Karate, BJJ, Judo, Boxing, Wing Chun, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Tai chi or Aikido as a sport?
Which of the above martial arts is best for you? How can you choose? Why would you want to do martial art?
Most people started out on their martial art lifestyle were initiated for the purpose of self defence. They have been involved in some kind of incident which provoked them to want to learn martial art. To protect themselves / their business; to defend their loved ones/friends or to seek vengence. This was how martial arts were found - using violence to resolve a situation.
Now a day, in London, we live in a civilised society where carrying a weapon on the street is a crime (except for legalised law enforcement officers). We resolve issues via calming compassionate understanding of each others, which can sometimes escalate to the police or legal threats. We will subsequently come to understand that others have different opinions from us, hence we just let them be. There is no real need to use physical violence or aggression.
Martial arts training in their nature have the following characteristics: physical fitness, mental fitness, confidence, respect, self defence and hard work.
Physical fitness. Regardless of your body sizes and shapes, you need to be fit to fight. Do not bother fighting, otherwise. Your breathing techniques; your leg works; your fists, elbows and body structure all need to be persistently maintained through long training sessions. However, you do not need to be superman fit, what you required is fitness proportion to your body structure. Training martial arts will give you perfectly just-right level of fitness.
Mental fitness. You need the will power to endure hardship through lots of physical training sessions. You need to stay focus and have 100% concentration during a sparring session; loose your attention somewhere else and you will be beaten! You need to remember your forms / kata; linking mental conscious with physical movements. You need to think about your techniques and how they can be used to override the opponents. You need to strategy your use of energy so that you last longer than your opponents. You need to be relatively smart to win.
Confidence. Fitness (physical and mental) will automatically generate confidence in you. When you are competitive in your techniques you will have an added confidence handle a situation in public. Martial arts teach you to walk and hold your postures in a readiness position where no one can break you! Also, you will unconsciously project confidence energy that would display that "wow factor" to others.
Respect. This is one of the most important requirement in martial arts training. There are specific rankings in martial arts, which is maintained throughout the lifetime of the teacher. Even when the teacher is old and weak, she/he is and will be your teacher and you do not break that lineage. When a student shows little respect to the teacher, she / he will subsequently learn very little too (if at all). The positive results is that when you show respects to others, you will receive respects from others.
Self Defence. All martial arts have the objective of self defence. Protecting yourself from physical attacks is the general meaning of self defence. When practising in your own time by yourself, you need to consider looking after yourself, too. That is, not training techniques that can cause long term damage to your body. In most martial arts, this also extends and encourages you to look out for others, your kung fu brothers and sisters, your family.
Hard work. All martial arts involve artistic physical movements to the correct sequence and timing. On off energy supplemented with body mass need to be timed correctly. Fighting is a physical art. Training to be perfect in this art, you need to work hard. This is how the Chinese term "kung fu" is derived which simply means high standard of achievement through hard work. As in any other general activities, it will be very difficult to achieve high standard in anything without hard work. Training martial arts re-enforces this attitude.
As you can see from above, that there are more to martial arts training than just violence and aggression. There are more benefits compare to the negative thoughts that some people have on martial arts.
The answer to "Which martial arts will be good for you?" will depends on your requirements. When (if) you are in an incident, do you want to effectively block punches that are randomly thrown at you? Do you want to throw punches? Do you want to kick high and look good? Do you want to take/throw people to the ground? Do you want to roll on the ground? Do you want to move slow and improve internal circulation and don't care about the punches? Do you want to know and make use of sticks (poles) as weapons? Do you want to know the movements of the swords so that you can either use them or defend against them? Do you want to be flexible and do splits? Do you want the ability to train by yourself after class, e.g, using a wing chun wooden dummy? Select the art that covers most of your answers.
There are so many martial art clubs in London, which club will you fit in? The club needs to be convenient for you, i.e, near to you at the time of you training session. The monthly fees must be within your means and not over priced compare to market rate; it would be better if the monthly fee is cheapest compare to other clubs. The club instructor looks after your requirements fairly. Most of the clubs provide main income to the instructor, if you are happy with this, then ok, otherwise look out for over charging. Do you really need to practise every day of the week in a club? Alot of these routines can be learned by yourself in your own time, but you do need to come to club at least once a week to ensure that what you are training was correct, you improved and motivate you to keep going.
You cannot learn martial arts purely from books, because you need to be able to feel and deliver the correct energy / structure / sensivity / timing. The books only provide one view of the techniques on how they would look on paper as a reference for memory recall. There can be many interpretations to one technique. Having said that, any club / style which you can find documentation (books) to refer to when you are outside the club then it would provide a more interest environment to learn as you progress. It gives you that confidence that the instructor has not just randomly made up his own style. An example of a consistent training club would be an authentic Ip Man Wing Chun school, where students can always refer to Grandmaster Samuel Kwok's books.
To be good at martial art (or any thing), you need to spend alot of time on it. This means that you need to be prepare for long term investment at the school; and the art that you practise needs to be such that you can self study as well as coming to club whenever you wish. The club fee needs to be flexible. Do not get lock in with contracts (monthly or annually) and pay via monthly direct debit. You need to understand the teacher and the school prior to sign up on any contract. Best thing is not to sign a contract. At the same time, the fee structure must enable you to continuously training (forever).
We are an authentic Ip Man Wing Chun school. We do not do high fancy kicks; we do not roll on the floor; we punch and counter the punchers; we practise poles, bart jarm dao, wooden dummy etc. We have clubs in Richmond-Upon-Thames, Ashford (Middlesex), Staines and Egham. Our aim is long term, family friendly wing chun fitness with no tie-in contracts.
Fitness Fun Forever