Monday, September 24, 2012

Can I Learn Karate From the Internet

Like most Americans, I learned to drive a car and earned my license when I was sixteen years old. For me, the hardest part of the process was the written exam. All those silly arcane rules. Why would I ever need to know what a Stop Sign looks like from the back?

  • How far from a fire hydrant are you allowed to park?
  • If approaching a stopped school bus in the opposite lane, when is it OK to continue without stopping?
  • How many girls can you have in the front seat when trolling McDonalds on a Friday night?

I’m not sure that last question is on every exam. Should be.

There are many elements of driving that one can learn; one must learn, from reading a book. Written and verbal instructions can be very useful in the mastery of almost any subject. But, is it possible to learn martial arts from the internet?

Sure. Absolutely, No problem.



It is no more possible to learn Karate, Judo, or Kung Foo from the Internet, than it is to learn swimming, acting, or driving. Yes, there are some concepts you can reinforce - but to understand any martial art, you need a qualified instructor, and other practitioners with whom to study.

Wait, stop, hold on just a minute. Isn’t this entire web site a monument to Internet-based martial arts training? I am the first person to say that having Tang Soo Do written down, step by step, is very useful. I’ve had countless Black Belts say they use the material here when they have a question.

But no amount of written description, no clever sketches, or photos, or even videos can tell you that your fist is too loose, your stance too high, or that you can do the form one more time.

An instructor can tell you that you a telegraphing your kicks - that’s why you always get blocked. You may think (swearing to the great God of Spinal Surgeons) that your back is straight, but a good instructor will help you to “feel” when you are correctly upright.

You might break a board on the first try without individual supervision, but the “downside risk” of getting it wrong could be quite serious.

I hope you read, enjoy, and get great value from this and other web sites. But... always listen to your instructor. Find a good one, follow their direction, and use the written material (and videos) to reinforce their lessons.

1 comment:

  1. There is an MMA / Karate Blogger @ an MMA site called "FIGHTLAND." He is promoting himself as an applied fighting expert and claims a background in traditional karate. I'll refer to him as "Mr. Striker."

    I should warn that Mr. Striker believes the the traditional karate regimen is ineffective on several fronts. On certain karate issues, he is in some agreement with M. Meredith.

    Mr. Striker's specific article @ Fightland that I'm referring to is a very detailed review of the SAIFA kata. My understanding of SAIFA is that it is an Okinawan karate kata--I'm not sure if or what the TSD corollary hyung is, if any.

    I should also warn that Mr. Striker is not a proponent of kata as an effective, applied fighting exercise. Mr. Striker's SAIFA article is laced with karate criticisms that I have witnessed often.... including some liked-posted commentary @ M. Meredith's MMA articles here.

    Mr. Striker's Fightland SAIFA article is well written & his case well presented. It's well worth reading should one want to engage in the MMA vs. TMA debate.

    The thrust of Mr. Striker's MMA / SAIFA article is that traditional karate needs a lot of study, attention & lastly modification to make it workable. IMHO, this article make a great platform to flesh out not just the purported flaws in traditional karate; on the contrary, actually how sound the traditional karate regimen is in preparing for martial conflict.

    The first point I want to make here is M. Meredith's assertion that you can't learn karate via the internet. An actual karate instructor is necessary. In his article, Mr. Striker contradicts M. Merdedith and scoffs at the premise that one can only learn traditional karate (here, the SAIFA kata) from a karate instructor.

    I think the internet is an excellent resource for learning traditional karate (academically) . What's apparent is that Mr. Striker thinks so too and is promoting a career that explains how to fight successfully in MMA, etc., including his 'important' & 'necessary' adaptations of the traditional karate style.

    Props to M. Merdedith for broaching the internet training issue. I would love to see a live interchange between Mr. Striker and the C.S. Kim organization--doubt that will come to pass. The internet then, is the next best thing....


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