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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: 5pak on March 13, 2015, 02:48:50 PM

Title: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: 5pak on March 13, 2015, 02:48:50 PM
I'm sure I'm like many forum users here: I do most of my exercises at home under my own power. Biking, cardio, yoga, calisthenics. My routines require little more than my own body weight and either a set of dumbbells or a foot path to work. But I've recently moved to a larger city and, having tapped my home routine as far as I am comfortable pressing it on my own, I'm considering trying out some of the local gyms. But yoga I know and I don't want to pay $50 a month for little more than an in-door track and a set of fancy weights (both of which I have at home for almost nothing). So, I'm interested in the martial arts programs.

I've taken a very very little karate, and I'm too old now to even care about learning how to whoop butt. I don't care about the macho-ideal of becoming some force of nature. I just want to find a program that's got a good ROI in terms of mental and physical fitness, one that will give me a boost in workout intensity that I can't get at home. Plus, the social aspect will be nice.

Any mustachians got any good suggestions? Or is martial arts a mug's game all around? I'll admit I don't NEED it, physically, but I feel that, if I invest right, I can get my body up from "standard" to "in shape." Plus, there's the mental benefits of any good workout routine (plus the mental boost of being "part of" something fun and pop culturally interesting, so long as you avoid becoming an idiot), and the social boost of meeting new people outside my fairly milquetoast work place.

To give some idea of what I've got available, my city has an MMA gym that does things like Krav Maga, Judo, Karate, Jiu-Jistu. There's a Yoshukai Karate gym that also does Tai Chi (which I understand to be an utterly terrible "defensive" martial arts but excellent for your mental health: I'm tapped out on yoga and interested in trying it). Finally, there's a Tae kwon do gym as well. There's others, but a glance at them is enough to convince me their more fluff than stuff. The Tae kwon do gym and MMA gym are both in biking distance of my house. The Yoshukai gym is not but they offer courses at the rec center right next door to me.

Also, another question for experienced MA users:what's a good price range? I live in a fairly rural, low-cost area, but I'd like some idea of what a fair market price for something like MA is to those who have experience using it.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: sol on March 13, 2015, 03:13:29 PM
Mma, krav, and bjj will all mostly focus on fighting and self defense.  Tkd and karate and judo are all typically more sport focused and thus tend to be more like a workout. Individual schools vary.

With that said, virtually every gym will let you try a few classes for free to see what feels right, so I'd recommend just giving each one a week to see what happens.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: AllieVaulter on March 13, 2015, 03:20:15 PM
I did Judo for a bit and it was really fun.  Lots of falling.  It's a great workout and it's not likely to give you brain damage (like repeated punches to the head).  Judo literally means "the gentle way".  It's also fun watching choreographed movie fights and actually recognizing the throws they do.  I went to a community center, so the costs were pretty low.  I think it was about $30/month for 3 times a week for about 2 hours. 
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: Lordy on March 13, 2015, 03:54:06 PM
You should also consider the "atmosphere" you want to train in. When I did Karate I found it to be very "military" in a sense that the order and form of things is very strict. BJJ on the other hand is rather "loose" where you can improvise and find your own style.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: MoneyCat on March 13, 2015, 04:18:33 PM
I've been doing tkd for years and it's a wonderful workout.  I've also progressed to the point where I now teach classes, so I've gotten a lot out of it.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: DA on March 13, 2015, 07:16:04 PM
If you want an intense workout and a sense of community, try Crossfit. Though I would caution you to (1) make sure the coaches at your local Crossfit are not full of shit (quality varies widely between boxes); and (2) keep it all in perspective and remember you're there for health and fun, not to train for the Crossfit games (you'll avoid a lot of injuries if you keep this mind set).

A cheaper alternative would be to just do something like Starting Strength (google it), though you'd have to get your community aspect by posting on SS's forum.

Martial arts seems like a poor (and likely expensive) choice for someone with no interest in self defense or competing in martial arts competitions.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: 5pak on March 15, 2015, 12:37:53 PM
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I've looked into the local options a bit more thoroughly and fairly well weeded out everything but the MMA gym. All the others are either too expensive ($99/month for Tae Kwon Do) or the classes are at times I cannot attend.

The MMA gym teaches karate, judo, BJJ, and krav maga, but when I called to ask about their prices, they were pretty vague and wouldn't give an answer, asking for more information on what I want out of training and saying they'd call me back. Fair enough I suppose, but this hesitancy to give a straight answer doesn't give me much confidence in them. I'm going to look around for people who have been to the local gyms and see what sort of opinions I turn up.

My library is fairly big on community programs, so I'll probably use my position to try and weedle more information out of the locals. I looked into Starting Strength and while I appreciate the concept, it isn't really what I want out of something like this. We do have a few CrossFit gyms. I might look into the local atmosphere and see if I can get a general idea of how good they are.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: dungoofed on March 15, 2015, 05:28:05 PM
Martial arts thread? Let's see how long we can avoid "xxx is better than yyy because you suck!!" because this is where a lot of these threads eventually wind up.

If you pick your martial art well then you can squeeze out a decent ROI as a lot of the stuff is "learn once, practice 10,000 times." Kicks you can practice in front of the mirror in a relatively small space (think: Taekwondo, Hapkido, kickboxing). Likewise with strikes. If you invest in some mats (and don't live in an apartment with neighbours below) then breakfalls become an option (Judo, Hapkido).

For comparison, stuff that you can't practice on your own tends to be joint manipulation (Aikido, Hapkido), sparring (especially BJJ), and throws (Judo).

For the mental aspect, I agree with what Lordy said. You need to go down there and do a few lessons. Some places will be more spartan and I believe these are the places which will best teach you mental fortitude but your mileage may vary.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: sol on March 15, 2015, 05:41:02 PM
You should also consider the "atmosphere" you want to train in. When I did Karate I found it to be very "military" in a sense that the order and form of things is very strict. BJJ on the other hand is rather "loose" where you can improvise and find your own style.

That's an interesting observation.  My martial arts background was always in the more disciplined arts, with the bowing to the flags and the official titles and such, and I thought it helped keep the slackers in line. 

The first few times I went to an MMA gym I was appalled.  Not just at the lack of discipline (constant talking, arguing with instructors, showing up late), but at the general hooligan atmosphere.  Those guys did not understand that a senior student sparring a new student is supposed to be teaching, not kicking ass, and should therefore exhibit control and precision.  Both of the MMA gyms I worked out with (admittedly a small sample) were full of wannabe thugs who only cared about trying to hurt people.   I ran away from that, back to my formalized classes where things were a bit more controlled.

As several people here have mentioned, gyms vary quite a bit even within a given martial art.  I think the important thing is to find instructors and students that you're comfortable with and who meet your personal needs, whatever those may be. 
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: Allen on March 16, 2015, 11:04:31 AM
Judo is super cheap, and because of the emphasis on falling safely, can actually save your life in other circumstances too.  It's also a hellacious work out.

The only potential bad thing is that you will get frequent minor injuries (scrapes, bruises) and infrequent serious injuries (knees ribs)

I do it and I love it.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: waltworks on March 16, 2015, 11:55:58 AM
I did TKD for a number of years and basically enjoyed it, but IMO it is a poor investment of time/money if you are looking for all-around fitness. Too much standing around, too much watching the instructor/advanced students, etc.

I found the uniforms and group drills sort of annoying, too, but that's just me.

So maybe I'm not a martial arts person, and the wrong person to ask, but... assuming you already go running or cycling or something and want a more strength/agility/balance oriented activity, I'd go hit a climbing gym. Not super low cost ($50-100 a month depending on the area/gym) but by far my favorite whole-body (and brain!) workout. Tons of fun, great way to meet people, nice steep early learning curve so you can make technique and strength gains fast early on and feel great about it, etc. Can lead to climbing outdoors, of course, which can get expensive in a hurry... but IMO loving something that is good for you is a good problem to have.

Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: Melchior on March 16, 2015, 12:17:12 PM
I've had by far both the most fun and the most demanding workout at a school that teaches a mix of traditional Chinese martial arts and contemporary wu shu. I'm not sure how practical it is in terms of self defense but I've long since stopped really caring about that.

If feeling superhuman is something you think you might like, that's my suggestion. I just wish I could find a way to combine it with rock climbing and American Ninja Warrior style obstacle courses.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: RFAAOATB on March 16, 2015, 01:01:04 PM
I would also recommend judo.  Although judo is an Olympic sport, most of the clubs are recreational level and as competitive focused as you want to be.  A lot of Judo is associated with recreational groups and non profit while MMA/BJJ is business focused, which tends to make judo a more affordable choice for live grappling practice.  Unless you got a good roommate, live grappling practice isn't something you can do at home.

A recreational Judo club would give you the best ROI.  If the MMA club is the only judo game in town, then look into it, but understand the cost of the club will be higher to include the commercial building and instructor salary.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: seemsright on March 16, 2015, 02:03:44 PM
I study American Kenpo (Ed Parker). I was able to find a instructor that only charges $50 a month for 2-3 lessons a week. The third is a private lesson at his house on Sunday nights...because that is what time works best for me...sometimes I bring him dinner. I will be the first student he has taken from White to Black. He has been practicing Martial Arts for over 40 years. I am about to test for my Black Belt in Aug.

I think you would be able to find a instructor that taught in his basement or leases some space on the cheap for a very reasonable price a month.  With TKD you will pay out the nose (in most cases) for things like belt tests, gear etc. Kenpo I have had 2 pairs of Gi pants and two sets of chops in 14+ years. That is special gear....hell I learned how to spar without a mouth instructor does not use one so our small class has learned how to not need one.

When I started Kenpo I was 100# overweight and could not stand on my own feet. I could not walk into a store without a panic attack. I was in a very bad state mentally and DH was about to make me get checked into the hospital for depression. It solved it all. It took time. But I owe a lot to Kenpo. After Black I am going to look into yoga and Tai Chi. I will always do some form of Eastern Exercise.

When you learn actual Tai is a very good defensive Martial Art, but most of the time you will only find the meditative Tai Chi which is not...but great for the mind and the body.

The MMA guys (I am a female) are a blast to spar as they usually 10+ years younger than I and think they are bad asses and I am able to kick their ass without breaking a is fun to watch them huff off.  The TKD people is fun to spar too as in general they have learned how to point spar and I will allow them to hit me...then they stop and they do not understand that they just gave me a second to hit them 3 is fun. But most of the other arts at this point in time do not like to spar with us as we are unable to follow their rules.

What I do not like about BJJ is all of the not put me in a arm bar...please as I have damaged my elbows with way too many years of Kenpo. At this point in my training I am not sure I could do another style. 

Sorry for the long post...I am 1000% invested and it is pretty much my life at this time so that I can test in Aug. The cost of my test is taking the Black belts who are on the board out for pizza and beer. So it is (in my case) a very reasonable ROI.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: CheapskateWife on March 16, 2015, 03:09:49 PM
We take TKD at the local YMCA and find it an excellent value!
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: RetiredAt63 on March 17, 2015, 09:39:13 AM
Tai Chi is "kung fu with the brakes on", according to my Tai Chi instructor.  I was able to do Tai Chi at work, now I am retired and live too far away, and I miss it.  It is not athletic in the way the others are, but for coordination, balance, core strength, and control it is amazing.  Plus since it is all one long movement (not a bunch of short katas) it takes a lot more concentration, which is why it is often called meditation in motion.  When you are at Tai Chi class, you are not thinking about anything else.

I can't speak for all schools, but we spent the first 20 minutes of each class warming up, and even though we were doing things that challenged our bodies we had no injuries.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: dachs on September 02, 2015, 12:52:37 PM
You could also do Boxing. Where I live they offer something like boxing just for fitness so you train your stamina in everything but don't actually fight against people. I always see those guys after their training and they seem really really powered out after that. Plus, lot's of girls seem to do it, lots more than other martial arts I've seen.

I do BJJ and it can be quite tough and can hurt quite often ;)

So I would suggest the following (I've tried all of them):

- Box training for fitness
- Tai-Chi is cool because you can also practice it at home, practice those movements every morning and you will feel great
- BJJ if you want to learn how to fight quite efficiently
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: GuitarStv on September 02, 2015, 01:35:10 PM
I have done quite a few martial arts over the years.  Aikido, Taekwondo, Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, BJJ, and Muay Thai.  For me, sparring is really the fun part of a martial art.  It's where you find out what really works, and what was a stupid idea.  You'll push yourself much harder and farther when you're regularly sparring, and it provides a reason not to slack off on drills and to perfect technique.  Martial arts without sparring against a resisting opponent is just spastic dancing in funny clothing.  Which is cool if that's what you're into I guess . . .

If you like striking, it's hard to find a cheaper, better workout than you would get at a boxing gym.  If you like grappling, typically Judo places are the cheapest.  Don't get suckered by how a place looks.  The quality of a gym for martial arts is entirely to do with your instructor.

MMA places can be kind of a mixed bag.  The ones that I've been to will offer several different instructors for different martial arts . . . but often the quality of instruction will vary wildly from place to place.  MMA is trendy these days.  That sometimes leads to lots of crappy instructors opening crappy places to try and make a buck quickly.  If they offer BJJ or Judo, you want to train from someone with at least a black belt.  Judo black belts are registered with your countries judo association.  For BJJ, ask who awarded the black belt and look them up.  If they offer boxing, Muay Thai, or a specific MMA program you want to know how many professional fights the instructor has won.  If the number is zero, maybe look for a different place.
Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: ambimammular on September 03, 2015, 08:28:43 AM
We enrolled our 6 yr daughter in Karate this summer. She's a twirly, dreamy kind of a kid and the first improvement we notice, (within the first 2 weeks) was better balance. And the glee she had during sparring!! Sensei couldn't get her to make a game face because she was grinning too huge.

I see it as an investment in her self-esteem. We often refer back to karate when she'd discourage about something else. "Remember when you used to tip over every time you did a side kick? With practice you'll learn how to do this challenge, too." It's been very empowering for her.

Title: Re: Martial Arts with a good ROI?
Post by: sser on September 03, 2015, 10:32:55 AM
As several people here have mentioned, gyms vary quite a bit even within a given martial art.  I think the important thing is to find instructors and students that you're comfortable with and who meet your personal needs, whatever those may be.

After attending classes in a few different environments over the years, I would agree that this is pretty important. I've been lucky enough to have good schools within a reasonable distance.

I initially did Tae Kwon Do for a number of years (formal dojang in hometown mixed in with club in college), and think it was an excellent investment for what it gave me in personal growth and fitness at that time.

Also tried the club Judo a few times, but had a bad fall on my hip which put an end to that.
Note: absolutely make sure they drill safe falling methods before anything else. Formal schools likely will, but I don't think the club people were really prepared to help a Judo beginner (or they assumed it was fully taught in TKD or something).

Stopped for awhile between school and then re-locating for work, but still wanted to get back into martial arts. Since TKD can be so rigid/ direct, I wanted to give Kung Fu a try and love it! The kicks were very similar, but the forms were a little more fluid. Unfortunately, my hip started acting up and I had to stop (not sure if it was form the Judo fall or not taking my time getting back into things). Fortunately, my school does both Kung Fu and Tai Chi. Enter, Tai Chi.

I've been doing Tai Chi for about a year and a half and it has been great. If you are doing it correctly, it can be a healthy workout. Not as intense as Kung Fu, but the slower motions and positions really make you focus on balance and technique. We also hold meditative poses that are similar to yoga positions and do push hands exercises, which gets you used to sensing other people's movements. A number of students do both and see improvement in their sparing; they really go hand-in-hand.

So I guess I'd encourage you to look into Kund Fu and Tai Chi for both physical and mental health if you can find a good school. Tai Chi in particular is something that you can likely practice/ benefit from for the rest of your life.