You may have recently begun training in a martial art, or you may be an old hand seeking a new challenge. Is it a good idea to take up a 2nd discipline?
Can you train two (or more) martial arts at once? Yes. Mixed martial arts (or MMA) relies on fighters that train two or more martial arts at once. However, beginner martial artists should stick to just one at a time because the physical requirements of one martial art can counteract the requirements of another.
Having said that, there are some great martial art combos if you really want to go that route. Let’s look at the details.
Can You Train Two (Or More) Martial Arts At Once?
The answer is of course yes. There would be no Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) if it wasn’t physically possible to train two martial arts. However, that doesn’t mean that the beginner in kung fu should be seeking out judo lessons, just yet, either.
It’s worth noting that the “power base” of one martial art will vary substantially from another. The muscle groups that you use to throw someone in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are very different from those used to kick someone in Muay Thai.
This matters because it means that you will learn specific ways to gain energy and to put yourself in positions of advantage in one art that are immediately less than optimal in a second.
For example, the spinning side kick in taekwondo can’t just be taken from taekwondo and then put into Muay Thai because the Muay Thai fighting stance tends to be wider and squarer than that used in taekwondo. This is going to slow down the taekwondo kick and substantially reduce the power delivered when it lands.
In general terms, Muay Thai is designed to deliver low kicks and high-power punches and it does so at the expense of the turning circle that makes the taekwondo spinning kick so successful. That’s because a taekwondo fighter is giving up some stability to generate the power and velocity you need to make a spinning kick work.
Now, what this means is that for many students – it’s better to learn a single art and stick to it rather than pick up two.
First Things First: Master One Art Form Before Studying A Second
This isn’t a joke. Almost all of the greatest MMA fighters have one thing in common. They became masters of a single art long before they picked up a second. It can take up to 10 years to master a single martial art and once people have put so much time into a martial art, they’re often reluctant to change things up.
Why? Well, it’s not because they’ve become so comfortable with what they do that they’ve decided they’ve nothing to gain. It’s because when you become a true “master” of one discipline, you tend to appreciate that there’s always more to learn.
This means that learning a single martial art can be and, often, is a life-time commitment. There’s no room in that kind of commitment, for many fighters, to consider taking on a second.
A single art is what they sometimes refer to as a “complete system”. That is, they’re developed to allow the fighter to make strategic tradeoffs in their style in order to incur specific strategic advantages. With the appropriate level of mastery – these advantages are often enough to ensure that the fighter can get themselves out of most situations.
This is a huge advantage over someone who has learned two martial arts simultaneously. They will be, at best, middling at both when the single discipline fighter attains mastery of his art. Put them both in the ring together and it is very unlikely that the dual-discipline fighter would make much of an impact.
So, there is always an advantage in getting really good in one martial art before considering a second.
Training Transitions Is A Vital Part Of Making The Most Of Two Martial Arts
OK, now that we’ve established that it’s important to master one art before tackling another. We then need to look at what you’re trying to achieve.
Take taekwondo and judo, for example, they’re very different arts with very different moves and strategies. If you were to simply decide one morning to learn judo after mastering taekwondo and to add judo to your fighting routine – you would find that instead of making you a better fighter, it made you a worse one.
Why? Well, it’s not because judo is a bad choice of martial art (it’s not – it’s an excellent way to wrestle, grapple and throw) but it’s not directly compatible with taekwondo.
The foot work, the hand work, the stance, etc. in judo is all very different from taekwondo. If you start using judo moves that aren’t designed to work with taekwondo, when you need the taekwondo moves you know, they’re going to be clumsy and inefficient.
That means you have to find someone who can train you transition between the two martial arts at will. So, that you can launch a kick and then immediately transition into an effective grappling stance and seize your opponent as they go off balance.
In essence, this will require a fairly specialist trainer. The kind of trainer that top MMA stars have access to but that many of us lesser mortals won’t be able to find in a local dojo.
Remember: Proficiency In Any Martial Art Is Not Easy, Proficiency In Two Is Twice As Hard
It takes 10 years and thousands of hours to become a master of a single discipline. If you want to master two – you’re going to need to work twice as hard. Now, it’s part of the privilege of being a martial artist to train and train well but there’s a good argument for having a bit of a life too.
Only you can decide if you really want to put this amount of time into your hobby. If you want to be a hit on the MMA circuit, you’ll have to but many other martial artists would be best off stopping at one martial art and having a social life as well as a fighting life.
The 3 Best Martial Art Combos
OK, if you are still convinced with the idea of learning two disciplines, let’s take a look at the best combinations of martial arts and why they might prove to be effective.
Kendo And Judo
This might be cheating because originally kendo was designed to work with judo, so this pairing is possibly the best of them all as the combination of weapon skills and grappling is awesome and fun to learn.
Having said that, it won’t take you far if you want to get into MMA as they don’t let weapons in the ring. So, this is perfect for everything but MMA.
BJJ and Muay Thai
If you want a “perfect” combo for MMA then you probably want to consider a striking art and a grappling art and that’s exactly what you have in Muay Thai and BJJ.
Muay Thai gives you the ability to deliver the hardest kicks and plenty of powerful punches. BJJ means you can wrestle with the best and deal with situations when you’re on the mat. There are very few people who can resist this combination when they’re skillfully combined.
Hapkido And Taekwondo
This is an unusual choice but Hapkido is a very close quarters striking art whereas Taekwondo is a striking art for those that like to have a bit of distance. If you’re a very tall person then you’re going to find that you’re often at a disadvantage in taekwondo if someone can get close to you.
Hapkido fills the gap and lets you handle the threats that pass under your guard too.
One Useful Rule For Combining Martial Arts
If you want to combine two martial arts then there’s a pretty good rule of thumb that says if the two arts were developed in the same country, they are more likely to be compatible than two arts developed in separate countries.
This is very logical if you think about it, it means that the people who developed each art are highly likely to have been influenced by the same or similar martial artists and thus, they’re going to incorporate similar stances, spacing, etc.
Can you train two (or more) martial arts at once? Yes. There are many martial arts that can work well together if you can find the right trainer/teacher to help you merge the styles. However, it’s a lot of work and commitment to master two martial arts and in many cases, it might be best for a fighter to stick to one martial art at first.