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karate_pty's picture
Training several martial arts at the same time?


I´ve been doing Karate and Kobudo and sometimes i get into conversations with other martial artists who say "oh, you have train judo, and jiu jitsu and boxing and this and that.

i go to work, i have family responsabilities, money responsabilities, etc, etc.  I barely make time to go to train in my regular Karate classes. So i wonder, it's really necesary for the modern martial artist to go and train in 2 or 3 more styles besides your choosen one? doesn't that takes time away to perfect the style you are trying to master? the people who do it, how much time you dedicate to each one?  isn't this approach too expensive?

thanks in advance for your answers


Marc's picture

I'm assuming that you are interested in the practical side of karate (an educated guess on this forum).

If you find the one or two katas that match your personal style of self-defence methods, then you might as well study those two katas deeply, and train them to a level of intuitivity. In the olden days katas were basically karate styles. You were learning the style of master Wanshu or master Kushanku or the 24-steps style. If your style was Wanshu's, then training in Kushanku's style might have been considered crosstraining back then.

Knowing and understanding more katas can broaden your understanding of your personal favorite kata. And maybe you find a new favorite that suits you even better.

Crosstraining in other martial arts can help detect or develop certain aspects of karate. However, if your karate instructor is able to teach those aspects then the benefit of crosstraining is only marginal, I would say.

All the best,


Mark B
Mark B's picture

Hi. I study, practice & teach Naihanchi, and only the Shodan version. I have been studying Naihanchi specifically for over 13 years and now have what I call my own "Naihanchi boxing system". By studying this form for so long it has evolved, and in many ways transcended the application based approach to now be concept driven, and now works at a level of of unconscious competence. The point I'm making is it doesn't matter if you study one art - karate, or one form or a selected group of arts, but if in combat you/we need to THINK about what we're doing within a close quarter scenario then it is already seriously flawed, regardless of which approach we favour. I think people get too hung up on what to choose rather than focusing on what we wish to extract from it. If you truly want genuine skills that you can trust under pressure then first don't over stretch yourself, second, begin to condense your skill set to concepts rather than application and third, focus on practicing those chosen elements to gain a deeper understanding , be that by choosing one or two kata, or by choosing elements of different arts. The choice is personal. Regards

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Personally, I have found there to be lots of benefit in cross-training. You can gain new insights, discover training methods, and it’s a good way to reflect on your core art from a new perspective. However, you don’t need to do it. We all have limitations on time and finances.

To be the best martial artist possible, you should train all day with the highest level of instruction possible. Get the very best strength and conditioning coaches. Forego friends, family, and a career too. However, most people fit martial arts into their life in a more balanced way. We may not be the best martial artists we could possibly be, but we get to do other things too.

So, you have to decide how much time and money you have available for martial arts balanced against all the other things you want to do too. If that leaves no time for cross training, then don’t cross train. Dedicate what time you have to your core art. Train as efficiently as possible within the remits that your wider life necessarily imposes. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a smart thing to do.

I recall reading in an interview where one master (can’t remember which one) encouraged, “family and friends first, work second, karate third”. As I recall, he would send students home if they were neglecting family, school work, etc. Seems like good advice to me and we could add, “cross training fourth” to that list.

Enjoy the time you have for training in your core art, and don’t worry about the time you don’t have for other arts.

All the best,


karate_pty's picture

Great answers, thanks for all of you who have replied.  Thinking about it, the way i can crosstrain is by taking seminars, watching videos, etc...but what i can't do right now, is take aditional martial arts and go all the way to black belt in each one. I´ve seen some masters curriculums and they have even up to 7 or 8 black belts in different martials arts, sometimes has high as 7th or 8th degree, and ive always wonder ,who did they do it? lol

Dash3's picture

I am a big fan of cross-training in several circumstances.

The first perhaps wouldn't qualify as cross-training per se, but when one starts out in martial arts, I think it is vital to find an art that matches your body, your personality, and your goals, and a good way to find that match is to try several.

Second, I think it can be a good way to supplement skills or focus. When I first started karate, my kicks weren't great so I practiced on the side with some friends who did TKD. More recently, I began training in judo because my karate club just didn't emphasize throws and ground work.

Third, I think it can deepen understanding of your primary art. My understanding of how to apply the kata techniques is frequently informed by my practice of judo or aikido and I like being able to flow between them in practice. Karate isn't, if my heresy can be forgiven, the end all be all of human conflict and sometimes other arts have ideas or techniques that are useful if not better (though I think incorporating such ideas and techniques is traditional to karate - perhaps Noah can give the full quote about karate being a pond that must be refreshed by other streams from time to time or it does).

But finally, I think your plan of seminars and the like is a fine way to go about it and is the way I currently have to go about it. As a carefree young man, I would go to 6+ classes a week in three different arts. Now, a full time job and two ridiculous and ridiculously active sons and I'm lucky to pull together enough free time for 2 practices with my primary art. Look also for places that offer free trial lessons or have an option for a drop-in rate (or mat fee).

Paul_L's picture

Speaking from personal experience and opinion, which isn't anywhere as deep as others here, so maybe not everyone will agree.

I became quite exited about the idea of cross training after looking at all sorts of things on the internet and it was fun to try these things out. After a while I realised that it was very likely that the more useful information regarding new or more advanced ways to look at Karate was being put out there by Karate practicioners who had spent many years working on their Karate foundations and they are good at Karate because of this.

I cross train myself, so I don't think that there is anything wrong with it. However, I do cross train with a plan which is to focus on building my Karate foundation and using the cross training to help with this. Hopefully it is working. My belief is if I want to get good at Karate I have to practice Karate.

tubbydrawers's picture


Just my little view on cross training. I had spent many years training in Karate and then decided to go into TKD to try and improve my kicking. After snapping my knee in a class one night - 3 months - before my 1st Dan grading, i decided i could not do both.

Fast forward 13 odd years later, I now teach, do one karate class a week and I cross train in a reality base defence system. Due to time constraints and the distance, I train there maybe once every other week. I find trying to fit in everything I want to do is very hard. I get up at 5am to do some gym work, go to work for 8 hrs then come home, I then either teach, go the club or do some yoga - which I have only just started - and spend time with the family. Not in that order though!! If I miss my morning workout, then i train at night.

I find cross training is good, but there has to be a purpose. Some people I train with just cross train but with no idea why. No idea on what they are after or what the end goal is. From my point of view I can't do that, i need to find a purpose in everything i do. Which is quite hard at times and maybe I question myself too much :)

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture


I love cross training, combining Karate and Wrestling was the best thing that my teacher have recommended to me. Since day one I walked in to dojo my Sensei incourage us to learn from others and I do the same in my dojo. 

If you don't want to learn from others atleast know what you might expect in fighting one. 

answering your question no you dont need to crosstrain, It can be expensive. I was fortunate enough that I met few people which become my good friends and mentors and I manage to have the agrement that I can train for free, but I will help them in dojo or a club. Other opion wast that their students can train in my dojo for free. 

At the moment organising seminars with teachers who I like and want to learn helps a lot too.

Kind regards


Tau's picture

I've been cross training for as long as I can remember. As ever, advantages and disadvantages. 


- potential for a massively broad skill set. I don't know any martial artist who is as broad as me in terms of skills and knowledge within different methods.

- greater networking

- Skill and principles do genuinely cross over. Good martial arts is good martial arts whatever label you choose to put on it


- Not everything works well together. I found that when I trained Karate and TKD simultaneously each had an adverse affect on my training in the other due to contradictions in methods and movement. For reasons not important to this thread, in 2009 I had to drop a lot of martial arts training. This "reset" actually did me a lot of good as I was able to recommence more sensibly

- I fear being a jack of all trades and master of none. 

Anf's picture

I've noticed that very often people never stop to ask what are your own personal goals, before telling you that your way is wrong. I've noticed that advocates of BJJ for example often openly mock practioners of other styles, citing the old argument that all fights end up on the ground and only BJJ prepares you for that. Very rarely does someone consider, you might just like the style you do. Your style might be right for your given strengths. You might like the art of it. You might be keeping fit in a fun way. You might have an interest in the history or culture etc etc. So do you need to cross train? Of course not. You don't need to train at all. Plenty of people live to old age without ever having taken a single martial arts class. So if you don't need to, it becomes a question of do you want to. That is a personal choice. I saw mention further up about some people holding several dan grades, and wondering how that is possible. I'm sure some people genuinely put years of effort into each. But I know that some people simply ask to be regraded at a new club based on their achievements at a previous club. In fact one association that I am a member of, that I shall not name, openly offers to regrade people to first dan if they've lost their certificate.

Quick2Kick's picture

I have attended seminars buy a guy who has a 8th in tkd, 7th from Joe lewis, 7th from bill Wallace, 7th in japenese jiujitsu, and 4th in bjj.  The guy LIVES in the dojo. 

When picking up a second style, shouldn't the effectiveness of the instructor play a major role. If your main school is of quality then your bs radar should be well tuned. Why submit yourself to subpar instruction? If you go to a wing chun class just to say you practice wing chun your missing the point. (Nothing against wing chun just using this popular style as an example)

Mulberry4000's picture

Cross training is like  academic essays, more sources the better, it fills out the essay.  However MAs is not an essay so i get that and  i hope you get the point. I can tell the difference between people have not cross trained, esp in karate, they will take the kata movements literally and offer reallly nonsensical interpretatations of the movments or wrong way to throw the person, but hey I keep mouth shut in class. Cross training in my view is very important it offers different insights into other arts, esp karate kata. It helps to enhance or show what is lacking with others arts. ie what you going to do if some one gets you on the floor and your a karate person. The gracies showed this, to some extent in their videos of challanges  even though they got themselves into some bad positons, if it was a fight with out rules, ie a stree fight, they be seriously hurt. The point is  karate person is exposed to throws,  and fighting on the floor, bjj to strikes, and kicks and throws > yep the club i attend in bjj is not big on throws or break falls. Judo is the same  exposed to kicks punches, but excellent in throws and grow work. A Judoka can throw a bjj black easy, if no drag downs  were allowed and you do not do that on the street. It is assume the judoka will have  a hard time on the floor witha bjjer, that is not true and its a myth they do not train ground work enough, they do in a context of expolsive movement to the hold etc. However a bjjer is  excellent on the ground, they are dynamic, fast fluid, slow and piatent, they can lock you up in knots. The techniques they teach come from judo but are developed for their rule set and can help suplement your skills,  not replace them. BJJ has and is helping my judo and karate no end.  Still the best bet is to stay on your feet and kick away esp  or run. My point is all MA are good and should be sampled, if you can , money and time may stop you,  or family/work etc. I would say it is very important to do so if you want to be complete, and would argue to people who say it is not nessesary, to think again Hoever if your instructor knows stufff to an acceptable level then  you do  not  need to do it. What is truth, your at one corner of the room, that is your truth! what about the other 3?