Martial arts.....and stuff

I wanna learn a martial art (or two:cool: ) from a book, so - which one should i learn and which books do you recomend?

I really can’t imagine a martial art that could be learned without interaction with an instructor and other students. There are just too many subtle physical skills involved, and too much interaction necessary, to be able to learn it all by reading about it, no matter how much you practice what you read.

Books are an important help when you’re involved in learning a martial art, but to depend on them entirely is unrealistic, and could even be dangerous, IMHO.

Is there no way you could find an instructor or a class? Even if it’s not the exact martial art you want to study, it would be better than trying to learn on your own.

I guess you’re right, I’m just abit scared about going to a class and being really…crap - how about kick boxing? that’d keep me fit etc.

Everybody has to start somewhere. And I don’t think that any respected martial arts class would ridicule someone for not being able to fend of 3 attackers during their first lesson :slight_smile:

Go, learn and most of all, have fun. You may be surprised at what you are really capable of.

Yeah, definately take a class as opposed to reading books. You can do both at the same time, but not just books…you’ll miss out on a lot.

I recomend fencing. Its the fastest martial art there is, and its a whole lotta fun. Plus its really cool to get all the equipment on. You feel like superman/woman!

If you’re nervous, go and observe a class. That way you can see how they treat new guys and see if they go at a pace that’s good for you. It also can help you decide on the right style and dojo.

Most schools have some sort of “free introductory lessons” thing, that is usually just you and an instructor. This will give the teacher a chance to guage where your skills lie, and gives you a chance to decide if you like the art or not.

Before you do this, you need to decide what you’re trying to get out of Martial Arts. Self Defense? Physical Conditioning? A shiny belt to hang on your wall?

What is your body type?

Are you looking for somethign defensive?

Where, roughly, do you live?

You cannot learn martial arts from a book. Books can help you refine technique, but without a person there to guide you, you can make some very serious mistakes and not know it. It can take a long time to ‘unlearn’ something that’s been learned wrong.

Which art you study depends on why you want to study one. Self defense? Sport? Fitness? Something else?

As far as learning by book, that’d be like taking driving lessons by correspondence course…

Books are ok, once you have the basic physical skills. You should already know how to throw a punch or a kick properly and with good power & flexibility.

The books can do a good job of showing you positional differences between one style and another, but I really wouldn’t recommend books for learning as a beginner. There’s too much you have to learn that has to be felt and shown.

Read this for some general information on it.

I’ve fought in chinese-style full-contact (san shou) competitions. I taught martial arts for 6 years. People showed up with their book learning and video learning all the time. I just told them to come on in and try out a class. Almost always, they were indistinguishable from people who had no experience.

There are many prejudices out there about what school(s) are “best”. I won’t trouble you with my “well reasoned and insightful opinions” about such things. Instead I’ll provide some guidelines that should serve you well.

There is no replacement for practice.

Re: the use of martial arts in a fight
It doesn’t matter what you know;
it doesn’t matter what you think;
it doesn’t matter what you say;
it only matters what you do.

There’s no substitute for practice.

If all you want is to get in shape you should take aerobics or classes from one of the “McDonald’s of martial arts” schools.

There’s no substitute for practice.

Classes should involve both kinds of endurance training- long term endurance the kind associated with jogging and the intense kind that’s associated with things like sprinting.

There’s no substitute for practice.

Classes should involve lots of conditioning, esp. early on, so that you’ll be able to avoid injuries as you engage in more and more vigorous activities.

There’s no substitute for practice.

Your brain changes when you are tired. Your classes should help you learn to compensate.

There’s no substitute for practice.

Your brain changes when you’re experiencing pain. Your classes should help you learn to compensate.

There’s no substitute for practice.

Oh yeah,
There is no replacement for practice.

I just want to note that I agree with SimonX 100%.

I’m certainly not going to claim that my martial arts is the best, but I enjoy it. It’s called Kuk Sool Won, a Korean martial art that teaches fluidity in movement through circular techniques and deflections rather than hard blocks. Joint locks and pressure points are the main focus.

You can find a school here:

There are a surprising number of schools in the UK, so there will almost certainly be one near wherever you live if you’d like to check it out.

I think it’s safe to say that the consensus is that trying to learn martial arts from a book is a waste of time.

As it was stated before… books are a good suppliment, but nothing is better than actually attending a live class.

There are litterally thousands of different styles available for people to train in. Go and scope out the different styles availabe in your area and choose one that you feel comfortable with. Evaluate not only the style itself, but also the way the class is run and the attitude of the instructor and see if all that fits in with your values, beliefs, and lifestyle. It’s important that YOU feel comfortable with what you are learning and how you are learning it. That’s how it happened with me.

I can’t underscore this strongly enough. The style of teaching and the intensity of the workout is much more important than what style you’re studying.

You don’t fight the style, you fight the fighter. Somebody with no formal training, but who fights a whole lot for real and is in good shape will usually** beat a trained martial artist who only does katas.

**“Usually” in this sense means “almost always”

Couldn’t agree more. Let’s look at it from this perspective, ICP9991. If all goes well you’ll be practicing this martial art for the next 5 … 10, maybe more years. You really want to make sure you have a good fit … don’t be afraid to try something for a few months, decide it isn’t your style, and go for something else.

You asked about kickboxing, which is what I do. There are different styles and levels, and they cater to different tastes (Thai, American, Savate, etc.). But one thing I’ve learned from the few different styles that seems to be universal: the exercise is what kicks your ass more than the fighting! My class starts out with 45 minutes of jogging around the gym with 30 seconds of different exercises: hopping on one leg, streching, jumping, etc. Oh yeah, you also do upwards of 150-200 pushups and situps during that time, and that’s in the beginners class. After that we lace up our gloves and start hitting the bag for 15 minutes. Then the advanced people start sparring for 30 minutes, while the beginners work on technique.

In kickboxing, there are relatively few ‘moves’. 10-ish types of punches, 10-ish types of kicks, and your knees and elbows with a few moves each. It’s mainly about putting together combinations and footwork with these and keeping your endurance up. Oh, and learning to take a beating. You get hit in this martial art. A lot. Hard. To the head. Always always always wear a mouth-guard.

Don’t worry about being new. The point of martial arts is to get better, not be good.


SimonX makes a very good point, which I can support based on my experience yesterday: I competed in tournament sparring for the first time. I had planned what I was going to do at the start of the bout, then I got into the ring and that didn’t happen. Partly because I need more practice on getting my kicks high enough to count for points, partly because I need more practice in sparring, and partly because it was my first competitive sparring.

Books can help with elements of technique; I’ve used a few web sites for pointers on sparring, forms, and training. But no book can teach the dao, the way of a style. No video can show you where you excel and where you need to improve. Only an instructor can assess your skill level and progress, help you with your stances, and give you the practice, practice, practice that you need.

As for which form – what do you want to do with the martial art? Self-defense, competition, exhibition, or a good workout? Is there a specific situation you want to learn to handle? Are you looking for a good explanation for your weapon collection? Every form has its strengths and its weaknesses. Choose a form that matches YOU.

(By way of comparison, I started by looking for a good workout and some self-defense. I switched over to competition and a good workout. Plus a perfectionist drive towards the black belt.)

Well, since I agree with most everything above I have little to add but…
Go sit in on several local clubs that get your interest.
Ask yourself. Are the people at the club enjoying themselves? Does the instructor seem skillful and confident? Is the instructor a good teacher? Do you feel you would fit in with the class?

It is probably worth avoiding clubs that seem overly expensive, they may be motivated more as a money making buisness than a martial arts school. Consider what you would like to learn, do you want to know about weapon usage (knives, sticks, swords …), do you want to know about ground work, do you want to learn high flashy kicks…

Then make a choice, stick to it for at least 6 months, then decide either to stick to this style for the next 5+ years, or look for a new class taking with you your new knowledge and expectations.

Now, as a general rule.
In the 1st year you will not become a good fighter, but you may learn a trick or two.
2nd year you will be getting fitter, you will think you are a good fighter.* You are not a good fighter*.
3rd year you will understand that you weren’t a good fighter in year 2. You start to understand a bit about fighting.
4th year onwards, you will understand that you need to learn a lot before you can become a good fighter. You are a good fighter.