Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

My Take on Taking Up Martial Arts

I am in no way a Martial Arts authority. I am a layman who has dabbled in Koga, Judo, Kali, Taekwondo, Aikido and am about to try my hand at Goju-Ryu Karate. That being said, what I am offering here is a guide for adults who are interested in getting into the Martial Arts.

What Art appeals to you and why you want to take up a particular Art is as personal as finding the right shoe as you consider purpose, size and colour. Some Arts have a Traditional focus while others are geared toward more therapeutic, survivalist or sporting interests. Further to this, there are Arts that focus on different aspects of combat: stand-up, grappling and weapons. It really comes down to what you are looking for! Regardless of the Art you select, all will have varying degrees of fitness, flexibility, etc.

Personally, I came to the Martial Arts looking for something with an ideological base as discovered through extensive readings in Eastern Philosophy. I was fascinated by what the body is capable of (also spawning a regular practise in Yoga), especially with smaller weaker individuals being able to neutralise a larger opponent. My background in Rugby made me a fan of the physical, and, later, my career as a Correctional Officer and I.E.R.T. member demanded a certain level of skill. Thus began my search.

If you think that you have found a style that suits you, it’s time to check out the clubs in your area that have classes. In selecting your style, try not to be influence too much by the movies. There is a mythological image around Martial Arts in Western society as some think of someone being a black belt as being beyond normal human capabilities. This is not so. Earning a black belt is the result of putting in the time and effort, nothing more. Martial Arts should be about the journey with your days as a novice being equally challenging as your days as a black belt. In fact, a black belt usually signifies that the student has a solid foundation in the basics, but is in no way a final destination in the Arts.

Bearing this in mind, here are some tips on selecting your club:

Զ Is the club a non-profit or business? The difference here is in what you pay. For example, if the instructor is making his/her living from their club, you will be looking at $100 or so per month, versus a non-profit which may cost you as little as $150 per year. The business guy will probably offer a better facility and more class time flexibility, but the non-profit guy is teaching solely for the love of it. Again, it’s a matter of fit for you.
Զ Will they allow you to watch a class or two and try a few out before having to commit? If no, walk away. Any club that doesn’t give you a look before investing your time probably isn’t worth your investment.
Զ What is the club demographic – family focus, kids or adults? This will come down, again, to preference. For example, if Mom or Dad want to take up Taekwondo with their children, then a family club is for you. If you are an adult seeking something more traditional, refer to point two and decide after that.
Զ If they tell you theirs is the "best" Martial Art and go on to shoot down other clubs/styles, walk away.
Զ Follow your gut.

One further comment, Martial Arts are not all about fighting and violence. Many Arts focus on learning balance, can be dance-like and meditative in nature, focusing on breathing and efficient kinetics. Many Arts assist in building strength, developing patience, coordination and confidence. Ultimately, Martial Arts teaches its students discipline, restraint and perseverance – you will more than likely build in a social component as well!

In closing, Google some of the Arts below and have a look to see what might appeal to you:

Grappling Arts: Judo, Jujitsu, Aikido, Sambo
Stand-Up Arts: Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu
Weapons: Iado, Kendo, Kali
Sport focus: MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), Judo, Taekwondo, Muay Thai
Survivalist Arts: Krav Maga, Hapkido
Therapeutic: Tai’Chi, Qi Gong

Happy Training!


  • At 10:41 a.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    Thank you. I have bookmarked this and will probably send it to people in homeschooling who are interested. A good beginning guideline.


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