Do you train in more than one Dojo / Gym? Are you perhaps looking at increasing your training hours with the only option to do so being to train at another Dojo or Gym apart from where you currently train? Are you looking at cross training in another style apart from the martial art or combat system that you currently train in? If this describes you – read on, here are some simple tips to help you on your journey.
1, Yes, you should advise your current Sensei / Instructor of your intention and your reason why. If you feel uncomfortable about doing that, be assured that your feeling of discomfort will only get worse over time. If you are serious about your training you should aim to have a policy of open honesty with your Sensei / Instructor of where your training is at.
1b, – It may happen that you advise your Sensei / Instructor that you wish to take additional training elsewhere and their response is that “you can only have one Sifu / Sensei / Instructor”. If this happens you will need to re-evaluate your training, either to stay or to move on. Personally I don’t agree that you can only have one Sensei, yet in some more traditional dojo that is the case and you should respect their wishes and make a determination to stay or go. Being of the understanding that it is not permitted and going ahead and doing it anyway thinking they will change their minds or they are simply wrong and you can do as you please can often lead to problems later on.
2, It may happen that your Sensei / Instructor will be supportive of your goal to increase your training hours elsewhere. If they do, give considerable weight in your decision to any recommendations that they make about appropriate people to train with. This can also work well for you if you are moving geographically to another location and wish to pick up your training elsewhere. Often your Sensei / Instructor will be across a considerable network of contacts. Being that they know you and your capacity, they can often pair you up with an appropriate person that can give you quality training as opposed to trying places at random or from those places that have the best advertising as opposed to content.
3, Yes, you need to advise your potential Sensei / Instructor that you are trained and graded in another dojo / gym and that you are there for x and x reason and gain their approval before you begin training with them.
4, Depending on your reason for seeking extra training, it can be wise to try and stay within the same denomination if possible, this can be an easier transition for you and your grading will be recognised accordingly if it is registered with their governing body.
5, If you wish to train in the same style, but in another denomination, wear your white belt or patch. It is great that you went out and earned your coloured or black belt with your current training group, having the expectation that a different Aikido / Krav Maga / Karate group is instantly going to recognise it is both unlikely and disrespectful. Have the expectation that you will begin in white and grade as their syllabus allows. Your new Sensei / Instructor will make their own deliberation if they wish to recognise your grading and often they want to see the content of your personal character before the decision is taken. If however you wish to go somewhere where for a set fee where they will award you your coloured belt with the certificates signed on the bonnet of your car for the necessary $$$ then perhaps try and think a little more carefully about the quality and standard of what you are getting as well as your own motivation for doing so.
6, Decide where your ‘home base’ is going to be. Try to be realistic about your expectations at your second training centre. Be cautious of overextending yourself and this then impacting your training in a negative way as you journey on. Bear in mind that family, work and your other interests can have peak and trough times in your life and the time that you have to commit to something may need to change into the future.
7, Do not make reference to Dojo A or Dojo B and most certainly do not make comments like “Well our Sensei demonstrates it this way”. That can only ever lead to problems irrespective of how good your intention is. When you train on their court you do it their way and suck it up, even if you think it is wrong. If you don’t like it your best option is to leave and stay at your home Dojo where you can do it that way every time.
8, If you are required to spar, resist the temptation to introduce content from another marital art or combat system simply so that you can ‘win’ the sparring session. Bear in mind that serious injuries can happen on the mat and this is why you are asked to use the techniques that you have been taught and graded in. Breaking someone’s arm or shoulder because you thought a Hoshin Jujitsu styled shoulder lock might be a good idea is going to bring you and your dojo / training centre more problems than you know what to do with.
Above all, consider carefully before you start out what your goals are and what it is that you realistically expect to get out of cross training or increasing your training hours. Regular readers of dontmakemeangrymrmcgee will be aware that my personal choice is cross training in Aikido and Krav Maga. My reasons run around the content of the Aikido techniques that are already in Krav Maga, yet also because I want to have the capacity to choose between aggressive and compassionate self-defence training. It is also my experience that Krav Maga and Aikido also compliment my personal life in what I would term in a way yin and yang. That said, I enjoy martial arts and combat systems in general and often enjoy the exploration of how different systems work. I choose to set no boundary or limit on what I wish to learn. Systema, Karate, Jujitsu and Iaido all have my interest and I would not hesitate to train in any of them if an appropriate circumstance came up that led to that. It is a good reason why Dojo and Training Centres that host “meeting of styles” training days are onto a good thing, where students can be trained and exposed to different techniques to expand your skill set. – It has worked for me over the years, I hope you too will find the same experience!