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Martial Arts for Weight Loss
January 29, 2013 7:20 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I are thinking about starting a martial art to get in shape. Help us figure out what type of martial art we should do and where specifically we should do it in the Washington, DC area.

Mrs. Bulgaroktonos and I would like to start exercising. Both of us find exercising really, REALLY boring in many contexts and so we would like to do a martial art because we think it would be fun and occupy us mentally while we exercise (we also both do better when we have some sort of goal other than just "run faster" and we are competitive and, in the case of Mrs. Bulgaroktonos, occasionally bellicose). We don't particularly want to get hurt but we would like the opportunity actually to spar against other people (and each other, in a healthy way). What we don't want is a macho gym atmosphere; we'd like somewhere supportive and helpful where we (as two overweight and out of shape people) will feel comfortable and that will enable us to lose weight in a healthy and enjoyable way.

Questions:

What type of martial art should we be looking for? Karate? Aikido? Something else? Our main goal is losing weight but we would also like to be stronger and more flexible. We'd like something not too challenging for beginners but that is legitimately a workout and that does not only attract people who are already in good shape.

Where specifically (studio? dojo?) should we go in the Washington, DC area? Again, we'd like to feel not-judged and have supportive, knowledgeable instructors who are used to working with potentially self-conscious adult beginners.

Anything else we should be considering?
posted by Bulgaroktonos to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
DC is a big place, so I don't know how close you are to Silver Spring, MD, but if you decide to take up aikido (and I highly recommend it -- it's very beginner and out-of-shape friendly), Clyde Takeguchi shihan at Capital Aikikai is one of the sweetest, kindest, most generous instructors I've ever had the pleasure of working with.
posted by dorque at 7:25 AM on January 29, 2013


Personally, I've always thought that Aikido would be perfect for me, as I fall within your above constraints, wants and category. I might be older than y'all, but I still think that Aikido is challenging enough, gentle enough (for lack of a better word) and seems to attract the type of people that you'd want to surround yourself with.
I'm definitely going to be watching the answers to this question.
Thank you for asking it!
posted by THAT William Mize at 7:26 AM on January 29, 2013


DC is a big place, that's true. We're in North Columbia Heights/Petworth (Park View technically). We'd be open to travel, but the wife hates traveling to Virginia, so there's a preference for DC/Maryland.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:27 AM on January 29, 2013


Hurrah for exercise. I'll add rock climbing/bouldering as something worth trying - and where you can really begin to notice improvements. Plus, being lighter is a huge advantage.

I will say that martial arts / exercise is a great way to get stronger and more flexible, but not ideal for losing weight. So be sure to adjust your diet too (it's way easier to not consume the calories than to burn them). Also, don't just use the scale as a measurement of success - take measurements of waist, chest, thighs, hips, biceps, etc. so you can compare results there too. You may lose inches but no weight, if you're gaining muscle and losing fat.

Have fun!
posted by backwards guitar at 7:37 AM on January 29, 2013


To expand on my comment about aikido and hopefully make it more useful:

- I'm 5'8" and 215 pounds, so I'm currently pretty out of shape, but I still get a lot out of my practice. I usually find that I'm sweating profusely by the end of our (unusually long 1.5 hour) classes, but at the same time my sensei doesn't mind if someone needs to just sit at the edge of the mat and breathe for a couple of minutes, or take a particular technique slowly to get their breath back.

- I'm never bored. There's so much going on in the practice that I don't think I've had the same class twice in three years. I also love getting to work with different students and instructors, because there are a lot of different styles and "feels" to people's technique (Takeguchi shihan is very soft but inexorable; my sensei's style is a little more like getting hit by a very kind truck).

- We get a lot of folks with a karate background who decided they'd still like their joints to work when they're 50.

- I've never encountered any macho posturing -- aikido seems to attract genuinely kind people who are interested in helping others practice as well as possible.

- It's not exactly sparring, but all aikido practice is done with a partner, so you're always working on your skills by throwing another person or getting thrown and learning to take it safely.

Yes, I totally sound like a shill, but I've loved the three years I've spent doing aikido and I'm happy to shove anyone else in that direction whenever possible. :)
posted by dorque at 7:38 AM on January 29, 2013


I've been doing Aikido for ten years and I do love recommending it, and it does meet a fair number of your requirements BUT it is not competitive and you do not spar with other people. You work in pairs (it's a defensive martial art) so you learn attacks and defenses, but it will not feel that strenuous until you have a fair amount of practice under your belt and you have a partner who can move at a faster speed.

Aikido at my dojo is about a lot more than just the practice - you learn a lot about Japanese traditions, and how Aikido is a way of life, not just something to practice at the dojo. So take that as you will. I've heard good things about Takeguchi Shihan.
posted by bibbit at 7:41 AM on January 29, 2013


Absolutely, unequivocally: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It's a complete workout that builds both strength and flexibility. I've seen profound weight loss benefits for my training partners (and for myself) in the two years I've been doing it. It's also really, really fun.

Jiu-Jitsu is primarily a grappling art, which is ideal from a sparring perspective. You can spar at the pace you choose with your training partners, and even if you go all-out, your risk of injury is much lower than you'd face with a striking martial art. It's good for people who are a bit older (I'm 38), but also super-effective for self-defense (which you don't list as a goal, but is worth noting).

Like you, I find many other forms of exercise boring. Running puts me to sleep. But BJJ features all manner of interesting and challenging movements, problems to solve, and diverse people to train with. It never gets boring.

I've trained at two schools in the DC area, both of which I found very welcoming and with high-quality instructors. 50/50 BJJ has great people and world-class instructors, and Beta Academy is also a good option. It depends on where you're located.

I've done yoga for a long time, and I assumed that would help with the grappling art. I wasn't wrong -- but before long, I found that BJJ was also improving my flexibility for yoga, where I thought it would be the other way around!

Happy to answer any questions you might have.
posted by jeffmshaw at 7:42 AM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


The only really effective approach is "eating less for weight loss". All the karate in the world will not slim you down if your diet isn't in check.

I would recommend judo. Unlike many martial arts, you will have full-contact sparring against resisting opponents as opposed to, "ok, grab my wrist like this and then I come at you like this". I am not sure what "in good shape" means in this context but the several judo weight classes should give you an idea that it accepts a number of shapes and sizes. The highest weight class is 220 lbs for men and 172 lbs for women. If you really enjoy it, you can take part in tournaments.

I know you've had some recommendations for aikido but as noted in previous comments, it doesn't really have sparring but paired kata.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:44 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would suggest that you find schools that are near where you live. The easier it is to get to the school the more likely you will stick with it. Go to several schools and ask if you can try a couple of classes. Find the school where you are comfortable and serves your needs. Some schools will offer fitness classes in addition to the martial arts. The fitness class should offer additional conditioning and strength training that will compliment their martial arts style.

I take classes at school associated with the American Tae Kwon Do Association (ATA). I find that these schools very family oriented. Everyone is there to learn and improve not prove that they are the baddest ass in the school.

ATA Online
posted by tman99 at 7:46 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have no experience with traditional martial arts. That being said, I cannot recommend kickboxing enough. I kickboxed for over 12 years, and the benefits were immense. Firstly, the cardio aspect is great for losing weight. Also there is a competitive/sparring aspect which would please your wife. As an adds bonus, I have never regretted taking the classes because they made me feel more safe and secure about defending myself in dangerous situations.

My trainer was a former amateur/golden gloves boxer. This meant that his gym was filled with highly skilled people which can be intimidating. But he also ran a class specifically for weight loss and self defense; that class was open to any skill level and was very welcoming and inclusive. It shouldn't be too hard to find this kind of setup in the DC area.
posted by fireandthud at 7:50 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm going to put in a rec for Krav Maga. The culture can get a little macho, thanks to its military origins, but it really depends on the gym. Mine is fantastic, very community-oriented and not jackass-y at all for all I'm the only girl there most days.

- The entire focus is giving you the skills to get out of a bad situation, so lots of focus on breaking out of chokes/holds, throws, and sparring. Out of a two-hour class, I easily spend an hour in some kind of full-contact sparring.

- I'm overweight and out of shape, but that hasn't hindered my practising KM much, since the moves are about using physics, not strength, against your opponent.

- Which brings me to my third point. At least in my gym, we don't just do the moves, there's a focus on improving overall fitness. A typical class goes like this: warm-up (running, stretches), five minutes of free sparring, breaking off into skill-level-based groups to either learn new techniques or spar with each other- usually five minutes of practising forms/sparring and then five minutes of some kind of intense workout, usually crunches/sprinting/pushups. It's great because no two classes are ever the same.

- The speed/strength differential can be intimidating (as can watching the way the bigger, fitter guys pummel the heavy bags while 5'4/pudgy me can barely get them to move) but if you find a good, supportive group it shouldn't be an issue.

TL;DR: Can't recommend Krav Maga enough.
posted by Tamanna at 7:53 AM on January 29, 2013


Fencing!

It's a GNARLY but fun workout, and you can spar with each other. And get into amazing shape. And make Princess Bride jokes! If you rent equipment still buy a cheap practice mask because there's nothing worse than sticking your head in a sopping wet fencing mask. Also, in my experience fencers are kind of nerdy and I never got a weird gym/fitness vibe, even from the top fencers. If it's in your budget I would suggest private lessons for the two of you. I've never taken a group lesson so my advice is based on private sessions.

(For those that don't know, fencing is a martial art.)
posted by Room 641-A at 7:54 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


(To be clear, I meant nerdy in a good way.)
posted by Room 641-A at 7:55 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, fencing, for all the reasons Room 641-A mentions.

But I also think some of your requirements, such as acceptance of potentially self-conscious beginners, are going to have more to do with the culture of the particular club than the variety of martial art. So you may need to shop around--try a couple of different places that teach martial arts you might be interested in, talk to the people there, see what they're like. Or maybe someone will chime in with recommendations specific to your area.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 8:03 AM on January 29, 2013


I've seen martial arts work well for weight loss, and I've seen them do almost nothing. Either scenario is possible across karate, judo, jiu-jitsu, aikido, whatever. But if you choose a school that trains hard, it can be a great fun way to exercise. However, I would point out that it's extremely common for the exercise a martial arts school provides to be unbalanced, standardized across all students instead of being a logical progression, and determined by tradition or the demands of the sport rather than best practices for getting fit or staying healthy.

Whether you like the place you end up going is going to depend almost entirely on the gyms near you. The martial arts industry is highly personality-driven. Since I don't know the schools in the DC area, I'll try to help with some general advice on types of schools.

Evaluating a school
You want to determine whether a school is focused on competition. That would probably not work well for you.

You also want to be wary of long-term contracts (more than three months is a problem in my mind), testing fees (getting charged $50 every three months to take a "test" sucks), and pushy sales tactics. It's common not to post rates online or say them over the phone unless you are dogged about it, but if they simply won't tell you their rates even in person unless you take a trial class, that's a warning sign.

Part of the problem you will encounter is that non-competition, family-oriented schools are often fairly commercial.

I recommend doing a tour of the schools in the area. Do several trial classes. There's a lot of idiosyncratic things--who runs it, who trains there on the days you go, how it smells--so it's really just trial-and-error.

Styles
You're going to get a lot of "I like what I do", so I'm trying like heck not to do that, but for full disclosure I did light-touch karate for a decade, two years or scattered BJJ and kickboxing, and now train judo. I loved all of it.

If you are OK with significant bodily contact with your partners, then judo or Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) is an excellent choice. You'll wear the funny pajamas and spend your time practicing throws, chokes, and ways to control the opponent. 99% of classes will have time devoted to live sparring, so you'll be sure to break a sweat and know exactly how much you've learned. Many BJJ schools can be macho, but many are not, so evaluate the cues in their marketing carefully. Judo schools often cater to a wide range of the population.

Since learning self-defense skills wasn't on your list of priorities, you may be interested in various forms of karate/kung-fu/tae kwon do, even if they do no-touch or light-touch sparring. However, any school that doesn't spar at all (e.g. aikido or some styles of karate and kung fu) is going to diminish in its exercise utility very quickly. Hard-sparring arts will eventually involve some form of injury so though I love 'em, I wouldn't recommend them for you.

Boxing and kickboxing are an option too. It's common to train but not take fights or do hard sparring that gets you concussed, so don't shy away from those. You'll get super-sweaty.
posted by daveliepmann at 8:13 AM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Muay Thai. If you can find a gym that offers classes for beginners and isn't too focused on training young kids to go into the ring and fight.

You will get the workout of your life.

Eat whatever you want in moderation, do Muay Thai a couple times a week, and you'll be in great shape within weeks.
posted by univac at 8:29 AM on January 29, 2013


As they say, the best workout is the one you do. So I would check out a couple nearby gyms (seconding tman99's note about picking something easy to get to) and check out a couple different martial arts. You may even find that you do a particular style for a year or several, and then try something else to mix it up. This is fine as long as you're excited to try each one, because that will keep you going.

My favorite martial art so far has been a combination of BJJ-like grappling and kickboxing (basically, the pieces that make up most MMA fights). I like clear, direct things - I would never have made it through wax on / wax off, I want to know from day one how what I'm doing helps me defend myself. And that sort of art relies on a fair amount of sparring and partner work, which I love - there's no way to get distracted or bored when you're sparring with someone else. As far as exercise goes, it was excellent because when practicing and sparring keeps you moving. In other arts (karate), it took a lot of determination and concentration to go hard, but when you're practicing those more MMA-oriented moves, the vigorous exercise is built in.

I will say that BJJ and MMA / fight-oriented gyms can give different vibes, and each gym has its own vibe. MMA-oriented gyms are not always macho (I received lots of attentive, supportive instruction in some of them), but they can give off more of a mach vibe. But I've seen men and women of wildly different temperaments and wildly different fitness levels participate in both, so don't write them off. BJJ especially: there are lots of men and women of different skill levels, and lots of people who aren't into "fighting," but who like the intensity of the art.

I started in Karate. It was fun and got me my start, and seems like a good place for people to get an introduction. But after a while, it started to feel like jumping rope: exercise for exercise's sake, I wasn't learning anything or developing skills I could use elsewhere. I also didn't like the cruft of learning all the arbitrary rules around it. So if you go for a more "traditional" martial art, go for it! Enjoy it! But if your enthusiasm drops after a while, don't write off all martial arts because others are different.

Anyway, that got rambly, but: I would suggest trying a few different gyms and running with the one that you feel most interested in. And I wouldn't write off any particular martial art too quickly - go see what you think firsthand.
posted by Tehhund at 8:42 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I did a semester of aikido when I was 18-19 and it was fantastic. I have fond memories of the class and I really enjoyed it.

That said, I went to a different aikido class a couple of years ago (around age 31-32) and the style was so different that I only went a couple of times instead of the full 12-14 weeks. It was also way more painful than I remembered, but I'm sure part of that is the fact that they didn't have any mats and we were flinging people around on the hardwood floor.

Then again, I'm sure part of it was the fact that I wasn't used to the movements any longer. But really, throwing people down on the bare floor was not fun.

Make sure, whatever you do, that the class is held in a space MADE for that activity and has appropriate mats/padding/equipment.

I'd still vote for aikido if you can find a decent place around you. :)
posted by juliebug at 8:49 AM on January 29, 2013


I've seen martial arts work well for weight loss, and I've seen them do almost nothing.

I second this very much. It's all dependent on the instructor and his area of focus. Sometimes it also depends on how long the class is. If the class is only an hour long, instructors will try to cram in as much as possible in that one hour, leaving little room for actual exercise.

The DC area martial art schools are really big on free trial classes so you can join in for a class or two and see what it's like. You are also always welcomed to sit and watch for free if you don't want to use up the free trial. When I first moved to Northern Virginia, I called up several martial art schools in the area and learned when they had their adult classes. All the instructors I talked to over the phone were SUPER friendly, but they can sometimes exaggerate what they do in classes, so it was very important for me see what their classes were like in-person rather than take their word over the phone. I recommend you do something similar.
posted by nikkorizz at 8:50 AM on January 29, 2013


When I took Shotokan karate about a decade ago, I was hoping that it would help with weight loss. It ended up not doing so, not because of the lack of exercise--I had plenty of exercise through it, perhaps too much for my fitness level at the time--but because of the lack of time. I ended up with very little time to cook, and resorted to fast food and frozen convenience foods for many of my meals, so my calorie intake increased dramatically without me realizing it, enough to offset the burned calories, and I stayed the same size.

Class was only 3 days a week, but I was pushing myself hard enough that I was still exhausted on my days off and not up to cooking except, perhaps, one day a week.

I'd advise picking a discipline that fits with your personalities and commitment level, and discussing your concerns with the instructor. I took Shotokan because it was what was offered through extended education at the university I worked for at the time, but the emphasis on the art form and my sensei's disdain for jazzing it up with things like katas set to music appealed to my inner snob. I ended up quitting after a year and a half because the time commitment left me with no time to really do anything else.
posted by telophase at 8:53 AM on January 29, 2013


I also have a smattering of Aikido experience and the thing I'd add about it is that it doesn't look like a lot of work but it's very much about being down on the floor and getting up again. Over and over and over and over again. It's also a lot like dancing so it's a significant workout.

But it's also good for kids and older adults in that its impact can be adjusted. There are plenty of Aikido pracitioners who started well into their 30's and 40's who get a lot out of it, some of whom turn out to be masters.
posted by kalessin at 8:53 AM on January 29, 2013


Doesn't fencing often result in asymmetrical muscle development?
posted by oneironaut at 9:21 AM on January 29, 2013


Is capoeira close to anything you'd like to do? I'm in Philly so I can't give a DC rec, but it is very intensive, loads of fun, and has a cool backstory.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:32 AM on January 29, 2013


I'm a lifelong martial artist, trained in BJJ, boxing, and Aikido. If you want to lose weight, box. Aikido is a flowing art; many practitioners are flabby. Boxing is a linear, technical exercise. There are very few flabby boxers.
posted by ellF at 9:50 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


oneironaut: "Doesn't fencing often result in asymmetrical muscle development?"

Personally, this wasn't an issue for me. My thrice-weekly fencing classes included footwork and core-strengthening, and that might have helped. I also wasn't competing. If this was an issue (it's been about 10 years since I fenced, so I don't recall) I imagine it might have gone something like this: "My right arm is slightly more awesomely toned than the left one." Also, keep in mind that the left side of your body is still working hard, but YMMV.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:27 AM on January 29, 2013


After I recommended BJJ in your area, I must add that while I agree with jeffmshaw about Fifty/50 (good stuff), you'd do best to stay away from Lloyd Irvin. Multiple ex-students have mentioned a cult atmosphere and it recently came to light that he took part in a gang rape 20 years ago and was acquitted on a technicality.
posted by daveliepmann at 10:58 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


There have been a lot of good discussions above, especially about the environment you find yourself in almost being more important than the specific martial art you take up. I study aikido at a dojo that is pretty traditional when it comes to its appearance, the etiquette you're expected to follow, etc. I enjoy that - it adds a meditative aspect that allows me to leave my stress at the door, and it also means that I'm reasonably certain that everybody else at the dojo is speaking the same language (metaphorically speaking, I mean). Other people may find it pointless - for me, it's reassuring.

Finding an instructor you would enjoy training with is also important - I ran into a lot of macho posturing when I was looking for a dojo. In my experience, that sort of thing seemed to be common at places that offer everything under the sun - kick boxing plus hapkido plus tai kwon do plus MMA! We do it all! We will forge you into a weapon of badassitude! I'm sure there are places like that where the teachers are great and the environment is supportive instead of boot-camp-like, but I didn't encounter one when I was looking.

With aikido, I enjoy the fact that I work with different people one-on-one, I like the weapons training that is taught (short staff and wooden sword), I like the fact that it's my brain and my body learning new ways to move, and I like the people I train with. It's good exercise, although not nearly in the same intensive way that boxing would be. Aikido doesn't replace my exercise regime, it supplements it - I get bored at the gym.

There's lots of good stuff out there but you will probably have to visit a few places to find out what you like. Take them up on that offer of a free class! See if you like the people around you - my dojo is a community and I enjoy spending time with my friends there.
posted by PussKillian at 12:22 PM on January 29, 2013


I've studied karate, kendo, and aikido, and aikido is the one I've stuck with.

I totally agree with PussKillian. Aikido is my favorite martial art because it has so much variety (throws, pins, swords, staffs), a philosophy I appreciate, a Japanese cultural background, and generally great people (friendly, supportive). And it's a good core workout (all that falling down and getting up).

That being said, it's not terribly useful ("You grab me here, and I'll throw you there") and there can be injuries (shoulders and knees, typically).

But I'm in it more for the camaraderie and fun (I was on air coming home from one class where we practiced wielding two swords in defense - TWO SWORDS!!). And some of my best friends I met at the dojo.

Oh, and I always wanted to be a samurai, so that doesn't hurt, either.
posted by sazanka at 12:38 PM on January 29, 2013


Everyone I know who goes to BBMAC in Kensington swears by it.
posted by grateful at 1:12 PM on January 29, 2013


Lots of people above are just recommending whatever art they personally practice. Pay attention to the folks who have experience in multiple arts, since they have some basis for comparison.

The atmosphere you are looking for (friendly, non-macho, supportive of new out-of-shape students) can be found in any art. You just need to visit and get a feel for the vibe of a school before you sign up for anything. Some gyms are all about being hard-core boot camps for fighters while others are oriented towards providing a gradual progression. Some are highly structured and formal while others are downright casual. Observe or try out some classes to see if the school provides the type of environment that will keep you coming back.

Regarding the exercise benefits of different arts:

Aikido practice largely consists of cooperative 2-person drills with one person taking the other down using wristlocks, throws, etc. You'll feel the exercise from falling down and getting up repeatedly, but you are highly unlikely to lose weight from the training. There's also not much of a competitive aspect.

Tae Kwon Do is not one of my favorite martial arts, for various reasons, but it can be very good for exercise. It places a high priority on kicking, which can burn a lot of calories and build cardio and flexibility. It's widely promoted as a commercial family-friendly art, where parents and kids can both attend the same dojang, which means you can probably find a school that will be welcoming to out-of-shape beginners. Potential downsides - the previously mentioned commercial aspect can involve frequent belt tests with accompanying fees. Also the emphasis on high kicking can include dangers of injury if the teacher doesn't know how to work with an out-of-shape student to bring him or her along gradually and safely. There is a competitive sparring aspect - usually not very "realistic" in the sense of preparing for self-defense, but you didn't list that as a concern.

Boxing/kickboxing/Muay Thai - these usually involve a lot of cardio work and can be good for weight loss. The trick is finding a gym that's geared for casual students rather than would-be fighters.

Judo/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - these are phenomenal for whole-body conditioning, but probably not as good for weight loss as kicking arts such as Tae Kwon Do or Muay Thai. You'll get plenty of competition. The trick is to find a gym that will bring you along gradually and not throw you to the sharks your first time on the mat. Fair warning - for the first few months your entire body will likely be sore for a day or two after each workout.

Karate/Kung Fu - can cover a wide range of possibilities. Almost all of them will give you some useful exercise compared to what you are doing now, but not all of them will be effective for wieght loss. Some will have sparring, some will not.

Honestly, the most important thing is to find a school and an art that you enjoy. If you dislike the training, then it doesn't matter how effective it is - you won't show up regularly to collect the benefits. I'd recommend visiting each of the schools within a reasonable commute, talk to the instructors, watch a class, take a free trial class if one is offered, and decide which place seems like it would be the most fun for both of you.
posted by tdismukes at 8:16 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd go for (western) Boxing, but there are plenty of great alternatives mentioned in this thread.

There's a bigger concern, though, I think -- way more pressing than selecting which discipline -- that will impact you and your wife's satisfaction/enjoyment; and that is the culture/atmosphere of the place. In y'alls shoes, I would make this decision more-or-less on this one factor alone.

For instance: I've been to a lot of boxing gyms, and a lot of BJJ and wrestling gyms where the men there maintain, culturally, some pretty toxic attitudes towards the women that box/roll there. I've seen it range from condescending "put-on-a-platform princess" sort of stuff (where nobody really gives a shit about their actual development or satisfaction with their instruction/competition), all the way down to some "girls suck/Make me a sandwich" bullshit.

A stronger or more principled man would've taken a stand and not gone to these places... but while I didn't like it, it wasn't targeted at me, so I could go where the best matchups/equipment/price was. That might be a terrible option, though, for you and your wife; so be wary of it.

A big part of some (traditional, eg. "not strip-mall") MA gym culture is "Gym as Men's Space". I don't have huge problems with this, fundamentally, but I do have problems when they take women's money, give them shitty or sketchy (or "creepy") instruction, and do nothing whatsoever to make them feel listened to or welcomed. This is very common.

Summary: Boxing, kickboxing, BJJ, judo, etc. are all great and great fun. Discipline choice, within reason, isn't as important as gym selection. You gotta go work out in several, and find one that doesn't set off your "skeevy"-meter (for culture, gender shit, personalities, price, etc) before you drop the coin.

(And: run like hell from any gym that has any "charismatic all-knowing leader" bullshit going on.)
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 10:27 AM on January 30, 2013


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