Let’s assume you have firmly decided to become a martial artist and enjoy many of its benefits. Before moving on, we must say you have made a very smart decision. Any combat style with a long history can help you grow into a person with good manners and exceptional fighting skills.
Also, many studies have shown various martial arts can help a person deal with many physical and mental illnesses. Whether you want to join the classes for recreational purposes or seeking a professional career, you are on the right track.
Regardless of the style you choose, the requirements for becoming proficient in any martial arts are the same. They all need a lot of dedication, commitment, and sacrifice. In the beginnings, every art will put your body and mind through huge stresses. For some, this represents a point in which you either leave the mats without coming back or stay with it until the rest of your life. Remember, this is just a test you must pass and we’ve all been there.
Before you officially step on the mats, there is one more thing left: which martial art should you choose? Out of hundreds of styles out there, picking the right one is not an easy task. Although you’re the one who decides, we are here to help you make the right pick. Firstly, let’s take a look at some of the types of martial arts.
Different types to choose between
First thing first, regardless of the style and its emphasis, the doors of any gym are open for any person. Remember, martial art doesn’t recognize any age or social differences.
First, you can choose between traditional martial arts such as Taekwondo and Karate, or go the other way and join MMA or Muay Thai. Also, popular martial arts are divided by their emphasis. For example, if you are a fan of the grappling and ground fighting exchanges, you should look for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu or a Judo gym. Yet, if standup fighting is your cup of tea, then Muay Thai, Boxing or Karate will certainly meet your needs.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the most popular martial arts below, and hopefully help you make the right choice.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
It’s fair to say that MMA is the fastest rising and evolving sport in the world. The secret behind its success is very simple. MMA welcomes the fighters from all fighting backgrounds and allows them to fight in the cage. But, through the years, four combat styles have emerged as MMA fundamentals: boxing, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling.
Every MMA fighter is an expert in a single martial art, and this represents their base. So, they are transforming from their original style to a more rounded style by learning and adding other techniques. Yet, there is no such thing as a perfect fighter in MMA. No matter how well-rounded you are, you‘ll always face fighters with diverse styles.
MMA training sessions are very dynamic and could never become boring. As said above, you will practice four main arts during the week. So, on Monday you will roll on the mats practicing jiu-jitsu or wrestling. On Tuesday, you will learn Muay Thai or boxing standup techniques and hitting the pads. This way, everyone can find their cup of tea and enjoy continuously shifting between the styles.
That said, MMA is a type of style that will prepare you for anything both on the streets and inside the cage. But, everything comes at a certain price. The sport requires a great amount of time which will force you to sacrifice many other things in life. Also, MMA training sessions are very hard, and the injuries are a common thing.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
Developed on the Judo base in the 1920s, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the best self-defensive styles in the world. Jiu-jitsu is much popular than similar arts like judo because of its successes in MMA. Although it may look confusing at first, BJJ is a pure chess match on the ground!
BJJ fighters use various Judo and wrestling moves to advance the fight to the ground. Once there, they employ finishing moves like joint locks and chokeholds to submit the rival. The whole logic behind BJJ is that it allows a smaller person to defeat a much bigger opponent. This is because its emphasis is on using the technique rather than sheer power.
Training sessions consist of grappling and rolling sessions. But first, you will focus on learning how to advance to the ground and secure a certain position. Remember, BJJ is all about positions before the submissions. You can’t execute submissions without the position like half-guard or side control. In order to master BJJ, you have to repeat the moves million times and spend years on the mats.
Thus, if you’re planning on moving on and becoming an MMA fighter, jiu-jitsu is a perfect choice! As said above, it is the main aspect of MMA and a primary tool of every fighter. Some of the most popular BJJ practitioners who have shifted their skills well in MMA are Nate Diaz, Demian Maia, and Brian Ortega.
If you are eager to learn more about jiu-jitsu, be sure to check out our ultimate Brazilian jiu-jitsu guide for beginners!
Taekwondo is the Korean martial art developed in the 1940s. It is largely recognized for its emphasis on kicking techniques. But it also includes punches and some forms of throws. It is one of the most popular styles, and it has been a part of the Olympics since 2000.
Taekwondo training sessions are a bit more traditional which makes them very interesting. Of course, you will spend a lot of time learning the kicks. But, the technique also focuses on relaxation methods. You will learn how to stay calm in stressful situations both on the mats and in life.
We’ve to point out that the sessions are hard and need great conditioning and flexibility. To get in shape, students do intensive aerobic and anaerobic workouts. Also, stretching and performing yoga exercises before and after the session is a must.
It’s crucial to know that training sessions are differing between various styles of Taekwondo. Some include more sparring while others don’t. Also, some forms are oriented more towards the children.
Like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Taekwondo is also a great base for MMA. In its short history, we have seen many taekwondo fighters scoring spectacular knockouts. Some of the most famous MMA practitioners are Anderson Silva and Anthony Pettis.
Originating from the Ryukyu Kingdom in Japan, Karate is one of the most prominent fighting styles.As a very influential art with a long history, Karate is going to take part in the 2020 summer Olympics.
Karate has many styles and forms but it is primarily a striking art. It includes punches, kicks, knee strikes and elbows. But, before you step on the mats, you should know that the philosophy of karate goes beyond the fighting itself. Like other martial arts, it requires a lot of discipline and a high amount of respect and honor. Apart from great self-defensive techniques, karate will improve your confidence, conditioning, and self-discipline.
Since it focuses on many areas, karate is well-balanced and its classes are dynamic. Some of the styles to choose between are:
What’s so great about Karate is that you can easily find a place to train. As one of the most popular styles, it is present on all seven continents and almost every town has the Karate academy.
Muay Thai is the National sport in Thailand and a well known martial art all over the world.Also known as “The Art of Eight Limbs”, Muay Thaihas perhaps the highest damage per strike ratio. It utilizes all the kickboxing techniques and adds vicious knee and elbow strikes on top of it.
Its emphasis is on powerful leg kicks that can break the bamboo tree in half. Also, one of the main aspects of Muay Thai is fighting in the clinch where one can produce a huge amount of damage.
Speaking of damage, everything in Muay Thai is about power and precision. The key to performing the right way is to learn how to use the whole body to generate massive power and land with high precision. But this requires a lot of time and effort since Muay Thai classes are very hard. For example, the Thai fighters run up to 10 miles just to warm up! As a result, you are never going to see them gassing out in a fight. Further, your body will go through huge stresses every day and injuries like shin splints are a regular thing.
That said, Muay Thai isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Before joining the gym and buying all the necessary gear, you should take part in a trial period. This way, you will see if the powerful standup techniques and grueling cardio workouts are for you.
Boxing is one of the oldest and purest forms of fighting.Also known as the “Sweet Science”, boxers use “just” their hands as weapons. But, the science behind it is very complicated. There are many other skills like footwork and head movement that make boxing so special and its fighters so dangerous.
Considering every fight begins on the feet, boxing is one of the best self-defensive martial arts as well. Further, training sessions need great cardio and high discipline. Also, they are very demanding and among the hardest of all martial arts.
But, with great sacrifice comes high rewards. You will experience gains in conditioning and fighting abilities in a few months. As a beginner, you will spend much time developing footwork and hitting the heavy bag. Once the coaches think it’s time, you will proceed to the more advanced aspects like sparring.
Like Karate, boxing is very popular and finding a place to train should be least of your worries. Even as a recreational sport, boxing is still a great form of exercise. It will help you lose weight, strengthen the muscles and feel much better.
Judo is perhaps the most influential combat style of them all. Many other martial arts like jiu-jitsu and sambo used Judo as the base for founding their styles. Hailing from Japan, Judo focuses on various throws and chokes. It is equally popular among all ages around the world, and it has been part of the Olympic Games since 1964. Like Karate and Taekwondo, Judo is a traditional martial art. That said its philosophy is built around honor, and students must behave in a respectful manner.
As a technique, Judo is still one of the most important combat styles to learn. Judokas use some punches in training but its focus is heavily on throws and chokes. Basically, judokas counter the strikes with the powerful throws.
This may sound odd, but it’s very effective, especially in the modern-day MMA. Just look at what Ronda Rousey was able to do to her rivals. Before losing to Holly Holm, she was dominating all the strikers on the feet with her judo.
It’s worth mentioning that judokas are one of the strongest people on earth. While performing various throws, you will develop incredible upper and lower body strength. Once you feel confident, you can test your skills in many tournaments and competitions.
The truth is, you have to make a decision on your own. The only right way is to go out there and try as many martial arts as you can. Many martial art gyms and academies are offering trial periods. Feel free to step on the mats a couple of times and see if you like it or not. At the end of the day, how are you supposed to decide which martial art is perfect if you’ve never tried any?
All the martial arts shown above are great for both learning how to fight and stay healthy. No matter which martial arts you choose, make sure to leave it all on the mats and respect the gym and its coaches. Also, always be friendly with your teammate’s sine you are both there to learn and make each other better.