Are you curious about martial arts, but too nervous to try them for yourself? We’ve got some tips to help make your first steps as welcoming and stress-free as possible.
Martial arts training is a great option for people who are shy or anxious and are looking for tools to help them manage their issues. It allows you to meet you new people in a nurturing, community-based environment and work together with them on common goals. It teaches you tools for self regulation and stress management. And the physical aspect of the training is an amazing source of stress relief.
The only problem is that getting started can be extra challenging when you’re dealing with any of the above issues. New situations can be intimidating, scary, and a source of anxiety. Getting started takes a lot of effort and courage.
If you’ve never taken a martial arts class before, that first time will probably be a little nerve-wracking. (Most of us who have taken classes before probably remember how nervous we were on our first days.) But there are things you can to make that first step a little less terrifying.
Here are four tips to help you get started on your martial arts journey:
Ask a martial artist.
Most martial artists are pretty enthusiastic about their training and eager to introduce people to their world. Which makes them a great resource when you want to learn more. So if you know someone—or you know someone who knows someone—who trains, it’s worth asking them if they’re willing to talk to you about this.
The average martial arts enthusiast should be able to answer most basic questions that you have, which will help you better prepare for your first class. Some might even be willing to take you along to their gym for a trial session so that you can get started with the help of a familiar face who knows what’s going on. They might also have some spare training gear that you can borrow for those early sessions. Even if you can’t find someone who’s training in the discipline you’re interested in, they’re still worth talking to. They’ll be able to give you a general idea of what martial arts training is like and make the whole process seem more manageable and less scary to you.
Bring a friend.
If you don’t know anyone who can take you to their gym, you might know someone who would be willing to tag along when you try a new one. If you’re uncomfortable or afraid to take your first class alone, ask around and see if you have a friend or family member who would be willing to try a class with you. Even if you don’t know anyone who’s interested in trying martial arts, you might know someone who’s up for a new adventure. Or someone who’s willing to do something they never would have tried otherwise because they want to help you out.
Going with someone else you know is an excellent way to take the edge off the fear of the unknown. And going with someone who is as much of a rookie as you are is a great way to remind yourself that we all start somewhere and there’s no shame in being brand new and confused.
If you don’t feel like you’re ready for the in-person learning experience just yet, you have other options! One is to start studying the martial art(s) that interest you on your own. Get a book or a video and see where your research takes you. Reading up on the history, the traditions, the culture, and the techniques of a martial art a great way to prepare for your own practice. And you’ll likely feel more comfortable stepping into a class when you have a better idea of what’s going on. This is also an excellent option for people who have different learning styles or process information differently. Studying at your own time and at your own pace can help you feel more secure and more assured as a martial artist and make your classes far more rewarding when you do start to take them.
And if you’re still not ready for classes, that’s okay too! Two of the biggest names in action films right now are a pair of self-taught martial artists who learned most of what they know from studying YouTube clips.
Start a private practice.
If you’d like a little more guidance than you can get on your own but you’re still not sure you’re ready for group instruction, there is some great middle ground between those two options.
If you’re comfortable with in-person instruction, many martial arts gyms offer private lessons. A single session can give you the chance to get used to the gym, start to learn some fundamentals, and get a taste for what training feels like so that you can be a little more prepared and sure of yourself when you switch to classes. If you still don’t like the idea of groups and you can afford it, you can also continue with private training sessions.
And if you’re not comfortable doing things in-person, you can always try online instruction. Many martial artists offer one-on-one training sessions through Zoom and FaceTime. Some places also offer Zoom classes. These virtual classes are a great form of training on their own. But they’re also a good choice for people who eventually want to try in-person ones. They give you the ability to learn techniques and start to meet your potential future training partners all from the comfort of your own home.