Which Martial Art Should I Learn First? What Is The Best Base?

Which Martial Art Should I Learn First

Training Martial Arts is one of the life-changing endeavors that people often take up to elevate their lifestyle and fitness. Not only does it get you in the best shape of your life, it also brings you more awareness on self defense.

You might be wondering - which martial art should you I learn first? If you've done your research, you'll realize that there are a lot to choose to, and each of them have their own unique styles. 

There are various reasons why a person would want to learn martial arts. It may be for purposes of health, staying fit, self-defense, or training to be a professional.

Whatever it may be, I have listed some of the best martial arts you can try as a beginner. But before we begin, let’s explore first the benefits of martial arts to your health and overall well-being.

The Benefits of Martial Arts

Martial Arts has long been established as a tradition of combat for self-defense. However, as you go through the process of learning, it one by one branches you off to development. 

Your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health will grow and you will experience a vast change in your well-being. Dedicating your self to martial arts will make you a more disciplined person. 

If you want to know some of the aspects that will make your quality of life better and which martial arts should I learn first, keep on reading this article as we will be discussing them one by one!

Weight Loss

Your schedule will most likely be packed with training when you enroll martial art lessons. As you train, especially rigorously, your body will demand for more energy, which it gets from your stored fats and the calories you receive from food.

Your metabolism also increases when you train martial arts because your muscles will get activated and worked out. These, when paired with a balanced diet will most definitely make you look leaner than before.

It is important to really be mindful of what you eat. Martial arts alone won't make you lose fat, but it's just a tool that's effective to help you reach your goals. 

Increased Self-Esteem

As you work your way to a leaner and slender physique, it results in increased confidence as well. But aside from fitness, there’s a scientific reason why your confidence improves as you train for martial arts.

For instance, regular workouts boost the level of serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood and positively impacts your way of thinking.

It also helps you improve your sleep-wake cycle and appetite, making your body and mind more conditioned. It is a chain reaction wherein multiple factors will contribute to your overall confidence.


If you’re serious about your training, then discipline is an important factor for you to succeed in whatever form of martial arts you choose. Martial arts isn't just learning how to defend yourself or fight, it's more than that.

Martial arts are a tradition that has been passed down for generations, and it upholds values of discipline. You will be trained how to conquer your mental and emotional adversaries, ultimately becoming more focused to achieve your goals. 

Increased Flexibility

Flexibility is one thing that you will develop upon training martial arts. It is a core principles of training and you will always warm up and end your class sessions with stretching and flexibility exercises.

High flexibility has many benefits in mixed martial arts and thus making it a big advantage when it comes to martial arts competition. Most of the disciplines give big emphasis on stance and form, and the more free your muscles and joints move, the better.

As you improve your mixed martial art skill and stretch your muscles during workouts, you enhance your flexibility as well.

Learning Self-Defense

I think the most apparent reason why a person should learn martial arts is self-defense. It is the main reason why martial arts was founded anyway.

Martial arts lesson will elevate your self-defense knowledge and can even increase your fight IQ such as hand-eye coordination, anticipating and countering your opponents move, and developing new skills and moves.

If you are caught up in threatening situations, the skills that you have acquired will allow you to know what to do. The techniques of martial arts are well applicable in real life situations like the streets too.

If you want to know which martial art is best for self-defense, I’ll show some of the best ones you can try. Which martial arts should I learn first? We'll discuss them up next! 

Which Martial Art Should I Learn First?

If you’re a newbie and don’t know where to start, then below are some of the martial arts you can try first. Don't worry, all of them are effective in self-defense, and are world-renowned as the best martial arts that exists today.


When it comes to combat sports, the very first thing that comes to mind is boxing. It is also probably the most popular one among other forms of discipline.

It’s been around since ancient times. And some of the most well-known combat athletes of all-time are boxers—it includes legendary boxers like Muhammad Ali, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, Oscar Dela Hoya, and Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao.

Although it may not be as lethal or flashy compared to mixed martial arts or Muay Thai, improving your boxing skill may provide you an advantage over your opponent in case of hand-to-hand combat.

In addition, this form of fighting technique is also highly effective in defending yourself against attacks. Among all martial arts, it's safe to say that boxing is the most superior in terms of developing abilities with your hands.

Boxing is a great place to start if you’re thinking of taking martial art classes. If you’re also planning to do mixed martial arts, kickboxing, or Muay Thai, then the more you have to try this combat sport.

As mentioned, boxing is a well-known sport in all corners of the globe. Therefore, you won’t find it difficult to find boxing classes in nearby areas.

Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed martial arts is another well-recognizable combat sport next to boxing. And I believe that it was mostly popularized by the Ultimate Fighting Championship or simple UFC.

Some of the top MMA fighters in the past few years that you may be well-acquainted include Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, Amanda Nunes, Matt Hughes, Jose Aldo, Connor McGregor, and Anderson Silva, just to name a few.

This form of discipline is a full-contact sport. And they are referred to as mixed martial art for a good reason. It is so because it uses several fighting techniques that include hand-to-hand combat, leg strikes, grappling, etc.

Although boxing seems to be more popular, MMA is more effective in terms of self-defense because your attacks are not limited to punches and head movements.

If what you want is a technique that involves a lot of movement with a wide variety of attacks, then MMA is the one you’re looking for. In this type of combat sports, you can also utilize leg strikes and grappling in case of close contacts.


Judo is a Japanese-based form of discipline that uses strikes as a way to defend yourself from attacks.

You may think of it as counterattacking and effective as self-defense. Therefore, if your purpose in taking martial art classes is protection, then Judo is probably the perfect one for you.

You might have heard of them before in television or movies. But it may be a little challenging to find any classes near you. This is because, unlike boxing and mixed martial, they are less popular.

But some recognizable personalities in MMA started with Judo. One name that comes to mind is Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey. She started training for Judo at a young age. And she even competed in the Olympics.

Another name that I could think of is the Russian MMA fighter, Fedor Emelianenko. Overall, I believe that Judo is a great addition to your skill set because of its focus on defense.


Taekwondo is Asian-based martial arts that were developed in Korea. It was developed in the 1940s and believed that it was influenced by Judo, Kung-Fu, and Karate.

This combat sport is an official Olympic sport since the 2000s. This form of martial arts includes quick attacks like high and low kicks, basic throws, spinning kicks, etc.

Taekwondo is more concentrated on speed and agility than power compared to other martial arts which are more keen on power. However, the main criticism of the sport is that it is a little too flashy and seems to be more focused on style than anything.

It is for this reason that it may be impractical in self-defense. But followers of the sports say that it is still an effective form of self-defense due to its focus on kicks and leg strikes.

Another thing that makes them an excellent martial art to learn first is that they are extremely popular, especially to kids and young adults, with Taekwondo classes sprouting every summer.

They are easier to find than other forms of martial arts, and you can maybe find at least one in your local area.


Back then, when I hear the words martial arts, the first that comes to mind is karate. This may not come as a surprise, especially to kids of the late 80s and early 90s, due to a popular movie called Karate Kid.

It is a Japanese form of discipline. Its origin is inconclusive, but Okinawa, Japan, is credited as its place of inception.

Karate utilizes powerful punches and kicks to outmaneuver your opponents. It is for this reason that they are an excellent choice for self-defense as well. The only downside of this martial art for me is that it seems to be more concentrated on defense because it involves a lot of blocking techniques.

But overall, I think karate is an excellent choice for beginners in Martial Arts, especially if you’re aiming self-defense. I also believe that it is a great form of exercise because it requires the entire body movement.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

As the word implies, this martial art originated in Brazil in the 1920s. It was particularly developed by the Gracie brothers that include Gastão Jr., Oswaldo, George, Carlos, and Hélio.

It combines the technique of Japanese martial arts like Judo and Jujutsu.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was popularized by a UFC Hall of Famer, Royce Gracie.

It focuses on ground-based grappling that involves check holds and utilizes joint locks.

Also, this form of discipline favors individuals with shorter stature. It teaches them how they can protect themselves against their assailants by using leverage and proper execution of technique to their advantage.

Now, it is for this reason that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a popular self-defense martial art, especially among women.

I also believe that this factor makes them excellent for beginners as well.

How Many Martial Arts Should I Learn?

Which martial art should I learn first? Well the ones above are the best suggestions that you can try. But, can you do more than one?

Realistically, there's nothing wrong with training more than one martial arts simultaneously. If you have the luxury of time and resources, then no one's stopping you from concurrently learning several martial arts at once.

You have to make sure though that you are giving ample time for each. The only problem that you will probably encounter are time constraints and the ability to make your body recover from training.

Martial art classes usually lasts 2-3 hours long. If you enroll more than one, then it would mean that you would exert a lot of energy and effort to become present in each. That will be taxing on your body especially if you are a beginner.

If I can suggest to you, if you are just beginning, focus only on one and by the time your body is getting more conditioned to the stress of training constantly, you can then transition to cross enrolling other martial arts.

Final Thoughts

I hope my review has provided you sufficient information in answering this all-important question—which martial art should I learn first.

Take note that you can’t go wrong with any of the combat sports listed above because they are proven to legitimately improve your lifestyle. And that the bottom line is it would just depend on your style and personal preference.

If you’re not sure about your style or technique, then you may try to enroll in nearby martial art classes if there are any. And then, see if that form of discipline suits you. But of course, you can also try learning various martial arts if you like.

Well, I guess that’s just about it! Thank you for taking time off and reading my “which martial art should I learn first” content.

Aside from which martial art should I learn first, you may also find my reviews of combat sports gears, equipment, and apparel useful as you begin your training. Some examples include—Best Boxing Gloves for TrainingBest MMA and Boxing Shoes for WomenBest MMA Bags, and Best Protein Powder for Fighter, just to name a few.

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