Mixing Styles of Kungfu

I'm headed out to teach in Chicago and then Traverse City for 10 days, if anyone wants to try and meet me, send an email.


This post is just a quick follow up on the previous post: Performative.

There has long been an injunction against studying more than one martial arts style at a time.  The common explanation is that styles will conflict and the student will end up with a mixed style that doesn't represent either style well.  Let me put aside the problem that the student might be just a dabbler, of course if you want to learn real gongfu (kungfu) you have to dedicated hours everyday.  This discussion is for and about serious students of the arts.

In the dance world, students dedicate every day to dance.  But in the dance world the problem is exactly the opposite of the martial arts world.  People who learn many dance styles are versatile and adaptive.  The people who have exclusively studied one style tend to find it harder to dance in other styles.  The most notorious example is classically trained ballet dancers who find it hard to do african dance, they end up looking stiff.  And on the other end there are dancers who do everything with too much flow.  I'm not a fan of the TV show "So You Think You Can Dance," by the way, because they make this claim that the dancers are doing a wide variety of dances, but in reality I see ballet and some "poppie" hip-hop moves in almost every dance.  It should be called, "So You Think You Know What Dance is Because You Watch It On TV?"

Anyway back to martial arts.  The reason some serious students end up blending their arts together is because they think of the different arts in terms of how each art generates power.  So in practice they end up using one style's ideas about how to generate power in the techniques of another style.  

This problem does not come up if the teacher uses the concept of Performative Arts that I outlined in the previous post.  A given art is performed a specific way.  The same way a dance has a specific quality and character.  Each martial art has a performance standard, that is what you are learning.  Using martial arts to learn power generation is a mistake.  That should be an after thought.  

Rory Miller claims to be able to improve most people's power generation in a two day workshop whether they have ten years of experience or ten days.  It simply isn't very difficult to develop power.

I would also argue that the unique types of power any particular style has are entirely accessible through the performative aspects of the art.  

In the end what have you got?  Gravity, structure, unity of mass, and momentum.  No matter how tricky you get, it is always going to come back to these four.