Friday, 14 January 2011

Cross Training - Article

Wikipedia defines Cross Training as:-

In mixed martial arts and self-defense applications, cross-training refers to training in multiple martial arts or fighting systems to become proficient in all the phases of unarmed combat. This training is meant to overcome the shortcomings of one style by practicing another style which is strong in the appropriate area. A typical combination involves a striking-based art such as Muay Thai, combined with a grappling-based art such as Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Many hybrid martial arts can be considered derivatives of such cross-training.
Modern mixed martial arts training generally involves cross-training in the different aspects and ranges of fighting.

Some people train in multiple styles in order to become more rounded martial artists. The ability to be able to “hold your own” in any given range, from weapons down to striking, and finally grappling and ground-fighting, is something that you can rarely get from any one single art.
However, some would say this can result in a bit of a “jack of all trades” and not someone who is actually focusing and striving to attain expert skill levels in any one area.

Moreover, some take it to the natural conclusion of studying multiple martial arts styles and systems so as to reach for expert skill levels in the world of mixed martial arts. A kind of expert “jack of all trades” if you will.

This, for me, is all perfectly fine and to see someone who has a supreme talent in whatever range you place them in, be it kicking, punching, or grappling, is fantastic to see and most certainly a fierce and dangerous adversary. Someone who can cope with an expert in any range and with the added ability of being able to take that opponent to a different range where they then become the superior force, is an art-form and a fine example of a martial artist.

However, there too, is absolutely nothing wrong with remaining focused on your one chosen art or range. In fact, we need true experts and masters (if one can every really attain such a level) in each and every style. After all, who else does the cross trainer go to when he needs the very best tuition in any one of his/her chosen combined arts.

Over my own martial arts career I have sought to gain knowledge in all of the main ranges and I have done this by seeking tuition from the best I can find in each of those ranges. I learned boxing from professional boxing coaches, I then learned to grapple from some of the best wrestlers and judoka I could find. I’ve taken myself to find the very best instructors in all of the arts I’ve studied and most of those have been specialists in their own chosen art.

So we need specialists and we need those who follow a path that is ‘one art’ and ‘one direction’.
However – here’s the twist.

When I suggest to a fellow Karateka that he may want to consider some roadwork to improve his endurance in the dojo; or to introduce a couple of weights sessions per week to improve his overall strength and explosive power, I get very few raised eyebrows.

And yet, when I suggest he go and study another art that may complement and enhance his own form and technique in his chosen art, this often still doesn’t get the warm welcome that my previous advice received.

If my Kata contains throws, then why not pop along and take some advice from a judoka who does this for a living?

If my Kata contains hooks and uppercuts, then what should stop me from gaining some expert advice from the world of Western Boxing where they too do this for their primary art?

If my TKD sparring doesn’t contain leg kicks or elbows, that is not to say that committing a few hours to a Muay Thai class to experience how they are done won’t benefit the rest of my sparring game.

I have made a few statements above, not to single out the arts of Karate or TKD in any way at all, but merely to emphasise my point.
Cross Training doesn’t have to simply be about leaving your main art behind to become a “jack of all trades”

Cross Training is about complimenting you own style. About gaining more experience from the “Experts” who dedicate themselves to studying the things you wish to experiment with and bring back to enhance your own game.

In 2010, I was blessed to be invited to teach in Seattle alongside of some fantastic instructors from a wide range of arts and backgrounds. As I always teach in shorts and t-shirts now, and not a traditional gi, I think a lot of people forget where my origins and roots lie, that of Shotokan Karate.
So it was refreshing and wonderful to be sharing a dojo floor with a fantastic group of experienced martial artists, predominantly wearing their karate gi, and yet all of whom were massively receptive to the techniques and teachings being thrust in their direction from quite diverse styles and arts.

It showed me there is most definitely a place for Cross Training in traditional arts and not just that of using weights or hitting the road, but using other martial arts to enhance your own preferred style.

Cross Training:- It’s not selling out, it’s buying in more!

Cross Training:- It’s not about detracting from what you are already doing, it’s about adding to it!

Cross Training:- It’s not about watering down your traditional art, it’s about enriching it with more flavours!

So I urge all the traditional martial artists out there to consider looking further afield; to widen your field of vision and consider delving into some other arts. It’s fun to put on a white belt again, it’s rejuvenating to start something new and it’s a great way to enhance what you already have.

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland
Personal Safety Expert

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Equally, if you’re considering getting into martial arts, this course is a fantastic way to gain a taster in a diverse selection of styles so that you can move on in the direction you like the most.

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1 comment:

  1. So good, I had to post a bit of this article to my blog!