/ Martial Arts
So I am a bloke approaching my 50s and I fancy learning a martial art - however there appears to be so many to chose from
So I am after recommendations please
I do not want anything gentle
I am totally unflexible
I like the idea of the overlap of eastern spiritulism and martial arts
Good places in manchester to be taught
I think the best advice is to see what is available near you at times that work and just go and try one.
I did Shotokan Karate for about 6 years before deciding to pack it in. Whilst I enjoyed the training I can't say I really loved it and I'd got to a stage (1st kyu) where to get much further I was going to have to put a lot more time in - I was already training twice a week and doing more would have meant cutting back on other things. I also felt there was a bit too much emphasis on making the katas look perfect rather than developing techniques that actually work. But in the end I think you just need to pick one and see how you get on with it.
I've trained in 4 very different martial arts (disclaimer: I'm no expert and am moderately poor at all of them) and I've been lucky enough to attend seminars where I was able to sample others. These were all mainstream arts.
I've yet to find one that did not have value. What I did find is that the instructor is more important than the art. What constitutes a good instructor is a decision only you can make; sorry if that sounds a bit vague, but in practice it's very easy. You'll gel with the instructor or you won't.
If you want recommendations for specific arts, in my experience aikido, ju-jitsu, kenpo, and JKD are all good. BTW, aikido can be gentle or rough, depending on the instructor. I've had a taste of the gentle version and didn't like it. The rough version is ace
I'd also recommend wing chun. This is often gentle in its early stages, so it goes against your wishes, but it is very different and can be fascinating - I kid you not, you would not believe how fast those guys can move, it's unnatural. And they can punch like someone twice their weight and strength.
Silat is fantastic, too. Finding a class will be difficult, though.
Anyway, best of luck and have fun.
Depends a lot on what you're after. Do you want to learn cool gymnastic flying kicks? Self defence? (Although the general advice there is that if you get in fights often enough that it's worth spending 4+ hours a week training from them, you should probably just find nicer pubs to go to...) Competitions? Full contact? No holds barred? Light sparring? Extended katas or forms to learn? Do you have any preference for throwing and locking versus punching and kicking?
Different styles of different martial arts obviously involve different combinations of stuff, and different classes will often shift their emphasis as well, eg some kung fu classes are basically kickboxing and others are basically gymnastics...
The fittest I've ever been was when I did a bit of boxing. This also turned out to be highly technical (which came as a surprise and a delight to me).
It isn't really that spiritual though but I'd leave the gym very clear headed because of the total focus required (rather than a smack on the head) so it was very mediative.
Karate, by comparison, was more varied and involved a _lot_ more stretching but was also much easier in terms of fitness and strangely more boring because it didn't require that total focus. It had a better outfit than boxing though.
You’re Manchester based? Why not go back to your roots and study a traditional Manchester martial art?
It’s definitely not gentle. You need no flexibility and you’d require a heightened state of consciousness to participate (several pints of bitter).
....Naked clog fighting. Proper hardcore.
I teach Aikido, (Tohei style) it's probably a bit gentle for you.
I've also got belts in Shotokan and Kyokuskinkai karate, as well as Ju-jitsu, and would recommend you go watch any local classes in each and every variety of art you can.
Thanks All - definitely not for self defence reasons - I practice running for that!
My driver to do a martial art is
1- fitness and condition - so something that will challenge me physically
2- the mental approach and link to Zen and meditation - so something that can link in to self discipline and meditative approach to life
The main decision you need to make is whether you want to practise a striking/kicking or wrestling based art, as this makes quite a difference in training forms.
For a beginner at your age, the striking forms will be much gentler, as they will either be kata (choreography) heavy or noncontact anyway.
For the full contact disciplines like Tae Kwon Do I cannot see you sparring in quite some time, until then they will also feel gentle. However, all these striking arts will help you greatly with your flexibility issues.
Self defence arts like JKD may have you hitting bags or sparring partners earlier, depending on the club, but will tend not to offer the spiritual aspect.
The wrestling based arts like Judo, Ju Jutsu, BJJ tend to be more sports than eastern martial arts, but will have you sparring earlier and are therefore usually as rough as you want (Aikido excepted). Your spirituality mileage will vary.
I practise Judo since more than 40 years (as a completely spirituality free sport) but training is tough and keeps me on my toes! Just today I feel so sore I can barely move, trying to whack a guy half my age but one and a half time my weight is getting harder every year....
In my 30s I did shotokan karate (a fairly traditional style) and reached 1st Dan, started instructing and judging at competitions and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately a change of job and work meant I could no longer go to training, which obviously involves set times and evenings at clubs, so I couldn't commit or advance further so was forced to give up.
I then took up running which I could do at any time, no travelling, no partner needed and could fit around work. So whatever you chose, I'd also say ensure the training fits around your lifestyle.
I hear TaeKwonDo being slated a lot of late and being called TaeKwonDont, I have no idea why, apparently it is an inferior discipline?
Id be interested to hear why from other users.
Given that you're open to a variety of different things, it would be a shame to choose martial art A based on a bit of reading and what people recommend on here, if it turns out your local club isn't that great and you have a world-class instructor in martial art B based on your doorstep.
> Good places in manchester to be taught
I'd come at this from the other direction - put the last thing on your list first. See what is available in your area, check out local clubs, watch a class, take a 'taster' class, and then choose - based on the location, the quality and style of instruction and the general 'vibe' of the training first, which particular variety of martial art it is second.
> I hear TaeKwonDo being slated a lot of late and being called TaeKwonDont, I have no idea why, apparently it is an inferior discipline?
> Id be interested to hear why from other users.
When I paid more attention to martial arts type stuff, there seemed to be a perception that TKD was overly focused on a points-based competition format that rewards flashy, cool-looking technique - mostly big spinning high kicks - over more efficient, compact, effective stuff. It's a bit like trad and sport climbers complaining that all the time you spend practicing run-and-jump parkour dynos for competitions won't do you much good when you're halfway up a steep wall of pockety limestone.
Disclaimer: I don't know how universally true this is, and obviously it's up to the individual whether it matters to them.
TKD is like the Olympic fencing disciplines: The rules, and especially the legal target areas where you can score, guide the techniques. Since you are only allowed to strike or kick above the hip, and are the head is also off limits for fist strikes, fights largely are about quick kicks at a distance.
Compare this to, say, Thai boxing, where hitting the legs is a valid technique, and the reason why it looks different becomes obvious.
When I was much younger I practiced a martial art (Kateda) for the same reasons. I found it an excellent way to get fit, and the mental control aspect was useful. But what ultimately made me stop was that I hated sparring with people, and its seemed to be impossible to progress much beyond yellow belt without it. Maybe something to consider, if you haven't already.
Muay Thai should tick your "nothing gentle" box... Most places will have doing pad work and beasting yourself with hard power and cardio training from the off, and allow you into semi-contact sparring classes pretty quickly if your attitude is good.
Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong but to get to black belt in TKD it takes 2 years as opposed to Kyukushinkai which takes 5. You can draw your own conclusions. I too had to drop out for work and family reasons. I can't say that it helped with climbing much apart from the flexibility.
Could be that TKD is swamped by dodgy clubs, then.
AFAIK in serious clubs, i.e. clubs affiliated with the body that selects the Olympic team, you would be probably looking at ten or more years with multiple session per week to go from beginner to black belt, same as for Judo, of which I have more experience.
FWIW, I started aged five and got my black belt at 19yo. Could have been at bit quicker at a different club, and if I had focussed more on the grade exams rather than competitions, but not by much.
Starting approaching 50 most likely you are not going to make it to black belt in either sport, but why should you bother. I anyway never understood why people get so hung up about the colour of the belt they use to hold their jacket closed.
I did kung fu for over 30 years (lau gar, wing chun and tai chi) all the different styles helped in different ways. As has been said further up the thread see what is local to you (Manchester will have loads) then go to several classes. I found that I took to a class (or didn't) very quickly. Usually because of the attitude of the instructor. Some were fantastic others were poseurs.
Doctor told me 5 years ago I could no longer practice. I still miss it every single day.
I'm 49 and I still practice Wado Ryu Karate. I have black belts in several arts but I have found that as I have got older the higher stances are better for my knees than Shotokan and the locks and throws are not quite as harsh as full on Ju Jutsu. I highly recommend it for the more mature martial artist. If you want to see what it is like Youtube is full of stuff, look for names like Hironori Otsuka, Tatsuo Suzuki and Iain Abernethy.
I have always enjoyed Lau Gar Kung Fu as well, it has a somewhat contentious lineage but there is no doubt that the art is fairly solid and the Lau Gar clubs I have been part of have been great.
My favourite art of all time is Iaido though. There is something about waving a sword around that gets the blood pumping and Muso Shinden Ryu and Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu are fairly easy styles to find.
Most martial arts as they're taught in most clubs offer little of value beyond the fancy kit and possibly a social scene. Sorry, but it's true.
One poster above pointed out that the instructor, rather than the art, is more important. I'd definitely agree. If the instructor does not emphasise a *significant* element of live, controlled sparring in most sessions, the art is a fairly pointless activity - at least from a 'martial' perspective.
However some martial arts are certainly more conducive to realism than others. When the skills can be trained under pressure, the movement becomes an engrained pattern. As such the martial arts with flashy and lethal-looking moves are the least likely to be effective in a real encounter, for the simple reason that they cannot be trained at anything approaching complete intent.
The list of commonly-practiced realistic arts would include
- Muay Thai
- brazilian jiu-jitsu
As a caveat, any traditional art practiced in a realistic manner will also be effective, but oddly enough the skills taught will end up looking remarkably similar to the end results of practice in the above arts. That's because there are some biomechanical rules of human unarmed combat which apply regardless; the need for example to tuck one's chin to foil strikes, or to secure underhooks for effective takedowns and so on.
If on the other hand such sparring does not appeal, for physical toughness, improved flexibility and a sense of real engagement with adversity, you could do a lot worse than climbing.
> One poster above pointed out that the instructor, rather than the art, is more important. I'd definitely agree. If the instructor does not emphasise a *significant* element of live, controlled sparring in most sessions, the art is a fairly pointless activity - at least from a 'martial' perspective.
It's a fairly pointless activity regardless. (Much like climbing.) The reason to do it is because you enjoy it and find it rewarding. If that means no sparring there's nothing wrong with that. Tai Chi, or the more um.. namby-pamby end of the aikido spectrum could be a much better choice for some than full-contact karate. As could yoga, for that matter. Not everybody harbours fantasies of being the toughest kid in the infants.
Talk of "effectiveness" is just thinly veiled willy-waving. If you think you could actually find yourself on a mediaeval battlefield somehow, might as well get into HEMA and buy yourself some armour and a bloody great big sword.
> AFAIK in serious clubs, i.e. clubs affiliated with the body that selects the Olympic team, you would be probably looking at ten or more years with multiple session per week to go from beginner to black belt, same as for Judo, of which I have more experience.
You're probably right, but this is just a kind of "grade inflation" and nothing more than a misunderstanding of what a black-belt represents. You can't draw any useful comparison between two different styles based on how long it takes to get a black belt in one or the other, because the black belt is extremely unlikely to represent a similar degree in proficiency in both cases. It's completely arbitrary.
In the UK, the 'west' generally, there is a myth that being a 'black-belt' means you're some kind of expert. Not so. 'Shodan' literally means "beginning step", and in Japan (and in those places that keep more closely in touch with a Japanese honbu) so it is - your first black belt merely means you've covered enough of the basics that you can safely start to train more seriously.
In judo, for example, in Japan it's quite possible to go from beginner to shodan in 2-3 years. Which is handy, because it means undergrads recruited as freshers at university can expect to get that far before they graduate.
Those few young people who are *serious* about their training become uchi-deshi at some dojo or other (generally the honbu) and train full-time. It's the equivalent of a climber adopting a 'climbing bum' lifestyle for a few years - or these days maybe taking a low-paying job at a climbing wall, teaching beginner classes, sweeping up, making the tea and training, training, training!
I agree completely. Nevertheless, for me the big adavantage of disciplines that allow full on sparring (by banning a large section of possible techniques that would be too dangerous) is precisely that you can do the sparring!
From a certain level on, walking onto the mat, facing a guy who is evenly matched and will do everything to defeat you, whom you probably know quite well and if not have studied on video, but whom you will anyway meet at the drinks after the competition, will give you an adrenaline rush that is not matched by anything, for me not even by climbing (as I am too afraid to do dangerous soloing....).
Forget about the effectiveness for fighting in public, that is not why one should do a martial art!
Oh yes. I've dabbled a bit and know exactly what you mean. It's definitely not for everybody though.
(Wasn't really for me in the end, though I enjoyed it at the time.)
Good point about Japan, I was indeed referring to the Euro grading tradition!
> It's a fairly pointless activity regardless. (Much like climbing.) The reason to do it is because you enjoy it and find it rewarding. If that means no sparring there's nothing wrong with that. Tai Chi, or the more um.. namby-pamby end of the aikido spectrum could be a much better choice for some than full-contact karate. As could yoga, for that matter. Not everybody harbours fantasies of being the toughest kid in the infants.
My point precisely. Most people are lucky enough to live their lives without ever encountering violence. But if you're going to study a martial art, invest time money and energy into learning a skill, do you really want it to be absolutely f*cking useless if it ever comes to the crunch? For me that leaves a sour taste in the mouth, the art is being sold to clients as a combat skill.
> Talk of "effectiveness" is just thinly veiled willy-waving.
Hmm maybe. I don't think so.
There's a huge range of different things which go into one's response to a violent or potentially violent situation, and much depends on psychological factors. But there's no doubt that studying a more effective martial art provides the skills and *some* of the confidence required to survive such a situation.
I'm reasonably confident in my abilities if they were absolutely required but would always walk or run if possible. Even when you win, fighting is a pretty unpleasant experience.
If you don't care about a martial art's effectiveness, why even bother. Yoga, gymnastic strength training or climbing offer much more effective and holistic ways to exercise the body and mind than what is taught in most recreational martial arts clubs.
Krav maga, while I wouldn't necessarily call it a martial art, is probably the most practical, brutal, real world form of self defense in my opinion. I've tried a few disciplines and Krav maga is the one that really caught my attention
Glad to see so many martial artists on the site. We have an article coming soon looking at both climbing and karate as they work towards their Olympic debut. There are more parallels than you might think!
> Hmm maybe. I don't think so.
No, not any more. You've dropped the veil and escalated into blatant willy-waving.
Ok. Thanks for the constructive dialogue.
> If you don't care about a martial art's effectiveness, why even bother.
Because it is fun, if we only did stuff that was effective in the real world we wouldn't have UKC...
Going to the dojo after a hard days work and working out your stress and aggression by giving your mates a good kicking/punching/throwing around the room is one of the greatest pleasures for the so inclined. If you have to ask why bother then why bother climbing?
> For me that leaves a sour taste in the mouth, the art is being sold to clients as a combat skill.
That's not a given, though, is it?
I mean yeah, if someone's selling their techniques as being effective combat skills or whatever then I'd like to know that they've tried them out against proper resistance to check that they work, and that I'll be able to try them out against proper resistance myself to check that I've learned them properly. And for me, this isn't even about the possibility of getting into a real fight, it's just that it's partly about trying to understand how a situation works and I don't want that understanding to be based on hearsay and guesswork.
On the other hand, if they're selling their techniques as having a more limited scope - this technique will score you points in our restricted competition format, or this spinning-jumping-kick is totally impractical but it's fun and it looks cool or whatever then fair play to them.
> If you don't care about a martial art's effectiveness, why even bother.
Surely there are a loads of obvious answers to this question?
Yours and Clarence’s replies have made me think. Perhaps I’m seeing it in a too-binary way.
As a youngster who had frequently to fight in self-defence, I went to martial arts in order to protect myself. I was sorely disappointed with the efficacy of the first art I studied, and thereafter swore to find the most realistic training available. Of course this is not a healthy pursuit for anyone, and after a few years I’d taken steps to rearrange my life in a manner that pre-empted the need for self defence anyway. I moved away from martial arts altogether, and have only come back to it recently specifically to study judo and BJJ; the aspect of being potentially able to control an opponent (as opposed to smashing them up) is inherently noble, and of course there is a huge competition scene which I’m looking forward to taking part in. Even so you’re both probably right in there being a value in the more traditional arts, if I’ve come over as being arrogant I hope the above explains things. Thanks.
I guess it is a question of definition. If you include sports derived from the original combat systems, you will have many reasons for participation. You could join a dojo for fun, because you like Eastern philosophy, because you think you look cool in a bathrobe with a coulourful belt, or whatever reason you can come up with. Mine is competitive sport, and a hard, full contact, adrenaline rush inducing one at that:
Think one fraction of a second about why some bloody experiment in the lab failed again, and I risk getting whacked. At my age it hurts more then it used to, so even more reason to stay focussed!
For me it is a perfect way of blanking my mind for a few minutes. The effect also last afterwards, because I can subconsciously tell myself that I was able to let go once, so why not again.
However, if you stick to the narrow definition that separates martial arts as combat training systems from the related sports or gymnastics drills (e.g. Tai Chi and related Kung Fu styles), then it is of course fair enough to ask for efficiency.
I've read this thread with some interest but I'll stand by my earlier post, doesn't matter if you're after sheer combat effectiveness or just a fear induced shot of adrenaline.... not even Bruce Lee would want to fight some beered up lunatic, naked apart from a flat cap and a pair of steel reinforced clogs.
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