Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Finding the Right MMA Gym or Martial Arts School

So, you're looking to get involved in some sort of martial art but you don't know where to start.

There are all kinds of different martial arts styles in your area and you are having a hard time figuring out which one you'd like to start training at. Or maybe you already know about what kind of style you're interested in but you've got a few choices in your area and you don't know how to differentiate them.

Whatever your issue is, I want to help you out.

I've compiled a list of questions you need to answer, and once you do, you'll know exactly where you should be training.

#1 - Do you want a competitive martial art or a contemplative martial art?

This is one of the big ones you're going to have to ask yourself before you pick a school.

Some martial arts schools are very competitive and they often compete in local, regional, national, and even international tournaments. Many competitive martial arts schools and gyms also have fighters that regularly fight in sanctioned, full-contact fights.

Highly competitive martial arts include: Tae Kwon Do/Tang Soo Do, many styles of Karate and Kung Fu, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Muay thai/Kickboxing/San Shou/Boxing, and (of course) Mixed Martial Arts.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are martial arts that have very few competitive aspects. These styles focus mainly on the inner, contemplative aspects aspects of the martial arts. People often train in these styles for their spiritual and psychological benefits in addition to the physical benefits.

Contemplative martial arts styles include: Aikido, internal Kung Fu (like Tai Chi/Taiji and Bagua), and certain types of Karate.

I do want to caution you that these are generalities and they won't apply across the board to all schools. You'd be doing yourself a huge disservice if you didn't call up the school or gym to inquire about the nature of their program.

#2 - Do you want to train for hard contact or light contact?

I'm not necessarily talking about how hard a school or gym spars. Rather I'm talking about what does the martial art prepare you for?

There are quite a few competitive martial arts out there that don't prepare you for full contact fighting. Rather you train to deal with people who are using techniques that look like punches and kicks but in reality they are just trying to "touch" you with those techniques - no real contact. Generally speaking, these types of martial arts are various styles of Karate and Tae Kwon Do/Tang Soo Do.

The other side of the coin are styles that will prepare you to handle full contact strikes and grappling. These styles are also more effective in self defense situations because, despite what others may say, in a self defense situation the guy wanting to hurt you will be coming at you at full speed and full power. MMA, Muay Thai/San Shou, Boxing/Kickboxing, Knockdown Karate, certain types of Tae Kwon Do, Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Judo are all full contact styles.

#3 - Do you want a tradition or something more innovative?

Many martial arts styles have histories and traditions that go back a long, long time. It can be very rewarding to become a part of such a tradition of warriors. But for others, tradition is something they couldn't care less about. For these folks innovation is what attracts them.

Virtually all Japanese, Chinese, and Korean styles have significant histories and traditions that go back many, many years. Even many newer styles like Muay thai, Aikido, and Tae Kwon Do have roots in much older martial systems.

But if innovation is your thing, then I'd suggest an art like MMA, Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or K1 style kickboxing.

#4 - Does the gym or school have the kind of "culture" and "atmosphere" you'd want to be a part of?

Perhaps one of the biggest things you should take into consideration is whether or not the school or gym is the kind of place you'd want to belong to.

Is the instructor nice and helpful or is he a little full of himself and kinda rude? Is the instructor knowledgeable or just another McDojo franchisee? Does the instructor demand respect and obedience or does he earn the respect his students give him? Are the other students polite and helpful or do they push around the lower ranks and show off how "bad ass" they are? Is the school or gym clean and well equipped or is it a kind of a hole in the wall that makes you feel like you might need a tetanus shot once you leave?

The bottom line is you should feel good about training somewhere. If you're gut is telling you not to train somewhere, then you should listen.

Final Tip - 

The final takeaway I'd like to leave you with is this: Do you homework!

Research a potential gym or martial arts school online. Ask around to see if you know somebody that's trained there. Try to find the school's Facebook page or blog. See if any of the students have a blog. Try to find online reviews. One of the best things you can do is try out a free class (which most places offer) to see if the place is right for you.

In my opinion this is the most important step.

Train Hard,
Josh Skinner

No comments:

Post a Comment