Starting Martial Arts
September 1, 2004 3:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering starting an activity that's really out of my normal stratosphere, and have thought about maybe trying karate or another martial art. I'm a skinny 27-year-old guy who is not very flexible or physically strong. Is this a really bad idea? And if not, can anyone recommend what kind of martial art I should try? If you can recommend specific places in NYC (Manhattan), it would be even better.
posted by edlundart to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
There is a Tiger Schulmann's Karate on 19th Street - it's kind of a cult and they will sell you very hard to sign up for a long term, but it is good exercise and meant for introductory students without prior experience.

If you want to go very serious, Renzo Gracie, a master of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has a school on 37th Street. This may not be the sport for you; it's a grappling art and rewards short limbs (I would suck at it). It's a hell of a work-out though.

At the other end, you might try yoga first. It will make you more flexible and stronger faster than any martial art, and you can just ignore the chanting and such if you find it silly. I've only been to a couple of places but Jivamukti, on Lafayette Street, is good. (Although the pulchritude is distracting!)

All of these have trial programs that are either free or cheap - go and try them!
posted by nicwolff at 3:40 PM on September 1, 2004

I just saw capoeira for the first time on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and it looks pretty cool.
posted by padraigin at 3:43 PM on September 1, 2004

(And when I say 37th Street, of course I mean 30th Street.)
posted by nicwolff at 3:47 PM on September 1, 2004

Why dont you do yoga instead? It's way more fun to be in a room with twenty beautiful and limber women than getting punched in the stomach by Tiger Shulman.
posted by mert at 3:47 PM on September 1, 2004

I think Tai Chi is cool.
posted by cohappy at 3:49 PM on September 1, 2004

Are you tall and skinny or short and skinny? Judo is the friendly-competitionized version of the aforementioned ju-jutsu (actually, a number of Japanese martial arts seem to have a -do version that is for practice and/or comtemplation and a -jutsu version that is for kicking ass really hard). Judo and jujustu reward shortness and don't really require strength because their power comes from leverage and redirecting the strength of the attacker. Also, being an Olympic sport makes Judo one of the easier martial arts to find a place to learn it (though you live in NYC, so that matters very little).
Aikido is headier, more about contemplation that about fighting (which is not to say it's a good idea to go around fucking with people who study it), and I've always thought t would be really interesting to study.
Hapkido is a Korean martial art that combines the striking of Tae-Kwon-Do with the grappling of Yudo (which is essentially the Korean form of Judo); odds are pretty good you could find a place to study it somewhere in midtown.
There are zillions of martial arts; almost all of them are interesting. If memory serves, there's an entire Filipino martial art devoted to fighting with rope. Actually, speaking of Filipino martial arts, you might look up the one Matt Damon studied for The Bourne Identity; he seemed to think it was really interesting (though especially brutal).
Krav Maga (I think I spelled that right) is the official Israeli martial art. IIRC, there are no rules in Krav Maga except something like "don't be the one who dies."
posted by willpie at 4:26 PM on September 1, 2004

I love capoeira. Every male I know who has done it for an extended period has ended up looking like a gymnast. I can't say whether that's change or attrition ;-)

I also like it because a) there are a lot of women involved and the machismo level seems low b) I have ethical issues with practising beating people up and capoeira is sufficiently stylised and impractical salve my conscience c) as you would expect from a Brazilian past time, it's very social and good-natured.

If skinniness bothers you, you may want to consider weight-training and a lot of food. Most martial arts will probably not add much to your frame, and depending on how often and hard you train, you will lose weight.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:34 PM on September 1, 2004

oh dude. straight up american style boxing classes ... serious. good stuff.
posted by specialk420 at 5:59 PM on September 1, 2004

I second the yoga. Lotsa fun.
posted by bonehead at 6:50 PM on September 1, 2004

I just started a kickboxing class thats free with my gym membership, perhaps check out a gym that offers classes? I found kickboxing to have fairly basic moves that aren't too hard to pick up, and is a nice inbetween point between the more martial arts type stuff and boxing.
posted by madmanz123 at 6:50 PM on September 1, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll have to look into some of these things, like capoeira. I never heard of that. I actually hadn't really considered yoga, but that's an interesting thought. Maybe kickboxing too, combined with a gym membership... For those who asked about my skinniness, it doesn't really bother me, though I'd like to gain some muscle. And I'm tallish skinny, not short skinny. I mentioned being skinny not because I necessarily want to beef up that much from whatever activity I choose, but because I don't want to choose an activity that doesn't suit my body. Anyway, thanks again for all the helpful suggestions.
posted by edlundart at 9:02 PM on September 1, 2004

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