It stands to reason that in order to truly master something, you need to be committed to it. It’s very, very difficult to say, master a karate style if you’re training and/or studying in five different styles. Eventually, the differences in methods and techniques will catch up and confuse you, leaving you unable to properly master any one style.
As Master Robert Trias once said, “One Religion, One Love, One Style…” But your style should never stand alone. There are many things that you can do to help your journey along during your training. Many popular mainstream martial artists that you see on television or on film indulge in a number of other activities that the common person wouldn’t associate with martial arts.
Gymnastics or dance are some of the most popular ones, since they can provide a significant amount of benefit. It’s almost symbiotic, where dance provides benefit to the martial arts and vice versa. I started studying dance back in 2007, while living in Ottawa (that’s right, I can cut a mean rug). I absolutely LOVED it, and the instructor frequently asked me over and over if I was certain that I had never studied dance before.
I finally admitted to studying karate, which she immediately confirmed was likely why I was so good at dance, since it would help with balance, proper stepping and remembering sequences. And there are plenty of options as it relates to the martial arts, including music, poetry, gardening and floristry. But what I’m referring to, is specifically the examination and understanding of other types of martial arts.
Miyamoto Musashi wrote, “To learn the fist, study commerce. To only study the sword will make you narrow-minded and will keep you from growing outward.” It should make sense, right? When was the last time that you didn’t learn at least something from observing the actions of others? The same can be said of martial arts styles. By observing and learning a little something about say, Judo or Tae Kwon Do, I can learn a great deal about the shortcomings of my own style, the techniques I need to develop/perfect and what my style may be lacking as opposed to others.
Don’t be afraid to branch out and explore. As I’ve often said before, if you’re part of a martial arts club that discourages the observation and study of other styles, your respective instructor may not have your best interests at heart. Although you should ensure your dedication to a specific style, learning about others can provide benefits and correction that you may not get otherwise. Another perspective is never a bad thing. ☯