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  • Writer's picturePSBN David

How to pick a Martial Art - Narrowing down the choices

Martial Arts can be daunting to get into for a number of reasons, but one of the hardest parts can be just figuring out which one you want to try. Not only are there tons of styles to pick from, you have to also consider which school you want to join! So I’ve put together a list to hopefully help people narrow down their search to something more manageable.

1. Style

Picking a style of martial art is obviously the first step, but you don’t need to narrow yourself to a single style. Martial Arts tend to be broken up into hard or soft styles. Hard is more “Force meets Force” versus soft styles which more rely on using your opponent’s energy against them. What appeals more to you? Styles will fall onto a spectrum from Hard to Soft, so figure out what movements your body naturally agrees with and look for that. 

2. Instructor

The instructor will narrow down the Art a little more for you, as well. Unless you dedicate your life to an Art, you will likely be sacrificing some aspects of the Art to focus on others. For example, some schools may focus on sparring and techniques, but give less time to forms. If you only have an hour or two per week of class (after a warmup), you can only do so much in that space.

Another factor to consider with the instructor is how you best learn. Do you prefer more of a hands-off approach, being left on your own to work on something? Do you ask a lot of questions to really learn something? Try to find an instructor that will work well with how you learn.

3. Group

Similar to the instructor, who are the people you will be working with? Depending on the style, this may be even more important than the instructor themselves. Martial Arts can still be male-heavy, so some classes might be (or hopefully just feel) less welcoming to women. This is the group you’ll be working with consistently. You learn your Art much better when you practice with a variety of people, so it’s beneficial to be able to work with everyone in the class. On top of that, once you’ve been with this group for long enough, they’re basically a second family! 

4. Time

This is more of a personal consideration. How much time are you willing to put towards the Art? Some Arts have more content that require study, so a single class per week can feel like you’re stuck in the mud. Compared to other activities, Martial Arts can take quite a bit longer to get a good grasp on. It’s much harder to have a drop-in class every week or two. If you have a heavy schedule, you might want to look at a school that has a looser schedule. For example, you pay for up to 3 classes per week, but the school is open every day so you can still come in for a proper class.

There are other ways to make it work if you can’t find something that works more than once a week. Just as examples, you can look for a training partner in class you could meet up with outside, you can find an Art that you can practice easily at home or requires less study to keep in your head from class to class.

5. Location, Price, etc.

Of course, this is a lot less “flashy” but the reality is you can have all of these checkboxes ticked but the school is 50 kilometers away and costs $300 per month. Even if you think the class is just mildly far away or pricy, this can make things extra tough in the beginning. There’s a gap between when you have that enthusiasm from first joining to later on when it’s become a part of your routine. This is the gap where lots of people will drop out. This is also the spot where that “mildly far away” becomes “quite far away”. This isn’t meant to dissuade you, but it’s something to be aware of.

This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list by any means. Everyone will have their own priorities, so certain factors above may be more or less important depending on the individual. The most important thing at the end of the day is to find something fun that will keep you coming out!

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