Determining Your Training Goals

The first thing to do when considering taking a martial arts class is to determine what you hope to gain from martial arts training. Everyone has a reason for their interest in the martial arts, and it's important to know your options and goals so that you can really get the most out of your training and have a positive experience. Below are some common reasons for studying the martial arts and some examples of styles that fit those reasons.

Fitness/Fun Related Interests

The most common reason for training that I hear is that people want to have fun and get in better physical condition, whether that is losing weight, getting stronger or just getting more active. Martial arts are a great way to get in shape and can be really fun to learn. It will improve endurance, strength, flexibility, speed, coordination, balance and helps with overall stress levels.

While all martial arts training involves some amount of physical training, these styles are great to try for overall physical fitness:

  • Tae Kwon Do
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  • Boxing / Kick Boxing
  • Russian Kettlebells (not “Martial Arts” but fits all of the above)


Self Defense

The second most common reason for studying martial arts is self defense; a very valid and important reason for learning. The following arts certainly aren't the only ones who teach self defense, but they are known to have self defense as their main focus:

  • Hapkido
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


Interest in Traditional or Cultural Arts

Many people take great interest in the cultural or traditional aspects of martial arts training. They enjoy the discipline, traditions and methods of very traditional arts. A traditional style will features very structured training, and many people love that aspect as well. There aren’t many traditional martial arts schools left out there.

  • Tae Kwon Do
  • Hap Ki Do
  • Muay Thai
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


Full Contact/Combat Sports/MMA

With the success of such promotions as UFC, Pride and K1, there has been a surge of interest in training of this nature. The following arts have a full contact or combat sport focus and many times aren't traditional Asian arts, but rather a mixture of multiple styles.

  • Full Contact Taekwondo
  • Muay Thai
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • "MMA" or mixed martial arts. These teach a combination of grappling/ground fighting such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or catch wrestling, stand up fighting like boxing or kickboxing, and throws and submissions.


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Somnath Sikdar
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Master, 7th Dan Black Belt
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