My cross-training journey

I "cross trained" constantly throughout my martial arts career. The results were that studying almost any martial art benefited all the others at some point. I highly recommend training in more than one art.
 
I can only second this. And, in general, exchanging with people from different backgrounds enriches your training so much.
 
Im going to play devils advocate and argue that training in radically different martial arts is counterproductive. This is because techniques ingrained by many years of training in one art, bleed through into the other art.

For example, people from an Aikido background often try their hand at Iaido and bring with them, a few habits that they seem unable to overcome: angling their back foot out (at 30-45 degrees) and thus not having their pelvis and shoulders square to the front as required in for effective cutting. They also plant their rear heel down, firmly onto the floor whereas in Iai, we lift it very slightly, thus putting our weight on the ball of the foot. Correcting these differences lasts for a couple of repetitions and then its back to their Aikido form. These habits seem to be indelible, thanks to hard and repetitive training over many years. They finding it very frustrating and often give up. Non-martial arts beginners have the same issue, but are able to correct them with greater ease.

If the different arts are similarish, then the switching required is much easier and theyre more likely to stick with it and progress.

Now, I understand the value in struggling with ones art(s), indeed Id suggest its a key aspect to Budo training, but it simply puts some people off, people who mightve enjoyed a few years of practise.
 
I can relate, I've had the chance to train a little bit of kenjutsu and some habits from my aiki-ken training kept parasiting my movements. I found it helpful to think about kenjutsu as a completely new thing, rather than fall back on what I'd learnt. Everything was wrong, from the way I held the sword to the stance or how I walked. There sometimes is a misconception about aiki-ken being the same as real swordsmanship, which can be detrimental to the learning process because, instead of paying attention, you just think "okay I already know that".
 
I can relate, I've had the chance to train a little bit of kenjutsu and some habits from my aiki-ken training kept parasiting my movements.
Yes, its very hard to avoid.
I found it helpful to think about kenjutsu as a completely new thing, rather than fall back on what I'd learnt.
Isnt that very hard to do, especially when youve purposely ingrained onevart into your very marrow?
Everything was wrong, from the way I held the sword to the stance or how I walked.
When you put a sword on a persons side and ask them to walk, they do all sorts of weird stiff things . I do it myself! Just walk like youre walking down the street! is the usual advice!
There sometimes is a misconception about aiki-ken being the same as real swordsmanship, which can be detrimental to the learning process because, instead of paying attention, you just think "okay I already know that".
So isnt it swordsmanship? What is it for then? I never knew this. Ive noticed Aiki-ken tend to perform small radius chops rather than the wide circular cut of Iai.
 
Im going to play devils advocate and argue that training in radically different martial arts is counterproductive. This is because techniques ingrained by many years of training in one art, bleed through into the other art.

For example, people from an Aikido background often try their hand at Iaido and bring with them, a few habits that they seem unable to overcome: angling their back foot out (at 30-45 degrees) and thus not having their pelvis and shoulders square to the front as required in for effective cutting. They also plant their rear heel down, firmly onto the floor whereas in Iai, we lift it very slightly, thus putting our weight on the ball of the foot. Correcting these differences lasts for a couple of repetitions and then its back to their Aikido form. These habits seem to be indelible, thanks to hard and repetitive training over many years. They finding it very frustrating and often give up. Non-martial arts beginners have the same issue, but are able to correct them with greater ease.

If the different arts are similarish, then the switching required is much easier and theyre more likely to stick with it and progress.

Now, I understand the value in struggling with ones art(s), indeed Id suggest its a key aspect to Budo training, but it simply puts some people off, people who mightve enjoyed a few years of practise.
I will argue counter-argue in a couple of places using my personal history.

Way before MMA was a thing and even before BJJ as very established I scholarship wrestled in college. But at that time, I Never mentally thought of it as a self-defense. I grew up fighting as part and parcel of my environment. I also played football, so a sports lifestyle was a big part of my life.
When I left college, there was a huge void I needed to fill. Football or wrestling were not options for me after school so, there was a big hole for a while.
Eventually, a good friend said something along the lines of "I am going to try this new TKD place, why don't you go with me". So, I did, and it really filled the void. Long story short, I became rather obsessed with it, to the point I made it 2-matches from going to the '88 Olympics, I am a 2-school owner, and have practiced two styles of TKD for over 40-years. It is engrained into my very being.
FWIW, I had never heard of a martial art of any kind beyond the old Kung Fu movies on the television.

During my journey, I either already understood or learned the deficiencies in knowing only one style, so I had a great desire to learn more. I became good friends with two men who later opened a Shotokan school and we regularly cross-trained. I dedicated enough time to get to 1st Dan Shotokan, and the addition of certain skills definitely enhanced my competition TKD fighting. And I still remember most the gross skills. Yes, there were differences in the basics, but one of the great things about learning with a friend and equal was that we regularly discussed the advantages and disadvantages of doing movements certain ways.

Some year later, I became a LEO and again realized there were deficiencies in my training. After some research and the very fortunate occurrence of Bill McGrath moving to my nearby state capital to work with the officers in that municipality, I became 'belted' in Kali, getting to instructor level. It greatly helped my in-fighting skills, SA, and hand work, making me more comfortable/confident during conflicts.
Kali is about as different as you can get from my other styles, so yes, there were some steep adjustments to make and engrained motion was/is a challenge at times, especially for a person who has severe recall issues. But it is not so much of an issue that I would ever call it a problem unless we are talking about something like scoring performance in forms competitions or rules bound sparring.
One Big caveat to my MA's experience is that in the of style of TKD I first learned, we always had/have an element of rolling, which I expanded due to my wrestling experience. And most of the elements of Hapkido are a regular part of our curriculum. No, we do not roll as much as MMA or BJJ, but enough that people get comfortable with going to the ground.
The exception would be our folks who heavily go into the WT or AAU competition route.

I say all this to say, cross-training done correctly and efficiently will Not adversely affect a person's performance in their base skill set.
 
Isnt that very hard to do, especially when youve purposely ingrained onevart into your very marrow?
It's doable, even though you can relapse from time to time. But it may be because I'm used to doing much tougher "rewiring" (try to do a basic push test without resisting the push, now THAT is hard to do...).
When you put a sword on a persons side and ask them to walk, they do all sorts of weird stiff things . I do it myself! Just walk like youre walking down the street! is the usual advice!
"WALK LIKE A PERSON!" is what I've heard.
So isnt it swordsmanship? What is it for then? I never knew this. Ive noticed Aiki-ken tend to perform small radius chops rather than the wide circular cut of Iai.
Meh, hard to know. Aikido's founder, Morihei Ueshiba, never had any formal sword training so he mostly made up aiki-ken (IIRC he got some ideas from novels he'd read). He was super strong and charismatic and he insisted that aiki came from swordsmanship, so people assumed he knew what he was doing. Since nobody today trains exactly like Ueshiba (because he was bad at transmitting what he could do) one can only speculate about what he was trying to do.

Nowadays, there are various strands of aiki-ken. The one found in Iwama style aikido is based on what Morihiro Saito managed to pick up and systematize after 26 years living and training with Ueshiba (including taking part in his experiments on sword and jo stuff). For example, the first Kumitachi in Iwama Aiki-ken is a modified version of the first kata of Kashima Shinto-ryu (and Ueshiba and a couple of students were registered under a Kashima Shinto-ryu teacher, although they're not likely to have trained for long). See below at 2:38 for the KSR kata, and at 3:52 for Saito's version.


Ueshiba did not teach weapons at the world aikido headquarters in Tokyo, but kept talking about the sword. So some prominent teachers took up the study of swordsmanship to complement their training. In Tokyo, there was a person named Minoru Inaba, who studied both aikido and Kashima Shin-ryu (similar name, same area of origin, very different style from the one mentioned above!). Inaba eventually taught a sword system at the Tokyo headquarters, which he called "Kashima no tachi" (hard to follow?) and which was meant to complement their style of aikido. This would then be mainstreamed around the world among most dojos, as they follow the HQs' style (e.g. by Christian Tissier).

So none of the aiki-ken found today was conceptualized by Ueshiba, whose sword training was anyway superficial at best. It's a complementary training tool to the empty-hand, systematized by his students based on their observations. In any case, it's not a combative sword system.

Interestingly, when Ueshiba said that aikido came from the sword, there was some truth to that. The vast majority of Ueshiba's technical repertoire came from the only instructor under which he significantly trained, Sokaku Takeda. Takeda was an expert swordsman who trained in Ono-ha Itto-ryu, with most likely a very solid background in other armed styles from his family history. He set out to make a living teaching sword but, in the early 20th century, it had seen a dramatic dip in popularity. This was partly driven by the Meiji Restoration at the end of the 19th century which abolished many of the privileges of the samurai class, which were considered as outdated feodal traditions, including the right to carry a sword. In Takeda's time, the thing people were willing to pay for were jujutsu classes for self-defense. Takeda had been travelling around Japan, fighting in friendly armed and unarmed challenges and training with a lot of martial artists from different backgrounds. He was also a sumo fanatic and loved to wrestle (his father was an Ozeki, the sumo equivalent of, say, wrestling's Ben Askren). A credible theory is that Takeda made up his own martial art, Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, based on sumo, what jujutsu he picked up during his trips, and the principles and body usage of swordsmanship. He then taught his unique creation in seminars, and his student Morihei Ueshiba would later teach it as "aikido".

So, to answer your question: who knows?

Bonus: here's a cool sumo/Daito-ryu comparison:

 
I will argue counter-argue in a couple of places using my personal history.

Way before MMA was a thing and even before BJJ as very established I scholarship wrestled in college. But at that time, I Never mentally thought of it as a self-defense. I grew up fighting as part and parcel of my environment. I also played football, so a sports lifestyle was a big part of my life.
When I left college, there was a huge void I needed to fill. Football or wrestling were not options for me after school so, there was a big hole for a while.
Eventually, a good friend said something along the lines of "I am going to try this new TKD place, why don't you go with me". So, I did, and it really filled the void. Long story short, I became rather obsessed with it, to the point I made it 2-matches from going to the '88 Olympics, I am a 2-school owner, and have practiced two styles of TKD for over 40-years. It is engrained into my very being.
FWIW, I had never heard of a martial art of any kind beyond the old Kung Fu movies on the television.

During my journey, I either already understood or learned the deficiencies in knowing only one style, so I had a great desire to learn more. I became good friends with two men who later opened a Shotokan school and we regularly cross-trained. I dedicated enough time to get to 1st Dan Shotokan, and the addition of certain skills definitely enhanced my competition TKD fighting. And I still remember most the gross skills. Yes, there were differences in the basics, but one of the great things about learning with a friend and equal was that we regularly discussed the advantages and disadvantages of doing movements certain ways.

Some year later, I became a LEO and again realized there were deficiencies in my training. After some research and the very fortunate occurrence of Bill McGrath moving to my nearby state capital to work with the officers in that municipality, I became 'belted' in Kali, getting to instructor level. It greatly helped my in-fighting skills, SA, and hand work, making me more comfortable/confident during conflicts.
Kali is about as different as you can get from my other styles, so yes, there were some steep adjustments to make and engrained motion was/is a challenge at times, especially for a person who has severe recall issues. But it is not so much of an issue that I would ever call it a problem unless we are talking about something like scoring performance in forms competitions or rules bound sparring.
One Big caveat to my MA's experience is that in the of style of TKD I first learned, we always had/have an element of rolling, which I expanded due to my wrestling experience. And most of the elements of Hapkido are a regular part of our curriculum. No, we do not roll as much as MMA or BJJ, but enough that people get comfortable with going to the ground.
The exception would be our folks who heavily go into the WT or AAU competition route.

I say all this to say, cross-training done correctly and efficiently will Not adversely affect a person's performance in their base skill set.
Same here. My people have a wrestling indigenous to the local population. I later began training TSD, then invested the time to earn a black belt in Shotokan and Hapkido, while still training TSD. Then later when I was required to learn BJJ, the wrestling experience helped. All of this integrates seamlessly into my TSD school.
 
I can only second this. And, in general, exchanging with people from different backgrounds enriches your training so much.
Agree, many years ago I was part of a sparing group, we all came from different styles, American Kempo, TKD, Aikido, Judo, Changquan, Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, Southern White Crane, Wing Chun, Karate, etc. One of the greatest MA learnig experiences I ever had. And a lot of fun too.
 
It's doable, even though you can relapse from time to time. But it may be because I'm used to doing much tougher "rewiring" (try to do a basic push test without resisting the push, now THAT is hard to do...).

"WALK LIKE A PERSON!" is what I've heard.

Meh, hard to know. Aikido's founder, Morihei Ueshiba, never had any formal sword training so he mostly made up aiki-ken (IIRC he got some ideas from novels he'd read). He was super strong and charismatic and he insisted that aiki came from swordsmanship, so people assumed he knew what he was doing. Since nobody today trains exactly like Ueshiba (because he was bad at transmitting what he could do) one can only speculate about what he was trying to do.

Nowadays, there are various strands of aiki-ken. The one found in Iwama style aikido is based on what Morihiro Saito managed to pick up and systematize after 26 years living and training with Ueshiba (including taking part in his experiments on sword and jo stuff). For example, the first Kumitachi in Iwama Aiki-ken is a modified version of the first kata of Kashima Shinto-ryu (and Ueshiba and a couple of students were registered under a Kashima Shinto-ryu teacher, although they're not likely to have trained for long). See below at 2:38 for the KSR kata, and at 3:52 for Saito's version.


Ueshiba did not teach weapons at the world aikido headquarters in Tokyo, but kept talking about the sword. So some prominent teachers took up the study of swordsmanship to complement their training. In Tokyo, there was a person named Minoru Inaba, who studied both aikido and Kashima Shin-ryu (similar name, same area of origin, very different style from the one mentioned above!). Inaba eventually taught a sword system at the Tokyo headquarters, which he called "Kashima no tachi" (hard to follow?) and which was meant to complement their style of aikido. This would then be mainstreamed around the world among most dojos, as they follow the HQs' style (e.g. by Christian Tissier).

So none of the aiki-ken found today was conceptualized by Ueshiba, whose sword training was anyway superficial at best. It's a complementary training tool to the empty-hand, systematized by his students based on their observations. In any case, it's not a combative sword system.

Interestingly, when Ueshiba said that aikido came from the sword, there was some truth to that. The vast majority of Ueshiba's technical repertoire came from the only instructor under which he significantly trained, Sokaku Takeda. Takeda was an expert swordsman who trained in Ono-ha Itto-ryu, with most likely a very solid background in other armed styles from his family history. He set out to make a living teaching sword but, in the early 20th century, it had seen a dramatic dip in popularity. This was partly driven by the Meiji Restoration at the end of the 19th century which abolished many of the privileges of the samurai class, which were considered as outdated feodal traditions, including the right to carry a sword. In Takeda's time, the thing people were willing to pay for were jujutsu classes for self-defense. Takeda had been travelling around Japan, fighting in friendly armed and unarmed challenges and training with a lot of martial artists from different backgrounds. He was also a sumo fanatic and loved to wrestle (his father was an Ozeki, the sumo equivalent of, say, wrestling's Ben Askren). A credible theory is that Takeda made up his own martial art, Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, based on sumo, what jujutsu he picked up during his trips, and the principles and body usage of swordsmanship. He then taught his unique creation in seminars, and his student Morihei Ueshiba would later teach it as "aikido".

So, to answer your question: who knows?

Bonus: here's a cool sumo/Daito-ryu comparison:

A comprehensive and interesting answer. Thanks O Malley!
 
Same here. My people have a wrestling indigenous to the local population. I later began training TSD, then invested the time to earn a black belt in Shotokan and Hapkido, while still training TSD. Then later when I was required to learn BJJ, the wrestling experience helped. All of this integrates seamlessly into my TSD school.
Yeah, but are you any good at any of those?
 
I will argue counter-argue in a couple of places using my personal history.

Way before MMA was a thing and even before BJJ as very established I scholarship wrestled in college. But at that time, I Never mentally thought of it as a self-defense. I grew up fighting as part and parcel of my environment. I also played football, so a sports lifestyle was a big part of my life.
When I left college, there was a huge void I needed to fill. Football or wrestling were not options for me after school so, there was a big hole for a while.
Eventually, a good friend said something along the lines of "I am going to try this new TKD place, why don't you go with me". So, I did, and it really filled the void. Long story short, I became rather obsessed with it, to the point I made it 2-matches from going to the '88 Olympics, I am a 2-school owner, and have practiced two styles of TKD for over 40-years. It is engrained into my very being.
FWIW, I had never heard of a martial art of any kind beyond the old Kung Fu movies on the television.

During my journey, I either already understood or learned the deficiencies in knowing only one style, so I had a great desire to learn more. I became good friends with two men who later opened a Shotokan school and we regularly cross-trained. I dedicated enough time to get to 1st Dan Shotokan, and the addition of certain skills definitely enhanced my competition TKD fighting. And I still remember most the gross skills. Yes, there were differences in the basics, but one of the great things about learning with a friend and equal was that we regularly discussed the advantages and disadvantages of doing movements certain ways.

Some year later, I became a LEO and again realized there were deficiencies in my training. After some research and the very fortunate occurrence of Bill McGrath moving to my nearby state capital to work with the officers in that municipality, I became 'belted' in Kali, getting to instructor level. It greatly helped my in-fighting skills, SA, and hand work, making me more comfortable/confident during conflicts.
Kali is about as different as you can get from my other styles, so yes, there were some steep adjustments to make and engrained motion was/is a challenge at times, especially for a person who has severe recall issues. But it is not so much of an issue that I would ever call it a problem unless we are talking about something like scoring performance in forms competitions or rules bound sparring.
One Big caveat to my MA's experience is that in the of style of TKD I first learned, we always had/have an element of rolling, which I expanded due to my wrestling experience. And most of the elements of Hapkido are a regular part of our curriculum. No, we do not roll as much as MMA or BJJ, but enough that people get comfortable with going to the ground.
The exception would be our folks who heavily go into the WT or AAU competition route.

I say all this to say, cross-training done correctly and efficiently will Not adversely affect a person's performance in their base skill set.
I think being a LEO has an advantage. Were used to taking (or teaching) Defensive Tactics and usually have to get certified again every year or two.

Your football and wrestling background adds to it as well. Each has its own ways of moving, evading and applying forces to something else.

Ive enjoyed the heck out of training in different Arts and sports. Got a lot out of it, too.
 
I think being a LEO has an advantage. Were used to taking (or teaching) Defensive Tactics and usually have to get certified again every year or two.

Your football and wrestling background adds to it as well. Each has its own ways of moving, evading and applying forces to something else.

Ive enjoyed the heck out of training in different Arts and sports. Got a lot out of it, too.
(Our) LEO get DT/SA training twice per year which is very good and much more than adequate for the situations you are put in, but man oh man, what I learned from McGrath was so above and beyond it is incredible.
I taught the DT/SA classes at my department, but I was early in my Kali training, and I did not feel comfortable enough to teach it to others.
 
Some thoughts on my last training sessions.

Eskrima
- Worked on kicking fundamentals, I suck but I'm improving.
- I feel like I'm still reaching out too much sometimes.
- We practiced a basic jab-cross-lead hook combo and the guy holding the focus mitts complained about my hook being really heavy. I was happy, also because it was not particularly taxing, but coach said I'm too open.

Nippon Kempo
- Worked on parries (yay!) with some joint locks and then we sparred.
- Last time I got nailed too many times so I made a mental note to tighten my guard and not jump in like an idiot. It made an enormous difference: I was hit surprisingly few times and managed to parry/block most of what was coming. Footwork also helped but I need to work on angles and entries.
- I absolutely need to work on my cardio because I was gassed after the third partner swap.
- I'm relatively hard to throw and I attribute that to my aikido training. My partners tried hip throws, foot sweeps and reaps but they just bounced off me.
- I've experimented with a clinch entry that I had posted on here some time ago. So far it seems to work! I still need to figure out how to bring my aikido to that ruleset (or what to do in the clinch in general).
- Yet, I've been able to nail some cool stuff like clinch > standing arm lock > sokumen iriminage; and the aikido classic: clinch > back take > suplex.
- So far I'm doing well against guys who've been there for a while but I have more overall martial arts experience than my sparring partners. It's good because I can focus on the basics and experiment with stuff but I want to know how I fare against the instructors and competitors of the group.
- I've got lots of wacky ideas to play with next time.
 
Here's the entry to reverse collar grip:

 
- I've experimented with a clinch entry that I had posted on here some time ago. So far it seems to work! I still need to figure out how to bring my aikido to that ruleset (or what to do in the clinch in general).

My wrist locking career pretty much turned in to evething coming from an arm drag or a 2 on one.
 
I can imagine that. The problem with wrist locks in NK is that both contestants wear boxing gloves so they're almost undoable. It also limits your options for throws as you can't grip. I tried a sacrifice throw in sparring and only nailed the sacrifice part, because my hand slipped. But yeah there are aikido techniques that could be set up from the 2-on-1.
 
Most avant-garde arts started out classically trained. I think this makes sense for the MAs also. Having a firm foundation to build upon or even break down gives us more defined gauge of what works for us and what doesnt. Also, the real knowledge or expertise in an art typically happens after the 1st black belt stage. Cursory training in a martial art doesnt do the art or the trainee justice, although for the right person picking up hints and tricks from other arts and incorporating them is super valuable. There have been numerous eye openers or wow experiences due to my adventures in cross training.
Verdict: Cross training in MA is a positive thing.
 

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