I am a heavy built 180 pound 6 feet 2 inches guy. The problem however is that I have very little self confidence in my own health and strength. I catch colds easily, and can't eat all types of foods, etc etc.
What kind of martial arts out there focuses not so much on strength, but rather on building confidence and spiritual peace?
Also sorry if this question is stupid, I am new here.

By spiritual I mean something that can help me be confident in my health and remove anxiety.
By heavy I mean it seems like I have muscles, but there is no definition, just bulk.

Thanks for all the help :)

  • Welcome to the site. There is a nice question in there. However, there are a few unclear bits: What do you mean by "spiritual peace"? By heavy, do you mean 180 pounds of muscles plus bone or do you mean coach lizard? Aug 12, 2013 at 16:27
  • 1
    All due respect, but I wouldn't call 6'2" and 180lb "heavy". You might lack toning/definition/strength, but it's not particularly heavy.
    – slugster
    Aug 12, 2013 at 23:26
  • Yes martial art always good to building self confidence.
    – user1422
    Nov 1, 2013 at 7:59

8 Answers 8


The problem however is that I have very little self confidence in my own health and strength. I catch colds easily, and can't eat all types of foods, etc etc.

This is a profound personal observation with regard to your training as a martial artist. Most martial art schools you may train in will naturally address these concerns as a matter of course, by simply engaging in training.

However, if the health and nutrition aspects are of some concern, then may I suggest that you also look into health and nutrition as an adjunct to, or complimentary regime with, your martial arts training.

You WILL get fitter and healthier by training at a decent school - unless of course you have a chronic condition, or medical issue that needs addressing - then your training may in fact become a danger to your health. It's a simple as A - B - C. A= AWARENESS (you are aware of the problem). B= BALANCE ( you are seeking a balanced approach to training - body and spirit). C=CONTROL ( you are wanting to control your confidence and health issues, and thus your destiny).

What kind of martial arts out there focuses not so much on strength, but rather on building confidence and spiritual peace?

is most obviously the one that allows you to to focus on the latter building confidence and spiritual peace. The other aspect is focuses not so much on strength Again, the one who's focus is on BUILDING strength.

I answer your question at the end QUILLION because most persons who ask a question have a lot going on in their statements that set up the question. Peace Mad Merlin


Aikido sounds like something you should check out. I would seek a ki-aikido school, if such existed where you lived based on your comment on "spiritual peace". Aikido generally relies on re-directing the attackers' momentum (and creating opportunity to do so) to either throw or pin. Technique is more important than strength and I have seen tiny females throw great hulking men with ease. Some styles are harder than others (generally the ones that started before WW2) while others are more about the philosophical aspects.

Although, I would not focus on a particular style or art but on a school. Find out what is available where you live, pay them a visit, and see if you'd like to do what they do.

See these questions (well, more the answers) What martial art should I start with?, What are the signs not to train at a specific school?, and How to select the right Aikido dojo? for some general pointers.

Edit: Since you are seeking a build up of confidence, it is vital that you chose a good school and a good teacher. Talk to them and make them aware of what your goals are. Talk to their students. Once you pick a school, make sure you commit for at least 3 months. Otherwise, you might deceive yourself that it is too hard... ^_~

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    "it is vital that you chose a good school and a good teacher. Talk to them and make them aware of what your goals are. Talk to their students." This.
    – Wudang
    Aug 15, 2013 at 1:20

All martial arts—if properly understood—can lead to "spiritual peace" (that's in quotes because in context, this would mean [the second half of] "calm"; but explaining that is a whole chapter of a book).


  1. Ju Do "judo" (the gentle way). Understand its concepts and you need not exert any strength at all.
  2. Tai Chi: Understanding the forces of nature and how to channel them through human movements. Yang and Wu styles are recommended: Chen style may be too far a reach right now.
  3. Wing Chun: It's purposefulness in direct hits trains one to zero out all distractions focusing on an immediate goal.
  4. Capoeira: Constant movement of body and soul in music and dance for war and peace… a balance of the inner self.
  5. Jeet Kune Do: …need I say more about this? A derived from Wing Chun by Bruce Lee to maximize power while being miserly with motion.

… the list can go on and on.

Only main stream martial art I wouldn't recommend you start with is Muay Thai. This is by no means to diminish its prowess. But Muay Thai was developed to—in my terms—weaponize the human. In my opinion, this should not be practiced as a martial art until one realizes the difference between the subject-object splits between the self and the body—it may be practiced as a weapon of mass destructions though; "mass" as in body and "mass" as in many.

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    Thanks so much for your insight :) you are right about Muay Thai and I have also tried Hapkido by accident and found them to be very brutal. However I am enjoying Aikido a lot, and if I ever consider changing I think I will give Ju Do or Wing Chun a try.
    – Quillion
    Sep 3, 2013 at 18:36
  • I think you may have been unlucky with Hapkido, I wouldn't put that in the same category as Muay Thai at all. In fact Hapkido has the same Hanja (chinese characters) as Aikido - google "合氣道 site:en.wikipedia.org" to see them both. Hapkido is a Korean version of Aikido, adding in some more Korean kicking skills. You're obviously not averse to striking (as Wing Chun is pretty much all striking). So I think you may have just found an uncharacteristic Hapkido school, it's not normally brutal. Dec 12, 2014 at 8:38

Take a martial art that is very 'realistic' to be spiritually self-fulfilled. The realization that many of the techniques that you learn gets used by people who put themselves in a cage to fight other people with these techniques, makes you realize that they have enormous confidence in their techniques, that they're teaching/sharing with you.

Live sparring is essential; it truly will teach you that yes, you suck and this hurts, but you don't suck as much as the guy who has never tried. And you don't suck nearly as much as you did 4-6 months ago. This progression through adversity will enlighten you. It will hurt, but through this suffering you will build a mental endurance, and realize the edges of your comfort level and go beyond it.

Fake fighting martial arts will give you a belt and some fake confidence, but in the back of your mind you know that all those kata's and whatnot aren't helping you out when a 250lb man is trying to grate your face on the concrete. Neither will that sidekick.

So choose JUDO or Brazillian Jiujitsu. Neither of these Martial Arts will lie to you.

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    This answer is on point. Well said. Nov 15, 2013 at 6:58
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    @DaveLiepmann - It may be on point, but your prejudices are showing. :) There are many valid martial arts that will give the same benefit as the rather limited suggestion of judo or BJJ. Shotokan, Hapkido and Kenpo come to mind as a few of the hard style kata oriented martial arts that also have more combative sparring than some of the softer kata oriented arts.
    – JohnP
    Nov 15, 2013 at 14:49
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    Nope they won't (give the same benefit). In any striking art, you have to hold back when you spar. You won't actually knock your opponent out because then the training session (should) end for him. Many striking gyms you'll have the idea in the back of your mind that you could've hulked out of the situation but you jus weren't punching him hard enough. 90% of karate/TKD/Kenpo, etc dojo's (in the USA) are bullshit. My 'prejudice' comes from a lot of research and a having fought a lot of mixed martial arts fights / cornered professional fighters. I've also done Tae Kwon Do in several places. Nov 16, 2013 at 2:02
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    @JohnP The part I appreciate isn't "judo or BJJ". It's "Live sparring is essential." I've known too many people teaching martial arts that don't (and can't!) have confidence in their skills because they never pressure-test them in full-contact sparring or competition. That is the divide that matters between hard and soft training. Nov 17, 2013 at 21:33
  • Well, considering your other concerns, I feel grappling would be a better start than a realistic striking style - where if you get sparred early and too hard will be much more discouraging (due to actual pain that you're not used to (yet)) than losing in BJJ or Judo would. Nov 18, 2013 at 4:58

I'm not sure what you mean about the spiritual part since out of your post I would understand it's health and confidence related. Mostly all martial arts training increases self-confidence. I'd say the biggest boost in confidence is gained by training in something as close to reality as possible.

At least in my opinion you should choose a form of martial arts or a contact sport that deals with medium or full contact. The fact that you will receive moderate strikes during training will increase your mental toughness and will ensure that you will not be left in shock when being hit for real as it might happen if you never get hit during training. I witnessed what I have said above with people training Shotokan Karate as a competition sport and I'm sure it can happen to people from many other martial arts (not trying to blame Shotokan Karate for anything).

On the spiritual side I can't say that much but all martial arts develop discipline, character and the ability of detaching yourself from all other issues and focusing on the task at hand. Many teachers say "leave your problems at the Dojo's door". Furthermore, you can read a lot about health improvements from martial arts online. Starting from muscle build, flexibility, lung capacity due to cardio up to a stronger healthier back promoted by correct postures there are a lot of benefits.

Last but not least martial arts do not focus on strength in general. The role of the techniques is to use the maximum potential of your body against an opponent, in general against an opponent's weakest points or weaknesses.

Just look what's available in your area and then check out what seems best. Most important is to get a good teacher in any style. You could try Krav Maga or MMA if you want something real and complex just make sure the schools are good.

  • Thanks :) by spiritual part I meant being able to focus at task in hand and be self confident. And I started Aikido and it is quite fun, relaxing and good.
    – Quillion
    Aug 22, 2013 at 13:26

I know exactly how you feel. Pre martial arts I lacked confidence and felt very vulnerable in some situations. (Also being 6ft and 90kg).

I found 'Modern Kenpo' a number of years ago. It is very streetwise and is incredibly good for building confidence and awareness when out and about. It is as much a way of life as a martial art.

Now I teach the art mainly to children and have three kids in my class with Asbergers and Autism - it has had a profound effect on their confidence and social skills.

But most importantly, find a club/teacher that you feel comfortable with, that is clean and enjoyable to train in. It's not all about training to defend and attack - there is a social aspect to our club that transcends all our lives.

Don't know where you are based but it shouldn't be too hard to find - google modern kenpo or Ed Parker's Kenpo.


If you have trouble with your immune system, Tai Chi is very good for balancing it out, according to some folk. I can personally vouch that it will make you feel centered too.

I believe its often referred to as an "Internal" martial art. If you can forgive the use of metaphor, its slow and soft on the outside, but strong on the inside, which I think is what you are looking for.

A while back, me and my friend were getting off the bus at the station after attending our fourth or fifth lesson, and I just remember turning to him and saying "Hey, do you feel like, really relaxed and just...grounded and set?" and he completely agreed, and acknowledged that it was pretty profound. It was subtle, but noticeable enough for us to both be feeling it.


If you want more self confidence regarding your fighting ability then any martial art with actual fights will be good.
If on the other hand, like you said, you want more self confidence regarding your physical abilities alone then you should do a complete sport such as swimming or rowing machine and probably see a naturopathic doctor.
Nowadays not one martial art teacher will take care of your health, unless you're going there to become a champion (as in professional career).


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