Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cross Training

I think everyone should cross train, getting perspective on what you do is a hugely valuable thing.
It has it's down side of course, which is why you have to pay attention of how the new things you are doing effect what you already know. It can be a positive effect, or a negative one, as some martial arts are more complimentary to others, whilst others have a whole different methodology and ruling concept that drives them. This is where understanding context comes in, and understanding what concepts cross over and are applicable to both arts, and what are only applicable to one or the other.
Sonny was always very adept at telling if a student, who had perhaps been absent for a couple months and returned, had been training in another art. "Ah, you've been training Wing Chun/Silat/Shaolin I see".
Spend time training an art that emphasizes forward pressure, closing distance, taking angles, or focuses intent on the center line for instance, and you'll get a corresponding reaction with a pinuti in your hand.
Spend time with a different sword design, say a thin, narrow, point weapon, and what you need to do to prevail with that, might come out when using a heavy, short, edged weapon ..... and vice versa .... often not good in my experience. However, to defend AGAINST an unmatched weapon you have to understand this.
All systems of thought, and weapon designs should have a logic behind why you do what you do, with what you have in your hand - they work because A, B, C .... so to defend against, you'll need X, Y, Z

All this stuff comes out in random flow or sparring, and that is why these practices are invaluable for understanding what pieces fit to what context.
Nothing shows up flaws like trying to hit someone whilst they are trying to hit you, using the same system/weapon, or with something completely different.


The Hackademician said...

Do you think that cross training is always beneficial no matter when it begins? Is there a danger of not giving enough time to one system early on in training and missing fundamental things that make a particular approach work?

Maija said...

From KS -
- won't let me post comments on your most recent post on crosstraining:

Personally, I think this is why there is a self-research thing always
going on. "What works best for me, my personality and goals?"

Also, there is usually a 'core' set of principles or ideas that
governs a person's viewpoint on martial arts. I think developing such
a viewpoint is vital to personal growth and expression.

Maija said...

@The Hackademician -
I think we can learn all kinds of disparate stuff just fine, at least I have done in the past, but on some level you have to trust your teacher more and 'just do'.
This leaves you potentially open to having to 'unlearn' bullshit later, when your ability to critique gets better .... but is that worse that trying out a bunch of things?
Perhaps it's down to the individual?
I do agree that one's ability to critique does take a sustained level of practice, but my gut feeling is that we tend to get too partisan if we stay only in one field, and at some point it's good to take a look in from the outside.

Jake said...

Nice post.

I think the degree to which one thing can affect another depends in part on how much overlap there is.

For example: if you train Muay Thai and start doing some boxing, you end up with some conflicting movement styles that can interfere with each other until you integrate them.

If you train Muay Thai and start doing BJJ...the games are so different that, at least in the beginning stages, you don't end up with as much pattern interference.

@The Hackademician

I think learning multiple things at once is fine, provided that you stick with them. Jumping from system to system isn't cross-training, it's lack of focus. Learning a couple of things at once can be fine (provided you've got the time/energy/willingness to dedicate yourself to multiple training methods)

maci said...

Another great post!
I have cross-trained Wong Jackman's Xingyiquan for over a year, while continuing to practice Gao Yizong Xingyiquan. It was my first time training so similar an art, with different forms and teacher focus.
I am glad to have done it because it increases my understanding of Xingyiquan as a whole martial art, themes become pronounced that I would not know from one lineage only. I practice the forms in separate workouts and try to strictly keep them from changing each other. Once taught the animal forms by my first teacher, though, I quickly wanted to stop drilling the other set of animals as much, because I need time to absorb in as entirely as possible. I guess what I'm saying is, for my style of learning, which involves training my muscle memory, learning other styles is helpful while no new material is being worked on in one's main art. I have found it easier to absorb them independent of each other by learning new forms and practices from one school at a time, while maintaining the known drills of the the other. I don't think it would help muscle-memory training to learn two freshly and simultaneously.
If readers are considering crossing into a new school, I hope this helps.