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Finding an instructor and which discipline to chose first

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  • Finding an instructor and which discipline to chose first

    I have no previous experience in martial arts and am wondering which one to start with and how to find an instructor in or around Des Moines, IA?

  • #2
    A couple of questions of clarification:
    (1) For what reasons are you interested in the martial arts — for self-defense, self-development, sport-competition, fitness, historical/cultural study?
    (2) Are you currently a member of Jeet Kune Do Unlimited?

    Let me know, and I'll do my best to answer your questions.

    Take care,
    Jim McRae


    • #3

      Thanks for the email message. If you are interested mainly in self-defense, then you should definitely start training in Jeet Kune Do. JKD is one of the top self-defense based systems for several reasons:
      (1) JKD's primary goal is realistic self-defense against a skilled, resisting opponent. Many systems train either with no resistance, or against totally unrealistic attacks.
      (2) JKD fights in all ranges: kickboxing, trapping, clinch, and groundfighting. We also train with sticks and knives to prepare for realistic weapons encounters. Some other systems are brutally effective at one or two particular ranges (Muay thai in kickboxing or clinch range, Jiujitsu in a clinch or on the ground, etc), but somewhat limited at other ranges of fighting.
      (3) JKD is totally non-traditional, and draws techniques from a wide range of martial traditions. This is not to say that JKD is an eclectic art; rather, it filters all of the techniques it absorbs through the criteria of simplicity, directness, and effectiveness. We take only what works against skilled, resisting opponents and discard the rest.

      If you are thinking of getting some of Burton's videos, buy the phase video set, starting with Phase 1 curriculum. Some of the stuff you will be able to do on your own, but for most of it will require a partner (you will definitely need a partner if you intend to do video testing my mail). Just mention your interest in JKD to all of your friends and I am sure you will quickly find someone who is interested in training.

      As far as training with the "DesMoines Extreme" goes, I would go to their gym and check them out. If your primary interest is self-defense, and these guys fight mainly for no-holds-barred, you will find the techniques you can practice to be somewhat limited by the rules within which they have to fight. However, if these guys are serious about their fight-training, you will undoubtedly get a good workout and learn some good techniques. Just make sure that they are willing to spar according to your level. If they are training for a fight, they may want to go hard all of the time (if you are okay with this, fine, but the injuries might start mounting up rather quickly).

      If you can't find a JKD school in your area, you might want to train in one of the following arts (this list is certainly not exhaustive, but it's a start): western boxing, Jiujitsu (Brazilian or Japanese, but avoid anything too traditional), Kali, Escrima, Arnis, Shooto, Krav Maga, or Muay Thai kickboxing. Any of these arts will give you a good foundation upon which to build your skill in JKD.

      Let me know if I can be of assistance in the future.

      Take care and train hard,


      • #4
        Originally posted by Joel View Post
        I have no previous experience in martial arts and am wondering which one to start with and how to find an instructor in or around Des Moines, IA?
        If you don't have a good MMA gym that teaches all three ranges, then I'd say you should find some place to do Judo or go to a good Western Boxing Gym.

        If you have a good, competitive Judo club in your area, a guy can go a long way with that alone. People always say "judo guys can't throw if they don't have a gi to grab" but don't listen to that crap. Judo guys can underhook and neck tie just as well as anyone else can.

        I'd say check out a Judo school - great place to start.