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.