Cross-training can be a great tool for any athlete. Training regularly in one discipline can develop specific muscles, which can create imbalances down the road. Cross-training can help build balance in your body, allowing you to practice your martial art for many years, with a lower risk of injury.
Training in multiple fields can also give you other advantages. You can gain perspective, by taking a step back from your regular training or it can provide you with a competitive edge, by training muscles that other fighters may neglect. For martial artists, training in different disciplines of martial arts can also be a form of cross-training that can benefit you in multiple ways. Here are some of the key ways cross-training can help you become a better martial artist.
Boosting your Athleticism
Most martial arts have a significant component of athleticism required for success, especially in tournaments. While each martial art differs in the types of strength and speed needed, most can benefit from cross-training of some form. High-intensity interval training can help explosiveness and cardiovascular endurance, weight training can build strength and power, and agility training can improve speed. Swimming is a great low-impact way to improve your core, back, arm, and leg strength. Finding a training regimen that you find enjoyable can make it easier for you to improve your athleticism and ultimately help you improve at your martial art of choice.
Studying other Arts
Many famous martial artists have practiced multiple martial arts, over the course of their careers. For example, Funakoshi Gichin, the founder of Shotokan-ryu Karate, practiced Okinawan Kobudo and also had an extensive body-hardening regimen, to help his striking effectiveness. Bruce Lee practiced different disciplines and even created Jeet Kune Do, which was his collection of the most effective and practical martial arts techniques that would do well in real-life situations.
Training in other martial arts can freshen up your experience and may give you a new, more complete perspective, when you get back into your usual martial arts classes. Studying other martial arts can also help you learn things that can assist you in competitions or help you learn or practice a particular technique.
Some people may find it difficult to stay motivated in a single discipline for decades. Cross-training can help bring back some of that excitement and refresh your motivation for your discipline of focus.
Sports can be very enjoyable, making physical activity fun. Athletic training can help you feel stronger on the mats, leading you to enjoy practicing your martial art even more. Studying other martial arts can help you learn, compete, and re-energize you. If you’re feeling demotivated with your martial art of choice, don’t quit; try switching things up for a bit, to see if your motivation comes back.
Building a Healthy Body
Reducing the risk of injury can help martial artists train harder for longer. While most martial arts practices are full-body workouts, decades of training may bring out small imbalances. A taekwondo black belt may have strong legs from kicking and strong chest muscles from pushups but weak back muscles. A boxer might have a powerful upper body but they may lack leg strength. At higher levels of competition, most trainers design their fitness training plans so that they compliment their skills training and sparring. Cross-training can be a major factor in building a healthier body. Ensure, however, that you get enough rest.