Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jack of all trades or master of none

Mikio Yahara sensei master of karate in action

The subject of cross training is an interesting one.

Depending upon how, why and when a person first starts training in the martial arts will in my opinion determine how they feel about the idea of cross training for the rest of their lives.

Here is my two cents on the subject.

Before settling in one art I trained in a few different ones, some I hated some I absolutely loved, but I only ever trained in one art at a time to get a good feel for it.

If I thought it wasn’t for me I would move on to something else but that was my approach which will not suit everyone.

Of course today there are many people who dive into martial arts training wanting to cross train from the very beginning, who’s to say that this approach is wrong, it probably suits some people better than others.

There have always been people that have trained in multiple martial arts from the very beginning this is not something new.

I remember some of my friends training in a couple of arts at the same time back in the mid to late seventies, some mixed karate and judo, others jujitsu and boxing etc.

Back then when I first started I didn’t really know too much about martial arts in general and really didn’t have any sort of base to make a valid judgment or a decision about what is best for me, how I should train and whether or not to cross train from the very beginning.

The martial arts that didn’t agree with me or the ones I didn’t find appealing wasn’t because they weren’t effective or that I found them somehow inferior, they just didn’t suit me and I could tell or at least I thought I could back then and even now.

I think its best to get a good grounding in one art before trying to explore others, everyone needs a base to build on, even Jeet Kune Do (JKD) practitioners establish a base in Jan Fun Kung Fu before moving onto the JKD elements.

Having a good base in any martial art whether striking or grappling before cross training in other martial art is in my opinion like getting a good base in math.

Then when you move into other areas like physics and mechanics etc.(or in our case other martial arts) the base you have established will help you to gel everything together.

All good martial arts are built on principles that utilize techniques.

All good martial arts have strategies and tactics.

All good martial arts have a proven scientifically based syllabus, where power generation, speed, efficiency, lever/fulcrum, mass and centre of gravity, balance, training methods and applications etc. etc. are maximized to the benefit of the practitioner.

Some of these arts that come readily to mind are

Traditional Karate
Western Boxing
Kung Fu
Muay Thai and many others,

All these arts have been studied and refined by many generations who have built and established these martial arts into what they are today.

Gaining an in depth study of one art in no way hampers you when you decide it’s time to cross train.

In my opinion this in depth study will help you to better understand what it is that you’re doing in your cross training, because whether it’s striking or grappling some martial arts principles do overlap.

For example the mechanics of a strong punch and the mechanics of throwing someone will share some common principles although execution will be different.

The in depth study of one martial art will in my opinion help you to take hold of your cross training experience much quicker, than for example a beginner who starts to study Judo and Karate at the same time devoting him or her self equally to each.

Whether you are studying striking or grappling I think at least a black belt level in one martial art (between 3 to 6 years) should be attained before exploring cross training.

This experience will help you to pick things up much quicker when cross training.

In my opinion it will enable you to master the new martial art with the ability to blend it into your base art much quicker than a beginner who studying martial arts for the first time in his or her life attempts to learn two at the same time.