I did. It worked.
It wasn’t that long ago — to me, anyway — when there were videotapes that you could send away for to learn karate, kung fu and other martial arts. In addition, there were distance-learning programs that allowed you to record yourself doing the material you learned from the tapes, mail in your own VHS and get ranked. Black belt via mail order.
Things have progressed a great deal since then, and now you can study virtually any martial art online. Is it a valid way to learn? Yes, but there is a caveat: You need to have a partner.
Learning Technique and Form
Why bother learning online at all if you still need a partner? Well, if you follow the 80/20 rule, it makes sense. This means that 80 percent of martial arts training is done alone, learning movements and techniques, practicing drills for speed and agility, and using apparatus such as bags and dummies for striking, punching, throwing and grappling. These are all things a student can (and should) do without a partner — whether training online or not.
- Find out if there are any students in your online program who live nearby.
- Start a meetup group through social media.
- Determine if you have any friends who study martial arts and are interested in letting you practice your material on them. In turn, they get to practice their material on you. Depending on the person’s skill level, you might end up learning two arts using this method.
- If you are studying online because your preferred martial arts school is too far away, see if you can make periodic visits to a school that teaches the same style. Whether this is allowed will be up to the teacher, of course, and you should always be honest about your intentions and respect the instructor’s policies.
Online training offers a great opportunity to learn different martial arts from talented teachers you might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn from. Follow the programs and do the drills — and don’t forget to pair up with a good partner so you can maximize your chance of being successful.
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