Martial Arts Instructional Videos
Are Martial Arts Videos Replacing Or Complementing The Traditional Martial Arts Class?
By Glenn Chegwidden
There is a question in regards to the relationship between martial arts instructional videos and to the traditional classroom learning environment. The question is do these tapes seek to replace or complement the classroom environment? The answer to this is found in understanding the value and purpose of instructional videos: Instructional videos serve the purpose of furthering the student's training. These videos are not meant as a replacement to the traditional classroom, but rather as a supplement to it.
Martial arts instructional videos have been around for over 25 years and while their popularity has had its peaks and valleys new releases come out year after year. If a novice student were to pick up a martial arts magazine for the first time, the student would probably be taken aback by the sheer volume of instructional videos available in the marketplace. If student might even undergo a cathartic experience of sorts as the secret history of martial arts styles such a Wing Chun, Tae Kwon Do, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Okinawan karate styles have been recorded for posterity. Imagine the possibility of learning all these styles without having to attend class.
Well, let us not go that far. The martial arts instructional videos have their value only within their proper use.
"You can't learn martial arts from a book" was a common criticism levied at the classic martial arts books of the 1970's which originally ushered in the "home study" era. This same criticism is often applied to martial arts instructional videos and it is equally erroneous. No, you can not learn Hung Gar or Muay Thai sitting in a chair watching an instructional video without taking classes, but if you are a serious student you can expedite your learning by viewing instructional videos. A student simply can not learn everything in class and what many students neglect is to seek supplemental research material.
Now, some martial arts instructional videos are well made, others are of lesser quality. If one were to make a general statement on the quality of instructional videos, the positives and negatives would be as follows:
The general positives of martial arts instructional videos is that they can provide lesson material that can be accessed at the convenience of the student and provide a solid resource of material that has been learned in class as well as providing a glimpse into material that has yet to be covered. Also, many videos center on specific topics ("arm bars," "multiple opponents," etc) and this provides students with information that is tailored to the students wants and needs.
If there any major negatives they would be the fact that martial arts instructional DVD's are not interactive. That is, the student can not question the instructor on a video nor can ask for clarification. The information presented is dictated and limited in the way it conveys information. Also, far, far too many instructional videos emphasize presenting techniques as opposed to explaining principles and underlying concepts. Unfortunately, the technique heavy nature of instructional videos is the result of the market demands placed on the manufacturers of the videos from the consumers.
Beginners comprise the overwhelming majority of video consumers mainly because they have an inquisitiveness that can only be satiated by a visual experience. In other words, with inquisitiveness, there is a desire to see and often beginners will want to see as much of the art as possible as a method of learning. DVD's then opt to release DVD's of "advanced" and "secret" material designed to tap into the inquisitive beginner market. Now, this is not inherently bad or harmful, but a student should also seek instructional DVD's that are theoretical or concept driven as opposed to merely technical.
Ultimately, DVD martial arts instructional videos provide the student with an excellent vehicle for facilitate his or her learning of a martial art and will also maintain the student's interest level. Surely the traditional schools appreciate this help in retaining their students as well as enhancing their student's skill level. Clearly the value of instructional DVD's are not lost on students and teachers alike and will be around for a long, long time.
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