How To Choose A Martial Art

I’m Paul Willson I am a brown belt in Ju Jutsu, a centuries old Japanese martial art.

Photo by Matheus Natan on

So you have made the decision to do a martial art. Good for you! You have made the first step in a journey that you won’t regret.

Obviously the best way to choose a martial art is to see a video or a demonstration and think “WOW I want to do that!”. Then it is a case of finding your nearest dojo and starting your martial arts journey.

If you don’t have that WOW moment. How do you choose which martial art to train in?

I’m going to answer that question a bit backwards because I think that finding the right dojo is the most important thing. You will be paying money to train at the dojo so you need to find one that you will be happy to train in. How seriously to you want to train? Do you want to train hard and serious every time you go or do you want to slack every now and then, just being happy to hang out at the dojo. This is important because if you are one and everyone else is the other then you probably won’t enjoy being at the dojo. Training with like minded people will affect your enjoyment. When I returned to the UK after living in Spain I went to a dojo proudly wearing my yellow belt I earnt in Spain. The instructor saw me and asked aggressively if that yellow belt was federation approved. Needless to say I didn’t go back. First impressions matter. Luckily I found another Ju Jutsu dojo which I still go to.

Ask yourself why do you want to train in martial arts? There is some danger in training martial arts and you will probably get some kind of injury, mostly not serious but accidents do happen. Do you really want to do something where you can get hurt. For me it was to exercise indoors with other people doing a non competitive activity. I would say put ideas like MMA and self defence out of your mind. I will write another post about why because this is worthy of a topic in its own right. If you want to do any of these join a MMA gym or do a self defence course, however, most top MMA fighters specialised in one martial art. Mostly Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Kick Boxing.

Now which martial art is right for you? I will go through my thought processes when I chose Ju Jutsu by asking the following questions:

  1. Is there a country’s martial arts that interests you? Do Japanese, Chinese or Western martial arts for example appeal to you the most.
  2. Make a list of martial arts from that country. Use the internet to find the martial arts. For example Google “Japanese martial arts”, “Chinese martial arts” or “Western martial arts”.
  3. Do you want to compete in competitions?
  4. Use YouTube to watch videos of each martial art and make a short list.
  5. From your short list use the internet to find a dojo near you for each martial art.
  6. Call the dojo to to let them know you want to attend their classes.

Don’t be afraid to attend more than one dojo until you find one you like. A lot (not all) of reputable dojos give your first class for free. Find this out before you attend. Remember they need to impress you. First impressions matter as mentioned before. If they charge a lot of money this is a red flag that this is not a reputable dojo and do not attend. In the UK up to £50 and up to 50€ in the European Union for a month’s worth of lessons is not unreasonable. This would cover a dojo’s costs and and maybe instructor’s wages. You will more than likely be expected to pay an annual membership fee and a fee for any exams. Again membership and exam fees shouldn’t be exorbitant up to black belt, exams can be expensive after black belt. It is your money, if you are not comfortable in paying what they are charging you don’t have to go back.

Another important question you should ask before attending a dojo is if the instructors are first aid trained. A good martial art federation will hold instructor courses which will include first aid and resuscitation skills. Also ask whether injuries are a regular occurrence. Most people who do martial arts will moan about wear and tear injuries which normally heal by themselves after a few weeks rest but their (me included) stubbornness and stupidity brings them back to the dojo, this is ok. What is not ok is if broken bones, ligament damage or dislocations happen regularly.

I hope this helps and I hope you enjoy whatever martial art you chose to do.

How and why did you choose the martial art you do? Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of doing martial arts? Please leave a comment below.


Published by Paul Willson

I am Paul Willson. I have reached the rank of brown belt in Ju Jutsu. Thanks to Coronavirus I not been able to take my black belt grading stopping my martial art's journey in its tracks which the only polite word I can think of as frustrating. I have created this blog to try and help anyone who is thinking of starting a martial art or has just started a martial art.

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