Learning Many Styles
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

April 20, 2018, Israel

In the presence of true masters. An honor. 

The question often comes up: Many great masters, founders of martial arts styles, had themselves trained in many styles. Thus the question, is this a good idea?

My answer is no.

My karate teacher, the late great Saiko Shihan Shigeru Oyama, said one should learn the basics of several styles. By "the basics" he meant black belt level. The basics of judo, aikido, and jujitsu would enhance your karate skills. 

When you are still trying to master your chosen style, you should not spread yourself too thin. Unless you are a professional full-time martial arts student it will be impossible to devote yourself to several styles.

If you have the time, a knowledge of grappling, Judo, and striking, can certainly improve certain aspects of your Krav Maga skills. But there is the danger of getting confused between the sporting/competition aspects of these martial arts and real self-defense. 

See The Danger of Sports Martial Arts Training

I want to address the issue of training in two related styles. What I have observed from years of teaching is that when students (even instructors) train in another, related, style, they are not up to par in Krav Maga. I do not know if they are mixing styles but I do see that they are not doing our Krav Maga correctly.

Conclusion: Those who train in more than one style, when the styles are closely related, are not reaching the higher levels of IKI Krav Maga. 

When I observe these practitioners, I see that they have not picked up the nuances of what makes our style so unique and powerful. They have not properly studied the techniques and do not truly understand them. They are making basic mistakes. They have only a superficial knowledge of our style and are not getting it right. 

That is why one needs a teacher, a guide. As the rabbis wrote 2,000 years ago in the Talmud, "Make yourself a teacher (choose for yourself a teacher)". This means you have someone you can approach for guidance. You do not decide certain things on your own. If you have a doubt, ask your teacher. If you have a problem, approach your teacher. If you are wondering if it is good idea to train in another style, or attend a seminar with another instructor, ask your teacher if this is a good idea for you. This is a very individual issue.

A rabbi told me that being a teacher/rabbi is like acupuncture; one must place the needle in just the right place, a small mistake can make a huge difference. A rabbi knows when to be lenient and when to be strict, when to prohibit and when to permit, for whom this is a good idea and for whom not. That is why the rabbis said, "Make yourself a teacher". Choose a teacher to guide you. 

On your own? well...good luck. 

I have been fortunate throughout my life to be blessed with wonderful teachers and guides. Sadly many have passed from this life, but they have passed on the torch.

Footnote, September 22, 2023. Last night I attended a lesson with Rabbi Hen. He was discussing the upcoming Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and how some people fast, as is our rule and custom, when in fact, they should not. The sick, the elderly, the very young, those at risk, are allowed some leniency. Sometimes they are allowed to eat in small portions, as required. Sometimes they may only drink. Sometimes they must eat as on a regular day. The key is to have a expert rabbi and a doctor to consult. There are nuances to be considered. Choose yourself a guide, as the rabbis wrote 2,000 years ago. Choose a system to follow and don't be as a leaf in the wind, or a rolling stone.

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