Build your core, then explore.

“What do you think of Krav Maga?” asked a fellow student.

It’s another martial art. It offers much by way of defensive and offensive techniques. Often, you’ll see videos of people hitting a shield over and over and maybe some knee strikes. No, that doesn’t do it justice, I know.

Being a 3rd degree black belt, I encouraged him to go explore, take some other classes and pick up useful pieces of other styles and apply it an integrate it with the core he knows well.

So often today’s martial arts schools discourage students from exploring other martial arts. You’ll hear things like, “X is better than Y”, or “with A you don’t need to learn B or C”. So beyond the truth is this and do far away from true martial arts.

I do believe that practicing foundations in a single core martial art is necessary before moving into missing disciplines. Nothing wrong with getting a taste, but having a strong core is the prerequisite. Pick any, but make it your core first.

Often students will ask me what other martial arts are like, saying they might like to quit and try something else. I always tell them to get their black belt first, then they can explore, but not before then.

I’ve dabbled in several martial arts but I didn’t come to truly appreciate the field until I sunk myself deep into one and got my black belt (finally). Then I explored again, but keeping true to my core. UFC Champion Georges St-Pierre has a true core: Kyokushin Karate. He only then added Jiu Jitsu and wrestling. Those like GSP exemplify what it means to practice core and then be a real mixed martial artists. As GSP says himself, “I’m not a fighter, I’m a martial artist”.

Bruce Lee also said “Take what is useful, discard what is not”. You never throw away basics, they are always useful. You keep your core, because that is the cornerstone upon which you build your repertoire and skills.

If you were to learn one language, does it mean you can’t find learning other languages useful? Even a few phrases?

If you were an impressionist painter, would other classical styles be completely irrelevant?

Martial arts is just that, arts. Have a foundation, a core and be great at that one style, but embrace opportunity for growth and learning by never disparaging other arts, for they are useful too in their unique ways. (Implementation is another story, but maybe another post on that in the future).

Yes, once you have your foundation, go check out the rest of the world. Your roots will always be there, as long as you stay true to your core, but go seek out what is useful, learn pieces of other arts, take on other languages, and develop an appreciation for other styles. After all, it’s martial arts, not just a martial art.

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