Choosing a Martial Arts School
Martial Arts training has many benefits we all know about but with so many styles around all claiming to be the answer to every problem, the question is “Which one is right for me ??”
This is by no means a be all and end all history of and guide to different martial arts styles, rather just a quick description based on my experience of what you can expect from …
Kickboxing- Kickboxing as most people practice it today began in the 1970s in the USA when some American karate practitioners became a little fed up with all the traditions of their Martial Arts training and decided to go back to training in a boxing gym but they took their knowledge of kicking techniques with them.
Now kickboxing is usually divided into either full contact, light contact and point fighting. Full Contact is cooked in a boxing ring over three minute rounds. Light contact and points uses different protective equipment and is usually cooked in 20ft x 20ft square area over 1.5 or 2 min rounds, very similar to sport karate sparring.
Karate- First developed for civil self protection on the island of Okinawa. In the 15th century civilians were banned from carrying weapons, karate or ‘te’ as it was called at the time was practiced by small groups, often in secret as a way for people to protect them and their land against the marauding bandits.
In 1917 karate was taken to Japan where it was systemized into the styles we know today (mainly Shotokan, Wado-Ryu and Gojo-Ryu) and became one of the most popular Martial Arts in the world.
Sport / Freestyle Karate- These styles are generally a mix of modern sport karate, similar to light contact and points kickboxing, and a more traditional style of karate. Practitioners will typically use more traditional aspects of karate to grade for their belts but train more like kick boxers for the purposes of competition.
Judo- Created by Jiguro Kano in 1882 in Japan. Jiu Jitsu at the time was suffering from a pretty bad reputation, as nothing but fighting techniques used by brawlers and ruffians. However Kano knew how Martial Arts training can have a positive effect on peoples character especially youngsters. So he removed the dangerous techniques from jiu jitsu to create the sport of Judo. Insisting that the true purpose of Judo training was to develop character through confidence. Interestingly enough Judo was the first Martial Art to introduce the now familiar white Gi or uniform and use different color belts to separate grades.
TaeKwonDo- Created in the Korean army after WW2 by Gen Choi Hong Hi. Korea was occupied by Japan until the end of WW2, the Japanese rulers had outlawed the practice of Korean Martial Arts so most Koreans at the time only had knowledge of Karate. When Korea gained some degree of freedom after the war all the leading Martial Artists got together to create a new uniquely Korean Martial Art they could be proud of. Tae Kwon Do was a mixture of Subak (an old Korean Martial Art), Taekyun (an ancient kick fighting sport) and Shotokan Karate.
Gen Choi left Korea to spread Tae Kwon Do around the world and did not return for political reasons, in his absence a second style of Tae Kwon Do was formed (called WTF style) by masters who wanted to develop the sport side further and also that that Choi’s Tae Kwon Do boar too much resemblance to Shotokan Karate.
Some some attempts to unite all Tae Kwon Do practitioners the two styles exist almost as separate Martial Arts, ITF style Tae Kwon Do and WTF style Tae Kwon Do.
So how do you decide which style is best for you? It may depend on whether you are studying for historical interest, self defense or looking for other character building benefits. In my opinion there is only one way to decide which one is for you and that that is just the style you enjoy the most. That may sound like I’m sitting on the fence but the truth is that in order to gain any benefits from studying a martial art you need to stick with it for some time and this will only happen if you enjoy your training.