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Top 5 Martial Arts To Try Out This Summer

I know what you're thinking: thanks to the valiant efforts of GT and company, you're beginning to realize just how pathetic you are for being a cosplayer. You're a good-for-nothing, parasitic piece-o-shit and you know it. Well, I have good news for you. It's not too late to change your heinous ways. There is still hope. You can still do good for yourself and the entire human race.

That is, to train in martial arts and become a better person.

This summer, a lot of programs are opening up in their attempt to cash in on the millions of kids who will be on vacation. You won't run out of options, but there's no point in joining some fancy pants taekwondo or gay "sensei is touching my private parts!" aikido. Here's a list of the best martial arts disciplines for real men and kick-ass ladies (theoretically, of course, because they serve better as outlets of relief for the summer heat).


MMA. Mixed martial arts in the sense of "BJJ with a bit of everything else" has already established solid ground in the Philippines, with competitions such as URCC to showcase the top talents (sort of) of Pinoy MMA. MMA is good for starters because, contrary to popular belief, it's actually easy to get into MMA without prior martial arts background.

MMA has reached a point where there can be a standard to speak of - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu mixed with kickboxing/Muay Thai and/or some other striking base. You don't need experience in these mentioned styles, because MMA is a system in and of itself where you can start learning the basics and hone your skills from there. Also, grappling arguably takes less skill to pull off effectively, making it ideal as a quick self-defense fix.

Boxing. Fanatics would argue that boxing is nothing more of a ring sport, but it's the kind of sport where you'll learn how to break people's skulls. Conditioning training for boxing also benefits everyone. Should you choose not to take the career of a boxer, the training will still make you fitter and stronger all around. It's like going to the gym with an added bonus of learning how to throw a punch and move in a fight.

Muay Thai. This tenacious martial art is revered by many to be the best ever for good reason. Muay Thai is a no nonsense fighting style where you are trained to turn every limb of your body into a weapon. Hit with your elbow a thousand times, elbow becomes tougher. It's that simple.

Unfortunately, authentic Muay Thai is so harsh its fighters retire as early as in their mid-20s, and local Muay Thai clubs are often watered down imitations. If you're lucky enough to find a real Muay Thai instructor (perhaps a former champion), however, the style can really turn you into a beast with insanely powerful and quick elbow and knee strikes.

Kyokushin karate. There was a time when Muay Thai ruled the planet, the Gracies were still developing BJJ, and karate practitioners could only shake their heads when offered a challenge by Muay Thai fighters. Mas Oyama changed all that by introducing the world to the strongest karate, Kyokushin. Kyokushin karateka not only trained to hit as hard as the greatest Muay Thai warriors, they also conditioned themselves to take punishment.

As with other "imported" martial arts, the problem here is finding the right club to train in. The biggest Kyokushin organization in the country is Kyokushinkaikan (extension of IKO1 in Japan), but unless you're training directly under its leader Steven Foo, I wouldn't suggest it. From what I've seen, students outside their main dojo in San Juan don't have the heart and ability you'd expect from a Kyokushin karateka. They're aspiring sportsmen more than anything. I could be wrong, but I don't think they even know how to meditate.

I prefer the Kyokushin-kan group (IKO6) in Makati. It's a smaller, tightly-knit group intent on preserving Kyokushin for what it was. I've met a couple of their guys and they were serious motherfuckers you wouldn't wanna mess with.

FMA. Sadly little known among Filipino people but legendary elsewhere is Filipino martial arts, which encompasses a variety of disciplines all made to kill. I say FMA as a consolidated system because you can't really go wrong with any FMA style, be it arnis, eskrima, kali, yawyan, or whatever you want to call it.

The names are somewhat confusing, so it's better to just understand that a reputable FMA system will probably have all you need, both weapon-based and empty hand. FMA will teach you to be as effective with a heavy yantok as you are with a butter knife. Train for a while, and you'd be able to beat any slugger easy and handle an armed opponent with ease.

Here I would suggest Grandmaster Henry Espera who founded Rapido Realismo Kali, or instructors of Kali Ilustrisimo who trained directly under the godly Tatang Ilustrisimo himself. Of course there are other respected groups, with Doce Pares ringing the most bells, but these two I can personally vouch for. Train with GM Henry and you'll even get the prestigious chance to be on the same ground as me.


Some of you may say, "Hey GT, you do Jeet Kune Do but it's not in the list. How come?" The answer is the same you'd give to a question of poverty: politics. Recognized JKD in the Philippines is so ill-ridden with politics, it's not worth it. Joey Perico's camp has been claiming it has the sole right to teach JKD locally, while Joel Ramos has been literally trolling Perico for ages.

Both, as far as I can tell, aren't even good. Perico's TKD background shows in his club, leading to too much flashy kicks in their system. Ramos isn't even fit to do half the things he teaches. If you somehow come across a serious JKD instructor (a good sign would be he'd still be training despite his old age, and has both great speed and power), then JKD is the way to go.

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