Most students of the martial arts are lucky when it comes to learning Martial Arts. They find a local dojo, enroll, and attend classes. However, there are
situations where this simply does not work. Consider the following examples:
You’ve studying for a length of time in a particular style, and then need to relocate to an area that does not have any dojos teaching your style. You simply live in a remote area where there are little to no choices as far as schools go.
Or, you want to try a different style of Martial Arts, but find limited choices in your area. An alternative way to studying the martial arts is the concept of distance learning. But be forewarned, this is not for everyone, nor does it work in every situation. Let’s look at two variations: traveling periodically to be reviewed by your sensei; and video training.
If you’ve been a long-time student of a sensei, and really want to continue with your given style, one way is to periodically stop in your old dojo and get feedback from your sensei. There are several pros and cons to this approach.
You do not need to start all over from scratch like you would if you started training in a new style of Martial Arts.
You have an established relationship with your sensei and most of your peers.
This can be quite costly unless the distance to travel is short. This can be somewhat mitigated if you have relatives in the area, so that you can combine both into a single visit.
You may not be able to do this frequently enough to get enough objective feedback. You may be viewed as an outsider by other students, especially after you’ve been gone from the normal classes for some time. Of course neither of these lists are totally complete.
Another thing to consider is that in the interim, you need to be able to objectively (as possible) critique yourself. This is not always easy. And it is possibly the biggest reason that most people should not try distance learning. You simply do not get enough feedback on a regular basis.Video Learning
A second choice is to learn via video tape. There are numerous styles that teach their entire system via video. Most work something like this.
You purchase a video that covers the materials for a given level or belt. You practice the materials. You them video tape yourself performing the materials, returning the tape to the headquarters of the given system. They then grade your performance and provide feedback.
No need to travel; you do everything in the comfort of your own home. Over the long run, this method may not cost as much. But some video tape programs can be expensive, especially if the have many tapes to purchase.
Never get a chance to build a relationship with your sensei. They never get a
chance to know anything about you except your video performances. Lose the camaraderie of learning with fellow students in the dojo.
If the system requires partner drills and you do not have access to a partner, you may have problems learning and performing the materials.
Like the previous method, the student needs to be good at self critiquing.Also, because you will not have someone pointing out the minor movements, Iwould only recommend this for an advanced student who wants to broaden theirmartial arts experience.
A person is not necessarily locked into only training at a dojo close to their house. But I would counsel someone considering distance learning to think long and hard before going down that path. This alternative is really only appropriate to a limited number of students.