With the World being on a lock-down, most of us have no opportunity to practice martial
At the same time, this also offers us a unique opportunity to spend some time on our own
and reflect about the martial arts that we are either practicing or would like to try
out and to decide, whether it is the most suitable martial art for us.
Hi, my name is Rokas.
I've been practicing and teaching martial arts for more than 15 years.
During this time I've had the opportunity to experience some of the best and worst of
martial arts - the myths and the reality, meanwhile doing my best to figure out what
In this video I will lay out everything that I think one needs to know when considering
whether your already chosen martial art, or a martial art that you are planning to practice
- is the right fit for you.
In other words, in this Martial Arts Explored episode, we will take a look at how to choose
a martial art.
In the past our access to martial arts or information about it, was much more scarce
then it is today, so to a degree, it made sense to choose a martial arts school which
was around your area.
Sometimes - you simply didn't have an alternative.
These days - there are usually A Lot of martial arts schools and styles to choose from.
On one level it can make it confusing.
On another - some people are still choosing the martial art which is closes to home, despite
that, instead of asking what martial art is actually most suitable for them.
Yet that naturally poses a question - how Do You decide which martial art is most suitable
Most people would probably choose a martial art, which looks coolest, or one which they
heard good things about, or saw a cool movie, which had that martial art.
Yet that is a dangerous way to choose it, since people can say a lot of good things
about practices - which are not necessarily good - simply because it is their unconscious
Meanwhile, the question that I suggest to ask first, is one which is more personal to
you - and that is - why do you want to learn martial arts to begin with?
To many times, we don't even have a defined idea why we want to practice a martial art.
Is it primarily for self defense?
Is it primarily for the fitness aspect of it?
Or is it for the community?
Of course, it can be a mix of thing, but one of the aspects will usually stand out for
It is very important to decide prior to choosing a martial art, which one it is, because otherwise
you may easily choose the wrong martial art, which will not offer you what you are looking
for, without you even knowing.
When you decide what your main reason is - and all of them are usually quite good reasons
- it doesn't necessarily mean one is worse than the other - it's a personal preference,
when you know which one it is - then you can start doing some investigating, by figuring
out which martial art is the best for your chosen reason.
Unfortunately, it may sound more easy than it is.
And that is, because some martial arts schools and styles are not really clear themselves
on what they are offering, while also sometimes, they can be even unaware that what they claim
to be offering - they do not really deliver.
This is where things become tricky.
But that's also why I made this video to clarify some things and make the process easier for
So let's break it down.
One of the main reasons people start martial arts is due to wanting to learn self defense.
And that aspect, unfortunately, is I dare say, the most confusing part of martial arts.
It is my opinion, which to be fair is usually also shared by various self defense experts,
that martial arts and self defense - unlike what most people (and sometimes martial artists
think) are related, yet different things.
I've made a lot of videos on this subject, which you can feel free to check out for more
details, but the basis of it is, that most of what self defense is - is about prevention.
How to know where it's safe to go and where it's not?
How to keep safe distance?
How to notice a potential threat early?
How to deescalate a growing conflict?
These and many other answers are rarely offered in martial arts school.
Some of them do - and that's a great sign if they do, but most martial arts will only
teach you what to do When you are attacked.
Ex. if somebody grabs you - you do this!
But what about the long lasting moments before the grab even happens?
If you are capable of knowing how to avoid those - you are 90% self defense proof.
And it is important to know how to deal with a grab, or a punch, but that's per se, just
about 10% of what self defense is really about.
So Do learn to defend yourself against a punch or grab, or etc.
But don't fool yourself, or let a martial arts school fool you - that the whole deal
is just about that.
Also, some martial arts schools are better at teaching you to defend against a physical
Now you ask - how do you know which one it is?
And actually - the answer is fairly simple here.
These are martial arts - which include pressure testing.
In other words, the attacker is not "helping out" the defender.
As coach Matt Thornton says: "Watch the feeder, not the demonstrator".
That means: look at how the defender is being attacked, not at how he defends.
Martial arts which are not really good at actually teaching you how to defend against
a physical attack are ones - where the attacker for example: punches into the air and stops
and waits of the defender to do the move.
It may look cool - but that won't teach you to deal with someone who really wants to hurt
you (even if the teacher will tell you it will).
Meanwhile, there are martial arts, where you will be confronted with someone who is really
trying to defeat you and you will have to learn to deal with such an attack, but that
doesn't mean you will get hurt.
For example in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are usually no strikes to the head and injuries
are not common, but at the same time, you get two people who are really trying to "get
the tap", or in other words get you into a position where you give up.
And then you go again.
With that being said you may still ask: what about the self defense prevention aspect?
What martial art teaches that?
The truth is, you don't really even need martial arts to learn the prevention side of things.
Either a good dedicated instructor of the subject is enough (but those are rare), but
also - there are great books which offer the right information about it.
A couple that I would suggest are: "Meditations on violence" by Rory Miller and "The Gift
of Fear" by Gavin de Becker.
And while it's a rabbit whole that you could go down to forever, having read a couple of
good self defense books, you will most likely be 90% safer already.
And then - you can learn a martial art as an add-on.
To learn how to physically defend yourself, or just enjoy it!
Because martial arts can be awesome :) But at least you won't be in a mindset of thinking:
shoot, I will have to learn a martial art for 10 years before I will know how self defense
And actually one more hint: if you won't be able to defend yourself against an untrained
attacker after 6 months of training a martial art - it usually means that martial art is
not a good one for it.
And before we finish up this video - I would quickly like to address the rest of the reasons
for training martial arts, those being: fitness, community, leisure, etc.
Most martial arts will offer that.
But something to look out for:
While almost all martial arts will offer these aspects, some martial arts will also pretend
to offer more than they do - especially at the self defense level.
It's OK to practice a martial art which is not effective for self defense, as long as
that is honestly admitted, like in let's say Tai Chi.
Yet if you will come in to a martial arts school, which will tell you that you'll need
to learn for at least 2 to 4 years until you will be able to use it against an untrained
attacker, or there will be no live resistance and pressure testing, AKA the attackers will
be 'helping out' the defender and won't be really offering a challenge - I would not
recommend such a place, because it's culture is based on a lie, and that usually leads
to other inherent problems - such as cult like behavior, denial, dishonesty, lack of
critical thinking and even more.
And before I really, really, really end the video, I know what you are thinking.
"This guy spoke for such a long time on how to choose a martial art and eventually didn't
even recommend one!
What a waist of time".
Well, let's make sure I didn't waist your time then and talk about it :)
This will be only my own personal opinion from the gathered experience, so do take it
with a grain of salt and stay open minded - a lot depends on the actual instructor himself
- how honest and good he is, not only the style, but various styles do have general
The martial arts, which generally tend to claim that they teach self defense, but usually
fail bad at it are most commonly known to be Aikido, Wing Chun, various styles of Kung
Fu and Bujinkan, are the first ones that come to my mind.
You will also bump into martial arts which claim to be more "reality based", but those
can be deceiving and should be looked at with a critical mind - since they can sometimes
claim to be effective, but be really off in reality.
For example I am skeptical about Systema, the Russian martial art and Krav Maga (although
I'm told it highly depends on the particular school), but I can't put a final word since
I haven't tried it out myself.
In the middle you can usually find Karate and Taekwondo, which sometimes can be limited
due to a heavy rule set, but it also really depends on what style or school it is.
If you want to learn striking, usually there's nothing more polished than Boxing.
Muay Thai and Kick Boxing will do too, since you'll learn some badass kicking too.
But be careful about the culture of the gym.
If there are heavy blows to the head included in the practice - best avoid such a place
for your brain health.
A good striking gym will usually have a beginners program which will protect your head.
Grappling wise I personally love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Don't mistake it with Japanese Jiu Jitsu, which is a different subject and can be all
over the place.
My personal impression is that Japanese Jiu Jitsu often lacks live pressure testing, but
to be fair, I didn't have a lot of exposure to it.
Meanwhile Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - most schools will teach you very well how to handle a single
attacker and choke him out, if you'll need to.
Wrestling is good for taking people down too, although I keep hearing that the sports level
of it can have a lot of impact on the body, which is not very healthy.
You'll have to figure out this one on your own.
Learning MMA can be a good mix of learning a mix of all the skills too.
There are also other martial arts that I didn't mention such as Sambo or Judo, but that's
mainly because I had very little contact with them or did little investigation about them.
Yet with all the information that was presented in this video, I have a feeling you will be
able to make up your mind much better now which martial art to choose.
Thanks for watching the whole video.
If you are interested in similar subjects about martial arts, check out some more videos
on the Martial Arts Journey.
There are loads of videos like this one :) If you are interested about critical thinking
in general, not only in martial arts, but also Yoga, meditation and more - check out
my other channel - The Journey here.
This was Rokas and I wish you to own your Journey.