What Fighting Style Should I Learn? A Guide To Choosing The Right Discipline

Ancient yet increasingly popular, martial arts provide immense physical and mental benefits. But with dozens of fighting styles to pick from, how do you determine the right one to learn? Finding a discipline that aligns with your goals and interests is key.

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick take: Consider your primary aim (self-defense, fitness, competition), ideal pace of learning, and philosophical style to narrow down options. Trying out a few beginner classes can help identify the best martial art for you.

Defining Your Primary Goal

Before choosing a fighting style to learn, it is important to define your primary goal. Understanding what you hope to achieve through martial arts will help you narrow down your options and find the discipline that aligns with your objectives.

Here are three common goals that people have when deciding to learn a fighting style: self-defense, fitness, and sport competition.


If your primary goal is to learn self-defense, it is important to choose a fighting style that emphasizes practical techniques that can be applied in real-life situations. Krav Maga, for example, focuses on efficient and effective self-defense techniques that are designed to neutralize threats quickly.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is another discipline known for its practical application in self-defense scenarios, with a focus on ground fighting and submissions.

It is also worth considering styles such as Muay Thai or boxing, which teach striking techniques and footwork that can be useful in self-defense situations. These styles prioritize teaching you how to generate power and effectively strike an opponent.


If your primary goal is to improve your fitness level while learning a fighting style, there are several disciplines that can help you achieve that. Kickboxing, for example, is a great option as it combines cardiovascular exercise with various striking techniques.

It provides a full-body workout that can help you burn calories and improve your overall fitness.

Other disciplines such as Taekwondo or Capoeira also offer a great workout, incorporating dynamic movements, kicks, and acrobatics. These styles can help improve your flexibility, balance, and coordination while providing a fun and engaging fitness routine.

Sport Competition

If your primary goal is to compete in martial arts tournaments or competitions, you will want to choose a fighting style that is well-suited for the sport. Styles such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, judo, or wrestling are popular choices for those interested in grappling competitions.

These disciplines focus on takedowns, submissions, and ground fighting techniques.

If striking is more your style, disciplines like Muay Thai, boxing, or karate can provide the training and techniques necessary for success in striking-based competitions. These styles emphasize proper technique, speed, and accuracy.

Remember, these are just general guidelines to help you get started in choosing the right fighting style based on your primary goal. It’s important to do further research and even try out a few classes to get a better sense of what each discipline entails.

Ultimately, finding a style that you enjoy and are passionate about will be the key to your success in martial arts.

Determining Ideal Pace of Learning

When it comes to choosing a fighting style to learn, it’s important to consider your ideal pace of learning. Some individuals prefer a slow and steady progression, while others may want to advance quickly. Finding the right balance between these two extremes is also an option.

Let’s explore each approach in more detail.

Prefer Slow Progression

If you prefer a slow progression in learning a fighting style, you value taking your time to truly understand and master each technique. This approach allows for a deeper understanding of the fundamentals and a strong foundation for further skill development.

You might enjoy the process of breaking down each move, analyzing the mechanics, and perfecting your form. Slow progression provides the opportunity to focus on the details and build a solid skill set that will serve you well in the long run.

One effective way to achieve slow progression is through traditional martial arts such as Tai Chi or Aikido. These disciplines emphasize precision, control, and mindfulness. They often require years of dedicated practice to reach a high level of proficiency.

Websites such as taichimaster.com or aikidojournal.com can provide more information on these styles and their benefits.

Want Quick Advancement

On the other hand, if you’re looking for quick advancement in your fighting skills, you may be more interested in combat sports such as boxing or Muay Thai. These disciplines focus on practical techniques that can be quickly applied in real-life situations or competitive environments.

Intense training and conditioning are often part of the process, pushing you to your limits and allowing for rapid skill development.

Combat sports like boxing or Muay Thai offer a more straightforward path to progress, with clear goals and milestones. You can see tangible improvements in your speed, agility, and overall fighting abilities in a relatively short period.

Websites like boxingscene.com or muaythaiathlete.com can provide valuable resources for those interested in these styles.

Seeking Balance

If you’re unsure whether you prefer slow progression or quick advancement, seeking a balance between the two could be the ideal approach for you. Martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Krav Maga focus on both self-defense techniques and personal growth.

These disciplines combine technicality, physical conditioning, and practical applications.

By opting for a balanced approach, you can enjoy the benefits of both slow progression and quick advancement. You’ll have the opportunity to develop a solid foundation while also acquiring practical skills that can be used in real-life situations.

Websites like bjjheroes.com or kravmagainstitutenyc.com can provide more information on these styles and their unique features.

Ultimately, the ideal pace of learning is a personal preference. It’s essential to consider your goals, interests, and commitment level when choosing a fighting style. Whether you prefer slow progression, quick advancement, or a balance of both, there is a discipline out there that will suit your needs and help you achieve your fighting goals.

Identifying Your Philosophical Style

When it comes to choosing the right fighting style, it’s important to consider your philosophical preferences. Different martial arts disciplines have distinct philosophies and approaches to combat. By identifying your philosophical style, you can narrow down your options and choose a discipline that aligns with your values and goals.

Here are a few key philosophical styles to consider:


For those seeking a deeper connection to history, tradition, and spirituality, traditional martial arts disciplines such as Karate, Kung Fu, or Tai Chi may be the right fit. These disciplines often emphasize discipline, respect, and personal growth.

They provide a holistic approach to combat, focusing not only on physical techniques but also on mental and spiritual development.

Practicing traditional martial arts can be a transformative experience, helping individuals develop self-discipline, focus, and inner peace. It’s a journey that goes beyond physical combat and delves into the realm of self-discovery and personal growth.

If you’re interested in exploring the philosophical aspects of martial arts while also learning self-defense techniques, a traditional or spiritual discipline may be the right choice for you.


Hybrid martial arts styles, such as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) or Krav Maga, combine techniques and principles from various disciplines. These styles focus on practicality and effectiveness in real-world combat situations.

They often incorporate elements from striking, grappling, and self-defense disciplines to create a versatile and well-rounded approach to fighting.

For individuals who prioritize practicality and adaptability, hybrid styles can be a great choice. They provide a comprehensive set of skills that can be applied in various scenarios. Whether you’re interested in self-defense or competitive fighting, hybrid styles offer a blend of techniques that can give you an edge in a real-life confrontation.


If you’re looking for a contemporary approach to combat that focuses on practical techniques and real-world self-defense, modern martial arts disciplines like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Krav Maga may be the right fit.

These styles prioritize efficiency and effectiveness, teaching practical techniques that can be applied in real-life situations.

Modern martial arts focus on developing functional skills that are applicable in self-defense scenarios. They often incorporate elements of grappling, submission holds, and ground fighting, allowing practitioners to effectively defend themselves regardless of their size or strength.

These disciplines are particularly popular for individuals looking for practical self-defense skills without the traditional and spiritual aspects found in other martial arts.

Remember, choosing the right fighting style is a personal decision. Consider your goals, preferences, and the philosophies that resonate with you. It’s also important to consult with instructors and experienced practitioners to get a better understanding of what each discipline entails.

By taking the time to identify your philosophical style, you’ll be on your way to finding the perfect martial arts discipline for you.

Considering Accessibility of Instruction

When choosing a fighting style to learn, one important factor to consider is the accessibility of instruction. This refers to how easily you can find classes and training opportunities for a particular discipline. Here are some key aspects to consider:

Availability of Classes

It’s important to choose a fighting style that has a good availability of classes in your area. You want to ensure that you can find a reputable instructor and a suitable training facility nearby. This will make it easier for you to attend regular classes and progress in your training.

One way to check the availability of classes is to do a quick search online or ask for recommendations from friends or fellow martial arts enthusiasts. You can also visit websites like www.martialarts.com or www.dojos.com to find martial arts schools near you.

Quality of Training

While accessibility is important, it’s equally crucial to consider the quality of training offered. Look for instructors who have a solid background in their respective disciplines and who prioritize safety and proper technique.

You want to learn from someone who can provide you with the necessary guidance and support to progress in your chosen fighting style.

Reading reviews and testimonials from current or former students can give you insights into the quality of training offered by different schools or instructors. Additionally, visiting a few classes or participating in trial sessions can help you assess the teaching style and overall atmosphere of the training facility.

Cost and Commitment

Another aspect to consider is the cost and commitment required for learning a particular fighting style. Some disciplines may have higher training fees or require long-term commitments, while others may offer more flexible options. Consider your budget and schedule when making a decision.

It’s a good idea to inquire about the cost of classes, any additional fees or equipment requirements, and the expected time commitment for progressing through the ranks. This information will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your financial and time constraints.

Remember, accessibility of instruction is an important factor when choosing a fighting style to learn. Consider the availability of classes in your area, the quality of training offered, and the cost and commitment required.

By taking these factors into account, you can find the right discipline that suits your needs and goals.

Trying Introductory Classes

When it comes to choosing the right fighting style to learn, trying introductory classes is a great way to get a feel for each style and see which one resonates with you the most. These classes are designed to give beginners a taste of what each discipline has to offer, allowing you to experience the techniques, training methods, and overall atmosphere of the martial art.

Get a Feel for Each Style

During introductory classes, you will have the opportunity to learn the basic techniques and movements of different fighting styles. This hands-on experience will help you understand the unique characteristics of each style, such as the flowing movements of Tai Chi, the explosive strikes of Muay Thai, or the grappling techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

By trying out these different styles, you can assess which one aligns with your personal preferences, physical abilities, and goals.

For example, if you prefer a more fluid and relaxed approach to combat, you might lean towards disciplines like Aikido or Wing Chun. On the other hand, if you enjoy high-intensity training and powerful striking techniques, you might be drawn to styles like Boxing or Kickboxing.

Trying introductory classes allows you to explore these options and find a style that suits you best.

Talk to Instructors

Another important aspect of trying introductory classes is the opportunity to talk to the instructors. These experienced professionals can provide valuable insights into the various fighting styles and help you make an informed decision.

They can answer any questions you may have, provide guidance on which style might be a good fit for you based on your goals and physical capabilities, and offer recommendations for further training.

Remember, instructors have a wealth of knowledge and experience in their respective disciplines, so don’t hesitate to ask for their advice. Their insights can be invaluable in helping you choose a fighting style that aligns with your interests and goals.

Listen to Your Intuition

While it’s important to consider the opinions of instructors and the experiences you have during introductory classes, ultimately, it’s crucial to listen to your intuition. Trust your gut feeling and go with the style that resonates with you the most on a personal level.

After all, martial arts is not just about physical techniques; it’s also about mental and emotional well-being.

Pay attention to how you feel when practicing each style. Do you feel excited and engaged? Do you feel a natural connection to the movements and techniques? These are important indicators that can help guide your decision-making process.

Remember, the right fighting style for someone else may not be the right one for you, so trust yourself to make the best choice.


Choosing a martial art is a personal journey defined by your goals and preferences. Keep an open mind, do some introductory training, and the right discipline will make itself known to you. With patience and persistence, you’ll find a fighting style for long-term growth.

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