New to Martial Arts? Here is What You Need to Know

Michael Chin- New to Martial Arts (1)

So, your curiosity about martial arts has finally gotten the better of you. You have decided to roll up your sleeves and perform some research. If you want to know what to expect out of martial arts, you have come to the right place. I’m going to list out several things that you will learn very quickly when it comes to starting your martial arts journey.

1) Do your research. Whether you want to try Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Capoeira, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Judo, Kickboxing or MMA, you will want to figure out which art is right for you. More than likely, you will begin one, and adopt another and another. You will want to visit the gyms in your area to meet their instructors and see what they have to offer. Most places offer a free trial ranging from one to two weeks. You may want to sign a long-term contract or go month-to-month. Trust me, take advantage of the free week or two and try as many types of classes as you can. This will help you narrow down where you want to focus.

2) Once you decide which types of classes you want to take, you will need to purchase gear. If you take jiu jitsu or judo, you will need a gi and a white belt to start. Kickboxing and Muay Thai will require gloves, shin pads and a mouth guard. There are “start-up” costs to any sport and martial arts is no exception. Ask what your professor recommends and see if you can find affordable items online. The gym may also sell them for a little over cost.

3) No matter which martial art you choose, one thing is for certain, you will quickly replace bad habits with new ones. I will be honest here, I still struggle with some of my non-training related bad habits (cookies and ice cream), but I have knocked most of them out. Once you get started, you will begin to recognize your training bad habits and begin to correct them. The journey is a constant learning process.

4) Martial arts will give you much more than a physical workout. I personally go train over my lunch hour. I go back to work with a clear head. It’s like hitting a reset button. If you are stressed, you will leave the gym feeling better. Whatever you choose will not only help your physical health, but it will teach you problem solving, stress management, and enable you to keep a clear head. Martial arts is the ultimate meditation.

5) I am saving the best for last. The number one reason I love martial arts is because when you enter the gym you decide to call home, you are not just entering a workout facility, you are joining a family. You will enter a place where your training partners care about you on and off the mats. The camaraderie is like none I have experienced before.

Go visit your local martial arts academies. Visit several. Pay attention to how the members treat each other. You will know when you have found the right place for you.

MMA vs Systema vs. Karate: Which Is Best?

sport-310088_1280When you search “what’s the difference between MMA and karate?” online, there are no shortage of applicable answers. Googling “what’s the difference between MMA and systema” or “What’s the difference between karate and systema?” yields far fewer relevant results, but that doesn’t mean Systema is any less legitimate a martial art.

The Russian martial art of systema is relatively new to North America (with the first studio outside of Russia opening in Canada in 1993). In the last two decades, numerous studios have been popping up stateside. If you’re thinking about beginning a martial arts practice (or if considering changing up your current regimen), navigating the different options (karate, MMA, kung fu, systema, etc.) can seem daunting. Knowing that systema isn’t as well-known as other martial arts, I’ve shared a couple videos here that demonstrate what systema looks like in action when set against other practices.

Systema vs Karate

The above video doesn’t demonstrate the best sparring match; it’s more of a demonstrate of possible ways to combat karate moves with systema techniques (not to mention that the narrator and demonstrator is speaking in Russian). Still you’ll still get a general idea of the visual differences between the two practices.

Systema vs. MMA

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is perhaps best known as the premier sport off the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), a group that organizes and promotes most of the sport’s popular showdowns. The definition of MMA is pretty self-explanatory based on its name: It’s a mix of different martial arts. Some industry insiders argue the legitimacy of MMA as a martial art, but a 2010 Bleacher Report article says the sport is here to stay.

The more traditional martial arts often focus on defending yourself against attacks, and your mastery is demonstrated by moving up in a belt system wherein you work on form and memorize certain movements. Where these traditional practices are based in self-defense, MMA is a more aggressive with championship ranking that are reminiscent of boxing divisions (featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, etc.).

So What’s Right For You?

If you’re curious about the various martial arts, do take the time to learn more about systema. There’s no right way to choose  the best martial art for you.  It’s all about your comfort level and interest. Only you can determine the perfect fit.