If you open up the Book of Five Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵) you will find a comment somewhere in the pages that a person should be familiar will all arts. Musashi also goes on to make the distinction between being familiar and understanding other arts, he is not suggesting that you master every art, just know about them.
Here is a quick list of where I have spent time, Shotokan, Tae Kwon Do, Hung-gar, Modern Arnis, Goju-Ryu, Judo, Aikido, Brazilian Jujitsu, Kenpo, Tai Chi and wrestling. You know what this experience has given me? A certainty. A certainty that what I am training now is right for me. This conclusion comes with clarity because I have had and still have the intellectual curiosity to explore other arts. A curiosity fostered by my parents, by my teachers and some of my martial arts instructors.
Now obviously I can not, nor could I try every art that is out there, that is impossible, however, a sampling allows you to “be familiar” as Musashi puts it. I liken it to a child that is resistant to trying a new food. They do not want to try it because they are confident that they know what it tastes like, and in a fit of immaturity turn up their nose to something that they have never tasted.
Some of my students have gone off to other arts, leaving the school permanently. Other students have returned after knocking around the martial arts world a bit. Other students have found something that lights them up more than karate. My comment to both of those paths is, “cool.”
I say get out there. There are more diverse opportunities in the martial arts than we have ever known in the history of man. Get out there try something new, you do not have to marry it, you can just date, it’s OK….Guh a head, it’s OK.