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Malachy Devlin
Malachy Devlin's picture
too much syllabus.

Dear All,

What is your opinion on trying to study 2 martial arts at a high level at the same time.

So I am doing Wado Ryu Karate 1 night a week and WJJF Jujitsu at the weekend.

I am starting to think that the sheer size of the syllabus (especially in the later) combined is just too much and is causing me to:

1. Not really excel at either.

2. Stress outside the Dojo over trying to absorb too much.

3. Just "Get By" in both arts.

Some examples are with KATAs, combined I would have 18 Katas to learn.

Is it a case of the "hunter who chased the 2 rabbits" (and caught neither..)

Or is it a good thing to study 2 arts?


ps I am they type that would prefer to know things at a very deep level, I would rather be great at one than "OK" at both.

Anf's picture

I think it depends on the individual, and the schools involved.

I trained in wado for a few years. I remember it being one of the most simple yet practical styles I've ever practiced. But that could have just been the school I went to. I loved wado. I never did jujitsu but I believe wado contains elements of it. I once even read somewhere that there's a debate going on whether wado should come under the karate umbrella or the jujitsu umbrella because of shared principles. Personally I'd lumped wado under karate but I do remember there being lots of trapping and take downs in wado right from the off.

In more general terms, again its a personal thing, but I can't commit to a single style. Sooner or later I get too frustrated with all the obvious faults that tend to get glossed over. I find different styles contribute different aspects to the big picture. Where one might have you learn an apparently ridiculous technique for no other reason than its 'traditional', another style might teach the same movement but with an entirely different explanation, and an actual practical use.

What works for me is to look at techniques as nothing more than a vehicle to convey principles. I find that as I get a handle on a set of principles, I can build them into techniques pretty quickly in other styles, or freestyle.

PASmith's picture

At the end of the day I train for my own self fulfilment. So I'll plough my own furrow and train however I see fit at the time. I've had times where it was one style. And other times where I was doing 4 styles (Thai, sub-grappling, Rapid Arnis and BJJ) in any week. So long as you are honest about what you are doing then I think you should train as you see fit.

At the times I trained many styles I tried to make sure they complimented each other (weren't contradictory for example) and I just accepted that I wasn't as good at any one style as I could have been because I flat out enjoyed the process of training them all.

Neil Babbage
Neil Babbage's picture

I train in (sort of) Shotokan karate and Krav Maga at the same time - about four / five sessions a week in total. The "sort of" is because the kata are Shotokan derived, the bunkai are from Wado and we've blended them along with some other stuff to create a practical (albeit still recognisably karate) syllabus. I find the two systems very complementary because such overlap that there is (some of the throws for example) tends to be very similar. Your particular situation wouldn't work for me - I wouldn't want to follow two different karate styles at the same time because of the nuances that can make separating them differently (e.g., different versions of the same kata, different hand positions when performing some kihon, etc.)

Wastelander's picture

To be honest, at one night a week, you aren't studying either one of those at a "high level." People who train one night a week have a hard time meeting the expected rate of progression, let alone excelling at it. I would suggest picking one of those arts to be your primary area of focus, and bump it up to training 2-3 times a week, and leave the other one at just 1 time a week as a supplement.

Tau's picture

I've cross-trained for nearly the entire time I've been doing martial arts which is approaching 30 years. The success of cross-training depends on many factors including how much time you put into the respective arts and what level you're training at. For the most part I've found great benefit in training more than one art. Where I found it a problem was when I was training Wado Ryu and Taekwondo simultaneously. Due to differences in fine points of stance and massive contradictions in movement practicing both made me worse at both.

Malachy Devlin
Malachy Devlin's picture

so i think the secret may be to choose a "Primary Art" and pick some supplement training that:

1) Doesnt involve a learning syllabus and progression, ie something that you can drop into at will (eg MMA, Boxing etc)

2) Doesnt contradict the primary art and is a compliment to it, eg Wado Ryu and the occassional boxing or MMA class wouldnt get in each others way.

deltabluesman's picture

I do a lot of cross-training and I have found that, in my own experience, the best approach is to focus on a small handful of core techniques.  I unfortunately don't know anything about WJJF Jujutsu, so I can only speak in generic terms.  If I were in your position, I think I would choose a single Wado kata and devote the majority of my practice to studying its bunkai and developing any support skills necessary to bring that bunkai to life.  I would then build gradually and slowly from that foundation.  To the extent that the jujitsu skills connected with that kata, I would focus on them.  Otherwise, I would regard the jujitsu as a secondary art that I was studying for personal enjoyment only. 

I prefer to approach cross-training very deliberately.  So I will actually create a game plan to try and make my studies more efficient.  The game plan is a tool for structuring your drills and your training.  You boil down your martial arts to the core techniques and then try to hone those to a high level.  Here's an example of how I approach it:

# I center a lot of my training around versatile tools like flinches and covers.

# I focus on techniques that work in many different contexts.  For example, if a technique only works against someone wearing a gi, I pretty much ignore it.    

# I try to emphasize basic concepts like footwork, distancing, and angles, because these support everything else.

# I have a handful of takedowns that I go to every time and I try to drill them once or twice every week.

# I have a very systematic, straightforward ground game.

This is a quick list and there's a lot more that could be said (about blending specific arts, about dissecting a specific kata, about goals and context, etc.).  On the off-hand chance they are useful, I'll link to two articles I wrote that are somewhat relevant:  Game Plans for Cross-Training (https://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/content/game-plans-cross-training) and How to Choose a Martial Arts School (https://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/content/how-choose-martial-arts-school).  Both are unfortunately long-winded, but perhaps you'll find a comment or two that is useful.    

Best to you --


Malachy Devlin
Malachy Devlin's picture

Thanks to you all.

I have mulled over the issue (more than I should probably) but thats just me.

So I have made a decision that fits in with my work life & family life.

My Primary Art is Wado Ryu and I am going to keep doing that but with a renewed energy and attention to detail. I train 1 night per week (2hrs intense) at my club but i train almost daily at my own little garage dojo.

Anything I have learned previously I won't unlearn and that can always be there but as for a supplement I am going to attend a BJJ class 1 time per week. I have chose this because:

I will get resistance training and pressure testing.

I will have good experience on the ground and can add that to my skill set

It has NO crossover with Karate in the slightest in real terms (athough principals are similiar in terms of moving, leverage and technique).

There will be no conflict with syllabus & i can just turn up, roll and forget about syllabus if i wish.

There is an element of takedown, self defence from grabs etc so I will still see lots of Bunkai put to practice.

I am freelance and this is a morning class on a friday, I can commit a few hours off my work (Helps with stress anyway) and it is a good idea when you have a high pressure job to have some downtime during working hours.

And most importantly, the BJJ instructor is a real nice chap and very welcoming, there is a warm friendly atmosphere (this is not always the case, some clubs I go to have an instructor who makes you feel he hates you and club members that create a toxic atmosphere) - this is probably a more signifcant factor than we think.

Karate and BJJ in my eyes are a pretty "hot" combination.

So thanks to all for your valued experience and input.

deltabluesman's picture

Excellent choice, I think you'll find pragmatic Wado + BJJ to be a powerful combination.