Pursuing martial arts training can be a great way to stay physically active, and even spiritually fulfilled, while also learning the useful skill of personal defense. However, classes in traditional martial arts can cost a lot of money and seem intimidating for newcomers. Luckily, there are plenty of martial arts disciplines that you can start learning at home. If you have access to internet tutorials (and it helps to have a workout partner), then you can begin learning martial arts right away. Here is a list of some of the best schools of martial arts to begin learning at home.
Over the past couple of decades, jiu-jitsu has gone from an obscure and relatively unknown fighting style to one of the most popular martial arts in the entire world. Originally developed in Japan, it was quickly adopted by other cultures who could see its usefulness. Jiu-Jitsu is a great martial art for beginners seeking self defense training because it is all about utilizing leverage and vulnerable points to overcome an opponent who is much larger and stronger using grappling techniques.
Additionally, it is easy to get started because you don’t need any special equipment except for a grappling mat and maybe a gi (a traditional outfit used in Eastern martial arts).
One of the limitations of jiu-jitsu is that it is almost necessary to have a workout partner in order to practice most of the techniques. This is because of the ground fighting nature of the discipline which involves the frequent changing of grappling positions that is supposed to end in a limb submission or choke hold, incapacitating your opponent.
If you do have a partner, there are plenty of easy jiu-jitsu techniques to work on from home. Single and double leg takedowns are maneuvers which bring a standing opponent to the ground, even if they are stronger than you.
The rear naked choke, guillotine choke, and triangle choke are all simple choke holds that can be used effectively even by a beginner. Guard is a common position where a person can control their opponent’s momentum and weight using their legs. Finally, the armbar and kimura are more advanced submission holds that involve the manipulation of arm joints.
2. Muay Thai
Muay thai is not the most popular form of martial arts in the West, but it is devastatingly effective. Sometimes called Thai boxing, muay thai emerged from a group of related martial arts that were developed by monks in southeast Asia. It is often referred to as “the art of eight limbs” because it involves heavy usage of strikes thrown with both hands, both feet, both elbows, and both knees. Muay thai is great for beginners because its techniques are relatively simple, but can cause a lot of damage to a potential attacker.
Unlike jiu-jitsu, you don’t need anyone else to work out with you. All you need to do practice muay thai from home is to research the proper form of each technique and get started. If you are punching or kicking a heavy bag, you will want hand wraps to protect your wrists and shin guards for your legs. One thing to know when you are starting to learn muay thai is that some of the movements will feel very unnatural and awkward at first.
Don’t get discouraged, as you practice more, these strikes will feel just as natural as throwing a punch. One good beginner technique is the roundhouse kick, which is shared with many other martial arts. Another good move to try is the overhead elbow strike, which will definitely take some getting used to. Finally, there is the upward knee strike, which is pretty self-explanatory.
Boxing is most commonly thought of as a big money, pay-per-view sport, but it is also one of the most accessible forms of martial arts in the world. While fist fighting for sport or training dates back to ancient times, the modern sport of boxing in rings began in England in the 19th century.
Boxing is an especially suitable martial art to learn from home because there is so much information about boxing techniques readily available on the internet and from other sources. Like muay thai, you don’t need much to get started other than the knowledge of how to throw punches and the use of proper footwork. However, you should still use wraps to protect your wrists if you are going to punch any pads.
While it may feel silly at first, throwing punches into the air is a perfectly appropriate way to train in boxing. The most important aspect of proper boxing technique is the stance. You should stand with your knees bent, dominant hand and leg to the rear, with your hands up and elbows close together. From there, it is easy to step forward and throw a jab with the lead hand. Once that feels comfortable, try to follow up that jab with a straight punch from the rear hand. No matter what punch you are throwing, one foot should always be on the ground when it is released. Once you know many different types of punches, it is easy to string them together and begin practicing combinations.
While it has dropped in popularity in recent years, karate is still a great option for an entry into martial arts. It was originally developed on the tiny island of Okinawa before being adopted by the entirety of Japan, where it would be picked up by many other cultures around the globe.
It is a good option when choosing a martial art to learn from home for all the same reasons as the other striking disciplines: all you need to start is knowledge of the techniques. However, karate techniques are a bit more advanced than some of the previously listed martial arts because it requires a highly developed sense of balance that can only be obtained through rigorous practice.
One drawback to karate is that it is less effective as a basic form of self defense than some of the other martial arts on this list. This is because its high level kicking techniques require years of practice in order to be deployed effectively in a real life situation.
Karate requires a high degree of agility and dexterity, so it is important to stretch thoroughly before practicing karate movements. The roundhouse kick is a very basic karate technique that is shared with many other disciplines. The front snap kick is performed by bringing the rear leg up and directly forward to deliver a strike in front of you. The side snap kick is similar, but performed with the front leg from a sideways stance. When first performing these kicks, you will not be able to lift your leg very high, but this will improve with practice.
While wrestling is sometimes associated with high-budget sports entertainment that is pre-scripted, it is also one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world. There are depictions of wrestling dating back to ancient Egypt and Babylon and it continues to thrive today in Olympic competition and in American collegiate athletics.
While not the most obvious choice, wrestling is a great form of martial arts for beginners because its principles are arguably the most broadly applicable of any fighting school. It also requires no special equipment to start practicing, although using a grappling mat is ideal.
Similar to jiu-jitsu and other forms of grappling, it is easiest to develop wrestling skills if you have a partner to work out and practice with. That being said, there are still some drills that you can do by yourself to begin to build a basic understanding of wrestling techniques.
One of the simplest is the stand-up drill. Starting from your hands and knees, return to your feet and turn around, starting slowly at first, but speeding it up as you get more comfortable. Repeating this basic drill develops strength in the core and legs that are invaluable for grappling.
Another easy solo drill is called stance and motion. First, take a crouched stance with your shoulders square and knees bent. Imagine that you are facing another wrestler and move from side to side and front to back, always trying to avoid them but never turning your back. This will help you to develop proper stance technique when facing a real opponent.
6. Wing Chun
In the modern day, the term ‘Kung Fu’ often brings to mind images of old grainy movies with poorly staged fighting sequences. However, there are forms of Kung Fu that are perfectly effective for self defense. One of these is Wing Chun, which was developed in southern China all the way back in the Qing dynasty in the 17th century and continues to be practiced and innovated by martial artists all over the world today.
Wing Chun employs the use of punches and kicks like other striking disciplines, but it is unique in its emphasis of something that translates loosely to ‘softness’ in English. This means that techniques in Wing Chun are supposed to be performed from a relaxed, yet controlled, stance. The idea is to shift with the opponent’s momentum to use it against them, putting them off-balance where they can be easily dispatched by a strike with minimal strength or effort.
While Wing Chun may sound intimidating, it is still easy to begin learning it at home. In order to achieve the required ‘softness’, Wing Chun instructors advise meditation techniques in order to control the breathing. This can be easily done before or after a workout. The proper stance in Wing Chun is similar to in boxing, but with the elbows against the body to allow for maximum defensive capabilities. Another good beginner drill is to move around and throw punches from this stance while trying to remain fluid in your movements.
If you have a workout partner, a final way to practice Wing Chun is with the famous sticky hands drill. This is a little difficult to describe, but you and your partner face each other in the Wing Chun stance with your front arms crossing each other and touching at the wrist. The idea is to try to move your opponent’s arm out of the way to create an opening for a punch while defending your own openings. It may feel silly at first, but it is vital for developing the reflexes and tactile sensitivity that are vital to Wing Chun.