Whichever martial arts style you choose, you’re bound to develop discipline, strength, determination, and a greater connection to your body, its capabilities, and its limits. You’ll also be welcomed into a supportive community that will encourage the development of compassion, humility, self-control, and other positive attributes.
Still, each style lends itself to certain goals and personality types. The following tips should help you find your way.
1. Prioritize your goals
You’ve probably developed an interest in martial arts for multiple reasons. Take some time to list all the goals you have in mind and then order them in terms of how important they are to you. Fitness may be one of your goals, but it may be secondary to learning how to defend yourself. Perhaps you want to get stronger but flexibility is more important to you. By figuring out what your most important goals are, you’ll be perfectly placed for finding a martial arts style to match.
2. Learn about the styles available in your local area
Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to learn about the styles available to you so you can find the right match. If self-defense is your main goal, you may wish to seek out a Krav Maga instructor. If it’s strength and cardiovascular endurance you’re chasing, then Muay Thai may be more your speed. Those looking to develop flexibility and agility may wish to consider Taekwondo or Wushu.
3. Know yourself
Are you a slow and contemplative type? Are you fidgety and energetic? Do you like to come at life’s challenges with full force or do you prefer to go with the flow and meet opposing forces with flexibility? Asking yourself such questions will help you determine which martial arts styles are a good fit for your personality.
Fidgety, energetic types may wish to go with a more active style like Muay Thai or Jiu-Jitsu. However, if one of your goals is to cultivate a calmer mind, you may wish to push yourself by trying a more fluid martial art like Aikido.
4. Try it and see
If you’re still not 100% certain after all of this research and soul searching, contact the gyms on your shortlist and see if they offer a free trial or introductory training session for prospective new members. Short beginner courses can also be a great way to test the waters. By taking a series of classes, you give your body time to acclimatize to this new way of moving. This is probably the best way to determine if the style is right for you, your personality, and your goals.
5. Consider the community
Spend some time chatting to the people you meet at the gyms you try out. Is the atmosphere friendly and relaxed or competitive and energetic? Are there lots of beginners? How do they structure classes? There are no right or wrong answers here. A friendly, relaxed gym will be perfect for some people but the wrong fit for others. Likewise, that competitive vibe might be just what you’re looking for or it could impede you from achieving your fitness goals. Spending time in the gyms will help you get an idea of whether they’re ticking your boxes or not.
Work your way through the tips above, but try not to spend too much time deliberating. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of adding a martial arts practice to your life. So, if you’re stuck on whether you sign up for Taekwondo classes or check out the local MMA gym.