Is there anything wrong with knowing one style? After all, everyone is involved in martial arts for various reasons, and not everyone's reason is to defeat the other guys style. Martial arts were really created to give the "weaker person" an edge for self defense purposes for the most part. Then again, pride in one style being the best is a very common belief, especially for many martial art old timers. They say you should be able to do one style and have any self defense possible situation covered. Should I agree with that? Maybe, when I think about it, I should personally feel like that because I train and teach a very good ancient fighting style called Kun Tao Dumpag! How much more perfection in a complete fighting method that can adapt to just about any worse case scenario situation can you get? It is a deadly beautiful martial art!
OK, let me explain before you think I am getting egotistical here while patting myself on the back. Read this and you will understand more of what I am trying to say here...for example, in Jeet Kune Do; one of the outstanding features that made it popular is the fact that it covers four ranges of combat. Kicking, boxing, trapping and grappling range mentioned in JKD made people aware that those ranges of combat existed more or less visually. In a big picture, Jeet Kune Do became this well rounded fighting style with no particular style! And, Bruce Lee made that up all by his lonesome! Or did he? No one else in the world ever thought of that before he did? In all due respect for Bruce Lee's accomplishments, for what he explored and in his observations of what was going on around him, he came up with a very innovative way to learn and train muscle memory to respond without thinking in all those various ranges. And Jeet Kune Do definitely has some unique fighting principles to it. But then again, if you look at many of the different South East Asian martial arts (as well as other cultures from around the world), they already have been doing the "four ranges" thing going back many generations. Think about it...no real warrior would not be familiar in each fighting range back in ancient times in an uncivilized environment, or that culture would have never survived. It seems like Bruce Lee put something back together in the 1960's that was becoming separated through sport and exercise programs.
I hope I am not boring you with all this but then again, here is why I said all this...any real fighting style that has a long record of surviving tribal battles over thousands of years obviously would have a nice combination of unique training methods to develop good fighting reflexes and tactics to counter the enemy. Not to mention, all fighting ranges covered efficiently with and without a blade in hand or maybe other some other type of weapon. That happens to be what creates a complete fighting method...as long as the training methods are alive and functional. Each technique has to be perfect in timing, rhythm, balance as well as form. Timing and good form comes from a lot of some sort of sparring or realistic fight training methodology.
Then again, if you think about it, it can get much deeper than just that what I mentioned above! What I am going to mention here is beyond what the ancients were capable of doing. And that is having the option to cross train in other styles from all over the world as we can do today. Many of the old styles the ancient people did were geared toward fighting pretty much a similar way within that particular geographic area of land for the most part, though of course, they were still very effective. The idea was to counter their neighbors combat strategies to protect their own. No one was worried to much what the fighting styles were like on the other side of the earth until an easy method of traveling to that area was made possible. OK, we did have our Sailor/travelers, though they were a very small part of the population going 100's of years back in which I am referring to here. Today we can play with about any martial art style within just about any culture we can afford to play around with by hopping on an airplane to see the teacher.
Now a days, most of us realize that It is hard to counter a good hard core fighting style unless you witnessed it and of course played in it for a while to get used to it's fighting strategies. That has been proven back in the early 90's during in the one on one MMA/NHB fighting in the UFC with people who knew and understood grappling. Going back in the 90's, it was unusual to find a grappling school around unless you did Judo or wrestled in high-school. It wasn't as mainstream as it is today so back in the mid 90's many stand up fighters were getting their asses handed to them in the octagon by grapplers. Now this does not just apply to grappling; the same goes for Muay Thai, boxing or worse yet for street defense, bladed and impact weapon fighting. How can ANYONE know anything about countering those particular fighting methods without understanding it first. Look at change that is occurring in MMA style today, stand up fighters are now countering many grapplers by just taking the time to understand grappling. Of course if anyone wants to be proficient with grappling, one has to do grappling often and not only that, they have to practice preventing it on a dally basis. And the MMA fighters today are obviously putting in that "all ranges" fight time even if they specialize in just one particular range. We are seeing a constant evolution in martial arts taking place right here before our eyes!
Going back to where I started when I was bragging about Kun Tao (also spelled Kuntao). It does have all the training methods that does develop all ranges of combat. An important point to bring out about my Kun Tao is, it is a multi man attack and a weapon oriented style and it works best in close range. On the other hand, I have trained in many other styles as well. Some of them, I have seen the whole style or at least most of it. I also did halves to little bit of a few other styles here and there over the years of my learning process. Either way, the experiences in other styles I played with brought me to another level which led me to better understand my first real combat oriented fighting style. That does not mean there is a need to necessarily add techniques to Kun Tao Dumpag. By seeing the other styles, I am able to redirect existing Kun Tao techniques toward other possibilities of their lines of attack. In reality, any real combat style should have a way to adapt to any given situation. For me, this is one of the benefits of having the ability to be able to travel and get around to see what is out there in the martial art world. Not to mention that I love exploring martial arts in general anyway.
Do you believe in what I am saying here...is more really better? Or is one style enough. I am curious to hear your opinions on this.