How to Mix Up Your Martial Arts and Still Remain a Champion!

How to Mix Up Your Martial Arts and Still Remain a Champion!

12 Nov, 2015

You may have just started your journey in martial arts, or you may have been immersed in this whole world for some time. Whatever your stage on this path, there may come a time where you look fleetingly across to another matted area and see a whole new concept of training very different from your own. We talk to two martial arts experts: John Gardiner (England Karate Team member) and his ‘second’ martial art Judo, and Owen Livesey (Team GB and Commonwealth Judo Champion) and his ‘second’ martial art Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and see how they weave another martial art into their lives.

Owen Livesey – First Martial Art Judo, Second Martial Art Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Owen Livesey - Judo and BJJ Martial Arts

Judo and BJJ

‘I started looking for some form of martial arts and found Judo when I was around 8 years old and am currently a 1st dan. Before Judo I played rugby league and only started Judo because I thought it would help with the physical side of the game. However rugby was soon overshadowed by my love for Judo, so much so that my Judo training increased and my rugby fell by the wayside… I now compete on an International level and have won many British and International titles, including the Commonwealth Games and my most recent gold medal at the European Judo Champs. I had in the past looked at Muay Thai and BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu).

I chose BJJ as it helped with my judo when I get to the floor. Maybe one day I will practice BJJ more seriously. I believe lots of martial arts can compliment each other, so for the moment I am taking from it what I can. I love training, competing and travelling the world, however time at the moment does not permit me to add more BJJ into my training schedule, as I am training towards an Olympic place.


John Gardiner – First Martial Art Karate, Second Martial Art Judo

John Gardiner - Karate and Judo

Karate and Judo

I am very passionate about karate, from my very first lesson to now, I still feel excited about training and teaching. It is a very large part of my life and there are very few days in the year that don’t involve Karate. It has taken me to many different countries competing and training and has presented me with opportunities I would never have had without it.

I chose Judo as an additional martial art because I wanted to experience a new challenge and to supplement my Karate. One of my favourite techniques in Judo so far is Uchi Mata (inner thigh throw). I find learning these new techniques come in really useful when transferred into Karate. No one influenced my decision to try Judo, I’ve been involved in martial arts for many years and watched many styles. At first I felt the two arts were very different but now I am seeing lots of similarities, especially when looking at Karate kata and seeing where some of the movements are interestingly close to throws from Judo.

I did in the past try Wing Chun Kung Fu, but at the time was training for my 1st dan in Karate, so decided to dedicate my time to this. I’ve competed for England in kata and won many international and national tournaments. I enjoy the challenge of competing and preparing for a competition and will do so in Judo too.

I think it’s important that you are experienced in your main art before trying a new one. Trying to learn another martial arts when you are still in the early stages of your training will just lead to confusion. Achieve a good lever of proficiency in your first art before trying to learn another. It is, in my opinion, better to be an expert in one art, then mediocre in two. Secondly make sure you approach your new martial art with an open mind, different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong; understanding an idea from a few different points of view can substantially enhance your knowledge.

So, which martial arts?

When contemplating adding another martial art to your arsenal, the main question you have to ask yourself is ‘what is your goal?’ It is evident from the two experts above, the reason for adopting another would be to increase your knowledge and to ‘up your game’ of the martial art you are near to mastering (albeit people would argue you can never truly master a martial art). Or is it a case of ‘you are bored with the original martial art you trained in?’ and this new martial art has opened your eyes to something new.

One thing remains, you only have a certain number of hours in the day. The old saying of ‘Jack of all trades, master of none, ‘ can ring very true if you spread yourself too thinly over a variety of martial arts. Choose wisely if you decide to swop or add another one to your arsenal. You may have a martial art in mind, a similar one or one that’s completely at the other end of the scale. As many of your know, martial arts requires dedication, time and effort. It can be addictive, all encompassing but very rewarding.

If you add another martial art, it can help you see other aspects of techniques you have been used to repeating time after time. If you veer away from your original martial art for this newfound discipline, it may be the break you need to bring you back and appreciate what you have missed. Albeit you may be a bit rusty, when you return, but it may just be like riding a bike.

Whatever the reason for adopting or replacing a martial art, it is always best to broaden your horizons, to continuously strive forward and learn something new.

Thanks to both Sensei John Gardiner from and Owen Livesey from

If you have participated in a martial art and have a compelling story to tell, let us know, we’d love to hear from you.


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