Broadly speaking, it is possible to categorise martial arts into three kinds, depending on their main focus. The modern day warrior will want to have some grounding in all of these. There are striking oriented arts, where things like kicks and punches are the main idea these include Kickboxing, Karate and Wing Chun. Then come the grappling arts, where throws and pins are emphasised. Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Aikido fall into this broad category. Finally, some arts are primarily weapons based. As the name suggests, these styles generally train with one or more weapons. Kendo is the main weapons clubs on campus, although some other styles such as Aikido have weapons aspects too. Each category has competitive and non-competitive styles so this shouldn’t be an issue in decision making, but what you’re looking for from your training will definitely influence which best suits you.
First of all, you need to think what you would like to gain from training. Do you just want an activity to keep fit with? Do you want to learn basic self-defence? Or perhaps you just think fighting is awesome and want to train something competitively. Whatever you want, there will be a style that suits you, and the best way to find that out is to go down and try them out. Most (if not all) societies offer taster sessions for this very purpose and are very beginner-friendly, so don’t be daunted! To put to bed a recurring question, clothes are not an obstacle to traininh. You don’t need to be fully equipped with “one of those outfits” to train (fairly universally called a gi, for the curious. It’s yet to come up in a pub quiz, but this author remains hopeful), and societies that require special equipment can normally provide some for you.
So, which is best for you?
For the competitor:
If you’re determined to conquer the octagon (and know what the octagon is) then you’ll need competitive, high energy martial arts like Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. If this is true though, you probably don’t need this article to tell you that. You probably already do them. A lot.
Have a go! LU Kickboxing train Tuesday 8-10pm & Friday 6-8pm and LU Brazilian Jiu-Juitsu train Wednesday 6-8pm & Fridays 6-8pm on campus
For the fitness fanatic:
If you’re drawn to martial arts by the chance to burn some calories, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) or Muay Thai would be the best options for you as both involve a lot of drills which are really aerobic and involve high mobility. Unlike other martial arts which involve sedentary instruction followed by practice, MMA and Muay Thai offer the chance to be constantly participating. As a result, you’re guaranteed to build up a sweat. Boxing’s emphasis on cardio workouts also makes it a great choice for anyone seeking to improve fitness.
Have a go! LU MMA train Monday 6-8pm & Sunday 3-4pm, Muay Thai training takes place Tuesday 6-8pm & Sunday 2-4pm and LU Boxing train Monday 8-10pm & Thursday 6-8pm on campus.
For the safety conscious:
With most martial arts, the intention is to equip the student with the ability to protect themselves. However, Judo’s focus on throws and counter attacks is particularly well suited to anyone concerned with self-defence. If this is truly the main motivation for participating in martial arts though, combining sessions with specific self-defence workshops may be a good course of action to fully equip yourself.
Have a go! Judo classes are offered at the gym Tuesdays 7:45-9:15pm.
For the spiritualist:
Thai Chi is famously focused on the spiritual side of martial arts; it’s very slow moving and places emphasis on relaxation and stress relief. Meditation, breathing and awareness exercises all play a large role in training.
Historically, the Japanese approach to martial arts was extremely spiritual and traditional. Most Japanese martial arts will therefore be a good choice if it’s the spiritual side that you’re interested in; Aikido and Karate are both practiced on campus, so there are plenty of options if you want this side of things to be the focus of your training.
Have a go! LU Aikido train Tuesday 6-8pm and Saturday 1-3pm on campus and LU Karate Club train Monday 8-10om, Wednesday 6-8pm & Saturday 12-2pm on campus.