//07// To Cross-Train or Not to Cross-Train

1 Jul

Hiatus from the dojo means an un-hiatus from the blog. Hello again! It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this thing. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about my lovely little blog which I hardly wrote in. How I love it so!

Anyway, since the last time I posted I’ve hosted a lot of other special games for my kids’ class. The kids keep changing but I still love it as much as ever. The class is a bit on the small side right now but I’m excited because we’ve got kids advancing, which is the best part. I just want to see them all go further and further until we all reach that elusive shodan level which is a lot less exciting once you get there.

The other thing keeping my class exciting is the different assistant instructors I have, keeping it interesting. If there’s anything that’s most important to me when I’m teaching it’s not so much the moves, because I’ve got those down, but it’s the people helping me that really makes the class worthwhile. Even though we have a small class its wonderful to have the kids be able to get one-on-one attention and I really like using the small-group format in order to address the different levels in the class. When you’ve only got one instructor in a mixed-level class you almost always have to default to what our sensei refers to as “the lowest common denominator” meaning that the higher ranks aren’t always getting the challenge they’re looking for, which can be frustrating for everyone. It’s hard fitting everything into 45 minutes twice a week but I’m doing my best.

Also, I recently tested for my 2nd dan, which went well. More on that later. Now that I’m a second-degree black belt I’m thinking about what I can do next. When it comes to martial arts I like a concrete goal. For the first six years of my training it was getting to black belt. For the past 18 months of my training it was about getting to second-degree. Now, I’ve done it. So what now?

Of course, third-degree is the next logical step but there’s a waiting (training) period of three years before I can test. Those three years will be spent further strengthening my technique because I have a lot way to go before I can feel fully satisfied. I want to hear my gi snap everytime I do a shuto strike. I’m pretty slow with doing the 10-move hand strike combination that I do every single day (lol). My foot angles still need work, especially on front kick. For some reason when I do a side kick on my left side I have a really hard time looking over my shoulder. The list goes on and on. But I think another thing I was to address are not only my weaknesses but my fears when it comes to certain aspects of the style I study.

For example, I really don’t like close range fighting at all. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I’m a strong kicker and I have pretty long legs & I’m pretty flexible with my kicks so I’ve found that doing an intimidating kick to the head and then keeping my opponent a leg’s length away from me is my favorite way to spar. But unfortunately (or fortunately) there are a few people at my dojo who have figured this out so if they get in on my kicks and come in close they can take advantage of my obvious weakness. I really need to be better at close-in fighting. Plus, it’s more applicable to real-life. But I hardly ever wear my mouth guard!

Another skill I need to improve are my take-downs. My sweeps are pretty hit-or-miss and I hate to be thrown. Falling is not my favorite thing to do, at all, which means I’m also pretty lousy at teaching it. But it’s an important skill and throws are important to. I feel like I understand how it should be done but when it comes to doing it in the moment, I still need work.

So when it comes to issues such as these I think about what to do. One thing I’ve been considering is cross-training. Maybe I need to find a style that focuses more on these problem areas and will force me to improve. Something like Judo or Brazilian Ju-Jitsu which just about sounds like my worse nightmare. I think at some point I’ll have to try something different. I’ve studied three styles already and while each are different at the same time they’re pretty similar or in the same hemi-sphere of martial arts. What if I went into something completely different? Something I’ve barely even heard of before? What would that be like?

Our sensei shared with us an interesting article about “different kids of martial art students” and there were some interesting points. One of the types was “the drifter” which is someone who flits from style to style looking for something different. Sometimes I wonder if that’s me except I’d like to conquer whatever style I got into. But then again, cross training is a very important part of being a martial artist. I look at all the grandmasters out there and I feel like they all have studied something different, at least once. It’s not a bad thing and luckily, my sensei understands that. So we’ll be having some upcoming guest instructors which is really fun and also intimidating. Starting from the bottom isn’t something I’ve had to do for a long time but I think if I make the commitment to cross-training in another style then it’ll make me a stronger martial artist and eventually, I’ll be worthy of my third degree black belt.

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