Does Cross Training in the Martial Arts Make You A Partial Artist?
My opinion is yes, I think it can make you a partial artist. Learning one art then moving on to another is one thing, jumping around to multiple studios at the same time, to me, isn’t the most focused way to go about things. If you’re supplementing your training with videos and books from other martial arts systems and styles, that’s one thing. It’s not a total distraction from your training. Taking seminars in other arts also follows into this bucket. However, in my estimation, taking two systems or more at the same time with equal focus takes you off track and doesn’t allow you to “rifle” in.
Mr. Mills once told me one time of a conversation he had with his instructor Mr. Ed Parker about this subject. Mr. Parker told him to rifle in instead of using the shotgun/scattered approach so he could thoroughly learn American Kenpo. The sentiment was you can either be good at one thing, or a jack of all trades. Mr. Parker did it. Mr. Mills did it. Wise advise, and fine examples, if you ask me.
Why the term partial artist? Because you can’t fully understand all of the intricacies, methodologies and techniques when juggling different arts. Most arts have different mindsets, philosophies and maneuvers. It’s like trying to learn German, French and Russian then trying to combine them as you speak. What a mess!
So why do some people study more than one martial art at a time? Some martial arts students feel that there isn’t one perfect system out there and they want to sample different arts – taking the best moves and strategies – as a means to become competent in several different areas of the arts. Further, that it will also make them a more “complete” or well rounded martial artist. The reality is that while a small amount of people can accomplish this, for most, it can dilute their understanding of truly learning one art well.
By focusing and dedicating themselves to learning one art, those that focus hope to rifle in and understand it more completely and thoroughly by immersing themselves in it. For many, learning one art is hard enough to truly learn all of its intricacies, movements and philosophies. Some might find this boring or that they are happier with more variety. One of the best solutions is to take an art that encompasses several other martial arts allowing one to focus on art but become multifaceted.
I’m not saying don’t be open to new ideas, but trying to juggle multiple systems at the same time isn’t the smartest use of time, if you ask me. It can make you a partial artist.