Why is this Here?
Here’s the difference between a weightlifter (specifically, a bodybuilder) and a martial artist (mma fighter, kickboxer and so on) one trains to look good, while the other trains to kick ass. While both paths deserve their respective status of honor, we must still understand the fact that the mentality needed to walk either is certainly different. From my experience, martial arts or Combat Training, for example if followed properly, teaches you what pain, endurance and willpower really feels like, in comparison to what a bodybuilder may face.
So why know all this? As always, I believe that a successful endeavor is one that you fully set your mind on. And part of this is the understanding of both ups and downs of either endeavor, whether it be weight lifting or martial art. Which, in this case means quite a bit of pain, from that first punch you throw at the brick wall or punching bag, to that “glorious” moment you land yourself in the first ever sparring session of your life. So, now that you’re aware of the game young warrior, wrap up those hands and step in the ring!
Choose your "Weapon"
No, put down the knife, gun and baseball bat, that’s not what I meant. Generally, in fighting, there comes two forms: the close combat form Grappling, and the longer distance based Striking. Grappling encompasses arts like wrestling, ju-jitsu and judo, where combatants focus on “hand-to-hand” combat involving takedowns, submissions and throws. Striking, of course is the other, requiring you to focus on the punches and kicks, depending on your discipline.
Going into my personal experience, I began with Karate do Shotokan at a young age at the Sri Lankan Federation, where I trained under for 5 years. During this time, I took part in various tournaments, training camps, seminars, and special events as I gained in experience, ranked in belts and status.
I then transitioned into kickboxing, where I found it to be more practical and effective, especially in real life situations compared to the more traditional “scenario based” karate discipline. Maybe it was that I had trained under the so called "less aggressive" Shotokan Karate and not something like Kyokushin Karate, but I managed to integrate the power, techniques, and discipline from traditional karate, to my new training, to make it even better. Like Bruce Lee once said, “Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.” In this case, take the effective side from karate, mix with the effective side of kickboxing, and you have a form far better than either. Needless to say, I tended to focus on the striking, and I still do.
Your path however, is yours to choose. If you prefer the ground game by itself: submissions, locks and a million different guards and switches, chances are, you’ll be into a grappling art. If striking is your thing, you could give boxing or kickboxing a go, depending on whether you’re open to kicking or not. If you’re looking for agood mix of both, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) could turn out to be your forte.
The Chosen Few
What you need to understand is- it’s easy for someone to take up martial art, join a gym and have their first introductory lesson, but the real difference comes with the person that decides to follow through it, to commit themselves to it, to actually make it a part of their life.
This certainly won’t be easy, especially soon after you’ve taken that first punch or kick you failed to avoid or block, for example. You’ll start regretting this, you’ll ask yourself why the hell did you ever decide to join this in the first place, but hey- nobody became somebody by quitting.
I’ve had my fair share of bad luck here, whether it be humiliation; losses in fights, or just plain nasty injuries (broken jaw from a high kick, torn tendons, etc.) As certain as these are all lessons to be learnt, you must also think of them as milestones, key points you have achieved on the road to being the strongest you can be. When I first started training on the heavy bag, I used to sprain my wrists all the time, because my forearms couldn’t take the power. Instead of putting me off, this actually made me happier- to come home with these “war trophies”. After some proper strength training, I soon fixed this.
At the end of the day, the point I try to get to you is this: It doesn’t take just anybody to get to the top, whether it’s in martial art or otherwise, it takes somebody with true dedication, love/passion and willingness to sacrifice whatever it takes for the win.
Onward and Upward
So, how do you get started? Simple, just pick whatever you feel might work for you and just give it a try! Join a local gym with a good reputation and see how you go. Once you gather enough knowledge of various kinds of martial art you can switch to a more preferred one if you so choose. Until then, always keep your focus on point, and never forget, nobody got to the top of the mountain without falling at least quite a few times.