Which Martial Art is Best for Me?

To determine the best martial art for you, you must consider whether you enjoy or want to learn grappling (wrestling), striking (stand up) or a combination. The great news is Dark Horse offers both through our Brazilian jiu jitsu and Muay Thai classes. On top of that, many of our membership programs give you access to both.


So, you have decided martial arts is your choice to improve your health through a good fitness program. If you have not trained a martial art before, or even if you have trained, you may have some questions. What is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? What is Muay Thai? Are either or both of them the correct choice for me? The simple answer is ‘yes’. One of, if not both of, these two martial art programs will fit your needs. Are you looking for self defense? Are you looking for fitness? Are you looking to compete in MMA or grappling or Thai boxing? These are some great questions you can explore at Dark Horse and discover first hand. In the world of self defense Honorably discharge Navy Seal platoon commander Jocko Willink and black belt in BJJ says- Avoid the fight period, run away!


“BJJ has proven itself time and time again in risky situations. It enables the practitioner to think rationally in high risk situation as well as provides plenty of other benefits.

When it comes to self-defense, what do SEALs recommend? Well, Jocko Willink, a big fan of bjj and Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under world champion Dean Lister claims it’s the best hand to hand fighting system in the world.


We understand that it is important to know the details of something if you are going to invest time and money into it. Your time is limited and money does not grow on trees. Because of this, we have broken down some history and details regarding Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai so that you can better understand them as martial arts.


What martial art should I do?

You should do the martial arts you are attracted to whether it is striking or grappling. You can try both at Dark Horse Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and choose. If you want to try martial arts, Longmont is the place to come. Dark Horse gives you the options you are looking for to find which martial art is best for you.


Striking vs Grappling

Martial arts through the ages have been distilled into two distinct formats: striking and grappling. In a striking based martial arts the focus is learning to use body mechanics and physics to effectively strike and or block an opponent while in a standing position. Striking based martial arts use the head, hands, elbows, arms, legs, knees and feet to block and strike, causing significant impact to incapacitate your opponent. Some striking based martial arts include Muay Thai, Kung Fu, Karate, Taekwondo and western boxing. Striking is based on a series of techniques chained together, sometimes called katas. At Dark Horse we use kicking shields, heavy bags, shin guards, boxing gloves and MMA gloves to hone and practice our techniques. This allows our students to safely practice techniques that are meant to seriously harm their opponent. Your safety and health is important to us.


Grappling is a hand to hand combat where an opponent uses there body to control an opponent without kicking or punching. Some of the grappling arts are: Brazilian jiu jitsu, Japanese jiu jitsu, Greco Roman wrestling, Freestyle wrestling, Catch Wrestling, Hapkido, Aikido and Judo.


Grappling uses your entire body for leverage, and focuses on positions of control against your opponent to ultimately entangle and submit them. Grappling is a dynamic martial art, meaning you are partnered with another individual and you practice the techniques on one another directly. You are able to use a high amount of force without injuring your partner, and therefore pads and protective gear are not necessary. Brazilian jiu jitsu has distilled the most effective forms of controlling an opponent from the original Japanese techniques.


Where Did Bjj Come From?

Jiu Jitsu or as it is originally known as “Ju Jutsu” which dates back to Japan between the 16th and 17th century. Jiu Jitsu translates in English as ‘gentle or soft (JIU) art or technique (JITSU)’, Jiu Jitsu is a martial art distilled from multiple martial arts which focused on hand to hand combat to be employed on the battlefield when weapons could no longer be effectively used. The difficulty in identifying the origins of jiu jitsu resides in the fact that during this time in Japan many schools and concepts were being defined and refined. There are three types of martial arts which originated in Japan.

  • Naga Waza - throwing techniques

  • Katame Waza - grappling techniques

  • Atemi Waza - Striking techniques


Kodokan Judo is the more specific off-shoot of Ju Jutsu. It was developed by Dr Jigoro Kano of Japan in the 1800’s.  Why is it important to Brazilian jiu jitsu? Great question. For sake of argument Jigoro would be considered by most the Great Grandfather of modern day Jiu Jitsu. His original teachings are what Mitsuyo took to Brazil. Kigoro at 5’2” and 90 lbs was beat up so often by the local bullies that he was motivated by desperation to find a way to defend himself.  Kigoro was obsessed with learning anything that could help hone his craft into what is now known as Kodokan Judo. “He dedicated himself to formulating a system of reformed jujitsu founded on scientific principles, integrating combat training with mental and physical education. He borrowed techniques of Kito-ryu, holding onto those that conformed to scientific principles and rejecting all others. All harmful and dangerous techniques were eliminated.”  He distilled these borrowed techniques into Kodokan Judo.


Fast forward to Brazil in the 19th Century. Japanese immigrant Mitsuyo Maeda also known as Conde Coma settled in Brazil bringing with him Kodokan Judo. Mitsuyo Maeda was a direct student of Dr. Jigoro Kona and considered a master of Kodokan Judo.


How BJJ Started

While the stories vary depending upon the source, we will follow as we can. Carlos Gracie saw Mitsuyo Maeda practicing Kodokan judo and immediately was impressed, and joined Mitsuyo’s dojo to learn Kano Judo. Helio Gracie and a few others took interest in judo under the tutelage of Mitsuyo as well, and through their study and mastery created their own techniques which has become the most effect ground based combat and defense system in history: ‘Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’, or ‘BJJ’. The Gracies took the grappling aspects of Kodokan Judo from Maeda and distilled it down to intense and effective grappling techniques.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu uses leverage, grappling techniques and submissions developed over the last century to effectively take away the opponents basic weapons e.g. their fists and feet and submit them using the bodies physical limitation.



Muay Thai

Muay Thai, or Thai Boxing, is another martial art. Muay Thai was developed in Thailand most likely a thousand year ago. However, because of the warring and pillaging of Thailand by their neighbors, many of the original records have been lost destroyed.


Muay Thai is considered one of the most deadly of the striking Martial Arts as it employees the hardest bone points and surfaces on the human body (the knees and elbows). Passed down through generations, Muay Thai has evolved into one of the most effective of the striking martial arts.


Is Kickboxing a Martial Art?

In short, yes. Muay Thai is a style of kickboxing, and is quite possibly the most effective striking martial art. With a focus on using devastating kicks, knees, elbows, and punches, Muay Thai kickboxing is a martial art to reckon with.


What are the health benefits found in martial arts?

The martial arts are an excellent form of exercise and fitness. Martial arts help build strength, power, muscle tone, endurance, balance as well as mental focus to name some basics. The human body actually responds and improves with consistent vigorous exercise. The top ten reported improvements with regular vigorous exercise are;

  • Improved happiness and attitude

  • weight control

  • improved muscle tone and bone strength

  • increased energy levels

  • reduced risk of chronic diseases

  • improved skin health

  • focused brain and increased memory

  • stress relief

  • reduction in chronic pain

  • Improved stamina and life


Many people look for and find incredible benefits when training martial arts. Martial arts can answer your fitness and exercise needs while teaching you effective methods of self defense in a fun, challenging interactive format. Martial arts can build your mental, emotional game as well as enhancing healthy character development.

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