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Do you want to get involved in martial arts but just don’t know where to start? 

Martial arts can be a confusing sport to get into. After all, there are dozens of variations of a single style, as well as dozens of factions in and of themselves. Where do you even begin? And, how can you know which one is right for you? Currently, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Kickboxing/Muay Thai are having a moment. Studios and tournaments are popping up everywhere and becoming more accessible. But which is right for you? Let’s explore:

Kickboxing and Muay Thai

Kickboxing has gained a lot of popularity within the past few years. Many celebrities and models have started participating in this style of martial arts as they realize what an incredible workout it can be. 

Muay Thai and kickboxing are often confused due to their reliance on punching and kicking, but they’re really quite different. For example, Muay Thai is centuries old and involves knee and elbow strikes, as well as clinching—a form of stand-up grappling, whereas kickboxing does not. 

Kickboxing and Muay Thai can be great for people looking for an intense workout or the ability to compete in amateur matches rather quickly. Kickboxing matches are pretty easy to find and get involved in. If you’re learning martial arts for self-defense reasons, these styles can be helpful, but not as effective as some of the others. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Stemming from Judo in the 1900s, BJJ is a ground-based grappling style of martial arts. You’ve most likely seen BJJ techniques while watching a UFC event, as it was brought into popularity by Royce Gracie at the beginning of the UFC tournaments. 

BJJ is mostly a sport of strategy. You must have extreme focus and the ability to think quickly while anticipating your opponent’s next move. Jiu-Jitsu training is reminiscent of wrestling—hitting and kicking are not part of this style of martial arts. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be a good method of self defense, since it’s training relies heavily on strategy and staying in the moment, which if you’re ever in a compromising situation are two things you need in spades. It’s also effective because it relies less on physical attributes and more on technique, ensuring that you can take someone down who may be larger than you. Additionally, BJJ is an incredible workout and can strengthen muscles you didn’t even know you had. 

The best way to figure out which form of martial arts is best for you is to try a bunch of classes and see which one feels right. Many studios offer free or extremely discounted trial periods where you can learn beginning techniques, as well as observe more experienced practitioners. Both kickboxing/Muay Thai and BJJ are great workouts and can set you up well in the self-defense department, so it mainly comes down to personal preference.