Which Martial Art Is Right For Me? – Getting Started Guide


There are dozens of different martial arts, and choosing the right one is not an easy task. In fact, some martial arts are physically more difficult, more or less effective, focus on different aspects of fighting, and have different philosophies.

In this article, you will learn about the most popular martial arts practiced by millions of people all around the world. We will guide you through each one and bring you closer by answering all the important questions. After reading through this article, you will have a much better understanding of all major martial arts styles, and it will be much easier for you to choose the one that fits you best. Let’s dive right into it.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu(BJJ)

BJJ is one of the most practical systems that is also a very safe martial art to train in as it entirely focuses on grappling and fighting on the ground. On top of that, it is very complex and hard to master which is why people often refer to it as a “human chess match”.  

Is BJJ good for self-defense?

Yes, BJJ is one of the most practical systems in real combat. If you need any proof, just look at how dominant BJJ is in MMA fighting, and how well it matches against other styles. The other thing is that most average people don’t know how to grapple or defend submissions as these are not our natural reactions. It takes many years to learn how to defend against BJJ, which gives you a huge advantage in a real fight.

Is BJJ difficult to learn?

Yes, BJJ falls into the group of the most difficult martial arts to learn. There are so many variables and each move is complex and requires a lot of practice to get right. That’s why, on average, students need from 10 all the way up to 15 years to reach a BJJ black belt rank, which is a

reason why you will often hear that BJJ is a “lifelong journey”. Learning truly never stops.

Is BJJ safe and what is the injury rate?

BJJ doesn’t include striking which is why the injury rate is quite low (around 9.2 injuries per 1000 exposures). Yes, training BJJ could be hard on your body and carries a certain risk of injuries, as all other sports do. But overall, it is much safer than most other martial arts.

Is BJJ good for fitness and weight loss?

Rolling on the mats with a person your size or bigger on top of you is exhausting. But in the long run, it will improve your upper and lower body strength, help lose weight, and improve your range of motion. BJJ athletes are among the most flexible, agile, and practically strong people on the planet.

Pros and cons of BJJ

ProsCons
Very effective in a self-defense situationTakes a lot of time to master
Low injury rate (no striking)Requires years of consistency and dedication
Improves mental health, flexibility and range of motionDoes not teach you any striking (not even the basics)
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Mixed Martial Arts(MMA)

MMA is the most versatile combat system. In some ways, it is the closest thing humans have got to legal street fighting as it enables athletes to utilize all techniques except the dirty ones. They can strike using all limbs, wrestle in the clinch, and take each other down to fight on the ground with chokes and joint locks.

Is MMA good for self-defense?

MMA will prepare you for most scenarios that you may encounter on the streets. Whether you end up in a striking exchange or inside the clinch or fall down to the ground, you will have the skills and weapons to defend yourself. The best thing about it: each technique you learn works in real life and is designed to beat the attacker in the most efficient way possible. You won’t spend a second of your time doing fake moves or the ones that are hard to apply.

Is MMA difficult to learn?

Yes, MMA is difficult to learn simply because you have to be an expert in at least two martial arts to cover all the aspects of the game. For instance, you have to have Muay Thai/boxing skills to strike, and combine those with BJJ/Wrestling to fight on the ground. This way, MMA might take between 5 and 10 years to master. But if you switch over to MMA after years of training in some other martial art, then you will need much less time. 

Is MMA dangerous to train in?

MMA is a sport that carries one of the highest injury rates, 28.6 injuries per 100 fight participations to be more precise. Training is hard as you are constantly switching between striking and grappling, and not many people could sustain such a workload. Not to mention the constant sparring sessions in just about every class and how that increases the injury rate.

Is MMA good for fitness?

MMA training is one of those workouts that equally target the muscles in both upper and lower body segments. Each training session is a full-body workout that will push both your mind and body to new heights. 

Pros and cons of Mixed Martial Arts(MMA)

ProsCons
An all-around system that prepares you for any fighting scenarioTakes a lot of time to master
Includes only the most effective techniquesDo not sign up unless you are ready to attend the classes at least 4-5 times a week
Builds strong mental resistance and improves strength in every single muscle groupNot many people can sustain the intensity of MMA classes
Training is fun and never gets monotoneIncludes the highest injury rate out of all combat sports
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Krav Maga

Krav Maga is a combat system created by the Israeli military in the 1950s. Unlike most other systems on this list, it focuses entirely on self-defense and there is no competition. The entire emphasis is on preparing you to neutralize the attacker in the fastest and most efficient way possible. Apart from all-around skills, it encourages you to utilize dirty tactics like eye gouging, groin strikes, punches to the throat, and much more. Or in other words, it enables you to do anything that will protect your life. If that means that you should grab a glass from the table and blast the attacker right in the face with it, Krav Maga encourages you to do just that. 

Is Krav Maga good for self-defense?

Krav Maga focuses entirely on real fighting and it is designed to prepare you for various scenarios you may get yourself into. It will teach you how to fight in different places like in the closed space like a bar or in open spaces like a street or parking lot. You will also do drills on how to deal with multiple attackers and weapons, and overall, everything revolves around explosive attacks with the goal to finish the fight as fast as possible.  

Is Krav Maga difficult to learn?

Krav Maga is an intense martial art and very hard to learn simply because there are too many variables and scenarios you need to prepare for. On the other side, it is not that physically demanding as there is no hard sparring, and neither the moves you learn are too complex or hard to execute. On average, students need around 3 to 5 years to develop good skills that they can apply in real combat. 

Is Krav Maga dangerous to learn?

Krav Maga is very physical but it is not as hard on your body as some other martial arts. Yes, you still need to learn how to strike using all limbs, but on the other side, there is no full contact sparring. The reason for this is quite simple: you can’t gouge eyes or strike the groins or apply other brutal moves in training.

Who should learn Krav Maga?

Krav Maga training will get you in top shape and help you lose weight like most sports would. But you should pick Krav Maga only if your main goal is to improve your fighting abilities as fitness and having fun in training is not a priority. 

Pros and cons of Krav Maga

ProsCons
Training focuses entirely on self-defenseThe quality of classes varies between schools and countries
Highly realistic self-defense drillsMost schools do not include full-contact sparring
An all-around system that teaches you how to fight in all placesThe discipline and intensity of the classes are somewhat the same as the one in the military.
Includes dirty tactics and weapon-based training
Teaches you how to stay calm, assess the situation you are in, and solve problems in a stressful situation
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Boxing

Boxing focuses only on punches and it might look simple and easy to learn compared with other systems on this list. But despite its limitations in terms of weapons, it is, and it always will be, one of the most practical martial arts.

Is boxing good for self-defense?

Yes, boxing skills work really well in a self-defense scenario. In training, you will learn everything about distance, timing, blocks, and how to deliver fast, precise and powerful shots. If you combine this with the fact that most street fights begin with one person throwing a punch (or more), you get why boxing ranks very high in the self-defense aspect.

Is boxing difficult to learn?

In short, no, boxing does not take a lot of time to master. When you take a closer look at it, it all revolves around 5–6 different punches, how to put the combos together, and mix it with footwork and upper body movement. On average, students need around 3 months to master the basics, and a year of training to develop solid skills.

Is boxing dangerous and what is the injury rate?

Boxing training is hard on your body and it carries a high injury rate. It falls behind MMA when it comes to overall injuries, but, it ranks in the first place when it comes to severe ones like concussions and brain damage. Other injuries such as broken noses, ribs, orbital bones, or jaw are also quite common.

Is boxing good for fitness and weight loss?

Boxing is a full-body workout where the emphasis is on endurance. Or in other words, you will do a lot of grueling cardio workouts that burn a lot of calories. Training sessions are intense, there is very little rest and a lot of aerobic and anaerobic exercises. 

ProsCons
Beginner friendly and relatively easy to learnHigh injury rate when it comes to serious injuries
Includes simple and direct techniquesQuite limited in terms of techniques as it focuses only on hand strikes
Highly effective in a real fightMost boxing gyms emphasize hard sparring as the best method of teaching you how to fight in real life. 
Improves heart health, overall body strength, balance, and decreases stress.
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Muay Thai Kickboxing

Muay Thai is often seen as a complete and most practical striking system, and in the eyes of many people, most brutal as well. It is a total package as it trains you to use all limbs as weapons to strike at all ranges, including the clinch, and even some basics of grappling like trips and throws.

Is Muay Thai good for self-defense?

Muay Thai is one of the best options if you want to develop self-defense skills. You will learn how to kick, punch, and use knees and elbows at close range, and fight in the clinch. No matter what the opponent does on the feet, you will be prepared to deal with it. The entire concept of training revolves around hard sparring and preparing your mind and body for real combat.

Is Muay Thai difficult to learn?

In terms of techniques, Muay Thai is an advanced striking system. However, the emphasis is on simple and direct techniques that do not require much time and energy to execute. Or in other words, you won’t have a hard time picking up the basics, and it usually takes between 2 and 4 years of training to become proficient.

Is Muay Thai dangerous and what is the injury rate?

The biggest downside of training in Muay Thai is the high injury rate. Of course, the injury rate differs between pros and amateurs. But still, training puts a lot of emphasis on hard sparring, and grueling workouts, and your entire body will suffer a lot. You have to approach training in a methodical way, and pay extra attention to recovery, wearing protective gear, overtraining and avoiding damage in sparring. 

Is Muay Thai good for fitness?

Muay Thai is very popular among amateurs who want to get in top shape as a single hour of training could burn up to 1000 calories. When it comes to fitness and weight loss, it is probably the best out of all martial arts.

Pros and cons of Muay Thai

ProsCons
Complete striking systemHard on your body
Perhaps the most effective striking artHigh injury rate
Works really well in real combatThere is a lot of hard sparring
Solid base if you want to switch to MMALack of ground fighting techniques
Burns a lot of calories, improves flexibility and core strength
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Muay Thai vs Kickboxing  –  Key Differences Explained and FAQ

Karate

Karate is a well-known martial art that has many styles and forms. Most of the styles like Shotokan focus on striking and mixing kicks with punches. Though it has been around for a long time, modern karate is not as effective as it used to be which is why, in this day and age, it has become a great option for kids or young people who are looking to get into the world of martial arts.

Is karate good for self-defense?

If you find a dojo that embraces traditional methods of teaching, then yes, it is. The emphasis of karate has changed over time from self-defense and real fighting to competition and winning matches under the rules. The only exception is Kyokushin, which is a style you should train in if you want to learn self-defense.

Is karate difficult to learn?

Most of the karate techniques are simple and direct, and you won’t have a hard time picking up the basics. There is no full contact sparring and students do a lot of pre-arranged forms (katas) in just about every class.

Is karate dangerous?

Though it consists of punches and kicks, karate is not hard on your body, with Kyokushin being the only exception. There is no full contact sparring as the emphasis is on speed, technique, and precision, which combined with the protective gear all students need to wear, makes karate very safe.

Is karate good for fitness?

Training in karate has certain fitness benefits. But if you are an amateur looking to get into martial arts to get a good workout, then there are better options like boxing or Muay Thai.

Pros and cons of karate

ProsCons
Solid self-defense skills (if you train in a traditional dojo)No full contact sparring and students do a lot of katas
Low injury rate (no hard sparring)Modern practices is too much oriented toward competition
Many styles to choose betweenNot popular among adults and you might have a hard time fitting in. 
Builds confidence and encourages self-discipline
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What Are The Different Styles of Karate? Simply Explained

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