Advances in technology have taken martial arts to a whole new level. The Internet and DVD’s allow you to train with the most accomplished martial artists in the privacy of your own living room. With this convenience however comes a lot of debate. The martial arts community is divided over whether it is possible for someone to learn the martial arts through distance learning. I think the answer lies somewhere in the center.
Realistically, you may not have a martial art school with the style of their choosing in your neighborhood or even within traveling distance. You may not be able to afford the tuition due to financial constraints. You may have to travel extensively for work and are unable to follow a traditional class schedule. Or you just may want to learn a style that isn’t offered in your geographic location and can’t afford to travel long distances. If you’re in any of these situations, Internet and DVD training has made it easy for you’re to enjoy training in the martial arts.
Learning martial arts through the Internet or DVD is great if you’ve already earned a black belt through traditional class attendance and face-to-face training. Here, you have the basic foundation and skill to put the new information together. So for example, let’s say you have a first-degree black belt in a traditional karate style. You’ve decided that you would like to balance your hard training with a soft style like Wing Chun Kung Fu. Because of your background, using a DVD course would not be a problem. You know by now how the human anatomy works in the context of martial arts training and have the basic knowledge to grasp the concepts.
It is a different story if you’ve never trained in the martial arts and are looking at one of these products for the first time. I will tell you from experience that an instructor is necessary to make corrections early on in your martial arts training so you are rooted in good basics and you don’t develop bad habits that will be hard to undo once they become ingrained. If you are thinking of working toward your black belt via distance learning, then choose a program that has video testing or where you can travel periodically to have your technique checked and corrected by a competent instructor.
Another good piece of advice for the distance learner is to get a buddy to work with you. Punching the air is not as effective as working with a partner. Also, training with a partner can help motivate both of you to stick with it. Treat it as if you have to show up to a martial arts class two to three times per week. Keep a schedule. This is what you would be doing if you were paying tuition at a school. You’ll need to stay motivated or the DVD’s will just pile up and collect dust.
You’ll get the best training the old fashioned way in a school under the direction of a competent instructor. If that doesn’t work for you, don’t shy away from martial arts training. There are many good resources out there with either video or periodic in-person supervision to make the best of your distance learning experience.