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Home > Columns > Lynn Seiser > May, 2005 - Cross-Training
by Lynn Seiser

Cross-Training by Lynn Seiser

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When I was a child, I really enjoyed putting puzzles together. Actually, I got pretty good at them. Guess it is why I enjoy being a counselor and psychotherapist. I get to listen to the fragmented pieces of someone's life story and attempt to help them put it together into a picture they will enjoy. Putting the pieces together is also why I just love cross-training.

There are so many different styles and schools of martial art. I know that everyone likes to debate and discuss which one is better and why. Best according to who? Best in what context? A good sport tournament style may not be good for fighting. A good fighting style may not be good for combat. We all tend to think that the style we are studying is the best. We all tend to think we are right. Actually right or wrong, good or bad, is a matter of personal preference, according to us and according to how we want to use it. We like it because our specific style and school of martial art training because it matches what we hold in our head as a mental map.

IMHO, every art has something to offer. All of them are right and good for what they are and what they offer. None of them are complete. I know that this may not be politically correct to say in a forum that is almost exclusively devoted to one art, Aikido. I know that some people feel it is disrespectful to cross-train. Some teachers discourage it.

There is some wisdom to the sage advice that one should study and have a firm foundation in one art before cross-training. Time is limited. We do have to set some priorities. Each of us has only so many days in the week and hours in the day. We have jobs, family, and friends. We have to decide how much time, money, and energy we have to devote to martial arts without diminishing the quality or quantity of other areas of our lives. I started cross-training over 30 years ago while in the service. Many of us had backgrounds in martial arts, time on our hands, facilities available, and more energy and aggression than even the military knew what to do with. Therefore, we cross-trained. I will always remember those people every time I train.

One of the rules of cross-training is to leave your ego and prior learning at the door. Just because you may be good at one style of martial art does not mean you are good at another. Actually, because most arts are designed to exploit the holes or weaknesses of another art, if you are good at one you may just be bad at another. This teaches both humility and flexibility. Two very valuable lessons in life.

Another rule is not to try to integrate two arts into each other too soon. It is rather normal and natural for us to attempt to place new learning into categories we are already familiar with. The problem is that many concepts do not necessarily fit into past learning, thus the idea of learning something new. It may be wise to let go of past learning and just try the new techniques, concepts, and applications as if they were something brand new. Over time, the similarities and differences will make themselves known. The integration will happen on its own. Do not rush it. Like many things if life, appreciate the difference and savor the experience.

Many of us will attend the Aiki Expo this month in Los Angeles. This has been in the past, and promises to be again, an invaluable and unprecedented opportunity to cross-train within the generic style of Aikido and with other systems that will be represented. I encourage all to attend and cross-train. Let's cross-train together. See you there.

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!

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