We are living in a digital age. The internet and social media have become a fundamental part of our lives. We have started to break away from traditional methods of consuming and learning and now seek more convenient online options. An example is how we are able to buy our groceries or clothing these days. Previously we would commute to the store, select our items, pay in person and haul our items back to our homes. Now, we no longer need to commute to our favourite stores. With a few simple clicks we are able to add our items to a digital cart, checkout, pay online and have our goods delivered to our door.
The same goes for academic learning. Entire degrees and other qualifications have been acquired through online learning. Physical learning has also featured prominently with many people choosing to exercise in the comfort of their own homes, during their own time through guided videos from platforms like YouTube. What about Martial Arts? Can this skill be acquired online, do you think? With having to do the majority of my training at home through online classes this year, there are a few insights that I would like to share with you.
Focus on Fundamentals
It is really difficult to learn a new technique, combination or kata from home. Why not use this time to perfect what you already know? You may suffer from certain muscle weaknesses and imbalances that prevent you from executing perfect technique for ultimate power and efficiency. You could find exercises and routines to work on these issues which will inevitably have a positive effect on you and your Martial Art.
Constant improvement of the basics will lead to improvement of your combinations and more complex methods of Martial Arts.
“Without a good foundation, the building crumbles!”
Use a Mirror
When you train by yourself, you become the student and the master. It is difficult to get feedback if you can’t see obvious issues with the execution of your technique. This is where a mirror comes in. Try to observe yourself as you execute the technique and remember what your instructor may have demonstrated or pointed out. If you notice any issues with the execution of your technique, fix it by repeated practice to get rid of the issue. Test that you have rid your technique of the problem. You might have more power now or you might gain efficiency allowing you to exert less energy.
Rinse and Repeat!
Attention to Detail
The downside of not getting feedback is that you run the risk of practicing and developing poor techniques or bad habits. Likely, the instructor in your online learning resource is going to great lengths to detail what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Ensure that your practice is actively seeking out proper form and weeding out the don’ts that the instructor is cautioning you to.
Repeat the Learning
A key advantage of online learning is that you can redo the course or replay the content as many times as you like, provided that it is not live! Repetition is key to learning and this would be something that your online learning pursuit will greatly benefit from.
Review Training Notes and Other Materials
If you've attended formal instructor led classes and made your own training notes, be sure to review you these to ensure that you are progressing and moving in the right direction with your training. You may also have a curriculum to follow and have acquired supplementary materials that can provide vital information on technique and other vital aspects of your Martial Art.
This is a really important step. Very often we feel as if we are progressing, but we can never know how well we are doing until we have sought feedback. This could be pressure testing your technique with a sparring partner or a friend, sending your kata to a Sensei via email for pointers, or striking a bag to receive tactile feedback on you technique and power. Try out this durable Striking Shield to receive feedback on how accurate and powerful your strikes are.
Choose Quality Learning Resources
Not all content is created equal. Choose good quality learning resources from reputable organisations with detailed instructor led and demonstrated courses. Each course should provide you with clear goals and learning outcomes and provide you with methods to measure how well you have achieved these goals.
A good online learning platform will also provide convenient means for responsive feedback if you need further assistance or understanding on the subject matter. For me, this is the mark of a superior online learning platform.
Final Thoughts ...
It’s not always easy to learn a new skill, but with a small amount of perseverance, motivation and discipline, you can develop a solid base from which to expand and improve your Martial Arts practice and knowledge.
Technology is advancing rapidly, and it may well become a popular medium for the learning of Martial Arts skills.
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