Karate. Taekwondo. MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Kung Fu. Jiu Jitsu. Krav Maga. The list goes on. It seems like every day, there is a new option for martial arts training. So how can you tell which is best for you?
This is a great question which I get asked a lot. Before you can answer it, you may find it helpful to learn about the top styles. Then, you can assess what each offers and how it may fit your own goals. At the end, you will learn about the style in which I teach and train to give you the opportunity to decide if it might be right for you (And to take a class!)
The “Jello” or “Xerox” of martial arts. It’s the name which most understand as, “ah, so you kick, punch, and do other cool moves”. In truth, it is only one of many styles available around the world.
Karate began in Japan and typically encompasses both Japanese and Okinawan martial arts styles. For the former, think Samurai warriors, with their katana (swords) techniques and defined moves (with lots of armor, straight movements are easiest and most effective). Shotokan style Karate is directly descended from these traditions. It stresses hard strikes, big stances, and rigid, yet relaxed, body positions.
The martial arts of Okinawa evolved into Wado-ryu (Way of Harmony), the forefather of the style practiced at our own dojo, MuDoKai (Unlimited Way). It stresses strong techniques, but also the idea of yielding, meaning force doesn’t have to be met by force. Sometimes, a strike can be evaded or redirected, giving the defender more control over their attacker without needing equal or superior strength. Given you’re rarely attacked by someone smaller and weaker, this proves valuable as a self-defense concept. The principles of weapons such as the nunchaku, bo staff, and sai (think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) fall within this style.
For the first time, Karate will be an Olympic sport at Tokyo 2020.
This is a Korean martial art focused strongly on kicking techniques and speed of execution. If you recall seeing martial arts in the Olympics, this is the style of the competitors. Straight hand techniques and roundhouse kicks are its staple. It’s also common to see jumping and spinning kicks within Taekwondo. Think of the Chuck Norris knockout kick.
MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)
In recent years, numerous “MMA gyms” opened across the country, promising to train you into a competitor, much like those seen in UFC matches. It stresses intensity of technique when within “the octogon”, what they call the competition ring. It mixes a variety of martial arts styles with the principles of boxing. This means protective gear is limited, while techniques are executed at full strength, with the goal of submitting or knocking out your opponent. Submission means placing a person into a lock wherein they cannot escape, such as an arm bar, a headlock, or other similar bind. The sport also incorporates the ground fighting of Jiu Jitsu (more on that below).
As a daily training regimen, it may put you at higher risk of injury, while also neglecting the inner development work necessary to master a martial art, placing top importance on winning the match.
This is a Chinese martial art often combined with the principles of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and many more styles. It stresses flow of motion, circular techniques, and strong balance, as many motions are done on a single foot. Power is generated through “rooting” into the ground and generating explosive force through your body. Wherein other styles will “hit”, Chinese styles may “push” an opponent, sometimes to dramatic effect. Many practitioners train in a range of Chinese styles for the health benefits rather than self-defense (think of people doing their Tai Chi form in the park). However, Chinese boxing produces strong results when executed well, and cannot be ignored just because it’s “soft”.
Most references now reflect the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu popularized by the Gracie brothers. This is excusively a ground fighting style, focused on throwing or sweeping the opponent to the ground, then executing techniques. Its closest American relative is wrestling, though the goal is submission rather than forcing out of the ring. This style provides a training solution for what to do once you’re no longer on your feet. Stronger attackers may wish to pin someone to the ground. Ju Jitsu offers options for the defender, and also provides a student a means to develop perceptions beyond sight. When on the ground, vision is often hampered, so physical contact determines the best course of action. Your primary goal as a defender is to create space and take advantage.
This style is popular since it is the martial arts of the Israeli Special Forces. Potential students see this as evidence Krav Maga is exceptionally strong and tough. Practitioners engage in powerful strikes, throws, and submissions, with a mindset of stopping a suicide bomber or other military operation. It is popular as a self-defense style. In practice, it is the physical moves alone, with little “inner growth” encouraged, unlike many of the other styles described.
MuDoKai – Our Martial Arts Style
MuDoKai, which translates to “The Unlimited Way”. It is rooted in Okinawan Wado-ryu and Shotokan (Japanese Karate), giving it a strong tradition. (Some people, maybe you, really like knowing this) Additionally, the founders saw each style as having its own inherent advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, students receive the “best of” a world of styles, seeking to produce complete martial artists. Would you go to the gym and work everything but your left leg?
All training is rooted in proper body movement, with a focus on relaxation, lengthening, and extension.Proper head-neck orientation is also essential (especially in a time when many are contorting their necks while buried in screens). Why should you care? Great question. Do you have any odd aches and pains? There’s a good chance you can find some relief with proper body use. In fact, here’s a quick tip for you to use right now:
Imagine your shoulders sinking to the ground, while your head remains hanging freely above.
Then, extend the back of your neck, while still looking forward. Chances are, you now have a better posture.
Regular training improves it even more, making you more resilient against injury or random pains. And if you’re researching for your child, these benefits, when started early, can become habit at a young age and prevent problems later on in life!
The Right Martial Arts Style For You
We hope this guide gave you a better insight into the variety of martial arts styles available. From Karate to Taekwondo to Kung Fu and more, finding the right style for your goals is essential. At our dojo (place of training), we would be happy to discuss if MuDoKai is right for you. Simply fill out the form below to start the conversation!
Also, visit us on our YouTube channel. We teach martial arts in Plantation, Florida (that’s Broward County), and are celebrating 39 years in the community. If you’d like to take a class, fill out that form so we can help you achieve your martial arts and life goals!
Bonus: Training Essentials Guide
Additionally, as a thank-you for your interest, we will redirect you to our in-depth bonus guide on many aspects of our training. From how your fighting stance can affect techniques to what kata are (and why we believe they are important), you’ll get valuable insights which will help you get the most out of whatever martial arts training you choose.