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Ultimate Beginners Guide to Martial Arts Training

November 30, 2018 / Inside the Academy
Ultimate Beginners Guide to Martial Arts Training

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Martial Arts Training

Table of Contents

By Anurak Muay Thai Academy Hillsborough Township NJ 08844

Something has sparked your interest in having the desire to learn some form of martial arts. And like most people who have never trained before, you don’t know where to begin in your search. Use this E-Book as a guide to help you understand the various styles and schools you may encounter. Enjoy your new journey into the world of martial arts.

Why Train in Martial Arts?

It is important to first determine your goals and reasons for training in order to select the best style to participate in.

The 6 Main Benefits You Will Receive With Martial Arts Training

Broken down into 6 categories, these are the most common reasons for training. Fitness, self defense, interest in an art form, new found hobby, confidence booster and mental benefits such as clarity, stress relief and focus.

Choosing the Perfect Style for Your Needs

A complete and practical guide to help you make informed decisions about which style of arts are best for you.

The Most Important Things to Consider when Selecting a School

There are many factors to consider after you have determined which martial art will be best for you. Here are what you need to consider.

What You Should Expect in Your First Class

Don’t get discouraged during your first couple classes.

6 Reasons Why Martial Arts Training is a Must Have in Your Life!

Here are the 6 top reasons why an adult would choose Martial Arts Training over all the other programs that are offered in your community.

Martial Arts Classes is one of many options for men and women seeking a new and healthy hobby.

I have broken this section down into 6 categories in the benefits the majority of people are searching for in a program. Fitness, self defense, interest in an art form, new found hobby, confidence booster and mental benefits such as clarity, stress relief and focus.So here you are searching online for martial arts classes for adults. But the question is… Why? What are looking to achieve by training in a program?

Perhaps you were recommended by a friend, or maybe you just watched the latest action film with some high flying, kick butt scenes. Or maybe your doctor visit wasn’t all that you had wished for with the strict recommendation to start a physical activity of some sort, pronto!

Fitness & Weight-Loss

Martial Arts Training in an adult program will certainly help you with physical conditioning and weight-loss. Some styles and training methods will be better than others, but as a whole, martial arts is a great solution.

Fitness clubs and gyms are very difficult to stay motivated. Not to mention the fact that many people don’t even know what to do at the gym when they get there. Martial arts provide a structure to one’s life that makes it much easier to achieve results. Having set class times takes the old “I’ll get there at some point tonight,” out of the equation. When you engage in the classes, the guest work in working out is nonexistent. The instructor will lead you into various exercises that you are expected to do. This is a far cry from the LA Fitness membership where nobody expects you complete any workouts. Nor do they care if you show up. A good school and a good instructor will be keeping tabs on you. So don’t disappoint by not showing up.

Some styles and schools are better than others for the purpose of fitness and weight-loss. I go into further details about choosing a style in the next Chapter.

Free Introduction anurak muay thai academy hillsborough nj

Self Defense

Probably the #1 reason why adults begin training in martial arts is for self defense purposes. The world we live in seems to becoming ever more increasingly dangerous. In my personal opinion I believe the growing gap between the haves and have nots, is adding to this tension in violence and crime.

The best steps you can take in order to be prepared in the event of an attack is to consistently train in a realistic and practical style. The key word here is “consistently”. There are many different styles and variations to choose from. There are also many different teaching methodologies you may see within the same style. Not all muay thai/bjj/karate/tae kwon do is created equal. The key here is to first choose a style that is conducive to self defense, then chose a school. Again, I will cover the different styles in the next Chapter.

Assuming you have chosen a practical style of self defense, it is imperative that you train on a consistent basis in order to be proficient. Don’t expect to attend a two day intensive seminar and the next altercation you have you end up putting the guy in a body bag. It’s just not going to happen. The ability to defend yourself will increase only by consistent training in the right style, at the right school, with qualified instructors.

 

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Interest in a Particular Art Form

So now you’ve been surfing online, watching YouTube videos, reading all the articles and what not. Your research has now lead you towards a natural gravitation towards a particular style. Most likely because it seems to provide you with the main benefits you’re seeking. Or, it’s something you have dabbled with in the past.

Maybe you have always been a Royce Gracie fan from the earliest days of the UFC back in the mid nineties. Or perhaps you were a wrestler in high school and you seem to have a natural gravitate towards a grappling art such as Russian Sambo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or Judo.

Or maybe you’re simply fascinated with watching Muay Thai from the training camps and stadiums in Thailand. The pre fight ritual dance (ram muay), the exotic music, the amazing display of devastating striking techniques, the clips of the Thai’s training at the camps all keep your eyes fixated on the screen.

Your natural interest in a particular style will keep you motivated to learn. That motivation will keep you going to your class constantly. The anticipation for your next class will have you yearning for more knowledge. You may in fact begin to eat, sleep and breath in the style you fall in love with.

Young Yodtong-Senanan-Sityodtong

New Found Hobby

Wake up, get dressed, go to work, come home… Insert Here… repeat…

You need something new in your life. You need an activity. You have 3 gym membership cards dangling on your keyring and you haven’t stepped foot in the gym in the past 3 months. Probably because It’s Boring There! Your friend does Crossfit, but he’s always injured, (no surprise). Your coworker does spin class but you’re no Greg LeMond. It’s just not your style.

Martial arts classes for adults would be a great solution for starting a new healthy hobby and lifestyle. There are many options and programs out there. The unique qualities that martial arts training provides (in my opinion) is far superior and more diverse than when you compare it to any other activity.

Building Self Confidence

To me, (a muay thai instructor and gym owner), this is probably one of the most rewarding aspects of my job and in my life. Seeing people transform for the better. Many of my students who come into the school have always been shy, meek, and you could consider them the introvert type. These people over time, transform and begin to come out of their shell so to speak. It’s nothing short of astonishing to see the same man or women who came into the school 4 months prior, and now looking at them in a whole new light.

Having a greater sense of self confidence radiates from within you and begins to creep into all aspects of your life. This is where the benefits of martial arts training makes it far superior than when compared to all the other activity options combined. You just stepped up at work and the boss is impressed. You just lost 15 lbs. and you start getting some more looks and attention from the opposite sex. You’re “I can’t” attitude begins to vanish and your “I can and will” attitude begins to kick in.

A good adult martial arts program can provide you with something in personal value that far, far exceeds anything you will pay monetarily in monthly dues at your school. What is having a greater sense of confidence worth to you? To me, it is invaluable.

Mental Clarity & Focus

Sort of riding on the coattails of self confidence is the mental benefits from training in the martial arts. Particularly, mental clarity and focus.

In a world where the work environment is becoming ever increasingly stressful and demanding, studies have shown that this high stress environment is directly the cause of many cardiovascular ailments, high blood pressure, and general unhappiness in people. With the right program, you will greatly reduce stress and your risk for health complications.

Having a greater sense of mental clarity and focus will help you in all aspects of your life. You just had a brake up with a long time relationship partner. And you’re feeling completely depressed. You are being redlined at work and you’re not sleeping well at night anymore. You’re about to launch a new product in your start up business and your ability to focus on the project and the plans are all beginning to spin out of your mental control. A good program that specializes in martial arts classes for adults will provide you with a new found existence of control, focus and clarity.

Conclusion

I hope at least one of these 6 reasons resinated with you. I hope it has encouraged you to take the next step and begin to research which style you may be interested in. In the next Chapter, I will discuss and compare the majority of martial arts styles that are offered to adults. Many of which will have schools located in your town or nearby cities. I’ll be discussing the pro’s and con’s to each style as it pertains to the main benefits one is seeking. The next Chapter can be used as a guide to help you determine which style may be best for you to begin your training.

Choosing the Perfect Style for Your Needs

A complete and practical guide to help you make informed decisions about which style of arts are best for you.

A systematic breakdown of the best martial arts. Here’s a list of the most common programs offered in your community.

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the best martial arts for adults. I think it’s first important to ask yourself what it is you’re looking to achieve by training. Here is a list and a detailed outline of what to expect in each respected styles. Let’s start with the 3 main categories. Striking Arts, Grappling Arts, Cardio Based Workouts and Mixed Martial Arts.

Striking Arts

Striking arts also sometimes referred to as “stand up” arts, are comprised of styles that utilize striking. If a style incorporates punching, kicking, knees and elbow strikes, this is a striking art. Karate, Muay Thai, Kickboxing Workouts and Boxing would all be in the “Striking Arts” category.

Grappling Arts

Grappling arts are generally martial arts that utilize leverage to gain a dominant position over your opponent. In most cases, there are no strikes involved. Instead, you will generally go for submission holds, chokes, and small joint manipulation to subdue your opponent’s attacks. Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Russian Sambo, and Wrestling are a few of the arts that would be considered “Grappling” arts.

Cardio Based Workouts

For the sake of this chapter, I refer to these Cardio Based Workouts as martial arts training. While there may be some elements of martial arts incorporated in the classes, it is hard to definitively call these programs martial arts. I’ll explain about what I consider to be “Gray” areas when defining a style a martial art. For the sake of this guide, Kickboxing classes and Boxing classes would be classified as “Cardio Based Workouts”

Mixed Martial Arts

Ok, as I mentioned before, Mixed Martial Arts is one of those “gray areas” when defining it as a martial art. Mix Martial Arts or MMA, is a sport that incorporates many elements from many different martial arts. Primarily Striking and Grappling. There are several types of MMA schools out there, and the classes will tend to vary to the extremes, depending on which school you go to.

You want a school that implements all the traditional elements of each style. This is the best-case scenario for you as a student.

Other schools will tend to give you a watered down fitness version of kickboxing and jump on the term “MMA”, because that is what you searched for in Google. I highly recommend staying away from these types of programs. More often than not, real qualified instructors do not teach these classes and they are down right cheesy.

The third point I’d like to make about MMA is that there really isn’t any culture or tradition in Mixed Martial Arts. It is a combat sport, not a martial art. You can also lump boxing and wrestling and kickboxing into this category. So, what’s the difference between a combat sport and a martial art? Well, here’s how I describe it. Nearly all the arts I mention can be considered combat sports. But if you look at Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai for example, while these styles are in fact combat sports, they are steeped in tradition and values. There is proper etiquette, salutations, hierarchy, and expectations from instructor to student. There are rituals that date back hundreds of years and these styles both derive from Eastern Culture which is quite different than here in the West.

Some MMA schools and practitioners do embrace the martial arts side of their training and in the traditional values are instilled to the students at the school. This is not the majority of most schools.

Boxing doesn’t really have a culture or tradition or anything much deeper than punch them in the face harder than you get punched in the face. The shit talking and antics just to hype a fight and get ticket sales is an all too familiar scene. Kickboxing can be put in this category as well.

Now you have an idea of the various categories of adult martial arts, let’s look into some of the more common styles offered locally in your town.

Karate

Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Shotokan, or the hundreds of other traditional styles.

Ok, so as an adult you have to consider one main thing when you’re searching for tradition styles to practice. Most if not all of these schools will primarily cater to children. You first must establish if they even offer an adult training program at their school. And if they do offer adult training, what times are the classes held and how often.

Prior to the movie “The Karate Kid” being released in 1982, traditional martial arts schools did not often offer children’s classes. In the 80’s, most dojos were small, part time schools run by a black belt instructor who worked a day job, and taught adults at night. The only kids in the class were maybe the 15 year old whose mom put him in class because he keeps getting beat up at school. After the Karate Kid was released, every kid in America wanted to become Daniel Larusso. Dojo owners had lines out the door and the entire industry was flipped upside down overnight.

The key pointer to look out for is class times. You also may want to consider the practicality and effectiveness of the art itself. There was a huge stigma and misconception prior to the days of the UFC and the Internet. Many wild claims, smoke and magic were used to acquire new students back in the day. Asian culture was mysterious and unknown. In today’s world with the power of Internet searches, it would be very difficult to keep up with this charade of false claims and far fetched stories.

 

karate hillsborough nj 08844

Muay Thai

Known as the “The King of the Ring”, Muay Thai is in my, (bias opinion) is the best martial arts for adults. Muay Thai encompasses the old world traditions and values, coupled with a modern day approach to combat and self- defense. Muay Thai is raw and as real as it gets when you’re talking about a practical combative art. Muay Thai is fairly easy to learn. It’s not flashy and doesn’t require any real degree of athleticism to be proficient. It does require consistency in training in order to progress and become skilled. Yet so does any martial art for that matter. Muay Thai seems to be a great choice for all around benefits.

Muay Thai Rating Hillsborough NJ

Kickboxing & Boxing Cardio Programs

While these programs may lack in many of the values the other programs offer, kickboxing and boxing have a nice place when it comes to weight-loss and fitness. You won’t be leaving your enemies in a pool of blood on the side of the street, but you will be able to outrun them for miles because your cardio is off the chain.

Kickboxing classes can be a great addition to your current workout routines. Or, they can act as a great way to get started in your healthy lifestyle and weight-loss program. Remember these programs lack in the traditional values and real world self-defense applications.

Cardio Kickboxing Hillsborough NJ

Grappling Arts

Judo, Sambo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are all excellent forms of self defense. These arts will generally rely on leverage to subdue an opponent and gain an advantage with positioning. These arts are all great forms of exercise and have traditional elements and values.

The downside to the grappling arts is that injuries are quite prevalent, especially when engaging in live training. Also, there is a comfort level involved here especially when referring to women. Not many women feel comfortable rolling around with strange men on the ground. I will say that a woman who is skilled in the art of BJJ will truly be able to defend herself if a problem were to arise. BJJ relies on position and leverage, enabling a much smaller, weaker person to overcome the largest and strongest of all attackers. Grappling arts are highly effective; it just comes down to your interest and comfort level.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Hillsborough NJ

MMA or Mixed Martial Arts

I almost debated not to put this in the groupings of this review and comparison but with ever increasing popularity of the sport and the ever- increasing amount of schools opening up, I kind of have to include this as a consideration. Depending on how the classes run, MMA can be considered one of the best martial arts for adults.

In every school you encounter, you will see a wide variety of elements that make up the MMA program. Some schools will primarily focus on grappling, and others on striking. Some schools you will see nothing more than a glorified kickboxing classes labeled MMA.

On the other hand, some schools you may encounter are competition oriented and the training philosophies will be “only the strong survive here”.

This would only be a decent option for someone who is interested in competition, and I didn’t include that in this write up for several reasons. But for most individuals looking for a healthy hobby, these hard-core fight gyms are not viable options if you need to wake up the next morning and go to work. Preferably without limping to your desk with a black eye and crooked nose from last night’s “Fight Club”

There are some really great MMA Schools out there; you just have to do the research. Be sure to keep this in mind when dealing with MMA gym searches… Which instructors are teaching each particular program?

What I mean is that any one martial art discipline can literally take a lifetime to accomplish mastery. You want to learn from the best of each disciple. Therefore, a true Mixed Martial Arts School must have either A. Multiple accredited instructors in usually BJJ, Muay Thai, Boxing & Wrestling. Or B., the head instructor is former or current professional MMA fighter that is highly skilled in grappling and striking arts.

When you factor everything in, even the highest skilled MMA athletes are very rarely the best at more than one of the individual art form. Most professional fighters have Muay Thai coaches, BJJ coaches, boxing coaches, and wrestling coaches. A MMA fighter can be highly skilled in all aspects of combat, but in most cases, one art form is their base art or first art they practiced and became well skilled in. This will always tend to dominate their focus in the classes they teach. Which may or may not line up with what you really want to learn.

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The most important things to consider when selecting a school

There are many factors to consider after you have determined which martial art will be best for you. Here are what you need to consider.

The first step in the search process of selecting the best martial arts school is to make contact and set up an appointment.

Every school is different with regards to how they handle new student acquisitions. Some establishments you will simply call up, and someone will invite you to come in that evening during one of their regular class times. Other schools will request that you book an appointment with the head instructor as part of the introductory process. These appointments are many times handled directly through the school’s website, by way of a registration form.

Distance and Your Commute

Once you have been invited in, it’s a good idea to factor in how long of a drive it was for you to get there. Generally speaking, the closer the school is in proximity to your home, the more convenient it is to get there. The more convenient it is to get there, the more likely it is you will consistently show up for class on a regular basis. On the other hand, don’t just settle on any old place just because it’s the closest martial arts school to your house. Having a top notch instructor who is passionate about his students is worth it’s weight in gold.

If there are no schools located in close proximity to your home, another option is to search for martial arts training near your work. Many times, the class schedule will fit in perfectly with your workday ending. You can also do a search in all the towns you pass during your commute home.

Decent Parking

Now you have arrived it’s a good idea to see what the parking situation is like. Will you be having to run out of class every 20 minutes to fill the meter? Is there bumper to bumper street parking or is there an ample amount of space in a parking lot? This shouldn’t be a huge factor considering your school. Especially because the benefits of training far outweigh the inconvenience of having to walk 2 minutes to get to class. Observe The Student Vibe

When you arrive inside, the first thing you should notice is whether or not you were properly greeted upon entering. When searching for the best martial arts school, consider how friendly the staff and students are. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a group of jerks with attitudes for several hours every week. Think of this searching process as not only interviewing your instructor, but interviewing your peers as well. Take notice if the people seem cliquey or if it looks like everyone seems to be grooving with one another.

Is The School Sanitary?

Would you eat at a restaurant that was absolutely filthy? Chances are the answer to this question is “No”. The cleanliness of a school should be imperative. Almost all adult martial arts classes are practiced on a mat. There are a number of nasty viruses and fungi that thrive in this warm, damp environment. Ringworm and the more serious Staphylococcus or “Staph Infections” are something that nobody wants to deal with.

Here’s a good way to observe if a school is sanitary…

Ask to observe a class in progress. Take notice where the bathrooms are located. See if any of the students walk directly off the mat, into the bathroom, and back onto the mat again. This is a huge “No No” at my school. I have a clear policy that students must have footwear in the bathrooms, at all times. We have a strict, no shoes on the mat policy as well. I do provide the students with a few pairs of slippers and flip flops next to the bathroom doors. The students are made aware of our policy hygiene and sanitary policies right from the beginning. If the school you visit has a similar set of standards, that’s a good sign of cleanliness.

Credentials and Pedigree

Whichever art to decide to pursue, it’s always important to have a qualified instructor. You should look for someone who specializes in the art you wish to learn. If you are seeking a qualified Jiu Jitsu instructor for example, it doesn’t do you much good if the classes are taught by a boxer who doesn’t have any grappling experience.

You should always choose an instructor with pedigree. This will help you gain the most from your training because you are learning from an expert. Choose an instructor that has some form of accomplishments in their martial art. Perhaps more importantly, choose an instructor with a history of helping others accomplish great things.

There are certain occasions when credentials and pedigree are over- weighted, and you end up making a poor buying decision. You could end up at the wrong school. Just because someone is a great athlete or a great competitor, it doesn’t mean that they are great instructors. In fact, many fighters turn out to be horrible instructors. Ask the head coach what he has done for others, not what he has accomplished for himself. At the end of the day, you are there to determine what he can do for you, not listen to him brag about what he has done for himself.

Lineage

Lineage is very important if you are looking to train in an authentic or traditional style. Especially when you are searching for a style that has spiritual and philosophical element. The masters lineage is passed on generation after generation. Many schools today have abandoned their old traditions and customs. Worse yet, some schools don’t even have a lineage. Off shoot MMA gyms are becoming ever increasing in numbers and popularity. Much of the deep rooted tradition and culture that the martial arts used to be so well known for is slowly fading away with time. Ask your instructor where he or she trained prior to opening the school. Who was his instructor, And his instructors instructor. You get the picture.

What’s The Instructors Unstoppable Plan To Help You?

Does your instructor have an unstoppable plan for you to reach your goals?

What are your goals? Think about that question. If you’re not sure what your goals are, just ask yourself this… What is the number one result I am looking for. And what does that feel like when you close your eyes and imagine yourself achieving that result. Your teacher must have an unstoppable, bullet proof plan of exactly how he is going to help you get there.

During your initial consultation with your prospective coach, ask him these two questions… One; Have you ever helped anyone ABC in the past? Two; What is your gameplan for me, to achieve XYZ? If the instructor seems to stumble around with the answers to these simple questions, then you may consider that to be a red flag. You have to wonder if this individual has the capability of providing you with the best level of service possible. You deserve the very best when it comes to the investment you are making with yourself.

Cost

Taking up a martial art is an investment in yourself. Can you put a price on having more confidence? Is there a dollar amount you “would have been willing to pay,” if you suddenly fell victim to a violent attack. Instead, you survived and came out on top all thanks to the invested you made in yourself. The cost of a quality martial arts program that delivers in value along with results, is a nominal fee to pay. Martial arts can literally save your life.

Dollar amounts and membership options will vary from school to school. Do not shop around on price, when searching for quality martial arts instruction. I repeat, do not shop on pricing. Good schools aren’t the cheapest schools. A good school will provide you with the highest level of value. The return on investment you are making on yourself, will be 5 times what you are paying in dollars.

Ballpark figures, you can expect to pay between $130- $200 per month, at a reputable school. Yes, you can find places for $100 or less. But I guarantee you that in almost all cases, you won’t be receiving a very high level of instruction or customer service. You get what you pay for when searching for the best martial arts school. I know many schools that run in the $250-$300 range. Per month. Some of these schools are absolutely worth every penny. Others are just simply over priced in relationship to the actual value they provide. Don’t let the difference in price determine where you train. And don’t overpay on tuition if you’re not receiving the full value in exchange.

What you should expect in your first class

Don’t get discouraged during your first couple classes.

You’ve made it this far and you’re now in your first martial arts lesson at a prospective school. Here’s a quick list of what you should expect to gain from this first lesson experience?

Prepared to feel humbled. Over the years, I have had a wide array of people come into my Muay Thai gym. Even the athletically gifted types can feel awkward and uncoordinated that first couple lessons. This is normal. But it can also come to as a shock to your ego if you are used to being just naturally good at sports. Martial arts is a whole new challenge for anyone.

Expect to learn something. You are trying out the classes so you can learn about the program. At the very least, you should walk away from your first lesson with the satisfaction that you learned something during this experience.

You can expect to walk away at the end of the lesson uninjured. You in no way should have been made to participate in any type of drills or sparring that has caused you an injury of any kind. During this time at the school you should have been treated with respect, kindness, and courtesy. You should leave your lesson feeling positive and motivated. You should leave the school with a good vibe from all your classmates. Did you receive an ample amount of attention with regards to instruction?

Especially at the beginning, you want to make sure you received a decent amount of instruction during your lessons. This will ensure you are getting the basics down properly. This will also be a good indicator of what to expect as a regular student in the program. Did you have to wait 20 minutes before being told you were doing a technique improperly? Or was someone there to help and correct your mistakes right away.

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