If you ever need to relieve some stress after a frustrating day of work, why not try martial arts? It is a great way to get in shape and offers a high intensity workout that activates your body on a different level. What’s more, is you’re also learning some valuable self-defense moves in case you ever face any real danger. It certainly worked for Daniel Larusso, when Mr. Miyagi ordered him to wax his car. So if you’re looking for a fun alternative to working out in a gym, try out some of these martial arts.
Originating from Japan, Judo is perhaps the most practical martial art for self-defense. In Judo, you use throws, holds and chokes to use the attacker’s momentum against them and force them to submit. It’s a full body workout that puts emphasis on strengthening your core, grip and upper body strength.
There’s barely any striking involved in Judo, although they do teach you to defend against fists coming your way. While Judo practitioners supplement their learning with strength training, the only way you’ll improve is by getting experience from sparring. As a beginner, you can expect to be thrown on your back - a lot. This is to help you practice minimizing the damage of throws before you move on to more advanced techniques.
If you’re looking for a more stylistic martial art and workout, try Capoeira. Originally from Brazil, this fighting style was created to disguise intricate dance moves as a martial art. Although your first classes can seem intimidating at first, you’ll find that the fast paced, high intensity environment can really work up a sweat. Capoeira classes involve a lot of gymnastic movements, postures and flexibility while being accompanied by lively background music. If you’re into yoga, dance or gymnastics, then there’s a good chance you’ll find Capoeira is a martial art that suits you.
Taekwondo is an Olympic sport centered around delivering devastating kicks to your opponent. In such a fast paced sport, a Taekwondo practitioner focuses on speed, agility and high impact moves. Unlike other martial arts, Taekwondo is an intense cardio workout that is very demanding on your legs. Flexibility training is also required to do more advanced moves, so expect to be doing splits and other stretches to perform high kicks. Overall, you really burn a lot more calories in sparring sessions since you practically never stop moving. The only problem is, Taekwondo specializes on kicking so your self-defense techniques are limited.
There’s a reason Muay Thai is used by so many Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) athletes in the octagon - because it’s effective. Muay Thai is also a high intensity, cardio focused training that works your entire body. Just after the first session you’ll understand that power, speed and conserving your stamina is key to doing well. While strength will give you a slight edge, it’s really a fighter’s endurance and technique that determines the winner. Moving around, changing stances, throwing punches and kicks, defending against your opponent can be a lot to take in - at first. So expect to be completely exhausted in your first sessions, but it’s a fun and addicting sport to get your body into fighting shape.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Much like Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu employs throws, takedowns, sweeps, chokes and grappling techniques to force your opponent into submission. This fighting style is more focused on ground fighting, and tends to require strategic thinking and proper technique. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu requires less cardio but is great for strength training and conditioning. As for its practicality for self-defense, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the best self-defense martial art against a single opponent since you are removing their ability to throw punches and taking them to the ground, where you have control.
Martial arts provides an intense workout that you’ll never get bored of. Just knowing that there are other people learning in the class can give you extra motivation to push yourself even harder and kick some ass. When choosing a martial art, make sure it’s one that you enjoy doing and one that you don’t mind sticking to.
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