While traditional sports like running, cycling and swimming are seen as the face of what weight loss and general fitness looks like, many unconventional sports hold their own while teaching practitioners additional skills - martial arts being one of these activities. Skipping, jumping and static exercises are just the preliminary steps before getting into the meat of your training. While all martial arts implement some form of said exercises, here are the best ones for you to maintain the best fitness.
While many martial arts are seeing proper representation by fight companies like One FC and UFC, the sport that has everyone talking is Muay Thai. It is possibly one of the most prevalent striking martial arts in the competitive and casual scene right now and for good reason.
Aside from being known for its eight limb technique (shoulders, elbows included), clinches and sparring are other tiring routines to expect in a Muay Thai class. As the entire body is constantly engaged, and having a larger selection of strikes than most other martial arts, it’s key to keep it all together with decent stamina and endurance at the very least.
While Muay Thai may be gruelling and every strike is meant to be practical and not flashy, the classes that represent the art know better than to throw newbies off the deep end when they first start - hence the appeal to newcomers. If you’re interested in getting fit fast and having fun while learning to defend yourself, there are few striking martial arts that can top Muay Thai.
Brazillian Jiu Jitsu
Many casual martial artists tend to have varied preferences that are based on body type, style and ultimately practicality. Like Muay thai, Brazillian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is the dominant art of its category, that being grappling.
When the fight happens on the ground, there are few who know exactly what to do in situations like those to defend themselves - which is where this martial art fills a void in the industry. Many classes offer a gi-based way of training that measures skill by belt colors, but more casual versions, without grading are also available.
BJJ requires a strong core, flexibility and stamina to endure escaping locks and having strength to subdue your opponent. While cardio is important to keep going on the ground, stamina is slightly more prevalent here as your muscles will have a substantial time under tension when wrestling. If you don’t mind getting into your opponent’s face, this could be the choice for you.
Another grappling art that requires a lot of physical contact, wrestling has been a reliable tradition that has lasted this long due to how effective it can be when done correctly. Despite being a grapple sort, wrestling requires far more endurance than one might assume. Sussing the opponent out and finding the right opportunity for a takedown.
Going through the motion of wide-arching swings and pinning the opponent requires big movements, involving multiple muscle groups. When doing this frequently, you can imagine how easy it is to run out of breath and strength in a matter of minutes.
Keeping up with an hour of lifting people and watching out for injuries can be daunting, however wrestling classes are safe hands that will prepare you for the art with a good mix of cardio and strength training. If you are slightly on the heavier side, this martial art could be made for you.
This stylish and sophisticated martial art has been around for a long time and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. To say that boxing puts up a sweat is an understatement. While boxing favours upper body strikes and tons of different ways of punching (jabs, hooks, uppercuts, etc), the feet are doing more than meets the eye.
Constantly maneuvering and bending to ensure your hips are thrusted correctly as you extend each arm for a punch can be a lot to deal with, especially when smaller movements are required for evasion of any sort. Ducks and weaves are a core buster, relying on many muscles from the hips down to the ankles. Overall, it is a well rounded striking sport that is respected for how much it keeps fighters on their feet at all times.
Similar to wrestling, Judo does require a lot of throws and takedowns, but is slightly different from the other grapple sports. While each of these grappling techniques require the fighter to understand exactly how to safely land to avoid injury, Judo training does have a fair amount of cardio involved while also prioritising on mental wellness.
This is often a gi-focused martial art which requires a proper uniform and grading system. It may not have the same level of fame as BJJ, but many professional fighters use Judo to this day for its ability to use minimal effort to get a takedown in. Judo is slightly more passive and requires more techniques that are based on reacting, but it is still crucial to maintain a good amount of stamina while waiting for the right throw.
Mixed Martial Arts
Of course, this is by far the most staple “fighting style” in the martial arts scene and for good reason. In the entertainment and fitness industry, many look up to the versatility and customizability of mixed martial arts (MMA) as it can always be improved on by fighting geniuses and still be considered “correct” if it works in a competitive environment.
From throwing to striking to groundwork; there are many ways to tackle your unique approach to MMA, however if you are not a risk taker, the combination of Muay Thai and BJJ will be a safe combination to try out.
Be warned that since you are juggling multiple techniques, practicing often is good in order to ensure that you are getting the most out of the different aspects of your combination. Also, keeping fit while learning these special techniques is a must and that can’t be done without practice.
Ezra Gideon, UNB & Dhaka Courier Correspondent in Singapore.