By Marcus Encel
A big question for many Aikido-ka is how much to cross train? In Japan at the Aiki Jinja or shrine it was forbidden to practice other Martial Arts. I wasn’t too keen on that at the time. Now I understand it. Number one at an Aikido shrine it is not appropriate to do other
martial arts. Also over the course of a career in Martial arts and especially at the beginning it is hard to keep ones focus.
Beginners don’t need to be encouraged to other arts when it is hard enough to stick to one. In a world of MMA where multiple methods are advocated it seems rational to do many styles. Personally I believe in cross training be it weights, Yoga, or even other martial art styles.
But where it becomes detrimental is where a student spends time on other activities that could be spent doing Aikido. When they miss classes and seminars or events that improve their Aikido skills. I suppose it just relates to how good you want to be. If you want to be outstanding at Aikido you have to put Aikido first. If you are content to do as a purely social or recreational thing then a lower level of intensity is OK.
So to sum up when you consider yourself a true Aikido practitioner who is trying to take the art to its quintessential form you have to ask yourself if the time you spend on other things is diminishing your Aikido mat time. If it competes for Aikido time you have to say IT IS DETRIMENTAL , if you can do it and maintain your regular classes and practice sessions its OK.
One thing is for sure. A student will never be able to equal the feats of O’Sensei by putting Aikido second. Aikido was an art which originally was learnt by experts of other Budo arts. Obviously it requires a singular focus to master it. Just research how hard O’Sensei trained or his best students Morihiro Saito Sensei, Rinjiro Shirata sensei, Tohei sensei, trained. They put in superhuman efforts. This is what I attempt to model. In a world where so much competes for time its difficult over a lifetime to maintain focus.
Personally I want for myself, and my students to engage in a practice that they maintain for life, when they get a partner, have children, get more challenging jobs, So by all means do cross training and even other martial arts …..just don’t let it cut down, or take over your Aikido time. In ones life there are many things that compete for your time. To excel….choose Aikido!