The Good Fight: Getting Fit With Self-Defense
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The Good Fight: Getting Fit With Self-Defense

The best places to get your body fit for fighting, or just fit.

The Good Fight: Getting Fit With Self-Defense

The Workout Slump

Even someone with the most dedication to fitness can convince himself to skip a workout if it means yet another run, lifting session or spin class. Doing the same workout over and over, even if it’s a good, tough routine, can make exercise lose its appeal quickly. Variety is the spice of life, after all! This autumn and winter, instead of falling into the usual slump, why not shake up the workout routine by mixing in a fun new class, skill or sport? Plus, it’s always a good idea to work new and unused muscles, maybe even muscles you never knew you had!

Self-Defense & Martial Arts

Self-defense skills provide an interesting workout that can take many different forms, and physical defense is also a useful life skill. Technically, self-defense is a countermeasure that involves defending oneself, one’s property or the well-being of another from harm. What this means to most people or what comes to mind is usually some kind of martial art. There are actually many different unique types of martial arts that can involve self-defense moves.

Karate, Tai Chi, judo, kickboxing and boxing are just some of the popular styles of martial arts that are distinct from one another, while sharing similarities and defensive techniques. Fitness classes or lessons may focus intently on one of these many methods or combine lots of different techniques under a broader self-defense umbrella. Either choice is an opportunity to learn a new skill, get a good workout, and prepare oneself in case of an emergency. Nobody plans to be in a dangerous situation in his or her life, but knowing a few basics and moves can truly be important and even lifesaving.

Muay Thai Fighting

Thai fitness classes are all the rage in Abu Dhabi right now. These intense classes involve a 20-minute cardio warm-up even before the real work even begins. Then, the class moves onto bag work, most likely including basic moves like punching, jabs and triple attacks while practicing defending one’s face, a common element in fighting and self-defense classes. Next come the kicks, again, working with a punching bag while practicing different methods of kicking and maintaining balance. More advanced bag moves are incorporated, such as elbow hits and combinations, that round out the class.

Those that have taken the class note its strong cardio elements and how much of a stress reliever it is. The class is recommended for anyone, regardless of age or gender, who wants to get fit fast. People who are in it just for the fitness aspect are welcome alongside those more serious about learning the ancient martial art. This particular class is available at the Sheraton Abu Dhabi. There are also Muay Thai classes taught at Zayed Sports City, Cobra Fitness, Muay Thai Capoeira Sports Club, the Cinema Building and more.


Kickboxing is actually a combination of Muay Thai, karate, and Western boxing styles. It is practiced for self-defense, fitness, and also as a contact sport. The main movements of kickboxing are simply combinations of punches, kicks and defenses, but of course, the sport can also get much more advanced. While many choose to participate in kickboxing purely for the fitness, weight loss and fun, there is also room to advance to competitive levels.

People can generally learn the basics, such as the stance and simple maneuvers in a few months, and move on to more advanced practice from there, if they wish. Hilton Abu Dhabi, Muay Thai Capoeira Sports Club, Cobra Fitness Abu Dhabi, and the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort all offer kickboxing classes.

Oriental Kobudo

For those with a bit more skill and basic knowledge of martial arts, Oriental kobudo is a great next step. The biggest difference between the practice of kobudo and the other types of self-defense discussed here is that kobudo involves the use of weapons, hence its more advanced skill level. There are some interesting weapons used in the practice of Oriental kobudo, such as the rokushakubo (a six foot staff, also called a “bo”), sai (a short, thick stick, like a police officer’s baton but dagger-shaped), tonfa (a stick with a handle attached perpendicularly), kama (a stick with a curved blade attached to it, similar to a sickle), nunchaku (two sticks attached by a chain, also known as nunchucks), and more.

Needless to say, using some of these intense weapons is appealing to many practitioners of the sport. However, teachers stress the fact that kobudo is not a beginners sport. The student must have a good grasp of karate before he or she takes on the use of these dangerous weapons, so as not to injure himself or others. However, despite its potential dangers, anyone young or old who has a decent amount of karate experience can try his hand at Oriental kobudo. The Oriental Karate and Kobudo Club is the most popular place to take classes in this practice in Abu Dhabi.

From the fitness fan looking to get a hardcore workout with kickboxing to the seasoned karate pro who wants to up their skills a notch with Oriental kobudo, Abu Dhabi residents are lucky to have all of these options in spades. Don’t let intimidation get in the way of trying your hand at martial arts and self-defense; there are classes for every age and skill level. This winter, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and learn a new and challenging skill that may come in handy in life as well as at the gym. Your next favorite workout is just around the corner.


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