A nice piece by Jason Gray on the pros and cons of mixed-discipline training.

In point fighting there is a “strike first and win” mentality that allows you to disregard the loss of both tactical and defensive advantage during an overcommitted attack. By contrast Aikido in a similar scenario, you utilize this over commitment as the foundation of the attack, thus persevering yourself.

I have students that often ask what’s the best option, on one hand Aikido keeps the tactical and defensive advantage whilst on the other hand you don’t necessarily keep the strike first offensive that is preached about in so many of the other arts.

My own personal experience as a mixed style practitioner has led me to develop an underlying base of core techniques that are common to all of the various martial arts, I further this by encouraging my Yuudansha (senior students) and my black belts to train in a different martial art from either Aikido or Karate for a period of time so they lose their blinkers and lose their art bias. Yes the art you have worked so hard to become a senior is the best in your opinion if you have never experienced anything else.

I started my journey 22 years ago in Karate I have all the pretty little certificates and medals from my progression through the ranks, I’m even a nationally qualified referee for the sport, on the other side of the coin I’m have done Judo for 11 years am still a brown belt and don’t compete. Aikido I found 16 years ago and fell in love immediately with it training almost daily for the first 9 years and rising steadily through the ranks.

Here is where the question so often asked comes into it, even Francis Sensei asked me the same, it goes along the lines of “do the different arts confuse the others?” to this I offer the same answer they compliment each other by shoring up the various weaknesses that each contain.
Ahh I hear you the reader groaning and stating my art doesn’t have flaws. Got some bad news there as well, as with everything in life there is a flaw to it, take the human mind, there is so much in life we want to understand and do but our body lasts for a minute time (60-80 odd years on average) sure we can maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle but we can still never understand or learn everything.

Karate helps us develop reflexes, speed and strength and keeping of distance while lacking the true concept of defense as an offense; it is a largely upright style with things going to pieces when the fight gets grounded.

Judo is perfect for in close fighting or especially for when the fight gets grounded however it relies on your opponent not attempting to strike you in quick succession or grabbing you so you can make a good purchase on them, it also lacks the foresight of most street fights being multiple attackers.

Aikido is a medium range style that incorporates a little of both the above mentioned styles it can deal with multiple attackers at mid to close range and teaching us how to verbally and mentally diffuse a situ at range. However it takes many years of dedicated training to properly use these techniques and to make them second nature.

When Francis Sensei initially asked me to write this article I had to think long and hard about the question posed, the answer that most people want to hear isn’t always the answer they will hear, my sensei was smart enough to recognize that I personally needed to experience other forms in order to appreciate my own style, I have found that approaching the different styles with an open mind and asking questions is the key to making it work don’t dwell on I’m an purple belt from aikido or a brown belt from Wu Shu try instead to look and fill in the gaps that are missing from the style you come from.

O Sensei always said “ask questions not of yourself but of your surroundings and use these answers to fulfill the question of your own being.”

In the next installment I shall cover questions that you can ask when selecting a trainer / style for you and help dispose the myths that surround reality based self defense courses.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, and I hope it makes you want to find out more about Aikido