Who Can Teach Me?

Who can teach me?

This has become a sensitive subject in these times of fast internet, YouTube, eBooks and book stores. I have been approached countless times by persons who tell me they are "black belts" or "masters" of this or that martial art; only to find their instructors have been internet videos, eBooks or video games.

These individuals quickly find out their "skill" and "mastery" are simply a sham but instead of learning the lesson provided I am accused of "cheating" or "trickery" or "deliberately embarrassing them" as they pout away back to their solitary practice of "excellence".

Okay, to be fair - "deliberately embarrassing them" is usually pretty accurate. Also to be fair, I have seen exactly one case where the "master" admitted his lack of skill and went on to train in a proper martial art.

But, to answer the question I say "find a sensei, in a real dojo, in an organization with an established heirarchy of senior instructors, in a martial art that has been around for more than a few years". You will not find adequate core knowledge anywhere else (MMA, McDojo or "martial art my uncle made up").

Why can I not learn from the internet?

The short answer is that you cannot properly learn from the internet because the tools you need to learn are rarely provided in any given video (and never all at once). Back in May of 2015 I spoke of the difference between the beginner and the master; nothing has changed since then.

As a beginner you will not understand and actually cannot even see the small details presented in a YouTube video. The properly trained individual does see and can take final note of the minor nuances which are the difference between effective technique and quick, clumsy death.

I am often assailed by cries of "that doesn't work!" or "this is bull!" or "these guys are charlatans!" in regard to YouTube videos; or by the flood of "training versus reality" videos. Now I will firmly agree there are any number of frauds, fakes and scams floating around the internet. However, in many cases what I see is a poorly executed technique from an inadequately trained performer being touted as "bad" when really it is the sloppy and ill-prepared demonstrator at fault.

Someone is feeding the frauds though. Maybe they received their own training from the internet.

I understand it just fine! (Sure you do).

This month I have been substitute teaching for a sensei who had to be away for the month. Rather than attempt to teach the style of his particular ryuha I have been introducing his students (mostly kyu ranks) to some advanced concepts of martial arts (musubi, ire, hyoshi, things like that). During my second session I had a mixture of new attendees and those who attended the first session; I advised those from the first session to also apply those concepts as best they could. Imagine my surprise when one of the new guys (8th kyu) turned and said "I know all about it; Xxxxx (also 8th kyu) taught me everything".

Now, any truly advanced martial artist will tell you these are some of the most complex and difficult concepts to master, but an 8th kyu student understood it well enough to teach it after one whole hour of training.  Hmm.

Perhaps the problem is once again the lack of concept caused by lack of experience. Or perhaps they should make a YouTube video and enlighten the rest of us...



Oh, and do not teach something (anything) until the person who taught you gives permission to do so. You are not in a position to judge your own understanding.