Why learn a range of martial arts instead of just mastering one?

Ideally you’ll practise a range of martial arts that are all highly effective and inter-complementary yet focusing on different things.

For example, Wing Chun Kung Fu is focused on parrying and counter-striking techniques – it’s probably the best martial art in the world for dealing with someone trying to punch you in the face, by blocking and punching them instead.

But if you want more dynamic movement, to have more options and to deal with a wider variety of situations, including some less serious situations and some more serious situations, you will need to delve into other arts too.

For example, you may be irritated by a bit of pushing & pulling, but punches have not yet been thrown – in this situation, Tai Chi push hands excels by giving you ways to disperse the aggressor’s energy without needing to escalate the level of violence by throwing punches.

Or, on the other hand, for example, you may be stuck in a situation with multiple attackers and sharp weapons involved – in this case throwing punches may be dangerously over-escalative while also ineffective. To handle such situations you will need outstanding footwork, spatial awareness, distance and timing, and the ability to find calm within the chaos. Plus of course techniques to disarm people of their sharp weapons in such a busy, messy situation. Arnis is the main knife fighting art – it has a lot to offer in terms of techniques here. Aikido has a lot to offer in terms of evasive footwork for dealing with mobs – it also offers some great weapon disarm techniques and guides the correct strategy for handling that kind of situation as a pacifist, but it’s typically trained in an under-tested way so don’t get carried away with thinking everything’s going to work in the streets like it does in the classroom.