Which Martial Art is the Best?
By Sensei Neil Prime

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me which is the best martial art, I'd quit my day job.

There are many different martial arts and combat sports (boxing, kickboxing, Tai boxing, etc.) and they all have their good points. One of the things I have learned over the years also is that it is very difficult to categorize a lot of the clubs these days because there is so much influence from one style to the other.

Years ago I would stereotype Tae Kwon Do with kicking. It seemed to be a very sport oriented style. Now I see these many clubs working there hands and grappling skills as you would in Jui Jitsu.

Jui Jitsu used to be renowned for their gruelling joint locks and submission holds, but now there are many clubs incorporating stand up fighting as well.

Tai boxers were known for keeping their hands very high and outwardly extended. With their circular fighting style this worked well as a defence strategy. All of a sudden they are bringing in their elbows like a boxer. The reason is that more and more kickboxers were fascinated by the sport and were now competing. When straight line kicking techniques are introduced the high hand now present a problem, mainly broken ribs. They have also seen the advantages of using their hands more like a boxer to generate power.

Generally speaking Wado Ryu Karate is about 60 percent or more hand techniques. In the essence of basic technique this may be true but if you partake in some of my workouts you'll see a large influence of kicking when it comes to rendori or free-style sparring. This is true for the simple fact that I like to kick. Now, just because your in my club doesn't necessarily mean you will kick like me or as much as me, but that's quite acceptable.

People in general are becoming more open minded about other styles and they tend to use what works. The same holds true for inside the dojo walls. Not everyone is built the same nor can they perform all the techniques the same as the next person. Certain things will also be personal.

Of course there will always be influences to the different styles but that doesn't make them better or worse. You wouldn't join a kickboxing club if you didn't want to fight full contact. You wouldn't join a Tai Chi club if you wanted to compete in point karate tournaments. So yes, there will be differences. This still doesn't determine what style is best overall.

I remember when Sensei Walt Fast and Sensei Henry Bergen first met Sensei Shintani at a black belt work out in Hamilton. I introduced them as new members to our organization. Sensei asked what style they had practiced in the past.

Sensei Walt answered "Shotokan karate".

Sensei Shintani replied "You know guys, punch, kick, block, it's all the same. It's the people you work out with that's important. If you have a good organization, it's because it's made up of good people. Honest people".

I remember that statement like it was just said a minute ago. I had heard him say it before but it held a new meaning when it was expressed with sincerity to our new comrades.

This is why there is no best club or no best style. The best for you is a personal choice. If your happy where you are and your needs are met then that is the best club.

Most people who inquire about joining our club are either educated about what is available in the area, or they are in the process of doing just that. When I talk about our club to a potential new student I do not criticize any of the clubs in the area. I know most of the other instructors on a friendly basis, so that wouldn't make much sense to do anyway. I do however suggest that they come and try a few of our classes so that they can find out first hand whether they like what we do. I also tell them to do the same to the other clubs in the area so they have something to compare us to if they wish. If the person looking for a club chooses one of the other clubs in the process, so be it. There is a reason for it, and as I said before it is a personal choice. You certainly can't get upset because somebody wanted to do something different than what you do.

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