirement set by the Federation of All-Japan Karate-Do Organizations in 1971 consists of all the major Karate systems and organizations in Japan, and the grading that each uses follows these criteria: 6'th Dan minimum age requirement - 35, 7th Dan minimum age requirement - 42, 8th Dan minimum age requirement - 50, 9th Dan minimum age requirement - 60 and 10th Dan minimum age requirement - 70.

The titles of 8th, 9th and 10th Dan are awarded for great achievement and are not automatically bestowed.

I should also mention that black belt ranks held by young people under the age of 16 does occur but it is rare if valid. Many kids with four or five years of training can achieve all the technical and physical requirements and be as good or better than most adults with a black belt rank. But Martial Arts is 90% mental and 10% physical. You have to ask yourself this question: "If you were to join a school, pay good money, would you want to take a class from a 10 year old?" Some schools wait till 18 before promoting to black belt.

Third, demonstrations today in most cases are very flashy and are usually done for entertainment purposes. They can inspire you and give you the necessary enthusiasm to begin your study. But they can also be very misleading. Demonstrations where large quantities of boards, bricks and ice are broken, and exhibitions of pulling trucks with your teeth are done have little or nothing to do with true Martial Arts.

Anyone with two weeks of proper training can break a board or brick with knowing absolutely nothing about fighting or martial arts. Fourth and last, cost and convenience should not be a deciding factor if at all possible. You may move or you may get a better paying job.

Now at this point you're probably wondering, "How do I choose the right Martial Art for me and find a quality school in which to practice."

The first thing you should know is that all Martial Arts have their special area of expertise and you should also know that you have special skills and strengths and it is a good idea before looking into deciding on a school to find out which Martial Art you may have a natural talent for. For instance, if you are drawn to all those fancy and high spinning kicks that you see in most movies and you happen to be 6'3" and very athletic, you may want to look into studying a Korean Martial Art such as Tae Kwan Do. Tae Kwan Do specializes in this particular aspect of study and with your long legs it will be easy for you to kick someone in the head and you will also be able to touch them with your foot from a farther distance making it very hard for them to attack you at all.

You should also realize that different Martial Arts are effective at different ranges of distance. For instance if your opponent is across the room from you the best Martial Art for you to use would be some form of Japanese Archery. If they were closer, you would then use Kendo which employs the use of a sword. If they were even closer, you would get them with your Tae Kwan Do kicks and even closer, you would employ Chinese/Japanese and Okinawan styles of Karate and Kung Fu. And even closer, Jujitsu, Judo and Wrestling would be your chosen Martial Art.

I would now like to now give you a few other examples so that you can get some sort of idea of which Martial Art might be right for you.

If you are the short stocky type with a very strong outgoing personality, you might do well studying some styles of Japanese Karate which emphasize low stances and powerful hip movements.

And if you are someone of slender build with a quite shy demeanor with very graceful body language you might do quite well studying some styles of Chinese Kung Fu which in turn emphasize flowing circular movements with a great deal of soft internal understandings.

If you are older than most you probably wouldn't want to study kick boxing but some type of Tai Chi which is designed for overall health and better energy flow might do you well.

Ian

 

 

 

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