Our Guide to the Best Martial Arts
Martial Arts is a broad term, generally speaking though, martial arts are a great way for you to get fit, learn discipline and better yourself.
Martial arts are as interesting as they are varied. Each one has its own unique benefits that can prove a significant draw to certain people, but as a beginner it is often difficult to know which martial art is best suited to you. Martial arts can be great for your own personal development and fitness, as well as for your mental wellbeing and discipline too. Below are some of the main aspects of a few select martial arts to help you understand what to expect before signing up to a lesson.
Karate saw a surge in popularity in the late 1900s and as such has become a well established within martian arts. This means there are plenty of clubs to choose from all over the country, and there is a regimented syllabus to ensure monitored progression to a recognised standard. There are also lots of Karate competitions available to enter, which can add an extra layer to your learning.
Krav Maga boasts strong practical applications for its style. It is largely seen as one of the more serious self-defence based martial arts and saw a boost in popularity in the last decade. Its roots were established in the Israeli military and as such it seen to be a hugely effective mode of self-defence as well as developing fitness.
Wing Chun was championed by Bruce Lee, an internationally recognised martial arts legend. The main draw of Wing Chun is that it claims to be effective for everyone, regardless of strength or size, as it is more focussed on technique and speed.
Jeet Kune Do
Jeet Kune Do is Bruce Lee’s own style of martial arts, one of the only modern martial arts to stand up to the classics. Any practitioner of Jeet Kune Do will be a very well rounded self defence practitioner with a broad knowledge base and good understanding of what their body is capable of.
Traditional Tai Chi is a very gentle form of martial arts that doesn’t require any particular level of fitness and can be done by anyone of any age or physical ability. It is mostly looked to for its calming and meditative benefits, as well as improving flexibility, balance and control.
Brazilian Ju-jitsu is largely competitive and sports-based. As such, there are many specialist schools dedicated to Brazilian Ju-Jitsu that will help you towards competing locally, regionally or even nationally. Brazilian Ju-Jitsu is very physical and will promote a high level of fitness.
Created as a self defence without any attacks, Aikido comprises of beautiful flowing motions that use an attacker’s momentum to off balance and throw them around. Practitioners of Aikido will end up with a calm mindset and be acutely aware of how their body moves in order to utilise as much momentum from the attacker as possible.
Judo is a sports based martial art with many different categories dependant on gender, weight and age. However, with the confidence and techniques that practising Judo develops a Judoka will be able to topple even the largest of attackers with ease. Additionally, if you’re a clumsy individual Judo is the martial art for you – you’ll never hurt yourself falling again.
Kendo is, loosely, the samurai sword version of fencing. You’ll gain good reactions and become very light on your feet practising this martial art. It is one of few on this list that specialises in weaponry, which can make it a draw for people with aligning interests.
Kogen Ryu incorporates aspects of many other styles in order to create a practical self-defence based martial art. It is currently a lesser-known style and as such is flexible and allows for a level of personalisation.
The parent martial art of many of the practises on this list, a practitioner of ju-jitsu will become a very well rounded martial artist with a wide range of knowledge of many different types of techniques.
Mixed Martial Arts
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is one of the most popular martial arts of the modern era. Mixing the techniques of boxing, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu and Muay Thai and using vigorous fitness regimes this sport is bound to get you in good shape and send you off with powerful strikes, and groundwork paralleled only by practising pure Brazilian Ju-Jitsu.
Boxing will make you light on your feet, have fast hands for striking and help you generate lightning-speed reactions. In boxing there is a lot of focus on utilising upper body strength and fast footwork.
Taekwondo specialises in kicks, and high kicks at that. As such it promotes fantastic flexibility and balance. Taekwondo is another sports-centric martial art with plenty of competitions nationally.
The only Russian martial art on this list, Systema uses efficient body dynamics to generate “ballistic” strikes and allows you absorb your attacker’s strikes. This martial art is great for teaching a practitioner to relax, as this is key to generating power in their movements.
Savate is essentially French kickboxing. It is great for building fitness levels and flexibility in the lower body, and combines elements of English boxing with graceful kicking (only with the feet – shin and knee strikes are not allowed). Modern Savate is thought to have come about from 19th century French street fighting.
Kali includes stick fighting and knife fighting and so is great for building confidence in dealing with attacks of this nature. It is highly specialised and while you may not be able to apply the offensive techniques in self defence for legal reasons, it will certainly be useful when it comes to defence against weaponry.
A Thai sport based martial art that sees the use of the knees and elbows in addition to the kicks and punches seen in kickboxing. Practitioners of this style can generate a lot of power and have a wide knowledge of various different strikes.
A Korean martial art that hits on all practises including throws, kicks, strikes, restraints. This martial art has a lot of the benefits of Ju-Jitsu and could even be considered Korea’s equivalent martial art.