Most people who pick up one martial art think about adding additional martial arts to their routine. Sometimes these martial arts are adjacent arts and sometimes they are completely different. I wanted to look into how many martial arts somebody can train simultaneously and still achieve mastery.
For most students learning 2 to 3 martial arts concurrently is achievable. The viability of training multiple martial arts has to do primarily with the time constraints of a student and their ability to recover from training. Learning a martial art in 2 to 3 hours of training per week is feasible.
Let’s take a further look into how students can effectively balance training martial arts and evaluate some of the other factors in play that can help you decide whether or not training multiple martial arts at the same time is the right approach for you.
How Many Martial Arts Can You Learn at the Same Time?
The average adult martial artist can learn 2 martial arts at the same time. This is mostly due to time constraints such as work and family obligations alongside some additional recovery requirements for adults that are a bit older. Younger students can physically handle more training.
Training Adjacent Martial Arts at the Same Time
Some other factors that can make it easier to train multiple martial arts simultaneously are whether or not they are adjacent martial arts. For instance, it might be easier to train both Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the same time since they are both grappling-oriented martial arts that use a gi kimono in training.
Due to their similarity, skills will transfer back and forth and ultimately allow a student to reach mastery in both a bit sooner than if they were not related martial arts.
Training Martial Arts with Different Physical Demands
If a martial artist is having issues physically recovering from their training they could potentially benefit from training martial arts that focus on different parts of the body so they can more adequately recover throughout the week.
An example of this might be a martial artist that trains boxing alongside Taekwondo since boxing uses punches and involves more upper body muscles and Taekwondo focuses on kicks and more heavily recruits lower body muscles.
Just Train Mixed Martial Arts Instead
It is also possible to simply train a blended martial art under a unified ruleset. This is most commonly done by training MMA. In MMA, you most commonly pull techniques from Boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Wrestling and combine them under an MMA competition ruleset.
Training MMA ends up providing competency in multiple martial arts through regular training and putting time into training MMA holistically will transfer over into all the individual martial arts in some capacity.
The viability of training multiple martial arts really depends on the individual and their goals. The video below by fightTIPS on YouTube discusses some considerations on training multiple arts at the same time.
Is It Good to Learn Two Martial Arts at Once?
Having a broader martial arts knowledge base is typically a good idea since it allows you to learn multiple aspects of fighting and can have great carryover between individual martial arts. Also having a broad martial arts training base makes a better martial artist and more competent fighter.
Do You Learn Martial Arts More Slowly if You Train Multiple Martial Arts?
Every hour spent on a specific martial art helps a student reach mastery sooner. If your total training time stays the same, and you switch from training a single martial art to training multiple martial arts your progress in that single martial art will slow down due to split training time.
However, if you are looking at martial arts training holistically as skill acquisition across all martial arts trained instead of from the lens of reaching a specific level of mastery in a single martial art, you will find that your skill acquisition is similar or even improved since you can take skills and fitness developed within individual arts and apply it to all of your martial arts training.
How Often Should You Train Each Martial Art?
In order to maximize your ability to learn a martial art, it is a good idea to train a minimum of 2 to 3 hours a week on a consistent basis. If you want to be better at a specific martial arts discipline you can always add more training time if your schedule and recovery allows for it.
How often you should train each martial art really depends on the goals that you have as a martial artist. If you really want to become a strong grappler it might make sense for you to throw more training time into wrestling, BJJ, or Judo instead of signing up for more boxing classes.
If you are looking to get better at MMA, train martial arts that will further that goal and spend a little less time on weapons-oriented martial arts.
How you decide to balance training multiple martial arts really depends on your goals and your life situation, but it is usually quite doable to train multiple martial arts at the same time and benefit from all the cross-training in some form or another.
Can You Cross-Train Martial Arts?
Crosstraining martial arts can be very effective and complementary in many different ways. Since most martial arts have specific focuses you can end up with useful skills and attributes being more developed than your peers that only train one martial art.
Anybody who has picked up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu later in life can feel the difference between somebody who has cross-trained Judo or Wrestling alongside their BJJ training very keenly. They just feel different and better in many positions. A good wrestler with some BJJ training will win most neutral positions in grappling and even after many years of training I still lose many scrambles on the ground against people who walk onto the mat as a fresh wrestler with no BJJ training.
What Martial Arts Should I Combine?
Combining multiple martial arts is a personal choice based on an individual’s goals. For those seeking to become a well-rounded fighter choosing one grappling and one striking martial art is a good choice. An athlete who wants to specialize should choose two martial arts in related disciplines.
Combining Unrelated Martial Arts to Become a Well-Rounded Fighter
For those with aspirations to become an MMA fighter, it is a good idea to combine a grappling martial art alongside a striking martial art. In my opinion, combining Muay Thai alongside a good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program maximizes the benefits of cross-training martial arts for this purpose.
If a martial artist wants to build skills to have a solid ability to defend themselves, I like the idea of training Muay Thai alongside either Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Judo. This is important for self-defense purposes because being able to control distance with striking or being able to dominate with close-range grappling opens up more options for effective self-defense in multiple situations.
Adding a dose of wrestling would be ideal for both an MMA fighter and a martial artist seeking self-defense capabilities, but sometimes it is difficult to find a place to train pure wrestling, and people will need to make do with what is available in their area, which is typically a BJJ school that works takedowns or a Judo school. It’s my belief that wrestling is the king of deciding whether or not a fight goes to the ground.
Combining Related Martial Arts to Specialize Skill Set
For people that want to specialize in one form of combat, training adjacent martial arts is a good idea. Training adjacent martial arts, like BJJ alongside Judo, or Muay Thai alongside Karate results in better overall development in that skill category.
Somebody who trains Judo, Wrestling, and BJJ will have a phenomenally more developed grappling skill set that will be stronger in each discipline due to the synergies you can build between each art. As a hobbyist, I prefer to primarily train in these adjacent disciplines because I have limited time to train and prefer to reach something approaching mastery a bit sooner.
I’ve anecdotally seen these benefits even in my child’s kids grappling program that includes Judo, Wrestling, and BJJ. There’s something pretty cool about seeing a kid attempt a Judo throw and transition perfectly into a wrestling-style double leg takedown and land in a BJJ dominant position.
How Many Martial Arts Can One Learn?
If you want to reach a blackbelt in many disciplines you will need to devote 2 to 3 hours of time consistently each week for at least 3-year blocks per art. It is reasonable to reach black belt levels in 10 martial arts over a 30-year timespan even accounting for some time off.
However, most people do not set out to collect a huge number of black belts and typically will train whichever arts they find the most interesting. Individuals will vary greatly on how far they want to take training in each martial art that they try.
How Long to Learn Fundamentals in a Martial Art
Learning fundamentals and principles in martial arts tend to take about 6 months. This will give a student a basic set of skills that are core to the martial art alongside any cultural or behavioral norms that are particular to the martial art or martial art school in question.
It is reasonable to get a fundamental understanding of many martial arts over the course of your lifetime and some people like to train for a few months to evaluate different schools and martial arts and determine their true interest in a specific martial art.
How Long to Reach Mastery in a Martial Art
It can take anywhere from 3 years to 10 years to reach black belt level in a martial art, depending on the specific martial art or the individual school. Mastery is subjective and varies between martial arts. For some martial arts, a fresh black belt is still an intermediate student.
Ultimately, a martial artist can continue to improve and master skills even after receiving a black belt. There is realistically a soft cap on how many martial arts you can truly master for most people due to time constraints in life.
If you are wondering which martial arts are easiest to get to black belt mastery check out 8 Easiest Martial Arts To Get A Black Belt.
Training more than one martial art is a good idea for most people. You can build yourself up as a well-rounded fighter that is competent in multiple disciplines or go down the route of specialization in a specific martial arts category like striking or grappling-oriented martial arts.
Training multiple disciplines gives you a more holistic view of martial arts and fighting which helps to build skills and capabilities in all of your martial arts disciplines that you train.
While there may be something of a cap in how many disciplines you can master, building a wide base of fundamental experience in martial arts can be both fun and rewarding and allow you to adapt skills learned into many situations across all disciplines.
For more check out How Many Times a Week Should You Train Martial Arts?