3 Reasons Why You Should Learn More Than One Martial Art

Any martial artist should have experience in more than one style.

Last week, I attended a combat hapkido seminar led by Mr. Donald Moore. I have no formal training in combat hapkido, so I was apprehensive about making the hour-and-45-minute trip to Moline.

However, as I found out during the course of the four-hour seminar, combat hapkido teaches the same types of things I learn in karate, tai chi chuan and Hsing-i chuan.

1. You’ll learn that each martial art has more in common with another than you think

First, the martial arts share a few common goals – namely, self-defense and bettering yourself.

Over the past several years, and especially in recent months, I’ve been working on expanding my knowledge of traditional karate kata to incorporate joint locks and throws. It turns out that hapkido is full of many of these same techniques – wrist locks from opposite- and same-side grabs, center locks, armbars (“pluck the needle from the bottom of the sea,” in Chinese lingo), and more.

Martial arts can often be distinguished by particular characteristics of movement, stances, hand positions, breathing and so on, but we should always be reminded of what the martial arts in general aim to achieve: a strong body and a sound mind.

2. You’ll get more out of seminars

Next, if you do like I did and attend a seminar about an art that you have no experience of, it’s conceivable you’ll feel like you fit right in.

Given the relatively small group that Mr. John Morrow hosted at Morrow’s Academy of Martial Arts, Mr. Moore took some time before the event to survey his participants. We had about a five-minute discussion during which he asked me about my martial arts experience, and he was able to relate since he’s trained and ranked in both karate and tai chi chuan.

Throughout the seminar, when Mr. Moore was about ready to explain something to the group, he’d tell me to pay special attention  or just demonstrate the technique on me so I could better understand. Because of his capability and knowledge as an instructor, I was able to find more value in the information he presented.

3. You’ll bring new information back to your art

Finally, once you’ve made the step to go outside your art and learn a thing or two, it’s time to bring it back.

The sole purpose for me to continue training in the Chinese martial arts and to seek out other sources of knowledge is to deepen my own understanding of Okinawan Shuri-ryu karate. As my instructor routinely says to me, Shuri-ryu is a complete system, and we need to learn why that is. By going outside of karate and learning tai chi chuan and Hsing-i chuan (Shuri-ryu karate’s predecessor), and attending a combat hapkido seminar and other events, I’m able to bring all of that knowledge back to my original art.

What reasons do you have for cross-training? I’m sure you have more to add to this list! Leave a comment below and describe what you’re thinking.

Thanks to Jeff Tillett for suggesting the topic for this article. If you have a martial arts topic you’d like read about, let me know. 

By Adam Bockler

Adam Bockler is a B2B marketing professional, a DDP Yoga instructor, a personal trainer, a multi-time USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame inductee, a blood donor, and many other things.

3 comments

  1. Hard Qigong is not part of Tai Chi practice, it is a Shaolin metohd. You will be learning Qigong if your teacher includes it, which they should, but most teachers in the US don’t have complete Tai Chi training, though many do. It is a soft training that increases your internal energy and strengthens your internal organs. There are no requirements for you to learn but you will be asked if there is any physically ailment in which you should be very clear in explaining your problems with the teacher. Tai Chi is one of those things that you SHOULD NOT learn at all if it is not under a real teacher. There are too many details involved in the training and you will not enjoy the full benefit of the training. Hope this helps.I trained in Hsing I Chuan a sister art of Tai Chi under a Taiwanese Master and Martial Qigong.

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