Lately I've been thinking about joining a boxing gym or a martial arts gym to add some variety to my current strength routine. Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm looking for advice on what is practical and can actually be used if needed in a streetfight. Should I join a boxing gym, kickboxing gym, judo, or some other form of martial arts? I'd like to spar at least once a week so there's that.
What have you all studied and what did you like about it?
Thanks for any suggestions.
You may also want to look at Krav Maga. I don't have any experience, but there was an article on AoM a few months back about it and I thought it was pretty interesting. When I get into better shape I was thinking about checking it out.
I've trained several of them, but at the moment I'm not practicing any.
I don't like judo very much, but it's a personal thing.
Kickboxing and boxing were the last varieties I've tried, they're great. Boxing itself is very challenging, you learn of how much you can do without gripping or hitting your opponent with your leg.
Karate and taekwondo are more plastic, you're going to learn beautiful katas and poomse.
As for a real streetfight, I think it's hard to tell which one is better. You never know whom you're going to fight against. And if you reach a high level in any of above your chances against a not well-trained person in any are much higher anyway.
If you have many options around, take a free-class in some of them so that you can decide.
The most important thing to do is try. Look at what's in your area and see what you like. Pretty much any gym worth training at will give you at least a free lesson or two before you join.
My background is primarily Thai boxing, but it's at an MMA gym, so I've done a little training with BJJ, boxing, Jeet Kune Do, Judo, and Wrestling, but I don't have time to stick with more than one thing.
All else equal, I would tell you to go for Boxing and Judo. They're the simplest versions of their respective fighting types and will get you fight-effective in the least amount of time. They also offer extremely vibrant competition communities at all levels, which I think is extremely important to your development as a martial artist/combat athlete. You'll certainly get your sparring and conditioning with them, and you'll have a solid framework from which you can pick up different styles if you ever decide you want to.
Most martial arts and combat sports training will give you a decent cardio workout. If your main objective is to get a workout, you're fine picking just about anything out there.
If you're interested in kickboxing, when you check out a school, you need to specify whether you want to do it for fitness or if you want to get into kickboxing sparring / fighting. The reason is that many schools that have a kickboxing program are actually offering a cardio-kickboxing program. It's like doing Tae-Bo; you'll punch and kick in the air and you might even hit pads but you'll never learn to actually hit anyone or get hit or defend from getting hit or engage in sparring, etc.
Judo will give you a very good workout and you will learn a practical martial art with lots of sparring but Judo sparring does not involve any punching or kicking; Judo focuses on grabbing an opponent, throwing him to the grown and then either immobilizing him or choking or joint-locking him into submission. It's very effective but if you're picturing yourself doing something with punches and kicks, this isn't it. I'm currently doing Judo and liking it very much.
I saw someone mention Muay Thai. I support this recommendation. I did this for many years. Very good cardio workout, very effective for self defense.
Someone also mentioned BJJ. I also support this. Very good workout, very effective martial art. Again, no punching and kicking; the objective is to take down an opponent, immobilize him and then chock or joint-lock him into submission. (BJJ is a descendant of Judo). I did BJJ for a while and enjoyed it a lot, too.
I saw someone mention Krav Maga and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. I personally would recommend against these and other military-inspired or so-called "reality-based self-defense" systems and programs because it's so difficult to find a good school that trains in a realistic way that can actually transfer onto the street. It's not the arts or the systems themselves; it's the way most schools train them. (You can good to www.bullshido.net for more info about this kind of stuff.)
On a related note, the general concensus in the world of martial arts where people actually hit and grapple each other full-contact is that, if you want a good workout and you want something that actually works, you're better off finding a combat sport rather than a martial art. Some martial arts are combat sports but not all of them are so let me explain what I mean:
Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, MMA, Judo wrestling, Kyolushin Karate, full-contact kickboxing, Sanda / Sanhou (etc.) are all combat sports. (Some of them are also martial arts but, to keep it simple, let's just say they're combat sports.) The difference between the training you will receive in these sporst / arts / systems versus the training you would get from most traditional martial arts schools and most cardio-kickboxing schools and most military-inspired or reality-based self-defense programs is that the former will have you training with a fully-resisting training partner / opponent from day 1 until you are comfortable doing full-contact, full-speed sparring. The latter will have you practicing choreographed moves or sets of moves with slowly moving and fully-compliant partners. It's more theoretical than practical. To be more explicit, let me put it this way: You could practice kung-fu, krav maga, shotokan karate (etc.) for years and never actually get hit or never hit someone; one your first day of muay thai, judo, bjj (etc.) you will almost certainly do some light, slow sparring with a resisting opponent and it's almost unheard of to practice these activities for any considerable amount of time without actually putting them into practice.
Anyway, I don't want to get carried away so let's leave it at that. Everything will give you a good workout but if practical application is what you're also looking for, pick an art / sport / school that will have you practically applying what they teach and quickly and as consistantly as possible. Combat sports are generally good for this. Traditional martial arts, military-inspired systems and reality-based martial arts are usually not.
This is great advice. Thanks for taking the time to really break it down for me.
I'm looking for a good workout and something that's useful, so I think i'll opt for combat sports like you mentioned. I already found a boxing gym nearby my apt, and plan on attending at least twice a week. Hopefully, I can find an affordable BJJ gym and go to those classes on alternate days.
Thanks to all who replied. Much appreciated.
Don't bit off more than you can chew. I don't doubt your enthusiasm or potential for dedication; it's just that a lot of schools operate on a 6-month or 1-year contract. If you sign up for 2 programs at 2 different schools and it turns out that you can't juggle both, you might get stuck paying for a membership you don't use. Maybe start with one and see how it goes or, if you really have your heart on doing both striking and grappling, perhaps opt for an MMA school. MMA schools often have stand-alone programs (boxing, bjj, muay thai, etc.) and also an MMA program that incorporate all the techniques from all the of respective stand-alone programs. That way, if you like one of the programs but not all, you can concentrate on just that one art / style / system and, if it turns out that you want to do a bit of everything but can't commit to several stand-alone programs you can just attend the MMA courses where everything would be incorporated and you'd get a taste of everything. These types of schools often have options to pick one or a combination or all of the programs on a sliding price scale. Also, if you're reluctant to commit to something, ask around or do some Googling about free trials or low-cost limited trials. You can also keep an eye out on Groupon or Craig's List for special promotions so that you can get a taste of how things work without committing to 6-months or a year. Also, whatever school(s) grab your attention, run a search for them at www.bullshido.net . It's possible that former or current students have posted reviews about them and that could give you a heads up about whether or not they sound like the kinds of places you want to get involved in.
I have done a few different martial arts disciplines over the years and boxing. After I joined the military I started doing more grappling and getting MMA training when I was not deployed. Each discipline has it's strength and weaknesses. If you use boxing for defense you will break your hands, if you use Karate kata's you will get stomped into the ground. Your best bet is to find a martial art or a school that teaches a class that combines open hand strikes, no gi jujitsu, knee and elbow strikes, and judo take downs. Mixed martial arts school's have become so popular that allot of them offer these types of classes geared toward self defense.
Unless they teach the Pancrase system, very few MMA schools would teach open hand strikes or palm strikes.
One of the schools I trained at was run by Filipino instructors. They would teach open hand strikes in their self defense program or on open mat days if your were doing MMA. People down play the effectiveness of the open hand strike, but when delivered properly to the soft areas of the face and neck they can be devastatingly effective.
Right. And, in other cases, even when they're executed by experts in self-defense / street fighting and professional MMA like Bas Rutten in the clip below, they do nothing.
(That's no pro wrestling BTW. That's a clip from a Pancrase fight. Pancrase was completely full contact but, for whatever reason, did not permit punches to the face; only open-hand strikes.)
I think it was because they didn't use gloves. Punching bareknuckle to the face can cause quite some damage.