• Jason Tsang

Can I learn from watching Youtube or DVD's?

Updated: Mar 2


This is a topic that goes around from time to time. Quite often people will often ask if they can learn from YouTube or from videos. There are no simple answers to this and it is also the cause of a lot of bad practice. I can't speak for other styles of martial arts, but the issue is more obvious in Tai Chi. Videos, often well produced, make Tai Chi look easy and gives the impression that anyone can do it (and anyone can, but please read on). However, in reality there is a lot that goes into learning. You see this in watercolour paintings. Whilst, most people will admit they can't paint like Turner. They would like to think that they can paint watercolours. After all, there's not much detail right? This is true of any art and if was that easy, where's the challenge. This blog is the first of three regarding videos.

A lot of us grew up up watching Kung Fu movies and were influenced by them. It was probably these that lead kids to sign up for martial arts classes. Martial art instructional tapes first started out on VHS (if you're old enough to remember them) and later on DVD (actually they first came out on the MPEG1 VCD's) and they showed the world how you can learn a martial art in the comfort of your own home. YouTube was the next platform for instructional videos. Before being monetised for commercial reasons, YouTube was actually a place for hosting home videos that private individuals make. A lot of martial artists and groups still do this. During my junior years, I have filmed things we have done in class. It was a lot of fun and some of these videos are available to the public.

So can we learn from watching YouTube & DVD's. Well the answer is yes and no. The first answer is no, because each move requires adjustments and everybody is physically different. What works for one, will not work for everyone else. This is why you go to class and a teacher will help you by helping you work through the moves and correct your posture. If you were to learn from videos, how do you know if you're right? Tai Chi is not just about physical movement. There are also stances, posture, breathing techniques and how to marry the various aspects together. You can't really learn things from videos in this way. Some schools sell visual teaching material and books, but they are for their school and may not be suited to other styles. Furthermore, watching videos can lead to poor posture and incorrect techniques. This in turn can lead to injury and incorrect practice. I prefer more traditional methods and avoid modern fads and shortcuts.

The yes answer, well it opens you the possibilities and helps you see what to expect. I think it is important to watch videos of various styles of Tai Chi, so that you can become familiar with what Tai Chi forms are about and what they should look like. it is good to be familiar with other styles, other than your own. Furthermore, take inspiration from others. Furthermore, where I do think we can learn forms and techniques from videos is if you're experienced and have the ability to make use of what you see or hear. This does not happen until a much later time and the proof is in the pudding. Experience people will be the judge and they can see through the less experienced.

Thank you for reading my blog.

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