Considerations before selecting another art to train in

Gerry Seymour

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My school teaches both Taekwondo and Hapkido. Now, we have 24-25 Taekwondo classes every week and 1 Hapkido class, so I'll let you guess what the focus of the school is. I started Hapkido a few months after Taekwondo, and I didn't find it hard because it was 2 arts, but simply the amount of time. I got more invested in Taekwondo (up from 2-3 classes a week to 4 classes a week) and I wasn't conditioned enough to also do Hapkido, so it dropped by the wayside. When I was conditioned enough, I had started helping out, which meant I was doing 20+ classes a week, and the Hapkido class kind of went on hiatus due to lack of people.

Since Hapkido started back up, I've been going regularly. The only other regulars we have already have their black belt in Taekwondo. Those that tried to do both at the start burned themselves out on one or both.

We have a lot of other students who are mildly interested in Hapkido, especially women who go to our school to learn self defense. However, most people want to get their Black Belt first, so they only have to focus on one art a time.



There's also time and money invested. Let's say you take classes 2-3 times a week, and you practice at least 3 hours a week on your own. (Let's take Karate and Judo as the 2 arts here). If you're just doing one art, that's 5 hours a week devoted to Karate. If you take Karate and Judo, then you need to go up to 10 hours a week of practice to become just as competent in both of them. If there are any conflicts between the style (i.e. stances, footwork, how you hold your hands) it can take more to train yourself for each style.

Even within a style you can have differences. There's a HUGE difference in how we teach our demonstration team vs. our sparring club. For the demonstration we want deep stances, we want the techniques held long enough for the audience to see them, beautiful extension on the kicks, and pristine technique above everything else. For sparring we want shallower stances for more speed, closer kicks that focus more on speed and contact than on strength and beauty, and hands held up to protect the head instead of tight at our side for the best looking form. We had a girl in both classes and she was very good at both, but she did have to be reminded "your kicks don't need to be beautiful in sparring, they just have to hit" or the opposite in the other class.

Going back to the time investment, if you take 5 hours a week for karate, but you only have 8 hours total you could devote to martial arts, if you add in Judo you're either going to suffer at Judo because you only get 3 hours in it, or you're going to suffer in both if you cut down the time invested in both to 4 hours. This is an arbitrary number, but the point is that there is a finite amount of time per week, and people might not be able to train in two.

There's also the financial aspect of taking two arts, sometimes it's easier to add one activity at a time. There's also conditioning - can your body handle practicing that much each week?

Now, if you're in good shape and have tons of spare time, then sure. Take them both. But sometimes that's not an option off the bat.
Here's something I've discussed with folks before. The math of how much time you'd invest in an art (you'll get less good at that art if you do another) isn't always a valid measure. If someone wants to be a better fighter/martial artist/whatever, their total ability may matter more than their ability in a single art. For me, it's likely I was getting better, faster by training Judo and Karate at the same time. If I'd trained only Judo, I might have gotten better at Judo (not in my case - no more classes at that program, but still it's a valid point). But I wasn't trying to get better at Judo. Judo was (as NGA was when I started) a means to an end. And Karate-Judo was better for that end than either, alone.

Then there's the long-term effects. I believe most martial artists get better in the long run if they have significant exposure to more than one art. So, taking two arts might slow developing in each of them in the short term, but might produce better results in the long term.

And that's before we add in factors like having fun exploring two things at once, which might get some folks to attend more classes.
 
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skribs

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your basing the above on a number of assumptions that may or may not have truth in them.

two classes a week is more than enough to make good progress in an art, one is sufficient if you do a bit of home practise. The law of diminishing returns applies, doing double the number of classes doesn't mean twice the progress, it may even slow things down if you over load on instruction, some times doing less is the best way to make progress

you need some time away to away to allow the bio changes to take place. You certainly need balance in your life other hobbies time on relationship and friendships, which will be neglected if you are doing excessive training on ma.

if , for instance you do two arts two classes each and a bit of home practise you will make good progress at each, if you do four classes at one art, you may not make much quicker progress that you would doing only the two

One thing I've found is that at 2 classes a day, which is typically Monday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Thursday, there's a huge gap from the second day until class comes around again. This is why I really like doing a third class on Saturday, as it breaks up that break quite well and keeps me engaged.

I also find that some things are easy to do by myself, but some things I really need the class work for. For example, I can punch and kick over and over again, but I can't practice hand grabs on my own, because I can't feel for the nerves of the other person if I don't have another person to work with. Similarly, I can't work on timing on my own.

I will agree that there may be diminishing returns, but I've never seen anyone do worse by taking more classes.

Here's something I've discussed with folks before. The math of how much time you'd invest in an art (you'll get less good at that art if you do another) isn't always a valid measure. If someone wants to be a better fighter/martial artist/whatever, their total ability may matter more than their ability in a single art. For me, it's likely I was getting better, faster by training Judo and Karate at the same time. If I'd trained only Judo, I might have gotten better at Judo (not in my case - no more classes at that program, but still it's a valid point). But I wasn't trying to get better at Judo. Judo was (as NGA was when I started) a means to an end. And Karate-Judo was better for that end than either, alone.

Then there's the long-term effects. I believe most martial artists get better in the long run if they have significant exposure to more than one art. So, taking two arts might slow developing in each of them in the short term, but might produce better results in the long term.

And that's before we add in factors like having fun exploring two things at once, which might get some folks to attend more classes.

This is a good point, and one I hadn't considered. Then again, most people who come to my school aren't interested in MMA, so the need for immediate cross-training doesn't apply here, and that's where my experience comes from. Most people who decide to do Hapkido expect that it will slow down their progress in Taekwondo, and they want to get their black belt in Taekwondo before dividing their attention.
 

jobo

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One thing I've found is that at 2 classes a day, which is typically Monday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Thursday, there's a huge gap from the second day until class comes around again. This is why I really like doing a third class on Saturday, as it breaks up that break quite well and keeps me engaged.

I also find that some things are easy to do by myself, but some things I really need the class work for. For example, I can punch and kick over and over again, but I can't practice hand grabs on my own, because I can't feel for the nerves of the other person if I don't have another person to work with. Similarly, I can't work on timing on my own.

I will agree that there may be diminishing returns, but I've never seen anyone do worse by taking more classes.



This is a good point, and one I hadn't considered. Then again, most people who come to my school aren't interested in MMA, so the need for immediate cross-training doesn't apply here, and that's where my experience comes from. Most people who decide to do Hapkido expect that it will slow down their progress in Taekwondo, and they want to get their black belt in Taekwondo before dividing their attention.
but there is no way to know if someone is " over training" and would make better progress if they did less, unless they actually do less to see if it makes a difference.

for instance, at one stage i was taking three classes a week and making progress, i decieded that i wanted to learn other things, so i knocked it down to one, so i had time to practise chess and guitar playing.

i haven't gone backwards, and its an unknown if i would have progressed faster if i had continued at three
I'm still making good progress, so i don't thing it has!
however learning say chess, is no different that learning say judo, if i can learn two things in a week i can learn two ma in a week without it effecting my progress at either
 

Gerry Seymour

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but there is no way to know if someone is " over training" and would make better progress if they did less, unless they actually do less to see if it makes a difference.

for instance, at one stage i was taking three classes a week and making progress, i decieded that i wanted to learn other things, so i knocked it down to one, so i had time to practise chess and guitar playing.

i haven't gone backwards, and its an unknown if i would have progressed faster if i had continued at three
I'm still making good progress, so i don't thing it has!
however learning say chess, is no different that learning say judo, if i can learn two things in a week i can learn two ma in a week without it effecting my progress at either
While I agree with the concept of your point, it'd be hard to argue that someone couldn't learn more in 2 classes per week than in 1. There is probably a point of diminishing return, but I doubt that point is after 1 class per week. In my experience, if the student does nothing outside class (to keep the comparison clean), attending 2 classes per week will actually progress them about twice as fast (sometimes more) than attending once a week. That's true early in training, when a week between classes means they forget a lot. After 2 classes for beginners, and maybe after 1 class for more experienced folks, returns become diminishing. Somewhere (and it almost certainly varies by individual and their current level) there's a point of no additional return. Depending upon class structure, it would happen because the student has too much new information, or because they've over-stressed their body. At that point, anything new could conceivably cause confusion and loss of something else that was new. Again, though, that's unlikely to be at the 1-class mark.
 

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One thing I've found is that at 2 classes a day, which is typically Monday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Thursday, there's a huge gap from the second day until class comes around again. This is why I really like doing a third class on Saturday, as it breaks up that break quite well and keeps me engaged.

I also find that some things are easy to do by myself, but some things I really need the class work for. For example, I can punch and kick over and over again, but I can't practice hand grabs on my own, because I can't feel for the nerves of the other person if I don't have another person to work with. Similarly, I can't work on timing on my own.

I will agree that there may be diminishing returns, but I've never seen anyone do worse by taking more classes.



This is a good point, and one I hadn't considered. Then again, most people who come to my school aren't interested in MMA, so the need for immediate cross-training doesn't apply here, and that's where my experience comes from. Most people who decide to do Hapkido expect that it will slow down their progress in Taekwondo, and they want to get their black belt in Taekwondo before dividing their attention.

Sort of. If you do one martial art you can find ways to skate by on concepts that you probably shouldn't be. A kickboxer with ultra slick kicks may never need to develop his hands.

I use a boxing wrestling example. So for boxing cardio and will power are very important. And the way to train these concepts is sparring.

But if you boxed hard too much you get brain damage.

Alternatively you can wrestle flat out until you puke and collapse.

So wrestling can focus these concepts that are overlooked in boxing even though they are a vital component.
 
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