Choosing a martial art? Watch

Unstudioustudent
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Can anyone give some recommendations? Have done a bit of research online, but would really appreciate some personal advice. I have no experience or friends who do martial arts so am consulting TSR instead

I’d prefer:
• Something useful for self defence, and not focussed on your ‘mental’ state, meditation, etc.
• Ideally not something with a whole lot of patterns and stuff to learn. Was initially leaning towards taekwondo but the poomchae (?) and stuff is a bit offputting.
• I much prefer striking disciplines over those focussed on grappling/wrestling (e.g. judo/Jiu-Jitsu). Would like to prevent someone getting that close in the first place lol
• Not boxing - would like to learn a wider range of moves, as well as how to utilise all my limbs

As I say, was initially considering taekwondo as I really like the different skills as well as the ‘stylishness’ - the spinning kicks/acrobatic elements are awesome. But what puts me off is the lack of good tuition available where I live and the fact that it doesn’t seem particularly useful for self-defence until you’re really, really good.
Muay Thai seems to be really looked-up to for it’s efficiency and effectiveness, but it doesn’t seem to have much variety or artistry?
What is karate like?

Btw, I’m in Northern Ireland, so the places which offer classes in this sort of thing are few and far between - any specialist or slightly more unusual disciplines are prob out of the question :/

In case it’s important, I’m an average height female, late teens, & quite muscular/fit already.

Thanks in advance!!
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Green_Otaku
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Hey! I've been studying Taekwondo for 13 years, so can offer some advice.

Broken down, tae means foot, kwon means hand or fist, and do means art or way of life. By learning TKD, you're learning the way of the foot and hand. I.e., you're learning how to get really in-tune with your body, how it moves, how it's balanced and the ways to generate power. Most usefully, this can apply to close confrontations. You'll learn that power is generated through your hips and shoulders, rather than through your arms and legs.

The reason you learn patterns in most martial arts is to be able to practice these new moves in solitude. You then build those moves into 1-step sparring and self defence drills, putting your knowledge into practice. You don't learn patterns to dance about in the training hall; you learn them so that your brain will work on muscle memory if ever attacked. You'll think 'there's a fist aimed at face' before realising that your body has already reacted. Patterns are really important for this reason. If you still really don't want to learn patterns, take up boxing and learn how to fight, but I'd always recommend martial arts over anything else if you're aiming to learn self defence.

Taekwondo only has practitioners learn one new pattern per belt anyway (or three per black belt, of which there are nine dans), so it's not an awful lot of information to take in. You'll soon pick them up too, and it's a great way to maintain fitness. My teacher always says that if you're not sweating heavily by the end of a pattern, you're doing it wrong.

In terms of a balance of what we do during lessons, some lessons might focus on patterns, while others will focus on sparring, or there might be some self defence thrown in there, too. There's a lot of variety, and a big focus on fitness.

As for your worries about it not being useful until you're really, really good, don't be. Everyone has to start somewhere, and you shouldn't take up a martial art unless you're committed to it. Besides, you'll get better every single time you train, anyway.

Finally, I'd recommend you look for ITF Taekwondo clubs. ITF is the older form that's focused on self defence and traditional martial arts. WTF Taekwondo is the form practiced for the Olympics, and they focus on chasing opponents out of the ring. I studied WTF during my First Year of University, and was really disappointed. Huge focus on one type of kick, hardly any self defence and patterns.
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Unstudioustudent
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(Original post by Green_Otaku)
Hey! I've been studying Taekwondo for 13 years, so can offer some advice.

Broken down, tae means foot, kwon means hand or fist, and do means art or way of life. By learning TKD, you're learning the way of the foot and hand. I.e., you're learning how to get really in-tune with your body, how it moves, how it's balanced and the ways to generate power. Most usefully, this can apply to close confrontations. You'll learn that power is generated through your hips and shoulders, rather than through your arms and legs.

The reason you learn patterns in most martial arts is to be able to practice these new moves in solitude. You then build those moves into 1-step sparring and self defence drills, putting your knowledge into practice. You don't learn patterns to dance about in the training hall; you learn them so that your brain will work on muscle memory if ever attacked. You'll think 'there's a fist aimed at face' before realising that your body has already reacted. Patterns are really important for this reason. If you still really don't want to learn patterns, take up boxing and learn how to fight, but I'd always recommend martial arts over anything else if you're aiming to learn self defence.

Taekwondo only has practitioners learn one new pattern per belt anyway (or three per black belt, of which there are nine dans), so it's not an awful lot of information to take in. You'll soon pick them up too, and it's a great way to maintain fitness. My teacher always says that if you're not sweating heavily by the end of a pattern, you're doing it wrong.

In terms of a balance of what we do during lessons, some lessons might focus on patterns, while others will focus on sparring, or there might be some self defence thrown in there, too. There's a lot of variety, and a big focus on fitness.

As for your worries about it not being useful until you're really, really good, don't be. Everyone has to start somewhere, and you shouldn't take up a martial art unless you're committed to it. Besides, you'll get better every single time you train, anyway.

Finally, I'd recommend you look for ITF Taekwondo clubs. ITF is the older form that's focused on self defence and traditional martial arts. WTF Taekwondo is the form practiced for the Olympics, and they focus on chasing opponents out of the ring. I studied WTF during my First Year of University, and was really disappointed. Huge focus on one type of kick, hardly any self defence and patterns.
Thanks for the extensive advice! Just wondering then, are the competitions not really an accurate representation of the skills you learn? I have watched a few, and they seem very slow and repetitive to a clueless bystander like myself - a lot of kicking and legs waving about! - though I guess the main focus of those fights is to earn points rather than take down an opponent or defend yourself.

How prevalent is the acrobatic aspect of Taekwondo? That’s the part that fascinates me

I’m kind of hesitating between Taekwondo, karate and Muay Thai - can only afford to choose one!!
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Green_Otaku
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The competitions from the Olympics are absolutely not a representation of the skills you'd learn if you joined an ITF class! Here are a couple links to show what I mean:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wq62pt3h0I

The first one is of Tony 'Iceman' Sewell sparring - once the greatest competitor in the world (and he graded me twice!). Tony is in white, and you can see how his opponent is kicking much more than him, yet Tony manages to demolish him through carefully-placed techniques. Hopefully this demo shows that ITF sparring is all about placing your techniques into opponents' weak points (the guy in black has his guard up but isn't guarding everywhere, so Tony is incredibly precise with his moves), which would train you to use your skills in a real fight. Competitors wear sparring pads to soften the blows of our techniques, and that's it.

WTF sparring, which is what's on TV, is all about the competition: chasing down your opponent so they fall out of the ring; really fast kicks to confuse them; can't keep your legs off the ground (ready to kick) for longer than a few seconds; can't punch the face; guarding is deemed a waste of energy, so ill advised. Also competitors wear body armour to track points. While that's great for point-tracking, God does it make your sparring unrealistic! Here's the UK at the Olympics:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dj16N2FSjDg

Notice how they're really just going back and forth, using the same kick? There's a much greater emphasis on footwork, which is great, but in ITF you move a lot less during sparring, as in a real fight, so the footwork isn't really as necessary.

So to bring it back to the first question: competitions require skills you've developed in class (i.e. in my classes you'll do drills of side kicks, in lines and on bags, and then use the side kick while sparring in competitions, as Tony did), but as you pointed out, it's always going to be more about points in competitions than defending yourself! (More so in WTF than ITF, as there's a focus on actually blocking kicks and punches in ITF haha)

Definitely agree that all the kicks look the same to a bystander though! These terms might not mean anything to you, but if I were sparring someone right now, I might wait to see how the opponent moves, block their kick, then dummy a turning kick to their gut, change to a hook kick to the face, turning kick to the face, foot down, 360 spinning kick to the face, and land with a hook punch, so there's a lot more to sparring than you'd first think!

Which means, yeah, you do learn to be quite acrobatic haha. It does also depend on your body type though! I'm lean and tall, so use lots of kicks (jumping, standard, spinning) and dodge out of the way, whereas my brother is stockier, so is more grounded and relies on getting in close to punch.

Always wanted to study Karate myself too, but if you're still set against the patterns then I would choose Muay Thai, as I don't think it utilises patterns? And I'm also pretty sure it's more about fighting than self defence (whereas Karate/TKD will train you to recognise pressure points and contort people's bodies), though I could be wrong!

Sorry for such a long reply, but wanted you to be as informed as poss!
Last edited by Green_Otaku; 1 year ago
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Unstudioustudent
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Thank you very much, really appreciate all that extra info! Thanks for the vid as well - that sparring was very different from the WTF-style that I’d seen so far. I have found a club which looks pretty good and it’s about 30-40 minutes away. What do you think?
http://www.cutler-tkd.co.uk/index.htm
I have no idea what to look for, and apparently (according to the good ‘ol internet!) getting good instruction is one of the most important aspects in learning any martial art. There are dozens of small clubs operating under UKTD in Northern Ireland in leisure centres, but they seem very much like activity sessions for kids or people trying to lose weight. No offence to either categories lol - I just had somewhere a bit more focused and serious in mind!!

On a maybe less important topic, do you do a lot of those cool spinning kicks and tumbles? Got sidetracked by ‘extreme taekwondo’ when I was doing a bit of research 😉

So I am pretty set on the ITF Taekwondo - maybe future me will have enough time and funds to take up something like Muay Thai or Krav Maga as well 🤨
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Green_Otaku
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Grandmaster Cutler is a 9th Dan, so I think the grade speaks for itself - seems like he'd be a pretty safe bet for a teacher. My class is a GTI (Global Taekwondo International) offshoot of ITF, but tbh there's not much difference between different schools and I've trained with a few UKTD people before who seemed decent, so I reckon his would be a good shout! Ask if you can do a couple taster lessons!Totally agree on the need for a good instructor, as you'll only be a product of their teachings.Haha, the tumbles only come into play when we're doing some leg takedowns, but the spinning kicks happen all the time and are so much fun! Look up videos of a 360 kick, it's so satisfying to watch.Omg believe me I would love to study as many martial arts as possible, it's just the money and the time!
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Unstudioustudent
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Just noticing there’s actually a pic of Grandmaster Cutler breaking a brick with his bare hand and jumping over a car on the website 😳
Def looks a good club! Thanks again for all the advice.

Can totally relate to the money and time thing lol - plus I’m gonna have to learn to drive so I can take myself to these places!!
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Green_Otaku
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I only saw the one of him breaking boards with a kick after jumping over a few students - but a car is impressive!! Thankfully my club is down the road from my house, so knowing how to drive yet not owning a car isn't a problem for me (yet) haha.
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simon_g
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frankly speaking there isn't much you could do (unarmed) if some men would like to do you harm (and you couldn't run).
but here comes some useful (lets hope so!) info:
try thai boxing. While it really lacks clutch and ground fighting (which you will need if you WILL have to defend yourself) it utilizes not only all limbs, but also knees and elbows.
you can also look for some combat sambo classes near you. or just youtube mcmap techniques and repeat them with someone who could spar you and correct you if necessary.
if you are looking for artistry, try aikido. it would get you kill on the street, but at least the aggressor would appreciate the arty part.
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7h357ud3n7
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Hiya Love,

First of all I am so excited that you want to do a martial art. I practise a variety of martial arts and I love them all as well as the whole community and the general badassery that comes with being a martial artist.

Secondly my qualifications: I am a green belt in Kickboxing having studied the art for over 2 and a half years, green belt in Judo with a year under my belt (pun intended), white belt, no tags in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu having attented on and off for under a year and over 3 years as a green belt in Aikido but have not practiced in two years (club politics and drama) and some Karate and Boxing when I was younger. suffice to say I am by no means a master but I have a highly vested interest in the whole martial art area and it's literally the only other thing I do apart from my job and the gym.

So now that that's out of the way let's get meaty:

Muay Thai - Originated from Thailand, uses the full body (hands, feet, knees, elbows), more of a wear down your opponent martial art as opposed to KO ASAP. highly effective, great for your health, most all gyms are focussed on bettering their fighters, competition etc. Differs from Kickboxing or Karate in that it is more of a marathon instead of a sprint in terms of fighting. kicking is completely different as is the stance and there is no focus on belts or grading, simply fighting. the more you train the better you get, you don't need a belt to tell you that.

Taekwondo: Originates in South Korea used by the Korean military, Taekwondo is a combat sport similar to Kickboxing but a little more regimented. A belt system is in place and rank is highly revered depending on the club, its an oylmpic sport (Its awesome to watch!) requiring fighters to demonstrate high levels of skill, power and control (SO MUCH CONTROL!), can be difficult if you're not naturally flexible (or a guy) but can also be very fun. The sport mainly consists of kicks but punches and other strikes are used too. a form of martial arts inspired gymnastics called tricking has evolved from the sport. Good for self defense, keeping fit and having fun (honestly).

Kickboxing: Similar to Taekwondo and Karate but originating in America, many clubs still have a grading system and use belts to determin rank however the more freestyle kickboxing clubs won't. utilised the full body to fight and can include elbow strikes, knee strikes, sweeps and throws as well as punches and kicks. It vcan also be just as artistic as Taekwondo is the kicking aspects and different clubs focus on different things: point fighting and semi contact, full contact MMAesque gyms, competition Kata, general keeping fit or the crap ones just want to make money. An excellent choice for women as it is an empowering martial art (my shy little sister does it and now she is a madam.) and a fantastic source of self defence training for anybody regardless of age, gender, ability or reason. It is also an amazing way of keeping fit and healthy. If you aren't interestign in grading or faffing about with Kata, your average Kickboxing gym would be ideal for yourself.

Brazillian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ): originates from Brazil with roots from Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Judo, the martial art was founded by the Gracie family with an emphasis on takedowns and ground work (grappling), the art is not an easy one ot progress in often taking 10 years or more for one to obtain a black belt. however the training emphasis is not on grading but personal progression and slef improvement. while a very technical martial art it is also a very rewarding one as one leaves on a high after training (well for me that is) and another excellent choice for women due to the vast amount of techniques one can execute from the closed guard (it totally looks like missionary position but it kinda isn't). There are plenty of BJJ gyms popping up around the UK and many places offer ladies only BJJ classes. The sport is a highly competitive one with catagories in Gi and no - Gi, its poularity stems from the UFC in which Royce Gracie of the Gracie clan defeated many opponents in November 1993 at UFC 1. MMS gyms usually offer BJJ classes but they usually focus on street fighting or cage fighting. To recap: Good for women, good for self defence, highly technical, very rewarding, hella fun.

Japanese Jiu Jitsu (JJJ, JJ): A Japanese martial art that dates back further that 230 BC, JJ like the OG of martial arts, containing strikes, kicks, sweeps, takedowns, throws, the whole shebang! JJ is an effective martial art and can be used with or without a short weapon. However most places that practice it now don't do live training (sparring) which means that while the practitioners may be black belts they don't really have the ability to execute the techniques in a real world scenario. Side note: very hard to find clubs that still practise this martial art. TBH wouldn't recommend as there are other more suitable martial arts that do offer live training and are more effective in the real world.

Judo: Origin: Japan. Founder: Jigoro Kano (Kano Jigoro). Focus: Throws - 70%, Groundwork - 30%. Probably my personal favourite (don't tel the others) but I'll remain objective, Judo means 'The Gentle Way' implying that using minimal effort one is able to decimate their opponents with ease. However, Judo can be quite hard core as people like myself (big and bulky) excel in this sport because we can use strength to supplement our throws. The real challenge is using no power just pure technique (really hard but not impossible). There are no strikes or kicks in Judo just throws, sweeps, takedown and groundwork. again the martial arts can be loads of fun but it's not everyone cup of tea (oh so british), but it is great for everyone: men, women, adults, childen, OAPs, big, small, medium, tall, short (they have the advantage) etc. In spite of this you states that you didn't want to practise a martial art with throws or groundwork so perhaps not the optimal fit for yoruslef but awesome nonetheless.

Conclusion:
I am aware that I have rattled on and that I haven't covered all martial arts (like Aikido but just don't) but this is a reply to a question not a dissertation. Hope I have been able to give you an imformative insight into the world of martial arts and its endless possibilities but ultimately you shoudl dop your own research and see what conclusion you come to. I also hope I haven't put you off my blabbering on.

TLDR:
Taekwondo, Kickboxing, Karate, Muay Thai probs best option for you due to the striking and kicking aspect. Judo, BJJ, JJ probs not the optimal option for you but I highly suggest you don't knock it before you try it. Try everything and tell me what you thing (please please please) cheers for reading!

P.S. I probably made some grammatical errors I just couldn't be arsed to go back and change them.

Ta ra!
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Unstudioustudent
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7h357ud3n7

“Not a dissertation”... pretty close in my opinion! Thank you soooo much for all the info, really informative and helpful, you obviously love your sport 😊

Will prob start with taekwondo to get a feel for things, maybe pick up Muay Thai or judo later. I really like the style, and it seems like even if a lot of the techniques wouldn’t be practical on the street (fancy kicks, spars, patterns etc) it would train you to have fast reactions in striking, and develop overall flexibility/athleticism.

Really there seems to be no “best”, all-encompassing martial art - from what I’ve been told, the best thing to do is to try various disciplines and learn different techniques that way, e.g. taekwondo for striking and control, kickboxing for striking and power, judo for manipulating and close-contact, etc. Looks like that’s what you’ve done! I guess that’s essentially the aim of MMA, but I don’t fancy getting beaten to pulp on a regular basis. Also not sure the people I work around/my boss would appreciate the aesthetic change lol. At least with taekwondo, the athletes I’ve watched sparring are still in one piece, even at the top of their game!
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7h357ud3n7
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(Original post by Unstudioustudent)
7h357ud3n7

“Not a dissertation”... pretty close in my opinion! Thank you soooo much for all the info, really informative and helpful, you obviously love your sport 😊

Will prob start with taekwondo to get a feel for things, maybe pick up Muay Thai or judo later. I really like the style, and it seems like even if a lot of the techniques wouldn’t be practical on the street (fancy kicks, spars, patterns etc) it would train you to have fast reactions in striking, and develop overall flexibility/athleticism.

Really there seems to be no “best”, all-encompassing martial art - from what I’ve been told, the best thing to do is to try various disciplines and learn different techniques that way, e.g. taekwondo for striking and control, kickboxing for striking and power, judo for manipulating and close-contact, etc. Looks like that’s what you’ve done! I guess that’s essentially the aim of MMA, but I don’t fancy getting beaten to pulp on a regular basis. Also not sure the people I work around/my boss would appreciate the aesthetic change lol. At least with taekwondo, the athletes I’ve watched sparring are still in one piece, even at the top of their game!

No worries, I'm just really glad I could help!
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b67f67
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Does anyone know any classes for a beginner in London for taekwondo? please
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jojo_p
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As someone up above me in the replies has said - Tae Kwon Do only requires a pattern per belt - and the first 4 are a piece of cake to memorise, you shouldn't have any trouble with them I'd imagine. All round, it's a very good martial art too
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jojo_p
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(Original post by b67f67)
Does anyone know any classes for a beginner in London for taekwondo? please
I know a few in North West London, but I'd be useless if you don't live thefe
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RevisionWorld66
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(Original post by Unstudioustudent)
Btw, I’m in Northern Ireland, so the places which offer classes in this sort of thing are few and far between - any specialist or slightly more unusual disciplines are prob out of the question :/
Your nearest Catholic church?
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