A prospective student came to the door, interested in martial arts training. When I asked him if he had any previous experience, he replied “yes, I’ve studied for about two years.” His training history consisted of 3 months in aikido, 2 months of karate, 4 months of kung-fu, 3 weeks of tai chi, etc., etc.. This is what we call “style hopping”…going from one style to another.
“What’s wrong with going from style to style?” some students say. Even Bruce Lee didn’t believe in styles. He believed that styles limited one’s true potential. As far as styles are concerned, Bruce Lee advised us to “absorb what is useful” and to discard the rest. Why can’t we be like Bruce Lee and just learn what we want and move on?
Bruce Lee’s advice is good for someone who already has a good foundation. Before experimenting with other styles, Bruce Lee studied the art of Wing Chun with Yip Man for approximately 5 years. He had an excellent foundation before he ventured into other areas.
All traditional martial arts were developed after many, many years of experimentation and dedicated study. Most traditional martial arts when studied with sincerity and regularity, will prepare you for expanding into other systems. Committing yourself to any one of these is the first step.
Focusing on one style at the beginning of your training will prevent confusion. At this level, you don’t have the sophistication to separate or integrate the different techniques and philosophies. But you start by developing strength, endurance and flexibility. You can learn how to stand, kick, punch and block. You can learn footwork and forms. You can learn how to react by sparring and working with a training partner. You can challenge your body and mind by progressing through your style’s curriculum. You can learn the principles of your art and the foundations of its origins.
Let’s face it. If you commit yourself to one style and study it faithfully until you have at the very least achieved black belt or black sash level, you will have developed a good foundation. In reality, earning your black belt means that you mastered the basics of that system. It is the beginning of your martial arts journey. Once you’ve reached this level, then you can explore other styles.
Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness
507 Westport Ave, Norwalk CT 06851