You cannot learn body mechanics from a book

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Bill Mattocks, Aug 6, 2014.

  1. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Posit: One cannot learn proper and effective body mechanics from a book or video.

    My argument is simple and based on experience and observation. You can open a book on martial arts or pop in a DVD and see how a block is to be applied or a punch or kick is to be delivered. You can emulate what you see, and practice it extensively. But it won't be effective, except accidentally. Why? Because there is a world of difference between a block (for example) and a properly-set block. The difference between a good block and a bad block can be a matter of inches or even fractions of an inch. It can vary between individuals, based on body type, height, weight, and so on. To be effective, a good block must be demonstrated and adjusted by someone who knows how to do it, and it must be tested and felt and understood on a physical level by the person learning it.

    Comments?

    :D
     
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  2. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Why what a load of...oh wait.... I agree completely :)
     
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  3. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    I think with enough explanation, it can be done. :)
     
  4. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    I know there are people who sell DVDs and who use online teaching; Instructor is one. I know how diligent he is it doing everything possible to be sure his students learn properly.

    But I have stated before, I always have had doubts about it, especially in a grappling art. But again, I know Instructor tries to overcome the limitations by encouraging personal contact periodically.

    Of course, maybe it is just me being slow learner. :boing1:
     
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  5. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I don't know. I have seen a lot of blocks that sure looked OK, but when tested, they were no good. Others that didn't look quite right, but tested just fine. I know that it took me forever to learn to make basic blocks work correctly; once they did, it was easy to 'feel' that they were locked in by taking a hit with them, but it was awfully hard for me to just 'be told' how to apply them correctly. I just kept getting my posture and movements adjusted and tried it over and over until it finally clicked into place. I don't see how a person would know they had it right by reading about it or seeing it on a video. It might look right, but that doesn't mean it's locked in correctly.
     
  6. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    There are a lot of Taijiquan books and DVDs trying to teach you how to do taijiquan but there are way to many small circles to get form a book or a DVD. There are things that are hard to explain in person little alone form a book or DVD. And then there are just those things that you REALLY need to have a sifu walk over and move you into the right position and that adjustment can be so small that it might be unperceivable on a DVD and next to impossible to sow in a book,.
     
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  7. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    For the most part, yes. But there are exceptions. At least to the video question. If you (Bill) were away and your instructor filmed a tutorial piece for you, and explained it right, shot it right and was similar to something you already do, you could probably learn a lot from it. I'm not saying it would replace being there with him, but it could still help. (This would be especially true with visual learners.)

    It's kind of like studying tape in sports. Regardless of what kind of fighting a person is doing, if they study the tape of a competitor, especially if they've fought that competitor before and know they will again, it can help you see things you might not see when the guy is trying to take your head off.

    I've never done caporiera. I could watch a zillion tapes and not know one damn thing about it afterwards. But with a well shot tape, especially a tutorial one of something I'm familiar with, especially with some slo mo in there (which is kinda standard now), I can pick up a great deal.

    It's like those Gracie ju-jitsu tapes they offer for actual rank consideration. I don't see how anyone could gain much if they never studied Ju-jitsu before. But I know some guys who trained with Rickson back in the day and have been practicing everything he taught them for years. (This is in addition to their everyday training) They also have access to other qualified jits guys who they call on whenever they want. They've been doing the dvd thing now for a couple of years, and they have progressed quite a bit. I used to be able wrap them up whenever I wanted, now they wrap me up almost every single time we roll. I can see and feel how much they've progressed.


    It can also depend on a person's background. If an athlete is a kinesiology student in school, he/she might pick up a hell of a lot more than others. I know a long time physical therapist who's also an athlete, he can watch a guy walk, in person or on screen, and tell you where he's tight and where his muscles are weak.


    As for books, especially Martial arts books with photos - they're fun to look at but I've never known anyone to gain much. But if you listen to Louis Delgado from back in the day, he says he learned more from books than from any other source. Not knowledge, but movement. I was too young to question him about it further.
     
  8. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    most people dont learn that much even with a legit instructor. many instructors show you the basic concept or movement but then you are on your own to figure out the dynamics and details. sometimes they will talk till they are blue in the face but the student still doesnt get it right. martial arts are somewhat an intuitive art. the instructor is only there to point the way, he can not walk the path for you. having the instructor right there with you will always be better then a video and much more so than a book but in the end its up to you to figure out what works and what doesnt.
     
  9. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    That's a depressing thought! Not saying you're wrong, but it seems like a real shame. My instructors had the patience to work with me until I got it, and the ability to make the necessary adjustments until it clicked. I would wish that everyone had such excellent instructors as I have been fortunate to have.
     
  10. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    Everything you just said can be shown. If you show committed attacks on the book or video, it will be up to the watcher to round himself up some tough guys, but again every detail can be shown and explained. :)
     
  11. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Whenever I come across someone who has learned from video or from a book what I have personally always noticed is that they miss the fine details. They miss the hands on transmission from someone who is skilled and can also show the fine details. Simply put they miss out! Now, I sell books and dvds and I have online videos for IRT practitioners. Yet for them to really get the true benefit from them they need to practice with a qualified IRT instructor. If you are practicing with an instructor they can be absolutely great reference material. Sure even I will admit that some parts can be learned but they will miss small details and corrections! As they say the devil is in the details.

    An example from the above is when a Gracie Online Student
    came to train and roll with myself and another IRT practitioner here in Vegas. He new quite a few techniques but.... he missed some details and was just not very good. My student who had been training from six months to a year just played with him while grappling. Some of that is on him and of course some is on the medium he chose to learn from! Bottom line is why would he chose to learn that way here in Vegas when everything is available to him? I do not get it!
     
  12. mook jong man

    mook jong man Senior Master

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    I'm quite surprised you told that story Brian , you of all people should know what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
     
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  13. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    A very tiny minority of people are out there who can learn the proper body mechanics from a book or similar source, without direct instruction. They're pretty much body-geniuses, the types who are going to be stand-outs at any physical activity they choose. They're the natural 3-sport athletes who make most of us sick when we struggle to learn something, then watch them pick it up almost instantly.

    Of course -- that's assuming the info is in the book or other material in the first place, too.

    Most of us? We need someone who's not only learned it themselves, but learned how to teach it.
     
  14. seasoned

    seasoned MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    The old masters felt it took years to learn a kata "correctly". Knowing it and owning it are two entirely different things.
     
  15. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Proof?

    I would suggest OP. is correct. But I haven't tried it and wouldn't know.
     
  16. Cirdan

    Cirdan Senior Master

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    The mechanics you can learn from a book or video are imo very very limited. Without an instructor to guide you won`t know what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong and therefore how to make progress. I have tried this method at one point when I was without an instructor for some time, for me at least the results were anything but good. If you want to experience some new place you should go there instead of watching the video.
     
  17. swordway

    swordway White Belt

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    Personally, I think you can learn from books and even more so from videos. I think what is important is your own background. If you know nothing about martial arts then a book or video could probably be detrimental but that's how I got into martial arts back in the 70's. My first book was Teach Yourself Karate by Peter Dominic and though the techniques I learnt were bad, the book nevertheless inspired me, kept me active and improved my confidence. After that I bought many other books (eg. Bruce Tegner, Hee Il-cho, Bum-lee, Choi Chong-hi, Jim Yee, etc) learning much on the way at a time when the only way to learn anything about MA was by getting the seat of your pants dirty, by taking trips to major cities to isolated ma stores or ma schools. Today, you can surf the web and learn the lot in a few moments and the learning doesn't require passion or test your resolve.

    Over many years of MA experience I have always consulted books and more recently videos to help me improve a technique or learn a new one. More recently I am indebted to Jake Mace's Youtube videos for extending my knowledge of the staff as well as for inspiring me - something we all need at times! The usefulness of books and videos is a two-way relationship, it's about what you bring to that book or video as much as it is about what the book brings to you.

    I think many commentators underestimate their own experience and abilities and the importance of what they bring to the resource. It is not just about copying a technique it is about experimenting, practicing and if necessary adapting it and if you already have a system and experience, as most of you do here, this is not difficult.

    Of course, a teacher is always better than a book but sometimes one is not available, you are too busy, they are too costly or the teachers around aren't that good. And often, the authors of books are some of the best and most experienced people around. As tournament fighter back in my younger days, I owe a lot to Bruce Lee's books on Fighting Methods to the extent some techniques became part of my fighting arsenal. Indeed, I think many martial artists my age were practicing MMA before it ever became a concept - largely through books.

    Books and videos rarely make martial artists but I do think they definitely help you develop, inspire you, give you ideas, make you more creative, broaden your knowledge of other styles and for absolute beginners they are often the first step in what might possibly become the journey of a lifetime.
     
  18. jezr74

    jezr74 Master of Arts

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    I think the statement in the subject line migrant be a non-sequitur.

    Can you learn body mechanics from a book, sure you can. But you add in proper and effective in the body, which changes it somewhat.

    I would put that you can get to a certain level from a book or DVD (if that is small or a lot, that can depend on the individual) and then would need to seek further advancement when plateaued, or inclined to seek confirmation.

    If I read a book or online on how to do push-ups every morning and have gains in the arms and my overall fitness as a result, but find I can no longer improve after some time. I could seek a fitness trainer and have my technique observed and adjusted if needed to, and then maybe move to the next level of gains from that exercise. Or I might have got it right and all I get is a confirmation.

    As the complexity increases, the potential of getting it right can decrease. So logic would dictate you seek confirmation or training in an environment that can be taught in optimal conditions.

    So I think you could you learn anything for that matter from books and video to that level shown or your physical limits, but you might just not look as good doing it as you think you do.

    CeWEBrity Profile - X12 - Video Clip | Tosh.0 | Comedy Central
     
  19. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Welcome to the Forum, bro. I think you'll like it here. Nice post. :)
     
  20. Hand Sword

    Hand Sword Grandmaster

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    Then, why are all the old Kung Fu Movie stories based on gaining the "book" to learn a style that defeats the bad guy at the end? Maybe, it's for people who are already practitioners and have enough know how from doing that looking and reading can be made to work right. Playing Devil's advocate though... A video with concise and easy to follow footage can be learned. After all, if say, a Gracie is on tape for you saying do this and that; then in person saying and showing the same thing.. How is it different?:idunno:
     

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