Which Martial Art Should I Learn First?

Martial arts are combat practices that have their roots deep down in ancient history. They’ve traditionally been used for self-defense and protection.

Some armed forces, too, have used martial arts in the military, and they remain part of the cultural heritage. For those reading this article, learning martial arts may have a different reason like recreation, hobby, or learning to become a professional fighter.

Not all martial arts are similar. The arts are like languages. The question of which martial art to learn first is equivalent to asking which language to learn first, say, from a list of ten languages.

The answer is simple – it depends on your goals. It is good to know many but, for now, let’s start with one.

Some popular forms of Martial Arts

Martial arts have evolved from the culture and traditions of different countries. They differ in form and name depending on the country of origin. Listed below are some popular types of martial arts with the country of origin:



Country of origin





Muay Thai



Kung Fu




















The Japanese forms of arts dominate the list. For those pursuing martial arts recreationally or for self-defense need not learn the rules sacrosanctly.

There can be a mix of two or more forms. After all, for self-defense, it is hardly relevant that the move that took the opponent down was Chinese or Japanese.

The above are some of the popular forms. This list would need over 100 entries to be exhaustive.

How to evaluate which form of martial art to pursue?

It is an individual’s likes, dislikes, and set of preferences that determine where to start. However, we shall elaborate on a few points that’ll help you decide better. To choose, you may consider the following points:

1. Easy to learn:

We recommend starting with the ones that are easy to learn because you’ll find it simpler to train yourself. There is a lot of audio-visual content available online to get you started with the moves, so professional training can be deferred.

Also, you may not always have a partner to train with – that’s where practice dummies come in. Purchase one online and get started at home.

Jiu-Jitsu could be a natural starting point. You may practice some of the moves by yourself, while the others require a partner. If you have another person interested in Jiu-Jitsu, the two of you could learn together. If the other partner is experienced, then it is beneficial – you could learn from their experience.

Jiu-Jitsu allows you to fight and take down a larger opponent with little injury. We suggest starting with this form of martial arts because it is light on you, natural to practice, and there are simple moves like triangle choke, single-leg takedown, double-leg takedown, armlock, guard, and many more.

2. Motive:

The type of martial arts you should pursue depends on your motive.

Discipline, fitness, fulfillment, and self-defense are some of the reasons why individuals take up martial arts. You need to analyze the motivation of why you wish to learn martial arts.

Jiu-Jitsu is a soft form of art and is less structured. Throwing, grappling, and rolls are some of the moves in this form. However, in Jiu-Jitsu, everything goes, as long as the purpose is served. So, if your intention is to learn for recreation or self-defense, practice those moves that can undermine an opponent in case of an attack.

Muay Thai, Thailand’s national sport, appears like kickboxing, but it is not. In Muay Thai, the body parts are the weapons. You may use your foot, fist, knee, or elbow to attack the opponent. In its pure form, Muay Thai is a very structured form of combat. Again, as we said, you need to learn the rules if only you plan to have a professional fight.

3. Personal characteristics and capacity

Your age, body type, shape, height, and weight are some of the characteristics you should consider while deciding which form of martial arts you shall be pursuing. Individual tolerance to pain and endurance level also determines suitability for martial arts. You need to punish yourself and bear a lot of pain before you get ready to kick someone or land a powerful punch.

If you have a lesser pain threshold or endurance, thinking of being a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter is somewhat unrealistic. MMA requires an athletic body, endurance, resistance to pain, and quick response.

Some more martial arts

Previously, you read in brief about martial arts and some of the highlights. We now come to the list of most popular forms and explain them in detail.


If you’ve been thinking about martial arts, we want to let you know that Karate is the world’s most popular form of martial art. Karate is meant to counter-strike the opponent and focuses primarily on self-defense.

Karate is not just about punches or kicks; there is a spiritual component to this practice. The Father of modern Karate insists that spiritual development is essential.

Karate has found its way into Hollywood, and we see a lot of action based on this form of martial art in many movies. Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris should be credited for keeping Karate mainstream in the United States. If you are one of the action-oriented folks just like the movies, Karate is the way to go. Also, given its popularity, it wouldn’t be hard to find trainers and certified coaches.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

As the name suggests, this is a combination of moves from multiple forms of martial arts. You may already know about the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The UFC deserves much credit for bringing the rise in the popularity of martial arts.

The UFC endorses and sponsors MMA fights. Many of those who pursue martial arts as a profession have the UFC at the top of their list.

Professional fighters earn money for every fight or appearance. The UFC runs pay-per-view championship matches throughout the year.

In mixed martial arts, it is not about being a good athlete or a professional player. To take down an opponent, the “mix” of martial arts styles is what makes all the difference.

If you intend to pursue martial arts professionally, MMA is one place for you to start with. You get several benefits – there is seldom a need to learn any one style of martial arts comprehensively. You build your moves and attack style and then proceed to fight amateur championship matches. With dedication, proper training, good marketing, and some luck, you may be able to reach the UFC.


With Japanese roots, Judo was a competitive professional sport. Now, Judo is prevalent throughout the world. Taking down the opponent is the primary goal in Judo – something expected from a martial art form that was a competitive sport.

Judo focuses on throwing, overturning, and taking down the opponent for the victory. Sheer strength alone does not make for a good Judo fighter. There are techniques, which, if learned well, allow an individual to take down a relatively larger opponent with ease.

Judo is a good fit for those who want to learn martial arts as beginners. Physical fitness, flexibility, and the ability to balance oneself increases as the individual gets more practice and training.


This is a contact sport and is quite popular in the world. Kicking and punching are pretty much there is to this sport. This is a simple one to start with. You may purchase a punching bag, punching gloves, and some more equipment, and you’re ready to practice.

Many international associations govern how the rules of the game under them. You may learn kickboxing for recreation, hard-fists, and professionally, if you desire.

Speed and agility are the two crucial factors that determine how you fare against your competitor. Both of these skills are easy enough to build for recreational purposes but hard-enough to defeat a professional player.


Martial arts have their roots in ancient times, and many forms are coming from countries around the world. For those who want to pursue this as a recreational sport, hobby, or for general fitness should pick up something like kickboxing, or Jiu-Jitsu.

We suggest that beginners should not push themselves too hard during practice because it may cause saturation and a lot of pain in different parts of the body.

In our opinion, Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing are ideal martial arts for starters.

For those who wish to learn sports professionally should get in touch with coaches and trainers. They are the right set of folks to guide you towards a fulfilling career in martial arts.