Choosing the best martial art to enroll in can be a daunting task. There are so many art forms to choose from, and I don’t blame you for being a bit hesitant to make a choice. Should you be struggling to decide which would be the best one for you, and it’s a three-horse race between Karate, Muay Thai, and Ji-Jitsu, I hope this article will make your choice a little bit easier.
You have to be clear of what your expected outcomes are when choosing between martial arts. Whether it is self-defense, a disciplined workout, or both karate and Muay Thai are standup fighting styles, Jui-Jitsu is a ground-based fighting style. Each art has pros and cons and will differ in physical intensity.
Most serious martial artists choose more than one art to complement each other. Combining fighting styles to make up for what one particular martial art lacks is often seen in MMA. Most fighters combine Muay Thai with Jiu-Jitsu to balance a standup striking style with a ground-based fighting style to counter other multiskilled martial artists. Jean-Claude Van Damme was primarily known for his kickboxing when in fact, he started his fighting career in karate with a semi-contact record of 41-4.
Choosing The Best Martial Art For You-Karate, Muay Thai, Or Jui-Jitsu?
Any important decision in life requires that you look at the pros and the cons, eventually leading to the most informed choice. Some choices are a bit harder to make than others. When choosing a new martial art, there are many factors to consider; you will have to weigh the benefits up against each other.
There are various reasons people take up a martial art; the trick is to find out your reasons and identify them in the particular art. The main reasons for choosing a martial art typically include but is not limited to the following: Learning self-defense, increasing fitness, fighting in competitions, interested in traditional fighting styles, learning about another culture, meditation, wanting to be more focused and disciplined, strengthening the body and the mind, and for social reasons.
This article aims to help you choose which one of Karate, Muay Thai, or Jui-Jitsu will be the best martial art for you.
What Are The Benefits Of Any Martial Art Form?
Let us go ahead and dive straight into what the public benefits of Karate, Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, or any martial art for that matter, will provide to its practitioners.
Any martial art you train in will involve exercise and practice of the specific moves required to progress in the art. Preparing and practicing the form/katas will require precise body movement to increase your muscle strength and improve your general fitness.
Exercising the body is never a bad idea and will lead to your body’s flexibility improving as you go along. Exercise will improve your blood flow and this in itself provides you with many health benefits.
We are all a bit clumsy and uncoordinated in our funny way. That is one area that martial arts address directly. To move through the ranks, you will need to learn sequenced moves and repeat them at grading ceremonies.
Through the training of these moves, you will enhance your coordination and movement ability. Your clumsiness will start to disappear, and you will begin to notice your overall coordination in every area of your life improved.
Martial arts do not only train the body; it exercises the mind as well. Mental sharpness happens automatically when you are taught techniques that you need to practice and at some stage know out of your head. Your fighting instinct will also grow when training often and diligently.
Getting into shape and maintaining that level usually leads to your mind being much sharper than if you were just a regular couch potato.
Self-discipline is one of the essential ingredients that martial arts teach and grow in its students. Most founders of the different codes had this included in their art’s mission statement. Self-discipline is an attribute that so many humans struggle with throughout their lives. You will teach yourself this particular skill if you are committed to your training.
Any positive character change that you incorporate in your life leads to other positive ripple effects. One of these will be that your self-control will be better, and you could feel more in control of your life due to your self-discipline increasing.
Self-confidence stems from being confident in one’s ability, whatever that may be. When you are training and learning how to be more self-sufficient in protecting yourself, you will have a certain confidence.
You become confident in your body and mental state, which changes the way that you perceive yourself. Practicing martial arts is hard work and requires commitment from your side. When you are doing it and growing in the art, it gives you greater self-confidence in the process and your ability.
Never got a chance to study a foreign culture at school? The good thing about learning a new martial art is that it will introduce you to new cultures. Karate will introduce you to Japanese; Muay Thai will show you how the people from Thailand train.
Martial arts are a fun way to explore other cultures and get fit while doing it. Two birds with one stone!
Martial arts are usually a one-person show. Training and competing are done individually. That does not take away from the fact that you will interact with like-minded individuals on the training floor.
Making new friends on the same journey as you are excellent for social development (especially children taking up martial arts). Getting to share your trials and tribulations with others makes the trip even more special.
Martial arts will teach you how to be able to defend yourself. How effective these newly introduced self-defense techniques will be in a real-life scenario will depend on how you practice. Are you putting it to use by regularly putting it to the test via Randori (active sparring), or are you just familiar with the moves (katas and form)?
Some believe that the watered-down versions being taught by martial art dojos do not help with self-defense. When choosing a dojo, you need to find out how they train and what they train beforehand. Training for competitions is different from training for real-life scenarios, and finding a dojo that focuses on self-defense is crucial.
When your goal is to compete in tournaments and do martial arts as a sport, you will have various local and international games to enter and compete in.
Karate will make its full Olympic debut at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
Muay Thai has received provisional recognition as an Olympic sport. The provisional recognition lasts for three years in which the Muay Thai Federations can apply to be included in the upcoming Olympic Games.
Jiu-Jitsu has been confirmed in the Summer Olympic Games of 2024 held in Paris, France.
What Are The Cons Of Karate, Muay Thai And Jiu-Jitsu?
We have discussed the numerous advantages that general training in any martial art brings to the table. Whatever your reasons may be for starting training a new martial art, the health benefits alone make it an excellent idea. Any exercise is better than no exercise!
After discussing some of the benefits of what martial arts can do for your body, mind, and soul, let us discuss some of the cons when considering taking up Karate, Muay Thai, and Jiu-Jitsu.
It is a critical factor to consider before you join is to find the best possible gym or dojo for the art you are interested in. Many dojos are only in it for the monetary reward and not the actual traditional training procedures. Do your homework on the possible dojos that you could join and make sure everything is legit, do not waste your money on inferior dojos pretending to be the real deal.
Cons of Karate
- Many people have jumped on the karate cash-cow wagon. Some are opening dojo’s that teaches a watered–down, ineffective and primarily unusable form of karate. Beware of dojos that advertise “non-contact karate,” this dojo will not teach you proper self-defense.
- Some dojos do not teach grappling moves, only striking, unlike the traditional Okinawan style, which incorporated grappling into its training. You will have to supplement your karate training with another grappling martial art if this is what you are after.
- Finding a proper dojo where grading is earned, not purchased, is becoming harder each day. Due to people “earning” black belts in record times and opening a dojo, this trend of unqualified and unskilled trainers has become somewhat routine.
- The financial cost of training in martial arts can become quite expensive. This will depend on where you train, and usually, the more prominent private gyms with top-ranked instructors will cost you more than the smaller county training facilities.
- Injuries will happen; typically, it will be minor niggles and strains only. If you are lucky to find a dojo that promotes randori, the chances increase for more severe injuries. However, your self-defense skills will improve dramatically.
- Equipment costs money. Suppose you are into the sports side of karate. In that case, entering tournaments will have a registration fee. Purchasing the correct safety equipment like gloves, padding, and headgear will also cost you some money. Don’t forget the uniform that you will need to buy when you start.
- When karate is not trained correctly and practiced regularly (randori), it can give the user a false sense of confidence. It becomes dangerous when you are in an actual threatening situation; being overconfident in your untested abilities could lead to being beaten up quite badly.
- Overemphasis on katas at specific gyms or dojos is an excellent form of exercise but does not train you in actual self-defense. A kata is a series of movements that a scholar has to learn to be graded and go to the next belt. Katas are more like a sequenced dance and do not teach you proper self-defense methods. The problem with some dojos is that they focus mainly on the kata side and not on practicing real techniques that you can use outside of the dojo.
Cons of Muay Thai
- Being a striking standup sport, it does not incorporate grappling in its teachings. You will have to supplement your Muay Thai training with another grappling martial art if this is also a requirement for the skills you want to learn.
- Muay Thai is known as “The Art Of Eight Limbs,” which refers to the use of shins, elbows, feet, hands, legs, and arms, and practicing to use your whole body as a weapon often leads to injuries during training and professional fights.
- Training is grueling and intense, and if you suffer from a physical condition (lower back, heart problems, for example), you could struggle with this martial art.
- Repeated attacks to the head can lead to concussions and lead to brain damage in more severe cases. Muay Thai often focuses its attacks on the head area; even with protective gear, you could sustain an injury in that area.
- Muay Thai does not teach you how to bob and weave, how to be fluid, and somebody with this skill set will have an advantage over you from the get-go.
Cons of Jiu-Jitsu
- Being a ground-based fighting art that incorporates locks, chokes, and the opponent being immobilized on the ground, you will hurt your body when applying your skills outside of the gym’s wrestling mats, like hard concrete, for example.
- When confronted with a host of attackers, it is pretty much rendered as a useless martial art in such scenarios.
- It does not teach any striking whatsoever, so if you want to learn this skill, you will have to supplement your training with an additional striking martial art.
- Constant training and Jiu-Jitsu participation can lead to chronic blunt trauma to the ear area leading to a hematoma (cauliflower ear). You will notice that many MMA fighters have these cauliflower ears.
- Jiu-Jitsu training’s nature sometimes leads to practitioners experiencing Polyarthralgia (stiffness, pain, and swelling of multiple joints). It is caused by wear and tear of the cartilages of a joint.
- Jiu-Jitsu does not train you for any weapons defense. If your attacker has a concealed weapon or attacks you with one, your training will require you to fight him on the ground to be efficient, not ideal when you are in a scenario where you need to block and fight standing up.
Deciding on a martial art should be a fun experience, even when you are riddled with a bit of indecision. Committing to a martial art is not always easy as it usually takes a long time to progress up the ladder. As mentioned previously mentioned you have to very clear about what your goals are before you join.
You will have to combine specific arts to become a complete fighter like most MMA participants if that is your goal.
If it is self-defense that tops your goal list, make sure to inquire at the institution if they allow for full contact training (this will indicate to some degree what training you will receive there). If they don’t, then you know that you will only practice the theory (katas) and not apply what you have learned, making your efficient self-defense goal unattainable from the get-go.
Karate and Muay Thai are standup fighting styles with no ground grappling training. However, if you want to train in the striking arts, both could be a good choice. Fighters in MMA prefer to have Muay Thay as their striking art as it is considered more potent than karate.
If you are smaller in stature and feel that you would do better on the ground to nullify a striker’s threat, then Jiu-Jitsu is the right choice for you. Whatever your choice, well done for committing to a healthier lifestyle in the future. The great thing about martial arts is that even if you have chosen the “wrong” one to start with, you can change between martial arts and still keep the fitness!
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