The martial arts exist in a state of duality: one side concerned with the fundamental rules of combat, physics, and body mechanics (the “martial”), and the other side being the human expression that operates behind these (the “art”).
Newer students often talk about “styles” or “games” — what game should I be focusing on? What style should I model myself after? These questions get at the art of combat.
While these are definitely productive and appropriate questions to ask, and re-ask, throughout the lifetime of your study, we first have to understand that our style is something that changes over time as more skills and knowledge become available.
“You can’t color outside the box until you learn where the box is,” as the saying goes.
If you think of each skill, concept, and technique as another color on your palette, then a broader understanding of the martial art gives you more colors to paint with. It is actually the intense (and often dull) study of the fundamentals and axiomatic concepts of fighting that actually enriches your ability to express yourself.
So the next time you ask “what type of game should I be focusing on,” instead ask yourself “how can I improve the options I have to study different games.” You’ll find that, in time, a more truer expression of yourself will emerge simply because you have freed yourself from constraints that limit your ability to showcase your art.