Martial arts were created as tools to serve people. They are not tangible entities. They are ever changing concepts, shaped by individuals. They evolve and mutate all the time whether the teachers want them to or not. No one person trains, practises or teaches exactly the same way as his teacher. Indeed, we have countless examples of teachers changing the mind regarding the emphasis or even core concepts of their system over time.
Does that mean each and every student should be taught in their own unique fashion? Unfortunately, and this goes against the innate human desire to be seen as an individual, despite countless studies and a huge amount of popularity, there is no empirical evidence that argues tailoring a teaching style to a student’s supposed learning style is effective. Furthermore, it has been argued, that purely by playing up to a person’s apparent strengths and preferences means that they never get a good opportunity to address their weaknesses. Nevertheless, combat reveals that different people fight differently. We all have different combat personalities and this can be seen throughout the history of interpersonal violence. Humans have thrived as a species due to the many ways they can adapt. So how do we correlate this information?
When it comes to cross-training the individual is running their own show. They are building new data based on previous experiences. Putting an individual at the centre of their education needs to be done with care and with caution. Individualising training shouldn’t be about pandering to their wants, preferences and prejudices of one person – be that person yourself or your student. Rather it should be an exploration of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. A combatant will develop their own style. The way that style is learnt and developed should not be through a straightforward agreement between teacher and student. The teacher seeks to prompt the student to take responsibility for his own education. He acts as an honest advisor, an unbiased critique critic and a supportive coach. He doesn’t seek to adapt his teaching style to the perceived niceties of a student’s learning style or to feverishly consult a catalogue of categories that some supposed education expert has conclude, but he provides an environment that prompts the student to find his own way.
The student cross-trainer uses his individuality to better understand what works best for him. This is where cross-training defines itself as being more than a sum of its parts. This is where the hours of solo training comes in. This is the time spent recruiting various different partners to test and train outside of formal lessons. Individuality in learning is most successful when it is underpinned by clarification and scepticism. An individual often discovers what he needs through clinically testing what he thinks he wants.
 See my chapters “The By-Product Myth” and “The Calypso Effect” in my e-book “Mordred’s Victory” for in depth discussions on how martial artists often get side-tracked in their training objectives.
 See my chapter on “Attribute Training” in my aforementioned e-book to understand how to get the most out of these lessons.
 My chapter on “Specific Training” in “Mordred’s Victory and Other Martial Mutterings” details the importance of specialised pressure tests.
 I have a chapter on “Solo Training” in “Mordred’s Victory and Other Martial Mutterings” that can help provide more insight into this often abused side of learning.