Becoming a “well rounded martial artist” is going to mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. I am going to tell you what it means to me. You don’t have to meet all of these criteria, but you should strive to meet as many as possible. If you’re looking for my article about being well rounded at BJJ, that’s over here.
Being able to defend yourself in the street
Many people specialize in the “sport” version of their art, like sport Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Remember, however, that whatever martial art you practice is intended as a way to defend yourself, first and foremost. This doesn’t mean you have to obsess over unlikely scenarios and become paranoid about an attack on the street, but understanding realistic options for defending yourself should it come to that is one aspect of becoming well rounded.
Specializing in an area, but keeping your eyes open to other areas
Nobody is going to be a master of every single aspect of fighting, but what you can do is focus on the art you love with passion and intensity while more casually learning other areas of self defense or fighting. If you love jiu jitsu, train jiu jitsu as much as you can, but try a little boxing or Muay Thai. If you’re a judo black belt, try some wrestling, jiu jitsu, and striking to compliment your skill set. Remember: you don’t have to fall in love with every martial art you practice in order to have a basic understanding.
Understanding the three ranges of unarmed combat: striking, takedowns, and grappling
Having an answer for all three (BJJ, Muay Thai, wresling and/or judo) is crucial. You may be great on the ground, but what if you are simply unable to bring the fight there? You need to have at least a basic understanding of striking so that you understand different ways your opponent is going to be throwing attacks at you. Nowhere is this more evident than in modern MMA.
Understanding the basics of weapons
Unarmed combat in a self defense situation is anything but a foregone conclusion. Educate yourself as to the fundamental concepts of weapons, including- but not limited to- guns and knives.
Yes, we are martial artists, not merely fighters. When we step off the mats, we don’t stop being representatives of our respective arts. The way you deal with problems in life is a reflection of the way you are able to solve problems on the mat. Become the person people want to train with.
This article bears comparison to the earlier article on what makes a well rounded BJJ player, but it certainly expands upon the idea.