The United States has a great wealth of martial art talent. There are many schools, both traditional and modern, that offer excellent instruction in arts that we couldn’t have even imagined 30 years ago. If you have mastered the basics of one style, you may want to “round out” your martial arts training by learning a martial art that is totally different from your original style. This keeps your martial arts training fresh and introduces you to new skills and philosophies.
Notice that I said “mastered.” The worst you can do is hop from style to style and never master any single one. You may want to try out some classes in different styles until you find the right one for you, but once you do, give it a chance. It is only when you have gotten a good grasp of the basics that I recommend looking into other styles. Mastery in the basics of one style will ensure that you’ll be able to integrate your new knowledge and avoid confusion.
My martial arts training began with the Okinawan style of Goju Ryu in the Dominican Republic. The beauty of Goju Ryu was that it combined both hard and soft techniques and it was a wonderful way to be introduced to the martial arts. One of my reasons for coming to the United States was to become a well-rounded martial artist. I was excited to be in this country because it provided me with the opportunity to expand my martial arts training with styles that were not available to me in my native country.
I decided to balance my training by learning Wing Chun Kung Fu. I took the train into New York City to train with Moyat, who was a student of Grandmaster, Yip Man, who taught the late Bruce Lee. I was intrigued with Wing Chun because of its interesting history and it’s close combat philosophy.
Wing Chun equalizes the height and weight advantage that men have over women because it brings combat in closer to the opponent’s body, where the length of arms and legs no longer determine advantage. It is also a martial art that can be learned within a fairly shorter length of time than more traditional forms of Kung Fu.
What would you like to do to bring balance to your martial arts training? If you’ve trained in a hard style karate like Shotokan, why not try a soft style like Tai Chi. If you’ve done many years of Tae Kwon Do, where the emphasis is on a lot of kicking, why not take up boxing so you can get really good at using your hands? If your current style lacks a lot of self-defense training, why not take up something like Krav Maga to create some new skills? Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to expand your knowledge and bring yourself into balance. There’s much to learn!