There is no one best type of martial art. Rather, each type or style possesses its own unique strengths and weaknesses. The best martial art for you depends on what you want to learn or accomplish. That said, you should consider a number of factors when deciding which martial art suits you best. Physical Condition Some martial arts types, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA, require a high level of physical fitness. Further, it’s recommended that you actually come into the gym or school in reasonable shape or risk some very hard early days. All you’ll need is the drive to get yourself back in excellent physical condition before getting involved in such a program. Do some cardio and work that core. On the other hand, if age or injuries are a significant factor, you may want to stay away from high contact schools or those that have very high-intensity workouts. Striking, Grappling or Both Do you want to fight standing up via the use of punches, kicks, knees, elbows and more? Then consider the striking arts of kickboxing, kung fu, karate and Tae Kwon Do. Do you want to grapple? Then get involved in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling or judo (although judo is a throwing style, there are many schools that also go heavily into ground fighting as well). Then again, perhaps you want to do both, in which case an MMA gym or school that teaches multiple styles may be right for you. Remember to think about your physical condition. For example, if you have a recurring neck injury, then Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, an art where people are continually trying to choke you from various positions, may not be for you. Self-Defense Martial Arts Arguments Simply put, this is something that you should know when talking with instructors and looking at schools, as it’s sure to come up. Are you looking to learn a martial arts style that claims it will teach you self-defense? Then you’re in luck. Pretty much all martial arts styles claim to do just that. However, some martial artists believe sport martial arts do not really teach real-world self-defense skills. While sports are designed to allow practitioners to continue fighting, real-world self-defense requires that practitioners end a fight quickly. After all, if sport martial arts allowed killing moves, then there would be fewer athletes around after tournaments! On the flip side, some sports martial artists believe styles that do not allow sparring at full-go or near full-go do not prepare martial artists to truly test themselves in real-life situations. These people also point to mixed martial arts tournaments like the UFC, where many of the traditional martial arts styles did poorly early on. Then again, some of their finishing moves were illegal at the time. Sport Martial Arts Some people are looking to engage in martial arts as a sport. Along with this, many styles of martial arts have a sport associated with them. For example, judo was actually invented by Dr. Jigori Kano in order to be just that—a sport. Further, there are numerous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, karate, kung fu, and Tae Kwon Do tournaments available for would-be practitioners. However, not all sport martial arts are considered equal in terms of the contact involved. Kickboxing, for example, will likely involve a significant amount of stand up sparring and contact. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will involve little to none of that, but will certainly test your grappling skills at a full go pace. On the other hand, there are several karate schools out there where there is almost no full contact sparring going on. Included are tournaments that involve only mild contact. Striking or Stand-Up Styles If you’re looking to punch, kick and learn how to defend yourself in a stand-up fight, then the styles below are worth a look. Grappling or Ground Fighting Styles If taking people to the ground and wrestling with them sounds like fun to you, below are some styles to consider. Throwing or Takedown Styles The throwing or takedown styles involve learning how to take people to the ground. Some of the techniques, of course, overlap with the grappling styles above. If you’re looking for a throwing style, many of which stress defensive techniques that use an opponent’s aggression against him, check out the styles below. Weapons Based Styles Learning to use weapons is a part of many of the traditional martial arts styles. However, there are some styles that cater almost exclusively to weapons. Check out some of these below. Low-Impact or Meditative Styles Practitioners of the low-impact styles of martial arts are more concerned with breathing techniques, fitness, and spirituality than combat, even if all of these styles were once used for combat. Check out some of these low-impact styles below. Hybrid Styles Most martial arts styles use techniques found in others. That said, in recent years, via the popularity of MMA, many schools are simply labeling the teaching and utilization of several martial arts styles together as mixed martial arts. Still, the term MMA generally refers to training to compete in a sports style of martial arts that allows for grappling, stand up fighting, takedowns, and submissions. Take a look at the other hybrid styles, noted along with MMA, below.