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I did a season of folk wrestling in high school. This was about 5-6 years ago. I'm trying to diet and exercise properly to reach my low body fat goal. Also, I want to learn some basic self defense. I am a short male (5'4") and weight about 170 lbs. I want to be able to be prepared against any kind of oppenent. My biggest worry is the taller opponents with long arm reach. What would be the best martial art to go into between wrestling (further into), boxing, and jui jitsu? I have a slight preference in learning boxing of the three.

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If you must choose only one of the three then look at jujitsu. Otherwise... why not do all three until you get proficient? –  slugster Jun 23 at 4:55
I agree with slugster's comment with a slight variation; after trying all three I would stick to the one that you are best at or enjoy the most. Its best to work on the one you get to speed with rather than force yourself to do something which feels unnatural –  Vass Jun 23 at 8:55
@slugster I was thinking that as well. I guess I would look for a MMA teacher specifically? –  CyberneticTwerkGuruOrc Jun 23 at 14:42
@Vass Yah, I was looking for which one people have experienced is best for someone like me. I didn't know if it was worth the time to try each one for a bit, then pick. –  CyberneticTwerkGuruOrc Jun 23 at 14:43
please clarify: Japanese Jujitsu or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There are significant differences between the two. Not that either is better or worse than the other. Also, general consensus states that it would be better to have a good teacher in a martial art that you do not, for whatever reason, prefer than a bad teacher in a martial art that you prefer. –  The Wudang Kid Jun 23 at 16:01

8 Answers 8

I want to be able to be prepared against any kind of opponent.

You are looking for a unicorn there. No martial art whatsoever is able to do that. There is no ultimate fighting art. That said, most martial arts (McDojo excluded) can give you an edge in self defence. It will shift the odds in your favour which is a good thing.

However, self defence is not just about fighting. It is about observation, preparation, awareness, and many other things. No Nonsense Self Defense is a good place to start if you want to learn more.

As to which martial art is best between wrestling, boxing, and jujitsu. It is like comparing apples, oranges, and mangos. None of them is better than any other. It depends on your personal tastes, who is teaching, where the classes are, and where do you have the more fun!that said, both wrestling and boxing have a fairly narrow focus: one opponent, heavily sport based, and well structured fights. Jujitsu tends to have a wider focus. Then again, Jujitsu is a catch all term for most (if not all) Japanese martial arts before the Meiji restoration. So, "learning jujitsu" sounds odd to me.

The following questions might be useful as well: How to select the right Aikido dojo and What martial art should I start with?.

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You are looking for a unicorn there. I realized that as I was typing the question lol. –  CyberneticTwerkGuruOrc Jun 23 at 14:49
Unicorn style is pretty dangerous... Their horns are nothing to mess around with. –  The Wudang Kid Jun 23 at 15:48
Unicorn are dangerous and so are their hunters. Link to A Hunter’s Ode to His Bait by Carrie Vaughn. –  Sardathrion Jun 24 at 6:34
So there ya go... learn Unicorn style. Qilin Chuan. The official kung fu style of MA Exchange? –  The Wudang Kid Jul 3 at 13:12
That there is a "unicorn boxing" is very amusing. But on that video, while sifu has some good trapping-range moves, he never moves off his opponent's centerline. Ugh. He also wraps his own arms up in ways that are going to lead to bad outcomes when executed at speed. Worse if his opponent has any skill at all at trapping. You're not going to want to depend on that style for self defense. –  Jonathan Eunice Jul 8 at 21:59

"I'm trying to diet and exercise properly to reach my low body fat goal. (..)"

That said, boxing is the way to go. The workout is quite intense, because you need to build stamina in order to box properly.

"Also, I want to learn some basic self defense"

For self defense, i would include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well, since it has proven its effectiveness (see MMA). But let's talk about boxing:

It teaches you how to take a hit and not become desperate. No martial art makes you untouchable, and even when you have better technique you can still be hit. When i spar with guys way above my level, i can still land a few punches.

Since you do a lot of sparring, you have something like a combat simulation. Of course, under rules and in a controlled environment, but one thing is to train with your partner "helping" you to execute the move, another is when he really wants to hit you. =)

I can talk about a lot more, but this text summarizes better: The martial art of boxing

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Go to each school in your area and take a few lessons in each to find the one that you will stick with and agrees with you mentally and physically. Once you start back on that road you will mature and your goals will change.

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There is no magic against "any kind of opponent," because your opponents are so potentially varied. Some are armed; others not. Some are individuals; others are groups or gangs. Some are simply angry; others are (pardon the now-obsolete psychological phrasing) psychopaths. Some are your drunk uncle Eddie, who you don't want to hurt, but you can't have him putting his hands on everyone at the family BBQ. Different weight classes, different weapons, different intentions--the variations are endless.

Pretty much any martial art will help train you in cardio fitness, in balance, in using your weight and strength more efficiently. But some--Western fencing, Kyūdō (Japanese archery), Iaido (the drawing and use of Japanese swords), or Kendo (Japanese swordsmanship with bamboo swords and armor) just to name names--however lovely and historical as arts, are simply not practical fight training for modern people. Similarly, in most Western countries, any art that assumes you will be always armed (e.g. Eskrima, Arnis and Kali) are just not practical. In most places you cannot carry bladed weapons. Even if you could/did, and then used them, you'd probably go to jail for slicing your opponent up in the ways they train/suggest.

For self-defense, I personally prefer training in arts that emphasize the the punching, trapping, and controlling range (arms-length or closer to your opponent) rather than kicking or grappling range. So, Japanese Jujutsu or its American Small-Circle derivative, say, rather than Taekwondo, wrestling, or BJJ. Some karate schools incorporate controls and throws in with striking moves, which is a nice mix. Some kickboxing or sport combat instructors who are savvy to MMA and BJJ teach similarly fluid styles that combine striking, control, and joint-locks. Any of these are preferable to the highly-refined, stylized arts.

There are also some martial arts that are specifically "combat engineered": simplified and refined, removing traditional flourishes and sport-fighting rules to focus only on defensive fighting. They're more "martial skills" than "martial arts." Systema and Krav Maga are often cited, though American Small-Circle Jujitsu, Combat Hapkido, and other variants are out there.

You've had wrestling experience, so why not focus on boxing, kickboxing, or jujutsu to extend your range/set of techniques? I know when I added kickboxing and Small Circle Jujitsu techniques to my bag of tricks (previously kung fu, Judo, and Eskrima), I felt enormously more capable in defensive situations.

Sardathrion makes an excellent suggestion about techniques like "No Defense Self Defense." They extend your awareness, posture, voice, and presentation, and are really the most effective defense you have. If you're looking for true self-defense training, it's not a matter of just "choosing a martial art." The "real world self defense" systems that incorporate awareness, the use of your voice (e.g. Verbal Judo), under-high-stress adrenaline dumps, and truly defense-focused techniques are worth seeking out. Rory Miller's Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected is a good place to start to bridge the gap between "martial arts," sport fighting, and real-world violence dynamics and responses.

Here is a recent podcast on this topic: PREVAIL Podcast #3: Self Defense and the Martial Arts. (Full disclosure: I am one of the participants.)

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I've been studying martial arts going on 2+ years and I have to say that a Good teacher is one of the most important thing you can find. Some things I would look for are these.

  1. Is the instructor Sports focused or Combat defenses focused
    • this can effect how they train their art.
  2. How do you want to fight
    • Do you want to be a controller, a striker , or breaker( bones) all style can fit this needs but some fit better then others.
  3. A book i would suggested would be Living The Martial Way By Forrest E. Morgan, Maj USAF
    • this was really good book my Sensei give me that help give me and insight into how I should view Martial Arts and the mindset I should have with it.
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Anything you take to better yourself will help with self defense. I train BJJ, Muay Thai, and a little wrestling and in my opinion one of the best martial arts for self defense is Krav Maga.

My reason behind this is with BJJ, Boxing, and Wrestling - these are also considered sports. When you train, the focus is not to end the fight as quickly as possible which is what you want. BJJ won't help (as much) if your assailant is in a bar with 5 of his buddies. Boxing will be limited if you are short and your assailant is much taller with a longer reach. Same goes for wrestling.

Don't get me wrong.... ANYTHING you take will better prepare youself than doing nothing but if your main focus is SELF DEFENSE, my suggestion is Krav Maga.

Wikipedia says it best: Krav Maga encourages students to avoid confrontation. If this is impossible or unsafe, it promotes finishing a fight as quickly as possible. Attacks are aimed at the most vulnerable parts of the body, and training is not limited to techniques that avoid severe injury; some even permanently injure or cause death to the opponent. Drills provide maximum safety to students by the use of protective equipment and the use of reasonable force.

The focus in self defense is protect yourself and get yourself out of harms way as soon as possible.

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train in all three. You might like Jeet Kune Do if you have a good instructor near you. Good luck to you in your training.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Please elaborate on your answer. Why should the OP train all 3? What would be the pros and cons? In this forum we are not so much interested in opinions, but prefer well-founded answers with good explanations. –  THelper Sep 7 at 7:17

Depends on what place you are. If you are any where near the Erle Montaigue System Instructor. Hundred times better and practical than McDojos.

Some videos to gets the flavoured (selected to give overview), see if it spikes interest. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esfJRUAs5lU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmXSdNAjxLY

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-1 as there are no reasons give, just two links. –  Sardathrion Jul 28 at 7:50
Welcome to Martial Arts. Could you elaborate on this. Why exactly would the Erle Montaigue System be much better for self-defence than others? –  THelper Jul 28 at 8:08
The Erle Montaigue System makes no assumptions about the opponent, it down right street fighting 'art'. Second, it fights with practical dim mak (youtube.com/watch?v=KPPCRjZoG4U). Third, it works for all sizes and scenarios, like grappling art is kinda useless as street attacks are always against small group or person with weapons. No body in street goes 'kung fu' ey on you. Lastly, it is excellent for health. –  Pt20 Aug 5 at 14:43
In fighting, it stresses on absolute power in smallest distance possible from any position possible. With repeated attacks in split seconds. The way I learnt it his system is battlefield art. youtube.com/watch?v=5DLP_PwYO98 –  Pt20 Aug 5 at 14:47
Most importantly, it accepts form, martial arts is different from self-defence. But it is martial art that gives you timing, balance and tools for self-defence. –  Pt20 Aug 5 at 14:56

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