It took me some time to find the right martial art for me. I tried quite a few of them and did a fair bit of research, before I found out about Wushu. Not every martial art always works for every person. But if you really want to learn a martial art, trust me the right style is out there somewhere. These are the ones I tried out.
Karate: (Karate was the first martial art I tried. I trained for a whole year and basically skipped training very often)
It is a rather stiff martial art. If you are looking to gain real strength, without much nonsense, and stand as solid as a rock, that’s the style for you. It also is really effective when it comes to self-defense. BUT if you are not so strong it can be pretty frustrating, which it was in my case. I just wasn’t able to put enough power into my moves, especially my punches and if somebody would have pushed me I wouldn’t be standing like a rock, I’d be more like a rock rolling down the hill. The other thing is, Karate can be quite boring. I like to say it this way, if you want to learn one move which you can use against 10 different attacks Karate is the right thing for you. Straight forward, strong and powerful.
Kickboxing: ( Now this I liked more, more movement and jumping and great for endurance training)
Kickboxing is great for two kinds of people. Those that want to get fit and have a real effective training (Sanda which is Chinese Kickboxing gave me the worst muscle aches ever, even after training 6 month, 5 days a week) and for those that want to learn how to properly fight, without any life lessons or spiritual guidance. Kickboxing teaches you the pure fighting basics, how you throw a punch, how to kick and how to dodge these attacks. BUT it is missing many other elements, there is no ground work, no grappling and no throwing (not possible with gloves), but sucks if you get into trouble outside of the training room. Also if you are looking for more Art in your Martial Art it is severely lacking. So if you are interested in pretty straight forward training, with many chances to spar, want to focus on the basics and want to get ripped Kickboxing is the right style for you.
Classic Boxing(Went there a couple of times, just had bad luck with the schools, one made me train with 12 year olds, because I was new and a girl, I didn’t go there again. I know that I am not as strong as the men, but if a male beginner can train with the adults, I want to do that too. Yeah I felt a bit discriminatet…the other school was simply to difficult to reach)
Boxing the gentleman’s sport. Everybody who saw Rocky was for sure at least thinking about trying this martial art style. Good honest punching each other in the face till one gets knocked out. Great for anger management and great if you want to train fitness and endurance. If you want to learn how to knock somebody out with just your fists, there you go. Not even kicks, this is as basic as a martial art can get. But also as effective. If you don’t learn how to fight there, you won’t learn it anywhere. BUT it is a rather frustrating sport if you are a woman. There are not many woman training classic boxing, which means you have basically no chances to take part in tournaments. Also most men don’t take you serious and it will take a long time to earn their respect. But nothing more fun then seeing their surprised faces when they see you are not just smiles and fluff. Boxing is great for everybody who likes to just punch and evade, no more. Like I said simple, honest and real power behind every punch.
Teakwondo:(I tried Teakwondo twice in two different schools but stopped after a short time, which means I don’t have much experiences with it)
Teakwondo is all about the legs. At least that was my feeling when I went to training. If you are tall or you want to be able to kick as fast as lightning you should consider trying Teakwondo. You also can get really flexible, a kick to the head shouldn’t be a problem. BUT it is a bit one-sided, the focus in training lies heavily on the leg work, the upper body gets a bit neglected.I did a bit of research and there seem to be grappling techniques too, but they don’t get tought very often or maybe just when you reach a higher level. So Teakwondo is great if you know that your kicks can be your biggest asset and if you prefer high stances instead of low ones.
Ninjitsu: (Here I tried two different schools too and am currently training once a week, because it comes closest to my shaolin practise, especially the acrobatics)
Ninjitsu is hard to define, depending on the school where your training, it varies. While one had the focus for the whole class on one topic (1 hour throwing a 90kg guy over the shoulder and getting thrown) the other had a big variety. Acrobatics, Grappling, Kicks sometimes stretches. BUT while there is big variety in these parts, there was basically none when it came to punches and kicks. I learned one punch and one kick there and in a real situation I for sure wouldn’t punch somebody that way. The grappling parts are great, you learn how to roll and you even learn simple sword and stick fight, but it all depends on how lucky you are with your teacher, because there is no real set of rules on what they are supposed to teach you. You get taught what “Ninjas” were taught, well at least what Western people could find out, because the real ninjitsu you’ll learn in Japan, and they guard their secrets very good. So if you are looking for a training challenging you on different levels, interesting techniques and a really exiting history (who doesn’t want to play ninja) ninjitsu could be worth a try.
Wing Chun: (When I decided that I wanted to learn Kung Fu, Wing Chun and Tai Chi where the only styles I found in my area, so I gave it a try, I also tried it out while training in China)
Wing Chun is great if you want a martial art that focuses all on self-defense. You will learn how to defend yourself with small movements, how to dodge really fast with small movements, how to use joint locks and how to develop a solid stance, how to counterattack. BUT that’s also the negative thing. Wing Chun is a very tight martial art, there are no unnecessary moves. Now you are maybe wondering why this is negative. Well because it makes it boring. There is not much movement there, mostly it’s standing, no deep stances, no jumps. If you are a bit hyperactive and you need a martial art where you can totally exhaust yourself, Wing Chun might not be the right one for you. Also, I and others who trained Wing Chun, noticed, that it needs a long time to perfect the movements and use them correctly. There is a reason why traditional Wing Chun students in China have to train for a long time before they are allowed to train on a wooden dummy. This means Wing Chun is right for you if you are a rather patient person and you want a martial art which focuses on self-defense without any fancy movements.
Capoeira :(not much to say here, I have just read about it and decided that I wasn’t interested)
Due to a lack of personal experience I make this a short one. Great if you like to jump, not so great if you are not able to jump very high(like me). Well on the other hand you will learn it there for sure 😀
Wushu/Kung Fu: (my love ;), I found out about it online while comparing different styles and watched youtube videos. That was the moment I thought: I want to be able to do stuff like that )
Well actually it is not really fair to use Wushu as a single martial art here, because there are hundreds of different styles found all over China and they differ a lot. Which is great because no matter what you are looking for, you will find the right thing. Wushu has lots of different elements,too. There are grappling techniques, punches, all kind of kicks, hundreds of different forms with weapons or without(Kata if you use the Karate term). There is a lot of flexibility training, acrobatic elements and crazy jumps. Which leads me to the BUT. It has a lot of show elements, things that are not always useful and when learning a form, the teacher usually won’t tell you how to use the elements in a real fight. You will start to figure that out by yourself as you get more used to the movements. So you have to be brave enough to start sparring on your own and try those things. Because of the huge variety it takes a long time to learn things properly, because the amount you have to learn is so much bigger. Also it is hard to find good Kung Fu schools outside of China. The one I found in Stuttgart was a bit of a joke. The teacher was just like: “Your opponent is on the ground, now hit him in the face, so you will get more points in a tournament.” Great that he focused on the teaching Wushu for real fight situations, but there is more to Wushu then getting points at a tournament. Needless to say that I didn’t go there again.
I could go on talking about Wushu forever( a short historical explanation you will find here), but I will try to put this all into one phrase. If you are looking for a martial art, which will push you to your limits, has a great variety of movements, soft and hard and will teach you how to do some crazy stuff (just saying hard qigong) and if you are willing to put much effort and time into learning what you want to learn (some techniques require years of daily practice to master) then Kung Fu is the right martial art for you.
Let’s say it the girly way: It’s like dancing but much more effective (Who doesn’t want to be a Bruce Lee or Jacky Chan 😉 )
This is all out of my own experiences and maybe I am a bit biased, but I hope I haven’t offended anybody. Also I have to say that no matter which martial art you train, it always needs much training to become good at it. All of them are called an art for a reason, there are books about each of them. This is just to give you an idea about some of them, from here you have to do the rest of your research.
Maybe you want to share which martial art you practice and tell us why you like it the most or what style you would want to try out once and why?