The martial arts are more than self-defense or fighting. They also teach the value of perseverance and self-discipline, and can improve your physical fitness and well-being. In the DexKnows listings you’ll find many schools offering different types of martial arts, including tai chi, tae kwon do, karate and kickboxing. How do you know which one is right for you? Consider the following.
If your primary goal is wellness or to recover from an injury or illness, try tai chi. It combines gentle movement and meditative focus to benefit the circulatory system, internal organs, joints and muscles. It is appropriate for all ages and levels of fitness and has even been shown to ease symptoms of medical conditions such as shingles.
You might also be surprised to know that tai chi has self-defense applications. Many of those slow, graceful movements you see people practicing at the park are actually strikes, blocks and kicks in disguise. An experienced teacher can help you learn more.
Tae kwon do, karate and kickboxing are all at the other end of the spectrum, or so it would appear. These three are typically labeled as “hard arts,” but the truth is that all traditional martial arts incorporate elements of “soft” yielding moves that use an opponent’s force against him and “hard” or offensive moves designed to meet an opponent head-on.
Outwardly, the hard arts might all look similar, but there are differences among the various schools:
The hard arts are for you if you want to learn self-defense, get in excellent physical shape or compete. They can also be used to enroll your child in an activity that will help him or her develop a sense of structure, self-confidence and discipline.
After you’ve considered your goals, it’s time to find a school. This may require a bit of research. Call around to local martial arts schools, or search DexKnows, and see if you can find one that offers a free introductory class (many schools do so to encourage enrollment).
At the class, observe how the instructor interacts with the students. In particular, pay attention to:
After the class is over, take a few minutes to chat with the instructor. Ask the students how long they’ve been practicing and what drew them to this particular school.
In the end, you should listen to your instincts. Are you comfortable at the class? Do you feel an easy rapport with the teacher? Are you interested enough to sign up for formal training? If not, simply repeat the process with the next school on your list.
The legwork may take some time and effort, but it’s worth doing. Find classes near you by searching the DexKnows martial arts listings.
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