Choosing The Right Martial Arts For You

By Joy Xie

There are simply too many martial art forms in this world before you can actually get sick of martial arts.

Apart from Taekwondo, Aikido, Muay Thai, Wing Chun, Capoeira, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, etc, just what else is there and which one should you be choosing?
(Photo Credits: Paul Gilham/ Getty Images Europe)
 
Before we start rushing into anything, let's first understand why martial art was created and why some of the martial arts might be more/less suitable for us.
 
To start off, martial art was never created for fun.
 
It was created and designed for soldiers, warriors, syndicates, and the alike as a form of attack and defense. Not only that, martial arts is also a mean of spiritual and personal development and has since blossomed in a highly lucrative form of entertainment. 
 
Like many past times in life, getting into martial arts as a form of exercise does not usually last very long if one does not take time to understand and appreciate the beauty and the idea of its form - It is very similar to doing physics without first understanding mathematics and why physics was created in the first place. Know what you are getting into before committing to the form. Does the idea suit your personality? Will you manage your strengths and weaknesses in your mental and physical ability while immersing yourself in the art or will you aimlessly head for your training and waste your time away? If you do pick up the art to kill time, is the environment okay with such behavior? What do you plan to achieve with this new project? 
 
Secondly, some martial arts require more technique while others require more strength and stamina. 
For example, Wrestling definitely requires more strength and stamina compared to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Will you train harder and build your strength for the sport or are you simply challenging your strength with others during training? While brute strength and competitive novices can be very challenging, are you willing to risk yourself in the situation that the situation can lead to injuries you never expect to recover from? 
 
Thirdly, not everyone was born with the perfect body and not every form of exercise was made to suit everyone. 
You cannot expect a person who is obese to jump right into gymnastics for MMA before getting him/her to get lean. That situation would very likely hurt his/her joints during the immediate practice. 
In addition, every one has different issues with their bodies prior to practice, such as ankle problems, shoulder problems, hyper-extension, skin problems, etc thus it is always good to keep in mind that the body should recover or avoid damage when possible. Although you might not be the person with the imperfections, are you willing to work with others with restrains or are you out there to work on your own progression?
 
Fourthly, some of us can be more competitive than others, while some less competitive. I am competitive by nature which led me to two novice muay thai competitions. 
 

(Photo Credits: MMA Oceanside)
 
However, the situation never always goes the same for others. My nature has also made me understand that at times, some people who practice martial arts use their knowledge to pick better fights on the streets or to bully others. While sparring, you may be going against people who have different intentions. Are you willing to put yourself at the risk of what happens after the match is over in the gym? Are you one of those people who do not respect the intention of the practice in your environment? Well, if you have the tendency to sway into the negativity of things, I strongly suggest that you pick up other form of hobbies instead of martial arts. Otherwise, I do not think that there is a particular "right" or "wrong" martial art for a person of an average disposition. It is always possible to do great in the art if the person's mind, body and schedule is able to commit to making the sport work for him/her.
 
Above all, discipline is key as there is no one form of martial art that does not treasure the mindfulness of the practitioner. 
I am in no way a professional in all of the martial arts and I believe that martial art is ever-evolving. There is just so much more you need to learn and humble yourself about before you can even experience a holistic progression into a professional martial artist. Do you have the discipline? If not, are you willing to be disciplined? Are you willing to leave your ego at the door and be a student in the process of new knowledge?
 
Finally, after all the above considerations, I split my findings and recommendations not according to gender or age, but according to:
1. traditional and modern martial arts, 
2. particular limbs that the martial arts stress more on and lastly, 
3. how much you can expect to learn in Singapore versus the origins of the martial art.
 
1. Traditional Martial Arts and Modern Martial Arts
(Photo Credits: Josh Hedges/ Zuffa LLC/ Getty Images)
 
A wide variety of traditional and modern martial arts have been made known and made popular to us today through the means of fitness sports and entertainment. Sword fighting, wrestling, wing chun and muay thai are perhaps the most common Traditional Martial Arts practiced in Singapore today whereas Mixed Martial Arts and Krav Maga are the more common Modern martial arts that combines a series of traditional fighting styles from many different marital arts form. We realise that modernised martial arts have become less equipped with physical external weapons as they are slowly integrated into contact sports, full, light or heavy contact. Although so, training in gyms usually require practitioners to be safely padded with training gears. 
 
Learning traditional martial arts and modern martial arts differ as traditional martial arts usually focus on a specific goal. 
For example, in muay thai, the goal is to attack and defend your opponent with the means to knock the other party out with the use of eight limbs while maintaining a standing stance.
 
Mixed martial arts, on the other hand, combines stand-up and ground game, in which a person can either succeed by points (e.g. being more domineering and scoring more hits), by knock out and by tapping the other person out (by means of choking or to the point of breaking the other person's limbs). With that knowledge, you can also conclude that the level and type of aggression in some martial art is lesser than others. 
 
For example, Brazilian jiu-jitsu requires more calmness and steadiness compared to MMA. This is because MMA's rules of ground game differs and grounding and pounding in BJJ is not permitted. Overall, picking up traditional and basic martial art would be a better idea if you are a slow-learner and see your own aggression less likely to fluctuate. If you pick things up faster and adapt quickly to different styles and level of aggression, be bold and hop on to martial arts such as MMA.  

(Photo Credits: Breakingmuscle.com)

 
 
2. Martial Arts which stress on Upper Body, Martial Arts which stress on Lower Body, Martial Arts which stress on the Entire Body 
 
This aspect of selective comparison is relatively subjective as with all forms of martial art, a lot of focus is concentrated on the core of the practioner.
For example, boxing requires a person to only use his arms and upper body to swerve to attack, defend and manipulate its opponent. Nevertheless, foot work is also very important in this sport so that the form is more fluid as moves are progressed from stationery to chasing an opponent in a ring. Since most traditional martial arts were developed as a mean of fighting and war, it is not uncommon that this form of martial art demands fearlessness and brutality compared to MMA today. The modern martial art, though not any less  aggressive, requires more intellect since there is the freedom to combine any set of moves to achieve a final win. In Krav Maga, attacks to the back of the head is possible whereas many other forms of martial arts forbid such move. How much contact are you comfortable with?
 
 
 3. Martial Art, Progression in Singapore, Progression in the Origin of the Martial Art
 
Martial art is slowly but surely blossoming its way into the country as Singapore is encouraging more curriculums in school to take up such sport. The country has also host multiple ONE FC events in her stadiums with locals fighting in the competitions as well. Males and females can compete and martial art gyms have become more and more competitive in their industry. Since Singapore does not have her own locally-breed martial art, practitioners pick the art here when interest strikes them. As my mother is born and breed in Thailand, I have come to know that Muay Thai is taught as a physical education curriculum. In addition, the atmosphere in which the art is cultivated is also very different. For example, wrestling in india is nothing like being in a concrete gym with air-conditioning and heart-pumping rock beats like that in Singapore. Most of the best bred Indian Wrestlers acquire their skills in their undies, a quiet school where trainings take place with the ground coupled in sand and dirt. Do not be shocked if you need to adapt to different environments of the same martial art competition if you do progress to professional fighting.
 
In conclusion, never jump right in and commit yourself in a particular martial art form without knowing your intentions and heading for a few trials at several gyms. Good luck and have lots of fun experimenting with what may fit you best. It is also a bonus when you find friends of relative weight and height so that training is more realistic when the fun proceeds to competition. Happy learning!

 

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