Choosing a martial art

by Tiago
(Portugal - Porto)

Chosing a martial art is like chosing the best route before a trip. You must take into account many factors. If you are on a business trip you'll probably want the fastest route. But if you are on vacation you'll probably chose the most beautiful one.

Still you must keep in mind that the path that you chose is the one through which you'll travel. If you change your mind you'll have to turn back and start over.

Hello everyone.

Today I decided to share with you some things that I have learned through the years about martial arts and schools that teach them.

If you are a beginner you'll want to choose the art that attracts you the most. But you must keep in mind that there are no good or bad (traditional) martial arts. But there are good and bad masters/schools.

If you want to practice because of the whole package that martial arts can offer (physical and spiritual improvement as well as sports competition) Taekwondo, Judo or even Kendo are very good options because of their traditional and Olympic character.

It all depends on the person's taste really, kicking, throwing or slashing around, it's your choice. :D

However not every school is good for any of those things. For instance, I practiced Taekwondo for 5 years in a school where the focus was mainly competitive. If you were good for it you would be able to compete, if you weren't, you could compete as well, but the training itself was more turned to those who were already fit to compete. So in the end, neither the school got many victories nor built many champions.

Later I joined a school that followed traditional Taekwondo, but also had some competitive character. The classes were divided between ages, training was meant for everyone to try their best and give everything they had. To learn and improve themselves. The idea was first to make champions of life and then champions on the ring, and students were only to compete after practicing long enough, not to able to participate, but to win.

I also know of certain schools (here in Portugal) of very diverse martial arts that, in my view have gone astray.

I will not put names on them but I will just say the martial arts that they teach and why I think they lost it.

I know a very well known Kung-Fu school that became completely commercial and whose students are said to be so good that they have no humility whatsoever. For as good as they may be, they lack humility which is one of the most important traits of a martial artist.

There are also some Bujinkan Budo-Taijutsu schools who talk trash about other martial arts that have a competitive use. However they've forgotten that "Those who live by the sword are usually shot by those who don't".

And finally, Kick Boxing schools are very common around these parts, and their strictly competitive character sends students into the ring unprepared, both physically and mentally, and then injury happens.

Just to conclude, I believe that the students tend to be a mirror of their school. If you see power, commitment, pride, respect and also humility in a student, then his school is probably great. I've seen schools of Capoeira with such nice and athletic students and instructors that if I didn't love Taekwondo so much, I would join them.

So in the end you chose something that you see and like, and in that category, the instructor and the group you train with will dictate the rest. Take your time and chose your path carefully.
Above all if there is anything in a martial art or school that goes against your own consciousness, then it is not right for you.

Peace be within your warrior soul.

Deb's Reply

Thanks Tiago for some great insights into choosing a martial art. I'm sure by sharing your experiences you will help others make the right choice for them.

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