Know Your Limits
There are plenty of different Martial Arts available, and each has slightly different fitness level requirements. Before looking in to the different varieties available, make sure you know exactly what fitness level you are at and what you could handle doing, as some arts take pride in their rigorous physical training. If the thought of this makes you queasy, it’s probably best not to continue further at that particular school.
For people in peak physical shape, Kung Fu, Krav Maga, Wushu and some Tae Kwon Do organizations offer hard training regimes that may test even the most fit and able.
For someone lacking in the physical strength required for more difficult martial arts, some forms of Tai Chi and Karate are fairly easy on the body.
Of course there are a myriad of different arts in between these two examples. For instance, while many martial arts students find Tae Kwon Do to be fairly challenging physically, there are other arts that would be quite easy for people of the same fitness level. Always investigate the particular dojo before deciding on an art based on its general fitness requirements, as these requirements vary from instructor to instructor.
Decide Which Martial Art is Right for You Based on Your Interests
Often the right martial art is the one which you as a practitioner will enjoy doing the most, and this all comes down to personal preferences.
Are you after a style only to defend yourself with or to strike back as necessary? A style such as karate or judo is more concerned with self defense, whereas an art such as Krav Maga or Kung Fu places more emphasis on striking back to disable the opponent with superior technique.
Do you prefer punching or kicking? Most Martial Arts place emphasis on punching, however only a few specialise in kicking attacks. Tae Kwon Do, Mhuy Thai and Kickboxing are all ideal for those who would prefer to attack with their feet.
The level of formality is also something which may be taken in to account when deciding on a martial art, but this is usually determined on an organization basis rather than the art itself.
If you’re after something completely different, armed martial arts such as Kendo may be of interest.
These are just a few of the questions you should ask when deciding on a martial art.
The Myth of the “Best Martial Art”
Many people go out on the search for the best martial art. It’s no surprise that all of these people return empty handed, because there is no such thing as the best martial art. Each style is different in its own ways, has its own weaknesses and strengths and caters towards a different person, audience and situation.
So the most important thing to do before you ask yourself "which martial art is right for me?", is to abandon any thoughts of a "best martial art". Despite every style in existence claiming to be the best, most disciplined, accurate, deadly art around, it’s most certainly not to be the case.
Beware the McDojo
When searching for which martial art is right for you, keep in mind that rising quickly through the ranks is almost never a good thing.
The term McDojo refers to organizations which almost solely exist for the purpose of making profit – there is no real desire for participants to be particularly skilled or fit, but simply to rise through the ranks in as quick as time possible so the organization can make money from grading fees and other charges.
Chances are if you’ve been promised elevation to black belt level in one year, you want to avoid the organisation. Organizations emphasizing how cool or fashionable you’ll be busting out the moves should also be viewed with suspicion.
Pick a Martial Art in Your Area
It would be incredibly disappointing to decide on a martial art and go to the time to research every facet of its existence, but then realize there are no dojos in your local area. If you find something interesting, check Google to see if any schools are established in your area. If they are, you’re in luck, but if none are in existence, it’s time to keep looking for a martial art.
Sit in on a Training Session
Once you’ve picked something that seems like a good club and style for yourself, the next step is attend a training session. Most instructors will allow you to sit down and watch if you’re trying to decide whether or not to join the club. From here you can observe the customs and practices of the club as well as how the style looks in practice. If you have any questions regarding the art, ask your questions at the end of the session, or if the instructor or another black belt/senior student comes over to speak to you.
Moore, J. (n.d.). 5 Steps to Choosing the Right Martial Art for You. In SelfGrowth.com. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from https://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Moore41.html.
Rousseau, R. (n.d.). Types of Martial Arts – What Is the Best Type of Martial Arts. In About.com. Retrieved September 22, 2010, from https://martialarts.about.com/.