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I am a 22-year-old IT professional with 5 days work a week (8 hours daily). My office being far from my place I remain out for nearly 12 hours.

I get stressed sometimes because of this schedule, and want a solution for this to achieve peace of mind, and control over my life.

I know that martial arts can give peace to one's mind, and I would like to learn one of those. Will martial arts suite my life-style? How much (dedicated) time will it take per day?

I also would like to know about the preparations needed to done before enrolling into the learning, like exercise, diet, etc.

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Just a note, as none of us really addressed the preparation. There is none, really. If you "wait until you've done X" before starting, many many people never make it past X. Show up, start practicing, and see what exercises will help in the art/activity you choose. Healthy diet is healthy diet no matter what you do, it's just amounts that may differ. –  JohnP Jul 26 '12 at 14:54
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Plus one to JohnP's comment. On my dojo's website, he has a question under the FAQ... "How should I get in shape before starting?" His answer is "You don't get in shape to train, you train to get in shape." –  eidylon Aug 8 '12 at 18:24
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Pick your schedule and stick to it. I'm also a young IT professional and I've had no trouble maintaining a regular practice schedule. Location makes a huge difference. Pick a good place to train either near where you live or where you work, whichever you foresee remaining the same for a longer period of time. –  harmlessdragon Aug 14 '12 at 16:34
    
Will it suit your lifestyle? No clue. How much time will it take? To accomplish what? Will MA bring you "peace of mind"? No clue--so might many other things. –  Dave Newton Aug 29 '12 at 12:13
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8 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Yes, martial arts could help you, just as any diversion that you enjoy could help you. Martial arts does help with focus, clarity, peace of mind, body improvement, a whole host of things, but so do many many other activities, both physical and non.

I would not suggest a specific style, but spend a few months going around to different studios of different styles. Talk to the instructor, see if they will let you watch a couple of classes, and there are many schools that will let you take lessons for free for a week or two to see if you enjoy it.

Find the style that you enjoy, and work on that. You're going to (hopefully) be doing it a long, long time, so if you don't enjoy it, you won't stay with it.

You may find that you really don't enjoy martial arts, or it's not giving you what you want out of it. In that case, it's not life shattering, simply move on and find an activity that you DO enjoy, that will give you the health and mental benefits that you are looking for.

If you find that you like martial arts, well, then welcome to the family! :)

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+1 for the positive suggestion. I really appreciate that! –  Ajit S Jul 25 '12 at 13:27
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I accepted this because of the open minded suggestion. But, I must admit every suggestion I got here is worth the solution to the question. –  Ajit S Jul 26 '12 at 4:52
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Traditional the three most important things in Real Estate are 1) location 2) location 3) location.

In martial arts, the three most important things are: 1) Sensei 2) Sensei 3) Sensei 4) Dojo.

(or Sifu, if you're inclined that way) I'm coming late to this question and I think the others have provided very valuable comments, but one thing I saw missing was the piece in between making the decision and hitting the mat. That is to visit as many dojo's as you can and watch as many classes as you can.

Find a teacher with whom you're comfortable. Someone who can provide training that matches your needs. Based on your question, you're not looking for "street self-defense", and you're not looking for deep mystical alignment with the universe. Toss out any teacher that is intent on delivering those more than they are in meeting your needs. (that is the most important thing I have to say; the rest is commentary)

Watch a class. Ask yourself if you're comfortable with the amount of courtesy displayed. (some dojo's bow ever 10s, others don't do so at all). Do you see people training safely? (Yes, there are limitations in your ability to judge that until you know more, but if on your first visit it doesn't feel safe, then it is probably not going to help you achieve peace of mind).

What tone does the teacher set? Does the teacher instruct, or does he hand it off to senior students? Do the senior students pass the "comfort" test? Is the instruction more or less mystical than you want?

How do the students relate to one another? Are these people going to help you achieve peace of mind? Do they seem egotistical, arrogant, obnoxious?

Is the place clean? (tough to achieve peace of mind when you're face down in an old spill of some unidentified bodily fluid with a 350 pound stinky guy stretching your arm out of its socket.)

Is there a mix of beginners and seniors? Are you comfortable with that mix? (at the moment my dojo is very skewed towards black belts; we welcome beginners, but our retention rate is high). If you see a room full of green belts with only one black belt, that will give you one type of experience. If you see a room full of black belts with no green belts, that's another experience. Either can be OK - what is important is whether you think that will help you achieve peace of mind.

Do the students seem to like one another? At our dojo we hang out together and have lunch afterwards. Sometimes we'll show up for an extra session just because someone needs the stress relief of being thrown at the ground repeatedly. (different stroke for different folks). You don't have to be best buddies with the dojo mates, but it does go a long way towards comfort.

What's the gender balance? A room with no women, or no young people, or no old people or a room where everyone has the same (hard) body type may point to an excessively aggressive training style that may interfere with peace of mind. It would matter to me, but it might not matter to you.

Do you travel? You may wish to join a dojo that is affiliated with a larger organization so that you can visit dojo's wherever you are.

Do you want weapons work and solo work? I can't get to the dojo as often as I'd like, so I want to study arts that I can do when I'm alone (weapons work is great for that - you get a lot of feedback from the weapon).

For me, peace of mind comes from working hard till my body is exhausted, feeling safe - that my partners will watch out for my safety, and that there is more learning in front of me than there is behind me.

I'd look at all those things before I'd look at internal/external or Japanese/Chinese/Korean/whatever.

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thank you very much! You've brought smile to my face :) I wish I had the option to select more than one question as a solution to the problem.. –  Ajit S Aug 3 '12 at 8:18
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Yes

At least, it worked out very well for me.

I am in a high-stress, rack-em-and-stack-em IT job. When I started my current run of martial arts training seriously about ten years ago, the constant context switching and demands of my job were making me distracted, short-tempered, and less happy than I wanted to be. Finding a hobby that was very different from my workday experience, that "got me into my body," that was fun, and that was challenging in a very different way--that made me happier and saner.

Martial arts isn't unique in being able to do this. I've successfully used weight lifting, rowing, biking, and xc skiing for the same thing. But martial arts worked better than many of those because it could be done several times a week, and because there was "always another door at the end of the hall"--always another place to advance, get better, etc.

There is no preparation required. Just go.

The other answers give some hints on the different kinds and qualities of dojos/kwoons/studios/clubs/academies out there. Obviously you want to find a good one--a place you like, that you can afford, that you think you can and will attend on a regular basis, that doesn't try to lock you into suspiciously expensive or long-term membership, etc. (Choosing one is much like choosing a health club in that regard.)

If you lack experience, I wouldn't worry overmuch the style of martial art you pick up, or try to build an N-way comparison of all possible schools and styles. That leads to "analysis paralysis." Just get started. You can always change what you're doing, or at which school, after you've learned a bit, both about martial arts and your own ability/interest/preferences.

In my case, I was looking avidly for a judo club. I love the "full contact sport" aspect of judo, which I took up in college. But I couldn't find a judo club hereabouts. So I landed in a kung fu school. A decade later, I'm still training kung fu. I've added some boxing, MMA, jiujitsu, kempo, et cetera along the way. But it's still a blast, and still helping me mentally and physically. So "thumbs up!" and "just go!"

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I would disagree about no preparation required. Maybe fifty years ago this was true, but nowadays most people don't have a good minimal fitness and strength level. Obviously whether you'd need to do some weight training first would depend on how physically active you were prior. –  Robin Ashe Jul 29 '12 at 14:25
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When I rejoined martial arts after years away, one motivation was that wife had suffered a brain injury. She was having problems even walking. Terrible balance, and not great strength or cardio fitness post-convalescence. Her doctor recommended marital arts practice. The training indeed gave her the opportunity, means, and motivation to improve. If she can train successfully, almost anyone can. I've never seen a modern school you needed to already be fit to join. It helps, sure. But required? No, IMO. Not at all. –  Jonathan Eunice Jul 30 '12 at 19:11
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I'd question if she was able to do anything with that physical condition if anyone in the club, aside from a few with natural talent, would actually know how to fight. It's certainly possible to engage in physical activity starting from scratch, but to be a good fighter (ostensibly the goal of most people taking martial arts) a minimum of physical ability is required. –  Robin Ashe Jul 30 '12 at 22:15
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We'll have to agree to disagree here. One of the best, most fit martial artists I know--now 3rd degree and head instructor of a school--was fat and unfit when he joined. Those who join from the military or a high level of fitness clearly start at a higher level. But I've seen a number of average to below-average fitness students progress well. The asker wants to reduce stress and "achieve peace of mind, and control over my life" rather than "be a good fighter." I see no reason he can't "just go." –  Jonathan Eunice Jul 31 '12 at 18:14
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I fully agree with Jonathan's comments, just pick a good school and try it out. I returned to martial arts after a long break at age 25, relatively unfit after I got bored with gym. After a long day at the office there is nothing more relaxing than forgetting about the outside world for an hour or two and sweating the stress out of my system. If you happen to click with a particular style the fitness and mental benefits will follow naturally. You absolutely do not have to aim to be a great fighter to do it. –  Pavel Aug 29 '12 at 14:57
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What I suggest is:

  1. Find a good dojo. The dojo will be more important than the art and its location will help greatly. Closer to home would make it easier on the way back, closer to work would make it easier on the way in. Since you want this to gain peace of mind, maybe a dojo that has some meditation would help. Maybe you just need an intense physical workout.

  2. Do not over do it. Once a week is a good start, then increase it to twice then three times then once a day then enrol as an uchi-deshi. It is easy to stop going when one is tired. Make sure you have at least one class a week when you will go, no matter what. You will need to fit your day around that one which can be hard.

  3. Do not die, do not quit. You will get there, just remember that the journey is more important than the goal.

  4. The only preparation before joining a club (or for that matter any class) is to come with an open mind and a desire to learn. Physical fitness will come given time -- remember that being fit and being dojo fit are two very different beasts.

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thank you for the quick reply! I'll have to do good search to find a good dojo here in India! –  Ajit S Jul 25 '12 at 10:04
    
I'll keep this question open to get more suggestions. BTW this is a great site! Was just thinking where to start my research in this area... –  Ajit S Jul 25 '12 at 10:08
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@indrock You could try looking at online directories for local business listings. If there's a chamber of commerce in your area, the martial arts school might be registered with them as a business. You could also try phone books, friends, see if any universities offer courses, and so on and go from there. –  Matt Chan Jul 25 '12 at 11:32
    
@MattChan thank you for the suggestion! I was thinking the same! –  Ajit S Jul 25 '12 at 12:14
    
thank you very much :) I really appreciate you taking time to answer my query. I guess I'll have to do some search, and if I find a good dojo I'll definitely go with martial arts :) Or have to settle down with the suggestion of John.. –  Ajit S Jul 26 '12 at 4:53
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All due respect (there is no nice way to say this) but it seems from your question that you have no clue what you could be getting yourself into.

Don't get me wrong, martial arts can help you in a lot of ways. But from the phrasing of your question it seems like you are doing it on a whim, like you were searching for solutions, you rolled the dice and martial arts came up.

People do martial arts for all sorts of reasons, some of them misguided. To me, the most important thing you should have before you start is passion. As I said you can benefit in many ways from practicing a martial art, but to get the full benefit you need passion to follow through with it.

Based on your question, the best advice I could impart is to find yourself an internal style like tai chi and work on that at least until you get a routine going. Don't start with a hard karate/kung fu/MMA style, try those once you've had some exposure and you've got some idea of what you like and what you can manage.

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Yes, I have the passion to have better control over my life and get piece of mind. I was thinking martial arts could do that. Thank you for the suggestion. I'll do some research on it! –  Ajit S Jul 25 '12 at 12:13
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I would definitely do something like tai chi if you want something to calm yourself without the physical or mental stress of doing something more demanding. Different people may like or prefer different things for stress relief. Martial arts can bring peace to the self, but that may take time and lots of training. It could also depend on the culture and environment where you study. Sometimes though you have to go out there and discover those things for yourself. –  Matt Chan Jul 25 '12 at 12:24
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Given what you're looking for, I'd lean towards recommending Yoga over martial arts. That also hits the question you were asking about preparation in terms of exercise. The other thing you'll want to look into is weightlifting for strength (incidentally, any MA instructor who tells you strength is unimportant isn't worth learning from).

Do Yoga and/or weightlifting for a while, see if you still have an itch to try martial arts. If you still want to do it, then you'll at least be much less likely to be injured in training.

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thank you for the suggestion. Yoga learning would be much easier I think (as it originated in India), I would also be able to locate a good trainer easily.. I'll give it a try and will definitely reply about the results.. –  Ajit S Jul 26 '12 at 4:48
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Martial Arts, Yoga, Gymnastics, Aerobics or any exercise for that matter,their purpose is the same. It is to fully understand your body, realize your physical and mental fitness and live a pleasant, long and a healthy life. There is nothing like "being-suited". Everyone in a reasonable physical state can attempt all of the above under proper guidance. :) have fun

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thank you very much :) –  Ajit S Sep 25 '12 at 9:02
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I was practicing Capoeira and Thai Boxing (separately, did Capoeira before switching to Thai Boxing) when I had a full-time job as a software developer. I am also doing Thai Boxing while I am pursuing my Masters degree and work as a part-time software developer, so the answer is YES.

Now I did not take part in any competitions for Thai Boxing, but that is because I also had other stuff on my mind, other than my job and university studies, but I would definitely be able to prepare for the fight if I only had my studies and the job.

As of benefits, it definitely helps you to reduce stress and build self-confidence and endurance. This is especially true in IT-world, since in my opinion there aren't many people who do martial arts in IT-world. It also helped me to think more clearly.

Preparations: I did not prepare physically before, and of course had terrible conditioning in the beginning. But this naturally improves over time once you keep training.

Diet: I try to stay away from sugar/fat and eat enough meat to rebuild muscles after workout. That's pretty much it.

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