So You Want to Learn Martial Arts
'Please do not be concerned with soft versus firm, kicking versus striking, grappling versus hitting and kicking, long-range fighting versus infighting. There is no such thing as this is better than that' - Bruce Lee, 'Tao of JKD'
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are deciding to learn martial arts. Before we get into that though let’s look at a few misconceptions regarding MMA and martial arts most people misunderstand.
Misconception #1: MMA is the best style so why train in anything else?
Mixed martial arts isn't actually a style. I don't how many times I've heard people say I train in MMA but in actuality, they are taking a kickboxing class.
There's honestly no such thing as a fighting style that is flawless. I've been in the ring against amazing fighters who I feel humbled to have competed against in Taekwondo, Muay Thai, and other styles. I've also met my fair share of not so amazing fighters.
The thing that's more important than style is being able to analyze your opponent and use what is effective. Everything is effective in fighting, but not everything is effective in every situation. The key is to figure out what's effective.
Regardless of what UFC fans think it comes down to the fighter and how effectively they can use their own strengths than the actual style.
Misconception #2: Bruce Lee is the father of mixed martial arts.
I honestly use his philosophy for training and life in general because Bruce Lee was an amazing human being. He trained with boxers, Taekwondo masters, and almost every martial arts pioneers.
Bruce Lee's Tao of JKD states that fighting is more than a style. It's about doing what works and disregarding what doesn’t. What works for one person may not be an effective strategy for another person. Giving MMA an actual style name contradicts Bruce Lee’s philosophy because making it into a style sets a set of rules or limitations (which was one of the main reasons he was hesitant about publishing Tao of JKD).
Misconception #3: A boxer or traditional martial artist could not be successful in an MMA ring.
Every single MMA title holder has a traditional background and has a black belt in one of the following: Taekwondo, Ju-Jitsu, Karate, wrestling, and other fighting disciplines. A few examples are George St. Pierre and Anderson Silva who have a background in Taekwondo and Karate.
Misconception #4: When a fighter loses, they're not good or they're washed up.
In professional fighting, regardless of how good you are, there is always someone better. Everyone loses at some point. Fighting, just like everything else, is about evolving and learning from your mistakes in order to grow.
Misconception #5: When you have a black belt, you are considered a deadly weapon.
You're not. The difference between a black belt and someone not trained is the black belt, due to having a better understanding, can’t plead ignorance if they inflict damage to another person.
Misconception #6: Having a black belt or having an MMA background means that a street fighter won’t beat you.
Remember just because you have a black belt or training, you're not invincible.
What I’m trying to say is that don’t be an MMA fanboy or listen to a fanboy. Instead take everything into consideration. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are considering training in Martial Arts.
- Class sizes
- Does the instructor give you constructive criticism?
- If they bash other schools or styles, they may be a good choice for learning to fight
- Do they use methods train you?
- Have they competed? Many times a person who has a black belt and hasn’t competed can take an unrealistic approach to their teaching method.
- Class flexibility
- Do they take the time to train their black belts or do they give everyone who has money a black belt?
- Are their training methods realistic or overly traditional?
- Look around and join whatever school fits you, it’s not always about what style is the best. It’s more about what style and school is the best fit for you.
- Is the school owner trained in first aid and CPR?
- Do they practice what they preach?
Lastly, just enjoy yourself. I’ve been in Taekwondo and boxing for 25 years. I’ve had an amazing career teaching, coaching, and competing. So do what you think would be a good fit and remember that everything worthwhile takes time, patience, understanding, and commitment.