The Study of Foreign Arts for the Martial Arts Teacher

A quickie:


While I do not recommend spreading yourself too thin in the pursuit of martial arts knowledge, I do believe that a good martial arts teacher must have good knowledge of foreign arts. In using the term “foreign” arts, I am referring to martial arts styles that are very different from the one you are teaching.

That doesn’t mean a Doce Pares teacher learning a little Modern Arnis; I am talking about learning how to fight Aikido style, or learning how to box–if you are a Doce Pares teacher.

The reason I say this is that we tend to stay only within the comfort of what we know best. As teachers, this hurts our growth in the martial arts because many of our teachers will not allow himself to be in the company of those who believe your art is substandard. This comfort with discomfort is what allows you to forge your martial arts knowledge, ability, and confidence. Too much “yes” men will lead to unchallenged theories and easily accepted “facts”. It is the reason why you have grapplers who swear “all fights go to the ground”, and why seminar FMA people will tell you that practicing drills is the best way to learn how to fight.

Picture a Tae Kwon Do guy thinking that TKD is the best fighting art in the world, but the only place he has ever gone-besides his own shopping center and the occasional “other” shopping center… is a tournament. Yet he believes he has seen a lot and knows what he’s talking about.

FMA seminar people who only come around other FMA seminar people can only communicate with people who think like them. The result is that when asked to prove their theories, their emotions are too high for them to be effective in a real test. In America, it is all too easy to fall back on legal reasons why they can’t “use their arts”, cliches about “real” versus “sport” versus “theoretical” art. But they are quick to point out their Grandmaster’s many “matches”, when arguing that their art is real.

The foreign art gives you a taste of a completely different approach to martial arts and fighting. By learning a good deal of those other arts, you develop a healthy respect for the difficulty and strength of other arts that you cannot acquire through mere observation. You are not able to apply the “attributes” you develop in your base system towards the foreign art because they are that different. And finally, once you have acquired some functional skills in the foreign art, you have a little more of that “well-roundedness” martial artists like to throw around in conversation.

While we’re at it, allow me to define “well-rounded”:

the ability to apply skills other than those you specialize in, in combat.

Too many martial artists “know” things that they cannot use in a fight, without resorting back to what they originally learned. By studying a foreign art–not taking a few seminar in it, but actually learning it, you are truly adding more tools to your tool box.

Don’t be the guy who can only say “hello”, “please” and “thank you” in 7 languages. It does you no good.

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