There are so many different styles of martial arts to choose from. How is anyone supposed to know what would be the best for them? Well let us take a look at and compare some of the most popular forms of martial arts today.
This type of martial art is one of the most recently popularized martial arts. Krav Maga is known be for being and "brutal" approach to self-defence. While it is partly true, Krav Maga takes a very real, very "street life" approach to self-defence. Krav Maga may be best for you if you are looking for something strictly focused on self-defence and you're not afraid to get a little rough...or roughed up.
Tae Kwon Do
When people think Tae Kwon Do (TKD), they often think about what we call sparring. Specifically point sparring. TKD is a martial art that developed in Korea. Way back when, soldiers and civilians had to defend themselves against horse mounted warriors. This means
that the enemy was up much higher than your average man. This is why you see TKD practitioners doing all these high kicks, flying kicks, and crazy tricks. The trick aspect is more of the modern day sports side of TKD but traditionally, practitioners HAD to know how to attack their horse mounted enemy. If you're looking for a more sparring or kicking based martial art, this might just be the one for you.
Most people don't think of these to when they think about martial arts. Kickboxing and Boxing do fall into the martial art category but they are seen more as a sport. While boxing focuses on just the hands and upper body, Kickboxing has a little bit of it all. Hence the difference in the names. Either way, the concepts remain the same. Most people who get into one of these martial arts want to do it as a hobby and/or for the workout. Little do most people realize, it is a GREAT getaway to self-defence. More often than not, classes are held in a controlled environment, even if its a match situation. So it's important that you take everything you learn with a grain of salt.
This martial art is often one that is targeted with laughter and is often the but of a joke but it still remains popular today. Kung Fu itself can be divided into a few different styles so you'll have to do some specific research but at the end of the day, they come from the same roots. Kung Fu is an amazing way to get in shape and learn self-defence, but Kung Fu comes with a more spiritual side than most martial arts. There is a lot of philosophy and culture tied in with Kung Fu training and it is probably why jokes are always made in regards to Kung Fu. Regardless, Kung Fu can be found when you look at other styles of martial arts. The roots of Kung Fu go so far back that it has been a great influence on plenty of martial arts styles that were developed later
Judo, like Krav Maga, is a martial art developed more recently. Judo specifically is self-defence focused but there are lots of schools that combine Judo with other things like learning to use a katana or sword. In short, Judo was developed of close combat fighting. It's focus is put on joint manipulation and leverage to get your opponent off balance and to the ground. If this is the sort of thing that interests you, that Judo is right up your ally.
Judo and Ju-jit-su can almost be put hand in hand. Ju-jit-su focuses on the same philosophies as Judo. Joint manipulation and leverage to through your opponent off balance. The only difference? Judo is more stand up based and Ju-jit-su is more ground based. Often times Ju-jit-su is pared with boxing/kickboxing in more of an MMA fight style. Personally, I think everyone should familiarize themselves with at least the basics because there is no guarantee that you won't end up on the ground in a fight.
Just like Kung Fu, there are many different styles of Karate so again, you'll have to do your research. In todays day and age, Karate school tend to have a little bit of every style in their system. This is because when Karate made its way to the west from Okinawa (an island in Japan) things were lost in translation. "Muddled" if you will. So unless someone has done their extensive research or came here right from the instruction of a Japanese master...chances are most Karate practitioners have a mix of Karate styles and there is nothing wrong with that. Karate is one of the most popular forms of martial arts today. I mean...it probably should be at the top of this list. It is a great way to learn self-defence in more than just an application sort of way. Karate focuses heavily on what we call "kata". It is basically a pattern of basic moves to be memorized. The idea is that it is an imaginary fight. This gives practitioners the chance to develop their skills and use their brains and imagination just a little more than some other martial arts. Karate also allows for the practice of weapons. While those weapons don't exist today, they can translate to modern day objects.
As you can see there are plenty of martial arts out there for you to look and and dig into before you choose. However, at the end of the day, your instructor and your environment make a HUGE impact on your experience. so just because you have a bad time somewhere else...don't dismiss the art all together. Find another school or even a different martial art.