What if you DON'T cross-train?

Phoenix44

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There have been a lot of threads about the benefits or drawbacks of cross-training. But really, what's the alternative? Serial martial arts, let's say, 8 years of TKD followed by 7 years of BJJ followed by 4 years of choy lay fut? Are you just supposed to stay in your primary art forever?

Over the years, I've trained in a reasonably committed manner in three distinct styles (if you can really call them "distinct"). I trained in an eclectic Japanese art (had features of karate and jujutsu) for 12 years. I added tai chi after about 8 years, at which point I trained consistently in both. I recently stopped training in Japanese MA, switched to kung fu, but continued tai chi. I've also attended some workshops, and checked out a few different styles, while maintaining whatever was my "primary" art at the time. Obviously, that's not the same as style-shopping, but it's certainly cross-training.

At this point, I'm a newbie at kung fu, still working at tai chi, and overall I think I have a good martial arts foundation.

How do you folks do it? Do you stay in one art forever? Isn't "cross-training" really expected?
 

Sukerkin

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I appear to be one of those minority of martial artists who firmly believes that an art with sufficient roots {koryu, to use the Japanese term} will contain all the combatative elements you will require providing that you train in it diligently and long enough.

My sensei uses the analogy that all the various styles are the spokes of a wheel. We all start on the rim at some point and work our way to the middle. Which spoke you slidedown does not matter nearly as much as your progress to the 'axle'.
 

jks9199

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After more than 20 years of training in my style, I'm still learning new material and I'm still finding new things in the material I've already learned. I've had opportunities to experience a little of different styles -- but I don't consider spending an afternoon here and there cross training. (Note that cross training is NOT prohibited in my style!)

I just figure until I run out of stuff from my teacher to work on -- I probably shouldn't really be working on something else.
 

MA-Caver

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So what if you DON'T cross train? Will it matter? Who knows? If your art provides everything that you NEED to get whatever it is that you want accomplished then you don't really NEED to cross train do you?
But if your art doesn't provide it ... and/or you WANT to learn this technique or ability then yeah you'll have to go to another art.
I know a long time Kenpoist who is now training in Jujitsu because they wanted to learn more ground fighting which what that art provides.
It also helps to provide perspective on your primary art. Making comparisons between the secondary and the primary. Comparisons are sometimes a good thing (not in a marriage but in just about everything else).
My MA training has been an awful hodgepodge of different arts/styles/techniques and whatever... which is why I essentially call my self JKDI because there isn't any other name for it. I based in WC but branched out to different styles for a variety of rea$on$ (lack thereof). For one thing it has helped my SD in regards that I've managed to get myself out of one various scrape or another. But... that's just me. Can't speak for anyone else. Also the bad thing about it is that if you were to ask me to show some Kenpo techniques that I've learned, chances are I'd probably get it WRONG!! ( :whip: <-- that's me getting hit :uhyeah: )
There are masters who have studied their art all their lives and nothing else. BUT I can betcha, if you talk with them they'll tell you that they've met another practicioner of another art and they compared notes. While it may not exactly been cross training they did get a basis of comparison to their own art.
You train in whatever for whatever reason(s) you have. To fill a gap, to make an extension of yourself, to broaden your perspective, to prevent burn out of your primary art, curiosity, raising the bar on your abilities, challenging yourself... whatever!
I don't see it as a bad thing... so long as you understand the difference between the two (or three) arts and know how to separate them when you need to... i.e. demo or instructing. To know that this is Kenpo, this is Jujitsu, that is BJJ and this is TKD and not mix (accidently or intentionally) them.
If one can do that then why not cross train? If you haven't cross trained then so much the better... if someone asks you to show me some Aikido please, you don't have to worry about saying "whoops, wait a minnit, sorry, that was really Judo ... ok this is Aikido."

My fo' bits.
 
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geezer

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How do you folks do it? Do you stay in one art forever? Isn't "cross-training" really expected?

I have a foundation in Wing Tsun and a second passion for Eskrima. Sukerkin points out that if you delve deeply enough into a system with deep roots, you will find that it contains all the combative elements. Often this is true. Wing Tsun also has its weapons, grappling and so forth. But the emphasis and flavor is different. So I choose to practice two arts and investigate others. I haven't the time, money, or ability to take on more.

Ultimately it comes down to the old analogy of the river. It may be wide and shallow, or narrow and deep.
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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I think it is natural to cross train.

As thinkers we are looking at ideas and concepts to adapt to our personality and thinking.

I think as thinkers we question things examine it add and subtract what we find useful.

Because of this we may look outside are primary art to explore why others do what they do.
We are looking for the most efficent skills or to be the most efficent and to a martial artist IMO that drives one to cross train.

I think you need varibles to help open the possiblites of limitation in your primary art and the best way to achieve that is cross training or exposure
to other arts in some form.

I find as Human beings it is only natural for us to adapt to what the best possible means of being efficent and questioning things while going thru the trials and error of our development.
 

bigfootsquatch

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There have been a lot of threads about the benefits or drawbacks of cross-training. But really, what's the alternative? Serial martial arts, let's say, 8 years of TKD followed by 7 years of BJJ followed by 4 years of choy lay fut? Are you just supposed to stay in your primary art forever?

Over the years, I've trained in a reasonably committed manner in three distinct styles (if you can really call them "distinct"). I trained in an eclectic Japanese art (had features of karate and jujutsu) for 12 years. I added tai chi after about 8 years, at which point I trained consistently in both. I recently stopped training in Japanese MA, switched to kung fu, but continued tai chi. I've also attended some workshops, and checked out a few different styles, while maintaining whatever was my "primary" art at the time. Obviously, that's not the same as style-shopping, but it's certainly cross-training.

At this point, I'm a newbie at kung fu, still working at tai chi, and overall I think I have a good martial arts foundation.

How do you folks do it? Do you stay in one art forever? Isn't "cross-training" really expected?

Cross training has been the greatest thing in the world for me. Gracie Jiu Jitsu has revealed many bad habits in my tae kwon do that I am now correcting. I am a firm believe that one style is sufficient if you have had to use it and adapt it for more realistic fighting than sparring and one-steps provide. Cross training is somewhat similiar in that each style's weakness is exposed in light of new information and feedback, though it still does not provide the same feedback as true "fighting" does. I certainly would not want to improve any art by going around and beating up people/getting beat up though!
 

Ninebird8

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In a sense I have cross trained because over the last 31 years I have had 3 masters teaching me variables of kung fu "bird" techniques. I have learned Ying jow eagle claw, wudan nine bird, and southern white crane. Along with this, I tied it all together with Yang tai chi. I will tell you that each of my teachers, and each of my bird styles, gave me something completely different, unique, and yet there were enough similarities that today they are almost interchangeable when sparring/fighting. However, I will tell you both the internal and martial aspects of tai chi were very different for me (not exactly the greatest at moving slowly!), and it filled in alot of gaps with fa jing, silk reeling, rooting, and sinking added to the connectivity, stances, animal moves, and fluidity of the kung fu. What would be difficult for me, personally, is to do what a few of you have done and cross trained in disparate styles of kung fu, karate, tae kwon do, etc. I did dabble in tae kwon do early on simultaneously with kung fu to learn the kicks, but overall found it very difficult. I have a kung fu brother, who is also a high level adept at juijitsu and aikido, who sometimes has fun in bringing them out during our weekly 2 hour sparring sessions. We also do push hands, and found that he has adapted my eagle claw locks/grabs in exchange for me adapting his finger locks, etc. from his arts other than kung fu. And, we find our tai chi is affected by what else we have learned. His aikido now is affected by his tai chi and vice versa.

The only reason I sparred in tournaments for awhile was to get a flavor of how other styles approached closing the gap, moving either in a circular or linear fashion, and if I could use my wrestling background and tai chi root to resist jiujitsu and suia jiao take downs. That was very interesting and fun!!

Soooo.....as long as you let your masters know what you are doing, I see no problem in it, ONCE YOU ARE ROOTED IN ONE STYLE THAT GIVES YOU A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR PERFORMANCE! Once at that level, in my mind it is okay to dabble, but I do have issue with people who go from one art to another every 3-5 years, and never really understand the basics of what they have! Sorta like changing your major consistently in college until finally 4-6 years has past and you still do not have your degree!! Get your undergrad first in one discipline, then diversify at the graduate level!!
 

jks9199

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One further thought on this...

My style (ABA Bando) offers an unusual breadth; we have numerous weapons, we have 9 animal systems which each have their own tactics and specializations, as well as the Monk system. Because our style of Bando combined and systematized many native martial arts from Burma, there's just a lot there to work with. It contains various ranges, from close/grappling to several steps apart (both in basics and in animal systems), and a lot more.

I'm not suggesting that other systems don't have depth of their own worthy of a lifetime's training... but there does come a time in some systems where there just isn't more material to learn. That doesn't mean you can't improve your understanding or body mechanics or find great personal satisfaction in training in them, either.
 

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JKS, although I have been doing Chinese arts for many years, and know through reading and fighting them, alot about Japanese/Korean/Filipino arts, can you recommend a decent reading on Burmese martial arts, or what generally makes them unique, root of their arts, etc. Just interested since I know very little of this country's art?

Thank you!!
 

Drac

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To cross train or not cross train, the choice is YOURS alone...The only advice I have ever given on that subject is WAIT until you have a thorough understanding of one discipline before attempting to start another...Personally there is more than enough in my current discipline to keep me happy for a LONG time
 

jks9199

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JKS, although I have been doing Chinese arts for many years, and know through reading and fighting them, alot about Japanese/Korean/Filipino arts, can you recommend a decent reading on Burmese martial arts, or what generally makes them unique, root of their arts, etc. Just interested since I know very little of this country's art?

Thank you!!
I'm not really aware of a lot that's decent and been published in the common press about Burmese martial arts. There are brief mentions in many of sort of "encyclopedia of the martial arts" books out there, and some are reasonably accurate with what I've been taught. Some are different. The ABA website has a history and overview. You may also want to check out Phil Dunlap's site at www.thaing.net which presents a different tradition on Burmese martial arts. There were also several articles written in the 90s in the martial arts press.

There are also other Burmese martial arts, but there's really just not a lot of documentation on them available here in the US.

I would counsel you to avoid Dominique Vandendberg's book The Iron Circle if you're looking for a book about the Burmese martial arts. He tells an interesting tale... if rather farfetched, and very reminicent of several of Van Damme's movies...
 

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I appear to be one of those minority of martial artists who firmly believes that an art with sufficient roots {koryu, to use the Japanese term} will contain all the combatative elements you will require providing that you train in it diligently and long enough.

My sensei uses the analogy that all the various styles are the spokes of a wheel. We all start on the rim at some point and work our way to the middle. Which spoke you slidedown does not matter nearly as much as your progress to the 'axle'.

My sentiments exactly. The older arts, were born out of strife, and contain all the elements for life preservation. And within the pages of the book of kata, if you look deeply enough, masterfuly contain just that. We need but to train with an open mind.
 

jarrod

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personally i train in whatever happens to catch my attention at the moment. that almost always includes some form of grappling, some form of striking, & some form of weapon, usually prioritized in that order. not because that is the importance i place on them, but because that is where my interests lie.

i think that besides exploring different styles, it's important to work with different teachers. i tried judo at several places & invariably dropped out until i found a coach that clicked well with me. even within a style a different teacher will bring another prospective.

jf
 

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personally i train in whatever happens to catch my attention at the moment. that almost always includes some form of grappling, some form of striking, & some form of weapon, usually prioritized in that order. not because that is the importance i place on them, but because that is where my interests lie.

i think that besides exploring different styles, it's important to work with different teachers. i tried judo at several places & invariably dropped out until i found a coach that clicked well with me. even within a style a different teacher will bring another prospective. jf


You can't beat passion and drive in a person, no matter what style. I have seen some white belts, that I couldnt wait for them to get promoted, so I didn't look so bad getting bounced around by them. Also a very good point above, there are good instructors, and then there are great ones. The great ones can make the most basic technique or move come alive with realism, or as you put it prospective.
 
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Phoenix44

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There are stylistic issues and then there are personal issues.

Sometimes your art is great for what it is, but you want to augment it with something else. Like you've been doing TKD for 10 years, and you'd like a little ground work. Or you think that taichi would add a dimension to your focus and movement. Or that Russian MA would help you release more power.

I've noticed that some people look elsewhere because of concerns they have about the instructor or dojo that may have absolutely nothing to do with teaching ability. For some people it's expense or travel time. Or you're not having fun anymore. Sometimes enough is just enough, and after 10-15 years, it's time. As my son put it after 11 years of Japanese MA, "I'd like to learn something Chinese..."

So I'm always curious when I read those "To cross-train or not cross-train" threads.
 
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I have to agree that most arts have most everything you'll ever need. However, I've got a little too much artist in me and I like to look at what others are doing in their arts and if I can experience it myself by training in the art I will. There's absolutly nothing wrong with the art I do. It's just fun for me to train with others and see how what I do compares to what they do and what I may be able to add to what I do.
 

MJS

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There have been a lot of threads about the benefits or drawbacks of cross-training. But really, what's the alternative? Serial martial arts, let's say, 8 years of TKD followed by 7 years of BJJ followed by 4 years of choy lay fut? Are you just supposed to stay in your primary art forever?

Over the years, I've trained in a reasonably committed manner in three distinct styles (if you can really call them "distinct"). I trained in an eclectic Japanese art (had features of karate and jujutsu) for 12 years. I added tai chi after about 8 years, at which point I trained consistently in both. I recently stopped training in Japanese MA, switched to kung fu, but continued tai chi. I've also attended some workshops, and checked out a few different styles, while maintaining whatever was my "primary" art at the time. Obviously, that's not the same as style-shopping, but it's certainly cross-training.

At this point, I'm a newbie at kung fu, still working at tai chi, and overall I think I have a good martial arts foundation.

How do you folks do it? Do you stay in one art forever? Isn't "cross-training" really expected?

IMO, there're 2 different sides to this...the group that feels that everything you could possibly need is in the one art, and the other side that feels that you should expand your knowledge. Now, I've debated with people on forums who crosstrain, but the difference is, is they're jumping from one to the next, only staying a short time.

I feel that cross training is a good thing. People always ask how it can be done, time wise. Very easily. Whats the rush? IMO, the goal shouldn't be to rack up 30 different arts, to pad your resume, but instead to just learn.

Now, for those that feel that 1 art is all you need, and it takes a lifetime to master...well, I agree and disagree. I do agree that it does take a long time. I've been in Kenpo for a little over 20 now and I'm still learning stuff. What I disagree on, is when people say that everything is there. Sure, in some arts weapon work, ground work, etc. is there, but how in-depth does it go? If someone is happy with whats there, thats fine. But, if that person wants to expand on an area, then looking at another art is necessary.
 

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Just as it's been put here on numerous post, there is nothing wrong with cross training, it's a personal choice for each and every individual. It's what they want that counts, it's what makes them happy that counts in my book. Personally I was happy with my style for all those years, then I decided I wanted to veer away from the MA aspect training and go in the direction of Personal Protection which still relies on MA style techniques, just not as detailed and far less of them.
 

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IMO, there're 2 different sides to this...the group that feels that everything you could possibly need is in the one art, and the other side that feels that you should expand your knowledge. Now, I've debated with people on forums who crosstrain, but the difference is, is they're jumping from one to the next, only staying a short time.

I feel that cross training is a good thing. People always ask how it can be done, time wise. Very easily. Whats the rush? IMO, the goal shouldn't be to rack up 30 different arts, to pad your resume, but instead to just learn.

Now, for those that feel that 1 art is all you need, and it takes a lifetime to master...well, I agree and disagree. I do agree that it does take a long time. I've been in Kenpo for a little over 20 now and I'm still learning stuff. What I disagree on, is when people say that everything is there. Sure, in some arts weapon work, ground work, etc. is there, but how in-depth does it go? If someone is happy with whats there, thats fine. But, if that person wants to expand on an area, then looking at another art is necessary.

I understand your point, and also agree to some of it. The old arts contain all you need to kill, each move was designed to destroy, The old kata were a catalog, to take the enemy from attack mode to defeat. The biggest problem is, the old arts dont seem to fit into todays laws and life style, and to be blunt are, at times, just plain boring, with there endless reputation. Dont get me wrong, I understand that reputation is needed, and I did my share of thousands of punches, while standing in the ready stance. Heck, sometimes those punches would take up the whole class. Over the life of my training from white belt to black belt my DoJo had opportunities to travel to the karate heart land, Okinawa, and train with notables, and guess what, more endless reputation. Could you imagine traveling thousands of miles, just like those thousands of punches, and doing the same thing you were doing here in your own DoJo. When you would ask questions of some of these old masters, they would just look at you and they would say just train. Now I am talking about Okinawa, during those few times when we were fortunate to go. It would be an adjustment of your arm or hand, a push on your hips, a down strike on your shoulders. At times when boredom would take over, while standing in line, we would look around to see if anyone cared about what we were doing. At those times you would get full attention with a shout, eyes to the front. Our kata seemed bunkai poor, because the focus was more on movement and structure, then what the heck we were really doing. Nothing was explained about bunkai until your kata movements were , the way they did it in Okinawa. Now to the question of cross training. I have trained with many practitioners, but only after many years of study in my own art. What I have found time and time again, was that all techniques from all other styles, whether it be ground or upright have a common thread of principles. Those principles were born out of those endless reputations that we did over and over again. There was a saying years ago that went like this, dont show me another technique, but teach me a few principles that I can use in thousands of techniques. The problem with learning a principle was that it was prone to be forgotten. Lets take the elbow in principle for example, I have seen many people that have trained many years that still have their elbow in the wrong place at the wrong time but were able to get by with sheer strength rather then pure technique. You can own a movement, be it right or wrong, and bad habits are hard to break. The old kata were right on with breath, movement, and structure, which some up to principles. If you were fortunate to train to boredom over many years, then take that to those cross training workouts, and you will amaze people about how much of their art you know. J
 
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