When you first choose to train in martial arts, you have a lot of decisions to make, beginning with which style to study. There are hundreds of forms from all over the world, so narrowing your options may seem intimidating. Here are some tips for limiting your search parameters and ultimately deciding whether a certain form suits you:
Find dojos in your area
How far are you willing to go (literally) to train in martial arts? Find dojos that are within your area and see what styles they teach. For instance, if the nearest karate school is more than a one-hour drive, you may not want to learn that style, and instead pick a form you can learn closer to home.
Compile a list of the dojos near you and use it as you learn more about the styles of martial arts you could study.
Do some research
Once you have a smaller list of martial arts forms, you can start researching. Read summaries of each style and watch videos online that depict practitioners in action. This will give you a good idea of what your classes would be like and the moves you'd learn.
Add notes to your original list, denoting which forms you're more interested in exploring and which you can cross off the list.
Many martial arts schools allow students to attend a class for free. This lets you see how the instructor works with his or her class, how time in the dojo is structured and what the form is like. Often, new practitioners stay with a school because they like the way the instructor teaches, even if the style wasn't their first choice – your peers and teacher make a huge difference on how well you learn and how much you enjoy practicing martial arts.
Know your fitness level
Do you have knee injuries that prevent you from doing high-impact workouts? Then martial arts that emphasize legwork (like taekwondo) would not be ideal for you. Knowing your limits and what's unsafe for your body can lead you to a martial arts style that's in-line with your level of fitness.
When you visit a class, always tell the instructor about your limitations to ensure he or she is willing to work closely with you to find alternatives to moves you can't perform.
Narrowing your search parameters, getting a taste of a certain style and keeping your physical needs in mind will help you find a martial art that is perfect for you.