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Published:March 10th, 2015 16:49 EST
The Martial-Arts: Self-Defense and Fitness Benefits

The Martial-Arts: Self-Defense and Fitness Benefits

By Ron G Anselm

"When it comes to combining fitness, weight loss and self-defense skills into one entity there is nothing better than to learn a Martial-art or many Martial-Art styles that could one day not only save your life if ever confronted in a street fight but to save your life when it comes to keeping your heart, mind and body functioning as one well-oiled machine." (Anselm, R.)

One of the questions I have heard throughout the years I have been training in the Martial-Arts is what is the best Martial-Art to take for not only self-defense but overall health benefits? I think to answer this question would be the same principle as asking what`s the best dating site to sign-up for to meet singles in your area? There are many not only dating sights (let`s not change the subject here) but many Martial-Arts that will satisfy ones curiosity for the question at hand.

I started out many years ago taking an interest in Boxing. I went to a Junior High school in Northridge, California that had segregated busing which meant kids from all over Los Angeles County were bused in daily to go to school in various schools around the county. A lot of the kids that were bused into my Junior High were from the not so popular areas in and around Los Angeles so to make a long story short some days for me to go to school was the same as surviving in a combat situation. I had to learn self-defense to make it through school.

"I picked-up a lot of my boxing training from watching Sugar Ray Leonard who was my favorite boxer and other well-known and legendary boxers. I liked  the way boxing teaches you not only the fitness benefits of combining strength with a  cardiovascular workout but the art form of combining many combinations of hand techniques  (punches) that many times in a self-defense situation leaves the attacker with the thought in their head of, "What in the Heck just hit me?" Boxing teaches punching accuracy with power and speed.

After working out with boxing for a while and more into my bad boy days in Los Angeles I started taking an interest in Traditional Karate. I learned the kicks and other strikes that make the Martial-arts the lethal force that it is. I also started seeing more fitness benefits and aerobic exercise benefits as I trained as if I were in a real street fight being attacked by more than one attacker.

I was combining the use of muscles I have never used before which developed strength and motor skills, hand and eye coordination, strength workout without the weights and cardio workout as if I was wind sprinting for hours.

I got into more styles in the Martial-Arts when I served in the military. I learned Jan-Soo Do Karate which takes forms from other Martial-Arts such as Tae Kwon Do, Ju-Jitsu, Judo and more or less Kickboxing. I went on to take Tae Kwon Do for a little while and now after so many years in the Martial-Arts like so many practioners do, have developed my own style of fighting.

My style today is centered more on Kenpo Karate which uses rapid fast hand strikes and combinations that will leave an attacker or many attackers feeling like they just got pummeled by a nail gun on automatic and I also still keep the Martial-Art of Western Boxing in my arsenal along with Muay Thai Kickboxing which I love for the brutal elbow and knee attacks and I practice MMA (Mixed Martial-Arts). I also am practicing more Krav-Maga which is more of an Israeli military and police self-defense system that is taught by many police and military units around the world. It teaches one to attack the vital points of the body and get your little tushy out of the attack in one piece and as fast as you can. I tailor my style to more of a self-defense and street fight style not a style you learn in your traditional DoJo`s . I look at it that I am not training for competition but for self-defense in a real-life situation.

Also, for me the Martial-arts helps me to productively channel aggression and stress and helps me relax which are great benefits to add to my daily, busy and sometimes stressful life.

 Overall it is also a great way to burn lots of calories and keeps the strength training and cardio workout functioning at the max level to keep me in shape and most of the time the Martial-Arts also tickle the fancy of family members when they see you the parent working out in the discipline of the Martial-arts. My son has taken an interest in the Martial-Arts so now I am also starting to train him for the styles, fighting forms, health benefits, and fun of working out with a proven success system other than bouncing around in some aerobics class with the girl in front of you and her long pig tails slapping you in the face every time she bounces to the beat of the music as if she had springs in her shoes. This also helps me relax a little more knowing that my son when trained will be able to take care and defend himself in any attack situation.

The other thing about the Martial-Arts is it is a lifelong learning experience like some people that go to college and get twenty-five degrees in all different areas of curriculum. The Martial-Arts is like going to college. To learn one discipline takes study not only in techniques but the history and philosophy of that one style and form, so once you become proficient in one style you can start to learn another style and so on.

What normally happens is you will again start to develop you own style and fighting form as you progress and move along in the Martial-Arts. So, to answer the question as to which Martial-Art is best for fitness and self-defense? In my opinion all of them and it is up to you and your instructor to learn and teach the student right.

One article I read sums it up by saying, "Until you`ve participated in martial arts, it`s impossible to understand just how frail and in danger you would be during a physical attack or confrontation. Training in martial arts is great for fat loss and fitness, but it could also save your life." (Geary, K.)

So, this is more or less saying while you are gaining the benefits of fat loss, weight loss and strength training you are also learning valuable techniques that in the dangerous world we live in today those same techniques you practice to get or stay in shape may prove to one day save your life or protect a friend or family member if you are ever faced with the situation of having to do so.

The article I read rates the top five Martial-arts for fitness and self-defense and they are from number five to number one below:

5). Muay Thai Kickboxing " This is the art form of Thailand which as I said above I like because of the brutal knees and elbows it teaches you to fight with but also this form of fighting combines not only the brutal techniques of boxing but the benefits of boxing as one of the best workout for cardio and strength. If you doubt it just go ten rounds on the heavy bag throwing punches, elbows, knees and kick combinations for ten to fifteen minutes, you`ll not doubt it again in your mind that this style of fighting and fitness workout is one of the top of the line workouts for self-defense and to stay and get in shape. Just start out easy and slow and work up to a good workout level. You can also do what is known as Shadow Boxing with no heavy bag and still practice your techniques and get the same benefits of cardio you would also get practicing them on the heavy bag.

4). Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu " I have not studied much Jiu-Jitsu lately because my takedown techniques are from Muay Thai which involves grappling not from Jiu-Jitsu which is well-known for the takedowns, throws, joint manipulations and other techniques of close quarter fighting but Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is still a good art form for one on one fighting and ground techniques when practiced in a workout fashion will increase heart rate, burn calories and add strength while learning a beneficial form of fighting.

3). Wrestling " This in my opinion is not really classified as a Martial-art because if you ever watched the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) and especially back in the days of Rick Flair, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and an array of other wrestlers you know it was mainly a showboat system. These guys to me were more of performers than warriors but wrestling does have good self-defense skills within it.

Wrestling features a ton of devastating throws and take downs just like Jiu-Jitsu does and if you are working out in wrestling the pace is fast where there is not a lot of hesitation just like boxing during title fights and matches so it has the cardio benefits of fitness which burns calories and fat and keeps you heart healthy.

2). Olympic Tae Kwon-Do " There are many various style of Tae Kwon Do which have a lot of kata`s in them. Olympic Tae Kwon Do does not teach kata`s but focuses more on devastating kicks and an array of punching and hand techniques. It teaches and focuses on taking the art form to the highest level possible which means hard training and more large muscle development and cardio fitness.

1). the number one rated art form by the article I read is MMA or Mixed Martial-Arts. We see this on fight night on television a lot and the techniques you see the various fighters performing are mostly from Muay Thai kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, and some fighters are versed in Tae Kwon Do as-well. 

As a self-defense system it has just about everything in it for lots of situation you could face on the street and the defenses against those potential situations. MMA fighters are said to be some of the fittest fighters in the world.

So, the five self-defense systems above are good for fitness and self-defense. There are many more Martial-arts out there that when someone become proficient in that particular art form they will be known as Jeff Speakman was known in the 1991 movie The Perfect Weapon and by the way the movie and style Jeff Speakman did and still does today is one of my forms of fighting, Kenpo Karate which is another great style to practice for health and self-defense benefits.


Geary, K., Rebooted Body, The 5 Best Martial Arts for Fat Loss & Fitness, (  Retrieved 2015.