What is this abomination?!
I admit I became a little snobbish when I saw a martial art school recently advertising in my area. “Little bit of everything, specialising in nothing,” I sneered to my companion.
I know I’m not alone in this view. There are those that concentrate on a single martial art discipline, who view the idea of, “...a mixed martial arts style that includes: Karate, Judo, Boxing, Ju Jitsu, Kempo, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, as well as traditional weapons,” as approaching an abomination. Surely you cannot just pick out bits of different systems and then blend them to suit your own self? Hold your horses! Arguably any martial art system is developed from at least one other source.
Go on then, give us an example
One of my fellow jitsuka originally trained in Krav Maga. Krav Maga has interesting origins. The Krav Maga Federation explain how the system was developed by Imi Lichtenfeld from a combination of boxing, wrestling, gymnastic, and military training. Lichtenfeld selected techniques by deciding which were the most efficient methods of attack and defence. From Krav Maga’s beginnings in 1948 for the Israeli Defence Force through to the international following it has today, it is an example of successfully combining different systems.
“What about the loss of cultural implications?” call out the traditionalists. But such is the human desire for ritual that something comes in to fill the gap. British and Japanese manners didn’t spring up over night. They are the result of centuries of refinement to the point that outsiders are never fully converse with the minor implications of why it may or may not be rude to use a handkerchief instead of sniffing your nose. America and Australia are a blend of multiple cultures, it doesn’t mean they failed to form their own set of rules for polite society.
I will admit a caveat to all of the above. I would be cautious from learning from someone who has spent ten years doing ten different martial arts, and has decided to blend all of these.
With a mere three years in the martial art world, I can appreciate the small steps I have made towards a greater understanding of the mental and physical understandings of my chosen martial arts. It is too easy to say, “this move is done this way because that is how I was taught it.” We have all had those moments in our training when the thunderbolt has hit us and we think, “oh, now I get it!” You cannot put it into words, but the reasons behind the actions become clearer.
Christian Tissier Shihan has been training for over 50 years. Here he demonstrates the first technique all aikidoka learn, showing that basics can be continually improved.
So are you going to sign up to this school?
In a word, no.
Maybe they are the Next Big Thing. Maybe they are there to ease children into the world of martial arts. Maybe they are all ex-champions in specific martial art fields. Meanwhile I’m sticking to Japanese jiu jitsu and aikido.