Can you Learn Martial Arts Online? The Modern World of Digital Training, Tuition, and Coaching!This is, to some extent, an extremely contentious question to a lot of people. Can you learn Martial Arts online? In today's modern world, can you be coached via digital training or tuition to become proficient in your chosen discipline? I think you can quite easily argue it "yes" or "no", dependent on your view point. This might seem like a crazy topic for me to discuss. As one of the World's leading producers of Martial Arts instructional videos, you could be forgiven for thinking that I was firmly a "yes" man and would be talking down any nay-sayers. And, you would certainly not be wrong in thinking that I have a tendency to lean towards its more positive aspects. However, as a lifelong Martial Artist, athlete, coach and gym owner, I also completely understand both the concerns around it and the important caveats to be aware of. Even though I think the real issue lies in how people perceive it, lets take a look at both sides of the debate below
1. Unrestricted TuitionThe digital world never sleeps. 24/7 access is not difficult to achieve unless you have truly terrible internet. Thus, viewing online tuition at any point in the day or week that is convenient for you, is no problem at all. For those people who struggle to get to classes or training because of their work/life commitments, this alone can be a game changer.
2. Access to TrainingDepending on where we are born, we can sometimes be hugely restricted by who we can access within our local area with regards to Martial Arts training of any description. This obviously becomes even more difficult if the discipline we wish to study has no instructors with anything like a distance that could easily be travelled on a regular basis. Digital tuition is not location dependent and can be utilised anywhere in the world.
3. World Class CoachesFollowing on from above, unless we are lucky enough to live near to a world class academy, we may never get the opportunity to train with the globally renowned coaches who teach there. Digital downloads, Online Martial Arts training platforms and sharing sites such as YouTube allow people to gain insights and coaching material from those regarded as the best in the world as often as they wish.
4. Professional DevelopmentIf, like me, you are lucky enough to have made your passion/hobby in Martial Arts a paid career. Then, it is entirely possible, the time you used to dedicate purely to training yourself is now split across a multitude of different students, athletes and coaching/business related activities. These time constraints although wonderful (as they allow you to follow your purpose), they can sometimes restrict your ability to travel and train with other coaches and instructors as much as you might like. As an experienced practitioner, you will no doubt be able to gain a lot from watching and listening to others coach online. Experts recognise expertise in others very easily.
5. Inspiration/Ideas/EvolutionNo matter whether you are an athlete, coach or hobbyist, everyone sometimes gets stuck for training ideas or inspiration. Simply watching coaches instruct online can trigger connections in how you could use their methodologies in your own training/coaching or inspire you to create brand new ones by seeing their evolutions of techniques/concepts.
6. The Best Version of the Coach/MaterialIn class or at seminars, you can sometimes not get all the relevant details of a particular technique, drill or movement because of time, other people's questions or simply just a restricted view. With digital content, high level coaches will plan accordingly so that they deliver all the key points for each aspect of their material. As long as this is recorded and produced professionally, you will then have all the necessary details and view points at hand to go over as much as you want.
7. Modern Day ScrollI often think that people have a tendency to sometimes fear change. Realistically, individuals, art forms and cultures have recorded their work for as long as the human race had the capacity to do so. From cave drawings to ancient scrolls, history shows us time and time again how things have been communicated from generation to generation. Digital is essentially the modern day equivalent of recording knowledge so that it is not lost to time. It has thus never been easier to capture our expertise on video and for others to benefit from it, no matter where in the world they reside.
8. Private Lesson/SeminarFollowing on from above, we sometimes only get a single or time limited opportunity to take a private lesson or attend a seminar with a internationally regarded instructor whilst they are in our country or we are in theirs. Digital then can be seen as a similar concept in terms of price point if it is paid for content i.e. that private lesson or seminar you paid for can often be the same as a full length instructional volume.
9. Memory/DrillingWe are all guilty of training in an amazing training session or with a brilliant coach and then forgetting some of the key points that were raised or drills utilised. The benefit of digital is that it is always there for you to re-watch in order to remind yourself of any fundamental mechanics or movements required to make it work.
10. Online Coaching/Feedback/RecordingSome instructors/coaches have now gone one step further and offer the option of online coaching, either live or via recording, in order to give feedback on the application of their digital training material. Thus, you record yourself drilling their instructional content and they then offer their advice/opinion on whether you are doing it correctly or how you could improve it.
11. Train at your own PaceSometimes you can find yourself not in a great place with regards to your fitness levels or struggling to pick up the mechanics being instructed around a particular technique or movement. Training via digital allows you the ability to practise at your own speed and at a level you are comfortable with whilst you perfect what is being taught. This can often be very useful when doing additional training separately because of injury or illness.
12. Positive use of the Internet/Social MediaWhen the internet was created, and then given freely to the world, it's main ideology was one of unrestricted access to information which would be of benefit to humankind. The sharing of any art then is an entirely positive use of digital technology, whether that is through short martial arts videos such as those found on social media or larger full length ones on dedicated sites such as this.
- Training Partners/Gym Community
- Work Ethic/Equipment/Training area
- Flexibility of Training material
- Live Application/Resistance based training
- Confusing Messages
- Quality Control
- Character Development/Spirituality
I do truly believe that there is a real place for digital training and tuition in today's modern world. The ability to learn martial arts online should be seen as a real boon and fantastic use of technology, as opposed to something to be dubious about or completely against. Whether you are a Martial Arts student, active athlete or experienced coach, there is a lot to be gained from utilising awesome digital content. As long as the above strengths and caveats are understood, we can happily add this aspect of learning to greatly assist with our ongoing Martial Arts development!