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The different types of martial arts for beginners

Kylie King
3rd Degree black belt, Leo Felker at PKSA Flat Rock doing a flying side kick

Martial arts as a whole can be intriguing in the aspect that it can teach skills such as discipline, honor, kicks, arm locks, etc. However, each karate school teaches different styles which can be daunting for interested students. Traditional styles focus on different techniques and skills that are then combined to form modern styles. Often, martial arts are separated by whether it is a competitive sport or not. Ultimately, if one is interested in starting their journey to the black belt, here are some essential characteristics of the different arts with locations closest to Woodhaven.

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

While often confused with JuJitsu (Japanese), it has its unique principles that separates it from traditional JuJitsu. This art focuses primarily on grappling and pinning one’s opponent to score points. Influencing modern MMA, this style is mostly for sport and some techniques will not be useful in real life, but for scoring points in sport competitions. While it may not help in street fights, it does teach how to defend against someone within competitions by using leverage and weight distribution, ultimately winning trophies. Like most other martial arts, it teaches discipline and a way of life. 

Royce Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy of Michigan

15201 Dix Toledo Rd, Southgate, Michigan 48195


Jujitsu is a more traditional style of martial arts and uses hundreds of years old techniques to this day. Samurai used it to use on battlefields when weapons were not available making it a traditional Japanese art. Like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it teaches one to fight against larger opponents by using their body weight against them. Grappling, and pins are all part of the curriculum. The main difference is that this teaches techniques that can be used in real life, however, for those who want to compete, some schools will have optional tournaments. This, however, is not the main focus of their art. JuJitsu might not score as many points in competition but it aids in real life situations as a non-competition-based sport.  

Metro Jiu-Jitsu

13555 Eureka Rd, Southgate, Michigan 48195

Downriver Jiu-Jitsu and Fitness

16120 King Rd, Riverview, Michigan 48193


Aikido has much controversy surrounding it on whether it is an effective martial art. Its main principles are to be centered and balanced while avoiding harming your opponent. While they do focus on techniques such as blocks, joint locks, and throws, they take out the punching and kicking. This is because they believe in no harm and violence. The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba believes that “There are no contests in the Art of Peace. A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing.” While this martial art seems pointless, it can be effective when combined with other arts.

International Budo Ryokukai

13101 Eckles Rd Bldg 2, Suite 209, Plymouth, MI 48170

Krav Maga

Embraced by the FBI itself, Krav Maga is a popular martial arts form in instinctive jobs. It heightens one physical strength and stamina while increasing one’s instincts and awareness skills. It focuses highly on self-defense and striking one’s opponent. Chokes and headlocks are common defenses one will learn. It is not a competitive art and instead focuses on how to avoid the worst situations. Unlike other martial arts, they do not have any uniforms or traditional roots. The founder of the art, Imi Litchenfeld believes that this art is “so that one may walk in peace”.


Valhalla Krav Maga

26039 Coolidge Hwy, Oak Park, Michigan 48237

Kung Fu

Traced to the Zhou Dynasty, Kung Fu focuses on the spiritual strength and physical strength of one. The stances are carefully crafted from human anatomy for exceptional muscle coordination. Unlike other martial arts, the forms are soft and flow more in circular motions. Their forms take inspiration from animal fight scenes. However, if performed correctly, these ‘soft motions’ can prove effective in defense. They are very traditional and emphasize the balance between the art and mental strength. Depending on where one trains, the school might participate in international competitions such as WorldWushu Championships that includes open hand forms and weapons. Many people find this art mesmerizing as it is graceful, yet powerful.

Detroit Kung Fu Academy

3364 Michigan Ave, Detroit, Michigan 48216

Muay Thai

Translating to Thai Boxing, Muay Thai is the official national sport of Thailand. It uses the 8 points of contact such as fists, elbows, knees, and kicks which makes it different from Western boxing which is a 2-point (2-fist) sport. It teaches sweeps and throws and often teaches more than other stand-up striking sports. Knowing close-quarter combat skills while maintaining endurance and strength can be beneficial in real life defense. Like Kung Fu, depending on the school one trains at, international competitions might be an option. Local competitions will also be available, similar to boxing.

Training Grounds Combat Sports and Fitness

20785 Gibraltar Rd, Brownstown Charter Twp, Michigan 48183


One of the most well-known martial arts, Taekwondo is more of a competitive sport art than practicality in real life. It teaches punches, blocks, kicks, forms, short choreographed sparring combinations, open hands, and weapons. Jump kicks and acrobatics are often trained skills as teams often perform at competitions such as the Olympics. They are judged on the execution of technique and discipline of the team. The style is rooted in traditional Korean combat martial arts with the curriculum being mostly kicks and a fraction of punches.

KICKS Taekwondo & Fitness Centers, Inc. 

35004 Michigan Ave A, Wayne, Michigan, 48184

(No website available)

Tang Soo Do

Rooted in Korean martial arts, Tang Soo Do is like Taekwondo but focuses more on real life than competition. It teaches forms, punches, kicks, combos, sparring, and weapons. History and founders of the art is often required to be taught, ensuring that the history is appreciated. That is what separates it from Taekwondo as it ensures that history is being taught, developing roots into the ideology of the art into its students. However, for those who like sports, Tang Soo Do does have tournaments where students of all ranks can compete for medals and trophies. 

PKSA Karate Flat Rock

27383 Telegraph Rd, Flat Rock, Michigan, 48134

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