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  • Writer's pictureElena K.

I’ve trained in five martial arts. Here is what I have to say.

Are you a martial arts fan? This blog is for you. Find out what you might like most and where to train. Based on my experiences/opinions.

Shotokan karate:

- Japanese, developed by Gichin Funakoshi in 1938. Means, "empty hand."

- It combines punching, kicking, and blocking as well as concentration, meditation, and self-reflection.

- Not characterized by aggression, but by technique, preciseness, spacing.

- Does not include groundwork.

- You can train all your life.

- Size does not matter.

- Articles have claimed that katas prepare you for a fight with multiple opponents because you train in different directions (action-reaction.) I cannot speak to the accuracy of this statement, but it is an interesting application.

- One limitation I find in training karate is that you don't gain as much strength and power; also it does not prepare you if the fight goes to the ground

- I recommend choosing karate as a base for your martial arts and supplementing it with one or two more.

- If you're in Atlanta, train with Sensei Ikeda and the Emory Shotokan Karate Club. If you're in New York, train with Sensei Shiroma in Long Island City.


- It was brought by the Egyptians as an Olympic sport in ancient Greece in 688 B.C. Boxing became part of the modern Olympics in 1904.

- Dynamic, cardio-focused, for those who want to push themselves.

- Combat, about precision, punches can be lethal, no kicks.

- Useful for making you stronger. Can help you in a street fight if you're fast and powerful. Not sure about helping you take down multiple opponents.

- Speed, power, and size will give you an advantage.

- Limitation: unless you do kickboxing, there is no training for kicks. It's brutal, and you can get hurt even in practice; it does not prepare you if the fight goes to the ground.

- If you're in N.Y., train with Supreme Team in Long Island City.


- Japanese, created by Jigoro Kano in 1882. Means "the gentle way." Also an Olympic sport.

- Uses body weight, throws, submissions, combat.

- Combines ways to escape from standing and from the ground.

- Teaches you how to fall.

- Great for self-defense/getting out of grips.

- Size doesn't matter - you'll be surprised!

- One limitation is that it does not teach you to punch and kick.

- If you're in D.C., M.D. or Virginia train with D.C. Judo - Sensei Terence.


- Brazilian, developed in the 1920s.

- Combat, only groundwork, submission-based.

- Cardio-based; you'll have to push yourself.

- Flexibility gives you an advantage; technique is important - power not so much.

- One limitation I find is that training can be painful, you might develop cauliflower ear and it does not prepare you for fights off the ground.

- If you're in NY train with Enigma NYC BJJ.


- Brazilian, developed at the beginning of the 16th century.

- For those not invested in heavy fighting, for those who love music and dance with a twist.

- Choreography based.

- Not very helpful for street fights but movements are great for performance - impressions.

Overall, training in martial arts empowers you to feel more confident, learn how to meditate, learn self-control, use your energy productively, de-stress, and, most importantly, strengthen your body and, if necessary, defend yourself.

Share your thoughts!


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