By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved
Most of my teaching now is done by seminars so one thing that I get very often is afterwards people tend to come up to me and ask questions like, “this has made me want to start taking martial arts lessons, what style or school do I recommend?” I get asked for recommendations on martial arts schools and styles quite often and I have two responses that I typically give.
The first response is I ask the person what they want to get out of their martial arts training. That should only make sense. Martial arts not only teach self-defense but they provide a social outlet, an opportunity to study a different culture, a way to compete and win trophies, fitness and flexibility, mental wellbeing and stress management, and of course a way to social climb by earing belts.
Once they know what they want it gets easier to make a recommendation. If they want to earn trophies I might recommend Taekwondo and if they want stress management and to develop inner calm I might recommend Tai Ji Chuan. If they want to further their study in self-defense I make a little different recommendation.
I tell that that any teacher, school, or style can be great. However, when it comes to defending yourself principles are more important than techniques; the principles that have proven themselves over and over again is that when you are faced with someone who wants to seriously injure or kill you it is best to go right at them, fight back as aggressively as possible, and focus on striking the vulnerable areas of the human body. As long as you do that there is a good chance you’ll come out ok.
My recommendation, therefore, is that is doesn’t matter so much what style you study. Just find an instructor who teaches that approach. Find someone who teaches you to lower your head and aggressively go in and cause as much damage as possible and it doesn’t matter if you’re doing it with sidekicks, palm strikes, elbows, or a tiger claw; this approach is what works so just call your local schools and talk to the instructor and pick out a few to visit and then watch a class or two. Talk to the instructor and maybe some students and if this is the approach the instructor teaches you’ll probably do just fine.