Choosing which martial art for your child or family in three easy steps
Which martial art will be best for my child or family? How do I distinguish from all the different types of martial arts?
We have all heard of the main popular martial arts: Karate, Kung Fu, Judo, Tae Kwon Do and Kickboxing. So you or your child decides to take up a martial art and you have a look online or in local directories as to what clubs are near you.
What are the differences between the main martial arts? How about other clubs offering martial arts you may not have heard of including Tai Jitsu, Ninjitsu, Tang Soo Do, Choi Kwang Do, Kendo, Capoeira, Doce Pares to name but a few? Are they all the same? How do you decide which one is the best for you?
Here we explain how to narrow down your choices in three easy steps to get a shortlist. Although we may be doing some martial arts a dis-service by generalising, for a new beginner to martial arts this is the only realistic way of forming a shortlist of clubs to try out.
What all martial arts have in common is their history and lineage as systems of disciplined physical training for all ages. Training in any system will bring physical benefits in terms of fitness, flexibility, strength, co-ordination and the ability, over time, to gain knowledge of defending one. Where martial arts differ from other sports is the moral code which accompanies the training. Students learn traditional eastern ethics of courtesy, discipline, honesty, perseverance and “never say die” attitude which all instructors learn from their own instructors and pass on. These principles stand all students in good stead for success in their daily lives as well as improving in the syllabus and progressing through the belt colours towards a black belt.
Step 1: Weapons or no weapons? The first simple classification of martial arts is whether their traditional syllabus includes weapons or not. The main martial arts that incorporate weapons (Sticks, knives or swords) include Doce Pares, Kendo and some forms of Chinese Kung Fu.
Step 2: Kicking and punching or Ground work? The easiest distinction for beginners to make between martial arts is whether they are based on attacking and defending from a standing position or whether they are based on throwing (wrestling) and ground work.
Karate, Kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do and Kung Fu are all “standing” martial arts, based on kicking, punching and defending from a standing position.
Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Aikido and Hapkido use locks, trips and takedowns to throw opponents off balance.
Often for beginners one of these styles will “jump” out at you as being a favourite. If your child likes rough and tumble and wrestling then a Judo-type art would be ideal. For the less-confident, a standing martial art will allow them to work on their own and in their own space.
If both types appeal, then the emerging popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) classes will provide instruction in a range of martial arts on both ends of the scale. Some local clubs do not specify which martial art they teach and instead use their own experience to blend different disciplines so students get to experience the best of both worlds.
Step 3: Martial Art chosen now how do I choose a specific class? Once you have an idea of which type of martial art you would like to try, do a little research as to which clubs are near you. The most honest answer is that at this stage, the most important factor is how you feel you fit in to a club and how the instructor and fellow students make you feel, not which martial art you will end up training in.
We all know as consumers, that when we make a purchase, price, location and brand are all important factors but ultimately the final decision is how good a “fit” that item is in your life.
Martial arts classes may differ in name and price but often the proof is in the training and you will know, once you have tried a class, whether that club is for you and one in which you can see yourself enjoying yourself time after time.
We feel that professionalism, enthusiasm, friendliness, personal attention and encouragement in a club override the style that a student chooses. Speak to other students and parents in a club to see how enthusiastic they are, what they like about the sessions, how they feel they or their children have benefitted in the time they have trained. At our Bytomic Tae Kwon Do classes, although we pride ourselves on following a traditional syllabus, we feel it is our instructors’ unique style of teaching that breeds our success – whatever Art our instructors were teaching, students would still benefit physically, morally and spiritually – and that must be, after all, the bottom line.
Bytomic TKD runs a network of 25 Tae Kwon Do clubs in South East England and is known for its family friendly classes and professionalism.