Monday, June 9, 2008

Get Your Punch On: Part 1

Want to get into shape and stop shitting yourself every time a stranger passes you at night? Watched UFC or some Discovery Channel martial arts special and considering entering the business of punching faces? I commend you sir/madam/other, but unfortunately, finding a good martial arts studio is harder than finding a baby at a Planned Parenthood. The problem is that without experience all martial arts generally look cool, so how do you distinguish face-melting awesomeness from Taekwondo?

Having read Will's last post you might be thinking, What qualifies this asshole to give me nutritional martial arts advice? I have a combined 13 years of training in Kung Fu, full contact kickboxing, Karate, Muay Thai, jujitsu, and Krav Maga. I’ve got black belts, stupid trophies, eyebrow scars, and can catch a fly with chopsticks. That out of the way, let’s find you a place to train in an unspecified number of easy steps!

Are you a douche?
Answer the question honestly. I’m talking to you drunk guy I threw out of the party. Stop telling me that you can kick my ass. If you could you’d be bouncing my head between your knees and fists while I cried in falsetto instead of trying to engage me in some cryptic simian chest-bumping ritual. If you regularly get into fights and constantly try to prove your manliness to an invisible cheering crowd, you don’t need martial arts. You and your ilk need to be deported to Elba where all of you can strut around like little Napoleons comparing penis sizes and having pushup contests. You make martial arts studios suck. Go away.

Not a douche? Then pick your poison.
There are dozens of martial arts to choose from, so which is the best for you? Here are a few

Kung Fu: Kung Fu is my personal recommendation for beginners. It will expose you to a wide variety of techniques, the movements feel "natural" so you can develop very fluid movement and fighting technique, plus there is an inexhaustible amount of epic moves to learn. Jet Li, Jackie Chan, that’s all Kung Fu. In addition, swords, spears, staffs, fans and benches (!) are just some of the weapons you’ll have the opportunity to master.

Karate: Good for developing strength and resilience. Karate is more stiff and blocky than Kung Fu, but its philosophy is geared towards the one fight-ending technique. If becoming a human tank packing boomstick punches sounds like fun, this one’s for you.

Full Contact (kickboxing, Muay Thai, MMA): If you already have some martial arts experience, this will definitely step up your game. Full contact will transform you from a good technician into nut-stomping monstrosity. Take a few techniques, perfect them, then throw them as hard and fast as you can at the person facing you. The only drawback is that if you go this route with no previous experience your technique repertoire will be somewhat limited, so if you need a lot of variety, this is not for you.

Juijitsu: Like wrestling and submissions? Look no further. This is the most hardcore ground fighting there is.

Krav Maga: Want to transform yourself from wuss to raging rhino in a couple of months? Krav Maga is for you my friend. Pure unbridled, near psychotic aggression is what you’ll learn. Your technique repertoire will consist of biting off Adam's apples, pelvis-shattering groin kicks, joint breaks, head butts, and good old fashioned dirty fighting. None of it is pretty, but all of it extremely effective.

Taekwondo: DO NOT TAKE TAEKWONDO. This is not a martial art but sword-less fencing. But Stas, you say, what about all the pretty kicks? Those fancy kicks are useless in a fight. Furthermore, the lack of emphasis Taekwondo puts on hand technique and practical blocking means you’ve invested hundreds of dollars and countless hours at being really good at getting your ass kicked.

Can’t make a choice? You don’t have to! Just compile a list of your local studios and we’ll go comparison shopping next time. Stay tuned.

- Stas

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