Where to Begin

There are lots of reasons to begin a martial art: increased strength and stamina, self-discipline, self-defense, and general fitness, to name a few. Choosing the martial art that is best suited to your needs and drives is the biggest challenge. How do you know you’re choosing the one that you’ll stick with? Nothing is more disheartening than discovering you’ve invested a lot of time and resources in something you’re going to give up on in short order. Understanding the differences in the arts before you invest is a wise course of action. But addressing your own goals and level of commitment is paramount.

Before you choose a martial art, decide what your goals are, determine any limitations you have, and how committed you’re willing to be. Many forms are taught all over the country, but if the particular martial art you’re interested in isn’t easily accessible, you’ll spend a lot of time traveling. Is that something you’re willing to do? If not, you may want to rethink your choice and settle on one that is available locally. A willingness to travel is great, but it may become tiresome and end up being the reason you give up on it, so make sure your commitment level is there before you begin.

A skilled and experienced instructor is going to be one of the biggest reasons you stick with your martial arts practice. Yes, you can do martial arts at home, but learning from an trained instructor will get you off to the best start. Forms will be taught correctly, a safe environment will be used, and with other students in a class, you’ll be able to compare and compete in a healthy setting. Sit in on a class or two when you think you’ve found the right instructor. Make sure the students in the class respect the instructor and demonstrate the kind of performance and commitment you want for yourself. Women especially need to be confident of an instructor’s approach before committing. Too many studios and instructors place a premium on competition rather than self-improvement, and this can make it difficult to feel comfortable in a class.

Lastly, while a unique iteration of a martial art may seem fun and intriguing, when you first begin, a structured approach to a pure art is best. Look for an instructor who teaches the basics, not a combination of arts that may be the latest fad. As with all forms of self-discipline, starting at the very beginning is your best bet for success. As you progress, you may discover that a combination of arts suits you, and that’s fine, but learn how to crawl before your run a marathon. You’ll be more likely to stick with your practice for years if you have a good foundation.