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Rivanariko

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One of my goals for this challenge is to start studying a martial art. I am literally starting from square one as I've never taken a martial arts class. Wait, no, I took 6 weeks of Tai Chi in college, then promptly forgot most of it. That whole "practicing" thing was difficult at the time.

Because Minot hasn't discovered the internet yet, none of the martial arts studios/places in town have websites, but I can find their names and phone numbers in the yellow pages. Which I hate, but means that I'm going to have to work on my over-arching long term goal of "stop being so afraid of telephones and talking to people".

Anywho, what sort of things should I be looking for as I start to look into different places? I don't know what I want to study yet, but I am more interested in something striking based, rather than grappling, and definitely more on the "art" side than the "martial" side. Are there specific warning signs of places I'd want to steer clear of? Good signs of places that would be good to study at?

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Ok you've found my area of expertise :) If you want more of the art side there's karate, tang soo do, tae kwan do, wing chung or kung fu. The instructors should know how to have discipline but not be completely militant. Belt testing should be every 2-4 months and you should actually have to test for a belt. If not they only care about money. If they make anyone pay an additional belt test fee if they don't pass again they may only care about money. Make sure the place is clean as that's an issue with quite a few schools. Make sure the instructor there has some training in how to teach martial arts not just trophies, ranks, etc. If there are only a dozen students in the school there is probably a reason for that no matter how impressive they might seem. Same for a school with a lot of students, there's probably a reason. Any additional questions you can feel free to ask. I teach karate by the way, not just some crazy guy.

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Thank you for the information! The whole endeavor feels really overwhelming at the moment because it's so completely new. I'm excited though. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time.

The funny thing is, I almost started Tae Kwan Do when I was very young, but I hated stretching, and they made you do a lot of stretching at the beginning of class. So I quit after my first class because stretching was horrible and painful.

I think I'm interested in Kung Fu, since I've read that it's ideal for us little people... but I have no idea if there's anywhere nearby that offers it.

There are "learn martial arts" classes at the base gym this month... but they're MMA and from what I've read, I don't think that's what I'm looking for. And I really need to get off base more often.

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Okay so this is something that interests me too. Is there an easy to understand guide to distinguish between the different types of martial arts? I've heard so many names (karate, kung fu, tae kwon do, aikido, capoeira (sp?), etc ) and I don't know the difference between any of them. How do you choose?

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I started bjj Monday last week..so this is all pretty fresh in my head.

I had never practiced martial arts..ever! Oh except 3 lessons of karate when I was about 10, but then I quit because it hurt too much. I'm also about 40lbs overweight so I was scared. Very scared.

Anyways, to pick a school I tried 2. Most schools offer a free lesson, however this can be followed by a hard sell. The first school everyone was nice, place was clean, lesson was good (couldn't cmpare it to anything though)..but after class came the hard sell. It actually turned me off that school, and usually it would've turned me off the sport completely, but I was so incredibly sore the next day...I kind of enjoyed that feeling in a masochistic kind of way. :P

So off to school 2 I went the following week, now knowing what to expect. First thing I noticed was the class size (6 of us). Now that could be the result of a bad teacher or high prices but it wasn't. Place was incredible. Workout was grueling, I thought I would pass out 10min into warm up. Everyone was nice, like scary overly nice, but they were all beginners at some point and knew the feeling.

I picked bjj because I wanted to do hand to hand combat with people. I didn't really want to punch bags/pads or show up at work with a couple of shiners and a broken nose.

One thing I can tell you as a beginner is that it's addictive. If I could go roll 5 times/week I would. These guys even though they are literally trained killers, are nicer and more fun to hang out with than my actual friends. If you don't have that feeling it's probably a sign that you've picked the wrong school.

Now excuse me while I go ice my shoulder from last night's armbar. :smug:

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Okay so this is something that interests me too. Is there an easy to understand guide to distinguish between the different types of martial arts? I've heard so many names (karate, kung fu, tae kwon do, aikido, capoeira (sp?), etc ) and I don't know the difference between any of them. How do you choose?

Well, there are a lot of ways to choose a martial art. You could choose one based on the culture of the country it comes from. People do that all the time:

  • If you're interested in Chinese culture, go with Taiji and Kung Fu.

  • If you're interested in Japanese culture, go with Karate, Aikido, Judo, Kendo and the like.

  • Thai culture is Muay Thai.

  • Filipino culture is Eskrima or Arnis.

  • Russian culture is Sambo.

  • Indonesian culture is Penjak Silat.

  • Indian culture is mostly wrestling, but you have some weapons-based stuff from there whose name escapes me.

  • America itself actually has legit martial arts in Boxing, Wrestling, and Kajukenbo.

  • Brazilian culture would be Capoeira and BJJ.

  • Korean culture would be Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido.

But, let's face it. Unless you live in a big city,the odds are you're not dealing with having all of those options available. So, it's much simpler to separate the arts into two distinctions: striking and grappling. There is a third distinction in the clinch, but that tends to get covered a lot.

Striking: Karate, Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Capoeira, Kendo, Taiji, Muay Thai, Eskrima, Arnis, Kendo, Silat, Boxing, Kajukenbo, Hapkido.

Grappling: Wrestling, Pankration, Sambo, Aikido, Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jutsu.

How you choose is up to you. Each has its own distinctions. In a combat situation, though, they all tend to bleed together anyway. It's not a big deal. The OP had it right when saying that they wanted more art. The best way to figure it out is to see what you have to work with, go watch a class, ask if it's like that all the time, and then figure out if that's what you want.

That's been my experience, anyway. Hope that helps.

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Everyone was nice, like scary overly nice, but they were all beginners at some point and knew the feeling.

Yes, we do. :friendly_wink:

One thing I can tell you as a beginner is that it's addictive.

Yes, it is. :friendly_wink:

If I could go roll 5 times/week I would.

Yes, you should. :friendly_wink:

These guys even though they are literally trained killers, are nicer and more fun to hang out with than my actual friends

Yes, we are. :friendly_wink:

lol Seriously though I'm really glad you enjoyed your first lesson. That sport has changed everything about me and my life for the better and I will advocate it's potential for self improvement to everyone I meet. There will be a certain point (soon) when it clicks and it becomes your lifestyle. Then there's no escape.

Here's a quick article a guy did on me a few years ago about the benefit of BJJ: http://meerkat69.blogspot.com/2010/08/jiu-jitsu-saved-my-life-josh-palmer.html

Some good thoughts on BJJ from one of my associations black belts - a fun read if you're in to grappling: http://www.adcombat.com/news/2010-01-18/carlson-gracie-black-belt-simon-hayes-%E2%80%93-interviewed-fighting-photographer

Jiu Jitsu is for everyone, it will do everyone in life a lot of good, they will encounter a more positive side of their character when they train Jiu Jitsu; it’s going to build your positive aspects and break down your negative aspects as you face your demons and fears every time you step on the mat.

What I realized was Jiu Jitsu over time is actually a battle with your inner self; it’s not a battle with your training partners or people you meet in competition. It’s a battle with the inner self, your ego and he’s a funny little fellow. Lots of people go through their whole life not recognizing their ego and are pulled from pillar to post by him, day in day out; they react to everything he says because they actually believe that their ego is them. Recognizing your ego is step one, it’s the voice in your head that tells you not to tap when your arms straight and is ready to be broken. Your ego is the voice in your head that tells you not to tap out when you’re caught in a choke and you’re about to go to sleep. Your ego is also the voice in your head that tells you when a tough fellow enters the gym, that tonight you should take it easy and give yourself a rest. It’s the voice in your head that tells you, when this tough fellow starts to train full time at the gym, that perhaps you should train lunchtimes instead of evenings. If you listen to your ego all the time, all it will do is hold you back, not just in Jiu Jitsu, but in life in general; recognizing who your ego is and learning not to listen to it is part of the journey in Jiu Jitsu.

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GoToTheGround - I just happen to noticed on the bottom - "Jiu-Jitsu Saved My Life" - care to elaborate? Since I just started to study in BJJ since August and have found it to be so fascinating, how I can incorporate in my daily life and many more. So I'm curious about yours. Sorry if it's off the point.

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Ok you've found my area of expertise :) If you want more of the art side there's karate, tang soo do, tae kwan do, wing chung or kung fu. The instructors should know how to have discipline but not be completely militant. Belt testing should be every 2-4 months and you should actually have to test for a belt. If not they only care about money. If they make anyone pay an additional belt test fee if they don't pass again they may only care about money. Make sure the place is clean as that's an issue with quite a few schools. Make sure the instructor there has some training in how to teach martial arts not just trophies, ranks, etc. If there are only a dozen students in the school there is probably a reason for that no matter how impressive they might seem. Same for a school with a lot of students, there's probably a reason. Any additional questions you can feel free to ask. I teach karate by the way, not just some crazy guy.

All due respect with you being a teacher and all that, but there is some pretty bad advice in there. While I don't run a school, I have some experience in different martials arts and teaching and I call balony on some of that.

Belt testing should be every 2-4 months and you should actually have to test for a belt. If not they only care about money. If they make anyone pay an additional belt test fee if they don't pass again they may only care about money.

Perhaps it's OK is belt testing for new students is every 2-4 months. But if students are continuously up for promotion that often it's not a good sign. Also, some belt ranking systems are vastly different to others in that they don't test at all or they have larger gaps between belt colours. Not to mention some systems just don't use belts at all. Also, some systems don't have a 'grading' at all, they just get the promotion after the instructor knows they are ready - after all the instructor has been watching them for a long enough time to be able to tell. If you are worried about belts and the quality of the school go the best way is to go and have a look at a class and try to spy out the higher grades. They should obviously know what they are doing and be more impressive than others and not obviously crap. But keep in mind personal deviations with this such as injuries or other things going that prevent them from showcases their true awesomeness that you as as newcomer don't know about.

If there are only a dozen students in the school there is probably a reason for that no matter how impressive they might seem. Same for a school with a lot of students, there's probably a reason.

Yes there is probably reasons behind small or large classes. But they can either be good, bad or neutral reasons. If you live in a small town, the chances of finding large classes are slim. Also if there is a very large class and only one teacher it can cause some issues. If could be a simple case of the teacher being a great teacher, but really bad a advertising so no one knows about the classes. Just use your instinct on this one.

So what do I think you should go on from here...

-Scout out what is actually available in your area within a reasonable distance to travel regularly. Seems like you have already started this. You can google different styles and watch some youtube videos of styles that are around but you don't know much about. Or ask here. You can ask on martial arts forums but be warned there are some not very nice ones around - think the opposite of NF.

-Check out community centres, halls and even churches as they often lend their space to various clubs.

-Most schools will let you watch and join in with one or two classes for free. So take advantage of these to see how you like the style and general fit of things. Take note of the teacher and other students. Sometimes you may really like the style but for whatever reason don't mesh with the other people so well. The people should be approachable and willing to answer your questions.

-Make a decision and sign up.

Warning signs or what to avoid or to like...

- So mostly things to avoid are places that take your money and don't give you a lot in return. That's not to say all commercial places are bad, but make sure are getting what you pay for. Compare prices of places and if any are more or less expensive it should be obvious why e.g. more classes, larger space, better equipment.

-Long contracts. These aren't immediately bad but just like gyms some clubs will bind you into a contract so if you can't continue or find you don't like it for a while you are short a lot of money. If they do generally have long contracts see if you can talk your way into a shorter one or pay per class for a bit until aboslutely sure you will continue. Some places lock you into 6 or 12 months contracts which I would not do. If they try to sign you for a contract before watching or participating in a class probably best to avoid.

- Forcing you to grade every few months. Generally they charge for these tests and you don't want to shell out money every few months. As a beginner you will generally grade more often though so keep that in mind. As mentioned before it will depend on the style though.

- Classes taught by younger or obviously less experienced people. While it's perfectly OK and natural for a more experienced student to tutor the less experienced some places have certified 'teacher' who are too young and or inexperienced to teach properly. There is one school around me that will let you teach and take a class after only 1 year of training. Ick.

At the end of the day it's pretty much about having fun. So go with any club you are able to and actually want to attend regularly. Even if something offers the penultimate self defence, fitness etc training for only $2 a month you aren't going to go to classes if you don't enjoy them and would rather be somewhere else.

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GoToTheGround - I just happen to noticed on the bottom - "Jiu-Jitsu Saved My Life" - care to elaborate? Since I just started to study in BJJ since August and have found it to be so fascinating, how I can incorporate in my daily life and many more. So I'm curious about yours. Sorry if it's off the point.

Started BJJ 4.5 years ago: I've lost over 120lbs doing BJJ, got some of the best friends you could hope for and I now get to fly around the world presenting live TV commentary for MMA shows (Lebanon, London, Ukraine last month, Dubai next week!) - all thanks to BJJ.

Here's my tattoo I got last year to commemorate my purple belt: http://www.gototheground.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/JJSML.jpg (incidentally the website that image is hosted on 'gototheground' is a grappling promotion I run so as you can see, from 5 years ago to now it's pretty much impossible to separate my life from BJJ!)

Still have my real job (which is great) but the rest of my life is BJJ/MMA and I am a better person in every way for it. Older before/after photos are linked in my original post above.

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Shiggles you've raised some valid points but allow me the opportunity to defend my words. Belt testing fairly often is ideal because it allows you to see improvement over a period of time. If the style tests rarely or not at all it can be more difficult to do this. Same reason why pretty much every fitness professional out there recommends that you journal your workouts, to see improvement. Rivanariko may be different but again this is the general public. In defense against the second point is every great school going to have 100's of students? No. But in general a great school will have a decent number of students and vice versa. Rivanariko wanted red flags and to me that's a red flag. Not a definite signal of a bad school but something to look out for. Also you mentioned that long term contracts are bad and I have to ask why that is? If you think you might be moving or aren't sure about the classes there's a very simple solution. Don't sign one.

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