A karate master my Sensei used to train with had a saying: “One Love, One Religion and Only one Style…” The first two are pretty self-explanatory but the third one refers to a martial arts style.
Training in more than one style of martial arts is difficult. Even if you happen to find a school that has similar styles and techniques, there will always be some inherent differences, however minor they may seem.
I’ve been doing it for about three years, at this point. As some of you may remember, I’ve been studying Okinawan Karate for over thirty years. Given that length of time, it’s safe to say that I’ve become entrenched in my techniques and how I execute them. The current school of karate I train with has some differences in their techniques as well as some stances that often seem strange and feel alien to me. But to them, it’s what they know and how it SHOULD be done.
Consolidating the two styles has been a challenge. Especially if I ever have any hope of continuing my martial arts education and obtaining my next Dan (next degree of black belt), I need to keep my techniques and forms from my home style crisp and proper. To stray from that risks making my techniques ineffective and cost me some progress.
So, which one is better? I hear a lot of head-butting comments within the martial arts community about how “my way is better” and “my technique is the proper way”… Even within my job, I’ve had a lot of debates with some people relating to what combat style and what techniques are more effective.
I think people should remember that there is not one style that is better than another. Every style of traditional martial arts has its own unique combination of factors that make it effective. And martial arts in general is very subjective to the student.
For example, Tae Kwon Do is a very effective form of Korean martial arts. But for the life of me, I would never be comfortable executing all those high-flying kicks and maneuvers. I’m simply not built for it. But the next person may take to it like a fish to water. For me, Okinawan Karate is ideal because it focuses on the use of hand strikes and grappling, allowing me to use my specific skill set in conjunction with karate techniques. But the Tae Kwon Do student may find my fighting method to be too restrictive. In a battle between the two, so long as the Tae Kwon Do student keeps me at a distance, he or she can deliver some devastating blows. But sure as the Sun rises every morning, if I get within grabbing distance, the advantage quickly becomes mine!
The point is that every style has its own benefits and disadvantages. It falls to the student to examine and try different styles until they find one that fits. That’s why there’s really no such thing as “mixed martial arts”. this is why I referred to “traditional” martial arts, earlier.
Be certain to find the style that is right for you. Then train hard within it until you achieve proficiency. Trying and/or training in a second style shouldn’t be attempted by anyone who hasn’t already reached a significant level or grade within their primary style. To do so will only serve to muddy the waters. ☯