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This first question is important because it reveals how much time and energy you are willing to invest. If you want to learn self-defense, signing a three year contract to learn a physically challenging style at the age of 45 might not be the best choice. However, if you are 20 and want to get a black belt and participate in a big tournaments, then the three year contract might be just right for you. Tai Chi might be perfect for a beginner at age 45, but not fit the requirements of a 20 year old. Different styles fit different goals.

After many years of karatedo study I still get a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment from it. As a self-defense system, it is what I would instinctively fall back on. However, years of Aikido training have expanded my horizons regarding self-defense and I believe Aikido is easier to learn for this. An additional benefit is that with Aikido, I can say 'Officer, I never hit him.'  So the REASON you want to study the martial arts can have a big impact on what you study, and how enjoyable and profitable you find it.

Another important question is, 'Is it a good style for me?' If you want to learn solid, basic self-defense, then one style might be better than if you want to develop a high level of physical prowess. A good style for you is one that fits your body, your fitness level (current or desired), and your learning goals, schedule, and pocketbook. If you cannot do jumping high side kicks and they are the mainstay of the style, you will have great difficulty learning the skills. If the style requires you to be a star athlete from the first lesson and you are not, then you will probably end up frustrated and possibly injured (or at least perpetually sore.) If they concentrate on self-defense and you want to become a tournament fighter you will not reach your goals. And, very importantly, if you cannot fit practice into your busy schedule or budget, you will not learn the skills you want to learn.


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