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I am 33 and I have been doing Shotokan Karate for 9 months.

And I am also considering starting Judo also.

I have read that Karate and Judo can compliment each other nicely and that it was quite normal in Okinawa for people to cross train Karate and Judo in the same Dojo’s.

I do understand that learning 2 martial arts could be confusing and will also slow progression. But I am a patient and hard working person and I expect this journey to take many years.

I have committed to a fairly intensive gym regime 4 days per week for 15 years and I enjoy learning, improving and challenging myself.

I want to be a well rounded martial artist.

Or is this just a stupid idea?

Thanks

Marcus

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    I have limited access to the internet ATM, but just thought I would mention on this topic that my university shotokan karate club had regular cross training sessions with the university judo club with members of all grades from both clubs encouraged to attend.
    – Huw Evans
    Jun 14 at 18:08

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You'll probably have no difficulty learning Karate and Judo at the same time.

The danger in studying more than one martial art at the same time is that you can confuse the two. When the martial arts are more alike, it's easier to confuse them. When they're more dissimilar, they're easier to learn together.

For example, practicing Shotokan karate and Taekwondo at the same time could be confusing. Both have roughly the same stances and techniques, because TKD comes from Shotokan. But TKD changes everything in subtle ways. The stances in TKD are more upright than in Shotokan. You will also notice that the center of gravity in a TKD practitioner bobs up and down, unlike in Shotokan. The sparring rules are different between the two. And the emphasis Shotokan has on one highly focused, fast, clean attack is tossed out the window in TKD. As a result of all these differences and more, it's easy for you to confuse the two and find yourself doing a technique in a TKD way while in Shotokan class, or vice-versa. Your instructors will realize you're training in another martial art at the same time, and they will ask you to stop doing the other one in order to learn the first one.

It's confusing learning Judo and BJJ at the same time, too. BJJ sorta comes from Judo. They share a lot of techniques. But like Shotokan and TKD, the two emphasize different things and have subtle differences that make it hard to learn them both at the same time without confusing them.

But when you have two very dissimilar martial arts, it's easy to learn them both without confusing them. In your case, Shotokan karate and Judo are completely different. You won't have any issues confusing them. They are perfectly suited to be learned together. And yes, they complement each other well.

You'll also learn later on that Shotokan karate kata is composed of grappling primarily. All those blocks and strikes aren't necessarily doing what you think they're doing. You'll find that there are judo-like throws in the kata.

I go over this in another answer, which you can read at the following link:

Name and meaning of stance where you stand with fists on hips?

Another approach you might consider is to learn classical Japanese jujitsu instead of Judo. The knowledge you gain in jujitsu would help you understand your karate kata to a much greater degree than Judo would.

What Judo practice gives you, though, is the ability to fight. It's how you train that matters. Training against someone who is determined to beat you and who will resist everything you do is the way you gain fighting ability. BJJ would also give you that. But both Judo and BJJ would not give you as much insight into your karate kata as classical jujitsu would. So it just depends on your goal which one you decide to learn.

Next, you have to consider your time. Most people who do two martial arts eventually burn themselves out. They find that they just don't have the time to do both well. So they drop one and go with the other. And actually, eventually they give up martial arts altogether when their lives get really tight for time.

It sounds like time is not your problem right now, though. In that case, the risk for you would be overtraining. Overtraining means you workout too many times a week and for too long. Your body may not get a chance to recover. And so your progress over time is hindered. Keep that in mind. You might do better scheduling both martial arts practices on the same 2 or 3 days a week. Then put one or two days of rest between those days. That way, you can recover in time for the next class.

Hope that helps.

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    Hello Steve, Thanks for your long and detailed response. I have looked in to Japanese JiuJitsu also, but there is a very reputable Judo place fairly close to me, so I think I will try Judo. My biggest concern is overtraining, so I will have to keep an eye on that. But I always get 8 hours sleep each night, I eat healthily and a lot of food, I take all my vitamins, creatine and a lot of cod liver oil. I will try Karate 2 days per week (1 hour) and Judo 2 days per week (1.5 hour). Plus weightlifting on other days. But I will reduce the intensity of my weightlifting. Thanks
    – Marcus D
    Jun 15 at 11:12
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    @MarcusD No problem. Learning Judo is good for its own sake. You can pick up classical jujitsu later on if you want. Good luck! Jun 15 at 15:25
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I will answer as a hobby historian of Japanese martial arts and a Judo practitioner and instructor for almost 20 years who also trained in BJJ, Okinawan karate, and several other arts.

Judo and Shotokan Karate won't interfere with each other.

They will rather complement each other as they are, in a way, two different sides of the coin that is a complete martial art. The problem will rather be that many Shotokan schools teach a very stylized, hands-off type of martial art that lacks practicality.

Therefore, you might be better off if you take up Goju/Shorin/Uechi Ryu Karate (classical Okinawan Karate, influenced by Chinese King Fu and presupposing, not explicitly teaching pure grappling skills) as they tend to provide better contact points to grappling to close the gap between the two arts. I suspect that the reason why karate and judo are trained together in Okinawa is exactly that the Okinawan Styles and Judo are almost perfect complements. Another alternative would be Kyokushin as it is much more realistic in terms of transfer of sparring into actual fighting due to full contact rules and in this sense similar to Judo.

Short history lesson and longer explanation

As a matter of fact, Gichin Funakoshi, when systemizing and labeling Shotokan Karate in 1920 as a condensed version of Okinawan Karate, designed it so that it deliberately does not contain a lot of shared content with Judo. Throws come into play at a very late stage both in grading and sparring and in very limited ways.

The reason for that was that Judo has shown its superiority in grappling and generally weaponless fighting compared to traditional ways of training in jiu-jitsu Ryu in Japan and had excelled and refined in doing so for almost 40 years before Karate was spread in mainland Japan. Judo basically was the only widely respected martial art in Japan at the time and so Funakoshi had good intuition when he thought it was about time to introduce a "Japanese" (see Chinese roots above) pure striking art as a complement, carefully avoiding any competition or contact point with Judo and rather offering an alternative with a completely different skill set.

Due to the immediate success of that strategy since people wanted to train striking arts, the instructor-student-ratio was very bad and only basics without much application could be taught so the outcome is what you see in most karate classes these days: Lots of students uniformly and repeatedly doing the same moves over and over without much application against a moving, resisting partner, conditioning, or sparring. This kind of training may be okay depending on your goals, but it does not help much in terms of building a body memory and skill set that improves your performance in an actual fight or a very open ruleset like in MMA. Also, the omission of grappling lead to a lot of moves in kata becoming meaningless or reinterpreted and possibilities for a self-defense application of grappling and transitions between ranges were deliberately omitted in the curriculum.

Originally, Okinawan karate was built on the premise that martial arts practitioners would have trained in the local Okinawan wrestling style from a very early age on, so these basics of grips, power generation, and throws would not be trained anymore but nevertheless be applied in the context of striking and kicking. That is why it makes sense to train these styles and Judo alongside if you are not already very proficient in grappling. Also, the head teachers of the respective styles mostly still do the traditional in-house teaching with no more than a handful of students so lineage is an important criterion in terms of the quality of the training.

Conclusion and TL;DR

As mentioned above, if your goal is fighting competence as opposed to more recreational and aesthetic arts, maybe Shotokan isn't a good choice for you and you should rather look for Okinawan styles, Kyokushin, or Muay Thai. If self-defense applicability is not your main concern and you rather like some introduction to the basics of kicking and striking techniques in addition to your Judo training, Shotokan may be the perfect choice for you. In either case, a striking art is a good complement and will not interfere with your Judo training as the set of techniques and fighting range are very different. If you observe carefully, the power generation in throws and kicks/strikes often is very similar (due to body mechanics) and you may additionally profit from different instructors emphasizing different aspects because of different viewpoints there.

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  • Hi Philip, thanks for your very long and detailed response. I have looked in to ShorinRyu Karate before and there is a reputable ShorinRyu Dojo in my city, but unfortunately they are not taking on new adults at this time partly due to Covid. Also, my Shotokan Karate Dogo is very reputable and I like my current Dojo. But I would consider doing ShorinRyu Karate years down the line. I have found a reputable Judo establishment and I will try to do 2 x 1 hour Karate classes and 2 x 1.5 hour Judo classes per week. Plus home practicing. Thank You for sharing your historical knowledge.
    – Marcus D
    Jun 15 at 11:27
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    @MarcusD Been a pleasure. As of overtraining, I'd suggest you keep 2-3 days between the sessions of the respective arts if possible and try not to go with too high an intensity for the first 2-3 months (which is the most common mistake of adult beginners, hindering their technical progress). Also, your joints, ligaments, etc., which take about three times the time to adjust to new training stimuli compared to muscles, then have time to do so. Training at home before that doesn't make much sense either as you lack the technical base and understanding in your basics to do so without supervision. Jun 15 at 19:48

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