Which Martial Art

Can be learned from a distance?

Can I learn martial arts online? Which martial art is best for me? Can I train in sword fighting from videos? What if there is no martial art class for my style? I moved but want to continue my training. How can I do it? If any of these questions describe your situation, read on.

Can I Learn Martial Arts Online?

Yes.... and no. There is a huge amount of excellent training material available on the internet. It really depends how well you are able to process that information. For most people, the question of which martial art you should learn is narrowed down to the choice of classes available within fifteen minutes of your home or work. Most people find it hard enough to last more than three months when there is an easy class to get to. Even with the best of intentions, very few people have the determination to get to class when some other choice comes up - like avoiding going out in the rain, or watching that big football game on TV, or going to a friend's party. If this is your track record, don't even think of studying a martial art online.

Some people think it is cheaper to study from DVDs and books, by themselves. If you think that, you're wrong. You see, you can do a lot of your study alone and no matter which martial art you study, you should be putting in a lot more time at home than you do in the class sessions. But no one can really get it right without a teacher. Even if you are a very determined and dedicated student, you will still need to spend a week or two a year with your teacher to make real progress.

I do this. I found my teacher through his book and DVD. He lives on the other side of the world. There is no one else teaching this particular style in my country. If I wanted this style and this teacher, I had to do whatever it took. It costs me several thousand dollars a year to either bring him over for a seminar or travel to his country to study with him. Books, DVDs, hand written notes, phonecalls, emails, forum discussion and a lot of private practise, fill in the gaps. But it isn't easy and it isn't cheap. If you know which martial art you want to do, be prepared to pay for it.

It takes fairly unusual gifts to make a success of learning martial arts from a distance. Aspegers students have those gifts. I am neither Aspegers, nor introverted. I'm just self motivated. So which martial art is best for you? Probably the one closest with a good teacher.

Can I Train in Sword Fighting From Videos?

Yes, you can do that. There is some really good material available. Decide which martial art style is to be yours and stick to it. Get all the equipment. Learn the moves. I did about 110,000 practise cuts before ever having a training partner. That's the thing - you will eventually need a training partner because skill isn't real until it works for you in combat. However, if you develop the ability to practise movements over and over, alone, at home, your skill will improve no matter which martial art you train in.

I trained alone for fourteen months before meeting my teacher for the first time. I brought him over for a seminar, having persuaded about twenty other people from Australia, New Zealand and America, that they wanted to come and learn as well. When they all went home, I was left without partners again. So I had to start training others. If you are prepared to be the pioneer, you can do this too.

I also found an excellent teacher of another style who was able to train me in a lot of skills that are common to many types of swordfighting. between that, seminars, trips to America, and passing it on to other people, I've managed to develop a reasonable amount of skill. So yes, you can do it, but again, don't think it will be easy or cheap.

What if there is no martial art class for my style?

If you know which martial art you want to learn and there is no teacher, you can still do it. Just be prepared to pay a high price. it will be lonely, frustrating, expensive, and slow. If you're still determined to do it, you can. I do. Here are the steps I followed.
  1. Make sure there is nothing else you would like to do instead. You only have time for one choice so make sure it's the right one.
  2. Choose your teacher. You are already doing it the hard way, so you may as well choose the best in the world, as you see it. Communicate with this teacher and ask them to accept you as a student. Get all their books, DVD's, etc. Join the school forum if there is one. Start developing online relationships with other students, You will need them for support.
  3. Make plans to travel or to bring the teacher to your area for a seminar. You must have some face to face training, even though most of your work will be done at home. When you get to the seminar, make sure you write everything down. Others can go to have fun and be back at class the next week. For you, it is more serious. make sure you understand and remember everything. Remember, it's probably a year's worth of instruction for you. For other students it may just be another weekly class. They don't have to remember. You do.
  4. If you are copying martial arts moves from a DVD - learning a form or an application - take your time. There is no hurry. Success comes in doing the moves you know very well, not in knowing a lot of them poorly. It normally takes me about ten hours to get a new form movement correct when I'm learning it from a DVD. This is slow. I'm a non-visual learner. I can't just see it and copy it. I have to train each tiny part of it individually until my body does it automatically. then I have to put all the parts together. Then I have to build it into the rest of the form. Most people aren't that slow.
  5. When you practise alone, pretend your teacher is watching every move. Don't waste a moment doing anything badly. Training is for doing your best. Don't let anything distract you.
  6. Do the difficult things much more than the easy things. This takes a lot of self discipline. Most people don't do things that hurt or are boring or take a lot of concentration, unless they are in a martial art class with plenty of peer pressure and a teacher insisting they do it. If you can break through the barriers by yourself, you just may be one of the few who can learn martial arts online most of the time.
  7. Save all the time. Have a regular plan. Mine was selling books on Ebay and putting all my gold coins in a tin. I got to America for the TCSL Tournament this year, by that method. I didn't have a job. If you have really decided which martial art is right for you and you are doing it from a distance, it means sacrificing a lot of other things to get the training you need. Do you still want to do this? You can, but it isn't the easy option. You have to want to do it more than anything else.

I Moved But Want to Continue Training

Do you? Why did you move? If you had to, think carefully. If you are willing to pay the price as outlined above, then you can still continue training with your teacher from a distance. If you can't handle the loneliness, frustration, high costs and self discipline, choose another martial art and do something in your area. Some people need to have other students to relate to. Most people need the motivation of a physical class. Know who you are and why you are doing it. Which martial art is right for you? Do that one.

For me it's Chinese Swordsmanship and taijiquan. My teacher lives on the other side of the world. He's got much busier since I started and has less and less time to help me. I thought about giving up this year. It was too hard being alone. But I didn't. Sometimes I feel envious of students who can go to class every week and have our teacher whenever they want. I feel concerned when other students take their training lightly or think only of themselves and don't help others. I feel frustrated watching people with years less training do things I haven't even heard of yet, let alone had the chance to learn. But I still want to keep doing this. I count every piece of training and every moment my teacher can spare, as a priviledge. I feel constrained to pass it all on. Which martial art? The one that is best for you. Which martial art? The one you are motivated enough to train to a high level no matter what the cost.

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