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How to Choose a Martial Art in 3 Steps

Last January, one of my new year’s resolutions was to get punched in the face.

Well, I’ve finally started doing MMA (mixed martial arts). Taking up a fighting seemed a natural progression from a year of lifting. In New York you can do almost every major style there is, so I did a lot of research. The costs involved for a decent school ($150-200 an month) made me hesitant, but after some soul searching and our conversation with Jack Donovan, I finally signed up. I’m now training in both Krav Maga and Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ). It’s not cheap, but I all ready feel it’s worth every penny.

Why should men take up a martial art? Here are 10 great reasons.

I’m sure some of you could benefit from my research, so I thought I’d give a little guide to choosing a martial art for newbies.

1. Be realistic about your options

KUNG FU PANDACosts: In NYC, it will cost you $150-200+ a month to join a top school for MMA. If that does not suit your budget, maybe something like boxing or karate is a better choice. Anyway, aside from classes you’ll need gear. Depending on the style, that might include a uniform, gloves, shin pads, groin guard and a mouth piece. These are other upfront costs you’ll need to consider.

Location: What schools are in your vicinity? You might really want to do BJJ, but if it’s an hour drive when there’s somebody teaching Muay Thai five minutes away, you might be better off just going with that. Martial arts takes discipline and you don’t want to get demotivated.

For example, for my budget I could have joined the best BJJ gym in the world (the Gracie school), but I knew the the long train rides would kill me. When I found out I was only 15 minutes away from the best Krav Maga school in NYC, one of the three styles I was interested in, I knew it would be a better fit. The best bit? They do BJJ classes there anyway! And unlike the crowded Gracie school, my last class only had six students. Talk about a no-brainer.

2.  Consider Your Goals

Do you want to compete in a ring?  Or like the idea of a more traditional art form? Or perhaps you want something more practical?

MMALAW not Mixed Martial ArtsReally think hard about why you want to do a martial art. If you’re looking to exercise primal aggression, do a competitive art form. If you’re quest is a spiritual one, try the more tradition route. If just want to defend yourself, go for something designed for that purpose.

Want to knock somebody out? Consider boxing, taekwondo, or BBJ.

Like the idea of spending three months in Tibet finding your inner Bruce Lee? Consider Kung Fu, Karate, or Muay Thai.

Want the ability to inflect lethal damage during a street attack? Consider Krav Maga, Sambo, or Vale Tudo.


3. Pick your style

After all my research on what martial art to study, three styles kept cropping up againagain and again:

Brazilian Jujitsu, Muay Thai, and Krav Maga.

Let’s give a little run down on each of them.

Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ) – The Way of the Snake

There’s a reason why everybody is doing BJJ these days.

rock-python-2The very first UFC competition represented competitors from every martial art. The results? BJJ, a style focused on grappling and ground fighting, destroyed everybody. Since then, it has become the dominant artform in MMA. You can kick and punch all you like, but as soon as somebody gets you into a submission you’re a dead man. For a one-on-one fight, it might just be the best style there is. However, while BJJ can teach you 100 ways to choke a man, it’s not focused on striking, so it has limitations for your average street brawl.

Muay Thai – The Way of the ‘Roo

kangerMost MMA gyms teach a combination of BJJ and Muay Thai. While BBJ is suited for ground fighting, Muay Thai is superior for striking. Muay Thai is also the most holistic of the three. It’s traditional, practical, and a sport. You can go study it on island in Thailand for three months, fight somebody in a ring, then afterwards you can celebrate by getting drunk and have a reasonable chance of kicking ass if somebody should start a bar fight. (That is unless you meet somebody who knows BJJ or Krav Maga.)

Krav Maga – The Way of the Lion

lion-roar-93969Krav Maga is considered the most lethal martial art ever created. Used by the Israeli military for enforcing illegal occupation self-defense, the idea is inflict maximum damage on an opponent by any means necessary. On my second class, a plastic knife was thrown in between three of us. We were told it was last man standing—the first person to grab it had to stab the others, while the others tried to disarm them and become the stabber themselves. Light hearted stuff, right?

However, while it may be the most practical martial art to learn, Krav Maga is a non-competitive form. I travel in warzones, so the practical aspect suits me (here’s another 5 reasons to learn it), but if you’re just a normal guy who have the urge the to compete, perhaps you should consider the other two.

Either way, no matter what you chose, any martial art will benefit your well-being, make you more confidence, and get you in touch with your masculine self.



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15 Responses to How to Choose a Martial Art in 3 Steps

  1. Carlos August 16, 2014 at 1:55 am #

    So to be clear- Krav Maga is the one to pick if you were in a post apocalyptic war one where the only thought was kill or be killed?

  2. Wandering MGTOW August 16, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    I agree, and I couldn’t agree more.

    My story: I started in on jiujitsu in my teens (a Japanese style, but not BJJ). Funny thing, after I’d been doing it about half a year, all the high school bullies began leaving me alone. What’s funny about it is they did not know I took a martial art. It was my little secret. Maybe it was my body language or something.

  3. Angelsin August 16, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    I’ve done 2 years of Krav Maga and 1 year of Kick Boxing. Love them both.
    Krav Maga is lethal but it’s pretty hard to learn (you can’t kick your opponent in the groins with real force). In KB classes we were all geared up and punching like crazy. That’s where I’ve learned most of my self defense techniques .. in the ring.

  4. Ali S August 16, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    You’re setting aside $150-200/month for MMA? How’re you bankrolling that? Are you considering doing this semi-professionally?

    I’m wondering if the cost-benefit ratio is worth it. I find that a lot of these MMA gyms feed off the ‘masculinity complex’ – besides, in most war zone situations engaging someone is hand-to-hand combat is basically writing your own your own death certificate unless you’re militarily trained, know disarmament methods and have other trained personnel with you. Personally I’d stick to boxing for the fun factor, and a good boxer is almost always on top in a bar brawl, which is as practically useful as it gets for 95% of the people reading this.

  5. Lonny August 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    Good for you for starting your martial arts. I will make a prediction: one year from now you will only be doing one of those martial arts you mentioned and it will be BJJ.

  6. G Ron August 16, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    Man you talking about bein a bad ass.

    Can you shoot guns well?

    Since you’re in the States now is the time to learn that kind if talent. Las Vegas is a good city for guns as is Phoenix- tons of gun rentals and training for them by pros nearby.

    IMO its hard to go wrong with a German origin gun (glock, sig, fn, hk) or soviet (ak, makarov). American guns are cool but not the best (Ar-15, 1911).

    Do the Krav Maga guys push gun ownership and firearms training?

  7. splooge August 17, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    if the art form doednt have a competition format how is it effective? you can be great at doing drills and pad work but if you cant uae it with pressure mountin on u its useless. if we see krav maga guys learn to adjust their styles and compete then well know its legite. but even a thai fighter can use illgal blows in a street fight. you dont need special trainin for that.
    silat and eskrima would be good knife fightin arts since they do have sparrin an competition.
    tkd karate km are useless if you are not practicing a glove style of fighting where you give and recive damage. there you learn to fight with instinct. its one thing to know a technique but u have to make it habit in the ring otherwise it wont show on the streets or competition. boxing sanda muay thai is great base. karate taekwondo krav maga will be that suplimenting style.

  8. younes August 18, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    I would start with kickbox, then switch to BJJ.

    You have a long way to go. Good luck

  9. Spotter August 19, 2014 at 5:04 am #

    I’ve heard that you need to spar a lot to get proficient in Krav Maga. Otherwise, it’s useless.

  10. JJ August 29, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    Which one is the best to fight the upcoming zombie apocalypse?

  11. MateuszB August 31, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    Short info. Remember that Krav Maga is system of fighting and the difference is slight if you compare to martial arts. Basically it has no ideology and spiritual way or whatever you call it. Anyway you underline it in your post. What I would like to add is that maybe it s also essential to declare how much time you want to invest in that. I assume krav maga brings fast combat results but f.e. kung fu consumes much more time… but sure it may cary depends on many factors (e.g. quality of trainings).

    I have been training krav maga and muay thai for some time and I am glad for your choice. Keep thumbs for progress!

    • Michael October 15, 2014 at 8:52 am #

      Your body type is important too, Large people are better natural fighters and do not need the fancy moves that Kung Fu employs. now if your a 5’5 134 pound Asian then yes take Kung-Fu and maybe after 5 years of hard training you might be able to survive a fight with the Average 5’9 176 pound European. For Europeans most Kung-Fu styles are a waster of time because many styles can give you results much quicker.

  12. Mindless Meatseaker September 1, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    Well I’ve been doing BJJ for a number of years and I can’t even imagine how my life would be without it. I’ve done other martial arts too but they weren’t as effective or as fun.

    On Krav Maga I must say that it amazes me that 20+ after the first UFC, where all those Kung fu/Krav Maga guys got destroyed in under 2 minutes, that people are still pushing it as a legitimate combat art.

  13. Michael October 15, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    All Around Russian Fighting, failing that Sambo aka Russian Judo, hell even Savate aka French Kickboxing
    I prefer European martial arts and here is why:
    1. I have the average European build 5’10 ( 210 pounds ) most Asian martial arts are geared towards Asians with lighter builds then Europeans. I took a Silat class which consisted of mostly smaller and slimmer Asians Trying to do the forms I both looked and felt stupid. this is were I realized build does make a difference, I tried Muay Thai and did pretty well if I used my size and strength and learned to time my strikes against faster and more flexible Asian opponents. Once I had one in the corner the fight was pretty much over. My school did not allow elbow during sparring.
    2. Philosophy: West the instructor is your Mentor but in Asian systems the Instructor is your Master. Western culture has a more I will explain why this works vs an Asian just do it because I told you too.
    3. Culture I enjoy the fact that Europe has a long martial arts tradition too.

    • Spotter October 17, 2014 at 2:55 am #

      The body type aspect is interesting. Having a build much like yours, I’m curious about what martial art you practice.

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