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Thread: Boxing/Fighting gyms and learning martial arts as an adult

  1. #1
    I am the 99.99998% Tyrus Tenebros's Avatar
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    Boxing/Fighting gyms and learning martial arts as an adult

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    So I want to learn to fight. Not because I want to become a masked vigilante dealing justice in the streets (I do, actually), but because a good solid martial art will increase coordination, control, balance, strength, and a host of other useful things.

    I'd like to learn a striking art of some sort (Muay Thai, perhaps) and balance in some more "useful" stuff, Krav Maga comes to mind but I suspect it's been commercialized away in to nothingness by now. I don't really want to just learn "MMA" since I really don't care to clinch sweaty men a lot, and grappling on the ground won't improve the kind of agile/flexible strength as learning a more mobile style might.

    So first What should I learn? I'm looking for something that will test me not just on punch strength but on speed/agility and finesse. I can lift weights to gain raw strength.

    Second, how in the hell do I go about finding an adequate fighting gym in my area? Obviously I can yelp/google maps/telephone book my way to glory, but I have no idea what qualifications to really look for.

    Finally, how common is it or how do I make sure I'm finding a class that isn't just aerobic training in disguise: e.g. sometimes I'll find something that's like a weekly class but there's no "difficulty" or apparently change to the schedule over time. I can't tell if it's broken down by skill level or just a group of people kicking and yelling with a fancy name every week.


    Any advice on what kind of thing to look for or what might be good signs of a solid gym? Am I unlikely to find this without some sort of substantial investment in something?
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  2. #2
    dpidcoe's Avatar
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    Judo all the way for balance stuff. I've used my fall without getting hurt skills from judo significantly more often than my punching people in the solar plexus skills from karate. They'd probably be more useful from a self defense point of view as well, since most of the stuff looks pretty passive (gee, sorry you broke your elbow when you charged me and our limbs got all tangled as we fell)

    In the case of finding a gym for judo, it's pretty well established as a tournament sport (and not sissified in tournaments like tae kwon do), so just make sure the dojo is part of your national judo organization and routinely sends people to tournaments.

    General guidelines for martial arts gyms in general:
    - Steer clear of instructors who seem too srsbsns. The only time you shouldn't be having "fun" when doing a martial art is if you're serious training for a fight or something.
    - Careful of places that get uptight about ritual and stuff. When I did judo we would do a quick bow before stepping onto/off of the practice mats, but no one got overly butthurt if someone forgot to do it. Contrast to a kenpo gym I knew of that spent 10 minutes at the start of each session doing strange things in the presence of a korean flag.
    - Be wary of instructors who think that the martial art they instruct is ~the one true martial art~ and all the others are inferior

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    Movember '12 Ginger Excellence Movember 2011Movember 2012 LarkinAlpha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpidcoe View Post
    Judo all the way for balance stuff. I've used my fall without getting hurt skills from judo significantly more often than my punching people in the solar plexus skills from karate. They'd probably be more useful from a self defense point of view as well, since most of the stuff looks pretty passive (gee, sorry you broke your elbow when you charged me and our limbs got all tangled as we fell)

    In the case of finding a gym for judo, it's pretty well established as a tournament sport (and not sissified in tournaments like tae kwon do), so just make sure the dojo is part of your national judo organization and routinely sends people to tournaments.

    General guidelines for martial arts gyms in general:
    - Steer clear of instructors who seem too srsbsns. The only time you shouldn't be having "fun" when doing a martial art is if you're serious training for a fight or something.
    - Careful of places that get uptight about ritual and stuff. When I did judo we would do a quick bow before stepping onto/off of the practice mats, but no one got overly butthurt if someone forgot to do it. Contrast to a kenpo gym I knew of that spent 10 minutes at the start of each session doing strange things in the presence of a korean flag.
    - Be wary of instructors who think that the martial art they instruct is ~the one true martial art~ and all the others are inferior
    Pretty much this. Seconding the sissified Tae kwon do, there's a bunch of rules for tournaments, but they're mostly focused for the beginners and the very advanced (clear cut blows with enough power behind, but don't actually hurt anyone sort of thing). I did that through the college I was attending. If you find a decent looking place, ask the instructor if you can witness a bought or some practice to make sure it's what you want. Also mention all of what you want to the instructor, most of the martial arts community knows each other at least on the local stage, so if they're not a good fit, they might know someone who is.

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    Donor Sponk's Avatar
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    Also american TKD follows the World Tkd Federation rules, many, of not most other countries follow international tkd federation rules which allow punching to the head in tournaments.

    My experience in TKD is limited (blue belt) but from what I've seen from visiting dojangs, the Australian Rhee and WTF clubs have pretty sloppy technique, and the ITF schools, especially the bigger ones in Queensland with a dozen clubs, are very well put together.

    These days I do kung fu because :short legs stronk arms:
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    Movember '12 Ginger Excellence Movember 2011Movember 2012 LarkinAlpha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sponk View Post
    Also american TKD follows the World Tkd Federation rules, many, of not most other countries follow international tkd federation rules which allow punching to the head in tournaments.

    My experience in TKD is limited (blue belt) but from what I've seen from visiting dojangs, the Australian Rhee and WTF clubs have pretty sloppy technique, and the ITF schools, especially the bigger ones in Queensland with a dozen clubs, are very well put together.

    These days I do kung fu because :short legs stronk arms:
    There were no rules against striking in the head, just striking in the face or in the back of the head without control. Granted, you couldn't kick them in the head, but ehh.

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    Re: Boxing/Fighting gyms and learning martial arts as an adult

    Plain old boxing

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    Tyrehl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpidcoe View Post
    Judo all the way for balance stuff. I've used my fall without getting hurt skills from judo significantly more often than my punching people in the solar plexus skills from karate. They'd probably be more useful from a self defense point of view as well, since most of the stuff looks pretty passive (gee, sorry you broke your elbow when you charged me and our limbs got all tangled as we fell)

    In the case of finding a gym for judo, it's pretty well established as a tournament sport (and not sissified in tournaments like tae kwon do), so just make sure the dojo is part of your national judo organization and routinely sends people to tournaments.

    General guidelines for martial arts gyms in general:
    - Steer clear of instructors who seem too srsbsns. The only time you shouldn't be having "fun" when doing a martial art is if you're serious training for a fight or something.
    - Careful of places that get uptight about ritual and stuff. When I did judo we would do a quick bow before stepping onto/off of the practice mats, but no one got overly butthurt if someone forgot to do it. Contrast to a kenpo gym I knew of that spent 10 minutes at the start of each session doing strange things in the presence of a korean flag.
    - Be wary of instructors who think that the martial art they instruct is ~the one true martial art~ and all the others are inferior
    +1 Judo is awesome. You can learn some actually useful things, a lot of it is related to learning how to :balance:, how to use the body of your opponent to your advantage etc. I've trained Sambo for several months (pretty much Judo with some RUSSIA added to it in the form of wrestling techniques) and it was great. The place was just like dpidcoe explained it - we would line up, bow and greet the trainer and then proceed with an extensive warmup. They would often prepare people for tournaments. The problem was that he wasn't really taking us seriously and paying that much attention to us. We were trying to train as hard as the others which resulted in several injuries (and then we quit for various reasons).


    If you go for Judo just be careful - falling on your back 50 times a week can be taxing, especially if you are taller / heavier. The other decent alternative would be muay thai imo. There I actually learned how to properly punch fags in the face (thankfully I havent used it in a proper fight till now :> ).
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    I'd also recommend Judo. You can find schools all over and from personal experience it will test your speed and agility and at the least is a good starter style. You'll know just enough grappling after a year of that to keep yourself from getting involved in a grappling match with someone with a little bit of grappling training so then you can sit back and do whatever striking style you want to do keeping your Judo training as counters only.

    If you're determined to only do a striking style then when you go in for a visit to watch a class study the lower ranked people. Do they look like like they're coordinated or mostly just flailing around? When they hit pads or a heavy bag does it seem like they have much force behind their blows? Do the moves look needlessly complex or fairly straightforward? Could they be pulled off by someone that is not a professional gymnast? Does the instructor seem like a decent gal/guy or do you get a "Used Car Salesman" feel to him? Are there people walking around with black belts that shouldn't be (3 year olds, complete blobs that struggle to stand up, etc)?

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    He said he wants to learn to fight, and doesn't want to grapple.

    -> 5 suggestions for Judo

    Don't get me wrong, I love judo/wrestling. My sparring partner from high school tried out for the Canadian olympic team (freestyle wrestling). Too bad he tore his ACL at the tryout.

    If you want to actually learn to fight, then boxing is what you want. Some kickboxing places will actually train you and send people to amateur fights, others are glorified aerobics (many "martial arts" schools are).

    Watch out for the regular martial arts scams: requiring a full year membership (or being dodgy about when you can cancel), making you spend $200 on their 'custom' gear to wear, having 10 levels (99% of this belt colour business is bullshit) and requiring you to PAY for the tests for each level.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cool09 View Post
    He said he wants to learn to fight, and doesn't want to grapple.

    -> 5 suggestions for Judo
    He also specified speed, agility, finesse, and usefulness. I interpreted "learn to fight" as "being able to handle yourself in the event of a real fight" rather than "fight for spectators". Though if the latter was intended, then boxing/kickboxing is great. Also, if you find yourself grappling someone MMA style in judo, then you're doing it horribly wrong.

    edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrehl View Post
    If you go for Judo just be careful - falling on your back 50 times a week can be taxing, especially if you are taller / heavier. The other decent alternative would be muay thai imo.
    I'm ~5'11" and 120 pounds, I never had a problem falling 100+ times in a session (the class met twice a week), though granted I was 20 at the time and usually had a bruise or two at any given time while I was doing judo. I did get used as a practice dummy a lot though, possibly because I was pretty good at not getting hurt no matter how badly someone executed the throw.

    Also +1 for muay thai, a few guys in my judo class also did muay thai and would sometimes spar a bit afterwards. Lots of close in short moves, the seemed very complimentary to a lot of the things learned in judo.
    Last edited by dpidcoe; January 9 2013 at 06:11:48 PM.

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    I don't disagree with the suggestion of boxing, a good boxing gym is an excellent place though I think you need to modify the punch slightly for bare knuckle to decrease the chance of wrist injury. I've just seen many many terrible kickboxing and boxing gyms so I'm loathe to recommend that to someone with no experience that might not be able to tell the difference between them.

    Judo tends to have fairly consistent schooling across the world so while there are very few super-excellent schools like every other style, there are probably a lot less pathetic scam Judo schools than many other styles. Judo does have an issue in that it involves a Gi but many of the moves work just fine without if you don't mind being a little bit mean.

    Also unarmed fights tend to get into grappling at some point. You're not going to learn how to fight unarmed too well by completely ignoring half of it. Someone that is a halfway decent striker with a year of Judo or wrestling is going to be better equipped to handle someone attempting to grab him than an excellent striker with zero grappling experience especially if surprise is at all a factor. Also when people are not evenly matched grappling matches tend to be over in a few seconds much like striking matches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpidcoe View Post
    I interpreted "learn to fight" as "being able to handle yourself in the event of a real fight" rather than "fight for spectators". Though if the latter was intended, then boxing/kickboxing is great.
    Hahahaha, whatever you say 120 pound judo man.

    Boxing as all show anyway, all the blood and concussions are just fancy effects.

    Real men execute perfectly safe shoulder throws on padded mats. Thats more like real fighting.

    yeah
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cool09 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dpidcoe View Post
    I interpreted "learn to fight" as "being able to handle yourself in the event of a real fight" rather than "fight for spectators". Though if the latter was intended, then boxing/kickboxing is great.
    Hahahaha, whatever you say 120 pound judo man.

    Boxing as all show anyway, all the blood and concussions are just fancy effects.

    Real men execute perfectly safe shoulder throws on padded mats. Thats more like real fighting.

    yeah
    way to sound butthurt over misinterpreting my post. I'm not trying to disparage boxing (the way those guys can take punches is insane). It's just that boxing has a rather strict ruleset that allows a limited number of moves, and has developed around standing in a ring and hitting someone of similar size to you as hard as you can with your arms. That's a much different style of fighting than the sort you'd be doing out in a parking lot against a belligerent drunk guy who's probably missing enough braincells that he won't really care how many fingers you break against his head.

    If you want evidence of that, look at some of the earlier UFC fights before it developed into its own fighting style.

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    I am the 99.99998% Tyrus Tenebros's Avatar
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    Moved edit to top to focus a bit more on the "vocabulary" of what I'm looking for:

    edit: Also big thing in this thread again is how do I identify the good gyms and there's been a lot of good advice here so far on that score, so that's good

    also: I specified "boxing gym" in the first post because the closest I ever came to possibly identifying a gym that seemed to offer it was under the title of a "boxing gym" that offered a series of other types of fighting styles as well, so I assumed that it was a good starting point.

    Should I be looking for "dojos" or something else? Do almost all arts have some sort of special building name I should be searching for? Do semi-serious instructors (at least ones intending to actually teach you a martial art properly) have semi-private studios or specially named classwork within a larger sort of building?


    My actual aim is more fitness than fighting, per se. That is, the ability to defend myself is an excellent component of the activity, and the discipline/training aspects are important (if I just wanted fitness of this sort, I could I dunno sign up for ballet or start flinging myself off of buildings and calling it parkour)

    So in that vein:

    I am more looking for something, not acrobatic (in the purely for show style), but where agility and speed are key factors, rather than purely balance and use of torque against an opponent specifically. Ideally, whatever I'm learning could be applicable if I were to, for whatever reason, get in an actual fight (again trying to stay away from the more tournament focused/heavily commercialized arts)

    Ideally what I'd like to build is what I might call finesse, I'm athletically capable in general, so the pure physical difficulty of training doesn't concern me, but my speed, reactions, and fine control could be improved, and building strength, defensive confidence, and having always generally been interested in learning a martial art are part of that.

    The suggestions for judo do raise an interesting point from the fighting perspective though, such as taking a mix of two arts (Judo & Something else). I've seen muay thai suggested and it looks interesting, but beyond that my knowledge of striking arts is limited to a couple of hours on wikipedia and seeing Ip Man, Fearless, and Ong Bak (and the like, which is about as useful as learning proper shooting technique by watching Saving Private Ryan). Again I want to avoid an "MMA class", first because it's likely to also be heavily commercialized, second because I'm not planning on entering Ultimate Fighter any time soon, and third because the focus, I think, would be too heavily on grappling (And likely be a rehash of the Army Combatives I've already taken)
    Last edited by Tyrus Tenebros; January 10 2013 at 12:16:06 AM.
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    Really at the end of the day you should commit to just visiting several places in your area. Every school I've ever visited has let you sit and watch a class without issue, in fact some have insisted on it. I visited 6 schools recently before I found a class I thought I would like and I wasn't even looking for a serious school. At the end of the day its more about that particular class/instructor/school and if you think you'll fit in versus what words are placed over the door.

    As a note, martial arts politics (in America at least) are very very dirty. I've seen many organizations that are run by ego filled scum of the earth. Also some people treat martial arts as a religion and fanatics are dangerous as they forget that life goes on outside their little bubble. Not every organization is like this mind you but at least a significant minority on them are (I would personally say the majority).

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    I am the 99.99998% Tyrus Tenebros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xanral View Post
    As a note, martial arts politics (in America at least) are very very dirty. I've seen many organizations that are run by ego filled scum of the earth. Also some people treat martial arts as a religion and fanatics are dangerous as they forget that life goes on outside their little bubble. Not every organization is like this mind you but at least a significant minority on them are (I would personally say the majority).
    Yeah that would be the kind of thing I'd want to avoid...

    edit: per my note on the "vocabulary" of the search: 'committing to visit several places'... how do i narrow that down or even find them in the first place? (I mean aside from visiting ever damn gym or dojo or Bob's House o' punches I find)
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    dpidcoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrus Tenebros View Post
    edit: per my note on the "vocabulary" of the search: 'committing to visit several places'... how do i narrow that down or even find them in the first place? (I mean aside from visiting ever damn gym or dojo or Bob's House o' punches I find)
    Just pick one, any one, that doesn't suck and has chill people. Take a few classes, make friends, ask them about other gyms they know of that are also chill.

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    Check the internet and first eliminate any schools that only have contracts. This should get rid of 1/2 to 3/4s of them. Probably a few more will be removed due to pricing or a dislike of what they're teaching (you don't care about learning the sword or ground grappling etc) or the times that they teach. I'd be surprised if you had more than 10 schools within your criteria around your area after that.

    Note: Boxing gyms are possibly an exception to the contract thing as it may be part of a full gym deal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpidcoe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrehl View Post
    If you go for Judo just be careful - falling on your back 50 times a week can be taxing, especially if you are taller / heavier. The other decent alternative would be muay thai imo.
    I'm ~5'11" and 120 pounds, I never had a problem falling 100+ times in a session (the class met twice a week), though granted I was 20 at the time and usually had a bruise or two at any given time while I was doing judo. I did get used as a practice dummy a lot though, possibly because I was pretty good at not getting hurt no matter how badly someone executed the throw.

    At the time I was 5.97ft, 165lb - it hurts (no back injury though, just an unpleasant feeling).

    Box is nice as you learn how to actually punch and which parts of your body you can use to accelerate your fists for *cough* better results. I was teached kinda the same things while visiting Muay thai but the training sessions there seemed to be more interesting and with more variety. It comes down to where you go and what are the people there. I used to push myself harder than I thought I can endure because the trainer was scary and he was good at 'motivating' people.
    Last edited by Tyrehl; January 10 2013 at 11:36:29 AM.
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    Re: Boxing/Fighting gyms and learning martial arts as an adult

    Boxing
    More boxing

    Look for gyms that have produced fighters

    Simples

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