I guess you could say that it’s tradition for Karate black belts at Roseberry’s to cross-train, because almost all of us are belted in one or more additional arts, usually Judo and/or Kobudo. Mine is obviously Jiu-Jitsu, and my husband’s is Daitoryu Aikijujitsu and Judo. Shihan himself holds dan rank in Karate, Judo, Daitoryu Aikijujitsu, and Aikido.
There are many reasons why Shihan encourages cross-training. Of our style of Goju-Ryu, he often says “It’s all in there”, meaning it includes many of the things that are in the other arts, but we don’t always have time to practice all of them to proficiency, so cross-training can help you understand those aspects better. Each one of the arts is specialized, so they focus on different things, and to be a complete martial artist Shihan believes it’s important to have a working knowledge outside of your specialty. It’s one thing to be told that a movement from a kata is supposed to be a throw, and quite another to be able to figure it out yourself because you’ve done enough throwing that you can see and feel it. He doesn’t want us to be “jack of all trades and master of none”, but he does want us to explore.
One memorable cross-training story from our Daitoryu Aikijujitsu instructor, Gary Gabelhouse-Sensei, involves his early Daitoryu training in Japan. He was already a black belt in Goju-Ryu at the time, and while sparring he used a technique from one of our kiso. He was immediately stopped and asked “Where you learn?” Gary said he learned it in Karate, and the teacher responded “This is advanced Daitoryu technique, you don’t use until I teach it to you!”
Another reason Shihan wants his students to cross-train is because he wants people from the different arts to get to know one other. Otherwise, there is little interaction between the groups. Due to my having attended almost every class in the dojo at one point or another, I know people from every art, but most of them don’t know each other. I’m a white belt in Judo, but I know enough about it to be able to work the table at tournaments, and some of our Judo students have helped out during Karate and Jiu-Jitsu tourneys. Shihan wants the dojo to be one big happy family, and cross-training can help achieve that.