Traditional martial artists frequently scoff at the idea of learning martial arts by video, arguing that you need a live instructor to guide you and critique your every move. But modern practitioners know that isn’t quite true. For many parts of your training, a real instructor is not required.
In centuries past, when writing was still a luxury, a few innovative masters took advantage of it and recorded their secrets for posterity. When the public would hear mention of those books, they were often described as sacred texts that were valued as highly as human life. Warriors fought and died trying to protect them – or take possession of them. Within their pages lay information that could transform a fighter into a master.
Mind you, all this was taking place when books were nothing more than hand-written manuscripts with perhaps a few rough sketches sprinkled throughout. Now, in the 21st century, we enjoy a technology that enables us to record and play back moving images and sound. Video allows us to see and hear masters as they perform their techniques, yet some martial artists just can’t grasp the worth of this. If those doubting Thomases lived 100 or 1,000 years ago, would they have harbored the same skepticism about the written word?
There’s no difference between learning the martial arts from a video and learning any other course from a video. It all comes down to the quality of the information being provided and your motivation to absorb it. Although you may not be able to learn an entire art from a set of videos, as long as the information is comprehensive, you’ll be able to advance by leaps and bounds.
Now that you’re convinced that video-based training is a valid way to gain martial knowledge, let’s look at seven reasons why training by video is a good thing:
- You can work out in the privacy of your home at your convenience.
- You can learn a style that’s not offered in your area.
- You can advance in rank within your current art.
- You can check out the skills of an instructor before signing up for lessons.
- You can investigate a style before you spend time and money to find a school that teaches it.
- You can learn new ways of training and/or teaching.
- You can prepare yourself for tournaments by reviewing the styles you will face in the ring.
So whether you want to learn a new style, expand your technique base, advance in your current art, prep yourself for a tournament, or search for new training and teaching methods, you should not pass up videotapes. They represent the ultimate high-tech tool for learning the ancient arts of self-defense.
By Eddie Ivester
This article was originally published in September 2003 by Black Belt Magazine.