What is my motivation for wanting to learn a martial art?
There are as many wonderful reasons for studying a martial art as there are martial arts themselves! Knowing your motivations will help you pick the best martial art school for you.
Do you want to learn self-defense? Does the thrill of combat appeal to you? Are you looking for a physical activity that you can do with your kids rather than watching on the sidelines? Are you tired of the treadmill and searching for a fun way to improve flexibility and stay in shape?
Shotokan Karate and many other styles can fulfill these needs, so it’s important to do a little self-reflection alongside your research into the variety of martial arts schools out there.
It is worth noting that it will take a long time, possibly decades, to master any martial art. Beware the school that promises you a black belt in just a few months. If your primary motivation for starting a martial art is to achieve a particular rank or title, I recommend you consider another pastime.
What is the best style for me?
Once you know what you want to get out of practice you will have an easier time choosing a style that fits your goals and personality.
All martial arts are great for developing strength, flexibility, and speed, but they offer a variety of approaches to self-defense. Some styles, like karate and kick boxing, focus on developing fighting ability while one is “on their feet,” while arts like jiu jutsu and Greco-Roman wrestling teach how to fight on the ground. Other styles, like aikido and judo, are excellent for learning how to throw an opponent.
It is important to understand whether a particular school focuses their study on sport and tournaments, or self-defense and combat. Of course, there are always school that are excellent at teaching both aspects. For instance, a Brazilian jiu jutsu dojo might train in self-defense and tournament fighting, while others will focus entirely on preparing pupils to protect themselves in a real-life situation. Your personal goals can help guide you in whether to
choose a school that is heavily involved in tournaments or one geared toward teaching self-defense. Of course, there are school that are excellent at teaching both aspects.
At Indianapolis Shotokan Karate we practice traditional Shotokan karate-do in the same manner as it was first taught by Master Gichin Funakoshi, with the greatest emphasis placed on the “art” aspect of martial art. Developing self-defense skills through rigorous training is our method toward self-development. Though we do participate in tournaments on occasion, new students should know that developing real self-defense prowess comes only with discipline and hard training.