Traditional to Modern Part 1
Traditional styles are mostly predicated on respect and honour. This is a tradition passed down from many centuries ago (probably longer) to today. These characteristics and attributes are essential aspects to learn so that they may be incorporated into our lifestyle. That being said, many traditional practitioners due to cultural values regard ground fighting to be disrespectful to a high degree, as being on the ground considered to be of a low status, similar to that of a beggar. Many practitioners therefore feel that the Martial Arts are based on honour and respect and therefore a lack of, ceases to be true Martial Arts. For many who cross train in various disciplines to increase and expand their own martial paradigm, this particular value will be difficult to agree with, especially as there is often no honour and therefore it is absolutely essential to learn as much as possible.
To master one thing, you must master all things. From personal and direct experience in physical confrontations, you cannot depend on your opponent's respect or honour to stop the attack when you are on the ground. Physical confrontations generally originate from a difference in opinion. If the two parties were respectful, it would never get to a physical form of resolution, with exception of organised matches, though even those have rules, which participants are expected to honour. As soon as the conflict escalates to a physical level (not talking about sparring, but real fighting, especially with multiple opponents), honour and respect are the first things to go in favour of beating and winning at all costs even when all else fails.
Sticking to one style forces you to stay within that paradigm and thus, limiting what you can learn and achieve. Learning other styles to complement your strengths and weaknesses is an excellent way to improve. Some will criticise that learning other styles forces bad habits but those who say that tend to be those who stuck to their one paradigm and are afraid to transcend those barriers simply because it would expose their own weaknesses.
It is therefore more important to be free of these restrictions, paradigmatically speaking. Kung Fu can be translated as one’s time and effort. Therefore, a musician’s Kung Fu could be their expertise with an instrument. Kung Fu is one's expression and unique and therefore everybody should be different. Ground fighting is simply one form of fighting amongst many.
Now, an ancient military warrior back in the day would be required to fight at all distances:
Infantry: close quarter, weapons, hand to hand including ground fighting against multiple opponents
Cavalry: fighting from horses with and without weapons at a distance; if they get knocked off the horse, they would have to fight close range like an infantry soldier
Artillery: fighting from a long distance with weapons that have a range that exceeds that of conventional weapons. Projectile weapons, for instance. Now, if the enemy breached the borders and cut down the range of an artillery fighter, he would have to fight close range like infantry.
It can therefore be argued that the only fighting distance is contact distance. As war times have moved on, teachings for fighting styles for those times grew less and less. Teachers got by on teaching less and would not want their students to surpass them out of respect / ego. Unfortunately, respect in this regard is synonymous to the word ego. Consequently, what happens then is that the student eventually never surpasses the teacher and the style becomes more and more watered down. The student who becomes the teacher may hold a similar value of not wanting his students to surpass him and therefore withhold certain teachings. Eventually, all that is taught is forms and very basic application that may not be practical in the slightest. The truth is, the modern day traditional practitioner on the whole is limited in understanding and skill. This is a false sense of security given to students from their teachers who do not know much better simply because they themselves have been trapped within this paradigm. Due to this, the 'master' often pretends to know more than he actually does simply because he himself gives the impression that he has done it all when in truth, they only ever stuck to one form of training. In light of the above, one form of training is no longer enough.
This is why it is so important to learn different styles and principles of those styles regardless of their nationality. Once we transcend where each style comes from and disregarding styles because of their nationality so that we can learn them for their merit, we evolve as practitioners.
It is important to train in multiple disciplines, armed and unarmed against multiple opponents who may be armed or unarmed. How many people genuinely do this? Few. A warrior in ancient times would have to. He would also travel in the pursuit of increasing his own skills by learning from others from other styles along their journeys / pilgrimages. What those individuals did back then, was in essence Mixed Martial Arts. This is not a new concept, but the literal definition of the term.