How to pick a martial art? Well for starters, what martial art do you have in mind, do you want to learn grappling? Or striking? This is normally the base question you should ask yourself. You should also ask yourself about the practicality of the art, does it work, is it stress tested, will it work under pressure. There are many martial arts out there that are either mainly a form of art, like an elaborate dance, these are still valid martial arts in my opinion but I wouldn’t rely on them if I wanted to learn how to defend myself. Martial arts like tai chi, aikido and some forms of karate have become known as a more artistic and graceful martial art and less practical.
If you wanted to just learn pure self defense, then I would go by the ‘trained killer’ rule as Joe Rogan would put it, find out what trained killers learn, and follow their lead. For instance, Mirko cro cop, one of the most formidable Pride FC heavyweights ever, famous for the saying ‘right leg hospital, left leg cemetery’ was also serving as an anti terrorist police officer punching crime in its big stupid head. He kickboxed mainly, and learned how to stop himself being taken down. Other wise known as a sprawl and brawl fighter. If you wanted to learn how to defend yourself, you should consider the more gritty, realistic martial arts, such as Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Lethwei, BJJ, Kickboxing, Sambo and Judo are just some of the options for you.
Another way to choose is to find a martial artist you really admire, and follow their footsteps, for instance, one of my inspirations was Mike Tysons fighting style, the way he explosively knocked heavyweights out and captivated the worlds eye like no other was fascinating to me. This can help you choose a martial art to learn. Maybe you want to be like Tony Jaa and be the man of Muay Thai, or perhaps you want to be like Iko Uwais and learn Pencak Silat. Another factor in learning a martial art is, do you want something where your mastery of the art comes with rankings such as belts or titles, if you do want an art with this sort of progression than perhaps pick an art like Karate, Brazilian Jujitsu, Taekwondo or Judo.
One thing I think its important to add is that its important to not let your physical dimensions dictate what martial art you think you should learn, there are masters in every style with every type imaginable, its important to learn how to use your body in the way you want to use it. If that’s using Brazilian Jujitsu, find masters of the art with your body style and emulate them, you could be a long limbed willowy strangler like Rener Gracie, or you could be a shorter and stockier fighter like Rousimar Paulhares and win your fights by pulling peoples legs off like an enraged chimpanzee, you can succeed at the art you choose as long as you put the effort into it. Please do also remember to keep your current health as a factor, your health should always come first and some of these martial arts can be particularly hard on your body so definitely think about your current physical capabilities.
So to recap what we’ve discussed: what do you want to focus on? Striking, Grappling or a mix?
Do you want it to be artistic, dancelike and formal or do you want a more grounded, realistic, informal experience?
Do you want to be like any famous martial artists? Do you want to hold rank and have your mastery known? Do you Know your options and what is feasible for you to learn?
are you physically fit enough to train in the art you want to?
when all is said and done and you’ve decided on what avenue you’d like to go down, you should choose the art you think you’d enjoy the most whether it has practical application or not, whether it is artistic or not. You’ll embark hopefully on a life long adventure where you add to the giant melting pot that is martial arts. maybe you’ll become like Bruce Lee and hop from one discipline to the next absorbing what is useful and discarding everything else like a martial arts nomad or maybe, maybe you’ll fall in love with the first art you choose, but make sure you choose. Train hard, stay civilised and enjoy the ride 🙂