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tubbydrawers's picture
Cross training

Hello all,

Just a brief history of myself and then you might understand my questions!!!

I have been a 1st Dan now for around 18 yrs and hopefully will be going for my 2nd this june. I put off my 2nd when I was with the KUGB in the UK, just due to the fact that I was enjoying my training and felt I had no need to grade. I live in  Aussie land and re-graded to 1st dan here and feel now is the time to go for my 2nd. This is partly due to myself being more involved with the teaching at my local dojo's.

Anyway, my schedule is this on a weekly basis.

Monday - Training at night

Tuesday - night off

Wed - I teach 3 classes

Thursday - I teach 3 classes every 2nd or 3rd week due to the roster or I help out.

Friday - night off, but once a month I go to Black Belt training which i organise or I help out at the end of school term gradings which cover 2-3 fridays in a row.

Sat - I teach 3 classes every 2nd or 3rd week due to the roster or I train.

Sunday - day off.

I also go the gym 4-6 times a week in the morning at 5.30am to do weights/cardio etc.

My observation is that I see so many of my training partners going to other martial arts like Ju-Jitsu or BJJ etc to learn other things. Some of them have just graded to 2nd Dan and they have told me that the karate club where we train doesnt provide for them anymore and they are going to train else where to get more skills etc.

Now for my self, I feel like I want to do this sometimes but I have  committed myself to helping the association in training the junior grades and helping running 2 dojos. I feel that karate has a lot more to offer than what some people realise but there is no one really at the club I train at that is interested in the kata like myself and to study it to get the locks, throws to reveal it from the katas. hope that makes sense.!!!

I have been out the hospital now 7-8 months where I had most of my kidney removed due to a cancer type growth on it, I have to pad my side up when I spar and although I am lot more fitter now,( I have been killing myself down at the gym), I dont know if I could train elsewhere. i would love to do some judo or BJJ to complement my karate but the thought of being thrown hard to the ground is a bit of worry to my wife and me!!!

I am sat here aching after yesterdays karate session as I have been diagnosed with the beginning stages of arthritis in my joints especially my ankles, fingers. I constantly have to take painkillers or anti-inflammitry drugs to get me through my training sessions.

My wife is worried that I might harm my already sore body if I went into another martial art.

So my question to the forum is , should I be content with what I have got or do I aim for something higher, do I study my katas to a depth to find all the throws, joint locks and help my students find them.

I do sometimes think I am too wrecked to do another martial art and I should be more content with my training and studying my katas, and be really fit and healthy. I just get fed up with people getting to black belt and then saying that karate is no good or that the club that they train at is useless and then leaving to train elsewhere.

What do you think? I think i already know what some people might say but from another point of view might help/push me in the direction even though i dont want to go there!!!



Jason Lester
Jason Lester's picture

Hi Craig, first of all i can understand you frustration. I will start by saying if ones looks deeper enough into their own style or system you will find all the answers there, secondly dont be a jack of all trades, be a master of one.

As we are all aware there are many martial arts clubs around offering different training and of course mma is very big on the martial arts scene, but how many of those clubs have good all round instructors that really knows his or her art and is able to teach the art in depth and fully, and how many instructors are open minded!

I have been training and studying traditional karate for 24 years now and been teaching since 04, as a child it was my intention to gain a black belt in as many martial arts as poss, and i have indeed trained in other martial arts but only for a very short time. Karate is and always will be my chosen discipline and im always learning something new from karate.

Although one should go and try new things, whatever other martial arts may offer you can be sure that if one looks deeper enough (as above) you will find all your answers in your own art.  Master Gichin Funakoshi states in Karate Do Kyohan that people nowadays study widely and not deeply, although there is no right or wrong.

As for individuals who suffer from ill health and still want and train etc, one has to change their training to suit. For example one of my lady students who in her early fifties and is very talented with no previous martial arts training has arthritis in her legs and now cant kick. So i have removed the kicks from her training and kata (which was interesting to say the least) but by doing so she can still train and enjoy karate in which she loves.

No matter what martial art one chooses they are all good and have something to offer, but be sure to shop around, have tasters and when chosen be sure to do your own research and study into the art. A good instructor should be able to cover all aspects of their art from stand up to grappling etc, if not then shop elsewere.

The above are of course my views and thoughts only.

I hope this is of some help.

take care in training,

kind regards,


Jikoboei Ryu/google/youtube

ky0han's picture

Hi Craig,

maybe you can try a kind of compromise. Cross training in my eyes is kind of important. When you look for throws and locks and you don't know how they look like and you have no understanding of the principles behind them, how they work etc. than it is kind of hard to identify those kind of things in kata. So my advice would be to watch a lot of those instructional Videos and DVDs. You can practise the seen material with a couple of your senior students to make them work for you and your students. You can also consult or invite a teacher to host a seminar once in a while on certain aspects of fighting e.g. Aikido or Judo for throwing and locking. For me cross training means that you look over the edge of the plate, not jumping from plate to plate. You should have your core system and the cross training should be beneficial not detrimental in terms of making you insecure whether karate is your thing anymore or not.   So your schedule seems rather packed. So if I were you, I would not take up a regular class of whatever other martial art. I am cross training occasional and I bring things that I have learned into my Karate training. No need for me to train anything else regularly.

Remember Karate consists mainly of punching. Kicking, locking, throwing etc. is in the secondary toolbox. So the priority is on punching. The rest should be trained but with another priority.

Just my 2 cents. :o)

Regards Holger

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Kyohan is right IMO, look for extra training if you really want it and feel it'd help you grow, don't pursue it because of some obsessions with covering all your bases. Karate is SIMPLE and effective, focus on that.

I've never trained BJJ specifically,but i've done a small amount of newaza and in my experience it is not that hard on the body providing that you have good partners to roll with, and tap when you need to.  Newaza in general can be very "playful" and not terribly injurious as long as you are careful and don't train with crazies...standing randori is another story, I took a big beating to my body in my little exposture to Judo, and we didn't even do full randori that often.

A piece of personal advice on throwing: Karate people are often the most difficult to take throws from because we learn very bare bones ukemi, and we don't know the nice little tricks to make things easier on our partner that come with protracted training in throws, if you want to get the real higher level detail of the throws, find a Judo or Jujutsu person.

Cross training is great and can do wonderful things for your Karate perspective if your heart is in it, just don't do it based on someone else's claims and hangups.

It sounds like with your injuries the throwing may be out of the question for now, I guess my personal advice would be to find someone doing the newaza and try it out a bit if it floats your boat.

Again though, people are people and they often don't see the value in things that aren't fancy and all-inclusive, you cannot fault yourself, or Karate for that. Frankly it is their loss if they leave based on some half baked notion that they need to know how to do a flying armbar to have a "complete system". People like complexity and constantly moving on to new things, so often discard things of substance for whatever seems interesting or different.

DaveB's picture

I'm a total believer in cross training, I don't believe it is in some way being unfaithful or disloyal, it is simply a means of learning new and different ideas. As has been mentioned, kata having locks and throws encoded in them is no use to you if you have not got a teacher to guide you and you lack the base of training the techniques, understand how to train them and how to make them work in context with the rest of your art. For this reason your fellow yudansha who are moving on are in their own way advancing their karate study in a much more meaningful way than those who ignore the kata and just keep training without question.

With your ailments, perhaps you would benefit from something with a strong focus on health and well being while still advancing your skills. An internal art like Tai Chi or Bagua Zhang might be able to offer you additional skills in terms of control and manipulation techniques and close quarter fighting as well as teaching advanced concepts of efficiency, but be somewhat easier on your body than something like judo or BJJ.

By all means stay with your association, keep on teaching, but never be afraid to do what will benefit and develop yourself as a karateka as it can only mean a better quality of education for your students.

tubbydrawers's picture

Hello all,

Thanks for all your comments, its been a bit hard for me to get on here and actually write due to my schedule. Anyway, I think I have come to the conclusion that although I would love to do grappling/judo etc, I dont think that my body will handle it.

I read a lot books, watch dvd's etc and speak to people in my class when I am training and see what they think regarding applications, locks etc. At the moment that seems to be the best for mysefl as I have a shoulder injury as well and have physio on a monday night to see if we can fix it!!!

My body does seem to be falling apart!!!  I was teaching on Thursday last week actually and one of the students parents came up to me and asked if I had hip problems due to me walking with a limp and taking a slow time to walk across the floor!!!

It does take me a while to get moving but once I do then I am ok!!!

Back to the kata applications for me then.!!! I think the body has made its mind up for me.

Thanks once again


karate10's picture

I know a class mate  thats in my Kyokushin Karate Dojo practicing BJJ during the weekends because he felt that Karate in general doesn't have the solution for ground fighting.....In my opinion, Karate does has alot of countless techniques that you can train and use for ground fighting if you look at the Katas and explore the Bunkai application, but in the case you're stuck on a particular Kata, ask the the Sensei for help.....But people these days don't want to even ask their teachers.....I could never do multiple arts at the same time....I'm happy in what I'm doing and you Craig should maintain course in what your doing....Stay gold =)

Best wishes....Jerry

Tau's picture

I've seriously cut back this year for a number of reasons. This time three years ago I was training (shifts permitting) 8 times in 6 days. I had Fridays off for my music lesson. That wasn't clever and when fiancee (now my wife) took ill I had no physical or mental reserves. For a number of reasons I pretty much had a nervous breakdown that summer. It taught me a lot.

I haven't intentionally stopped doing Taekwondo but I haven't actually attended a class since before Christmas. I could train in that four times a week, again shifts permitting. the truth is that I became very disillussioned with the art and although I miss my friends from training I don't miss the training in the slightesy. Instead I've taken up Eskrima which is only one (2.5 hour) class per week. I'm loving it and wish I'd taken it up years ago. I've been trying to write books on Martial Arts but never have the time. I still run my Jujitsu classes.

I guess what I'm saying is that I developed a reputation for training and dedication of which I was extremely proud but in retrospect was completely unbalanced. I train less at the moment but feel healthier as a result. I'm keeping the weekly training down this year although I still attend every seminar that I can (indeed I've not long returned from training in Malta). I'll look to adding in something probably in January 2013.